I DO NOT have this bite figured out and by no means can speak as an authority.  Something is always bedding on Okeechobee….bass, bluegill, talapia/goggle-eyes, and Asian armored catfish.   There is a cycle and way of life in the lake, in all lakes I suppose, that mirrors this to some level.  You notice bass beds become bluegill beds or talapia/goggle-eye beds.  The beds get re-used.  Sometime I’ll share what I do with the 3:16 Rising Son around bedding bass, but for now, just wanted to share a nice one I got on Okeechobee over the weekend.  It’s NOT easy out there for me.  Okeechobee is on a fickle cycle for a swimbait guy.  Lots of algae bloom, weird color water, bad wind, overgrown and choked out.  The good black clear water I like to fish is really hard to come by.  The fish are more ‘outside’ grass edge oriented and ideally, I’d have nice black clear water, or inside grass pools with enough depth and life to hold fish.    The bite right now, as usual, is a flipping and punching bite.  That is how you will win on Okeechobee.  If tide and time completely come together and you make the right moves during a 4 day event to pull it off, I think a sight fish/swimbait bite could beat a pure punching bite.  I missed my opportunity, twice, at the Tour level to prove and show that.   I have nightmares about it. It haunts me, and that is no joke.

See the light spots on the bottom?  Those are the 'beds' that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc
See the light spots on the bottom int he bottom 1/3rd of this photo? Those are the ‘beds’ that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc

I am fishing in and around the Monkey Box, Harney Pond, North Shore area and I found some big hydrilla beds with clean water and bedding bluegill, that is all I can tell you.  Hydrilla seems to be key for me, and I know was key for Brent Ehrler when the Tour was here and he finished 2nd.   And Lord knows I could/should be punching, I just love the challenge of finding swimbait fish.   The bite is way more a flipping bite and pitching jigs at the reeds.  Anyway, I’ve found some bluegill beds (I think) in some thick hydrilla fields, and the water is by far the best black water I have found,  and the water is fishable.  The grass is not topped out  in some pools and you can swim a bait thru it quite nicely.    The 3:16 Sunfish (the Bluegill color is killer too) is a favorite bait of mine. I fish it with a 1/0 ST-36 Owner Stinger Hook, and 65# Braid, M Action 8 footer,  and a Curado 300.  It has a very down the line, nose down swim, which is amazing for a line thru bait with a 45 degree angle of attack between hook and line thru insert in the bait, that you’d think would bias more upward.   The bait does not swim up or plane up, it really keeps its depth and drive ‘right’ on the straight grind.  You don’t have to be overly technical to get the right down the line swim out of the bait, and can stall, snatch and buzz/burn it along too.  It’s just a great bait, and I’m learning that May/June is bed time for bluegill all over the South, including Florida.  You need to be throwing bluegill baits, and the post-spawn time of the bass tends to lead into the bluegill/brim spawn, which tends to be when the heat is setting in, mid Spring style.   I catch fish on the 3:16 Sunfish and 22nd Century Bluegill right now.

Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.
Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.


The Florida sun has been quite nice lately.  Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless.  Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision.  I 'live' in Lakeport on weekends.
The Florida sun has been quite nice lately. Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless. Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision. I ‘live’ in Lakeport on weekends.
Blood sweat and tears, literally.
Blood sweat and tears, literally.
I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite
I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite


Kyle catches big ones on Huddlestons.
Kyle catches big ones on Huddlestons.

I think I met Kyle via Facebook.  When I see a guy catching 8″ Huddleston fish, and I don’t care where, I try to pay attention.  Kyle showed me a picture one time and I immediately recognized it as a pond in my old neighborhood in Roswell, GA.  It was funny.  Kyle is in 11th grade, he runs his own bait company (BigBoy Bait Co), and he catches fish on 3:16 Rising Sons and 8″ Huddleston Deluxe Trout baits.  I really enjoy the passion and the drive these High School and College anglers have…both for the tournament styles of fishing and the bigbait styles of fishing.

Notice ice on the shoreline, and a stud on the 3:16 Rising Son. Good one Kyle.

Kyle shared a recent school assignment with me, a paper on Mickey Ellis and the 3:16 Lure Company.  Read it below.  I like the simple, well synthesized and organized way he explains bigbait fishing and tells a story.  He does a very good job of educating someone who doesn’t know much about fishing, the key things they need to understand and connect with.   I’m impressed with Kyle’s fishing, his writing and his bait company.

