BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 39

approach any given situation. At the end of the day, big fish eat small fish.” Since then he’s fallen under the sway of the Huddleston De- He started with luxe (“one of the most effective, killer swimbaits that’s ever an 8” Osprey swimbait, which been created.”), the 3:16 Lures by Mickey Ellis, and caught he says he threw until his arm near- his personal best, a 16-2 on a Jerry Rago Generic Trout. But, ly fell off, catching his first swimbait even though he had found some big baits that he liked and worked for him, none of them were exactly what fish. From that point on, there was no go- he wanted. Once a bait maker - always a bait maker. ing back. He was in his own words, ruined. After one particular afternoon of getting skunked on trout filled waters, he decided that what he needed When it came time to choose a name, it was was a very specific lure. “I really needed a bait with the profile of a easy. When Jeremy carved and painted lures on trout that really had a tendency to want to jump his own, his dog Bo was always at his side. To out of the water, and I wanted some side flash to share the credit, he signed those baits as it, and I wanted the bait to roll a little bit on the made by “Bassman & Black Dog” - a sort of twitch, so it would give the fish a good view of a b l e the side of the bait and recognize it as a trout. I man- bait-making super team. So they knew would see trout jumping out of the water, jump- ufac- it had to be Black Dog Baits, ing up the bank, and they were getting chewed turer over- for the loyal sidekick. on. And that’s where out of necessity, I went home seas. Within and decided I needed to really make a bait that re- 3 months they had a working ally duplicated what those trout were doing.” sample. They crossed That bait became the first Lunker Punker, a de- their fingers and ordered ceptively simple looking 8” cigar-shaped wooden top- the first 1000 baits. water bait, with a couple of treble hooks, a feather tail, Starting with little insider and Jeremy’s hand done trout paint scheme. It worked like a knowledge, and no previous experience charm, and for the next few years it remained a closely guarded in ei- secret weapon for just a few friends in the know. ther the tackle industry or in manufacturing, the indus- “I’ve always been hand carving stuff and making stuff for my- try was intimidating at first, and the first few months were rough. self, but I never really thought about selling it until I started Black Dog with Grant.” In 2006, he and Grant decided to take it to the next level. They sat down to work out the details. Jeremy would be the designer, bait maker, and painter. He would spend his time hands-on, creat- ing prototypes, testing, selecting components, tweaking, painting, and testing again. Grant would handle the business of Black Dog Baits, which, between managing orders, negotiating with manufacturers, and keeping on top of the expanding web site, has become a full time gig. “We really form a perfect team,” says Jeremy, “because I can be creative and I don’t have to worry or be stressed out about all these other things that come along with owning and running a business.” When it came time to choose a name, it was easy. When Jer- emy carved and painted lures on his own, his dog Bo was always at his side. To share the credit, he signed those baits as made by “Bassman & Black Dog” - a sort of bait-making super team. So they knew it had to be Black Dog Baits, for the loyal sidekick. Bo passed away just months after they started the company. But a new heir to the throne, Mikey, has settled into his role as bait making sidekick, and bass boat co-pilot. To launch the business, they decided to focus on a new blue- gill design. The Shell Cracker would be a completely new two- piece jointed body, developed with the Delta and California lakes in mind. Says Grant, “No one had a really good swimming bluegill out. . . so let’s do something different.” Jeremy set to work designing a prototype and started a year of rigorous testing and redesign until they settled on a final design. Grant started to pursue a manufacturing partner. Things did not go well on that end, and they spent a year just trying to get an acceptable sample from uncooperative prospective manufacturers. Finally Grant found a contact at Persuader Lures who hooked them up with a reli-

May/June 2009 »