Cameron backed his boat up one last time onto a goose neck trailer/hauler. 3200 mile haul from MA to SoCal. $2500 service. Super stoked. They did a great job.
Cameron backed his boat up one last time onto a goose neck trailer/hauler. 3200 mile haul from MA to SoCal. $2500 service. Super stoked. They did a great job.  Notice, Cameron won a new truck, and a new boat.  Which put this whole thing in motion.

I had no intention of buying a boat. I have been looking, but I’ve been stumped on a crossover boat.  The ideal boat would be a deep-v, walleye boat.  The big great lakes boats, that can handle big rough water.  That is the boat I had in my mind.  I want to fish the mighty Pacific Ocean. It stares me in the face all day long, and I know there are lots of good bass, halibut, and tuna to be had out there.  The ocean fishing has been, and continues to be off the hook.  However, crossover boats that fish in freshwater and aren’t gigantic are not exactly easy to find.  I’ve been spinning my wheels honestly.

Xmas Eve 2008. Lake Perris. I'm 'working'. I'm literally a week away from giving my boss my resignation.
Xmas Eve 2008. Lake Perris. I’m ‘working’. I’m literally a week away from giving my boss my resignation.  That is the boat I just bought.

My longtime friend, Cameron Smith won a new Triton Boat last October, on Lake Hartwell.  That being said, his 2001 Champion 196 Elite came up for sale, recently.   So, figure I’ve already fished 20-30 days out of this boat, I’ve written an article on this exact model before, and yeah, it’s like “the boat” ‘the model’ and rigged out by my boy Cammie and given to me at a killer homie deal.   I had no choice but to write him a check.  Paid in full already.  And boy, just like the best things in life, things fall in place, the universe knows what you need, and when patient and mindful, things have a way of happening.


I’ve received the boat, had a weekend to look her over. I’m super stoked.  A little TLC she is gonna be sick.  The trailer needs love.  I need to try and saltwater proof the trailer, the electrical connections, hardware, etc….I have no intention of hitting the big water, but shoot, I’ll put her in for the inshore stuff on calm days.  She for sure is a 110% kickass freshwater bass boat.  Hull is in gorgeous shape.  Fast, fuel efficient and a great fishing platform.

Cameron's parents house, notice his dad has a Champion hooked up to his Suburban. Good to see Mark and Patty.
Cameron’s parents house, notice his dad has a Champion hooked up to his Suburban. Good to see Mark and Patty.

Why the Champion 196 Elite

You won’t know by looking.  There are very few 19 foot boats out there.  Bass boats.  They are either 18 or 20 foot.  The 19 foot zone is way underserved.  The Champion 196 fishes big, and is pretty much a 20 footer, but the beauty is…..she runs on a 200 HP Engine.  Most 20 foot boats require a 250 HP engine.  There are huge deltas in fuel and oil consumption at the 250 vs 200 HP range.    The Champion 196 is about as big as you can get out of a 200 HP Outboard.  She is beautifully balanced.  And as far as bass boat, has a hull that can handle rough water.

Gonna need some fender refurbing
Gonna need some fender refurbing

Western Connection

Imagine MP as Jr. High or High School kid drooling over sparkly bass boats.  I would literally feel sick or nauseous around super tricked out boats at the time. I wanted one bad. I wanted to be able to charge, get out there, get on the fish, try stuff out. Champion Boats (and Ranger) have HUGE footprints in the Western Market.  In the 80s,90s, and 2000s lots and lots of Champion Boats went thru Anglers Marine.  All the guys I can remember ran Champions:  Cary Serklew, Bob Coulter, Bob Simmons, the Yamamoto crew, John Murray, etc.


I love fishing buzzbaits.  Adding swimbait tails to buzzbaits and spinnerbaits isn’t super new, but I’m unclear what guys actually use. I have always liked the Persuader Clacker Buzzbait.  I have caught big fish on buzzbaits, especially ones with clackers.  I love a black buzzbait with clack and a big ole ugly bait on the back, like a big Skinny Dipper or Zoom Lizard.   I have done really well, on the opposite end of the spectrum, with the Buzz Hammer.  The Buzz Hammer is smaller, more finesse, and quiet buzzbait that makes adding a swimbait tail really easy.

