After a dismal three-day practice period on Lake Seminole, Mike Iaconelli left the dock Thursday morning feeling pretty clueless with just two spots to run to that may or may not yield a bite.
But 90-minutes into Day 1, he had 19-pounds in the livewell, and by the time weigh-in concluded even the local frog population seemed to want a ride in his boat.
“When you practice for three days from daylight to dark and have only two spots that might be worthwhile to start the tournament, that’s hard!” says Iaconelli.
“So, the fact one of those spots gave up nearly 20-pounds is proof that as much as we try to control everything, the best thing we can do is fish with an open mind and let things fall into place,” he reflects.
Allowing things to fall into place is a terribly difficult struggle for the Team Toyota pro, who admits he’s naturally prone to want to write the script, but a recent conversation 10 days ago with his good buddy and fatherly figure, Uncle Don, delivered a powerful revelation.
“Uncle Don is pretty spiritual, and after a tough practice day on Okeechobee a few days ago we were talking on the phone and he told me “We’re not in control.” It was his way of telling me to take my hands off the steering wheel and just go fishing. It was pretty powerful,” says a grateful Iaconelli.
Iaconelli left Okeechobee with a Top 50 finish, but more importantly a re-configured mental approach to the sport he dearly loves.
“It’s no secret I had a really bad season last year. I was trying to force winning. Trying to control everything. Trying to win every Elite. And it backfired terribly. If I can open myself up. Fish the moment. This could be a really special season,” says Iaconelli.
His magical location Thursday on Seminole was about a 15-acre spawning bay, and 80% of his catch came from one exact spot on a combination of swim jigs and ChatterBaits. But his biggest concern going into Friday is a much later take-off position, that allows for other competitors to potentially get to the special spot before he does.
“Nobody really came in there today. I feel like I should be okay. I’m stoked to go back out there Friday. Day 1 meant more to me mentally than most will ever know. This could be a really special season,” says Iaconelli.
Nobody would agree more than Uncle Don.