Joey Cifuentes Takes Day Two Lead at 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Seminole

Bucks Skeeter Yamaha

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Joey Cifuentes III played a dicey game and ended up on the right side of the risk/reward calculation.

The rookie from Clinton, Ark., brought in the event’s heaviest bag so far Friday with five bass that weighed 26 pounds, 1 ounce. That combined with his Day 1 limit of 19-13 gave Cifuentes the lead in the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole with a total weight of 45-14.

New Jersey superstar Mike Iaconelli is second, trailing by just 2-15.

“It was really slow out there and I apologize to everyone who was watching Bassmaster LIVE. It took me a while to get it,” Cifuentes said. “I worked my butt off out there and it worked out.”

2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Seminole Day Two Leader Joey Cifuentes – photo by Christina O’Sullivan – AdvancedAngler.com

Fishing in Spring Creek, Cifuentes spent the majority of his day targeting standing timber in 20 to 22 feet. A classic prespawn staging scenario, this habitat provides fish the right mix of heat-retaining cover, ambush feeding opportunities and protective structure. The latter presents the biggest challenge.

“Getting the fish to bite hasn’t been that hard; it’s just getting the fish out,” Cifuentes said. “That’s what’s so stressful, because they’re sitting in groups of like two or three big trees together, so they’re hard to get out. But if I get lucky and they go the right way, I can steer them.”

Bassmaster LIVE saw Cifuentes lose an estimated 4-pounder when the bass ran into unyielding cover. Despite his best dislodging efforts, which included sticking his rod into the water, Cifuentes was unable to free the ensnared fish before it shook the hook.

Compounding the challenge of fishing such unforgiving habitat, Cifuentes found his best way to tempt bites was a drop shot on spinning gear. Typically a light-line finesse technique, Cifuentes made strategic adjustments that improved his ability to manage the timber.

“I’m using a bigger leader and line on my spinning rod, so I can really pull on them,” Cifuentes said. “I’m using a 7-foot medium rod with 15-pound Berkley x5 Braid and a 12-pound Berkley 100% fluorocarbon leader.”

Cifuentes said his drop shot is comprised of a 1/4-ounce weight and a 6-inch hand-poured worm in the morning dawn color. To minimize snags, he Texas rigged the worm.

“I rig the worm weedless because you’re reeling around timber and if you had an open hook you’d be getting hung all the time,” he said. “I’m using a small 1/0 hook and I think that’s key because I don’t think the fish can see the hook as much.”
Iaconelli, who won the 2002 Georgia Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Seminole, added 23-9 Friday to his Day 1 weight of 19-6 and sits in second with 42-15.

“This place has a special memory for me and maybe there’s a little bit of good mojo there. I’m trying to keep that going,” Iaconelli said. “I have one really special area and that scares me a little bit, but if that special area keeps producing, I’ll have a good shot to make (Championship Sunday).”

Both days, Iaconelli has fished a small bay in the Flint River. He’s spending most of his time targeting what he calls the last staging point before bass move onto a spawning flat.

On Day 1, Iaconelli caught all of his fish on reaction baits. Today, half of the bass he caught bit a reaction bait and half bit a soft-plastic bait.

“Ninety percent of my weight has come from this area and it’s unlike the way I like to fish,” Iaconelli said. “I’m high-strung; I don’t like to sit still. I’m Power-Poling down and sitting.

“It’s tough for me to fish like that, but it’s a special spot. Fish are swimming past me by the minute. It’s the kind of place that’s feast or famine, so if they stop funneling through that area, I’m happy I made the (Semifinal Saturday) cut.”

Another longtime B.A.S.S. star, Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., is in third place with 38-12. After placing 44th on Day 1 with 14-5, Hackney added Friday’s second-heaviest bag, 24-7.

Hackney said he’s fishing a mix of reaction and slower baits. As he explained, the key to his second-round improvement was calmer weather.

