Tim ‘NCPIERMAN’ Taramelli was born in Jessup, Pennsylvania, and raised in Scranton PA. Growing up there, he learned the ways of the outdoorsman from his father, Thomas A. Taramelli Sr. The pair often pursued calico bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth in the rivers near their home. They also enjoyed waterways with trout; rainbows, brookies and browns. These outings and early adventures in his life led to his first nickname – River Rat – and it stayed with him for some time during the earlier years of his life. It wasn’t long before Tim had become a complete outdoorsman.
Tim graduated from Valley View Junior and Senior High School in 1981, and went on to attend Lackawanna County Area VO Tech. There he focused on building trades and learned all aspects of ground-up construction. He moved from Pennsylvania to eastern North Carolina in 2001 and began working there. After a little time in Hubert, where his home lies just one mile from Camp Lejeune, he started running into wounded warriors.
Prior to meeting any of these servicemen and women, it would seem Tim was being groomed to begin a different path in his life. Tim had been in contact with several like-minded people on ncwaterman.com. There were a few discussions about marines being black-balled from local restaurants. So a group of those discussing this on public forums decided to act. They knew veterans coming home needed someone to show they cared, someone to show interest in them individually and collectively. They wanted to be able to take veterans and their families on guided trips to unwind and just get outside – catching fish was a bonus. So they banded together and pooled resources, money and knowledge and planned a first trip. They took several marines along with some family members out in boats and kayaks and had a great day. Meeting those servicemen and women, along with hearing their stories would prove to be instrumental in shaping Tim’s future. It was a resounding success and soon more trips were planned and Military Appreciation Day, (M.A.D.) had its roots in North Carolina. M.A.D. is celebrated every June and has become an esteemed non-profit organization. Not long after moving to NC, Tim and a friend named Richard Phelps, who founded F.I.S.H., (fishermen in support of our heroes), began organizing pier events to gather veterans to fish. They even managed to find sponsors who provided gifts consisting of rods, reels and other items. These meetings and others then inspired Tim to become involved and active within a local chapter of H.O.W., (Heroes on the Water).
Before long Tim was taking members of all branches of the military, from Lejeune, Bragg and Cherry Point on guided adventures – and on his dime. He takes them on his boat, or in kayaks, and he has done so for years. Tim is a pro-staff member and reps products for Native Watercraft Kayaks, Power Team Lures and Carolina Custom Rods. He has formed these relationships through both his ability to find fish on the water, and his willingness to lead by example. He is also a certified first responder trained in CPR and AED first aid.
While I was gathering info for Tim’s bio we had numerous occasions to talk on the phone. I’ve followed his career and always thought a lot of his outdoor abilities, his willingness to teach, his responsiveness to those he barely knows online and his unwavering commitment to helping veterans of our armed forces. When I first asked him when he was born – he laughed and said “the stone age.” Apparently most of Tim’s friends refer to him as “older than dust.” We quickly found ourselves laughing and at ease with one another, and it was clear he was who I thought he was.
The following interview was conducted by email, phone and text, which I then transferred to this format.
So if you were the ‘River Rat’ when you were growing up in PA, how did you become the NCPIERMAN?
Tim – How did I become NCPIERMAN? Good question. Once I got halfway decent with a computer, I began looking up fishing sites and reading the stories. I believe if you’re not learning, you’re buried, and when I stop learning about fishing they can close the lid and say amen. What sold me on moving to NC was a trip I’d taken there before moving down. I was at Bogue pier when a tarpon was hooked up. Before I knew it, while looking down in the water for the fish, the rod was in my hands, and I could feel the raw power of this huge fish. I quickly handed the pole around another person’s rod and got out of the way. I found pier fishermen were a tight knit family and love helping each other. Now when you join an online forum you need a nickname, so I thought about it and came up with NCPIERMAN. Simply because I lived in NC and I lived on the pier all weekend too. It stuck to me like glue…sorta became a house-hold name.
Now I know you’re one heck of a drum angler, and I’ve watched you consistently stay on them in all seasons. I’ve seen you catch them out of your boat and your kayak. So when your passion for fishing and helping veterans took you from the pier, to actually chasing the fish out in the waters around Jacksonville, what did you chase them in first?
