Ooops, I won.


Michele Fanfani

HENRICO, Va. James river
June 26, 2023
MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League

We finally have a chance to tell the story of a tournament gone well. We cheer for Jacopo, his wife Federica and their dog Yago. We do it to lift their spirits. But in a way, we all needed this one.
I can assure you that Jacopo is not your run of the mill “good angler.” After spending many days by his side on the water (and also at some important tournaments), I am 100% certain that he has all of the qualities it takes to be “the best,” or at least to be ranked among the best.
I am so confident in my opinion that while commenting on his recent run of disappointing results, I could only say “It’s just a matter of time. When you work as hard as he does and commit yourself to the maximum degree, you will obtain better results.”
And so it was that during the same season when Jacopo’s victory on the Potomac made him the first European angler to win a major touranment in professional American bass fishing, we found ourselves celebrating his victory on the banks of another legendary river: the James.

Let’s just say that his arrival for the official practice period did not augur well. The rain came down in waves driven by thirty-five mile per hour winds, and his campsite was flooded. Jacopo told us that being in the camper made him feel like he was trapped in a washing machine.
He wisely chose to wait out the weather. In doing so, he lost the first day of practice.
Fortunately, on the second day Jacopo was able to fish well in the places where he wanted to practice. He fished some at high tide, and others at low tide, in order to gain a full understanding of the situation.
He ended practice with around fourteen pounds for his best five fish. But he had lost a few really good bass, and those lost fish gave him evidence that quality bites were to be found in those areas. Jacopo certainly remembered that he had caught his personal best in those waters, in 2018. He was right to believe that those areas could produce the bites he needed.
Even on the second day that he practiced (and of which he only used half the day), he once more landed a decent bag of around fourteen pounds. A fourteen pound limit might not be enough to win, but it might be enough to place in the top ten.

Jacopo was calm and confident heading into the event, even if he had yet to entirely shake off his poor showing on the Potomac. It had not been easy to digest.
He is comforted by being boat number eighty-one, thereby granting him around one half- hour of additional time. He takes off and heads to his chosen spots one hour from the ramp, and begins fishing on the Chickahominy River.
Jacopo has a decent limit of around twelve pounds after two hours of fishing time. He landed it by fishing a small swimbait in the gaps between vegetation. It’s a risky technique because his tackle is light and it’s easy to lose a fish in the lily pads. But he finds many bites, and they provide pleasure and also lift his spirits. And so as to not pressure the spot too much, he decides to fill up on fuel (the lesson he learned at the Classic stuck with him)…
He resumes fishing the area, once again with the soft swimbait. He finds some really good bites, even if dislodging fish from the lilies proves a challenge. He’s slightly bothered by two good fish that got away, so he decides to change location and try to reverse the curse that has him losing so many good fish.
The situation he finds is not ideal due to the tide and the presence of other boats. He ultimately decides to fish the lower end of the Chickohiminy river, where he stops to fish some pads that look promising.
 He changes his presentation however to a light punching rig. The idea is to slip the lure under the leaves of the pads. Jacopo immediately improves his limit weight by nearly two pounds.
And thenhe reaches a space in between the pads, in very shallow water, with a beautiful long cast. He feels the bite and sets the hook. A four pound bruiser jumps out of the water. After a short fight, it’s in the livewell. His limit is up to around sixteen pounds. 
There is a moment of panic when Jacopo realizes the big bass is bleeding profusely from where it was hooked in its tongue. He uses a trick to cauterize the wound: rinse the wound with a drink that contains citric acid. It works!
 As the tournament winds down (keeping in mind that Jacopo has a one hour-long return trip to the ramp), Jacopo tries to improve his limit. Fishing by instinct, he manages to land a bass that improves his limit to sixteen pounds, five ounces.
While waiting to weigh-in, Jacopo notices that one of his bass has disgorged a large Yellow Perch. Fortunately, the bass is alive and well. Is it a good omen?
Thinking he had a limit weight closer to twenty pounds, Jacopo was satisfied with his day. He did not think he would win.
Until he did.
It is his second victory in the United States, and while it is perhaps a bit less prestigious than the first, it is worthy of the trophy case.
Jacopo is particularly grateful to Freedom Marine Center for taking care of him and his bass boat since he arrived in America. And thanks to the Phoenix bonus, he takes home 12,436.00 dollars for his victory.

Gallelli’s Gear
Soft Swimmbait
13 FISHING ENVY casting rod, 7’6” length. Medium-heavy with extra-fast action.
13 FISHING CONCEPT C2 bait casting reel. Gear ratio 7,5:1, loaded with Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon (14 lb. test).
BKK Tide Titan Diver 1.0 hook, tipped with a 3” Molix Ra-Shad Fat in natural colors.
Light Punching
13 FISHING ENVY casting rod, 7’6” length, 1- ¼ oz. Medium-heavy with extra-fast action.
13 FISHING CONCEPT C2 bait casting reel. Gera ratio 8:3:1, loaded with Sufix 832 braid (50 lb. test).
3/8 oz. tungsten weight.
BKK Heavy Cover 3.0 hook tipped with a 4” creature bait in a baitifsh pattern.
(Traduzioni: Henry Veggian)

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Michele Fanfani
Michele, 60 years old, Florentine like Jacopo, followed him during all phases of his sporting career in Italy and accompanied him to America at the start of his professional career. He achived several successes fishing along with Jacopo but above all he conceived and created the Italian magazine “Bassfishing” and the publication “The Secrets of Bassfishing”. He currently follows Jacopo along his career and is the creator and administrator of the “Curva Gallelli” Fans Club.