Share this Story


Published: January 13, 2013

Ike Dominates Summit Cup Day 1

by Dan O'Sullivan

Chautauqua Lake, in the Southwest corner of New York state near Mayville, some 40 miles from Erie, Pennsylvania, was the site for the second event in Jack Link’s Major League Fishing history. Chautauqua Lake is a summer playground for residents of Buffalo, Erie and the nearby areas.

With an ample population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass, the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup presented several options to the 24 anglers who make up the Major League Fishing field. The upper and lower ends of the lake presented shallow water areas complete with grass and brush that should prove to hold quality largemouth, but the middle sections of the lake offer deep water, and the chance at some heavy Northern smallmouth.

While the lake features ample grass beds and deep water structure, perhaps the most obvious feature of the lake was an abundance of docks lining the shoreline. From the shores of the famed Chautauqua Institute, to nearly every stretch of shoreline, manmade docks lined the banks. Docks often prove to be magnets to both bass and anglers as they present obvious ambush points for the bass, and visible cover for the anglers to target. Like most Northern lakes, the presence of docks are a spring through summer affair as they are removed each year to avoid damage from icing and the ice melt.

The unknown is always one of the most stress inducing features of a Major League Fishing event. And while there was obvious cover for anglers to target, only a few competitors had ever been on the lake and none of them knew where they would be fishing, or who they would be fishing against, until the angler meeting the night before their competition.

The first day of the Summit Cup would pit a staunch lineup of anglers against each other. The field for the first competition day of the Summit Cup read like a hall of fame dinner attendees list.

The group features an impressive list of credentials. Among the eight man field, they have accounted for 59 wins in Bassmaster competition and another 10 in FLW Outdoors events. They share four Bassmaster and two FLW Angler of the Year titles. Among them, they have competed in 123 Bassmaster Classics and 29 appearances in the Forrest Wood Cup. They include two Bassmaster Classic winners and a Forrest Wood Cup winner. They have a combined $14,307,505 in B.A.S.S. earnings and another $2,937,294 in FLW earnings.

The field for the opening round of the Summit Cup included Tommy Biffle from Wagoner, Okla. Denny Brauer from Camdenton, Mo., Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Fla., Greg Hackney from Gonzales, La., Michael Iaconelli from Runnemeade, N.J., Gary Klein from Weatherford, Tex., Timmy Horton from Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Mike McClelland from Bella Vista, Ark.

When the group drew hole number six, on the Southernmost end of Chautauqua, it appeared that the day was built for a shootout. With the hole consisting of stained water, an abundance of shoreline cover and a long, tree-lined tributary flowing out of the lake, it seemed tailor made for this group. With four members of the field having made the majority of their careers with flippin' sticks in their hands, it looked like the day might have been perfectly scripted.

However, this is Major League Fishing and these are 24 of the best anglers in the business, so the smart play is always to take nothing for granted.

Period One

When the first round began, it looked as though the flippers would own the day, as eight of the first 10 legal bass entered in the Major League Fishing leader board were scored by the big rod experts. Following their 15-minute scouting period, the competitors began fishing at 7:00 a.m., and little more than 20 minutes into the day, Hackney put the first two keepers on the scoreboard. Klein followed shortly after and then Iaconelli made his first appearance on the leader board at 7:37 a.m., but it certainly would not be the last the field heard of him.

The morning started out a little on the slow side and continued that way as the anglers worked to get a feel for the conditions and the body of water that was largely unknown to them all. However, as the morning progressed, it became clear that some of the anglers were beginning to piece the puzzle together. Among those were Iaconelli and Hackney, who both managed to boat five keeper bass. However, Iaconelli proved to have a 1-pound, 3-ounce advantage over Hackney with a first period weight of 9 pounds, 2 ounces bolstered by the biggest bass of the first period, a 4-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.

Hackney's 7-pound, 15-ounce weight found him in second position, followed in third by Klein with 6 pounds, 2 ounces; Brauer in fourth with 5 pounds, 11 ounces; Biffle in fifth with 5 pounds, 3 ounces; Grigsby in sixth with 4 pounds, 4 ounces; Horton in seventh with 2 pounds, 6 ounces, and McClelland failed to post a keeper to the leader board.

