Ike: Italy's on fire (for fishing)

Becky and I just got back from Italy. One of my sponsors – Molix – invited us over there for a week to talk fishing with Italian anglers and do a little product work. Guys, I’m telling you that fishing is on fire over there.

The bass part

As soon as we arrived I started doing seminars. The first thing I noticed was the crowds. Every seminar was packed, standing room only. And, it looked like everyone had a notepad and a recorder. It was as good, or better, than any seminar I’ve ever held here in the States. These guys really wanted to learn about bass fishing from an American perspective.

As I answered questions and talked to the anglers it became obvious to me that finesse fishing was the thing in Italy. They had a really good understanding of that aspect of our sport. The thing is, though, they all wanted to learn about power techniques so that’s mostly what we talked about. There’s no doubt in my mind that most of them will be catching bass with power techniques in the near future. They’re good anglers.

After a couple of days of talking we went fishing. Be advised that we don’t have anything on them when it comes to the quality of our fisheries. In one day I caught a ton of bass, including several that would be quality keepers in any lake or river in our country. They acted like our northern strain. I suspect that’s what they are although I wasn’t able to get any reliable scientific data to prove that.

Another thing I found out was that they have some of the same problems we have when it comes to the sport as a whole. Several years ago they had a serious downturn in participation. Thanks largely to hard work and a lot of positive publicity by the movers and shakers in the country things look like they’re turning around. Most of the guys and gals in the seminars looked like they were between 15 and 20 years old. That’s good. Young anglers are the future of all of fishing.

The carp part

If you think bass fishing is technical and specialized, you have no idea! Carp anglers are serious men and women. They have specialty rods and reels, line, floats and hooks. But the real deal is their baits. That’s where it’s at with these anglers.

Their baits aren’t artificial and they’re not alive. They’re made from stuff — everything from special recipe doughs to dead animal parts that have rotted in the sun for days.

I’d give you more details if I could, but I can’t. Carp baits are top secret. You’d have a better chance of a Bassmaster Elite Series angler telling you what he’s fishing with when he’s in first place during the Classic than you would have of talking an Italian carp angler into giving you his recipe. (Some of them are actually passed down from one generation to the next orally because they fear a written document will be stolen.)  

The whole experience proved to me that anglers are anglers and fish are fish regardless of where they’re at or what else is going on in the world.

The country part

The rest of Italy was super, too. The food was great, fresh and tasty, and the people are especially nice and courteous. It’s a wonderful country.

The most spectacular non-fishing thing we saw, though, was the ruins. I live on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Old to us is 200 or 300 years. In Italy they measure old by the thousands of years. How the people back then cut and carved that marble is something I’ll never understand. They worked hard, but it’s more than that. You can see the pride they took in their work everywhere. Maybe we should all think about that. The longevity speaks for itself.

Next week we’ll catch some fall bass.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.