MY WORST DAY OF BASS FISHING
Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli and Kelly Jordon
Note: You're supposed to have fun when you fish for
bass because most of us think of bass fishing as recreation.
You don't expect to find yourself chained to a wall
in a medieval dungeon to learn how much torture you
can endure when you bass fish. However, many anglers
who earn their livings professionally fishing for bass
must go to work when they don't want to, fish in bad,
nasty weather and endure sickness, disaster and disappointment
as a part of their jobs. You may think you've had a
bad day of fishing before or fished in a really bad
bass tournament. But once you read the experiences of
some of America's best bass fishermen and learn what's
happened to them on their worst days of fishing, your
bad day of bass fishing may not seem so horrible.
Tim Horton: Thirty-two-year-old Tim Horton of Muscle
Shoals, Alabama, has won over $543,000 on the BASS tournament
circuit and holds the title of 2002 Angler of the Year.
However, he has had his share of days when he wishes
he had stayed in bed. "I was fishing a tournament
on the Potomac River where the water was really rough,"
Horton remembers. "I was fighting hard for a berth
in the Classic, and the points were really close as
to whether or not I was going to make it. I'd had a
pretty good day of fishing, and I had a really nice
5-pound largemouth in my livewell as I raced back to
check in at the boat launch. While I was running back,
the boat was bouncing and jumping a lot, and suddenly,
felt water on my shoulder. When I looked back, I saw
that the top to my livewell was open. I closed it quickly
and kept running, not thinking too much about what had
happened. I checked in, got my boat tied-up, got the
bag I was going to put the fish in to take to the weigh-in
and started taking my bass out of the live well. The
big 5 pounder was gone. Apparently, it had jumped out
of the livewell when the lid blew open. I just sat on
my boat, utterly disgusted and discouraged. That fish
would have helped insure I'd make the Classic, earn
an extra $4000 or $5000 in the tournament and give me
50 points in the points standing. I can never remember
a more-miserable day or a more-disappointing day of
bass fishing. I had the big kicker fish I needed to
do well in the tournament. However, because I hadn't
locked my livewell down, I'd lost the bass. Still today,
I can't think of any worse feeling than when you beat
yourself bass fishing. I did make the Classic that year,
but I barely squeaked in by two points."
Michael Iaconelli: With his 2003 Bassmaster Classic
win, Michael Iaconelli, a 32-year old from Woodbury
Heights, New Jersey, who has fished professionally for
seven years, has earned close to $700,000 on the BASS
circuit. “I had three of the worst days of bass
fishing in my life all at one time, in the same tournament,"
Iaconelli says. "In February of 1997, on Lake Santee
Cooper in South Carolina, my first
year to fish the open division of the BASS circuit,
I was in third place in the race for Angler of the Year,
and I had a legitimate shot at making the Classic. I
was really excited about my first year of professional
bass fishing. I really thought I knew how to catch bass,
and that I was the hottest fisherman on the BASS circuit.
However, after three days of rapid-fire fishing, using
every tactic I knew of and fishing as hard as I could
fish, I didn't catch one keeper bass. All three days
I went to the weigh-in with an empty sack. Without question,
those three days were the most-frustrating, humiliating
and aggravating days of bass fishing through which I'd
ever lived. But, I learned from my mistake. I made a
major tournament-fishing mistake, and when I realized
what had happened, I was determined never to make that
mistake again. When I practiced for that tournament,
I found one pattern that helped me catch a lot of bass.
I believed I could fish that pattern and win the tournament.
The weather was cold, the bass were on their wintertime
pattern, and I caught several bass on a jigging spoon,
which is a winter technique. But over the course of
the three-day tournament, a warm front moved onto the
lake. I wasn't able to adjust to that warm front, and
I hadn't located any bass in any other place other than
in that cold-front area. I learned to never go into
a tournament betting on one pattern and only having
one group of fish that I thought I could catch."
Jordon: Kelly Jordon, a 33-year-old from Mineola, Texas,
has earned over $585,000 on the BASS tournament circuit.
Jordon has placed first in three tournaments, with the
most recent being the 2004 South Carolina Bassmaster
Tour Pro on Santee Cooper Lake. Currently ranked eighth
in the world by bassfan.com. "The night before
a BASS invitational tournament on Lake Texoma, on the
Texas/Oklahoma border, I got food poisoning," Jordon
says. "I stayed on the back deck and let my partner
run the boat all day in the cold and windy weather.
The bass didn't bite, and I was totally miserable. The
next morning I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed.
Then the following day when I should have been going
home, I still couldn't get out of bed. "My only
objective during that entire tournament was just to
survive. I wasn't going to ask my partner to give up
his fishing time and his chance to do well in the tournament
just to take me back to the boat dock. I thought if
I could just keep from dying until we got back to the
dock, the pain and the misery would at least be over.
But I was wrong. For three days, I didn't want to see
or talk to anyone, eat anything or move. Even breathing
was an effort. I've never spent a longer, more- miserable
day in a bass boat than I did that day on Lake Texoma."
TOMORROW: WORST DAYS OF FISHING FOR GARY KLEIN