Elite Man Caves

Elite Man Caves: Mike Iaconelli

There’s a stretch of road in southern New Jersey where motorists pass horse farms, a number of rural residences, a few businesses and … wait, what’s this? <p> <em>All captions: Mike Suchan</em>
Photo: Mike Suchan - There’s a stretch of road in southern New Jersey where motorists pass horse farms, a number of rural residences, a few businesses and … wait, what’s this? All captions: Mike Suchan
There’s a rather large homestead kind of hidden behind two cornfields in Pittsgrove Township. Why, this is the address of Mike and Becky Iaconelli. Ike, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro who was born and raised nearby, found this plot of land about a half hour due south of his hometown of Philadelphia.
Photo: Mike Suchan - There’s a rather large homestead kind of hidden behind two cornfields in Pittsgrove Township. Why, this is the address of Mike and Becky Iaconelli. Ike, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro who was born and raised nearby, found this plot of land about a half hour due south of his hometown of Philadelphia.
While the house was built in 2008, the structure on the left was built new in the past year, and Ike calls it the ‘barn.’ It’s his dream rig/tackle area, but it also houses Becky’s office for The Ike Foundation, which they started to get more kids fishing. Upstairs is an unfinished room where fishing tackle targeted for youth groups is stored.
Photo: Mike Suchan - While the house was built in 2008, the structure on the left was built new in the past year, and Ike calls it the ‘barn.’ It’s his dream rig/tackle area, but it also houses Becky’s office for The Ike Foundation, which they started to get more kids fishing. Upstairs is an unfinished room where fishing tackle targeted for youth groups is stored.
“We built the house in ‘08, and it had a standard garage attached. Right away, I knew that’s not an ideal space. You’ve got cars, kids, toys. Having an actual place for the truck and boat, its own spot, has been a dream since I was a kid. Up until we built this barn, I’ve always had my boat outside, covered up, and then put my tackle wherever I could put it.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - “We built the house in ‘08, and it had a standard garage attached. Right away, I knew that’s not an ideal space. You’ve got cars, kids, toys. Having an actual place for the truck and boat, its own spot, has been a dream since I was a kid. Up until we built this barn, I’ve always had my boat outside, covered up, and then put my tackle wherever I could put it.”
The left bay is long enough and tall enough to accommodate Ike’s truck and boat. Ike has a 6-inch lift on the truck and has a kayak on top, so the ceiling is Ike-sized.
Photo: Mike Suchan - The left bay is long enough and tall enough to accommodate Ike’s truck and boat. Ike has a 6-inch lift on the truck and has a kayak on top, so the ceiling is Ike-sized.
With a door on the back side of the barn, it’s a convenient drive-through garage. “Especially coming home late at night from a tournament. Drive 20 hours, pull in one side, drop the door, pull straight out the next day,” Iaconelli said.
Photo: Mike Suchan - With a door on the back side of the barn, it’s a convenient drive-through garage. “Especially coming home late at night from a tournament. Drive 20 hours, pull in one side, drop the door, pull straight out the next day,” Iaconelli said.
Another nifty feature is the line spooling station placed right where he can easily work from the boat. “I came up with that concept with my builder over lunch. I’ve got all my line right on the wall on dowels. The spools for casting reels are horizontal on dowels and the spools for spinning reels vertically on dowels. That’s how you want the line coming off when you spool reels.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Another nifty feature is the line spooling station placed right where he can easily work from the boat. “I came up with that concept with my builder over lunch. I’ve got all my line right on the wall on dowels. The spools for casting reels are horizontal on dowels and the spools for spinning reels vertically on dowels. That’s how you want the line coming off when you spool reels.”
“I’ve got everything from 6-pound fluorocarbon to 20 and then all my braid, literally every size category sitting on that wall. And I positioned it right in front of where the front deck would be. Go out and peel it straight off the wall. Those dowels have tension springs on them where it’s like winding them at a sporting goods store.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - “I’ve got everything from 6-pound fluorocarbon to 20 and then all my braid, literally every size category sitting on that wall. And I positioned it right in front of where the front deck would be. Go out and peel it straight off the wall. Those dowels have tension springs on them where it’s like winding them at a sporting goods store.”
Another feature Iaconelli is proud of is his rod locker storage, something unique he hasn’t seen many other guys utilize. “My deal and the way I operate as a tournament angler, I have a tremendous amount of rods and I separate them by action,” he said. “I can get back, have one go down and replace quickly.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Another feature Iaconelli is proud of is his rod locker storage, something unique he hasn’t seen many other guys utilize. “My deal and the way I operate as a tournament angler, I have a tremendous amount of rods and I separate them by action,” he said. “I can get back, have one go down and replace quickly.”
