BASS Masters Classic 2003 Coverage
Birmingham - August 1-3, 2003
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Classic Day 3
New Jersey pro takes top honors in Classic
Iaconelli scores narrow victory in the Big Easy
August 3, 2003 - NEW ORLEANS, La. -
Confidence has never been a problem for Michael Iaconelli. And on Sunday, in the giant marshland known as the Louisiana Delta, he lived up to the old Dizzy Dean adage that, "It ain't bragging if you can back it up."

With three grizzled veterans hot on his heels, the 31-year-old New Jersey pro held up to the pressure of being the leader entering the final round of professional fishing's marquee event to score a narrow victory in the 33rd annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

In the battle of the Big Easy, Iaconelli's triumph was anything but easy.

Iaconelli brought a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 14 ounces to the scales Sunday, for a three-day total of 37-14, to electrify the New Orleans Arena crowd of about 11,000 and score a 1-pound, 12-ounce victory over perennial Classic contender Gary Klein of Texas (36-2). Another Texan, Harold Allen, finished third with 34-3, followed by legendary Florida angler pro Roland Martin (31-9) and Virginia's Curt Lytle (31-3).

His second-place finish had Gary Klein wondering what might have been had he not lost a 3- and 4-pounder on Saturday. 
To the winner of fishing's Big Show go the spoils to the tune of $200,000 and a piece of fishing immortality.

"As confident as I am and as sure as I was that I would do this eventually, I'm in shock," said Iaconelli, who was competing in just his fourth Classic. "When I realized that I had won, I looked down at my mom, and I'll never forget the look on her face. What a feeling."

Iaconelli entered this Classic with extraordinary confidence in one particular area in the Venice region of the Delta that he had located during an official six-day scouting period a month ago. When he visited the shallow, grassy lagoon during the lone practice day on Wednesday and shook off a dozen strikes in about an hour, Iaconelli grew even more assured about his chances.

"I can sum my feelings up in two words," he said, "Yeah, baby!

Harold Allen was chased from two fishing spots Sunday, but still finished in third. "It's a dream come true. Since I was 12 or 13 years old and started reading Bassmaster Magazine and had heroes like Gary, it's something I've dreamed of all these years."

Iaconelli fished his first Classic in New Orleans in 1999, when he finished sixth as a representative from the amateur BASS Federation system. That performance gave him the confidence to launch his career as a full-time touring pro.

His Classic success came on a trio of Mann's lures - a Stone jig, Super Finesse Worm and prototype Swim Worm.

The two soft-plastic baits combined to help Iaconelli catch the most pivotal bass of the week, with about five minutes remaining in his fishing day, when a 334-pound fish swirled at (and missed) the Swim Worm before then inhaling the Super Finesse Worm.

"What a perfect punctuation to the day," he said.

For Klein, 45, the 2003 Classic will be remembered as another one that got away. He has come close in three of his 21 Classic appearances.

Iaconelli's last-minute bass allowed him to cull his only fish of the day, and gain 2 pounds, 4 ounces in his total catch. "Second place sucks," he said candidly. "I'm just being honest. But all this is going to do is make me more determined when we start next season."

Allen, 58, will remember his 14th Classic for an unusual, frustrating occurrence that might have played a role in his third-place finish. He was run out of his best spots on consecutive days by an angry airboater, who claimed that Allen was trespassing on private - but unposted - property. Following the order of tournament officials, he simply abandoned his most productive areas.

2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic
presented by Busch Beer
August 1-3, 2003
Louisiana Delta, New Orleans, La.

