It’s unusual to have a Bassmaster Classic without a Day 1 leader. However, as most anglers will tell you who are fishing the 2013 event on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Grove, Oklahoma this is a very unusual Classic.
Mississippi angler Cliff Pace and New Jersey’s Mike Iaconelli sit tied atop the leader board after Day 1. Both men brought 21 lbs-8oz to the weigh-in stage Friday evening at the Bank of Oklahoma (BOK) Center in Tulsa.
The field of competitors spent the day bundled up tightly as the pre-dawn temperature to start the day hovered at 27-degrees. The wind-chill factor in a bass boat traveling 70mph only added to the difficulty. Anglers battled frozen rod guides which made casting difficult in the early going. Pace and Iaconelli seemed to take the weather in stride because the fish were still biting.
“When I put my trolling motor down, it’s ‘slo-mo.’ I’m fishing really slow, in what I feel is the best places.” said Pace who hit a lull during the midday, but added hit two biggest bass in the last two hours of the competition on day one.
For Iaconneli the fish were biting throughout the day. He was out in front most of the day on the unofficial “Basstraxx” Iaconelli won the Bassmaster Classic in 2003 and believes his Day 1 achievement is the first step in nailing down his second career championship.
“It’s the kind of start you have to have to win the Classic,” said the New Jersey angler, who also owns the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors from 2006.
Pace said he used three different lures to catch his fish. A crankbait, jerkbait, and jig.
Sitting in third after the first day is Classic rookie Hank Cherry of North Carolina. Cherry’s first day creek was 20-15. Four-time classic champ Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan carried 19-12 to the weigh-in scales and Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, North Carolina sits in 5th place with 19-10.
Although the weather was a bit uncomfortable for the day, it seemed to have little impact on the fishing.
“A lot of time after a very, very cold night like we had, the fishing gets better,” Iaconelli said.
Classic coverage on ESPN2 will begin with a Day 1 show at 9-10 a.m. ET March 2. Classic coverage of the final two days will air March 3 on ESPN2 from 6 a.m. to noon.