Scholarships and tidal river bass

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Courtesy of Mike Iaconelli

The older I get the more I seem to care about the legacy of our sport. It isn’t just about tournaments at the professional level, either. It’s about kids having fun catching fish. In my opinion, without that everything related to fishing is in trouble.

With that in mind Becky and I created the Ike Foundation. Our latest project is to generate some money for scholarships to help high school kids fish when they get to college. It’s called the 2017 Ike Foundation Scholarship Benefit.

It’ll be held during the evening of Jan. 28 of this year at the Pitman Masonic Lodge in Sewell, N.J. Single tickets are $35. A table for 10 will cost $300. Every penny will go into the scholarship fund. The facilities and all the food have been comped.

I’ll be there for photos, interviews or simple fishing talk. This is an important undertaking. An education is important, but it’s not free. We all need to help these kids. If you live in the area, your participation will be appreciated. Help us hook ‘em early.

Now we can talk about fishing…

Last Wednesday the weather warmed up some — it was in the 40s which is darn good for New Jersey in January — so I took my new boat out on the Delaware River. Most of my time was spent with it, but I did get to fish for about an hour.

I don’t have to tell you that things get tough in the winter on that tidal river. Nevertheless, I managed to catch a dozen bass by fishing back in little square places off the main channel that I call shipping squares. I’m guessing that if you live near a tidal river you have pretty much the same thing on your river.

However, all shipping squares are not created equal. In order for mine to produce they had to have three things going for them. The first was that they had to have deep water at low tide. Deep water here means 2-5 feet.

The second thing was that they had to be out of the blistering tidal current. I was in a river that has a 7-foot tide. That’s a lot. The current that it creates coming in or going out is tremendous. You had to be away from that to catch anything.

The third factor is the tough one. The shipping square had to have a hard bottom. I was basically fishing downtown Philadelphia. At least 90 percent of the squares I checked out had soft bottoms, sediment and muck.

Now I have to confess something. It’s sort of embarrassing. I fished a blade bait that was similar to a Silver Buddy. I know I said last week that the Jigging Rap was better than a Silver Buddy. I wasn’t telling stories when I said that. It’s just that there are exceptions to everything. Last Wednesday was one of them. 

Next time I’ll tell you how I made them bite. That might help you sometime between now and spring.

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