, Port Arthur, Texas


November 28, 2012

Chester Moore column: Iaconelli talks finesse fishing, Sabine tournament

PORT ARTHUR — It might be difficult to imagine Mike Iaconelli “finessing” anything.

From his charismatic personality to his booming hip hop weigh-in intro music the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion is a genuine showstopper.

However, when the bass bite slows down as it does on cold winter days or on super pressured lakes, no one is better at the art of “finesse fishing”.       

“Finesse fishing is about slowing and sizing down your approach,” Iaconelli said.

“Instead of throwing big lures on a heavier line you go into using smaller lures and light line and slow everything down a notch.”

A New Jersey native, Iaconelli grew up fishing heavily pressured waters that were cold much of the year, a formula for largemouth lockjaw.

“There are lots of factors that go into making fish shy and pressure is definitely one of them. The more boats that are out on the water, the more times they get hooked and the more lures they see, the more elusive they get and that is when finesse fishing can make a big difference,” he said.

One particular facet of finesse fishing recommended by Iaconelli is the use of light fluorocarbon. This kind of line is virtually invisible in the water and can help fool line shy fish.

“Fluorocarbon definitely has its advantages. A lot of times using tube jigs or a small worms on pressured fish in conjunction with fluorocarbon line can be a game changer, especially in clear water conditions,” he said.

Before the 2010 Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe, 4-Time Classic Champion Kevin VanDam predicted Iaconelli would top the 50-angler field because of his skill in finesse fishing.

“Conroe can really call for that style of fishing and Mike is a master of it” Van Dam said.

And while Iaconelli did not win, he came very close, taking second place using light line and catching some massive fish. (He earned second place in the 2011 event as well.) You also lose some fish and in fact, he lost one that would have easily put him in first place.

“You will definitely lose some big fish from using the small line but if you are not getting bites, why not give it a try and see if it will make a difference?”

Iaconelli said he and the other anglers on the Elite Series tour are excited about fishing out of Orange for the “Sabine River Challenge” March 14-17, 2013.

“Anytime we can get on a new body of water it makes things interesting. And there are very few anglers on this tour that have any Sabine River experience so this should make for an interesting event,” Iaconelli said.

“I look forward to fishing the Sabine and meeting the people of the area. The fans in Texas and Louisiana are so passionate about bass fishing and that makes it fun.”

The champion angler has a book out entitled, “Finesse Fishing with Mike Iaconelli” where he talks about his favorite subtle tactics and proper presentation.

“Finesse fishing really is about presentation. It is going the extra mile to present something to bass or whatever fish you are pursuing they cannot resist. It is about going beyond normal technique and paying strict attention to detail to catch fish under a variety of conditions,” he said.

To order Iaconelli’s book, go to

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at

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     Summer is one of the best times to seek catfish in Southeast Texas and thankfully, for local anglers without a boat, there are catfish in just about every canal, drainage ditch and bayou in the area.
      Fishing from the bank has its disadvantages but there is a way around it. This involves making the fish come to you.
      European catfish and carp anglers who typically fish exclusively from the bank use a system called “ground baiting,” which involves putting chum out with the bait. They attach a small cylindrical device above their swivel, which holds chum and dispenses it as the water rushes by. The problem is these rigs are not readily available in our marketplace.
      However, with a little ingenuity, taking a 35-millimeter film canister, punching a hole in the bottom and on the lid and then punching more holes along the side can make a similar device. This acts as a perfect chumming device and is very inexpensive.
      Not everyone has film canisters these days so the softer plastic aspirin bottles will also get the job done.
      Rig this above your swivel and weight, and then fill it with your favorite chum. Now you will not only be chumming the area you fish in but also bringing fish directly to your bait.
      Any kind of chum will work, but a mixture I have had some success with was menhaden oil (available through many mail order offshore supply catalogs) mixed with soured milo. The oil creates a huge chum slick and when it mixes with the milo, the smell is almost unbearable, which means catfish love it. The best part is that a little bit goes a long way.
     Something else to consider is using jack mackerel as bait.
     This oily fish is available in larger supermarkets in a can for less than $1, and I can attest it will bring in fish. While fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and tagging sharks for the Mote Marine Laboratory, my partners and I were able to chum in and catch nearly 40 sharks while using less than two cans of the stuff. It is oily and stinks to high heaven, so catfish should love it.
      For anglers interested in using film canisters to chum their bait, something else to consider is the use of a popping cork. Even if your bait is on the bottom, you can rig a popping cork above it and attach a baited film canister below. This will allow you to do some extra chumming and use the cork to “pop” the chum out whenever you want to release more.
     Another great tip for land bound anglers is to use braided line. In talking with several anglers who pursue brackish blues from the bank, I have learned that loosing striking fish can be a problem.
      I am not sure as to the reason but a definitely solution is using a braided line because they have no stretch. When making long casts with monofilament from the bank you have the potential for lots of line stretch when can make a poor hookset.
     Sixty yards of line might have five or six feet of stretch and that is plenty for a big blue to undo. When using a braid like Fireline, Gorilla Braid or Spiderwire you can forego these problems and greatly enhance your chances of putting some catfish in the frying pan.
     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at and watch him Saturdays on on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)

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