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Iaconelli Excited About Foundation’s Early Success

Posted 3/20/2015

Yamaha Pro’s Mission Is To Get More Kids Fishing

Even though Michael Iaconelli’s recent week at the Bassmaster Classic® on Lake Hartwell kept him tightly focused on a winning fishing strategy – the Yamaha Pro finished 6th – he still found time to spend several hours each evening working on The Ike Foundation, a new non-profit organization devoted to getting more young people involved in the sport of fishing. 

Literally years in the planning, Iaconelli and his wife Becky announced the formation of The Ike Foundation in January, and thus far, response from both the fishing industry as well as the public, has been overwhelmingly positive. Yamaha Marine Group was among the first to become involved, and is working with Iaconelli to coordinate upcoming activities.

“To get started, Becky telephoned dozens of different organizations and asked them their greatest need, and the biggest problem was simply a lack of fishing equipment, basic items like rods, reels, and lures, for kids to use,” says Iaconelli. “Yamaha provided a collection site in their booth at the Classic Outdoor Show, and we were thrilled at how much equipment, as well as financial support, visitors donated

“Initially, The Ike Foundation plans to provide different civic, charitable, and youth fishing organizations with fishing tackle, and thanks to the response at the Classic,® we have already shipped our first product loads to several of these groups.”

The Yamaha Pro is supplementing public donations with his own rods and reels, accumulated during his 16-year professional career. He’s hoping other tournament pros who have also accumulated a garage full of tackle throughout their careers will also donate to The Ike Foundation. 

Complete information about donating equipment is available at www.theikefoundation.org. Registration forms for clubs and organizations that want to become involved with the foundation are also available on this website. 

“It’s exciting to finally get this started,” says Iaconelli. “It’s something Becky and I have been thinking about and planning for the past 10 years, and it’s very personal to me, because I grew up just outside Philadelphia, in an area where not a lot of kids fished. I was very fortunate to have parents and relatives that got me involved.

“As the foundation grows, we want to move beyond just donating equipment. We want to target specific geographic areas that don’t have any existing fishing organizations, and come in and create special events ourselves.  We really want to concentrate on non-traditional areas, but we’re not limiting ourselves to bass fishing, or even freshwater fishing.”

One way the Yamaha Pro plans to spread awareness of the foundation is through a 13-part fishing program named ‘Going Ike’ he will begin filming after the conclusion of this year’s Bassmaster® Elite season. At each filming location, Iaconelli wants to connect with different youth fishing clubs to help them become involved in the sport. ‘Going Ike’ will initially be broadcast digitally because he can reach such a wide audience, and will start airing during the first quarter of 2016. 

Iaconelli began to recognize the lack of youth fishing activity while filming his former television program, “City Limits,” which concentrated on identifying fishing opportunities in urban areas across the nation. At practically every location, he remembers, kids stopped by to watch in amazement; most had never held a fishing rod and had no idea fish of any species were even present where he was filming.

“It didn’t matter where we were filming,” emphasizes the Yamaha Pro. “The kids were really interested, but they’d never had the opportunity or the equipment to try fishing for themselves, even though it was so accessible. We want to help give them that opportunity with The Ike Foundation, and the easiest way to start is by getting them fishing tackle.

“If we can get just a couple of kids involved and turn them into fishermen, then I’ll know it’s all been worthwhile.”