Team Toyota’s Mike Iaconelli will be the first to tell you the past few months have been among the most challenging of his life. But on the eve of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville he seems to be in a very good place. Full of laughter, kindness, and confidence, and even guaranteeing what the winning lure will be.
Q: Other than the 2003 Classic you won in New Orleans, what do you consider your single greatest Classic moment?
Ike: This will surprise you, but it wasn’t one of the Classics I competed in. My greatest Classic moment was watching Rick Clunn come from behind to win the 1990 Classic on the James River as a teenager. It gave me chills, and I knew after watching that TV show this was absolutely what I wanted to do for a living.
Q: What is your greatest concern going into this Classic?
Ike: My biggest concern is if the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) quits running current. Current is a huge key for me this week. With more rain forecasted, I doubt they’ll slow it down much. At least I hope not.
Q: When the scales stop spinning on Friday, what will the leader’s weight be?
Ike: I’d say 20 or 21 pounds. I doubt the same guy catches 20 pounds all three days, and I’ll almost bet two of the five keepers the leader weighs-in will be smallmouth.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you’ve experienced in Knoxville since you arrived in town last week?
Ike: That’s easy. Going out to Ott and Jennie DeFoe’s house, seeing their new place, and visiting with Ott about all the custom crankbait work he’s doing for Rapala right now.
Q: Name 4 lures fans can expect to see the Classic competitors throw most this week?
Ike: Yep, no problem, in fact, I’ll rank these in order. First, crankbaits like a DT6 or Shad Rap. Second, double Colorado-bladed spinnerbaits. Third, vibrating jigs. And fourth, old school ½ ounce pitching jigs. And because the water temps are in the low 50s, and muddy to off colored water, coupled with current, lots of current, I’ll go on record and guarantee this Classic will be won on a crankbait — 100% guarantee it!