Here is Kyle in his own words/his Bio:

“Kyle Meyer here, a little about myself. First off, I am a senior in High School, at Glynn Academy in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. I strongly believe in doing what you love, and right now I am doing just that. I have been handpouring/injecting custom baits for almost 3 years now, and have started a small business in the industry, Big Boy Baits. I am extremely interested in swimbaits and bigbaits, but not just fishing them…the industry, the makers, the processes, and the dedication that goes into these baits is largely unknown to the general public, and I want to change that. Handmade swimbaits are not just another product on the website, they are works of art, masterpieces of mechanics and realism, and useful tools in your arsenal. I also believe in “doing all you can”. I also run a Youtube Video channel, The Southbound Fishing show, to document my journey, the success and failure. Along with my business, I plan to unroll many other projects to the Southern Swimbait fisherman, to help and guide the fresh generation of fishermen, as they are by far the most important to the sport. Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from you soon.” KM

 Kyle Meyer
Kyle Meyer with gorgeous fish caught on one Big Boy Baits Paddle Stick
Kyle Meyer with gorgeous fish caught on one Big Boy Baits Paddle Stick

The Success of Mickey Ellis and 3:16 Lure Company

by Kyle Meyer


Mickey Ellis is a man of dedication, of passion, and of perfection. For 13 years, Mickey has been selling the biggest and the most innovative swimbaits on the market. These are not your normal fishing lures, these baits are giants in themselves. These baits are 4-12 inches long, ultra-realistic fish imitations that catch some of the biggest Largemouth Bass in the world. Every bait is handmade and handcrafted by Mickey himself. The question is, how did he get here? Years before this business ever was dreamed of, Mickey was a hardcore street motorcycle racer, on a path that certainly did not lead to a successful business and a profound love for God and Christianity.  What changed and took him to divine success and the forefront of trophy West Coast bass fishing?

One should note that without work, there can be no progress. To say that a specific person achieved great success without work and dedication is a very false statement. To say that uncontrollable factors can influence the work and goals of a successful person is much more understandable. Mickey Ellis has everything it takes: drive, vision, insight, and most of all, timing. He came into the swimbait industry at just the right time. If he had had his “vision” to make baits 10 years earlier, he might have just made some plastic worms and called it a day. But no, he came into the bait scene just as things were really exploding. Swimbait fishing was a almost a secret cult, barely practiced at all outside of the clear California reservoirs, but it was not to stay that way for long. Mickey came along at precisely the right time, with precisely the right mindset needed for the time period. Technicality, realism, and action were all becoming the focus of his competitors, and he had the experience and timing to pull it all off at the same time. It sounds like another American businessman that took a passion and ran with it, but behind the scenes it is much more.

“I rented a condo on Lake Mission Viejo. I would go out there on the dock every night and fly-line those big Bass Assassins, and catch 10 pounders or better every time”, Mickey says in his interview with Matt Peters of the movie Southern Trout Eaters. Just for reference, a lot of fishermen in the US will never catch or see a 10 pound Largemouth Bass. It is a fish that could break lake and potentially state records all over the country, and Mickey Ellis was catching them on a regular basis, in his backyard. A quote from Malcolm Gladwell reads:  “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Catching these giant fish in his own backyard using his own sought-out methods gave Mickey the skill and knowledge of his subject to create a bait so well-suited for the task at hand that it would become one of the top baits in its category: The Mission Fish. To this day the Mission Fish is still one of the most widely fished weedless swimbaits to ever hit the market, and it has exploded the 3:16 Lure Company, Mickey’s business.

