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NEW JERSEY'S IACONELLI TAKES TOP HONORS AT 2003 CITGO BASSMASTER CLASSIC
Former Federation Angler Scores Narrow Victory in the Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS - 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.

It is the second year in a row, a member of Team Yamaha has won the fabled Bassmaster Classic, a championship that guarantees
the winner a place in pro angling history. Michael Iaconelli, Woodbury
Heights, N.J., put his name in the record book Aug. 3 alongside last year's
Classic Champion Yamaha Pro Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas, by winning the 33rd annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic and its $200,000 cash prize.

The 31-year-old New Jersey pro held up to the pressure of being the leader by bringing home a three-day catch of 37 pounds, 14 ounces of bass to win. He caught his final bass with seven minutes left before deadline, and it was this bass that gave him the Championship.
When the scales showed his 10-14 final catch, it brought the New Orleans Arena crowd of about 11,000 to its feet with a deafening roar as Iaconelli scored a 1-pound, 12-ounce victory over Gary Klein of Texas (36-2). Another Texan and fellow Team Yamaha member, Harold Allen, finished third with 34-3, and Virginia's Curt Lytle, also a Team Yamaha competitor (31-3), edged Team Yamaha member Mark Kile from Arizona by one ounce for 5th place. Kile placed 6th with 31-2.

Nearly one-third of the Classic contenders were members of Team Yamaha, making this year1s Classic the biggest showing for Yamaha ever. Twelve of the 25 finalists on Day 3 wore Team Yamaha1s distinctive blue and white jerseys, including five of the top 10 finishers.
Other Team Yamaha members finishing strong were:

7th Alton Jones, Waco, Texas
15th Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas
17th Jay Kendrick, Kingston, Ga.
18th Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas
20th Jay Yelas, Tyler, Texas
22nd David LeFebre, Erie, Pa.
23rd Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky.
24th Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas

Menendez grabbed the first-day lead with a five-bass limit of 16-10, which included the largest bass of the tournament, a 6-2 lunker that earned him $1,000 for Day 1's Big Bass honors. Iaconelli was in second place on Day 1, jumping to the lead on Day 2 with a total of 27 lbs.
"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."

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

"I can't express how much the support of Team Yamaha made in this
tournament," Iaconelli said. "It was such unity, a real bonding, all the
way from the other anglers to service crew to the promotion and PR people, it gave me an extra edge that let me know I was part of something big and that I had to measure up and do my best. And the fans were unbelievable. I felt like royalty after the weigh-in!"
Iaconelli fished his first Classic in New Orleans in 1999, when he finished
sixth as a representative from the BASS Federation tournament system. That performance gave him the confidence to launch his career as a full-time touring pro.

In the battle of the Big Easy, Iaconelli's battled for every bit of his triumph.

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.

"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."

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 33/4-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.

"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.

The televised Classic relied on relays. A flotilla of boats, two helicopters, and 80 people were used to produce television broadcasts of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

Television crews used 10 camera boats to follow anglers around the Louisiana Delta and four boats to shuttle videotapes from the fishing holes back to New Orleans to prepare them for broadcast. One helicopter was used for aerial shots of anglers and another for shuttling videotape from distant fishing holes.

Camera crews were able to keep track of anglers with GPS units connected to satellite telephones that relayed their location back to the television crew throughout the day. Observers in the fishing boats recorded the size and number of bass being caught into personal digital assistants that were also connected to the satellite telephones.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.

2003 BASSMASTER CLASSIC 08/01-08/03
Louisiana Delta, New Orleans, La.
Standings Day 3

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

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Totals
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
3 19 112 209-04
----------------------------------
81 546 1009-05

 

 


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