BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 40

The boxes were stacked up neatly in the garage, and although they had sold some, orders were not exactly pouring in. But both of them remained optimistic. They had faith in their design and that it was going to work out. They started to process again, setting out to release a commercial version of the Lunker Punker in spring of 2007. In August of that year, they packed up those boxes and headed to ICAST, the huge annual Las Vegas tackle indus- try show, and what happened there took them both by surprise. The Lunker Punker was a hit. They sold every lure they had, and then some. They then spent the next eight months trying just to get caught up with orders. They were surprised by how quickly it took off. “We didn’t expect anything like this,” says Grant, “We just thought we’d have a small lure company; have some fun with it. But it’s taken off more than we expected.” Since then, business has been on a steady rise. They’ve introduced new versions of the original baits, as well as three others. They launched a new website a year ago to sell their baits online as well as show off big fish catches, video, gear recommendations, and the latest news. They’ve been well received both in the industry and by anglers. And in this short time, they have already taken on the mantle of experi- ence, offering advice to other bait makers. Going into business is always a risky proposition; going into business with your friend can be a disaster. But the combination of the creative talent that Jeremy brings to the table, matched by Grant’s business acumen, as well as the passion they both have for the sport has made the gamble a success. “We’re even closer buddies now,” Grant says, “We have to be.” In fact, it may be their friendship that kept them from quitting when things were tough. “If we didn’t know each other, we’d probably have killed each other. With so many letdowns in the beginning, most people would prob- ably have given up.” For the first time this year they manned their own booth at the BASS Master Classic expo in Louisiana. Big bait fishing h a s

hoW do TheY Fish iT?

Jeremy likes the 8”or 10” Lunker Punker on freshwater, trout fed waters. He likes the Shell Cracker on the Delta. Specifically, “the billed Shell Cracker on the Delta – that’s my baby.” He’s quick to point out that he’s not a guy that has to always be fishing his own lures. “I’ll fish whatever they’re eating. You don’t even want to know how much money I’ve spent.” Grant goes for the Shell Cracker in the bluegill pattern. He says he has tons of confidence in it on just about any lake, but he also especially likes the Delta. “I can just throw that thing in between weeds and tulles, rocks, give it a couple of twitches, and then it disappears, because the fish love to eat it.”

been a west c o a s t phenom- enon for a while, so they were not sure how they would be received outside of their territory. But they were pleas- antly surprised by story after story of people who knew and fished their baits, and had stories to tell. As the rest of the country starts to catch on to the swimbait phenomenon, it’s just a matter of time be- fore you’re seeing some of these big baits in the south and east. Jeremy says, “It’s not a California phenomenon. It’s more of a state of mind. You just have to change the way your mind is geared, because these baits will work anywhere. It’s not necessarily a feed- ing response – it’s a defensive response.” Grant adds that a lot of guys seem to be intimidated for the wrong reasons, because although huge fish will go for a swimbait, he points out that a 6-8” bait is very close to the size of the baitfish that those 4 to 10 lb. bass are already eating. When asked about their success, and what advice they’d have for other aspiring bait makers, both are quick to point out that it’s been a lot of hard work, and also that it’s been worth it. Happily, one of the biggest challenges they are currently fac- ing is staying on top of demand, which is a good kind of problem to have. They attribute their success to a combination of having a good product they both stand behind, optimism, and pure stubborn- ness at times. Stressing how important it is to test new lures and ad- just the design, Jeremy says, “Take your time and do not rush is the biggest single piece of advice I could give. Never be 100% satisfied in your development, and always strive to be better and better.” Grant advises, “Be patient. Be ready for a lot of let downs, and keep going and don’t ever give up.” There are new baits in the works. They see their success as an opportunity to keep innovating, and to keep improving. Grant says the goal is to “just continue to make better baits . . . keep up the high quality and keep doing the best we can do.” Jeremy admits to having a lot of irons in the fire, creatively speaking, but he’s sticking to topwater. “My true passion is topwa- ter baits. Period. I am just hopelessly addicted to topwater. I just don’t think there is a funner [sic] way to catch a fish.” He also recognizes that there’s a lot of up and coming bait makers out there and he welcomes the company. He says he doesn’t consider it competition, saying, “There’s a lot of creative minds out there that haven’t been discovered yet, and I see noth- ing but good things in the future [and] if it’s a hot, new, incredible bait, I just want to be the first to fish it.” BW

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May/June 2009