Lakecaster Online

"The Dreamer" -From Homemade to World-Trade
By Ed Snyder

Lake Sam Rayburn, TX.

"I guess I started building my jigs back in 1979, Lonnie began to review while fawning over a new prototype spinner bait skirt he had just developed, "Because I had just won a Lone Star Tournament on Lake Toledo Bend with one of my home-made jigs, "Then, He recalled, "I really got lucky by winning six more tournaments in 1980 and '81on my jigs, which were being hand built in my garage at College Bryan Station, TX. "Then, after a few more years of building and fishing my "home-mades" for pocket money, my "garage based production company" slowly blossomed from the hand to pocket cottage industry to what is now a multi-million dollar International sport-fishing market, where "Millions" of my Stanley fishing products are now being used by anglers all over the world.

I'm Fishing today with two well-known pro/fishermen, bass tournament anglers, and fishing tackle industry innovators who have helped to revolutionize the sport-fishing industry, as we know it today. Lonnie Stanley and John Hale of Stanley Baits Inc; are taking a "bass-break" from their busy fishing tackle company office in Huntington TX, and as we ease out from Monterrey Park for some early January bass fishing, we head into a day of balmy 50-degree weather which is sandwiched betwixt post-front/pre-front conditions and rising lake levels. As John Hale motors out from the boat ramp he explains that he, and Lonnie, will be pre-fishing today for some upcoming bass tournaments, which include the new Wal-Mart/Ranger Boats Texas Tournament Trail and the Bassmaster Central Division Texas Invitational. Within their tackle packs are some newly designed and developed spinner-baits and skirts, which they plan to test in the chilly 40 -to- 50-degree waters today, to see how the bass will react to the new designs before their product receives the "Stanley" stamp of approval.

"One thing is for sure, Lonnie begins to inform to my soon to be busy notebook, "ALL" of our baits are designed, developed, and tested for anglers "by anglers" long before being marketed to the fishing public. "That's right, John Hale co-signs to Lonnie's statement, "We are hard corps tournament anglers who fish some of the toughest fishing conditions that normally aren't common to most anglers, "So our baits are put through some really "tuff" testing procedures before being put on the market shelves to be sold. "Besides, Lonnie winks with a grin, "Owning your own tackle company definitely has its perks, "Such as being able to field test your ideas to see if they actually work....... "Cool, think I.....really cool!"

"Let's try that cove over there, John suggests to Lonnie after a short 15 minute boat-run south of Monterrey Park, "Looks good to me, Lonnie agrees as we turn into a protected cove within the Black Forest area. "I've caught some really nice bass here in the past and have even won a few tourneys from this cove, Stanley advised as we ease into a wide-mouth inlet, which has an abundance of flooded buck-brush with Johnson grass. "But, it's going to be a chore to see if the bass are going to bite in these chilly waters today, Lonnie informed after checking the water-temp recorder which shows 47.8 degrees. "Yep, for-sure chilly conditions today, John quips after setting the troll-motor, "But we should find some warmer water further back in the pockets of the cove. Grabbing for our fishing gear we start probing the edges of the flooded brush & shoreline grasses with the new Stanley proto-type spinner baits.

"I was with the Bryan Bassmaster's bass-club back in Bryan College Station, Lonnie noted to me as we slowly fished our way into the cove, "And I, along with Kenny Luther and several of my fishing buddies, basically taught each other how to jig fish with my home-made jigs, which, at that time, we hand-tied with rubber skirts in my garage by using rubber ties instead of wire or thread, which actually made them the "first" interchangeable jig-skirts ever built. "Then in 1983, "we came out of the garage" so to speak, and formed the Stanley Jig Company after John Hale and Mike Dyess joined up with me after moving our production plant/office to Huntington, TX.

"The three of us, Lonnie pointed out, "John, with his extensive fishing and tournament angling knowledge, Mike, as Stanley Jigs Co/Owner, with his exceptional business marketing and sport-fishing background, and me, "With my natural ability and instinct for developing new fishing products, "Began to form into a strong working relationship as good business sense, good bass fishing savvy, and good chemistry developed between us to merge those qualities into the "Stanley Jigs" fishing team, which soon formulated into what is now "Stanley Jigs Inc.