The Persuader Clacker Buzzbait

Skinny Dipper Swimbait Tail (trailer)


The Persuader Clackin' Buzzbait with the full size Skinny Dipper as a trailer bait
The Persuader Clackin’ Buzzbait with the full size Skinny Dipper as a trailer bait
A more finesse approach, the Buzz Hammer is a softer gurgle and the Big Hammer Square Tailed swimmer is a catchy little swimbait.
A more finesse approach, the Buzz Hammer is a softer gurgle and the Big Hammer Square Tailed swimmer is a catchy little swimbait.

The Buzz Hammer fishes really well with a 3″ Big Hammer Swimbait Tail.  The head on the Buzz Hammer designed to receive the Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, so naturally there is good fit and swim. I wish there was 3/4 and 1 ounce (or bigger) sized Buzz Hammers with bigger hooks and heads to accept the Sledge Hammer and just bigger paddled tailed swimmers out there.   You need to ‘bigbait’ your buzzbaits is my thought.

The Little Dipper on the Buzz Hammer looks awfully good, and is a great clear water/pressured fish approach to buzzbait fishing
The Little Dipper on the Buzz Hammer looks awfully good, and is a great clear water/pressured fish approach to buzzbait fishing.



Clack Clack Clack-----Blam!  The small willow leaf blade on the Persuader Buzzbait adds flash, but most importantly a good clack. I have caught a lot of fish on this buzzbait. It runs true and wakes 'em up.
Clack Clack Clack—–Blam! The small willow leaf blade on the Persuader Buzzbait adds flash, but most importantly a good clack. I have caught a lot of fish on this buzzbait. It runs true and wakes ’em up.

I’m probably a month too late for some folks, but it’s surprising how well fish eat topwater baits, like buzzbaits as the winter sets in. Fish eat moving and reaction baits way better in cold water, when the water is in a cooling trend.  For example, 52 degree water that is falling from the summertime highs is NOT the same 52 degree water that is warming from 42 or wherever you lake bottoms out.  It’s relative of course, but think about cold water that was warm and figure those fish are better active chasers and hunters, than cold water that is only slightly warmer than the bottom out temps.

The Buzz Hammer, aka, Buzz Hamster.  Rigged with a 3" Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, of course.
The Buzz Hammer, aka, Buzz Hamster. Rigged with a 3″ Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, of course.


Buzzbait fishing is badapple.  You need to be throwing the Whopper Plopper if you haven’t seen it. This is what I’m talking about, bringing some bigbait into your buzzbait.

Click to Purchase the Persuader Clacker Buzzbait
Click to purchase the Buzz Hammer


Look closely.  You see the light spots?  Those are the beds.  Beds in snot grass.  This is ideal wacky rig stuff, because you can't fish too many baits around this stuff without mucking up.  The Trick worm falls and stalls so slowly, it makes it the ideal bait to catch these kind of bedders

First off, huge congrats to Brandon McMillan.  That guy can fish and has the mental game to be a superstar.  Extremely impressed with Brandon’s fishing and ability to put it all together in win.   My 2012 Lake Seminole FLW Everstart was pretty decent, but nothing fantastic. I basically weighed in 12 pounds per day, had decent limits and finished 26th place.  We had strong wind and clouds during the tournament days, which had me off my game. I had hoped to get 13-15 pound limits by finesse fishing, and then hunting a big fish with a bigbait or sight fishing.  The wind just made me have to work twice as hard to get a fraction of the bites.  No excuses, my gameplan just wasn’t very well suited for the weather.   It took me way too long to catch a decent limit and I didn’t have the time to hunt the big ones as planned.  I kept at it, figuring I might be able to pull off 15 pounds or so both days with one bite. I broke off a fish on a wacky rig on Day 1 in the wind, and that hurt.   You have understand in super shallow stump fields, when the wind is blowing, you get pinned up against stumps, high centered and it’s pretty much complete chaos at times. I hooked a nice fish and the fish ran me around on spinning gear, and just basically whipped me where I got stuck on some stumps in the wind with the boat, and broke off where in any calmer conditions I could have avoided the catastrophe.  No big deal, but every pound counts and would have improved my overall standings significantly.

Wacky Rigged Trick worms are pretty darn finesse. Trick worms fall and stall much more than even a senko. Add a #1 Owner Mosquito hook and loosen up your drag and get to work. Braid mainline with floro leader recommended.