Tim – When I first started chasing drum here on the waterways, I started off fishing from a Pelican sit-inside kayak I borrowed from a friend. Then I decided to try and buy back my jon boat I’d sold in PA. Luckily I was able to get her back…nothing special…a 10 ft. flat bottom, 30 inches wide, with a 28 pound thrust trolling motor. Many a fish were caught from that boat and it was named the ‘Creeker Reaper’. This was because I could get real shallow to where drum loved to hide. From there I went on to a 12 footer, 32 inches wide and then into a Native Watercraft Redfish 12 which made me even more lethal at chasing and catching drum.
Creeker Reaper, now that’s a great name for a boat. What do you prefer to fish out of? A boat or a kayak?
Tim – That’s a hard call for me, since I love boating as well as kayaking. If I am alone 99% of the time I will be in my kayak. If I’m going to travel a long distance then I’m in my boat, but I’m hardly ever fishing alone and that’s what makes it a hard choice. I love the ease of a kayak and the solidarity it allows me.
I see on-line that your charters are out of kayaks. What’s your record for the number of people you’ve taken out at once?
Tim – First let me state this: I do not charter from my boat as of yet. I take people fishing from my boat, but I have never charged anyone doing so. I’ve worked hard to get my captain’s license and am currently working on my ‘for hire license’.
Now to answer the question, I had 6 at once last year at Emerald Island.
And how do you keep track of several people at once? It must be hard to keep track of multiple people and keep them on the fish the way you do – how do you manage this?
Tim – It’s not easy to find fish for them to catch and keep up with 6 people needing bait and gear all the time, but as a guide loving what I do, it’s all part of the day. How do I do it? Lol, I pay attention to their needs and try to keep the group in one place as we move along. If someone hooks into a fish, I’m always trying to get video for them as they fight it, and I will paddle over close enough to help them land the fish if I need to.
That’s got to take some serious concentration on your part. But the proof of your ability to do this effectively is definitely in the posts you provide on social media sites like Facebook. I notice you always seem to keep people on fish, and provide awesome pictures and video for them to remember the trips with. Do you find you get most of your kayak fishing charters from word of mouth, your website or from social media?
Tim – Yes it does take a lot of concentration and dedication. Keeping people on fish is hard to do. It takes a lot of hours on the water, scouting and keeping track of the fish and their movement. As to how and where I get most of my clients – I would say a little of all three, word of mouth, my website and social media sites such as fishing forums. But most of all I would have to say Facebook. Social media is the biggest help for me since I report daily with pictures and videos.
What do you find are the most reliable lures you use to teach clients to use on your trips?
Tim – That’s a tough question and there’s no simple answer. I always ask what they already know how to do. Like what is the stage of their fishing, beginner, moderate or top end with years of experience. Then, and only then, can I access what they’re capable of doing. If they’re beginners and want to learn, I will teach them the art of fly-rodding. If they’re out to just have fun, catch fish and relax, then we go for live baits. I use a cast net to catch all my own baits. The beginners to moderate fishermen and women tend to like to paddle around, find a good spot to setup and put out live baits. Then I get them to throw artificial lures while they wait for the live bait to fire up the bite. Ideally, I listen to what the customer wants to do and go from there.
I love top-water fishing. There’s nothing more exciting to me than a good fish blowing up on a top-water lure. Mainly, after years of trial and error, I choose Mirror Lures and Top Dog Jrs. in the areas I fish, because they flat out put fish on the rod. For trout, in the fall, I love Rapala X-Raps and Mirror Lure MR-17’s. I always have at least 5 of each in stock for clients to use and catch fish.
Tim, I know you love to fish, and you are obviously about as friendly and personable a man as one might meet. What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your adventures?
Tim – The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the smile on young and old as they catch a fish they have dreamed of catching, and getting to share the experience with people who start as clients and then become lifetime friends. I always try to NOT treat a person as a client, but a friend or family member, and it goes a long way towards bringing back repeat customers.
Now I know you’ve only been doing tournaments a few years, but you’re building an impressive resume. Can you tell me about some of the events you’ve participated in – any results and memories?
Tim – I started doing kayak tourneys in the beginning of 2013, and ended the year with 3 first place finishes and a fourth.
My first was an Armed Forces Paddling & Fishing tournament, where I was sponsored by HOW Combined Forces. I was the first person to be sponsored by the group and took 1st place. I’d gotten a marine friend to enter the tournament, who did really well, but he flipped his boat in a deep hole in cold water. It was funny but not funny. He redeemed himself with the 2nd place fish right after though.
