The physical side of fishing, Part 1

Last season, as I traveled around the country competing in tournaments, I noticed something. The guys who were (are) the most physically fit seem to have the best years and they seemed to be able to hold up the best going into the late summer and early fall.

That group includes guys like John Crews, Brandon Card and Ish Monroe. It didn’t include me, although I did win one of the last events of the year.

None of us likes to think we’re getting old, but we are. Right now, I’m 41 years old and I’m starting to feel things I never noticed before. It’s not as easy to fish a walking stick or a jerkbait all day as it once was. And it seems like my trolling motor triples in weight between early morning and late afternoon.

I decided to do something about it. But, like I do most things, I did some detailed and in-depth research and investigating first. I wasn’t interested in going to a sweaty gym and working out. General conditioning wasn’t what I wanted. What I did want was to be able to fish better — longer, faster, harder. That requires specialized skills and a specialized workout routine.

I interviewed several trainers before I settled on Dan Burns (

What impressed me the most about Dan was that during our interview he asked as many questions as I did. Before we settled on any of the details, he watched tapes of me fishing. He wanted to know exactly which muscles I used to fish a jerkbait and which ones I used to pull up my trolling motor.

When everything was put together, I didn’t just have a routine that was individually tailored to me and my body. I had a routine that was also tailored to what I do for a living. That might be the most important part of it.

The thing is that every sport has a particular set of skills that’ll make you successful. An offensive lineman in a football game needs extreme strength for a few seconds. A baseball player needs quick reflexes and good eye-hand coordination to catch a baseball and to hit a baseball. A basketball player needs to run for an hour, in quick stop and go spurts, and be able to jump high.

I need to be able to cast and retrieve all day, work my trolling motor up and down and handle a rough boat ride.

One of my early goals for the offseason was to feel better and to have more energy. I already met that one thanks to Dan’s help. The other goals will take some time. I won’t know if I’ve met them until late next year when I’ve been fishing for months on end and driving countless miles.

Next week we’re going to go into more detail about why I picked this man — some of the criteria I used might be helpful to you if you’re going to improve your physical conditioning — and we’ll talk a little about exactly what I’m doing.

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

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