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Elite Bassmasters enthralled with river

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WADDINGTON - It was not yet noon on the first day of practice but Mike Iaconelli had encountered a problem in his on-water preparations for the Evans Williams Bourbon St. Lawrence River Showdown of the Bassmaster Elite Series which is being hosted by Waddington.

“This is crazy man,” said the colorful Iaconelli who has hosted his own realty television show “City Limits” on the VERSUS network.

“I have been catching fish everywhere. On the bank, on the drop and in the cutout for channel. I have never seen so many fish at every depth, I caught several four-pounders and two that I know were over five pounds. This is my first time fishing this part of the St. Lawrence but I always enjoyed fishing tournaments up in Clayton.”

So what’s the problem.

“I am catching fish everywhere so right now I can’t come up with a pattern. And it could be a concern if everyone is catching the same sized fish,” said Iaconelli who hails from New Jersey.

“I’ll move around on the river in the next couple of days and then make a decision and where to fish. The trick is to find a place where the fish are running a couple ounces bigger on the average than other places. It could be the difference between a 20-pound bag and a 25-pound bag.”

Two other Bassmaster Elite Pros in Tim Horton and Pete Pond were also expecting many 20-pound plus bags when the four-day tournament opens on Thursday.

“This is just an incredible fishery,” said Ponds as he carefully released a small smallmouth.

“The only problem for me right now is the weather. Man it was really cold this morning, I am not used to it. When I left home in Mississippi to come here the heat index was 103 degrees.”

Like the other 99 elite anglers Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala. was moving around a lot as the sun reached high noon in a cloudless sky, on Monday, over the seamless crystal expanse of the big river.

And everywhere he went he marked and caught fish.

“It is really beautiful here. I am moving around quite a bit fishing different depths,” said Horton.

“I have been using a drop shot and I have caught a lot of fish. I will be moving upriver tomorrow. I am down in the standings a little so I really need a good finish.”

The tournament will begin on Thursday and the public is invited to watch the boats leave at 6:15 a.m. and attend the weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m.

The field of 99 will be pared down to 50 for Saturday’s 6:30 a.m. launch and Sunday’s finale will see 12 anglers casting for tournament honors.

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