John's Journal...


Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli and Kelly Jordon

Click to enlargeEditor's 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, Click to enlargeI 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 Click to enlargefirst 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."

Click to enlargeKelly 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 "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."


Check back each day this week for more about MY WORST DAY OF BASS FISHING ...

Day 1 - Worst Days of Fishing for Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli and Kelly Jordon
Day 2 - Worst Days of Fishing for Gary Klein
Day 3 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing With Larry Nixon, Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam
Day 4 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing for Mike Wurm
Day 5 - Jay Yelas' Worst Day of Bass Fishing



Entry 262, Day 1