So, if you want to catch fish on Lake Seminole right now, here are some insights.  The fish are on beds, up shallow, and can be found along the shallow sand bars, points, humps and hard bottom places in Spring Creek big time.   You are either catching fish on beds, getting ready to bed, or just coming off the bed/guarding fry.   The water in Spring Creek is getting back to its normal clear self and things are getting right in Spring Creek again.  We had weeks of muddy water caused by some heavy rains that sorta screwed up the creek for a while.   There is also a shad spawn happening early in the morning.  So, first thing in the morning, guys had areas with hyacynth edges and/or rock where they were able to power fish their way to good 17+ pound limits in the first hour.  I missed this bite pretty much completely, but beware shad spawn fish are winning fish, as per Mr. McMillan, Shaye Baker, etc.  Find shad spawn and throw spinnerbaits, topwaters, and swim jigs.

Lake Seminole Conditions as of 3/25/2012

Lake Level: -.05 feet

Water Temp: 72 in the am, 78 in the afternoon

Grass:  Mediocre grass at best, hasn’t grown up much in most places.

Finesse Fishing on Sandbars/Points/Humps:

1) Wacky Rigging:

Zoom Trick Worm Or 5″ Senko (in the wind) in Watermelon Seed, Watermelon Candy, or June Bug

#1 Owner Mosquito Hook

15# PowerPro Braid main line connect to a 10# Suguoi Floroleader (2 foot leader)

7′ 2″ M (CUS72M) Shimano Cumara Spinning Rod

Shimano Stradic CI4 (STCI42500F) Spinning Reel

Wacky Rigging is a perfect blend of Rate of Stall and Rate of Fall.  So much so, that when done properly, you can literally ‘float’ your bait in place, suspending it in the water column exactly where you want it.  Cast your bait a little bit past your targets.  Your targets should be any light spots (beds) you see from a distance, stumps, trees, grass line, isolated patched of lily pads, or just randomly on good high percentage flats.  Dead stick the bait to the bottom on the initial fall.  Just let it fall to the bottom, pick it up and shake it a couple times.   Then let it settle to the bottom.  I only fished the wacky rig 5-10 feet in most cases back toward the boat, and then would reel in and make another cast.  The wacky rig is death on Seminole and the fish there really react well to a slow fall and slow stall.

2) Light Texas Rigging

Swim Senko

Speed Worm

Zoom Trick Worm

1/8 oz. Picasso Tungsten Worm Weight

4/0 or 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Offset Worm Hook

17-20 # P-Line Halo florocarbon or 30 Pound Power Pro Braid

The light texas rig was a better bait for casting and dragging around in the wind.  It was just easier to fish in the wind and many guys who did well were finesse fishing. Seminole is not like Okeechobee. You have to approach the bedding fish with much more care and they don’t kill anything you throw over a bed.  You have to slow down, finesse and work them into biting more than on the Big O.   You could just drag the bait, or do a slight pull and swim.  If you came thru the sparse grass, you could rip it or give it some swim, but when on barren bottom, the drag retrieve seemed to be the better deal.  Fishing for the same fish as the wacky deal, just less finesse than wacky, but much better for fishing in any kind of wind.

3) Carolina Rigging

8″ Zoom Lizard (watermelon red/cotton candy/june bug)

Zoom Brush Hog  (watermelon seed/green pumpkin blue)

3/4-1 ounce Precision Brass Weights

The Carolina Rig is a good bait on Seminole for a few reasons.  It can be fished nicely in the wind first and foremost.  The fish on and around beds seem to eat Carolina rigs, don’t ask my why, but they do.  Just ask Lloyd Picket Jr about that.  He catches solid sacks of bedding fish, by blind casting Carolina rigs in the Spring time, I’ve seen it a couple times.   Anywho, the Carolina rig also helps you probe the deeper and transitions sides of the sandbars, points and humps.  So you can probe the deeper 6+ foot range of the sandbars.  Sometimes the fish move out or are sitting deeper due to whatever reasons, and a Carolina rig is a great compromise of finesse and power because it can be fished down to 15+ feet and across a 2 foot deep hump in the same cast.  Many good bags were caught on the C-Rig, lizards and creature baits on stump flats, sandbars, and humps in and around the Spring Creek and Fish Pond Drain area.

#4) Bigbaits

3:16 Sunfish with 1/0 ST-41 Owner Treble Hook on 65# Power Pro and Calcutta 300 TE and G-Loomis 965

8″ Triple Trout, two ST-36 Owner Treble Hooks in 1/0, #5 Owner Hyper Split Rings65# Power Pro, Calcutta 300 TE, and G-Loomis 965

The bigbait bite on Seminole was nothing spectacular, but there.  You have to fish around the bedding fish, or around the standing timber, grass or docks directly adjacent to the spawning areas.  That was the key, but Seminole just wasn’t a great time for moving baits.  Finesse baits dominated, but I got the occassional bigbait bite.

