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Mercersburg man gets paid to go fishing

World champion angler hopes to get children interested in his sport

World champion angler hopes to get children interested in his sport

December 28, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. ? Frank Ippoliti's fish tale begins with his childhood practice of strapping a tackle box onto his 10-speed bicycle.

It continues with the high school football team's starting receiver telling his coach that he would be skipping the big game to participate in a fishing tournament.

And today, Ippoliti still is fishing and still loving it.

"Once you catch a fish, you're hooked," Ippoliti said.

Ippoliti, 44, won the Southern Open at Wheeler Lake in Alabama about a month ago and the Professional Anglers Association Toyota Texas Bass Classic in April.

The tournaments reward the weight of fish caught and kept alive, instead of the quantity.

At the world championship, where he could weigh five fish a day, Ippoliti recorded 244 pounds, 14 ounces in four days.

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Sponsors, including BassCat Boats and Mercury Outboards, pay Ippoliti to fish, he said, and prize money has made it a business for him. The Mercersburg man used prize money to open a car dealership in Chambersburg, Pa.

Being at the dealership has scaled back fishing from 220 days per year to about 30, the bass fisherman said.

Yet, it's practice and "a burning desire to want to be the best" that Ippoliti credits for his success.

"The good Lord blesses each of us with a gift, and it's up to us to nurture that gift," he said.

Ippoliti is excited to start fishing with his son, who is 3 months old.

"I'd like to find the time to work with kids in the area and get them started," Ippoliti said. "I want to give back."

Ippoliti, who doesn't eat freshwater fish, said he prefers to fish near banks where he sees bass, much like he did as a child.

"I could never comprehend why someone would cast to the middle of the lake," he said.

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