"Now here it is twenty -plus- years later, and I can now sit back and think about the many things that a small "garage" company like Stanley Jigs has developed, and marketed, for the fishing public, Lonnie muses, "Items like the Needle Point Hook, "The Hand Tied "Interchangeable" jig and spinner bait Skirts, "Tapered Titanium Spinner baits, "The Wedge, "And ...."FISH ON".... suddenly cuts Lonnie short as John rears back "hard" setting his hook into our first bass of the morning. We had worked our way to about mid-way up the creek, and with the water temp at 52 degrees, John makes a cast to a grass-point and begins working the drop-off edge where, a bass of about 4 lbs, mouths the bait "just-enough" for John to react. After some pictures, John quickly releases the bass, stating with a happy grin "Whelp, they work!!"

The tandem spinner bait John used is a 1 / 2 -oz size with a gold/red skirt and a /black/red "big-eye" jig-head body with a silver Colorado, and a long gold willow blade. The new prototype was amazing within itself due to the fact that by just dropping it into the water made seem to come alive as the new design of colors and patterns mimicked a live baitfish. "Amazing, I thought as I took aim with my camera, "Oh no you don't, John grins in my direction after snatching the prototype away, "Not till May when we plan on marketing our new line of spinner baits. With "understandable" chuckles all around, Lonnie, John, and I get back to fishing, and my notes, as we continue moving up the creek to locate some more active bass-bites.

"We've developed new innovations in colors, Lonnie continues, "As John came up with new dye types that would eventually revolutionize the fishing tackle industry with new ways of coloring their products, Like the fire-tipped skirts we developed, "AND", Lonnie stresses, "Our new silicon skirts, which all of the tackle manufacturers are now using on there products, "Which, we invented and developed at our plant in Huntington, TX. "We needed a new type of rubber that would be clear enough to see through, but yet strong enough for color imprinting, as well as stand up to fishing abuse, "So, our new "Super Scales" jig and spinner-bait skirts were invented right on top of our desktops. "Sure we make "pretty stuff", John answers to my approving comment, "But we make pretty stuff "that works" as Lonnie, Mike, and myself have all made the BASSMaster Classic's over the years by using our "Pretty Stuff".

"THERE HE IS, Lonnie alerts to us after bowing up on our 2 nd bass of the morning, "The bass hit on the inside edge of that Johnson grass-patch, Lonnie quickly advised to John as he moves to land his fish. "Now, this is what we've been testing our new baits for, Lonnie grins to me as he lip-lands a solid 5 pound bass, "To see if these cold water fish would hit these new baits regardless of the water temp, which is now showing 52.8 degrees. "The bass seem to be moving into the shallows with the rising lake waters, John advises, "And if the lake keeps coming up like it is they should be in the buck-brush by Bassmaster time.

With two "picture-bass" imaged for this story line, we spent the rest of our fishing day "culling water" as we began to fish several other areas to see where the bass are holding, and where they aren't. "Then come tournament day, Lonnie informs, "We can concentrate on fishing just the areas that we know are holding fish. All of our bass-bites from now on would be "shook-off" rather than hooked. This process is practiced by experienced tournament pros, John explains, "As we can feel and actually guesstimate the bass sizes then shaking them off before they get hooked. "This procedure avoids stressing the bass, Lonnie advised, "As in this way we can return on tournament day to "hopefully" re-locate those "shook-off" bass for "hooking-up" with them this time for the weigh-in scale on tournament day.

"Innovation -NOT- Imitation" is our company motto, Lonnie stresses, "As when we were still in those "garage" days of "hand to pocket" business, "We used to store our inventory in coke racks. "But now that Stanley has grown up a bit we now enjoy a three to four "Million-Dollar" business year, which now includes international sales within the European market of England, Scotland, Spain, and Portugal, "As well as South America, Australia, South Africa, Japan, and Canada. "And, John Hale adds, "We are really excited about getting into the saltwater markets with our new saltwater spinner baits, tubes, scent sprays, and spoons for the inshore saltwater anglers. "Our new saltwater baits, Lonnie pointed out, "Are "brackish" baits as they can be used either in fresh-water or salt-water fisheries by those adventurous anglers who enjoy fishing both waters. "Innovation, Lonnie points out, "Not imitation, has made what Stanley is today.

"Back in the mid-80's, John informed, "Before anyone ever knew how to fish the grass with jigs, "It wasn't anything for a few of us "in the know" anglers to go out and load up on those really big bass with our jigs. "But, John further informed, "After Lonnie and I fished a tournament on Toledo we displayed our very first samples of our new silicon metal/flake jig skirts, and began doing seminars on how to fish them in the grass. "Suddenly, John re-advised, "We found that we had more and more skilled jig anglers working the grass-beds and catching more of those really big grass-bass. "Back then, John stated, "People on Rayburn and Toledo quit fishing jigs in the hot summer months, "So we started re-educating them and the entire world on how to fish for bass in summertime grass with the new Stanley silicon jig-skirts.