I've been learning some basics of bigbaits in non trout fed lakes this year.  Bluegill and sunfish baits are an excellent choice around spawning time.  Bigger fish don't like the bluegills/sunnys swimming near their beds.  They tend to bite with purpose and you can feel it.


Tournament time again.  I’m unusually optimistic about stringing together a good tournament.  I have been catching fish, not in great numbers or size, but I think the fishing is generally pretty tough out there.  Guys who I know can catch them are struggling, which I’m not suprised.  This leg of the journey has been tough.  Yes, there is a shad spawn, and yes the bass are bedding, but Seminole is a different animal than most lakes.  This year, the grass on Seminole has not grown up and it’s relatively barren compared to the other times I’ve fished here.  What that means is you cannot go pound the grass and milk fish out of it.  Grass lakes without grass can be confusing.  Keeping it consistent and being able to have solid sacks of fish for 3 days is the goal.

My gameplan:  Fishing Small, getting a good solid limit, and then breaking out and fishing Big.   I have various areas where I can fan cast finesse style baits and get it done.  I have areas that are in danger of being ruined by muddy water coming down Spring Creek, however, I think I can adjust and fish the moment and conditions.   We have relatively strong winds and thunderstormy type day forecasted for tomorrow.   That means the bed fishing will be tough for the most part.   Not game over, but the bed fishing on Seminole that I’ve experienced is pretty fickle.  The fish are really smart, trolling motor aware, and require extreme stealth and skills to get to bite (the big fish anyway).   Ideally, I get a good limit with enough time to go have some free time to go hunt some big ones. I am hunting them with Triple Trouts, 3:16 Sunfish/Bluegills and the 5″ Big Hammer sight fish rig (bed fish).    The big swimmer bite has been tough, but it’s out there.  I need a good 2-3 hours of chunking and winding to get a bite, and that assumes muddy water and muck haven’t messed with my water.  Muddy water and muck (ie, floating grass niblets the ducks pull up, or snot grass pieces, or just wind blown garbage are the doom of the swimbait at times).

I’m fishing for a Top 10 and God willing, am able to pull off a Top 5 or better.  I think I can be consistent.  Worst case, I get 10-12 pounds per day, but best case, I think I can get 15+ a day, and sustain it for 3 days in a row.  I think 28- 30 pounds, two day total, will make the Top 10 cut or slightly less. Guys are going to have some big sacks, but I don’t believe they can do it 3 days in a row, let alone 2 days in a row.  We shall see.  I feel good about catching some fish and competing.

Music from the above video clip:

“Preying Mantis”

Album: The Left Hand Side

Usage Courtesy:  Body Deep Music

Here is an attempt to post an article that was recently published by Bass Angler Magazine (BAM), in their Q1 2012 Winter Edition.   Bass Angler Magazine is kicking butt with really good articles that are full of excellent content.   The articles are contributed by anglers who range from KVD and Elite/Tour Super Stars, to the AAA level guy like me, to women, amateurs, co-anglers, and regional and technique specialists.  Refreshing reading material, not overly edited and polished, but that’s what makes it real and the content genuine.   BAM comes out 4 times year, a subscription is $7.95 and available via Tackle Warehouse by clicking here.

Page 1, Trout Eaters of Winter, Bass Angler Magazine, Q1 2012


Trout Eater of Winter, Page 2, Bass Angler Magazine, Q1 2012


Trout Eaters of Winter, Page 3, Bass Angler Magazine, Q1 2012


Trout Eaters of Winter, Page 4, Bass Angler Magazine, Q1 2012


Bass Angler Magazine, Cover Shot, Q1 2012
Steve Jobs Biography
When you read about Steve Jobs' life, you realize you should be taking notes because there are so many subtle business lessons woven into his life's story. Apple and Steve Jobs are to be studied, whether or not you have an Android phone or run a Windows laptop. The brand, the products and contributions to the world are second to none, and they (Steve for sure) broke all the rules to get there.

Okay, now I’m really going to annoy some people.  A book review?   A bass fisherman doing a book review?  First he does a DVD, and now we are talking about books?  The horror!!!  No this isn’t a book review, but let me put my Steve Jobs in action:  BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT.   I give this book an A+.  Great read, very insightful and I found myself laughing out loud reading it.  You have to put yourself in my shoes and take my appreciation for this book with a grain of salt.  Steve and Apple are familiar and resonate with me because the stories and tales in the book remind me so much of my former career, the folks I went to college and high school with, my brother, his wife, and his friends who live in and around the Silicon Valley who are all Standford grads, and the life lessons I’ve become aware of at 34. I have a personal connection to much of what I read about, have been to many of the places mentioned, been part of classic hardware/software/open vs. closed source/ sales vs. techy conversations in my former career, so this book strikes a chord to my soul.

