By Bill Tamburrino
How many times have you seen a
sign in the window of a Ramona business establishment?
Wayne Channon’s City Barber Shop comes to mind immediately.
When Clayton Bryant goes fishing, he has to hang a
sign on his shop. Bryant is one of the lucky few who have been able to parlay his passion and hobby into his career.
The 2003 graduate of Ramona High school is owner, operator and CEO of CL8 Bait Quality Lures. It’s a one-man company that operates right here in the Valley of the Sun.
Bryant was at a trade show in 2005, saw what was out there and said to himself, “I can do this,” and his idea turned into a business.
He received a full scholarship to Universal Technical Institute (UTI) right out of RHS because of his abilities in the vaunted Ramona High School automotives program.
“The classes that I did best in and liked the most were automotives classes,” he said. “Mr. (Mike) Jordan and Mr. Saavedra (Mike) ran a great program and had a great effect on my career.”
There are no institutes on how to make fishing lures, so Clayton learned by trial and error. When he decided to enter the swim bait business six years ago, he started making wooden lures. That proved to be very time-consuming, so he started researching plastics and came up with a flexible material that increased the durability of his product. He then let his imagination run wild.
CL8 Bait has a website (cl8bait.com) and sells to anybody interested. It also sells wholesale to e-stores online and tackle shops in Alabama and California.
CL8 Bait has some famous clients. Ramona’s Kevin Hawk, the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup champion, uses Bryant’s lures as does Brent Ehler, the 2006 FLW Cup champion. Anyone who doesn’t think fishing is a sport, call Hawk and ask him if the $649,363 that he has earned in fishing competitions is real money. CL8 Bait is one of Hawk’s sponsors.
CL8 Bait recently won the Tackle Tour Innovation Award for his CL8 Bait 9” Swimbait. Tackle Tours field-tested the lures and liked the results. Tackle Tours gave the CL8 Bait 9” excellent ratings in construction/quality, performance and features. CL8 Bait got great ratings in design and application. The only average rating CL8 Bait got was for price.
“Premium swim bait with a cost to match,” reported Tackle Tours. All of CL8 Bait is not as expensive as CL8 Bait 9”.
Bryant gets out fishing at least once a week to “test” his product and do research. Since he is not married, it must be the truth. He goes to local lakes like Hodges, El Cap and Sutherland and hits the Sierras for a week at least once a year.
By nature he’s quiet and a little shy, but he does have some great fish stories. The biggest fish that he has caught using his own product is an 8-pound bass at Lake Cuyamaca. When asked about a secret spot, he said that Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet is special.
“The lakes stock with trout and the bass feed on the trout and the bass just get bigger and bigger,” he replied when asked why some of his lures are so big. “It takes big lures to catch big fish.”
CL8 Bait started out specializing in bass lures but has branched out to include trout lures, which leads to another fish story. “The biggest trout that I have caught with a CL8 bait is a 4-pound brown trout in the Sierras.”
Bryant can’t remember when he started fishing.
“My dad (Bill) and two brothers (Cullen and Wes) would go out on the bay ever since I could remember,” he said. “My mom (Judy) would sometimes go with us...That led to fresh water fishing with my brothers and dad and now I have my own business.”
This writer hesitates to say Bryant got hooked, because he took too much flack about his article with all of the puns.
The most often asked question Bryant has to answer is how long it takes to make a lure.
“That depends on the lure,” he said. “Most take at least an hour to make, but I make about 40 at a time.”
What started as a father and mother taking their three sons out fishing has turned into an online swim bait business. CL8 Bait Quality Lures is Ramona owned and operated.