Getting the Champion 196 Ready

Look at the size of the head on the Minn Kota Fortrex 112# thrust motor.  Dang torpedo coming thru the water!

Look at the size of the head on the Minn Kota Fortrex 112# thrust motor. Dang torpedo coming thru the water!

It’s been a busy couple weeks of owning a new used boat.   I am a huge fan of the Minn Kota Fortex trollling motor.  I used to be a Motorguide guy….not anymore.  You get into serious grass fishing, like Okeechobee, nobody runs a Motorguide. It’s literally night and day difference in weedlessness.   Also, Motorguide hasn’t exactly been killing it with innovation and R&D.   Minn Kota on the other hand is blowing the doors off innovation and blazing new paths.  Kudos to Johnson Outdoors.  I just put a 112#Thrust, 36v, Minn Kota Fortrex 45″ Shaft on the bow of the Champion 196.  Wow, looks good.

Comfortroll recessed trolling motor pedal are a must have

Comfortroll recessed trolling motor pedal are a must have

Comfortroll

Once you’ve had a countersunk foot pedal on the bow of your bass boat, there is no going back.  Ergonomics are key for spending hours and hours out hunting big ones (or small ones).   Thank goodness for products like Comfortroll.  Killer bullet proof aluminum powder coated paint job.  This thing was easy to install and the foot pedal of the Minn Kota Fortrex fits perfectly.  The new trolling motor and countersunk foot pedal were my #1 and #2 projects with the boat.  Check and Check.   Get yourself a  Comfortroll and get comfortable on the deck of your bass boat.

Jig saw cuts out your floor without problem.   Remove some foam, and you're good to go

Jig saw cuts out your floor without problem. Remove some foam, and you’re good to go.  No,  I am no carpenter, but good enough! 

 

New GoodYear Marathons, move the best to spare, etc.  Getting some new shoes on the 196.

New GoodYear Marathons, move the best to spare, etc. Getting some new shoes on the 196.

 

I’m still a few weeks away.  I got it registered, insured, etc but still need to put some TLC into the boat before I get her wet.  Boats are high maintenance, but, I am super stoked to have a boat in my life and enjoy working on her.  She is gonna be badass.

Reconnecting With the Triple Trout

Check out the width of the 14-12-11 respectively....goodness we are talking some bigbaits here boys and girls

Check out the width of the 14-12-11 respectively….goodness we are talking some bigbaits here boys and girls

When I say reconnect with the Triple Trout, I mean, reconnect with Scott Whitmer.  I had a chance to catch up with Scott recently.  He walked me thru his latest baits.   More importantly, we had a chance to sit and talk and get caught up.  It’s funny how tide and time work.   Scott and I are both getting our fishing game faces back on.  Scott has a killer Fisher aluminum rig.  Optimax, 36V Minn Kota….boom.  He’s ready to rock.  I’m getting ready to break my new used Champion in this summer.  Scott has been making his baits bigger and more saltwater grade.  He’s also been making 5″ baits and making the Nezumaa rat in production numbers.  His business is good and he’s got focus and direction.  He wants to make his business more profitable.

You have no idea how awesome this day was. Canoes, bros, brews, thunderstorms, bonfires, swimbait chomping smallies.....good times. The 5" Triple Trout now available at TripleTrout.com

You have no idea how awesome this day was. Canoes, bros, brews, thunderstorms, bonfires, swimbait chomping smallies…..good times. The 5″ Triple Trout now available at TripleTrout.com  7:1 Curado, 964 BBR, and 50# braid is how I roll with the 5″.

Here is the deal, he now has his own website.  www.tripletrout.com  You can buy stuff there you normally cannot buy. I was shocked to see his 5″ bait for sale there!?!?!?!  The couple of 5″ Triple Trout that Scott made me, continue to be some of my most coveted baits.  I had no idea the general public can go buy them for $60!  The same price as a 6″ Triple Trout.  Herring eaters?   I held a 5″ Southern Blue Herring bait, and took a picture. It looks good.  The size and profile.  I’m cough cough cough asking Scott cough cough cough….if he will make me some sardine colored ones and allow me to pillage the Pacific Ocean too.  Easy swimbait for your kids, your wife or girlfriend, or some one new to bigbaits…..you could fish it on a spinning rod even.  It weights an ounce, but shoot, it’s a baby and totally manageable.

