The pinnacle of professional fishing is, of course the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, and in 2004 the Classic will be held on Lake Wylie near Charlotte, N.C. The winner of the Classic is sure to have his calendar fill up shortly after the win. Just ask 2003 Champ Michael Iaconelli. After winning the Classic, he reached the top of the sport and since then has been going non-stop.
"Since I won that tournament, you know, every day has been a challenge," Iaconelli said. "It's been so much attention, so much work. More business work than I've done in my whole life, but all these little perks keep coming up."
Perks indeed, such as fishing with Deion Sanders for ESPN's "The New American Sportsman," to leading the parade down Main Street at Walt Disney World in Orlando on Jan. 28.
But, Iaconelli admits, it isn't the money, the fans, the trophies or the exposure that motivate him. Nor, he said, is it the goal of adding the Angler of the Year title to his collection.
"There are two motivators," he said. "The first one, the one that I use in everything I do, is that I'm a very competitive person. Every time I go out on the water, I want to win. Every time. With that, you're just as excited about an Open, about the Tour, about the Classic."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. This April, BASS introduces the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
2004 Tournament Trail season preview