Monday, March 4, 2024

Brewster Bait & Tackle evolves with sportfishing crowd

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The key to business success is often finding a niche idea, nurturing it, and following each progressive development as it leads to the opportunities that customers and markets demand.

Such has been the case with Brewster Bait & Tackle. The business began as a single-product, home-based operation that now sells a wide variety of its fishing tackle protective covers together with an assortment of rods, reels, and lures for salmon, steelhead, bass, walleyes, trout, and other species that populate rivers and lakes close to home and around the Northwest.

In 2005, owner Mike Mauk and his mother Anna Marie Mauk hit on a novel idea: Produce a line of clear vinyl, velcro-trimmed reusable covers that would enclose tackle items to both protect loose tackle from the elements and prevent the frequent tangling that tackle and line is prone to. 

“I first started making them to keep my lures and flashers on our poles when we went fishing every morning, so they would be ready to fish when we got to our fishing spots,” Mauk said.

They called their product LureSafe and the business Mike’s Fishing Stuff, whose motto is “We Have Your Tackle Covered.” They started an online mail-order business and outdoor show exhibit that gradually spread the word among the sportfishing community. A business license followed in 2013, and when Mrs. Mauk died in 2015, Mike carried on with the business they started and continually refined and expanded the line with the help of suggestions and requests from members of the fishing fraternity that used his products.

Austin Moser of Austin’s Northwest Adventures, LLC, helped Mauk design Austin’s Bottom Walker Keeper #45 to hold multiple bottom-bounding lures. 

“Several fishing guides have given me lots of ideas for products they need to keep their tackle organized,” said Mauk. “Captain Dave’s Guide Service out of Spokane helped me design multiple pocket dodger sleeves to keep his many metal dodgers organized.”

A contact at Thin Blue Tight Lines, a nationwide community of anglers from the law enforcement, fire, and EMS fields, suggested a need for bass tackle spinner baits covers, so Mauk now makes those.

LureSafe covers range in size from 2-x-2 inches up to 13-x-13 inches and feature sleeves that fit in notebooks to mega pocket sleeves with multiple 13 pockets. Mauk also makes dodger and flasher sleeves with as many as 20 pockets to hold small 4-inch dodgers up to 11-inch flashers. 

“We now have about 89 SKUs (stock-keeping units) with products in clear vinyl, blue, maroon, and white poly/vinyl,” said Mauk. “We also have products made with Phifertex Vinyl Mesh, red, white, blue, and black, that is made in the USA.”

Amazon sales tracking confirmed that Mulk’s products have been sold in all the lower 48 states and Alaska for several years in a row.

Word-of-mouth advertising can lead to surprising and even out-of-proportion opportunities. For Mike’s Fishing Stuff, that opportunity arrived with an invitation from the unlikeliest of places, the nation’s capital. A July 2018 phone call from a Trump Administration staffer extended an offer to Mauk to represent the State of Washington in the Made in America Product Showcase held in Washington, D.D. later that summer.

Mauk was at a loss to explain how he was chosen from among so many larger. Well-known Washington-based companies like Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft, when the Trump staffer told him that a member of the showcase selection committee had used one of his products and recalled his company.

Mauk became active in the Brewster Chamber of Commerce in 2017 as the group’s secretary and later as president from 2020 through 2024. He resigned to assume sponsorship and operations of the annual Brewster King Salmon Derby, the largest event of its kind on the Columbia River. The chamber had been sponsoring the derby since 2018 until Mauk took it over this year. The three-day derby (Brewsterkingsalmonderby.com) will be held this fall from August 2-4. 

Mauk recently took on a partner, Craig Randall, and the duo stocked and opened a 10x20 walk-in shop to manufacture tackle covers and sell an assortment of fishing gear. A grand opening was held last spring, and a bait bar was added last fall.

“Columbia Basin Bait Coon Shrimp was my No.1 selling product in 2023, followed by our LureSafe #3920 kokanee dodger jacket,” Mauk said.

Brewster Bait & Tackle is located at 1408 Sunset Drive in Brewster. Phone 509-449-0605, website MaukFishingStuff.com.

 

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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