Simple, e-commerce enabled, and has some really cool bundled packages and offerings. TripleTrout.com

Simple, e-commerce enabled, and has some really cool bundled packages and offerings. TripleTrout.com

Scott continues to sell and provide baits thru Tackle Warehouse.   Scott and I both enjoy and believe in our partnerships with Tackle WarehouseTackle Warehouse has a set of special colors that Scott’s been fulfilling for years.  Scott (and all bigbait makers) have unique market opportunities.  They can create very special baits, very special colors, special floating editions, fast sink/heavy editions…..the list is endless.  I watch the surfboard shaping industry in awe….swimbait makers are even more hard core and specialized.  Who doesn’t want a specialized bait that very few if any other people will be fishing???

That's an old school Bagley crankbait color that Scott borrowed from. 5" TT

That’s an old school Bagley crankbait color that Scott borrowed from. 5″ TT

 

Carpe Smashem

Carpe Smashem

 

Uhhhhh, the Mouse? OMG another spinning rod-able bigbait offering. I need to explore Mr. Mouse.

Uhhhhh, the Mouse? OMG another spinning rod-able bigbait offering. I need to explore Mr. Mouse.

Hence, it makes a lot of business sense for Scott to sell direct.   He was an anomaly to not have a direct sales website, save eBay which pre-cluded the current tripletrout.com website, by only a couple months.   Scott is such a nice, genuine guy.  When you talk to Scott Whitmer, you are literally getting a history lesson in mid-late 70s, early 80s….crazy ass times of bass fishing. Then you mix in, this was the West where it is even more rare and crazy.  We talked about guys like Larry Hopper, Dee Thomas, and Don Iovino.  Scott’s Dad sounds like he must have been one heck of a guy.  WWII Veteran, drinking and cussing type….Scott clearly has a desire to help perpetuate getting kids into fish.   He loves supporting good causes, good people, youths, etc.  Scott has been one of my finest business partners that I work with.   I am super stoked to reconnect with him and see his latest baits, colors and business.   I really believe in his baits, and I’m glad I can openly talk and share baits that are now generally available.  The Nezumaa Rat was so hard to find for so long….and now you can get fur painted super sick XL 3 piece ones, that make conga drum style noise when clacked…off his website.  He has a 3 pack of 5″ baits for $140  (vs $180…3 X $60).  I would suggest you mosey on over there an invest some 5″ TTs.

The 12" Triple Trout Tail is WAY thicker and more robust than the 10" tail. It must change something about the swim or stall???

The 12″ Triple Trout Tail is WAY thicker and more robust than the 10″ tail. It must change something about the swim or stall???

10-12-11 Inch TT Tails. Big difference between the 10" version and the 11/12 versions.

10-12-11 Inch TT Tails. Big difference between the 10″ version and the 11/12 versions.

 

Big delta between the 10-11-12 inch tails.

Big delta between the 10-11-12 inch tails.

The 10" TT tail is really flimsy and thin. Tends to be very soft and pliable. Not so with the 11/12 baits. The tail is much beefier and thicker.

The 10″ TT tail is really flimsy and thin. Tends to be very soft and pliable. Not so with the 11/12 baits. The tail is much beefier and thicker.

Here is a 10" Tail that is totally smushed and warped on the stall. I don't expect the 11/12 inch tails to do the same thing.

Here is a 10″ Tail that is totally smushed and warped on the stall. I don’t expect the 11/12 inch tails to do the same thing.

Southern Trout Eaters is still is selling consistently, quarter over quarter, I’m pleased to share. I would estimate I’ve sold in the neighborhood of 3500 copies.  June 2016 marks….drumroll please, 5 years since Southern Trout Eaters was released.  Wow.  That is hard to believe from where I sit.    It is about time to do another DVD project.  So me getting together with Whitmer, getting this Champion Boat thing going, getting back on the water…..it’s all full circle and really cool.   I need to get some fishing in to finish up the second DVD, basically.   I plan on fishing the 11 and 12 Inch Triple Trouts a lot.  Not too many guys have these things yet, and they fish really well on the same gear as the SS250.   The tail is bigger, it’s thicker, and they are gonna fish differently than the 10″.

 

I have always liked the 10″.  The bigger the Triple Trout, the easier it can be to wake/stall/burn at the surface.  There’s a really cool S turn torpedo wake the 10″ TT can do….I cannot wait to try the 11 and 12″ flavors. I want to get a 14″ and fish that too.  I need to invest in some more XXXL heavy gear.  >10 oz rods.  You should too.  I have braided line, 7 and 8:1 Gear ratios on my mind, and summer time bigbait fishing.   What are good baits in the summer?  Rats and Triple Trouts!  Boom Shaka boyeeeeeeee.

