Editor Nick Carter had the chance to interview professional bass angler Mike Iaconelli just before the Bassmaster Classic. We didn’t want to jinx Ike by talking about the Classic, so we asked the Hobie pro about his love of kayak fishing.
What’s the appeal in stepping down from the deck of a bass boat into a kayak?
Ike: Growing up in southern New Jersey, I consider myself a small-boat angler first. Many of my early childhood experiences fishing involved fishing from the bank, rowing a small johnboat or paddling a canoe. Kayak fishing fills a huge niche in my fishing life. Outside of competitive bass tournament fishing, I’m still a huge fish head. That means fishing for all freshwater and saltwater species in my down time. When I’m fun fishing or filming for TV shows, I love to access remote places that I can’t get into with my full-size bass boat. Kayak fishing is also a HUGE breath of fresh air to leave the big boat and all of the time and preparation that go along with launching and running that boat.
With your tournament schedule, do you get to spend much time on the salt?
Ike: I definitely try to go inshore and offshore fishing each fall when the tournament season concludes. This past fall, I spent a week in Port Fourchon, Louisiana hanging out at Hobie Worlds 6 and filming a kayak fishing episode for season two of my TV show, Going Ike, which premieres this spring on the Pursuit Channel! I had a great time catching big redfish and trout, plus it was awesome meeting the Hobie World Championship competitors from all over the world who love fishing as much as I do. I also had a chance to go offshore fishing with my buddy Ish Monroe in San Francisco during November. We were mainly targeting lingcod, and it was an amazing day of fishing!
Where do you put your kayak in and what do you fish for in New Jersey?
Ike: I mostly fish the small lake behind my house, which has largemouth bass, northern chain pickerel, crappie, and sunfish. My son, Vegas, got a brand new Hobie kayak from Santa for Christmas this year. The fish in our lake better watch out this summer! I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family and pursuing exciting new fishing adventures.
How do redfish compare to “green fish?”
Ike: Anyone who has caught a big redfish would agree that they are definitely more powerful and are a very aggressive fish in general. One of my favorite things about targeting redfish is that most of the time I can focus on shallow-water power-fishing techniques and search for active, feeding reds. With the “green fish,” there are a lot of times that I have to slow down and present a bait to them slowly such as with a jig, worm or finesse fishing.
What skills, techniques, and gear from your bass arsenal translate well to inshore?
Ike: Casting accuracy/ presentation, reading tides, and power fishing techniques are the first three that come to my mind. Often when I’m inshore fishing, I am targeting fish that are relating to a grass edge or current break. If I can make accurate, quiet casting, there’s a good chance I’m going to catch more fish! Having grown up fishing the Delaware River, which can have up to a 7-foot tide swing between low and high tides, I’ve spent much of my life learning how fish position based on the tide level and current. This experience translates extremely well to inshore fishing…. I bring a lot of traditional power-fishing gear that you’d also find in my Bass Cat boat when I’m fishing for bass: Abu Garcia “Ike” Series Rods, Berkley Trilene braided/ monofilament/ fluorocarbon fishing lines, Rapala Skitter Walk and Skitter V topwaters, VMC jigheads, and Berkley Powerbait and Gulp swimbaits, grubs, and more soft plastics.
How is your Hobie rigged out?
Ike: I have a Power Pole Micro Anchor to stop the kayak on a dime. This is a very crucial piece of equipment, which allows me to quickly stop and fish an area without the kayak drifting with the current or wind. This is huge when you are fishing specific targets such as points, current breaks, laydowns, docks and more. I also have a Lowrance HDS 9 Touch unit, a storage crate for my Flambeau Zerust tackle boxes and tackle bags, landing net, rod holders, and of course, Hobie’s Mirage Drive pedals so I can keep my hands fishing instead of paddling!
Electronics play a huge role on the bass tournament scene, what’re your thoughts on electronics in kayaks?
Ike: Electronics play just as huge of a role in kayak fishing. I really use it the same as with my Bass Cat boat! As I just mentioned, I run a Lowrance HDS 9 Touch unit on my Hobie for its GPS/ sonar abilities. I rely heavily on the information I can gather from the Lowrance such as mapping/ bottom contours, reading the water temperature, and using the sonar for locating fish, cover, and structure to name a few. I may mount a Hydrowave on the Hobie as well soon. It’s another great innovation in electronics, and I use it often in my boat to fire up fish. I’m always interested in adding tools to my boat or kayak that help me catch more fish!