Here is the Steve Jobs Biography I’m referring to:  The Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson

Our Southern Trout Eaters DVD was filmed mostly on a Sony Handycam Camcorder in Standard Definition.  The film was edited on a MacBook Pro using iMovie.   Southern Trout Eaters, to me, is a perfect example of the genius of Steve Jobs.  Making technology usable, and keeping things simple.    A fisherman can create a DVD out of the back of his truck with Steve’s technology.   Besides usability and simplicity, the brand and what is ‘imputed’ by Apple are incredible.  Amazing marketing, amazing design, amazing products coupled with a culture and style that are so Californian.     There are a lot of subtle business lessons woven into this book that I found awesome.  There are no rules in business.  You add the Internet and social networks, and we are literally in the wild west again when it comes many things business.   Steve was willing to “Think Different”, and did, and as that campaign points out, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, often are the ones who do.”   Swimbait fishing,, the Southern Trout Eaters DVD, and my ongoing work are in lots of ways an attempt to think different, fish different, and not align myself with things in the sport that I clearly see as “complete shit”, to quote Steve.

Here are the quotes and points that really resonated with me,  from the book:

  • “Simplification is the ultimate sophistication”  (borrowed from Leonardo DaVinci, but what an excellent quote)
  • “He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint,” she noted.  “He knew equations that most people didn’t know:  Things led to their opposites.”
  • Jobs told Egan, as he had a few other friends, about his premonition that he would not live a long life.  That was why he was driven and impatient, he confided.  “He felt a sense of urgency about all he wanted to get done,” Egan later said.
  • Her boss, tried to get her to stay at Goldman, but instead she decided the work was unedifying.  “You could be really successful,” she said, “but you’re just contributing to capital formation.”
  • Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
  • So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
  • Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?
  • The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people

My former career selling software with eEye Digital Security taught me some valuable business lessons, but it was the lessons where technology intersected human nature I found most profound.  For example,  eEye Digital Security lost 100s of enterprise accounts back in the early 2000s to Foundstone (which was soon after acquired by McAfee).   The number one reason we lost so many deals to the big boy enterprise clients was because Foundstone had a simple “stop light” on their dashboard where all the information, all the data from all the stuff both our respective tools did rolled up into an aggregate score.  Green = good or secure, Yellow = Caution, you have some security risks that need to be addressed, Red = Alert, major holes and security breaches happening.    We basically vomited up all this information and could tell a customer that a printer on the 3rd floor of their building was running HP-UX that had a known vulnerability, had this IP address,  and all this machine info,  but to the executive, to the enterprise level accounts, they just want to know, hey, are we good bad happy or sad at a very very high level?  Net this stuff out for me.  So what if our printer has a flaw?  What is the worse thing that happens if our HP-UX printer has this flaw exploited by the ‘bad guys’?  How likely is that to happen?  Things our engineers and executives failed to recognize—the business impact of the flaws, not just ability to find the flaws.   I had a prospective client from a very large insurance company in Cleveland ask my team, “So, what does this all mean?”  My engineers and executives couldn’t answer and I knew we were done.    eEye Digital Security has gone on to become a major player at the enterprise account level (ie DoD Wide Contract, how is that for enterprise class comeback?), but those early years were painful, because we had a shot at being a 100-500 million dollar company, going public, and all of us retiring early.   That was not our path though, our path took me and my career  to Atlanta in January 2005.  I caught my first Southern Trout Eater on an 8″ Rainbow Trout Huddleston in March 2005, and that’s where all this started.

Steve Jobs, I appreciate your life’s story and your work.  I’m not sure if I would be on your “A” List or on the list of complete shit, but I sure have been inspired reading your biography.   I want to do incredible things.  I want to do things in fishing, different than how they are being done.  I want my legacy to be what I’ve created and contributed, not what I’ve consumed.   I said it online in a Facebook post recently, I’d like to be an ‘aloha’ version of Steve, less a tyrant, less an asshole, but on the same wavelength of focus and drive to do things in a space that I know and love, and am willing to ‘break the rules’ of traditional fishing (including talking about things like books and music) to get there.