Living with Ike

Imagine living with Mike Iaconelli.

It conjures up a different vision for each of us. But for an ambitious, college-educated blonde named Mattes Mattes, it's been a reality for more than a year.

She's his girlfriend, traveling companion, fishing buddy, and certainly knows far more about Ike than most of us think we do.

The two met in Vegas. Ike was there to attend the fishing industry's annual summer trade show. Mattes was there with her girlfriends having a good time. Mattes explains that Ike was neither screaming nor break dancing the first time she laid eyes on him.

"When I first met Mike, he was so shy, and believe it or not, that's kind of his true nature. A lot of my friends remark that he's very shy when you first meet him," she said. "He told me he was a professional fisherman, and truthfully, my first thoughts were that fishing was all about luck, and so I wandered how anybody could make a profession out of that."

After a year of traveling with Ike from one Bassmaster Elite Series tournament to another, her perspectives have changed drastically. A typical day for Mattes now begins at 4 a.m.; she's there to help Ike and his "traveling road show roommates" Ish Monroe and John Crews, get breakfast. Then she often attends the morning boat launch.

After Ike and the other Elite Series Anglers launch, Mattes spends the mornings working by phone and computer on her self-owned and operated interior decorating company. She grabs a necessary nap at mid-day following the pre-sunrise wake-ups, and then it's back to watch Ike at weigh-in.

So what's Ike really like?

"He's a good person, a nice person, he's genuine and sweet. But people don't see that because that's not what's portrayed on television or in the press," Mattes said. "I've definitely experienced the highs and lows of this sport with him.

"From receiving a text message from him as he arrived at the boat dock at Table Rock Lake reading 'I did it' moments before the rest of the world knew he had won the Toyota Angler of the Year Award, to the many evenings of watching him beat himself up when things didn't go well."

And what does Ike say about Mattes?

"Having a relationship in this sport is brutal, finding time to start a relationship is tough, putting up with me is tough," he said, "but she's done a great job of it for more than a year now, and she even caught 25 pounds on a shaky head worm when I took her fishing in California this Spring."

In the end, Mattes said it's all about passion with Iaconelli.

"The biggest thing about Mike is that he's a passionate person. Whether, he's fishing, playing with his daughters, or whatever, he does it with passion," she said. "And what you see on the water, whether he's celebrating or frustrated, is all a function of that same passion."