Ike Says...
Do Your Homework

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Photo: BassFan
Bassmaster Elite Series stalwart Mike Iaconelli says if you wait until the season starts up to do your tournament research, you're already way behind.

In the last two installments of Recon, we talked with California pro Charlie Weyer and Texas pro Kelly Jordan about their off-season regimens. Both talked of tackle preparation, sponsor negotiations, boat maintenance and fun fishing as part of their off-season rituals.

Weyer also spoke about the way he takes a complete inventory of his tackle, making sure to weed out unproductive tackle and replace it with more equipment that did him well in the last year.

Jordan talked about how he keeps his mind and body in shape during the off-season by reading books and doing a little hunting to keep in tune with nature.

For most of these pros, their rituals prior to the next season are very similar – maybe even similar to what you, as a triple-A angler or club fisherman, do during your down time.

But there’s always something to learn, especially when it comes from a full-time tour pro – an angler who banks on being prepared and having his or her equipment in top-notch condition to prevent dreaded little mishaps from happening.

This week’s Recon features Bassmaster Elite Series angler and Berkley Prostaff member Mike Iaconelli and discusses what he does in the off-season in order to stay on top of his game.

Here’s what he had to say.

Down Time With Kids

“The thing about the off-season for me the last few years is it’s been getting shorter and shorter,” Iaconelli said. “I just got done fishing the FLW Stren Series Championship at Table Rock a couple weeks ago, just finished filming my TV show City Limits last week, and next week I head to the Red River to pre-practice for the (Bassmaster) Classic. So, it’s not really the off-season for me yet.

“What I like about the off-season, the time between Thanksgiving and right after new years, though, is I get to spend long amounts of quality time with my kids,” he said. “It’s so tough during the season to spend quality time with them and this time of year allows me to do that. It’s so important to me.”

Homework Grade = A+

Weyer and Jordan both commented in prior articles how important their Recon for the coming year is, but Iaconelli expanded on that and shared what he does to make sure he’s ready for his tournament season before it ever starts.

“I take my preparation for the next season really seriously,” he said. “I have what I’d like to think is a proven method, and it’s helped me from the time I fished in my old bass club growing up and continues to help me today.

“I start by looking at the tournament schedules for the circuits I’m fishing the next year and make a folder for each event. These aren’t just plain manila folders but zippered bags that are clear on one side. I then label each bag with its respective tournament name.”

What he fills these zippered bags with is what really helps him maintain an edge when he’s in the middle of his season.

“For each tournament I do an extensive amount of research,” he noted. “I search out old articles from magazines, BassFan and I even contact the state to see if they have publications on creel sampling. All these articles go into the bag.

“Once I have all my articles collected for that lake or river I sit down and write myself a pre-game plan for that event based on what I’ve read, the time of year and any past experience. Once I get these preliminary plans completed, I put them into the bag too.”

He also believes in good old-fashioned paper maps.

“With the advent of such good GPS software these days many guys have eliminated the use of paper maps,” he said. “But I still rely on these maps heavily – not just on the water but in the off-season. I have 12 or so map companies and I use them all. This way I start my thinking process months before the event starts. These maps also go in my bag."

With all this preparation, he feels ready for anything once the season starts.

“The season starts like a hurricane,” he said. “We’re at one body of water one week and another the next. There’s no good time to be looking for info between events, but because I've already done my homework and have my zippered bags with me, I can switch gears fast.

“As I leave one event the first thing I do is grab my zippered bag for the next event and study what I put together months before,” he said. “Plus, because I’ve already thought about the event long and hard, my mind is subconsciously geared for that next tournament."

Tackle, Housing and Fishing

“Another aspect that helps me dial in my next season is to preorder all my new equipment and go through the equipment I used in the last season,” Iaconelli said. “That’s all pretty standard with most guys on the trail.

“But I also like to book my housing during this time too,” he added. “I want all of the things I can control to be done before the season starts. That’s very important.”

He also likes to continue fishing through the off-season in order to stay sharp.

“There are some guys who like to separate themselves from fishing during the off-season but I don’t,” he said. “All winter long, ice prevailing, I fish local New Jersey events that I’ve fished since I was a kid. It keeps me sharp and it’s a big part of my off-season preparations.”


  • Iaconelli also likes to maintain his physical shape during the off-season. “I used to spend a lot of time in the gym but since I won the Classic, my available time has not allowed me to do that as much. So I make sure to exercise in the off-season and continue doing exercise like sit-ups and push-ups throughout the season to stay in shape."

  • The business side of his angling is also very important. “I send out monthly reports to all my sponsors, but at the end of the year I send each of them a complete wrap up of what I’ve done. This isn’t just tournament results, but also promotions and seminars I've done for them. I also give them a breakdown of my media exposure. Also in this report I give them my ideas of how the year went and my plans to move forward in the next year."

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