In this interview, I talk to South Carolina angler Caleb Blackwood (pictured above on right) about his favorite places to bass fish, tournament fishing and time spent on the water with his dad (pictured above on left). This is a great interview with an up and coming angler in our sport.
It looks like you graduated from high school in 2017 and then headed to college. Congrats! It also looks like your immediately joined the bass fishing team. What went into your decision to be part of the Winthrop University fishing team?
The main factor for me choosing Winthrop University was how close it is to home. I got accepted to several of the more prestigious schools in South Carolina, but they are all over an hour away. I would not be able to take my boat, so Winthrop was the obvious answer. Also, I was awarded with a full scholarship for my academic accomplishments in high school.
I immediately joined the Winthrop fishing team because fishing is my passion, and I’m a competitor. I enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together on the water to crack the code and find the fish. Put me in competition with others that have the same passion I do, and it makes it so much more fun!
Did you do much competitive fishing in high school?
I was on the fishing team at both of the high schools I attended. I began my high school fishing career at Dorman High School in Roebuck, South Carolina. I earned the title of Angler of the Year my Sophomore year as a result of my strong track record. The best tournament I had that year was on my favorite lake, Lake Hartwell, where I won the tournament by two pounds.
That day I only had 6 bites, but they were the right ones. We found a bridge at the back of a creek that the bass had stacked up on the day before the tournament in practice. I caught 4 of my 5 keepers and my kicker fish, a 5.47 pounder off of that bridge. The kicker bite came around 2:00 with only an hour left in the tournament.
At the conclusion of my Sophomore year we moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I attended South Pointe High School. They did not have a fishing team established so I had to join a the York County regional high school team that consisted of 3 or 4 different high schools. I performed pretty well my junior year and my senior year was good enough to land me a spot on the Bassmaster All State team for South Carolina. It was really cool seeing my name among the top 60 or 70 best high school sticks in the country on Bassmaster.com!
What has your dad’s influence been on your fishing?
My dad has had such an impact on my life and my fishing career that I cannot even put it into words. He took me bream fishing for the first time when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I have been hooked ever since.
He bought us our first bass boat in 2011. I was 11, so that we could take that next step and enjoy fishing on the bigger lakes. He was willing to spend his hard-earned money on the right electronics, tackle, rods, and reels so that we could really dial in our game. I will be forever thankful for that.
We have been fishing together all over the Southeast for about 4 years now. We have learned so much! He is probably the biggest blessing in my life and he is definitely my hero. In college, I don’t have classes on Fridays and he gets jealous that I get to take the boat and go fishing while he is at work. He constantly reminds me, jokingly, that “Somebody has to work to pay for my lifestyle.”
What makes Lake Hartwell your favorite lake to fish?
There are a variety of things that make Lake Hartwell my favorite lake. First of all, Lake Hartwell is the place where I caught my first bass off of our very first bass boat. I had watched KVD on TV throwing a squarebill the day before, so that’s what I had tied on, and caught that very first fish on; so its very dear to me.
Also, Hartwell is my favorite lake, simply because the bass fishing is so good! It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what kind of conditions we have that day, we can always seem to get on the numbers and the big bass at the same time which makes for a great day on the water.
My favorite style of fishing is running and gunning brush piles with topwaters, flukes, and of course, the dropshot. This running and gunning technique is extremely effective on Lake Hartwell with the high numbers of spotted bass in the lake. Its fast-paced action with aggressive strikes that we jokingly claim doesn’t help with our ADD. This technique has spoiled us so now we struggle to slow down and throw a shakey head for five bites a day like an angler has to do on other lakes around the country.
What was your best day on Lake Hartwell?
My best day ever on Lake Hartwell was with my dad just fun-fishing in late April. My dad and I were on a pattern running and gunning clay and rock points with a double rigged fluke fishing the shad spawn. We ended up bagging about 17 pounds of Largemouth and Spotted bass. We probably caught 80 to 90 fish that day, and we would double up on the double fluke rig regularly. Most of the time, the doubles would be smaller spotted bass, but it still made for a fun fight.
Later in the day, we had to move out to where the points began to drop off and fish the brush piles we had marked on our Lowrance units. We threw dropshots and jigs to get some off our bigger bites later in the day, and it really paid off for us.
What are your favorite baits and techniques on Lake Hartwell?
One of my favorite baits to throw on Lake Hartwell is a chrome spook. I’m not too picky about the brand or the size of the spook, but it has to be chrome. The lake is full of blueback herring which are a shiny silver color and are around 4 to 6 inches, so a chrome spook style topwater is killer.
Another one of my go-to lures on Lake Hartwell is a 4.5 inch curly tailed Roboworm rigged on a dropshot. I nose rig it with a ¼ ounce weight. Almost every time I see a school of spots on my Lowrance unit and drop that worm in there on them, it is almost a guaranteed bite every time. Most people do not recognize the dropshot as a bait that will produce quality, tournament sized bass, but I have caught some of the biggest spotted and largemouth bass of my life on it.
What are your other favorite bodies of water to fish for bass?
Another lake that I really enjoy getting out on is Lake Norman. Norman kind of sets up like Lake Hartwell. It is a deep impoundment with really clear water, lots of rock, and it is full of spotted bass!
My go-to technique to catch big spots on Lake Norman is to skip a finesse jig up under every dock I see. For some reason, the Norman spots hang close to docks almost year-round. We all know that a jig is a killer bait to fish around docks.
Lake Norman is special to me because when we first got into bass fishing, my dad set up a guided trip with Matt Arey, a FLW pro. He is the guy who taught us how to fish a spook and how to dropshot. Little did he know, he created a topwater and dropshot slinging machine, that will hopefully be competing with him as a professional one day!
Not a fishing question but how was it to meet Erin Andrews?
Meeting Erin Andrews and chatting with her on the sideline of the Panthers game was really cool! I couldn’t help but tell her that next time she’s Charlotte that she needs to let me take her fishing on Lake Norman!!!
Who are your current sponsors?
My current sponsors include: Duckett fishing, Simms, Seaguar, Woo Tungsten, True South Custom Lures, and Bizz Baits. I believe that these companies make the finest products in their respective markets.
Duckett makes some of the most light weight and sensitive rods that I have ever felt.
Simms makes some cold weather apparel that is every bass fishermen’s dream! I am covered in Simms head-to-toe in cold weather. I am completely windproof and waterproof thanks to their Challenger bibs and jacket, windproof neck gaiter, windproof beanie, and windproof gloves.
Seaguar is well known for their fluorocarbon line, but I also employ their braided lines and mono as well. Their braided line has exceptional knot strength, abrasion resistance, and is some of the thinnest I have seen on the market.
Woo Tungsten’s flipping weights are super super super durable and resistant to chips. They recently came out with a new weight designed specifically for punching thick mats that is a game changer!
If you want to follow Caleb, his college fishing career and see his pic with the beautiful Erin Andrews, visit Caleb on Instagram @cblackwoodfishing.