2014 Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River Delaware River - Philadelphia, PA, Aug 7 - 10, 2014

Ike's storybook ending at the Delaware

Iaconelli's win in Philly featured the best traits of bass fishing

Steve Bowman
The entire Iaconelli clan was onhand to support Mike and to help celebrate his win.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — John Crews was the only member of Mike Iaconelli's three-man camping crew who qualified to join him in the final 12 Sunday at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Delaware River. As Crews finished a pre-weigh-in conversation, a writer said, "It's been a wild week, hasn't it?"

Crews smiled and said, "It's not done yet."

He was referring to the victory party Iaconelli promised to host Sunday night at his home, located less than an hour's drive away, in Pittsgrove, N.J.

"I've got a feeling I'm going to be glad I'm staying in the camper," Crews laughed. "I'm locking the door after I get in there."

If ever a party deserved to be thrown, it was Sunday night in the Iaconelli home. This was a storybook event that couldn't have been scripted any better: The hometown kid – Iaconelli was born in Philadelphia – wins on a challenging bass fishery ­– the Delaware River – in front of a rowdy, passionate packed house that joined in chants of "Ike, Ike, Ike, Ike…" all week long, but especially on Sunday.

As of yet, there are no reports of the police being called or glass shattering at the Iaconelli home Sunday night/Monday morning. Apparently there's a new twist on an old phrase: What happens in Vegas Iaconelli's house stays in Vegas Iaconelli's house. (Vegas is Mike and Becky's three-year-old son.)

Becky came to Sunday's weigh-in at Penn's Landing with cans of champagne iced down for the winner. If ever champagne cans, instead of bottles, are appropriate, this was it: Working class kid from Philly grows up to win $2.2 million on the B.A.S.S. tour and shines the pro bass fishing spotlight on an area of the country that seldom sees a glimmer.

Becky, as is her style, was a saint throughout the wild week. In addition to Crews, Ish Monroe and Fletcher Shryock staying in their camper parked outside, in Mike and Becky's home were Vegas and Stella, Mike's and Becky's two children; Drew, 15, and Rylie, 14, Mike's daughters from his first marriage; Becky's parents; and fishing industry friends Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships and Dan Quinn of Rapala.

Becky and her mom made sure everyone had "good home-cooked meals" each evening. It sounds hectic; it wasn't.

"There has been a lot of stress on Mike this week," Becky said. "I've felt it.

"But it has been a wonderful distraction to have everyone there. I would do it all over again the same way."

A home-cooked meal with friends and family every evening served as an ice pack on a bruised body and soul for Iaconelli. Sunday he mentioned that he'd never forget this week. No one else will either. That bright light shining on East Coast bass fishing covered everything that is good about the sport.

Todd Pride, director of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Programs, helped to secure Philadelphia as an Elite Series host city in hopes that it might inspire young people.Todd Pride, director of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers
Almost as happy Sunday as Iaconelli was Todd Pride, the director of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Program. If pro bass fishing represents anything, it's about showing young people a positive path to a fulfilling life in the outdoors. Pride spent long hours helping secure Philadelphia as an Elite Series host city. He thought it could make a difference, maybe even be a life-changing event, for some young people. But Pride had no idea the city would embrace this tournament like it did.