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BASSMASTER Classic Champ Gets Down to Business

Now that you’ve won the BASSMASTERS Classic, what are you going to do? “I want to share my excitement for fishing!”

2003 BASSMASTERS Classic champion, Michael Iaconelli is bass fishing excitement. Arriving at Charles County, MD after a tournament in Spain, a fishing trip with Deion Sanders, and a trip to Charlotte NC to announce the 2004 Classic, 31 year-old Iaconelli should have been exhausted. Instead, he was excited to sit in the room at the Best Western in La Plata and share his post Classic tales. He also showed off new Mann’s baits which he helped design. Luckily, Smallwood State Park survived Hurricane Isabel and served as our launch site for three exciting days of fishing.
I’m glad to say that the post–Classic Iaconelli is the same guy that I’ve met at Potomac tournaments. He is just as excited talking about fishing as he is when he is fishing. He’s been home only 3 days in nearly two months.

“I’m loving it, it’s busy, it’s non-stop but I love what I do, traveling around the country and promoting fishing “

Fishing out of a jon boat until he was 21, Mike dreamt about winning the Classic since he was a kid and his grandfather videotaped him fishing. As a young teenager, he closed his eyes and pretended he was fishing in the Classic. “I am surprised that it came so soon.”

After the Classic win, Iaconelli contacted past Classic winners to find out what they did to organize themselves. He was surprised when they told him they just sat back and let things happen. Iaconelli isn’t sitting still.
“It is a lot of work, a lot more business work than I have ever done in my whole career, but this is what you work toward in your career and you really do need to take advantage of it.”

And taking advantage he is. Along with New Jersey Evinrude pro and friend, Pete Gluszek, Iaconelli is in meetings nearly all day. Both anglers had their laptops and cell phones buzzing all week. Negotiations with PR firms, agents, and sponsors, not to mention media interviews were conducted on their Ranger bass boats.

Even before the Classic, Mike was focused on the business of fishing. He markets a CD, “Michael Iaconelli’s Blueprint on Professional Bass Fishing…How to Turn Pro in Five Years or Less” on his website, This program answers frequently asked questions: how to fish professionally, how to get sponsors and keep them, and more. “I felt it was a great opportunity to put on the table what I did right and what I did wrong to try to help people save time and money and point them in the right direction to turn pro.”

The CD defines his formula for success, working your strengths plus being versatile equals consistency, the key to doing well on the pro tour.
Mike is not wasting any time getting organized before the tournament season starts. He has set up a business plan for himself, taking a business approach to his Classic. Gluszek is helping him hire a publicist and an agent. Also, he has arranged to have someone drive Mike’s boat, allowing him to fly to tournaments.

As Classic champ he realizes he’ll have less fishing and practice time. “ I know that I am already in next years Classic. I know that I will be financially stable for the next couple of years. Because of that, I feel that I will fish more relaxed and confident…I am determined to keep winning and determined to go out and win a tournament this year and I am going to try to win the Classic again.”

Mike isn’t your fathers’ Classic champ and some bass fans and anglers aren’t fond of his “confident” attitude. He acknowledges that everything has to fall into place and credits his game plan strategy and ability to adapt to conditions for his confidence.

He received a lot of congratulatory calls from other anglers and fans, but a letter from Rick Clunn really encouraged him. “He said don’t let the negatives discourage you…be yourself and keep doing what you do. You deserved that win.”

Mike is excited about the future of pro fishing on the B.A.S.S. and FLW Tournament trails with new rankings allowing a new group of anglers to work their way into the sport.

Being himself is what Mike is all about. His goals as Classic champ reflect this. “I want to get new people involved in the sport, non traditional people. Not only the youth, but people who would look at fishing and not get excited by it.”

The Classic clips of him break dancing and catching his last fish showcased his raw excitement and opened media doors like and Good Morning Philadelphia TV.

“I want to break some of the stereotypes and let everyone know that this is an exciting sport…this is an X sport that deserves to be on the same pedestal with other professional sports…to bring new energy and people into the sport, target outside industry sponsors, and try to help raise the earnings bar…if I can do that in my year, I will be really happy.”

Steve Chaconas is a bass fishing guide on the Potomac River. To book a trip, contact him at

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