BassWestUSA - Spring, 2012, Page 39

for me to spend time out on Tour. I had to cut back so I stayed local, and fished a lot of team events with my son Justin.” Justin began fishing tournaments with his dad when he was still in high school. “When I was attending college in Flagstaff, I used to drive to Hall’s Crossing Marina on upper Lake Powell, my dad would drive down with the boat, launch at Bullfrog Marina and then motor across the lake to pick me up,” said Justin. “We would spend the weekend fishing together, on Sunday afternoon dad would drive me back to Hall’s Crossing and then I would drive back to school.” Countless days on the water helped to foster a strong father and son bond. This special synergy plays a huge role in the op- eration of Pepper Custom Baits . “Justin is my right hand man,” said Covello. “He has a knack for working with people. Custom- ers love him and he does a great job working with our pro staff. He and I bounce ideas off of each other all the time.” Pepper extends beyond just father and son. It is a true family business. “Everyone pitches in,” said Covello. “My wife Shelia helps with packaging product and shipping orders. We all do a little bit of everything.”

with great effectiveness at all levels of the sport. On the FLW Tour, Clifford Pirch incorporated the original Pepper Jig in his arsenal to win the 2011 Chickamauga FLW Tour Major. In addition, long time Pepper Pro Staffer and FLW Regular Roy Hawk has two Western Everstart and one Western National Guard Titles to his credit. On the grueling Bass Master Elite Tour, Pro Fred Roumbanis, relies on Pepper Baits to put fish in the boat. In addition to these high profile accolades, Gene and Justin regularly receives emails and phone calls from anglers across the country with their own personal stories of success.

The Mad denTisT

On a MissiOn

It is no secret that the fishing industry is feeling the effects of a difficult economy. Some bait companies are delaying new product introductions or even contracting existing product lines. At Pepper Custom Baits this is not the case. Covello has been aggressively adding new offerings to Pepper’s rapidly expanding product line fueling expansion into new markets in the Midwest and Southern United States. Online customers can find Pepper Custom Baits on their website at www. and at leading internet retailers including Bass Tackle Depot and Tackle Warehouse. Covello is quick to point out that it is not his intention to turn Pepper into the next mega bait company, “Our goal always has been and will continue to be, to design and build the highest quality affordable baits for the serious bass angler.” Covello takes pride in the fact that Pepper is a custom shop where anglers can virtually build their own bait. A quick look at the company’s website reveals how this is possible. For example, a customer can go online and create his own custom spinnerbait by selecting the weight, blade configuration, head color and skirt colors. “ Of course we do offer a number of tried and true combinations but if an angler is looking for something special or a little different, we handle these types of requests all the time,” said Covello.

Covello gets satisfaction in bringing new baits to mar- ket. Many of the company’s offerings are the result of “seeing a need and filling that gap with a better solution”. Often times Covello will have an idea for a new design and rather than loose momentum, he will stay late at the dental office and begin to fash- ion prototypes using old dental tools and spare supplies. As a seasoned angler, Covello spends lots of time field testing his de- signs. He also relies heavily on his Pro Staff for their input and feedback. The Pepper Custom Baits Pro Staff features a number of heavy hitters including: Bassmaster Elite Series Champion Fred Roumbanis, FLW Tour Pro Roy Hawk and top Western Pros Jamie Cyphers, Tommy Jonovich and Jim Savoini.

Make no mistake, Pepper Custom Baits has built its reputation on the quality and effectiveness of the company’s jigs. Today, it produces over a half dozen different jig styles, from finesse to punchin’. “Jigs are still our mainstay,” said Covello. “Our Finesse Casting, Pro Series Football, and Ultimate Flipping models are among our most popular offerings.” Living rubber jigs can often be hard to find. Pepper offers living rubber jigs in a dozen popular color combinations done the right way, hand tied. If silicone is your skirting material of choice, Pepper has over fifty color combinations to choose from. Recently Pepper added the “Rain Forest Series” of jig skirts to its color palette. “I wanted a really subtle colored jig,” said Justin. “These jigs feature faint light colored skirts. My aim was to mim- ic the colors you see in soft plastics. During testing the fish really seemed to like them so we brought them to market.”

Jigs Jigs and MOre Jigs

a Winning Pedigree

For a company of modest size, Pepper Custom Baits has built a strong record of tournament suc- cess. The company’s baits are being fished

Spring 2012