“Yesterday, it was hard for me to be efficient in that wind,” Hackney said. “This morning it was warmer and it was slick and I could be more efficient.”

Hackney said he’s fishing a couple of scenarios, one of which is drop-off related. Water movement, he said, is playing a role in his strategy.

“There’s a lot of fish that are up, but there’s also a lot of fish that haven’t gotten there yet,” Hackney said. “It’s a weird deal; we’ve had such warm weather, but there’s so much water running through the system that it’s keeping it colder. The water temperature’s not warming up with these 80-degree days.”

Jason Christie of Dry Creek, Okla., earned the $1,000 daily bonus for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day with his 6-5. Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., still leads the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament with the 8-1 he caught on Day 1.

Cifuentes is currently in the lead for the VMC Monster Bag award for his Friday catch.

Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 203 points. Cifuentes is second with 190, followed by Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., with 183, Australian Carl Jocumsen with 183 and Brandon Card of Salisbury, N.C., with 179.

Cifuentes leads the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 190 points.

The Top 50 remaining anglers will take off at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday from the Earle May Boat Basin Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:30 p.m., with only the Top 10 advancing to Championship Sunday for a chance at the $100,000 first-place prize.

FS1 will broadcast live with the leaders beginning at 8 a.m. with continuing coverage on Bassmaster.com.

The Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee is being hosted by the City of Bainbridge Community Development.

2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
2023 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.

2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole 2/23-2/26
Lake Seminole, Bainbridge  GA.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 2

