I don’t think I can say enough about what fishing’s done for me and for my life. Honestly, it’s basically responsible for everything I am and everything I have.
It all started when my grandfather and my uncle taught me about fishing in the early days. They did more than spend time with me, although that was a part of it and was darn important. What they did was teach me a work ethic.
We didn’t just go out on the water, throw a bobber and worm out, and then hope for the best. We studied the lake and made an educated guess as to where the fish were at and what they might be eating. We studied maps, made notes and went over everything. We learned from the past. That really helped me in college. I made notes about what was said. It made learning more efficient. That’s helped immensely in my career.
The more important thing I learned from all that, though, was that there’s no free lunch. Even if you love to do something you have to work at it and learn about it in order to be successful. I’ve applied those lessons throughout my fishing career. It’s one of the big reasons — maybe the biggest reason of all — I’ve been successful.
So, while I learned to catch fish with them, I learned a lot more. I learned the lessons of life that we all have to learn if we expect to advance in our careers. I don’t care what you do for a living if you aren’t working hard and learning, you'll soon find yourself at the back of the pack.
Of course, fishing has had a huge impact on my personal life, too. I met Becky at an ICAST, and all four of my kids have some connection to a B.A.S.S. tournament. Where would I be without them? I can’t even imagine that at this point.
So, really, as this year winds down and a new one starts, I have to look around and say that fishing is everything to me. Maybe not directly, and maybe everything doesn’t have a connection to how many fish I catch or how big they are, but it’s still there. Like I said, fishing is responsible for everything I am and everything I have.
What I am is for others to judge, but what I have is pretty darn good. I have a beautiful and loving wife, four good kids (most of the time, anyway), a strong work ethic and a job that I love that pays enough to let me support my family.
I know I’m struggling to put into words what I feel. If I could say it better, I would. But you get the idea. Fishing’s my thing. That’s why I try to expand it as a sport, even in the hip hop community, and why I try to give back whenever I can and in whatever way I can. It’s the only way I can even begin to repay what I owe to fishing.
Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.