Musings about Bass Fishing

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Neely Henry Lake- Coosa River Impoundment - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Neely Henry Lake- Coosa River Impoundment – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

by Dan O’Sullivan

I haven’t done anything like this in a while, so, I think I will.

There is a lot to be excited about in bass fishing right now, and I for one am really jacked up about it. Of course, I’m always keen on the sport, but there are times that it feels more like a job than others.

The first thing that has me getting excited is my family’s new surroundings – in bass fishing Mecca. About a week and a half ago, we completed our cross country move to the Gadsden, Ala. area. We searched once we got here and found a home in Rainbow City.

Upon getting here, I drove up and down Rainbow Drive / Hwy 411 and saw the numbers of bass boats on the Coosa River fishing each day we’ve been here. Saturday and Sunday certainly had a larger share, but the truth is, there are boats on the water every day.

Not just on the water either, there are bass boats everywhere as you drive around, in driveways and on the roads going somewhere to fish. I haven’t even been able to drive the 45 minutes or so towards Guntersville, where I’m sure the numbers of bass boats will increase.

The other thing that has me encouraged was the boat dealer here in town. Outside of large corporate boat centers, I cannot say that I have seen a more impressive facility that Buck’s Island Marine in Southside, Ala. There had to be 30 to 50 new Skeeters for sale, to go along with all of their other pontoon and pleasure boat lines, and a huge parts department as well as service yard. Tony and Mary Lumpkin; the owners of the shop were tremendously nice and generous with their time and building and made us feel right at home.

I’m truly excited to plug in to the bass fishing community here in the area, and the state of Alabama as a whole, and hopefully get to put my own Skeeter to work on the Coosa River soon enough myself.

Buck's Island Marina

Buck’s Island Marina – www.bucksisland.com

Another thing that has me looking forward is the Forrest Wood Cup this week on Lake Murray in South Carolina. The Cup brings a unique intensity to the sport in the middle of the summer for the anglers, and the fact that it is the FLW Tour Championship is the prime reason.

With a career achievement and $500,000 on the line, the anglers seem to put a higher level of intensity into the preparation than usual, and the meaning that the win can have on the champion’s career from both a career and financial perspective elevates the pressure they feel as they compete.

Myself and Jason Duran will be on hand to bring our unique RAW coverage style to the event as we have with Classics, ICAST and Cups past. We will try to share the feelings with you by allowing the anglers to tell their story through our video interviews without us getting in between you and the angler.

Finally, I have to say that watching Mike Iaconelli win at the Elite Series event on the Delaware River has me excited about what’s ahead. Iaconelli is a gifted angler who has found ways to won at many points in his career. His most recent win – before this past weekend – was at a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open last year when it was his last attempt to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.

It’s not even that he won, really but rather that Iaconelli displayed one characteristic that has allowed him to connect with fans of different ages and different socioeconomic categories. Sure, “Ike” can be different and most people in the sport of fishing fall into the “love him” or “hate him” camps. His professional angler persona can be brash, out front and polarizing.

Mike Iaconelli Celebrating with the Fans - photo by Gary Tramontina - Bassmaster

Mike Iaconelli Celebrating with the Fans – photo by Gary Tramontina – Bassmaster

Most in the public only see “Ike” and they are never blessed with the opportunity to truly see him at his best. What many folks don’t get the chance to see is that he is a dedicated and loving family man, a doting father to all four of his children, a man still in love with his wife, a loyal friend and someone who gives his all for the sport.

Chances are, no matter how well or poorly he fished, Iaconelli will be one of the – if not “the” – last angler in the parking lot signing autographs and taking pictures with fans at the end of a day. He gives them everything he can until the last one has gotten that moment of time they hoped they would get with him. I’ve personally stood there and waited for him to finish with fans while I was trying to catch a last minute interview at a Bassmaster Classic, Elite Series event or a show, and loved every minute of it.

I watched as he jumped over the retaining fence for the B.A.S.S. photographer pool and carry his trophy through the crowd for several minutes, posing for pictures and even letting some of them hold the trophy themselves. He loves this sport, loves to do well, hates when he doesn’t, but you always know that he will give his best effort to and for the fans.

He displayed that on Sunday, and I for one felt so happy to watch as he did it. I know people will probably say that he did it that way because it was his hometown area, and they would be partly true. But, he would have made that “Ike Leap” over that fence and done the same thing is he were in California, Texas or Alabama. Part of it is his uncanny ability to be a showman – which is great for our sport – but the other part of it is that he loves to share himself with fans. Attend a Bass University class sometime and see it on display.

His performance for the fans -and their reaction – was just one of the things that made me feel like our sport might have a bright future ahead of it. As some have said, we may have seen the golden age of our sport already, but there are reasons to think that there are still some bright days ahead.

I for one hope I get to be a part of a lot more of them.