Location also greatly affected the success of Mickey and his business. The Southern California area is home to some of the best Largemouth Bass fishing in the country, with 20 out of the 25 largest bass ever caught coming from the Southern California region. That’s right, 80 percent of the largest fish EVER caught came from the local area where Mickey was from. In fact, number 14 on the list came from Lake Mission Viejo; the same lake Mickey practiced and honed his techniques on.  This is a perfect example of the advantageous location, also known as being “in the right place at the right time”. Just as Mickey started his bait business, the niche industry of big swimbaits really exploded and his creations became some of the most sought-after baits in the big-bait world. The baits that are created by the master lure designers of California, folks such as Matt Servant of Mattlures, Jerry Rago of Rago Baits, Scott Whitmer of 22nd Century Baits, Ken Huddleston of Huddleston and of course Mickey Ellis can be found selling for hundreds of dollars sometimes, and they were almost all handmade or hand carved in that time period. When thousands of people want a product that takes hours to make, it creates a bottleneck effect and the demand will always meet the supply. If there had been 500 or 1,000 bait makers in Southern California at that time, who knows who would have made it. Maybe instead of a single devoted person crafting artful baits, it would have been a large scale factory producing cheap knockoffs. But instead, the industry flourished and a unique niche was created to fill the makers’ lists, and competition ensued, driving each man to create a better, more innovative bait, and the technology advanced faster than ever before, with new features, paint jobs, and of course innovation coming to the table. A skilled group of designers and crafters developed this industry from the ground up, and Mickey was right in the middle of it, at just the right time, with just the right ideas.

The success of the 3:16 Lure Company and the man behind it, Mickey Ellis cannot be totally attributed to the cases of “successful phenomenon”, but there are many factors that did make the pendulum swing the right way, and coupled with an insane drive to produce the wildest and most innovative baits, made a machine of a company that to this day provides the public with some of the best trophy bass lures made, and there seems to be no sign of stopping.  KM


3 more studs Kyle caught on his own baits.
3 more studs Kyle caught on his own baits.


Par 7 or 8, Huddleston Fish
Par 7 or 8, Huddleston Fish


Thank you Kyle for sharing and best of luck in your future endeavors with fishing.  Go for it man.  You live in a great part of the country to catch fish!  Hope you got an “A” on your paper and you have many days of Rising Son and 8″ Huddie bites.  MP


One day I celebrate hardbaits, the next I celebrate softbaits.  I cannot make up my mind lately which I like better.  I like them all, well, I like the ‘good ones’ from each category and work every day to understand which ones are good and which are junk.   The Little Booger from The 3:16 Lure Company is a sneaky little swimbait that fits into a tournament and more ‘numbers of fish’ sized swimbait category than it does trophy fish.  The Little Booger does things that you have to see to appreciate and understand.  How many popping swimbaits are you aware of?  How many popping baits are softbaits?  How many popping baits can put off a v-wake and swim in between pops?    The Little Booger is cool like that, and it’s a bait I’ve reconnected with this year, and wanted to share.


The Little Booger, a classic line thru, boot tailed swimmer, but the concave face and head give it something unique. Popping, swimming, waking and this thing proportionally is way bigger than almost all the conventional popping baits you are familiar with, but still small in the scheme of swimbait fishing.


Popping and Spitting Swimbaits

The Little Booger was developed to target fish that were keyed on bait, small threadfin and gizzard shad in the Southern California lakes, where the fish bust on bait all day long right in front of you, and you throw your  tackle box at them trying to figure out something they’ll eat besides the natural bait that seems to be in the billions.  Mickey Ellis is all about catching big fish, but the Little Booger is a tool he developed for a special application when fish are busting on bait.   The concave face of the Little Booger provides you a swimbait that not only swims, but pops, spits and dimples the surface.  Was does that mean?   This is a baitfish style swimbait. Not a trout, not a baby bass, not a bluegill…..but more like I’m trying to catch a ‘bigger’ one that is clearly eating threadfin, gizzards, or blueback herring.   The baitfish eaters.

Little Fat Boy. The Little Booger is approx. 4.5″ Long and 1″ Wide and is a little fatty of a bait. The bait is a classic Mickey Ellis tear drop shop, when looking at the top profile.


High Sticks:

I find myself fishing this bait with a fairly high stick, so I can pop and spit the bait along.  But as you can see in the video, the bait slow wakes and swims really good on it own, so its one of those baits you cannot fish wrong.   I have found the bait to be an excellent high speed topwater fishing swimbait, where just like a topwater bait you’d fish and cover water with, you can do the same thing with the Little Booger.  At times she skips across the water and even comes out of the water.  Long 8 foot rods give you additional abilities to make popping baits chug, pop, spit, dance, and skip.  I feel like I’m fishing a swim jig to some extent with the bait, because I can sorta high stick and swim, and just keep things moving and know that no matter what, the bait is fishing along just fine.