 

 

 

 

Champion Boats and Personal Connections

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.

boneyard-cammie-left-champion

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.

Pole Cats and Muddy White Rivers

Getting ready to unload the SS250 in another fishy looking section of river. Notice my left foot and the pole where the camera is attached. My foot is holding the pole from rocking back and forth. I later would fix with electrical tape as gasket for a tighter fit.

Getting ready to unload the SS250 in another fishy looking section of river. Notice my left foot and the pole where the camera is attached. My foot is holding the pole from rocking back and forth. I later would fix with electrical tape as gasket for a tighter fit.

I’m aboard yet another SouthWest flight, this time, leaving Little Rock, heading to New Orleans.   I scrambled to get my stuff packed up.  All the sudden, my 2 week fishing adventure/holidays 2015/ New Year 2016 trip is over.   The first week I was here, the fish and the fishing was feeling right.  Then, we got hit with Winter Storm Goliath.  That sorta wrecked the second half of my trip.

Final tally –  1 bite (Huddleston), 3 BIG followers (1 Huddleton and 2 on the Slide Swimmer).    No catches.  Yay.  At least I got to feel the burn of sore wrists and forearms from lobbing the bigbaits around.

This is the confluence of the Cotter Spring and the White River.  It is usually crystal clear.  Winter Storm Goliath wants me to come back to AR again soon.  Sorta cramped the trout fishing!

This is the confluence of the Cotter Spring and the White River. It is usually crystal clear. Winter Storm Goliath wants me to come back to AR again soon. Sorta cramped the trout fishing!

Pole Cat –

I’ve been messing with better ways to shoot video.   GoPro cameras are awesome, but I find them a little challenging to get good footage with, when it comes to filming your day of fishing.   I use the heck out of my GoPros for underwater footage.  They rock for that.  I’m trying to get away from a camcorder style camera in the back of the boat on a tripod.  The GoPro tends to excel at up close, in your face type action.   I don’t particularly care for footage that is shot from a head or chest mounted camera.  You miss a lot of what is going on.

The GoPro, I've found, is great when suspended about 2-3 feet above and 1 foot behind your head.

The GoPro, I’ve found, is great when suspended about 2-3 feet above and 1 foot behind your head.

I ended up with a 10′ piece of 1/2″ conduit, purchased for $2.50 at Lowes.   It miraculously fit perfectly in the seat mount/pedestal mounts in my little Tracker Grizzly aluminum river rig.    I have some refining to do, but the POV (point of view) and accessibility of the camera while fishing was great.

 

You can use the web application to dial in your mounting.  I find myself going manual a lot. I sorta know where to aim it now.

You can use the web application to dial in your mounting. I find myself going manual a lot. I sorta know where to aim it now.

This is what I was looking for.  I want to see the bottom and have more of a bird's eye view.  Yes, I like to fish grass beds, whether I'm trout or bass fishing.  Big fishes like grass.

This is what I was looking for. I want to see the bottom and have more of a bird’s eye view. Yes, I like to fish grass beds, whether I’m trout or bass fishing. Big fishes like grass.

 

You get a much better feel for the river, the bottom, and how shallow it can be, even when there is water running.  I would love to show you what catching a big one from up here looks like!

You get a much better feel for the river, the bottom, and how shallow it can be, even when there is water running. I would love to show you what catching a big one from up here looks like!

I cannot believe how different I am than a few years ago.  It didn't phase me to not catch any fish, and didn't phase me the flood conditions pretty much messed up 50% of my trip.   I have better control of my emotions and expectations.  I am enjoying things and not getting all fussy about nothing.  Amazing.  Thank you yoga.

I cannot believe how different I am than a few years ago. It didn’t phase me to not catch any fish, and didn’t phase me the flood conditions pretty much messed up 50% of my trip. I have better control of my emotions and expectations. I am enjoying things and not getting all fussy about nothing. Amazing. Thank you yoga.

2015 Year in Pictures

Let’s see, the best thing that happened to me in 2015 regarding fishing, was getting the itch to fish again.  This only happened the last few months, and was triggered by my boy, Cameron Smith winning at Lake Hartwell.  I have been looking at various models of boats that can be stored at my house, but also serve as fresh and salt crossover fishing vessels.

