Iaconelli Claims Victory in Georgia

BAINBRIDGE, Ga., Feb. 9, 2002 - New Jersey pro Michael Iaconelli put an end to a minor slump in his young career Saturday by winning the $477,000 CITGO Georgia BASSMASTER Tour event on Lake Seminole.

The 29-year-old pro failed to qualify for the prestigious BASS Masters Classic and did not threaten to win a BASSMASTER tournament over the last year - which constitutes a slump in the mind of a confident angler who had two national victories and more
than $250,000 in earnings to his credit before his latest heroics. With his win in Georgia, Iaconelli added another $110,000 to his bank account and righted his career course.

"It's been a great week. Just unbelievable," Iaconelli said on the victory stand. "I'm up here shaking again, and I haven't had that feeling in a long time.

"My career has really been in a rut the last year or so, so to be here again as a result of making the right decisions this week really feels good."

Iaconelli, who dedicated the victory to an ailing uncle who is battling cancer, entered Saturday's round with a small lead, but proceeded to put the tournament away with a 5-pound limit weighing 10 1/2 pounds. His four-day total of 55-2
out-distanced Arizona's Brett Hite (50 pounds) by more than 5 pounds. Reigning B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Mark Davis of Arkansas was third (47-1), followed by Japan's Kotaro Kiriyama (46-10 and David Walker of Tennessee (45-11).

The winning pattern involved cranking cover-laden river ledges in the Flint River. Iaconelli alternated two Mann's crankbaits (15+ and Baby 4 Minus) along the ledges, depending on the depth of each spot.

Hite, 23, rode a western-born technique that he has mastered to second place and $48,000. He used a drop-shot rig (while alternating three different plastic creatures) to fish around trees on a river ledge to catch 9-5 Saturday and hold onto
the position he had held the previous two days.

"I'm disappointed, but satisfied," Hite said. "I fished well, but it's always a little disappointing to come this close to winning and not pull it out."

Davis finished third on the strength of a pattern that involved fishing a Shad Rap crankbait along ditches and openings in Seminole's famous hydrilla fields. Davis had Saturday's big bass (4-6).

Oklahoma's Kenyon Hill, the leader for the first two days, finished sixth with 42-11, followed by Tom Mann, Jr. of Georgia (41-15), Texan Bud Pruitt (40-15), Mark Menendez of Kentucky (39-5) and North Carolina's Dustin Wilks (39-2).

The Georgia CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event will air on ESPN2 March 9 at 10:20 a.m. (ET).

Weigh-ins took place at Earl May Boat Basin Park.

By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the
standard for
credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades.

Sponsors of the Georgia CITGO BASSMASTER Tour include: CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems,
Stowaway Batteries,
Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, Gore-Tex Outerwear, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, GMAC/ B.A.S.S. Vehicle & Boat Insurance, B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa/First USA.

Associate Sponsors include: Bass Cat Boats and G3 Boats

The CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event was presented locally by the Bainbridge- Decatur County Chamber of Commerce (229) 246-4734.

Story Courtesy of B.A.S.S., Inc.