By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

When time ran out in the Knockout Round at the first Bass Pro Tour event this year, Mike Iaconelli wasnt too pleased about finishing 11th.

At the second event, he wound up 21st in Group A, less than 2 1/2 pounds from getting into the KO Round. At Raleigh a couple weeks ago, he made the Knockout Round, but wasnt a factor to advance to the Championship Round.

Wait no more, Ike.

Behind a furious third-period comeback today, Iaconelli will be among the 10 anglers heading back out on Lake Chickamauga on Sunday to finish whats been a catch-fest of a tournament. Iaconelli was 22nd after the second period Saturday before catching 13 fish for 31-04 over the final 2 1/2-hour segment. In the last 30 minutes alone, he racked up 23-03 which included a 6-03 and a 4-01 within two minutes of each other.

In my 22 years or however long Ive been doing this, that was the most incredible, amazing 20 minutes of my career, Iaconelli said. It was happening, and it was almost like I couldnt believe it. It was like it was happening around me. I never use the word luck, but when that happens, you really are fortunate.

He said hed fished the same stretch earlier in the day and hes certain others did as well, so he wasnt expecting to catch what he did.

I know that stretch had been hit multiple times earlier in the day so its not as though I found something magical or hidden or had a secret bait, he said. I just timed it perfect to when I pulled up those fish started to feed. And it happened when I needed it to happen.

His late-day rally carried him to a 3rd-place finish with 59-08 (28 fish), trailing only Jacob Powroznik and Todd Faircloth once everyone reeled their line in for the final time.

As a result, hell get to compete on Sunday for the first time this season.

It feels great, Iaconelli said. Ive had a good year, but it seems like at key moments toward the end, I just fall short. Theres something that has always kept me from making it. Today, it all worked in reverse.

With weights zeroed for the final round, he doesnt anticipate changing much about his strategy. By securing a top-10 finish, hes mathematically clinched a berth in the Heritage Cup, the second of four MLF Cups to be contested later this year.

Im going to try to win tomorrow but if I dont I feel like I won already, he said. Im going to stay the course. Ive been in the same area with the same pattern for 3 days, so no big changes for me. The only thing Im looking at is the wind. We didnt have much today until the afternoon and thats when I had my best flurry.



Major League Fishing
Photo: Major League Fishing

Mike Iaconelli was all smiles after a wicked third-period flurry carried him to a berth in the Championship Round.

Powroznik caught at least 20 pounds in all three periods and finished with 67-14 (36 fish) to assure himself a chance to win back-to-back events. Faircloth trailed him by just over four pounds as he tallied 63-12 (31 fish) with 33-06 coming in the first period.

To complete the gauntlet on Sunday, someone will have to outperform Edwin Evers (four-time finalist and winner at Lake Conroe), Powroznik (winner at Raleigh) along with Dayton natives Andy Morgan and Michael Neal.

Powroznik is fishing with a ton of confidence right now because this is the time of year he excels.

I guess I put my eyes to work more than anything and Im seeing where I need to cast, he said. Ive caught a few Ive looked at, but most are blind casting to dark spots.

Like Iaconelli, he doesnt see himself straying from whats worked so far. He feels his success this week is due to his fishing shallower than most others. If hes to win a second straight event, he thinks itll be sticking with that game plan.

Itd be awesome (to win again), he said. I started with a 1-in-80 shot at it. Now, its down to 1-in-10.

I fished about the same pockets for the last couple days, he added. More and more (fish) keep coming. Well go fishing (tomorrow) and see what happens. Ive made it this far, so if its meant to be its meant to be.

Iaconelli wasnt the only one to surge into the top 10 in the third period. Points leader Evers caught 22-04 (12 fish) to jump from 21st to 9th where he finished with 50-15 (27 fish). Hes now 4-for-4 in qualifying for the final round this season, the only BPT angler to do so.

Jared Lintner continued his strong season by surging from 19th to 8th in the afternoon, thanks to a tournament-best 8-10 kicker that anchored his 22-10 third period.

Getting bumped out of the top 10 in the final period were: Jacob Wheeler (5th to 15th), Dave Lefebre (7th to 19th) and Aaron Martens (10th to 25th).

