Summertime fishing will strike most part of the country during the months of June, July and August. Iaconelli explained it simply by fishing during the warmest air temps and warmest water temps of the year and stated there only three things that an angler had to keep in mind to set themselves up for the best summer bass bounty that they could achieve. “I say these three things over and over and over in my head, no matter where I am fishing,” said the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champ. “There are three main patterns and these are the three things that I think about – deeper, thicker and current. That’s it. Simple as that – deeper, thicker, current.”
Iaconelli started off explaining the “deeper” pattern saying it is the primary summertime pattern. He then explained that there are three reasons that bass go deep in the summer. The first to find cooler water. “At this time, the surface temp of a body of water can go up to the 80’s, 90’s or even into the 100-degree range,” he stated. The second reason a bass will go deeper is due to stratification. He explained saying, “As this occurs, oxygen levels will deplete in shallow zones and as a matter of survival, fish will go deeper to find more oxygen.” Lastly, a bass will follow their food source and as they found their meals shallower in the spawn, that forage will move deeper as the water warms. “It is just like wolves, it doesn’t matter what kind of baitfish it is – shad, yellow perch, alewife – they all move deep,” he added. While Ike stated there is not one bait across the board that is best for the deeper pattern, due to the vast difference in depth range that deep could equal, he did recommend two baits for areas that are 20- to 25-feet or deeper. “You do need a specialized bait when targeting fish that deep,” he continued. “The first is a deep diving crankbait and the second is a football head jig. The important thing about these two baits are that they can trigger a reaction strike. When bass are deep, they typically feed in low light or nighttime conditions and most of the time, we are on the water in the day. That is why, I want something that is really good at triggering a ‘non-feeding’ fish to bite.”
Ike’s Deeper Lure Selection & Gear:
Ike’s preferred deep diver is a Rapala DT. “The ‘DT’ means ‘dives-to’,” said Iaconelli. “On my lake, I’m using a DT 10, because it dives to 10-feet. At Kentucky Barkley, if I’m on an 18 or 20-ft ledge, I’m using a DT 20.” For the next bait – the football head jig – Ike uses the Berkley Gripper Jig. “I like it because it is a tremendous reaction bait,” he continued. “It lets me get past that normal barrier of 20 or 25-ft. You need that in many places, like the Great lakes or the deep mountain lakes out West. A crankbait loses its effect when you’re deeper than 25-ft. I use a 1/2 or 3/4-oz jig. My jig trailer in the summer is different too. You want a lot of action in the summer vs. a more neutral action in the winter. The high-action trailer I like is a double tail grub. Berkley makes one in the Havoc line called the Deuce. It is just a bigger, beefier grub.”
Favorite gear for fishing his deeper baits were specific. “Fishing a deep crankbait is more specialized, because of the super-long casts that you need to make,” he said. “I use an Abu Garcia Veritas – a really long 7’11” rod in the Winch series. It has a softer action to achieve maximum diving depth and the needed long casts. I also like a reel that holds a lot of line and has a slower gear ratio, especially with a big crankbait like the DT 16 or DT 20. I use an Abu Garcia Revo Winch with that big spool in a 5.1:1. That slow gear ratio helps you fish that big bill. I use 10- to 12-lb Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon because of the density it sinks, getting deeper for bottom contact.” He throws his jig with a 7′, medium-heavy Veritas with a 7.1:1 Revo Premier reel for quicker line pick up. He upsizes to 15 or 17-lb line for his Grippers.
“This can throw people off, but even in the heat of the summer, after the spawn, even if the water is 80, 90 or 100, if there is available thick cover, some fish will remain shallow,” noted Ike. “That is where the second pattern comes into play – the ‘thicker’ pattern. Thick is relative depending on where you are. In Florida, on Okeechobee, Kissimmee or Toho it might be the grass – hydrilla, milfoil, reeds, etc. In California on the Delta, it might be hydrilla, milfoil or duckweed. In other places there might be no grass, but there is cover, like Lake Wylie in North Carolina. There isn’t a stitch of grass there, but there is a ton of lay down trees. In other places, like Lake Norman in the Carolinas, has 1000’s of docks. If you look, they provide shade, overhead cover and keep the water cooler. It’s even better if you can find a dock near a fresh water run-in. Look around the thickest part of the cover in the shallow zones for minnows, shad, craw dads, etc. Locate the thickest part of the cover, if you’ve found baitfish there should be some bass.”