The lockers that line the wall are tall enough for 8-foot rods, and each locker fits about two dozen rods. “I separate by action, the light action spinnies, medium light, medium heavy, then I go to my lighter casting rods to my heavier ones. I have a section for my flipping sticks, cranking rods. For me, it’s awesome I can grab and go.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - The lockers that line the wall are tall enough for 8-foot rods, and each locker fits about two dozen rods. “I separate by action, the light action spinnies, medium light, medium heavy, then I go to my lighter casting rods to my heavier ones. I have a section for my flipping sticks, cranking rods. For me, it’s awesome I can grab and go.”
Right next to the rod lockers are shelves for Iaconelli’s reels. “I’ve got that organized by spinning, casting and then the different types of casting reels.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Right next to the rod lockers are shelves for Iaconelli’s reels. “I’ve got that organized by spinning, casting and then the different types of casting reels.”
“If I have a reel go down, I know right where to get to it. If I want to put a new combo together, it’s right there next to each other. Every year, I would think of little things – if I ever get a chance to build a space, wouldn’t it be cool to have this? That’s what I’ve done.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - “If I have a reel go down, I know right where to get to it. If I want to put a new combo together, it’s right there next to each other. Every year, I would think of little things – if I ever get a chance to build a space, wouldn’t it be cool to have this? That’s what I’ve done.”
On the wall, starting from the back of the garage and going to the line station, is Gorilla board.
Photo: Mike Suchan - On the wall, starting from the back of the garage and going to the line station, is Gorilla board.
There’s 30 feet of this metal pegboard, and it holds an enormous assortment that would make most any bait shop owner jealous.
Photo: Mike Suchan - There’s 30 feet of this metal pegboard, and it holds an enormous assortment that would make most any bait shop owner jealous.
“The whole thing with the shop is to make it easy to grab and go,” Ike said. “I’ve got every product that I use regularly …
Photo: Mike Suchan - “The whole thing with the shop is to make it easy to grab and go,” Ike said. “I’ve got every product that I use regularly …
… from Berkley Havoc, to Berkley Powerbait, to Molix to the Rapala DT series, to VMC hooks and weights …
Photo: Mike Suchan - … from Berkley Havoc, to Berkley Powerbait, to Molix to the Rapala DT series, to VMC hooks and weights …
… and they’re all pegged and organized on that 30-foot section.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - … and they’re all pegged and organized on that 30-foot section.”
“I basically tried to solve every storage/organization issue I’ve had in the past in this space.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - “I basically tried to solve every storage/organization issue I’ve had in the past in this space.”
Ike’s storage racks with Flambeau boxes are broken into two sections. This is the storage unit for tackle he’s currently using. “The crankbaits, the rattling, the topwaters, everything that I’m using on a regular basis, I have there.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Ike’s storage racks with Flambeau boxes are broken into two sections. This is the storage unit for tackle he’s currently using. “The crankbaits, the rattling, the topwaters, everything that I’m using on a regular basis, I have there.”
He has another 30 foot of shelving for old tackle, items that he has used in the past and might use in the future.
Photo: Mike Suchan - He has another 30 foot of shelving for old tackle, items that he has used in the past and might use in the future.
“Call me a hoarder or whatever, but a lot of that stuff I haven’t used in years and years, I don’t like to get rid of it because a lot of stuff comes back around. The old Wiggle Wart is an example.” And even his old tackle is organized by category.
Photo: Mike Suchan - “Call me a hoarder or whatever, but a lot of that stuff I haven’t used in years and years, I don’t like to get rid of it because a lot of stuff comes back around. The old Wiggle Wart is an example.” And even his old tackle is organized by category.
“A lot of that older stuff, I can’t get on a regular basis, but if the situation arises and something comes back around I’m able to go back into my historical collection,” he said.
Photo: Mike Suchan - “A lot of that older stuff, I can’t get on a regular basis, but if the situation arises and something comes back around I’m able to go back into my historical collection,” he said.
He pulled out some rarely used Mission swimbaits. “If we go back to the California Delta, you better believe I’m going to grab this box,” he said.
Photo: Mike Suchan - He pulled out some rarely used Mission swimbaits. “If we go back to the California Delta, you better believe I’m going to grab this box,” he said.
Iaconelli has some practical storage in the barn, including his eXmark mower and ATV for running the grounds, which include a fishing lake.
Photo: Mike Suchan - Iaconelli has some practical storage in the barn, including his eXmark mower and ATV for running the grounds, which include a fishing lake.
For all his joking around, Ike said his work bench area is rather important.
Photo: Mike Suchan - For all his joking around, Ike said his work bench area is rather important. "And it’s actually going to get a bit nicer. We do so much work with product development, so that’s a key space for me."
Ike only had a Dremel and some odd tools before, but now he has a grinder, a drill press, a vice, a fly tying device and an airbrush station. “I’m going to put a 20-gallon aquarium where I can actually test things in the water.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Ike only had a Dremel and some odd tools before, but now he has a grinder, a drill press, a vice, a fly tying device and an airbrush station. “I’m going to put a 20-gallon aquarium where I can actually test things in the water.”