Faircloth came into this week 15th in BPT points, but hed yet to make a Championship Round. His massive first period went a long way in helping him finally reach one.

Im excited, he said. I think its anybody game. I didnt back off today. I never felt safe enough to do that. Around 10 to 12 pounds separated me from 10th all day and with this group on this fishery, you can never feel safe. I fished hard today and didnt let off and still didnt catch as much as Powroznik did. If a guy can maintain a similar pace tomorrow, hell have a shot to win. There will be no holding back tomorrow.

Faircloth tangled with a quartet of 3-pounders in the first period as he picked up in the area where he left off Friday. That was important as it allowed him to sample a part of the lake that he felt wasnt getting as much fishing pressure as where hed been fishing.

It just didnt seem to be as busy as where Id been fishing and that was critical, he noted. This place is getting pounded right now and pressure is taking a toll on some places. Tomorrow, Im going fish through some stuff again, but its important to keep looking for new water, knowing at the same time its not new, but itll be fresh to me.

Rain passed through the area during the second period today, then it cleared up, but more rain is on the way as scattered thunderstorms are expected to move in tonight. Morning storms are predicted for Sunday with close to a half inch of rain in the forecast along with winds in the 15 to 25 mphs range.

> Additional details will be published shortly.

Notable

> Day 5 stats: Period 1 360 fish, 666-06; Period 2 271 fish, 498-13; Period 3 243 fish, 462-13; Total 872 fish, 1,623-13.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., April 14 Rain - 70/56
- Wind: From the S at 5 to 10 mph

Day 5 (Knockout Round) Results

1. Jacob Powroznik -- 36, 67-14

2. Todd Faircloth -- 31, 63-12

3. Mike Iaconelli -- 28, 59-08

4. Brandon Palaniuk -- 27, 56-15

5. Andy Morgan -- 29, 56-03

6. Luke Clausen -- 31, 53-10

7. Keith Poche -- 23, 52-03

8. Jared Lintner -- 30, 52-01

9. Edwin Evers -- 27, 50-15

10. Michael Neal -- 26, 49-11

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete in the Championship Round.

11. Terry Scroggins -- 25, 48-02 -- $6,000

12. Casey Ashley -- 29, 47-05 -- $6,000

13. Zack Birge -- 25, 46-00 -- $6,000

14. Jordan Lee -- 27, 45-11 -- $6,000

15. Jacob Wheeler -- 25, 45-11 -- $6,000

16. Dustin Connell -- 25, 45-01 -- $6,000

17. Brent Ehrler -- 21, 44-08 -- $6,000

18. Stephen Browning -- 25, 43-12 -- $6,000

19. Dave Lefebre -- 28, 43-10 -- $6,000

20. Mark Rose -- 17, 42-05 -- $6,000

21. Bradley Roy -- 27, 41-08 -- $6,000

22. Jeff Sprague -- 23, 41-08 -- $6,000

23. Greg Hackney -- 17, 41-01 -- $6,000

24. Fred Roumbanis -- 14, 37-07 -- $6,000

25. Aaron Martens -- 18, 36-15 -- $6,000

26. Tommy Biffle -- 19, 34-13 -- $6,000

27. Bobby Lane -- 20, 33-04 -- $6,000

28. Alton Jones -- 17, 33-04 -- $6,000

29. Gary Klein -- 19, 32-15 -- $6,000

30. Jesse Wiggins -- 18, 32-09 -- $6,000

31. James Elam -- 15, 32-09 -- $6,000

32. Fletcher Shryock -- 20, 31-05 -- $6,000

33. Cliff Crochet -- 17, 30-02 -- $6,000

34. Randy Howell -- 16, 26-14 -- $6,000

35. Mark Davis -- 17, 25-10 -- $6,000

36. Justin Lucas -- 15, 23-04 -- $6,000

37. David Walker -- 15, 21-15 -- $6,000

38. Cody Meyer -- 12, 20-07 -- $6,000

39. Adrian Avena -- 9, 16-11 -- $6,000

40. Chris Lane -- 9, 14-13 -- $6,000