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MLF: What could've been

MLF: What could've been

While Greg Hackney was able to find an area of Kenansville Lake that he felt would produce bites consistently despite the breezy, cold-front conditions for the final round of the Major League Fishing World Championship, the three other finalists made decisions during the day they wish they hadn’t.

Below is a rundown of reflections on how the final round shook out for Mike Iaconelli, Andy Montgomery and Skeet Reese:

2nd: Mike Iaconelli

> Final: 8, 25-11

“I got in a rhythm an hour into the last period. I had about an hour and a half where I felt like I was dialed in. The rest of the day was random. I never got into a groove. That’s what killed my chances. I needed to catch more fish in the first and second periods, but I gave those away. It’s hard to win in the last period.

“I looked at everything, but what I ended up focusing on at the end, which was the real deal, was shallow hyacinths. I ruled it out early because I thought the cold front would’ve messed the shallow stuff up. The shallow stuff was better and I didn’t realize it until the end. All the fish I caught at the end came out of 6 to 8 inches of water. That was the mistake I made not focusing on that.

“I caught a couple swimming a worm in deeper hydrilla, but those fish throw you off because you’ll catch a couple and then you go run a bunch of it. That’s how fishing is. Those were false signals. I would’ve fished shallow more. I wouldn’t have ruled it out as easily as I did this morning.”

3rd: Andy Montgomery

> Final: 9, 18-11

“I never got in a rhythm. I did a little bit (in the) morning, but then the area I was fishing in got dirty. That was the end of that pretty quick. I initially focused on scattered hydrilla, then I tried to make flipping mats work. The wind made it really, really tough. Other than fishing docks, that’s probably the way I’ve won the most money in my career. I used to win a lot of money in the fall that way. I love to do it.

“I wish I’d have fished out of the wind as much as possible. I got those bites in the morning in one area and tried to force that a little bit too much. I could tell the water was getting dirtier and dirtier with all the wind. I caught some late once I moved into cleaner water out of the wind. Being out of the wind was a big thing, mainly because you could fish effectively.”

4th: Skeet Reese

> Final: 7, 13-11

“I looked for wind-blown stuff that was shallow. Anywhere the wind was pushing in on it. What was interesting is I thought the bite was going to get better as the water warmed up, but it didn’t. They bit reaction baits early, then shut off after that. It wound up just being a flipping bite. I was looking for the cleaner water, but I wound up catching three or four in dirty water up shallow so that screwed me up.

“In the first and second periods, I felt like I was doing alright. I was leading or in second most of the time so I thought I could keep on that pace and one good bite would give me a shot to win it. I lost my first fish this morning. It looked like a 4-pounder, but I tried to swing it. Those things happen. Then I lost a 4-plus at the end of the day.

“I should’ve flipped more. This cold front and Florida fish don’t get along. It’s a bad combination and I knew that. Typically, you’re supposed to go punching in Florida when you have a cold front like this. I caught them winding in the morning so I figured I’d just keep doing that. I thought it was going to be fine and it wasn’t.”

Below is a gallery of images from the final day at Kenansville Lake.

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