Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Ike Engine Did by Bruce Callis



Shocked! Disbelief! I am sure the fans were feeling the same thing as the anglers took the stage each day for the weigh in. They had come to see the best in the fishing industry show them just how great their fishery was. Of course there were many there who came to root on one of their own. While they saw that even the best can struggle on their mighty Delaware River, with the exception of day 1, they saw the boy who grew up fishing the home waters run away with the championship.
It is in the books. The Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River is history and Michael “Ike” Iaconelli has secured his place in both history and the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Not bad for the hometown boy from Jersey. But if you had told me that when the dust had settled, that this would be the toughest fishery the pros would face, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me that the average winning weight would be less than 3 pounds per fish, I would have bet the farm that you were way under. Good thing I didn’t bet.
Day one started off with Boyd Duckett holding a 4 pound lead over Morizo ShShimizu. Not bad, as Boyd averaged a little over 3 pounds per bass for his 5 fish limit. While Morizo averaged a little over 2 pounds per bass for his 5 fish limit. The biggest news of the day wasn’t about big bags as it was little to no fish at all. Of the 106 anglers fishing, 6 could not find the first legal fish and 20 anglers only found one. Kevin and Jonathon VanDam were 2 of the 6 who did not weight any fish the first day. Russ Lane, Kelly Jordan, Pete Ponds, Mike McClelland, Hank Cherry, and Rick Clunn were some of the anglers who could only find one fish to bring to weigh in.
Day 2 saw Boyd struggle to find fish, landing only 3 keepers while 21st place Ike found another limit of 5 fish but upgrading to a 15.1 pound bag. Boyd did manage to hang on to 2nd place for the day. But the skunk fell again and landed hard on Randy Howell, Rick Clunn, Russ Lane, and finally the big zero landed for the second time on Jonathon VanDam and David Smith. Ten anglers in total on day 2 found no keepers. Kevin VanDam found one fish along with 14 other anglers on day two. At the end of the day, only 7 anglers had a 10 fish limit for the 2 days and the cut for the top 50 was 11 pounds.
The fishing remained a struggle on day 3 as 5 anglers found no measureable bass and 13 could only find one fish to weigh in. Only 3 anglers at this stage, Ike, Bill Lowen, and Scott Rook, could say they found a limit all 3 days. Ike increased his lead to almost 7 pounds, 37 pounds, over 2nd place Lowen, 30.7 pounds. The top 12 was set with Boyd Duckett holding on to 12th with 25.1 pounds, finding only 1 fish on day 3 for 1.12 pounds.
Ike was the only angler to find a limit all 3 days, finishing day 4, Championship Sunday, with a 5 fish limit of 10.14 and holding on to win by 8 pounds. Scott Rook was the only angler to find only 1 fish to weigh and all 12 anglers weighed in fish.
The results don’t lie, some mighty good anglers found the Delaware River to be far tougher then they could imagine. I just find it hard to imagine that so many anglers struggled to find measurable fish. I’m not surprised by the lower weight totals, as we are talking river not lake. But to find none or only one over 2 days? And they are the “Elite” anglers? Think you could have done better?

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