Editor's note: Luke Stoner with Dynamic Sponsorships passed along this piece about Mike Iaconelli's son competing in his first tournament over the weekend.
Getting kids fishing is one of the things Mike Iaconelli is most passionate about in life. If you’ve ever seen (or heard) Ike fish, you already know about his own untamable excitement for fishing, which spills over when it comes to getting youngsters involved in the sport. Not surprisingly, Iaconelli’s children have absorbed his infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors.
On Saturday, Vegas Iaconelli, the 8-year-old son of the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion and two-time MLF Cup winner, competed in his first tournament. While his dad was competing at the Table Rock Lake Bass Pro Tour, Vegas took to the water accompanied by his mom, Becky Iaconelli.
Vegas caught two bass and finished second in the New Jersey B.A.S.S. Nation Youth Tournament, which was held at small Assunpink Lake. The event was a paper tournament, meaning the fish were measured on the boat with an official bump board, photographed and released immediately. Boats could be powered by trolling motor only and the Iaconelli’s were proud to say they believe they had the smallest boat in the tournament.
Vegas fished out of his dad’s vintage 12-foot Coleman Crawdad jon boat, which is at least 30 years old.
Mike recently restored the boat for Vegas to use and it’s now equipped with everything an angler could need from working livewells, marine electronics, storage compartments, a HydroWave, and trolling motors on the bow and transom. The trolling motors came in handy, as Becky thinks they were the fastest boat on the water, along with being the smallest.
Vegas was already into fishing before his first tournament experience, thanks largely to the support of his parents and spending days on the water with his dad.
“I caught one on a ribbontail (worm) and one on a Berkley General,” Vegas said. “It was tough fishing but I had a really good time. It was awesome to have my mom in the boat with me the whole time... she helped a lot!”
Becky was the first to admit Mike is typically the one who takes the kids fishing whenever they want to go. It took Vegas a little while to get used to listening to his mom’s input.
“He had to fish extremely slow, which isn’t the easiest thing for an 8-year old to do,” Becky joked. “It was tough, post-spawn fishing. I was using snacks and music to incentivize patience, cause he was only getting bites when he would let his worm sit still. I’d tell him, ‘Okay we’ll reel in the (General) after this song is over. He did such a great job!”
Each time Vegas caught a fish, Becky would FaceTime Mike, who was out on Lake Taneycomo with a few sponsors during his day off from Bass Pro Tour competition.
“It was such an awesome deal,” Mike Iaconelli said. “Of course I would have loved to be there, but having Becky in the boat might have been even better. (Fishing) 6:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. is a long day for an 8-year-old and Becky definitely has more patience than I do. And I’m sure I would have been freaking out every time he hooked up. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Iaconelli’s manage The Ike Foundation and get youths involved in fishing / the outdoors all over the country, especially in urban settings where opportunities aren’t readily available.