Think Rocky Balboa

The next event on the horizon is the Bassmaster Elite on the Delaware River. It matters to me. It matters a lot to me.

This is my neighborhood. I grew up fishing this river. Back when I was a little kid, I fished the Delaware from the bank. Before I won a tournament and earned a bass boat, I fished her in a homemade rig. The Delaware has been good to me, and she’s broken my heart a time or two. Nevertheless, she’s mine. I wouldn’t trade her for any body of water on this earth.

I want to do well. I have no problem saying that out loud. It’s a fact that I refuse to hide or runaway from. If saying that comes back to haunt me, so be it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, for good and bad. I have no intention of hiding at this point in my career. The Delaware event matters to me.

Obviously, I have to do well if I’m going to qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. But there’s more to it than that. Lots and lots of people I know will be there watching the event — my family, my old fishing buddies and a lot of friends I’ve met over the years. I want to make them proud.

That means I will have to do some serious preparation. I have the tools to do that. It’s a matter of putting them to good use.

Let’s start by talking about maps. I have several. (That’s an understatement. I probably have at least two dozen. They fill a box in my garage.) The plan is to look at every one of them, compare and contrast what they show, and then go out and see how things look for myself. That’s not fishing. That’s preparation. The river changes constantly. What was there a few years ago, or even a few days ago, may be gone today.

At the same time I’m doing that, I’ll review my notes. As most of you probably know by now, I’m a compulsive note taker. I write everything down in note form and I never throw any of it away. So, I’ll be spending a lot of hours reading and rereading everything I have. Some of it is 20 years old. That doesn’t matter. There might be something in them that’ll help me come August. 

As best I can recall right now, the river doesn’t go off-limits until the Monday after the Fourth of July. That’s plenty of time for me to review my maps and notes, and then update everything from the water.  

I’m thinking about this tournament like Rocky Balboa thought about his first shot at the title. In truth, I’m drawing inspiration from him.

You remember he ran through his old neighborhood (Philly), up and down every step he could find and, for good measure, practiced his punches on sides of beef in a local meat locker that his friend, Paulie, let him use. He stayed home and worked with what he knew.  

It worked for Rocky. He lasted 15 brutal rounds with Apollo Creed, a fighter the experts said was much better. True, he lost the fight in a split decision but he did win his girl, Adrian. I’ve already won my girl, Becky. Maybe I’ll win the fight. 

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