MOJO Rising

Coming off of the biggest slump of my life, I knew it was time to do something crazy.  I hadn’t caught a river bass in 3 months – the most logical thing to do was to enter a tournament!  My friend Tim who I met on the RiverBassin’ Trail in 2011 was going to be in Carolina for a few days and was looking for some intel – and a fishing partner for the Cayce, SC stop.  I agreed to help and he brought the mojo – the good kind.

We pre-fished the weekend before the tourney.  I put up 56″ in river largemouth to Tim’s 48″.  I had won the day and broken the slump with some fatties.  My smallest fish that day was 18″.  My tourney day would prove different as our roles reversed.

It felt nice to go into a tournament with a strong plan.  We knew where fish were located and expected conditions to be very similar to that of a week prior.  All we needed to do was reproduce the result.  Tim put up a sold 57″ stringer which placed him 1st for the stop and left him in a tie for 1st for RiverBasser of the year.  I placed 4th with a 46″ stringer.  This was enough to place us 1st in the team division.

The 1st goal for the tourney was to put Tim on some good water and give him the opportunity to win.  The 2nd goal was to win the team division.  We succeeded at both.  Now, Tim is sitting pretty going into the RiverBassin National Championship in Wetumpka, AL.  It’s his turn to return the favor!

I learned a couple more lessons on tourney day:

1.  Preparation is the key to successful tournament fishing.

2.  The Jackson Kayak Kilroy is still my boat of choice.  Dragging over shoals to get to great water was the key to success on this day.  Jumping in and out of this kayak is a breeze and it has proven it’s self over and over again in the shallow shoals of Carolina.

MOJO Rising!

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Custom Rods are Too Expensive? A Fresh Perspective…

So custom rods are too expensive – and too valuable to fish in a kayak?

I would like to offer a fresh perspective –  as I once believed that custom rods and kayaks did not mix.  This was before I lost more than a few rods on the river bottom.

An angler can spend a large amount of money on 4 high performance, versatile custom rods – but much more money can be spent on 10 technique specific rods. Consolidating is an advantage to the kayak angler – seeing that taking 10 technique specific rods in a ‘yak is unrealistic.  Fewer rods allows for a clean, functional, and safe deck – and a kayak angler should be able to cover most bass techniques in a line-up of 4 rods.  This makes for a safer and less expensive fishing experience in the long run – seeing that in my own experience, I have lost enough rods on the river bottom to cover the cost of the 4 custom rods that I now own.  The reason I lost these rods?  I was simply carrying too many.

The key to covering a wide range of techniques with as few rods as possible is to make sure that the blanks the rods are built on meet the specifics of what you are looking for.  Once you have found the correct blank, a functional and beautiful rod can be built on it.

Here is my line-up of custom rods and the techniques that they cover:

Rods shown are Carolina Custom Rods and are in order left to right as listed below.


Crank Bait / Spinner Bait / Buzz Bait – 7’0” Medium Heavy moderate/fast Action casting blank – spooled with 15 lb  Berkley Big Game monofiliment.  The mono allows some stretch and gives the rod a chance to load properly while using moving baits.

Top Water / Jerk Bait / In-line Spinner / Underspin – 6’8” Medium Light x-tra fast casting blank – 20 lb Suffix 832 braid.  The medium light action of the rod allows for great action on walk-the-dog type baits and jerk baits. This action coupled with braid also allows for great hook ups at a distance and the ability to fight airborne fish on trebles.  Again, I tie a mono or flouro leader suitable to the conditions.

Jig / Texas Rig / Frog / Weightless Plastic / Soft Swim Bait – 7’0” Medium Heavy X-tra fast casting blank – spooled with 30 lb Suffix 832 Braid.  The braid coupled with an x-tra fast tip allows for great hook-ups at a distance or up close.  I tie a mono or flouro leader dependent upon the situation and bait being used.

Grub / Tube / Shaky Head / Light Cranks / Weightless Plastics- 6’10” Medium Light fast action spinning outfit with 10 lb Suffix 832 braid with flouro leader.  Long casts with light baits are important so a spinning outfit is my first choice for these baits.  Braided line allows for great hook sets at a distance and allows for great feel on grubs and tube baits.  Light cranks such as the Rapala Shad Rap are a breeze to cast on a ML action spinning rod – especially with the Micro-Wave Guide System.

