Great tournament anglers always have a Plan B, but at massive Lake Okeechobee — “Florida’s Inland Sea” — you’d better have a Plan C and Plan D too, because a shift in the wind direction can wreck your best spots really fast.
“This is definitely not a place where you can put all your oranges in one basket. Okeechobee is a giant shallow bowl of water that wind affects drastically. Wind creates muddy water, and muddy water is the kiss of death here. So you have to have productive areas for every wind direction,” warns Iaconelli.
Practice afforded a great trial run for Bassmaster Elite Series anglers as winds blew from the west at 20-30 mph on Sunday, then from the northeast on Monday, and then light and easterly on Tuesday.
“I played the wind in practice by launching in a different area of the lake each day based on what direction it was blowing. My goal was to find clean water in every circumstance, so that I’ll be in good shape no matter what the wind does during the tournament,” says Iaconelli.
Wind won’t be the only factor that forces anglers to have numerous key areas located. Fishing pressure is critical here too. Despite the fact you can’t see land from the middle of this 448,000 surface acre monstrosity, hundreds of tournament boats compete here nearly every weekend, and Iaconelli estimates at least 100 guides carry clients out daily in search of the giant bass that made this fishery famous.
“You might play the wind perfectly but show up to your best spot and find 20 other Elite Series guys and 10 fishing guides. So that’s another huge reason to have numerous spots to run to,” emphasizes Iaconelli.
“I’m ready,” says Ike. “I’ve got four key oranges in my basket to start Day 1. They all set up different. So, I feel like I’ll be in good shape no matter what.”
That’s an exciting statement for Iaconelli fans who know a confident “Ike” is a dude capable of doing amazing things no matter how challenging the conditions.
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