I’m on my way to Florida to get ready for my first Bassmaster Elite Series tournament in years. I’m back like a gypsy.
It was crazy getting ready. I’ve gotten used to being home, making a few short trips at the most. That’s a different life from the travel demands that are now on me because of my decision to come back to B.A.S.S. I’m not complaining though. I’m as happy as a man can be with where I’m headed. All I’m doing here is stating the facts.
Getting my tackle, clothes and food ready was no big deal. I’ve fished professionally for about 30 years. I know how to do that. It’s like running on autopilot. Setting everything else up was the issue. I have a family I’m not going to see for a while, and I have a business that requires my input and some of the decisions inside of it have to be made by me.
As I was working on all of that, Becky and I decided that we’d do a series of documentaries about my life. We titled it, Never give up! The Mike Iaconelli Story. The series starts back when I was in high school and goes all the way up to when I said I was returning to B.A.S.S. It was tough, but it was also one of the best things I’ve ever done — for me as a husband, father, angler and businessman. I was able to look back, critically, at what I’ve done right, what I’ve done wrong, what I should do the same and what I should change in the future.
The information about Florida — where our first two tournaments will be held — was especially illuminating. I always said that I sucked in Florida. I just didn’t believe I did very well there. But, memories can be false. When I reviewed my career in detail I realized that I didn’t always suck in Florida. My mind was concentrating on my failures, not my successes. Actually, I had some pretty good finishes in the Sunshine State.
The other thing I want to say about the show is B.A.S.S. was absolutely wonderful with their help. They let us have access to all of their photos and videos, as well as all of their interviews. A lot of that material I didn’t remember doing until I saw it, and then it came back to me. We’re super proud of what we accomplished, and a big part of what we accomplished was because of how B.A.S.S. treated us. They’re good people.
So anyway, let’s get back to Florida.
The one thing I learned from our documentaries is that I have to slow down when I’m fishing in Florida. And, maybe more importantly, I have to fish for what the lake or river we’re fishing will give me. It’s not all about catching giants all the time. If they bite, great. If they don’t, I’ll bring in what I can. Forcing things is a big mistake.
That’s the easy part though. The tough part is competing against the young guys. Heck, I was fishing professionally before some of them were born. Think about that — before they were born!
The electronics explosion is especially scary when I think about it. I mean, that’s all you hear about these days. A lot of those guys have never seen a flasher, much less used one. They grew up with computers and video games. It’s natural to them. But that is not the case with me.
I’m not as good with them as a lot of the guys. I often fish when I don’t see a fish on my screen. Intuition is a big part of my game plan. On the other hand, some of the young guys won’t even make a cast unless they can see a fish.
This year will be an interesting one when we look back on it. Will I have to get some training with my electronics? Or, will the young anglers need to get more in tune with Mother Nature and how bass interact with her? We’ll have an idea about that when we look at the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings after several tournaments.
Some of you might want to know what my real goals are starting out this year. Obviously, I’d like to win both of our Florida tournaments. That is always my goal. But I’m a realist too. I’m coming back from several years away. Things change. This is not the same Elite Series as when I left. So, if I can earn a top 30 finish in both of them, I’ll be a happy gypsy.