Big-city fishing and the media

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It figures Michael Iaconelli would figure this out. City fishing has come back. Back enough to be a television show on urban fishing, City Limits Fishing, and tonight’s episode on VERSUS is Iaconelli fishing the Chicago lakefront and Chicago River with local policeman John Milio.

And it reminds me why Iaconelli, who grew up outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey, is the most relevant modern pro fisherman.

The cities change, the scenarios are the same: The general idea of what we do is the tremendous fishing in an urban environment and people don’t know what they have in their backyards.

I had a chance to view a preview clip yesterday and caught up with Iaconelli last night. And it just reminded me why Iaconelli is my second favorite pro fisherman. (Rick Clunn, the complete PR opposite of Iaconelli, is my favorite.)

It must be the week for big-city fishing. My column for Sunday is on 19-year-old North Sider, George Watford, who is building a multi-media base for spreading the word of Chicago River fishing and said, “It’s an insult to me personally when they say, `There’s fish in the Chicago River?’ ” It will be available here Sunday.

Iaconelli, the 2006 BASS Angler of the Year and the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion, understands that question on a broader level.

I hope it opens up people’s eyes. Ninety percent of the people think you have to travel to fish.

The concept, one he has considered for years and was finally approached by SCI Productions with a similar idea, is basic. Fly in for two days. Fish the first day in a limited time–six hours–to catch a limit of fish within the city limits. The second day is exploring the city.

It was awesome to shoot these shows. I think this is something people will pick up on. Hard-core anglers will like it. Avid anglers will like it and people who don’t even fish will like it. I have high hopes for [City Limits Fishing]. I think it will go. It is awesome. The response is great. People relate to the elements. People relate to the reality of it. There’s lots of fishing shows on TV. Go to a farm pond or a private lake and film over five days and put together a show. We are going out and in a limited amount of time, what happens happens. It is real. People can relate to it. A lot of people have their own city. And their own story.

The New York and Washington D.C. episodes already aired. Sacramento, Philadelphia and Tampa are the upcoming episodes.

After periods of pollution in the ’60s and ’70s, now [the urban waters] have cleaned up and are these great fisheries.

Milio and Iaconelli didn’t have an easy day of it. Because of post-frontal conditions and churned lakefront waters, most of the fishing for the Chicago episode was done in the Chicago River. Though they pulled one beautiful smallmouth from under, and I mean under, Navy Pier, and solid largemouth from the river. And Milio has a good camera presence, which Iaconelli appreciated.

I met him at the Chicagoland Outdoors Show about two years ago. I was there working for the show and doing seminars. It was one of those things, `If you ever get back here, here is my card.’ Half of my shoots is about the same thing. That is an important element to the show. It is somebody who grew up there and spent their childhood there.

City Limits Fishing airs at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays on VERSUS.

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