"Our Saltwater stuff will soon become one of our new T.V. fishing shows, John enlightened as he informs about Mike Dyess, who is now involved with taping some saltwater fishing segments for their new "Inshore Fisherman" series, which will be aired along with their very popular 15 year run of the "Sportsman's Challenge" T.V. fishing show Series. "We want to show everyone that you don't have to own a $35,000 bass-boat or bay-boat to go fishing, Lonnie emphasized, "As we plan to show where you can go with your family to have an "inexpensive" fishing adventure, as we teach you what tackle and baits to use, and how to use them after you've gotten there. "Our goal, John Hale interludes, "Is to promote the sport of fishing down to its most basic levels by teaching everyone, single parents, grandparents, and people who don't have a boat, that they can enjoy this wonderful outdoor sport without worrying about the costs or the travel expenses. "We plan on promoting the nearby saltwater bayous, inlets, surrounding bays, passes, and surf-fishing opportunities of the Texas Gulf Coast. "You can view our new saltwater and freshwater fishing segments on the "Sportsman's Challenge" series which is aired to millions of viewers all over the world on ESPN2 now, Lonnie informed.

"I was raised in Zavalla TX, Lonnie noted as he told of "walking backwards" along the old 147 roadbed when Rayburn began filling up, "And I think John did the same over on Toledo as it too began to reservoir, "Which is probably why John and I work so well together, Lonnie stated, adding that they both seem to think alike, as whenever he gets a new idea he'll turn it over to John for further research & development, or John will come up with a new idea for development, such as the new "Four Runner" or "Big- T" spinner bait series which are now being used for fishing deeper structure such as humps, ditches, and reefs. "We are very proud of our innovative fishing tackle designs, Lonnie grins, "And we plan to keep honing that "innovative" edge which provides the angling public with the latest designs from Stanley fishing products.

"Rayburn's still a very healthy lake, Lonnie answered to my query, "Because we've been filming a lot of footage on it since before, and after the bass kill, "A kill, he pointed out, "Which happened on other lakes such as Fork, to north of here all the way across our nation to Carolina's Santee Cooper Reservoir. "But we've been lucky in the sense that we still had such a tremendous amount of bass in Sam Rayburn after that devastating kill. "And I do believe, Lonnie winks, "With the lake level back up this year it will provide a tremendous bass spawn which will help Rayburn fully recover to the legendary status that it once enjoyed.

"Back in those years before the fish-kill, Lonnie reviews, "BEFORE" the big bass started dying off, "It was absolutely unbelievable here on Rayburn as we filmed most of our bass fishing segments right here on the lake, taping 5 bass spinner-bait catches that weighed well over 20 lbs, "We even taped me catching eight and nine pound bass on Carolina rigs, "But, since the kill, "We've had fewer of those big bass to catch. "But now that we're into our 3 rd season since the LMVB Virus kill, "I strongly feel that our next two years will start producing those huge Rayburn bass that made Big Sam a legend among the bass anglers.

"I think everybody is going to be really impressed with what Rayburn will provide for the upcoming BassMaster Central Division Invitational the first week of March, Lonnie predicted, "As with all the fishing conservation practiced by the anglers in the past, along with the Texas Parks & Wildlife restocking programs, has really helped to provide a strong and healthy comeback base for Big Sam's bright future. "We've personally seen huge schools of bass-fry schooling on the surface of the water, Lonnie and John both inform, "From the Amber Forest all the way to the back of Veach Basin, "And I mean "HUGE" rafts of them that were anywhere from 150 yards across to maybe 200 yards long. "The shallow water fish have come back now, Lonnie advised, "And I feel that Rayburn will start producing those really big fish, like it did before the kill, in just a couple more years.

"You just wait, Lonnie expressed with heartfelt feelings, "Give Rayburn two more years and this wonderful lake of ours will get back to being its "PERFECT" self again!"........."Amen brother,..."AMEN!!"

(Editors Note: We managed to "shake-off" at least a dozen bass during our "water cull" from temps that never rose above the 52.9 degree mark. All the bass "mouthed" the new Stanley prototype spinner-bait which John skillfully hid from my camera lens, BUT, he slipped, check the pix showing Lonnie holding one of their new prototypes after a good bass catch- ......"hehe".....: )

John Hale "Whelp, They work!!"

Lonnie Stanley "Now, This is what it's all about!!"
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Innovation -"NOT"- Imitation


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