Period Two

If the anglers hoped that the leader would have slacked off in the second period, Iaconelli showed that he had put together an effective program in the first period, and was able to expand on it in the second period. Iaconelli began posting bass to the leader board nearly immediately, then added to it every 15 minutes or so for the next hour and a half. His bite seemed to shut down around 11:30 a.m., but then at 12:09 p.m., he broke through with a 5-pound, 2-ounce largemouth, the biggest bass of the day, and another one 20 minutes later to add more than 14 pounds to his total.

Iaconelli's 23-pound, 9-ounce total put him more than 11 pounds out in front of Grigsby, who leapt four places with a 7-pound, 13-ounce second period performance. Biffle stayed steady, adding a 5-pound, 4-ounce weight to bring his total to 10 pounds, 7 ounces and third place. Though he stumbled a bit, Hackney added 3 pounds, 9 ounces to land in fourth with 10 pounds, 2 ounces. Brauer seemed to be in a state of learning, landing in fifth with 9 pounds, 4 ounces followed by McClelland who started putting things together and landed in sixth with 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Klein struggled mightily in the second period, only adding one bass to his total, but he stayed one position and three ounces ahead of Horton, who stood in eighth place with 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

Period Three

What had been a calm day began to change for the worse as a storm front began to roll into the area part way through the final period bringing with it driving wind and heavy rains. The change in the conditions seemed to have an effect on some of the field, but in actuality what it created was a feast or famine type of effect.

Despite the driving wind and rain, two anglers were able to make a charge and put themselves in position to finish inside the top four and qualify for the next round. However hard the charge was, however, nobody in the field was going to catch Iaconelli.

Iaconelli had his slowest period of the day, only posting three bass to the leader board. However, it was his first keeper in the third period that put an exclamation point on his day. A 4-pound, 5-ounce largemouth landed 51 minutes into the period cemented Iaconelli's position as the first place qualifier for the day. He was able to catch two additional small keepers later in the period to bring his total weight to 29 pounds, 3 ounces.

The aforementioned anglers who caught fire in spite of the conditions were Hackney and Brauer. Both anglers managed to eclipse 12 pounds in the final period. Hackney's total of 23 pounds, 10 ounces earned him second place while Brauer's 21 pounds, 14 ounces earned him third place for the day. The final qualifier of the day was Grigsby who managed to post a total of 14 pounds, 1-ounce to outdistance McClelland for fourth place. McClelland made a valiant charge after failing to post a keeper in the first period, however, his 13 pounds, 11 ounces left him on the outside looking in by a slight, six ounce margin. Rounding out the rest of the field were Biffle with 10 pounds, 7 ounces; Horton with 9 pounds, 6 ounces and Klein with 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

The top four will move on to the Sudden Death Semifinal round and now must wait two more days to find out who their competition will be as they move towards the title of Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup Champion.

Angler Weight (lbs) Total Fish Avg Weight (lbs) Biggest Fish (lbs) Smallest Fish (lbs)
Mike Iaconelli 29 lb 03 oz 16 1 lb 13 oz 5 lb 02 oz 0 lb 12 oz
Greg Hackney 23 lb 10 oz 15 1 lb 09 oz 2 lb 06 oz 0 lb 13 oz
Denny Brauer 21 lb 14 oz 16 1 lb 06 oz 2 lb 08 oz 0 lb 13 oz
Shaw Grigsby 14 lb 01 oz 8 1 lb 12 oz 2 lb 11 oz 1 lb 04 oz
Mike McClelland 13 lb 11 oz 11 1 lb 04 oz 2 lb 11 oz 0 lb 11 oz
Tommy Biffle 10 lb 07 oz 5 2 lb 01 oz 3 lb 09 oz 0 lb 14 oz
Tim Horton 9 lb 06 oz 8 1 lb 03 oz 1 lb 15 oz 0 lb 11 oz
Gary Klein 7 lb 09 oz 5 1 lb 08 oz 2 lb 12 oz 0 lb 11 oz