The second of that year was the HOW Combined Forces Cup. I entered that one with a good friend and mentor, Mike Ortiz, as a partner. He’s an Airborne Angler. It was very windy and poured rain that day, at one point straight down with no more than twelve foot of visibility. There were four of us together at the end of the day and we got blown around, but toughed it out and made sure everyone got off the water in one piece. Mike and I entered two nice reds and we ended up taking 1st place.
My third tournament that year was the 2013 Airborne Angler Adventures Yak Master Classic. Before tourney day I found out a friend, who was new to kayaking and only had a nine foot sit-inside boat was also entering and launching from a place I worried might not be safe. I’d pre-fished a few areas but changed my plans to keep an eye on him. I didn’t let him know I was keeping tabs on him, but I did. At one point I’d caught a nice drum and was busy measuring it and lost track of him. I looked for him for an hour and a half only to find out he’d gone home early. Afterwards I had a little time left, so I decided to hit the creek I’d pre-fished. I was dragging a cork and lure behind me and caught a 16-1/2” flounder. I just needed a trout for the slam but never caught one. Later at the weigh-in Daniel Seaman had an impressive drum and flounder. It was close, but I believe karma came through that day because I ended up taking 1st place again by a ¼ inch.
My fourth and last of the year was the Oak Island Classic, held by the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association. Now this is a huge tourney every year with a limit of 175 participants, most are well seasoned and on their home waters. I had never fished Oak Island and didn’t pre-fish either. I got a trout early and found good numbers of drum, catching fifteen that day but couldn’t find a flounder. I was happy with that but felt I had no chance of placing among the pros that lived there. But when all was said and done I placed 4th in the redfish division out of 152 kayakers, and to me that was as good as a first place win. I fished the tournament again in 2014 and placed 5th in the trout division. A six year old beat me by a ½” that day and another marine friend I’d been helping caught his first red drum on what seemed to be an impossible day for fishing.
I do tourneys from time to time, but I just to do them to have fun. Placing is a plus, but just getting out there and fishing with the pros makes it all worth it to me. Great people, great fun and good food, and it tests your skills. Some people ask me if fishing tournaments is hard. I always say it can be if you make it hard. If you’re going to fish one, don’t worry about placing. Go out have fun and enjoy. Do what you always do and the fishing Gods will reward you. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.
I know your wife Ruthie shares in your passion for helping veterans, and goes with you on many of your adventures, but does she ever feel like a fishing widow?
Tim – In all honesty, no. She knows this is who I am and she loves being a part of these trips and I thank God every day for her being with me. Ruth almost lost her life after a brain aneurism in 2012, but she recovered and it made us stronger. Ruth stands not behind me but alongside of me, and shares my passion for helping our service members; past, present and future. Ruthie Wilbur is a great woman and has always stood by me in what I do in all aspects of our lives. I have known her for over twenty years. I would have to say my life was no huge surprise to her and she knew what she would be getting into with me. In 2008 after a failed marriage, Ruthie and I finally decided we would give it a chance between us since we both were single again. I had actually been in PA for two years and she knew I wasn’t happy since I wasn’t close to the water or the people I wanted to help. We moved back to NC in 2010, where I could continue to help wounded warriors and active service members enjoy the outdoors and what Mother Nature has to offer.
Ruth loves to help me with wounded warriors and is just as passionate as I am. This helps us to remain a strong couple. We aren’t married by paper, but if you ask us or our friends and family we are a married couple. We do wear wedding bands and took wedding vows before God. But she is on disability and social security, and because of legalities if we were to legally marry she would lose those benefits. Besides, we don’t need a piece of paper to tell us we are married and love each other, or that we will be together forever.
One of the first times Ruth came along was with a Desert Storm vet named David Lambert. He was from Jacksonville, NC. I was contacted by some friends at M.A.D., concerning a marine and his wife, and I was asked to take him and his wife out on a trip; and the answer was a definite yes. The contact information was passed on to me, and after talking to Ruthie about it, she was on board. So I made the call and spoke to the marine’s wife, Donna Lambert, for about an hour. She explained that her husband loved to fish, but that he had refused to leave the house for nine years. She’d tried to get people to take him fishing, and had even offered to pay $500 in advance, but no one ever showed to take him. He was disabled and in a wheel chair, but I told her I would get him in the boat one way or the other even if it meant tearing out a seat, which I did. She asked how much it would cost and I told her NOTHING. This was my way to let tell them thank you for his service.