2015 was mostly about my career, and getting myself back in the big leagues of software sales.   I started with a new company in March, and it’s been a busy year of travel, new Cities, new Partnerships and new relationships.   I have literally been everywhere in the West, including Alaska and Western Canada.  It’s not horrible, its just hard to travel a lot and be on top of fishing at home.

Besides software, I spend a lot of time working on surfing. I’ve gone from 9-10′ boards down to 6.5 and 7 foot boards.  It’s a quantum leap in effort required to paddle and catch waves.  It takes superior strength and agility to get on your feet, make quick pumps and fly thru sections on a shortboard.  I love it. It’s been a worthy challenge and I continue each swell to learn and progress.

Here goes:

Corbina happen and most people don't realize they are there. I'm trying to figure out how to catch these buggers on fly rods.

Corbina happen and most people don’t realize they are there. I’m trying to figure out how to catch these buggers on fly rods.

They weigh 2-3 pounds and eat sand crabs at the surf line

They weigh 2-3 pounds and eat sand crabs at the surf line

My saltwater fly fishing tackle box. Crab eaters and little baitfish clowsers

My saltwater fly fishing tackle box. Crab eaters/sand crab patterns and little baitfish clowser patterns.

 

I have a 'trout eater' scene in my living room. It keeps my mind in the game

I have a ‘trout eater’ scene in my living room. It keeps my mind in the game

 

DCIM103GOPRO

Xmas 2015 in Cotter, AR.  Staying at my parents’ place:  The Rainbow Bridge Lodge in Downtown Cotter, Arkansas.  That is my little boat parked under my second story bedroom window.  The White River is <1 min drive from here, and Cotter is home to many big brown trout.

 

 

 

Dry Run Creek underwater shot. My nieces and nephews wacked 'em.

Dry Run Creek underwater shot. My nieces and nephews wacked ’em.

My boy Cameron Smith breaking the 'ice' so to speak. We have both banged our heads against the wall with tournament fishing. Cameron has stuck with it, and won the ABA Nationals for the West on Lake Hartwell. The best news is he earned an invitation to the Lake Hartwell in late April 2016. Cameron is going to win again on Lake Hartwell.

My boy Cameron Smith breaking the ‘ice’ so to speak. We have both banged our heads against the wall with tournament fishing. Cameron has stuck with it, and won the ABA Nationals for the West on Lake Hartwell. The best news is he earned an invitation to the Lake Hartwell in late April 2016. Cameron is going to win again on Lake Hartwell.

 

 

Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, after a killer heat at Lower Trestles. I consider Trestles sacred water.

Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, after a killer heat at Lower Trestles. I consider Trestles sacred water.  When the World Surf League makes a regular tour stop in your backyard, you know you are blessed with good surf.

 

The 11" Triple Trout in 3 Dot Olive w Pink sides. Whitmer made me this a few years ago now. Wow, what a killer bait.

The 11″ Triple Trout in 3 Dot Olive w Pink sides. Whitmer made me this a few years ago now. Wow, what a killer bait.

 

I love watching seams, billowing water, vortexes, eddies, etc.

I love watching seams, billowing water, vortexes, eddies, etc.

 

The very corporate Matt Peters. I had a friend shoot some posed photos for my LinkedIn profile. Find me at www.linkedin.com/in/southernswimbait

The very corporate Matt Peters. I had a friend shoot some posed photos for my LinkedIn profile.

You care to get a flavor of what I do in the corporate world?  Follow me on LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/southernswimbait

I’m oddly content and pleased about where I am in life. I am not married, I have no kids, which makes me a unicorn in some respects.  I continue to enjoy living a normal life that doesn’t revolve around boats and fishing gear.  I got into yoga over a year ago, and cannot say how much yoga has helped me.   Yoga has opened my body and mind up to all sorts of new and healthy activities, practices, people, and disciplines.  I have made many new awesome friends thru yoga.  Let me be clear, I suck at yoga, but nobody benefits from it more than a guy like me.    I highly encourage those of you who need something physical, spiritual and awesome to do during the week to check out yoga.   Vinyasa Power Flow is my favorite.  I love energy and positive energy and how contagious it is.

I plan to fish more in 2016 and keep perpetuating this blog.  I have Southern Trout Eaters #2 on my plate, and let me just say….it’s complicated.   I just don’t have time to do it all.  However, as the Jay Z song goes, 40 is the new 20. I have high hopes for a productive, fun and positive 2016.  I am only 19 according to Jay Z.   There is plenty of time to fish still.

Happy New Year.