Much of Michael Iaconelli’s attention has been on his first charity event -- his wife has put all of hers on it. And it’s fast approaching.
The Iaconellis will host the Ike Celebrity Pro-Am Bass Tournament on Aug. 6 on the Delaware River out of Camden, N.J.
“This is big for us. Bigger than normal business,” Ike said. “Bigger than winning a tournament. It’s bigger than securing a new sponsor. This tournament is the most important thing we’re doing right now.”
Ike can approach it more comfortably with fishing on the Bassmaster Elite Series going well -- he’s ninth in the Toyota Angler of the Year points and should cruise to his 17th consecutive Classic, the longest current streak. His event was formed to give back to fishing, starting with kids in nontraditional areas.
“Urban areas are on the top of the list,” Ike said. “This is our first go at a charity event, so it made a lot of sense to have it on the Delaware River (where he cut his teeth). We’re working in conjunction with the city of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. We’ve got Elite pros signed up, a handful of athlete/celebrities signed up.
“The goal is awareness. In the course of the day, the goal is to introduce kids to the sport of fishing, and of course, generate some funds to help us continue to get kids involved in the sport all over the country. This is a big moment for us.”
The Ike Foundation, in its second year, teamed with the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoor Program, which has helped 7,500 youth get involved in fishing or conservation activities. The activities kick off Friday from 4-7 p.m. ET with a special edition of Ike Live, with many of the 15 pros slated who will fish the pro-am.
Iaconelli called on a number fellow Elites, including Kevin VanDam, to fish with amateurs. Bassmaster’s Mark Zona and Dave Mercer will serve as celebrity anglers along with CMT’s Ed Bassmaster, the NHL’s Bryan Bickell and UFC fighter Jim Miller. Fishing the Delaware in summer might not have been the greatest draw, but fishing there to benefit kids was.
“In Philadelphia, the average kid passes water every day of their life, and they never touch a fishing rod,” Iaconelli said. “We want to change that. We want to show them the opportunity that’s right here.”
Well familiar with urban fishing from his past show “City Limits,” Iaconelli said he’s also seen New York City kids thrilled with casting a rod last year during an event in Central Park.
“And we weren’t even fishing,” he said. “A lot of them have never touched a rod and reel. Whether they’re 8, 10 or 12, you should have seen them. After making their first simple cast, the faces of those kids just light up.”