A few days after our conversation we were blessed with a great weather window. Early on Ruth helped me keep them calm and happy on the boat while I caught live bait. I rigged him up after getting the first net full and as I returned to throwing a cast net, I heard excitement behind me as he hooked into his first fish of the day. It turned out to be a triple tail, of all fish, which is not an inshore fish. I made a few calls because I wasn’t sure of regulations, but it was determined to be a legal fish, and he even went on to mount it. After catching a bunch of keeper red drum from 23” to 26-1/2” David and his wife were happy, but I told them they weren’t done. David was tired, but still had a bait out, and in that moment the last rod slammed over and the drag started to scream out. He grabbed the rod and we knew it was a big fish. Ruth went to help him fight it by supporting the rod, and was telling me it was a big one, while I shot video of the battle. The fish turned out to be 29-1/2”, and to my surprise was actually a tagged fish I’d caught a month earlier. This turned out to be a very memorable and rewarding trip for Ruth and me, as we realized how fortunate we were to help a handicapped veteran have a great day on the water.
I’m not sure Ruth knew how this would affect her, but it was the start of her world with me and would bring a new awareness to her concerning our wounded warriors young and old. She also helps me clean fish for veterans after some of our trips, and even cooks for some of them who have never tried drum or flounder or trout.
Now that’s a telling story. I’m sure having a wife that supports you really helps when you volunteer your time the way you do. So what do you guys have in store for 2015? What kinds of trips will you be offering and are there specific times you have openings in case any of our readers would like to hire you?
Tim – Having a wife that supports everything I do on land and water is definitley a huge plus, and she is in love with the fact that I donate most of my time to our veterans and those who are serving. We make a great couple and I would have it no other way. My dream has always been to be a guide and she has helped me complete that dream by being part of it.
What do we have in store for 2015? Just life as normal. We’re going to keep doing what we love, helping others reach that safe place on the water, where they can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of an everyday normal life without the stress of PTSD or other health issues which came about from serving our country. As for what kinds of trips we will be offering; once I’m done gathering everything I need for my for-hire license, I will soon be offering guided boat fishing trips all year, in addition to kayak charters.
I always have openings year-round, but our season is really about to kick off. At the end of March, as the waters warm back up, the fish will become more active. Usually by March or April mullet start to show up and we start seeing bluefish and flounder. By April, the Hatteras Bluefish, (bluefish up and over five pounds), start to show up in good numbers, and if we’re lucky they get into the creeks fairly quickly and will stay until about the end of April and even into May. Trout start to move back off-shore in that time frame too, and we will catch a few here and there from the end of May into June. We have actually caught them into June and July, they just become a little scarcer. We catch flounder, trout, red and black drum and various other species throughout summer and into October. We’ve even caught a tripletail and occasional baby groupers here in nearby creeks. During the transition from summer into fall everything starts to eat and get fat and they begin to school up in large numbers. This makes for very exciting days on the water no matter what you want to catch. I specialize in red drum because I love the way they slam a top-water lure and the scream off drag as they fight you all the way back to the kayak. I also love to chase rough fish, catfish, bowfin and gar, as well as others, but to me nothing is better than a 40plus inch gar tail-walking in front of the kayak fighting for all its worth.
I fish 24/7, and I always try to accommodate everyone, even if it means two trips a day. I always book five hour trips, but anyone that knows me knows I’m never on the water five hours. I normally hit the water in the morning, and come off at dark, but my price never goes up. I won’t fish for the first five hours, but after that I’m off the clock and fishing right along with ya’ll.
I will never guarantee you will catch fish, but I will show you the fish. It’s up to them if they want to eat or not, and we will surely give them everything we can to get them to chew. I like my clients to have a fun day and learn something if they can, and it’s always a plus if they catch what we’re after. I also run paddle trips over in the marshes behind Bear Island looking for wildlife and shells from Hammocks Beach as well, for those that may not be interested in fishing.
When you hire me it’s your day, not mine. I’m there to make sure it runs smooth and help you see what kayaking and fishing is about.
Tim I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I think we have given our readers a glimpse into what you are all about, and the services you offer. I wish you all the best this season and can’t wait to see your posts. I encourage my readers to give Tim a call and let him take you out fishing. I have no doubt you will have a great time, and I know he will put you on the fish.
I have provided a link to Tim’s website below if you would like to contact him.
And his Facebook Page