By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Mike Iaconelli has done a fair amount of fishing since returning to his south New Jersey home from the Lake Fork Bass Pro Tour about three weeks ago. His property butts up against an 80-acre pond that contains bass as well as several other species of gamefish, and he's been out on it in his Hobie kayak. He's also done some bank-fishing with family members.

Meanwhile, he's put a lot of effort into staying productive business-wise while following all of the guidelines set forth for battling COVID-19. He's developed numerous communication platforms over the years and is trying to capitalize on all of them.

"Every pro angler is trying to figure out how to adapt and change to what's going on with social distancing," he said last week. "I can't fish a tournament, I can't work a sports show, I can't do a writers trip with you and I can't do a guide trip.

"I have to look to technology social media and the web to keep doing a good job for my sponsors and providing value to them. Whether it's Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter, I've been trying to do something new every day."

Uncertain Future

Like people in all walks of life, Iaconelli wonders what type of lasting impact COVID-19 will leave.

"It's scary because it's going to change the landscape permanently," he said. "Not just what's going on now, but when you look ahead. You can turn on any news channel and see that the curve (indicating the number of infected people) is still on the upswing, then when it eventually starts to go down there's this idea that everything's going to go back to normal, but some of the stuff that's happening now is going to be forever.

"It's going to change the way we think and do things and I'm trying to wrap my head around how it's going to affect my life and my career in fishing."

He foresees some positives for fishing as a whole, but some troublesome signs for the highest level.

"At its core, fishing is social distancing. You can fish from the bank, from a kayak, from a tiny boat all this could help from that perspective. People who aren't hardcore can get a rod and reel and get their 12-year-old into it. It's one of the last things that we can (safely) do.

"The other half scares me; the future of tournaments, of sports shows and all the things I've done my entire career. I don't know if those will ever be the same."

Audience Divided

Iaconelli addressed the topic of ramp closures at lakes around the country as a precaution against COVID-19 on the most recent episode of Ike Live! on Sunday night. He's been monitoring comments from fans on the topic on his various platforms and said he sees a pretty distinct split.

"About 80 percent are saying that we need to keep fishing and keep the ramps open," he said. "About half of that 80 percent are saying we need to do it, but be smart and stay 6 feet away from each other and the other half is saying that's (nonsense). Then there's the other 20 percent who are saying we need to wait it out.

"A lot of people love to fish and they don't want that taken away, but they don't want to be out there jeopardizing anybody's life, either."

His best advice for the present is to focus on the small bodies of water that exist almost everywhere but normally don't get much attention.

"That's what's keeping me sane right now."