Every angler fishing the Elite series is connected to B.A.S.S. That’s a given. But Mike Iaconelli’s connection is much deeper than most, and it’s much more personal.
His eldest child, Drew, was born during a practice period back in the days of the Invitational tournaments. He was practicing on Kerr Lake when he got the call that his then-wife had gone into labor with their first child. Wanting to be a part of the birth, he headed home immediately. After Drew was born, he returned to fish the event. As he recalls, he didn’t win but he did do fairly well.
Riley was next and has a Classic connection. Ike was about six hours from home when the call came. He turned around, boat in tow, and went straight to the hospital. After Riley was born, he turned around once again and headed towards Lake Michigan to fish the 2000 Bassmaster Classic. Just like before he didn’t win but he did make a creditable showing.
And then, after a divorce and later remarriage to Becky, along comes Vegas. He was born just before the New Orleans Classic. Ike didn’t have to return to help with the birth — Vegas was born a little before Ike had to leave — but it was close. He was packed for either a trip to the hospital or a trip to a fishing tournament. And things unfolded exactly like they did with his first two children. He didn’t win but he was in the running.
Estella — named to honor Becky’s grandmother — entered this world Monday, September 24, 2012, at 4:24 p.m. She was born just three days after Ike left Toyota Trucks All-Star Week. He was notified that Becky had started her labor on Friday evening. He headed straight home. He had no intention of missing anything. She was admitted to the hospital early Monday morning. Estella was born some 12 to 14 hours later. Not wanting to break tradition, Ike didn’t win. He was, however, fishing a seriously prestigious event.
Ike will be the first person to tell you that his kids put everything into perspective for him. They keep him grounded and constantly remind him of what’s really important in life.
“I’ve been there when every child was born. No one of them is any more special than the other, but there’s an individual story that goes with each of them and they all have a connection to fishing a tournament and B.A.S.S.,” he said shortly after Estella was born. “How cool is that? I love my kids and I love to fish tournaments. To have them together like that is really neat.
“I’ll not try to fool anyone, however. My priorities are clear. I’ll be there when my child is born. A baby’s birth is once. There are a lot of tournaments out there.”
Hearing his stories and reading what he has to say shines a light on this man. It’s a light that illuminates a side of Mike Iaconelli that far too few of us know about — this slightly radical 2003 Bassmaster Classic winner, 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year winner, TV personality, Fan Favorite, super-competitive top bass angler, and relentless businessman and fishing promoter will ignore it all to be present when his kids are born.