I use a #2 ST-36 Owner Stinger Treble Hook, and fish the bait on 17# copolymer/mono. One single hook, rigged line thru, with one prong impaled at the bottom of the channel on the belly, two points down. Because I’m using 17# line, I feel like I’m not over torquing the fish, because the line tends to have good stretch to it, where I’m not over doing it with an 8 foot rod and swimbait gear on a little #2 hook. Definitely could use a #2 ST-56 or ST-41 hook here instead, but I like the sticky nature of that ST-36, especially when I’m around busting and boiling fish that slash and nip, but don’t always crush and inhale baits.


The Little Booger comes in a 2 pack, for $7.99.  You’ll find the plastic to be beautifully poured and your baits perfect out of the package.  Mickey does excellent work in softbaits, including packaging.  I have re-glued in the plastic line thru insert on a bait or two after some fishing time, but other than that, these are resilient little swimmers that do something a little different than most, when it comes to the topwater spitting, popping, chugging game.

The 3:16 Lure Company Little Booger Photo Gallery:

[nggallery id=8]


The 3:16 Rising Son Jr. is a sleeper swimbait and is great for certain applications.  I realized I’d been overlooking this bait as part of my tournament and trophy arsenal this past winter in Okeechobee.  You are going to have to be patient, I have an Okeechobee sessions thing I’m working on that will shed a lot more information and clarity as to why the Rising Son Jr. works so well in some situations, and some insights into how I fish and rig it.   I know this is one of Mickey’s most popular softbaits and for good reason, it comes in great colors, swims incredibly well at fast and slow speeds, and fishes good around hard and soft cover.   Fish bite it.

Exactly. The tail ‘licks’ the surface, the body straightens out, and the bait gets into perfect trim when you get a good swim lane and a feel for the tempo of fishing it.
Almost a great shot. Lens glare got me. Single Owner ST-41 Treble hooks and zero metal inside the bait/as part of the harness = very buoyant.
The body is bulbous. It has a nice tear drop shape that gives it volume, and of course the tail just twists and shouts back there. Mickey’s boot tails are known to get bites and create lift.


The 3:16 Lure Company Sunfish is a bait I reconnected with this year.  I had fished it before, but after some sitting and thinking about some things, simplification and just expansion of the bigbait journey, I realized the bluegill/brim/sunfish space was something I needed to focus and commit to.   I tied the 3:16 Sunfish and hit Okeechobee this past winter, and immediately picked up where I’d left off with the bait some years ago on places like Lake Otay.   Let me be clear, you need a bluegill/brim/shellcracker/sunfish swimbait approach, especially around the spawn.    So, the 3:16 Sunfish (and you should know that the 3:16 Bluegill is the exact same bait, just poured in a different color.  Both baits are killer. I just like a little chartreuse and watermelon green in my life whenever possible), is a fish catcher.

The 3:16 Lure Company Sunfish. A great swimming bait, booted tail with lots of lift which helps get it up around shallow grass, yet, you can still sink it out and slow grind it back for a more mid water column retrieve. The bait can definitely be burned and it still runs amazingly true, as per the fast water section of the above video clip.

I fish the 3:16 Sunfish on a medium action 8 foot rod, moderate fast, parabolic style, 965 BBR G-Loomis Rod with a Calcutta 300 TE Reel.  I am using 65 Pound Power Pro Braid (no mono leader as per in the video, yet….I’m still messing around but straight 65# braid is awfully good) and one single 1/0  ST-41 Owner Treble Hook.  Why the ST-41?  I feel like the ST-41 Treble Hooks are excellent when fish load up and just eat a bait. you don’t ‘skin hook’ or barely hook fish on the 3:16 Sunfish.  They eat the whole damn thing.   If I’ve only got one hook, and I’m getting 4-6+ fish, which is common, I need one strong hook and the ST-41 has worked well for me, especially when matched with 65# Braid.   You could definitely use the ST-36 Owner Stinger Treble here too.  I am constantly trying new things and just sorta testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t and found the single 1/0  ST-41 Treble Hook to match this bait and how I’m fishing it on braid really well.