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Joey Cifuentes III     Clinton, AR             10  45-14  104
Day 1: 5   19-13     Day 2: 5   26-01
2.  Michael Iaconelli      Pittsgrove, NJ          10  42-15  103
Day 1: 5   19-06     Day 2: 5   23-09
3.  Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA            10  38-12  102
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   24-07
4.  Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN        10  38-06  101
Day 1: 5   19-04     Day 2: 5   19-02
5.  Bob Downey             Detroit Lakes, MN       10  37-02  100
Day 1: 5   18-12     Day 2: 5   18-06
6.  Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA            10  36-15   99
Day 1: 5   17-04     Day 2: 5   19-11
7.  Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA           10  36-04   98
Day 1: 5   20-12     Day 2: 5   15-08
8.  John Cox               DeBary, FL              10  36-00   97
Day 1: 5   18-07     Day 2: 5   17-09
9.  Jason Christie         Dry Creek, OK           10  35-05   96   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-00     Day 2: 5   17-05
10. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA          10  34-14   95
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   22-00
11. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC             10  34-11   94
Day 1: 5   15-01     Day 2: 5   19-10
12. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          10  34-05   93
Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   17-14
13. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              10  34-00   92   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-08     Day 2: 5   15-08
14. Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL             10  33-14   91
Day 1: 5   18-05     Day 2: 5   15-09
15. Pat Schlapper          Eleva, WI               10  33-13   90
Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 5   21-14
16. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA 10  33-12   89
Day 1: 5   14-12     Day 2: 5   19-00
17. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA            10  33-12   88
Day 1: 5   15-03     Day 2: 5   18-09
18. Derek Hudnall          Zachary, LA             10  33-09   87
Day 1: 5   15-00     Day 2: 5   18-09
19. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL         10  33-07   86
Day 1: 5   20-06     Day 2: 5   13-01
20. Kyoya Fujita           Minamitsuru, Yamanashi  10  33-01   85
Day 1: 5   16-12     Day 2: 5   16-05
21. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland AUSTRALIA    10  32-15   84
Day 1: 5   21-06     Day 2: 5   11-09
22. David Gaston           Sylacauga, AL           10  32-14   83
Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   19-15
23. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL        10  32-13   82
Day 1: 5   16-02     Day 2: 5   16-11
24. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           10  32-04   81
Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   15-13
25. Kenta Kimura           Osaka JAPAN             10  32-04   80
Day 1: 5   16-06     Day 2: 5   15-14
26. Taku Ito               Chiba, JAPAN            10  32-03   79
Day 1: 5   17-00     Day 2: 5   15-03
27. Will Davis Jr          Sylacauga, AL           10  32-02   78
Day 1: 5   21-13     Day 2: 5   10-05
28. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC          10  32-01   77
Day 1: 5   15-12     Day 2: 5   16-05
29. Drew Cook              Cairo, GA               10  32-00   76
Day 1: 5   17-14     Day 2: 5   14-02
30. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX              10  31-14   75
Day 1: 5   15-07     Day 2: 5   16-07
31. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX            10  31-13   74
Day 1: 5   15-06     Day 2: 5   16-07
32. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR              10  31-03   73
Day 1: 5   15-15     Day 2: 5   15-04
33. Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               10  31-01   72
Day 1: 5   14-12     Day 2: 5   16-05
34. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA              10  30-15   71
Day 1: 5   20-11     Day 2: 5   10-04
35. Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX             10  30-00   70
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   16-12
36. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK            10  29-15   69
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   16-06
37. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL            10  29-13   68
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   16-09
38. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC           10  29-12   67
Day 1: 5   15-05     Day 2: 5   14-07
39. Wes Logan              Springville, AL         10  29-09   66
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   15-13
40. Cody Huff              Ava, MO                 10  29-07   65
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   16-09
41. David Fritts           Lexington, NC           10  29-04   64
Day 1: 5   08-06     Day 2: 5   20-14
42. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          10  29-03   63
Day 1: 5   12-04     Day 2: 5   16-15
43. Bryant Smith           Roseville, CA           10  29-03   62
Day 1: 5   13-13     Day 2: 5   15-06
44. Hunter Shryock         Ooltewah, TN            10  28-15   61
Day 1: 5   15-03     Day 2: 5   13-12
45. Darold Gleason         Many, LA                10  28-14   60
Day 1: 5   15-10     Day 2: 5   13-04
46. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL         10  28-14   59
Day 1: 5   14-09     Day 2: 5   14-05
47. Cole Sands             Calhoun, TN             10  28-11   58
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   15-10
48. Joshua Stracner        Vandiver, AL            10  28-07   57
Day 1: 5   13-11     Day 2: 5   14-12
49. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY             10  28-04   56
Day 1: 5   14-04     Day 2: 5   14-00
50. Cooper Gallant         Bowmanville Ontario CAN 10  28-02   55
Day 1: 5   14-13     Day 2: 5   13-05
51. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA 10  28-02   54   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   14-09     Day 2: 5   13-09
52. KJ Queen               Catawba, NC             10  28-01   53   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   14-05
53. Justin Hamner          Northport, AL           10  28-00   52   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-03     Day 2: 5   15-13
54. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL            10  27-15   51   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   16-13     Day 2: 5   11-02
55. Jeff Gustafson         Kenora, OOntario CANADA 10  27-10   50   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   14-01
56. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS        10  27-09   49   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-01     Day 2: 5   15-08
57. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              10  27-05   48   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 5   16-02
58. Alex Wetherell         Middletown, CT          10  27-04   47   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   14-05
59. Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY             10  26-14   46   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   15-07     Day 2: 5   11-07
60. Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN          10  26-13   45   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 5   15-10
61. John Soukup            Sapulpa, OK             10  26-11   44   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   14-01     Day 2: 5   12-10
62. Larry Nixon            Bee Branch, AR          10  26-10   43   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-08     Day 2: 5   15-02
63. Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL           10  26-09   42   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-03     Day 2: 5   13-06
64. Joseph Webster         Hamilton, AL            10  26-07   41   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   14-09
65. Seth Feider            New Market, MN          10  26-05   40   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   17-05     Day 2: 5   09-00
66. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA               10  26-04   39   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-01     Day 2: 5   14-03
67. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                 10  26-00   38   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   08-04     Day 2: 5   17-12
68. Jason Williamson       Aiken, SC               10  25-11   37   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 5   14-08
69. Patrick Walters        Eutawville, SC          10  25-09   36   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-00     Day 2: 5   12-09
70. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN        10  25-03   35   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-04     Day 2: 5   14-15
71. Josh Douglas           Isle, MN                10  25-00   34   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-10     Day 2: 5   14-06
72. Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI       10  24-15   33   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   14-00     Day 2: 5   10-15
73. Scott Martin           Clewiston, FL           10  24-12   32   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   08-05
74. Bradley Hallman        Edmond, OK              10  24-12   31   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   15-00     Day 2: 5   09-12
75. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY             10  24-12   30   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   14-01     Day 2: 5   10-11
76. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX          10  24-12   29   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-07     Day 2: 5   13-05
77. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI           10  24-07   28   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-11     Day 2: 5   10-12
78. Buddy Gross            Chattanooga, TN         10  24-06   27
Day 1: 5   09-03     Day 2: 5   15-03
79. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX             10  24-06   26
Day 1: 5   14-12     Day 2: 5   09-10
80. Kyle Norsetter         Cottage Grove, WI       10  24-02   25
Day 1: 5   11-02     Day 2: 5   13-00
81. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              9  23-15   24
Day 1: 5   13-07     Day 2: 4   10-08
82. Chad Pipkens           DeWitt, MI              10  23-14   23
Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 5   11-15
83. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC          10  23-12   22
Day 1: 5   14-02     Day 2: 5   09-10
84. Marc Frazier           Newnan, GA              10  22-11   21
Day 1: 5   11-01     Day 2: 5   11-10
85. David Williams         Newton, NC              10  22-08   20
Day 1: 5   13-08     Day 2: 5   09-00
86. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI            10  22-02   19
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 5   09-13
87. Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Shi JAPAN      10  21-08   18
Day 1: 5   07-10     Day 2: 5   13-14
88. Skylar Hamilton        Jefferson, TN           10  21-06   17
Day 1: 5   10-05     Day 2: 5   11-01
89. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ           10  20-07   16
Day 1: 5   07-15     Day 2: 5   12-08
90. Mike Huff              London, KY              10  20-06   15
Day 1: 5   09-13     Day 2: 5   10-09
91. Alex Redwine           Blue Ash, OH            10  20-04   14
Day 1: 5   07-04     Day 2: 5   13-00
92. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                10  19-07   13
Day 1: 5   09-01     Day 2: 5   10-06
93. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL          10  19-05   12
Day 1: 5   11-10     Day 2: 5   07-11
94. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            8  19-05   11
Day 1: 5   08-14     Day 2: 3   10-07
95. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN          10  18-10   10
Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 5   09-08
96. Jake Whitaker          Hendersonville, NC      10  18-06    9
Day 1: 5   10-15     Day 2: 5   07-07
97. Keith Poche            Cecil, AL                7  18-03    8
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 2   05-14
98. Logan Latuso           Gonzales, LA             8  18-03    7
Day 1: 5   11-12     Day 2: 3   06-07
99. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            10  18-03    6
Day 1: 5   10-09     Day 2: 5   07-10
100. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               7  17-05    5
Day 1: 5   14-10     Day 2: 2   02-11
101. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             7  17-03    4
Day 1: 5   13-10     Day 2: 2   03-09
102. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            7  16-00    3
Day 1: 2   02-10     Day 2: 5   13-06
103. Bryan New              Saluda, SC               7  14-06    2
Day 1: 3   04-14     Day 2: 4   09-08
104. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               5  11-00    1
Day 1: 5   11-00     Day 2: 0   00-00
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Matt Arey                Shelby, NC          08-01      $1,000.00
2   Jason Christie           Dry Creek, OK       06-05      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1       102       515      1433-10
2        96       500      1453-03
———————————-
198      1015      2886-13