2003 Bassmaster Classic Louisiana Delta - New Orleans, LA, Aug 1 - 3, 2003

2003 changed my life

About the author

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Hey guys, several of you have asked me why I spent two weeks on the Delta this winter. Here's the answer: Part of it is because I really want to win this year. Classic opportunities only come along so often. You have to take full advantage of them.

And I need practice time. The guys I'm going up against are good. I need all the help I can get to stay with them. I'm not the guy who wants to launch his boat and go fishing. That doesn't work for me.

A bigger reason, though, is that I wanted to refresh my life. The Delta is really important to me. In 2003, I decided I would fish the Classic and then quit fishing professionally. I wanted out. I was having a tough go of it in my life at the time. Basically, I blamed professional fishing for my troubles.

Of course, that wasn't true. Other things were at work in my world, but I wouldn't admit it. My thinking at the time was to do the best I could in my last Classic appearance and then move on. I thought that would make things better.

And then a funny thing happened: I won. My life — really my attitude — changed overnight. I realized that most of what was good in my life was because of professional bass fishing. It was not the other way around. My negative thinking about fishing was nonsense. I realized I needed fishing to be complete. At the same time, I realized I was looking at the opportunity of a lifetime.

Before that win, I was like a lot of guys — living check to check, knowing that if I had two or three bad tournaments in a row, I was in trouble. The Classic title changed all that. Not only did I have some cash under me, but I also was able to nail down super sponsorships and be involved in product development. Like I said, it was a new world.

All of a sudden people cared about what I was doing. They wanted to know why I was throwing a certain lure with a certain rod, reel and line. Even more important, they cared. They started doing what I did. It was at that point that I knew I had to move forward.

So, my reasons for spending so much time on the Delta this winter are complex. Yes, I want to win the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. I also wanted to get my head back together. (The last half of last year was tough for me.) This is where the best part of my professional life really began. I wanted to spend time thinking about it and recapturing it.

It worked. I fished with my uncle, ran around making sure I know how to navigate the area and generally got my life in order. I'm ready for February — mind, body and soul.