Ike’s Thicker Lure Selection & Gear:
Ike’s punch’ rig includes a 3/8 to 1 1/2-oz VMC tungsten weight . The thicker the cover, the heavier the weight. The color of his weight relates directly to what he is trying to imitate. “If there are bluegills or craws around, I will use realistic colors like muted greens or blacks,” he said. “You don’t see silver on bluegill or craws. If I’m trying to imitate an alewife or emerald shiner around a dock, I’m going to use a smoke or silver. I want the package to look as real as possible.” He uses a VMC Bobber Stop and a stout flippin’ hook that he helped develop – the VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook in 3/0 or 5/0, depending on bait size. “There are lots of different plastic creature baits out there,” said Iaconelli. “I use the Berkley Devil Spear. It’s amazing for punchin’. It has a nice compact body with no appendages, no arms or curly tails. It is streamline, like a spear, with deep grooves. Those deep serrated ribs catch water on the fall making the tail shake back and forth. I use the regular 4 1/4-inch size with a 5/0 VMC hook, when I see adult size craws and bigger bluegill. I use the smaller 3 1/3-inch size with a 3/0 VMC hook when I see smaller minnows or grass shrimp. I’m always trying to match the hatch.”
He ties on with a snell knot and noted that up until eight or so years ago he used a Palomar. The switch in knots increased his hookup percentage by at least 30 percent. He also stated that the VMC hook he helped create has two keeper barbs that were specifically designed to be positioned 1/8 of an inch below the eyelet of the hook to allow room for the snell knot. Punch gear for Iaconelli is a medium-heavy, 8′ Veritas. I like this long heavy backbone which is about 80 percent o f the rod,” he added. “Twenty percent has a little tip which is good for casting. This is a close quarters bait and you’ve got to have a fast reel. I use an Abu Garcia STX 8.1:1. Seventy percent of the time, he punches with 50- to 65-lb Spiderwire Stealth braided line for thick cover and stained or dirty water. The remainder of the time he will use Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon. He stated the criteria that would prompt the fluoro would be super clear water with thick shallow cover or super-heavy pressured areas.
“People have in mind certain types of water, when you say current,” explained Ike. “Like current you find in rivers or manmade current from a dam. That is wrong. Every body of water has current, even a natural, bowl shaped lake or pond has current from wind, from boat traffic from movement in the mouth of a canal or in a saddle that is formed a between point and an island. That is important to remember, because by default the current will increase the oxygen, make the water cooler and attract baitfish and forage. Current is the third summertime pattern that I’m looking for and I’m going to go out of my way to find the areas with it.”
Ike’s Current Lure Selection & Gear:
Once again, Ike explained there were many lures and techniques that could be used in the current. He noted that his top-two were a spinnerbait and an Iaconelli go-to the shakey head. “The spinnerbait is a great tool in lots of situations, but I think it may be the best lure in a current situation,” he said. “The blade has movement in current on its own without any action from your rod or your reel. It is often my first choice in summertime cover.” He uses the Molix Water Slash spinnerbait due to its scaled down compact size and the distinctive head design that invokes a unique side-to-side motion or shimmy that Ike compared to a Senko. The majority of the time, Ike ties on a 3/8 or 1/2 oz spinnerbait and said 10 percent of the time it will be a little lighter or littler heavier, depending on the circumstance. As always, he chooses to match the hatch with colors such as fire tiger if yellow perch were in the vicinity or gold if golden shiners were showing themselves and a silver, if the shad were around. Blade styles depended on water clarity. “If it is stained to clear and I can see three or four feet down, I will use a willow leaf, he said. “If it is stained to muddy, like it just rained and it’s chocolate milk and I need more vibration, I am going to use a Colorado. If I want more flash then I’m going to use a willow.” “My finesse standby for current is the shakey head,” said Ike. “It is a classic current bait, especially when you already know they are there and you want to maximize the spot.” He uses the Havoc Bottom Hopper on his shakey head due to its flat bottom design and the gliding and sliding nature.
Ike’s spinnerbaits are fished on 7′ Veritas medium action rod. He chooses this to allow a little more delay in the hookset. His reel is a 7.1 Premier Revo which is versatile allowing him to slow down or burn back. The line is Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon depending – 15-lb for open water, 17 for moderate and 20 for thick weeds. The Veritas 6’6″ spinning rod and the Revo premier spinning reel in the 30size with 8 or 10-lb 100% fluorocarbon seals the deal. “You want a big reel so you can spool your line and still leave about 1/8-inch in there,” said Ike. “Also, you always want to fish up current and then let the bait come back down to you naturally the way the baitfish, crawfish or earthworms would drift towards you – this will double your bites, for sure.”
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Ike’s Three Keys Summer 2013 Bass Angler Magazine (Jody Only pg. 72- 75)