Ike’s Celebrity Pro-Am Dinner and Tournament

It’s right around the corner. I’m talking about the Ike’s Foundation’s shindig that raises money to help get kids started in fishing and related outdoor activities.

This fishing thing is a little weird to me. We have millions of kids around the country living really close to a river and yet most of them have never gone fishing. You see it all the time up here where I live. 

It’s not that they don’t like to go fishing or hang out by the water. It’s that most of them have never been around anyone who fishes, and they really don’t think about it. It’s not a part of their world. Here at the Ike Foundation we’re going to change that. 

This year we have lots and lots of things happening at our Celebrity Pro-Am Dinner & Tournament. Things start off on Friday night, July 20, with a dinner and benefit auction on the historic battleship New Jersey. 

This is one of the most famous naval ships in all of history. She is the most decorated ever and was, at times, home to Admiral “Bull” Halsey. 

Being on her and thinking about what she did in World War II is worth the price of the dinner even if you don’t count the delicious food we’re going to serve, the wine and beer that’ll be available or the various auctions that’ll be happening. Honestly, it’ll give you chills. It’s like you can feel the spirit of the men who served on her and fought for our freedom.  

The next day, Saturday the 21st, we’ll do the tournament. You can sign up to fish in your own boat or go with a pro and a celebrity. At last count I think we have commitments from about 20 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers and other well-known personalties including Philadelphia Eagles defensive player Fletcher Cox.

There’ll even be a division for kayaks. It’s a qualifying event for the Hobie Fishing Worlds tournament next year. It’s their version of the Bassmaster Classic, and there aren’t very many ways to qualify for it so this is a super opportunity if you fish out of a kayak  

While the tournament is going on there’ll be a Family Fun Fest at Wiggins Park, too. We’ll have something for everyone, all ages and all interests. One of my favorite activities is the Berkley Color Your Own Bait station. Some of the kids are really creative. It’s worth a visit. 

There’ll also be a High School Fishing Skills Challenge as well as lots and lots of other activities and things to do while you’re there. Several pros will be there to share advice with the two-angler teams. 

This is really a big deal. We have to get as many kids out fishing as possible, and not just from the rural parts of our country. We must expand the sport into metropolitan areas or our future is doomed. 

Come see us if you can. Everything you need is at theikefoundation.org. If you can’t make it please consider a contribution. You can do that through the same website. Every penny goes to the kids.

One other thing before I go, and it’s important: Thanks to all the sponsors that have contributed to this effort. Without your help none of this would be possible. 

Together we can Hook ‘em Early.

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