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.
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
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
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