Taking fewer, more versatile rods has given me peace of mind.  The simplicity of knowing I can cover any situation with four rods has allowed me to load up quicker – and come back with all of my rods, which was not the case before I learned the lesson of versatility.

Give Brett Hinson at Carolina Custom Rods a call and he will treat you right!


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VLOG – Emerald Isle 1-19-14

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Carolina Custom Rods

-Drew Haerer, Carolina Custom Rods Pro Staff

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Queens Creek – November 2013

I had the opportunity to fish with Tim NCPierman Tarimelli on his home waters near Swansboro, NC a few weeks ago.  Our goal was to catch Speckled Sea Trout, Flounder, and Red Drum.  My family vacations every year in this area so I was ready to get a lesson on inshore fishing for my favorite species (Redfish) in my favorite area of North Carolina.

The days started out a little slow but Tim was quick to find some fish.  Tim hooked up early with a small drum and then had his line broken by a nice Speckled Trout.  Soon after, my friend Bryan who was riding upfront in my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna hooked up with his first fish of the day – a Flounder.

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The Big Tuna is the perfect two man kayak for this type of fishing.  Using the 8 foot Yak Attack stake out pole, I was able to use the drag chain slot in the back of the Tuna to anchor us in water as shallow as 1 foot to as deep as 6 ft.  We soon anchored up in an area of deep hard bottom where speckled trout are known to hang out.  Soon later Tim was hooked up on a 20″ speck on a Mirrolure Mirroprop.  I soon tied the same bait on and I was immediately hooked up with a good speck as well.  It didn’t take long to realize that a large number of trout were in this hole.  Bryan tied on a Vudu Shrimp and began whacking trout one after another…

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Tim decided it was time to go chase some red drum back in the swamp so we made a short paddle over to an area that Tim knew held fish.  Tim said, “I come back here all the time, and this point up here is usually good for 2 or 3 drum”.  We all got anchored and tim made his first cast to the point he spoke of.  He immediately hooked up with a 21″ redfish on a TopDawg Jr. in 808 color.  After a battle he casts right back in and hooks up with a monster.  This fish battled for what seemed like an eternity.  Tim managed the fish to his kayak and put it on the board – 32″.


My very next cast resulted in a follow – and then a hook up.  This was not a monster but it was the 3rd fish off of this point.  Tim had called his shot and the fish proved him right – all caught on TopDawg Jr. 808.


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Tuckaseegee River – November 2013

Drew Haerer and I took a trip recently into WNC and met up with Kyle Fronrath of Fontana Guides.  Kyle is a good friend and runs a top notch guide service in one of the most diverse areas in the state of North Carolina.  This day we waded the Tuckaseegee River in search of the Tuck Slam which includes Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and the elusive Brown Trout.

Armed with fly rods we took to the river and I immediately hooked up with a small Brookie on a whooly buggar.  The fight of the Brook Trout can be compared to that of a Snicker Bar though they can be quite beautiful.  We thought this could be a good sign of things to come but nothing else planned out until Kyle’s secret weapon arrived – Justin Anderson.

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Justin is an accomplished fly fisherman and one of the best teachers I have ever met.  There is a certain “something” that all successful fishing guides have.  When Justin begins speaking, you immediately notice a southern drawl.  You will also notice that when Justin speaks, he teaches – this day it was all about Euro-nymphing.  If you are a novice or an accomplished trout fisherman and you are looking to add another weapon to your arsenal, give Justin a chance to teach you this technique.  You will walk away with a ton of confidence and a love of trout fishing on the fly.

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As we began Euro-nymphing I caught a few small trout.  This is a close quarters type fishing with long rods – and no strike indicators!  Justin was putting on a show and I found myself watching.  It didn’t take long before Justin had a nice 18″ rainbow on and I had a front row seat for the battle.  

