A heartfelt thanks to the fans

I rarely get all sugary and syrupy but today is different. Last week at ICAST I found out the fans voted me into a spot in the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week competition in Alabama later this month. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life, and I’m not just saying that. I mean it.

Over the years I’ve been asked again and again how I want to be remembered when my fishing career is over. I’ve always given the same answer. Forget about titles, and money, and all the other stuff. I want it said that Mike Iaconelli made fishing better, that he did something to popularize the sport and get more people involved. This is proof positive that I’m making progress toward that goal.

It’s a funny thing, this fishing business. I’ve had my ups and downs. Sometimes I’ve been the hero and sometimes the goat. Upon occasion, I’ve said and done things that I now wish I hadn’t. But through it all my heart has remained true to bass fishing. I’ve always wanted to make things better even though I didn’t always know exactly how, and sometimes didn’t exactly show it.

The thing now is for me to repay the fans’ loyalty and respect. There’s only one way to do that. Go down there and fish my heart out. I can’t say I’m going to win — there will be 11 other guys down there who’ll be fishing their hearts out, too — but I can say that I’ll give it my best. That’s the only way I know of to say thanks.

There’s no doubt that the other guys feel much the same way. Of that, I’m sure. Bass anglers are athletes and fierce competitors. Every angler in every tournament wants to win. It’s not so much who we are as much as it’s what we are.

Still, we differ in many respects from other athletes and from other fierce competitors. We don’t compete against each other as much as we compete against the bass. Our real adversaries are the fish.

If we don’t win an event, it’s not because some other guy beat us. It’s because we didn’t catch enough fish. Think about it this way — there’s no one on the planet that can beat you if you catch the most fish. It’s always about the fish, pure and simple.

That’s a beautiful thing but at the same time it’s frightening. It’d be a lot easier if you could blame a human rather than a fish with a brain the size of a pea. That’s what this business is about, though. We all knew it when we set out on this journey. There are no complaints, or at least there shouldn’t be any.

That’s enough philosophy for now. I need to get going. I have a lot of research to do. After that I’ll need to repack my boat. I don’t want to disappoint the fans.