One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Gold – Junk Fishing "IKE" Style
The main practice goal for the vast majority of tournament anglers is to develop a pattern for an upcoming tournament. If these angles are lucky, they may be able to develop a second or even a third pattern in case their main pattern falters over the course of the tournament. These patterns allow the angler to focus on a minimal number of techniques, type of cover or depth – and theoretically, they can duplicate the pattern all over the lake or river system.
Pattern development has been the holy-grail of bass fishing since the early days and has been written about by anglers such as Roland Martin, Rick Clunn and Bill Dance, to name a few. In fact, the "pattern" was / was so highly regarded that unless you were able to determine one prior to a tournament, you might as well go home.
Fast-forward to the late nineties and you started to hear more about top touring pros "junk-fishing" their way to top finishes on the tours. Anglers that did not have anything going pattern-wise, yet were able to scrape together enough fish to finish high or even win events. It was thought at the time that their hard work is what paid off.
Looking at it deeper, though, we see that may not be the case. Could it be that junk-fishing really is not what the name poses? For this article, we sat down with arguably the tours' best junk-fisherman, Mike Iaconelli, to discuss his view of junk-fishing and how it has gotten him to the number-one spot on the Bassmaster Elite Series this year. His views are sure to shed more light on the subject and hopefully give you the confidence to hang up your worn pattern and go for the win when nothing else seems to be working.
Is there a "best" time?
"Anytime of the year is good for junk-fishing," said Iaconelli. "I've used it in every season of the year with success. But, by far, the best time of year is post-spawn because the fish are more transient during this time."
In other words, during the pre-spawn, the fish may be at different stages but they all have the same thing on their mind, "he said." This allows for pretty easy patterning of fish. "
"Contrary to this, the post-spawn has the fish all spread out," he said. "Some fish will be protecting fry around their beds, some females will be venturing into deeper water to recuperate, and yet other fish will have already reclaimed and are starting to set up on their summer haunts. at this time of year. One type of technique generally will not catch all of these fish. "
Versatility is Key
"Everyone calls it junk-fishing like it does not take much skill," Iaconelli said. "Actually, it takes more skill to be good at it because in order to be successful, you have to know and understand how to use every type of bait on the market. you have to be a master at them all. "
"For instance, you need to be able to effectively fish each portion of the water column," he said. "You need to know how to use the shallow running crank bait that runs from 0- to 2-feet deep. You need to know how to throw a jig or roll a spinnerbait in 2 to 4-feet of water. time you also need to know when to change from pitching that jig to shallow water and pick up the jig worm and cast it into 15 to 20-feet of water off the gravel point you're on. "
"Versatility, the ability to read cover and structure, and knowing what bait is best for each situation is what makes this form of fishing difficult."
Patterns and Junk-Fishing
Iaconelli starts each and every practice period by junk-fishing. "It's my way of determining what the fish are doing. I can cover a lot of water fast and fish a lot of different techniques."
"I think all anglers do the same thing but they do it with the intent of figuring out a pattern," he said. "I do not look at it that way. If I find a pattern great – but if I do not, my junk-fishing becomes my pattern. fishing. "
"It also gives me confidence to quit a pattern mid-stream." he said. "The Guntersville Elite Series event this year is a prime example. I had fish going in deep hydrilla on the second the third days. Those days I had my best weight but by noon on the last day, I only had two fish in the box I had the confidence to abandon my deep pattern and go find some sight fish. That change made the difference for me and allowed me to win that tournament. "
"You can always tell who's on what the morning of the tournament," Iaconelli said. "The guy that has three or four rods on deck is on a pattern. The guy with 12 to 20 rods on deck is junk-fishing."
"You need a lot of rods on the deck in order to fish this way effectively," he said. "For example, I'll drop the trolling motor at the mouth of a creek and by the time I get to the back, I have used 15 different baits. I properly hit a log going in with a spinnerbait but when I come out I may throw a topwater bait on it. "
"Junk-fishing is not about power-fishing either," he said. "My spinning gear plays as big a role in my junk-fishing as my flipping stick does. a certain log, I'll slow down and fish it. It all has to do with knowing your tools and listening to your gut. "
Finally, Listen to the Fish
"Another important aspect, not just in junk-fishing but all fishing in general, is to listen to what the fish are telling you," Iaconelli said. "If you're catching fish, they're telling you that you're doing the right thing. But, do not get caught in the rut of fishing yesterday's fish. In doing this, you need to have the confidence in your ability to adapt and fish for the moment.