Editor's Note: Mike Iaconelli is a former Bassmaster Classic champion and one of the top pros on the Bassmaster Tour.
He competed in last weekend's Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake ‘O the Cherokees.
My return to Oklahoma was outstanding. Not only did I get to fish some wonderful bass water at Grand Lake but I also competed in my 14th Bassmaster Classic.
I figured going in that it would take around 18 pounds per day to win and my total weight of 48 and a half pounds was good for fourth place. But I have no regrets as I was able to develop and follow a great plan and didn't make any mistakes.
I also refined a technique during the Classic that will help me throughout the season and will help you not only as winter winds down, but also as we get into the prime of spring bass fishing.
The conditions at Grand were not ideal for sure with wind chills in the single digits and clear skies. But knowing the fish were not really affected, I kept to my plan.
Waters I trusted to hold fish were first worked with crankbaits and jerkbaits with slow and shallow retrieves, looking for pre-spawn bass.
As always, every bite was critical and no lapses in concentration were allowed. Once I had made my preliminary pass, primarily on main and secondary points, where I caught fish I retraced my boat path with my clean up bait.
I changed to a new Berkley bait, first used at this Classic. The bait, the Havoc Beat Shad, is one I designed for simple applications. For Grand Lake, I chose oyster pearl.
The bass were feeding on shad and this bait was a close resemblance. Just because I had already caught one or two fish out of a stretch I knew more fish were there.
This slightly different look would surely result in more bites. And my plan worked. Each day I was culling fish to achieve the biggest limit possible.
My Beat Shad casts mirrored my earlier locations. In this case, I was targeting water in the 5 to 12 foot depth range. Again, my retrieves were methodical and I actually was slowly pumping the bait with the rod.
The 4-inch Beat Shad is built with a ribbed body and this gives the bait more flexibility and therefore more action. The body has a gradual taper and a paddle tail adding even more action with little effort on my part.
My tackle for the Beat Shad presentation included 8-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and a 3/16-ounce darter head jig.
The light jig kept the bait up into the water column as the bass were looking up to feed. Spinning tackle for this light ensemble included a 7-foot Medium action Abu Garcia Veritas and a size 30 Abu Garcia Revo Premier spinning reel.
Working the bait and feeling the bite could not be compromised and this selection was a great advantage for me.
I didn't repeat my Classic win of ten years ago, but it still was an honor to be a part of the tournament on Grand Lake.