By Alan McGuckin
There are a lot of nerves and unknowns surrounding the start of B.A.S.S. Toyota All Star Week. Topping the list for nearly all 12 anglers in the field is whether or not theyll be able to catch a limit of keepers today, based on a terribly stingy practice on Lake Shelbyville.
For Mike Iaconelli the concerns stretch far further than fishing. His thoughts are 832 miles away in Runnemede, NJ where his beloved wife Becky could give birth to their second child at any hour.
“Her actual due date was this past Monday, so Im sitting here at blast-off just dreading the call that could literally come at any minute,” said Ike just before 8:00 a.m. this morning. To know Ike, is to know his love of Becky and his children. Fishing and family, thats pretty much Ikes whole world.
The guy that seems so complicated at times, is really just that simple, and this morning his heartstrings were in a tug-of-war between the two. “We know every flight option between here and home if Becky should go into labor. We studied all of our options,” said Ike.
Adding to stress levels are the brutally tough fishing conditions. “Id say the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh was a little tougher, but this place is right up there with Pittsburghs Three Rivers on the tough scale,” said Ike. “You know that every single bite youre fortunate enough to get here at Shelbyville can make a world of difference. That adds a lot of drama to every cast.”
Iaconellis Toyota teammate Kevin VanDam was docked next door, and largely agreed with Ike regarding the terribly tough bite at Shelbyville, but ranks Pittsburgh and a 1992 B.A.S.S. tournament at Floridas Harris Chain as the toughest hes ever fished.
“The thing about Pittsburgh is that I knew where the fish were positioned, it was just so tough to make em bite. Here, they are roaming. I feel like Ive got a good game plan, but Shelbyville is gonna rank right up there with Pittsburgh,” said VanDam as he laced a variety of lures to his rods and reels, ranging from topwaters to jigs.
“I guess Id have to say the Pittsburgh Classic was tougher than this, because not only was the fishing brutal, but the mental pressure of the Bassmaster Classic was there too,” said VanDam.
“But no doubt the toughest tournament I ever fished was early in my career at Floridas Harris Chain in 1992,” confirmed Kevin. “Mike Folkstead won that tournament with a three-day total of 14-pounds, and I only caught 6-pounds in three days.”
Many of the All-Stars predict the numbers will look similar here when the scales stop spinning.
While Iaconelli may not know if **** manage a single keeper today, or for that matter whether the baby is a boy or girl, he does know his priorities. “Im here at Toyota All-Star Week because the fans voted for me, and thats such an honor. The fans got me here, and thats so cool. But if my cell phone rings to tell me Becky is in labor, Im leaving. Family first,” said Iaconelli in a heartfelt opinion nobody could debate.
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