Custom Lures & Bait offers both plus guide services

Custom Lures and Bait is very different from the other bait shops that I have visited over the past several months.

Even the name shows its paradox to a typical bait shop. Lures are featured before the live bait and that philosophy carries throughout the shop and its owners.  

Roger Tripp and his partner, James Brewington, opened their shop on Sept. 15, 2013, in Fredericktown, Mo. The live bait part of the business came about because there wasn’t a bait shop locally and their customers requested live bait along with the lures that they purchased.

As you drive into the parking lot the first thing you notice is that the bait shop is an entirely separate building located next to the main building.

The fisherman has a good selection of bait to choose from. There are the standard Canadian Crawlers and red wigglers. Minnows include shiners, gold fish, koi, and rosie reds. The bait fisherman will also find crickets and Super meal worms.

Catfishing is very popular in the area and to accommodate them, the bait shop carries Sonny’s dip bait, blood balls, Skip Jack Herring, shad and rooster livers when they are available.

People can stop in anytime from sunup to sundown to buy bait and supplies except on Thursdays. Custom Lures and Bait shop closes on Thursdays.  

To insure that their customers receive the best and healthiest baits, Roger and James make a weekly journey with their specially-equipped truck to buy their bait directly from a wholesaler and not a local distributer.  This way, they can be selective in their choices of bait for their customers.

The main building for Customer Lures and Bait is a story in itself. Built on the edge of town, the building started out life as a honky-tonk bar and dance hall. When you walk into the building you will find Roger Tripp, Sharon Martin, or James Brewington behind the original bar ready to serve you.

Select a soft drink from the refrigerator and a bag of chips or some other type of snacks that are available, sit on the bar stool and have Roger fill you in on the colorful history of the building.

Sharon will take you on a tour of their shop and point out the selection of terminal tackle they carry, which includes many sizes and styles of hooks, weights, lines, swivels, etc. 

If you need a stringer, fishing nets, minnow bucket, cricket tube, or catch net… you will find it here. On the bar countertop is a display of fish scent attractant just in case you would like your bait to have more of an aroma than it already has.

There are even a few items for your boat, such as boat plugs, aerators, anchors, and the prodigal paddle. There is also an assortment of rods and reels, ultralight combos, crappie rods, and catfish rods.

The wall racks contain a collection of crank baits, spinner baits, bass jigs, worms, lizards, craws, jig heads, tubs, and buzz baits. More information on the artificial lures will be forthcoming.

Rick Mansfield

Another important function that is performed at Custom Lures and Bait is rod and reel repairs. They are an authorized repair center for companies such as Lews, ABU, Shakespeare, Phlueger, Penn, and Shimano. Most fishermen have their favorite rod and reel, and to have a skilled technician maintain or repair their equipment is very important for a successful and enjoyable outing of fishing.

Another good feature of Custom Lures and Bait is its location. It is on the edge of Fredericktown, so you do not have to maneuver through town traffic. It has a nice-size parking lot that will accommodate your vehicle, especially if you are towing a boat.

The best value about its location is its accessibility to prime fishing waters. There is the Fredericktown City Lake, Perryville Lake, Clearwater Lake, and Wappappello Lake. If you like to river fish, you have the choices of the Castor, St. Francis, Black or Big rivers.

There are also several state parks, such as St. Joe, St. Francois, and Johnson’s Shut-Ins. The best source to find a good fishing location is to ask Roger, James, or Sharon when you stop in.

There are many other features that you can take advantage of at Custom Lures and Bait. One important one is a guide service.

Roger Tripp performs selective guiding on many Missouri state lakes and on some lakes outside of the state, as well. He has also developed a list of other qualified professional guides that you can review if Roger cannot accommodate your particular timeframe.

Roger enjoys seeing people having a good time and making memories that will last a lifetime. Recently, Roger and James took Sharon on her first crappie fishing adventure at Wappapello Lake. That day she caught her first crappie ever and with Roger’s instructions, caught many more. She also tasted her first crappie fillets later that day.

When you stop in the shop, ask her which is her favorite — to catch or eat crappie. On the same outing Roger caught his fist Lake Wappapello walleye, which he released to grow larger and produce more walleyes.

Roger is also a professional taxidermist. If you have ever considered having a fish, deer or some other trophy mounted, it would benefit you greatly to have a conversation with Roger first.

How you prepare your trophy before taking it to Roger will directly effect the final outcome of your trophy mount.  

You will want something that will bring you great memories for a lifetime, so help Roger achieve that for you by following his instructions.

The best item on display at Custom Lures and Bait is Roger himself. Roger has to be one of the most knowledgeable people that I have ever met when it comes to fishing, angling, or whatever you would like to call it.

He has spent over nine-and-a-half years on the semi and professional bass fishing circuits. Roger has been a member and the president of several bass fishing organizations, including the Wappapello Crappie Club.

He has donated over 1,500 custom lures as prizes for various fishing contests for children. He is still connected to the members of the professional bass circuit. It is that connection with his tournament buddies, and their persuasion, that influenced Roger to open Custom Lures and Bait.

Roger has an artistic talent that he brings to the fishing industry, and more specifically to his clients, and that is his ability to make and paint artificial lures.

That is one of the things that Roger, Sharon, and James enjoy the most — seeing the amazement on the faces of their customers when they find out that most every lure product on display is made in the store.  

Roger will also repair and repaint that one favorite lure that a fisherman has had for years. This is something that he still does for members of the PRO/AM Circuit Tour.

The process that Roger uses to make the lures that he sells in his shop, and the custom paint configuration and lures that he makes special for clients, is a whole separate story.

How he selects the shape and color combinations is a collaboration of science, experience, and artistic ability.

I will explore this process in a future article in the River Hills Traveler.

Custom Lures and Baits is located at 1377 Hwy. OO, Fredericktown, MO 63645. The phone number is (573) 561-6957, and their email is customlurelureandbait@yahoo.com.

Follow the bait shop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/customluresandbait.

(Bill Wakefield runs the Traveler’s St. Louis office and can be reached at w3@charter.net.)