Final standings

 

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Michael Iaconelli Woodbury Heights, N.J. 15 37-14 $200,000.00
Day 1: 5 15-06 Day 2: 5 11-10 Day 3: 5 10-14
2. Gary Klein Weatherford, Texas 15 36-02 $50,000.00
Day 1: 5 13-15 Day 2: 5 10-05 Day 3: 5 11-14
3. Harold Allen Shelbyville, Texas 15 34-03 $40,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-10 Day 2: 5 10-11 Day 3: 5 11-14
4. Roland Martin Clewiston, Fla. 15 31-09 $35,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-02 Day 2: 5 9-09 Day 3: 5 11-14
5. Curt Lytle Suffolk, Va. 15 31-03 $25,000.00
Day 1: 5 8-06 Day 2: 5 12-04 Day 3: 5 10-09
6. Mark Kile Payson, Ariz. 15 31-02 $20,000.00
Day 1: 5 9-01 Day 2: 5 10-00 Day 3: 5 12-01
7. Alton Jones Waco, Texas 15 30-01 $16,000.00
Day 1: 5 8-08 Day 2: 5 9-07 Day 3: 5 12-02
8. Jeff Reynolds Platter, Okla. 15 29-15 $15,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-05 Day 2: 5 11-00 Day 3: 5 8-10
9. Kenyon Hill Norman, Okla. 15 28-14 $13,000.00
Day 1: 5 8-04 Day 2: 5 12-10 Day 3: 5 8-00
10. Davy Hite Prosperity, S.C. 13 28-11 $12,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-07 Day 2: 5 13-14 Day 3: 3 4-06
11. Gerald Swindle Hayden, Ala. 11 26-13 $11,500.00
Day 1: 1 1-09 Day 2: 5 14-11 Day 3: 5 10-09
12. Mike Reynolds Modesto, Calif. 12 26-06 $10,500.00
Day 1: 3 7-06 Day 2: 4 7-01 Day 3: 5 11-15
13. Todd Auten Lake Wylie, S.C. 13 26-00 $9,800.00
Day 1: 3 4-12 Day 2: 5 12-15 Day 3: 5 8-05
14. Peter E Thliveros Jacksonville, Fla. 13 25-10 $9,500.00
Day 1: 5 10-01 Day 2: 3 5-04 Day 3: 5 10-05
15. Todd Faircloth Jasper, Texas 15 25-09 $9,200.00
Day 1: 5 9-02 Day 2: 5 7-15 Day 3: 5 8-08
16. Tim Horton Muscle Shoals, Ala. 13 25-05 $9,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-04 Day 2: 4 8-08 Day 3: 4 4-09
17. Jay Kendrick Ooltewah, Tenn. 13 25-04 $8,800.00
Day 1: 5 10-08 Day 2: 5 9-06 Day 3: 3 5-06
18. Zell Rowland Montgomery, Texas 13 24-11 $8,500.00
Day 1: 5 10-07 Day 2: 3 4-10 Day 3: 5 9-10
19. Matt Reed Madisonville, Texas 15 24-05 $8,100.00
Day 1: 5 8-09 Day 2: 5 6-11 Day 3: 5 9-01
19. Jay Yelas Tyler, Texas 14 24-05 $8,100.00
Day 1: 5 10-08 Day 2: 5 9-08 Day 3: 4 4-05
21. Jason Quinn Lake Wylie, S.C. 13 23-04 $7,750.00
Day 1: 3 4-05 Day 2: 5 11-04 Day 3: 5 7-11
22. David Lefebre Erie, Pa. 15 22-02 $7,500.00
Day 1: 5 7-06 Day 2: 5 8-00 Day 3: 5 6-12
23. Mark Menendez Paducah, Ky. 8 21-11 $8,250.00
Day 1: 5 16-10 Day 2: 2 4-03 Day 3: 1 0-14
24. Kelly Jordon Mineola, Texas 15 20-09 $7,100.00
Day 1: 5 8-00 Day 2: 5 6-12 Day 3: 5 5-13
25. Tom Hamlin, Jr Macon, Ga. 12 17-15 $7,000.00
Day 1: 5 7-04 Day 2: 5 7-06 Day 3: 2 3-05
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Big Bass
Day
1 Mark Menendez Paducah, Ky. 6-02 $1,000.00
2 Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, Mich. 5-06 $1,000.00
3 Gerald Swindle Hayden, Ala. 3-13 $500.00
3 Mike Reynolds Modesto, Calif. 3-13 $500.00
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Totals
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
3 19 112 209-04
----------------------------------
81 546 1009-05

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