Mike Iaconelli - 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion, 2006 Angler of the Year - Pursuing His Mission With Passion




“There is no where to hide in the Delta. And I crashed a boat and created a canopy… But then the storm passed and I went around the bend and found a canal and I pulled in there and there were mullet jumping. It was this weird feeling that I had gotten to life, and it had all the makings of a winning area in it…”

Podcast Synopsis

Mike Iaconelli is a professional Bass Fisherman from South Philly, now living in New Jersey. He's had a passion for fishing since childhood and has been competing in fishing tournaments since high school. Since that time, Mike has won, or come near winning almost every major award in tournament bass fishing, and is the only angler to have ever won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Most notably the 2003 Bassmaster Classic and 2006 Angler-of-the-Year awards. Most recently Mike won the Bassmaster Open on the James River only a couple of weeks after this podcast was recorded.

I caught up with Mike at the Icast show this year and had a great conversation. Mike’s path to the top was unconventional and he was not the typical Pro Bass Angler. Experiencing early success, his momentum slowed as the reality of the difficulty of the life that a professional angler leads hit home. Just before the 2003 Bassmaster Classic, Mike considered giving it all up and had even done the paperwork to go back to teaching. He had qualified for the Bassmaster Classic and he expected it to be his last tournament.

A few days later Mike wins the biggest tournament is professional angling. His life was forever changed and he began to develop a plan for how this would steer the rest of his life. Today he is one of the most popular figures in the sport of Bass Fishing and it is safe to say that he has transcended the sport. He has been featured in mainstream media, written books and had network television shows, all with the mission to get more people into the sport of fishing.

In this podcast we talk about a lot of things in addition to his story of success. Here are some highlights:

0:00- 2:10 - Guest Intro -  How Mike almost gave up professional fishing

2:30- Tom Rowland’s introduction of Mike Iaconelli, 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion and 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year

3:45-     - Mike Iaconelli is happy to be on the podcast because no one asks him to be on the podcast.  He thinks IkeLive is the Black Sheep of the fishing industry

5:02- Mutual friends with Gregor Gillespie, #BestfishermaninMMA and previous podcast guest.  MMA fighters who are fishermen.  Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Chad Mendes

7:22- Mike Iaconelli wrestles UFC Fighter Jim Miller in a singlet that is WAY too tight

8:35- Often great fishermen are wrestlers

9:39 - Mike talks about how fishing is a puzzle

10:17- Mike tells his story of an unconventional path to the Bassmaster Classic win in 2003

17:20 - Mike wins $125,000- Rick Clunn comes in second.

18:25 - The reality of professional fishing hits.  Things fall apart and he thinks he is going to stop fishing entirely and go back to teaching.  He had already qualified for the Bassmaster Classic so he decides to go out with a bang.

23:04 - More problems…Engine trouble during the tournament. But still makes it into the lead.  Gary Klein and Roland Martin breathing down his neck

25:50 - The winning fish strikes…

27:21 - I won the Classic with 10 minutes to spare.  “It changed my life”

29:45 - You thought you were going to quit and then you win the biggest thing in fishing…

31:45 - Time to go to work…He said YES to everything to maximize his Classic win

34:10- Win creates mainstream media opportunities.  GQ, Today, 

38:00 - Process of writing his book in 2004

40:03 - Meeting his future wife, Rebecca - growing the business and reaching as many people as possible

44:20 - 46:02 The development of Bass University, Ike Foundation, Podcasts and Network TV

47:11- Competitiveness

51:28 - Maturing into who he is today

56:05 - City based TV shows City Limits, Going Ike, Fish My City, Ike Live, 

1:03 - Podcasts - Ike Live - Waynes World meets Howard Stern in Mike and Becky’s Basement

1:10- Disguises at Icast

1:16- Sasquatch

1:17 - What do you do when you are not working or fishing?

1:19 - Mike and Becky go Flyfishing

1:22 - Tom gets an invite to Ike Live

Close - Go to MikeIaconelli.com

People, organizations and terms mentioned in this podcast:

Guido Hibdon, Rick Clunn, Denny Brauer, ESPN, B.A.S.S., Kevin Van Dam, Edwin Evers, Brett Hite, Byron Velvik, Ish Monroe, Becky Iaconelli, Steve Derstine, MLF, FLW, Fish My City, Doug Bunsey, Going Ike, Street Fishing, Mobile Fishing, Urban Fishing, Amazon, Hulu, Waypoint TV, Youtube, Mark Jeffries, Bass Talk Live, Sasquatch, Ike Live

See you next time,

Tom Rowland