Slashing and Burning. The tail of the 3:16 Sunfish and Bluegill is a ‘slasher’ as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a buzz saw. But it’s got a lot of twist in it too, so what do you call a twisting buzz saw? A twistbuzzstersaw. Say that 5 times fast!

The purpose of this Swim Signature series is to provide an underwater and slowed down look at various baits, big and small.  Not to critique or necessarily ‘review’ the baits, at least, not yet.  This is an objective, here is this bait swimming in the water look.  You can form you own conclusions, but I suggest you might pick one or four of these 3:16 Sunfishes up.  They are softbaits, they fish really well, you can catch a bunch of fish per bait, and you will see in some future productions, they catch nice size and numbers.  For $12.99 you get a lot of bait that will be worth the money, and I’m about 99.99% sure your bait will run true, as per Mickey’s packaging and quality control standards. His baits just swim bang on out of the box.   Bass inherently have a contentious relationship with the panfishes, which means they tend to eat them out of anger and hunger, which tells me I need to be throwing them, especially when trout are not an option.

What do Paul McCartney and the 3:16 Sunfish have in common? They both love to twist and shout. “You know you twist so fine!”


“Che Seville”

Album: The Left Hand Side

Usage Courtesy:  Body Deep Music


Mickey sent me a couple prototypes of his new Mission Fish, the v2.0 Mission Fish.  This is just a prototype, and I haven’t had near the time or experience with the bait to come up with any final conclusions.  Mickey let me know he’s definitely still working on the bait, and this is just a prototype, but you can see where this bait is going.   Here is what I can tell you about the new Mission Fish:

  • Rounder
  • Bulkier
  • Better swimming version (the Rising Son Tail gives the bait added swim, thump, rock & roll of the head and body, and just livens up the overall swim).   This version still fishes Texas Rig style, can be pitched, flipped, snatched, and dropped, but the Rising Son tail makes you want to keep it moving.
  • More Weedless:  Improved split belly design, step-up reinforced rubber where the hook goes thru the bait, making the bait a bit more durable and fishable in the thick stuff.
  • Better Hook-ups:  Okay, stop what you are doing, and invest $6.50 in a pack of 8/0 Owner Beast Hooks, and retrofit you old Mission Fishes (6-7-8″ Mission Fish for the 8/0 Beast Hook) and remove the CPS (Centering Pin Spring)–very easy to do.  I believe this hook, with the hook point way above the line tie, in a better jig hook setup and the overall size, bite, gap and reach back of the 8/0 Beast is going to significant improve hook-up ratios.  Its so far a better hook and system than the G Folks and their Mag Gap 5/0 bent out at 45 degrees.   Please help me test this out, but I believe this 8/0 Beast Hook will make a huge impact on old and new Mission Fishes.   It’s like a perfect worm hook setup for a big magnum bigbait.  Check out the 10/0 Beast for your old 9″ Mission Fishes!    Save your CPS.  Don’t throw them away or cut them off.   They are good for other rigs and rigging.

I’m in tournament practice and preparation mode on Okeechobee at the moment, so I don’t want to say too much about too much anyway. I just wanted to share the prototype, and provide a view of what the next generation of Mission Fish will look like and where Mickey is headed with it.  I have a lot of fishing yet to be done with the Mission Fish, both new and old versions, but believe me the Owner Beast Hook + PowerPro will be part of both approaches.   I’m not fishing for a world record or heavy teen fish. I’m looking for 4-7 pounders and I’m looking at the the tournament potential of the Mission Fish.   It’s just a really unique bait in that it swims, flips and pitches, and can be texas rigged outside and sorta snatched and ripped and just has a lot of versatility, sort of like a swim jig does.  A bigbait version of the swimjig.

This story is to be continued. Way too much yet to fish and explore with this bait before we say anything further.  No clue what Mickey has in store for the general release of this new version.   We might still be months away before he’s ready for a release. I’m going to keep fishing and taking notes and trying to progress and document what I do.   Stay tuned.

2nd Generation of the Mission Fish
Fatter, Rounder, Bulkier and a better swimmer a la Rising Son Tail. Matched with the 8/0 Owner Beast Hook, this is going to get bit and hook the fish. Approach with 65# braid, and stout moderate fast medium action swimbait rods and whatever reel you've got. Weighs approx. 2 ounces. Texas, Flip, Drop, Snatch, or just grind it along.