Team Toyota’s Mike Iaconelli began his competitive fishing career in the early 1990s on the Delaware River where catching a 9-pound limit made you look like a superstar.
So, the recent stinginess “Ike” and other pros encountered at Lay Lake, and what is sure to be a brutally tough Sabine River at the upcoming Elite Series event in Orange, Texas, are the sort of tests he’s been preparing for and passing most of his fishing life.
“We’ve been on the Sabine during the spawn, and a 12-pound limit was great. How tough is that place going to be when we get there next week in the heat of early summer?” ponders Iaconelli.
The Sabine is sure to be the toughest test of the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series season, and Iaconelli says the same three lures that carried him through Lay Lake to sit 7th in the Angler of the Year standings will also be in play at the Sabine.
Old school 4” French Fry
Speaking of the Delaware River, this is a lure a fellow angler named Sam showed young Iaconelli during their B.A.S.S. Nation days as amateurs on the Philadelphia-area waterway.
“The key is to put a little nail weight in the tail and rig it with a light wire hook, and make sure the flat side of the French fry is facing downward. It glides around habitat backwards like the old Flying Lure they sold on TV,” smiles Iaconelli.
Tiny black buzzbait
Perhaps the most overlooked lure in the recent Bass Fishing Hall of Fame electee’s tackle box is an inexpensive little black buzzbait with a silver blade. He’s never kept it a secret, but its subtleness seldom steals the spotlight despite the number of high finishes he’s scored with it.
“Subtle is definitely the best way to describe it, and that’s the magic of it. It’s small in size, the black color isn’t too bold, and that small silver blade gives fish that are reluctant to eat just enough flash to look like a bite-sized shad,” he reasons.
Lastly in Ike’s “tough to get a bite” arsenal is a 5” Berkley General rigged wacky style with a VMC weedless Neko hook. “There’s nothing new or surprising about this one, but the reason it’s so popular is because it gets bites even when fishing is brutal,” says Ike.
And that’s the name of the game. Choose lures that are subtle and sneaky, but proven to generate bites on America’s toughest fisheries, from the industrial Delaware River in Philadelphia, all the way down to the Sabine River near the Texas Gulf Coast.