Under the work area is more storage. “My thing, and I’ve always been that way since I fished for a club, is to always have spares and to always prepare. I use some of the best equipment in the world, but eventually something’s going to happen, there’s an accident or something goes down.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Under the work area is more storage. “My thing, and I’ve always been that way since I fished for a club, is to always have spares and to always prepare. I use some of the best equipment in the world, but eventually something’s going to happen, there’s an accident or something goes down.”
Say, what happened to these guys? And what exactly are you doing with that “armored giant,” the apex predator from around 400 million years ago?
Photo: Mike Suchan - Say, what happened to these guys? And what exactly are you doing with that “armored giant,” the apex predator from around 400 million years ago?
There’s even room for extra seats to the BassCat, which of course have gotten a bit dusty.
Photo: Mike Suchan - There’s even room for extra seats to the BassCat, which of course have gotten a bit dusty.
This Porter Cable air compressor does double duty, helping Ike air brush lures and fill his tires. “I make sure every time I leave that shop my truck and trailer tires are at maximum pressure.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - This Porter Cable air compressor does double duty, helping Ike air brush lures and fill his tires. “I make sure every time I leave that shop my truck and trailer tires are at maximum pressure.”
One always might need another anchor or another life vest. The barn also has unique electrical access, with retractable cords on the ceiling and walls to charge up anything and everything.
Photo: Mike Suchan - One always might need another anchor or another life vest. The barn also has unique electrical access, with retractable cords on the ceiling and walls to charge up anything and everything.
Flambeau boxes are at the core of Ike’s organization. “They’re on the front line – that’s what I put into my boat. I have a lot of empties in the house because I’m continually creating new boxes. At La Crosse, I’ll take an Ike-approved Flambeau, and I’ll fill it with things I think I’ll use during the course of the day for that event.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Flambeau boxes are at the core of Ike’s organization. “They’re on the front line – that’s what I put into my boat. I have a lot of empties in the house because I’m continually creating new boxes. At La Crosse, I’ll take an Ike-approved Flambeau, and I’ll fill it with things I think I’ll use during the course of the day for that event.”
Iaconelli had bigger work getting everything ready for an extended trip of six weeks. “It’s great having that organization at the house. Then you have these extended mini-trips where you have to recreate what I have in the barn on a smaller basis.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Iaconelli had bigger work getting everything ready for an extended trip of six weeks. “It’s great having that organization at the house. Then you have these extended mini-trips where you have to recreate what I have in the barn on a smaller basis.”
Before the first annual Ike Foundation Celebrity Pro-Am fishing tournament, Ike was already packed for the Elite on the Potomac, the Open on the James, an MLF event, the Elite season finale at La Crosse and the AOY Championship on Mille Lacs. “I was thinking out those five events – I needed a scaled-down version of everything in the back of the truck.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - Before the first annual Ike Foundation Celebrity Pro-Am fishing tournament, Ike was already packed for the Elite on the Potomac, the Open on the James, an MLF event, the Elite season finale at La Crosse and the AOY Championship on Mille Lacs. “I was thinking out those five events – I needed a scaled-down version of everything in the back of the truck.”
And there it is, including labeled Rubbermaid tubs and things like a spare trolling motor, prop, light pole, extension cords and batteries. On top of his truck he utilizes rod tubes to bring 30 more blanks along.
Photo: Mike Suchan - And there it is, including labeled Rubbermaid tubs and things like a spare trolling motor, prop, light pole, extension cords and batteries. On top of his truck he utilizes rod tubes to bring 30 more blanks along.
“Organization makes it so easy – everything is at your fingertips. It’s all about time management; I’d love to do the math. I’d like to add up, in the course of a year, all the minutes I’ve saved by using this system. I’ve like gained an extra couple days to a week of fishing, that I’m not spending digging, or frustrated, or having to order stuff or on the phone with Becky.  If I can get to it, it means 20 more casts in the course of a day, it means an extra hour. It’s just time. Saving time.”
Photo: Mike Suchan - “Organization makes it so easy – everything is at your fingertips. It’s all about time management; I’d love to do the math. I’d like to add up, in the course of a year, all the minutes I’ve saved by using this system. I’ve like gained an extra couple days to a week of fishing, that I’m not spending digging, or frustrated, or having to order stuff or on the phone with Becky. If I can get to it, it means 20 more casts in the course of a day, it means an extra hour. It’s just time. Saving time.”
Here’s the aftermath of an event – a box loaded with used tackle. “After each event I end up with a little pile … switched crankbait colors on the fly, or got back to backs. By the end of the year in October, there’s eight or 10 boxes to sift through and put them back in appropriate places.” The offseason is when he catches up restocking the shelves, preparing it all again for next season.
Photo: Mike Suchan - Here’s the aftermath of an event – a box loaded with used tackle. “After each event I end up with a little pile … switched crankbait colors on the fly, or got back to backs. By the end of the year in October, there’s eight or 10 boxes to sift through and put them back in appropriate places.” The offseason is when he catches up restocking the shelves, preparing it all again for next season.