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The Tuck was very low and clear this day.  Fish were more abundant in holes throughout faster runs in shoals. Euro-nymphing allowed us to get our nymphs down quickly and into the strike zone where the trout were holding.  If you are interested in learning this technique, don’t hesitate to give Fontana Guides a call and Justin will be glad to teach you!


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Foothills River Report: October 30, 2013

Foothills rivers are at very fish friendly and fisherman friendly levels!!! Hallelujah!  With the cool crisp nights upon us, water temps are cooling.  Cold shallow water, however, warms quickly as the day wears on and so does the fall bite.

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A recent river trip produced a great number of fish along with some good quality mixed in.  Most fish were caught on square bill crankbaits and buzz baits.  Square bills in Sexy Shad color and natural bream colors  were the most successful cranks while white buzzbaits did the trick on top.  Don’t forget your grubs, however, as the big fish this day was caught on a 4″ white swam along the bottom.






Smallmouth bass and Largemouth bass are beginning to gang up in small areas.  A flurry of fish came in an area about 30×30 yards with many fish being caught on back to back casts.  As the water cools on the river make multiple casts to the same areas (after catching a fish) as they are likely schooled up with buddies.  Don’t be afraid to get out on the river as the water temps drop, you may just land some nice fish – and have the great honor of releasing them to make babies in the Spring!


Eric Boyd, Foothills Angler


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Lake Hartwell Fishing Report – October 2013

The Lake levels are almost exactly full pool now, after being so high for so long and never really reaching summer time temps, the fishing this year has been very unusual.
The normal late summer/early fall pattern was searching for bait out on main lake points and the mouths of major creek runs. This year, the bait have not stopped moving making it hard to find a solid pattern. Everyday seems to be different, but it does not mean the bite is off! Fish are being caught on Buzzbaits and top water baits during the early hours and some schooling activity have been seen through out the day. Some fish are being caught with Jigs in the brush and some are reporting the Mid-depth crank baits are starting to heat up. With the water temps falling back to the mid 70’s and lower in some places, the Fall feeding will only get stronger in the next few weeks. On more overcast days, don’t be afraid of going all the way to the back of the creeks, checking any blowdowns or in the grass. As the temps keep falling the schools will get tighter and electronics will come into play more looking for them, but keep in mind on Hartwell, if you can find the bait, the fish will be there!

This is a great time to be on the big Lakes, Bass and Striper will only move farther and farther to back of the creeks as the temps fall, and there is only one thing better than paddling down deep in a creek run and seeing the water boiling, and that is finding out it’s Striper!


-Josh Swaney

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Foothills River Report 9-26-13

The rivers and streams of the Foothills of North Carolina are returning to normal levels after a depressingly wet summer. Water clarity has been about where we would expect it with clarity ranging from 2-3 feet depending on the river.

Recent trips have produced numbers of fish but the big river smallies have been tough to come by. Look for the bigger fish to begin feeding up through the fall preparing for the winter ahead. A recent trip produced an 18″ smallmouth on a square billed crank bait fished along scattered boulders within a relatively deeper run. I do not expect that the fish are moving into the deeper pockets quite yet but that fish will be caught “all over the place” throughout October-depending on water temps.

Expect the square bill bite to be hot in the fall as always. Square bills such as a KVD 1.5 and 2.5, along with Spro Little Johns are my go to baits when fishing cranks. I like natural crawfish and blue gill colors in my crankbaits. Take a good look at the colors of the forage in your river and give Drew at Custom Baits by Drew a call. Drew can do some nice custom paint on your cranks to match the hatch near perfectly.


Also, give a  soft boot or flappin’ tail swimbait a shot. A couple nice options can be found from Gambler Lures. The EZ and Flappin’ Shad are both nice options in our rivers and produce explosive strikes. Put them on the back of a jig and flip into some gnarly laydowns and you may nail the river smallie of your life this fall!  Again, I like bluegill colors in the fall…

Tight Lines,

-Eric Boyd, Foothills Angler

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How-To tie a Wooly Buggar

Thanks for taking the time to watch.  If you are new to tying, this is one of the most productive streamer patterns ever and is a quick and easy tie!!!


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