Off to Clear Lake, CA, To See What's New With JSJ Bait and Tackle
Clear Lake, California
JSJ Bait and Tackle
Introduction: We travel to Clear Lake, California to meet up with new bait manufacturer on the block, Josh St. John of JSJ Bait and Tackle and check out his existing Snack Size Trout along with some new morsels Josh has designed to entice big bass into eating. It's a day of picturesque conditions but tough fishing, and during the course of the day, what we discover is Josh St. John fits right in with the TackleTour crowd because he's a certified, superTTuning, tackle nut.
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Background: As discussed in our preview of JSJ's Snack Sized Trout published earlier this year, Josh St. John has had a long history making and modifying baits dating back to his teenage years where he used to build crankbaits. This together with his background working in a motorcycle shop (where he learned to paint), helping his father build surfboards (where he learned how to work with resin), and being a former sales representative for Specialty Tackle (where he gained insight to the business aspect of the industry), has all led him to where he is now - having a blast building big baits and helping others catch better limits of bass.
We take to the water with Josh St. John to check out what's new and exciting with JSJ Bait and Tackle.
Our trip with St. John comes at the tail end of a product development cycle where he's completing the final stages of testing on a new bait. He invited us along for an inside, on the water look at this new product along with an introduction to another bait, already in production and hitting one store's shelf as an exclusive. Finally, Josh shares with us some of his tackle addiction including a look at some modifications he's made to other baits just for the heck of it.
The original Snack Size Trout.
And when we say "Original" we mean numbers one and three.
3-Joint Snack Sized Trout: The first new bait to discuss is a MonsterTackle.com exclusive. It is a three-joint, four-piece version of the original Snack Size Trout. Like its original sibling, this new version measures seven inches in length and weighs in right around 2.4 ounces in weight. It comes in both floating and sinking versions, and retails for an MSRP of $84.99. Those who prefer to their hard bodied swimbaits "slow-rolled", will really like the action of this lure.
Introducing the 3-joint, 4-piece Snack Size Trout shown here in a prototype Delta Demon Color (the production version has different eyes).
Josh demonstrated this bait on the water and pointed while the original Snack Size Trout was designed to be fished with a twitching action to make it dart from side to side erratically, this new, three-joint version, with its cut-tail design is very much at home on a steady retrieve where it swims in a very natural, s-like fashion. The extra degree of movement in the tail enables the floater to wake very convincingly while the sinker has "bite-me" written all over it.
It was a picturesque day on Clear Lake.
Pelicans fly overhead as Josh
works the point.
Snack Size Bluegill: Next up in his new products, Josh broke out his new bluegill bait. There are literally, only two in existence and he had both on hand to show us. The first was his floater, painted in a bluegill pattern, and the second was the sinker painted as a white crappie.
Introducing the 4-piece Snack Size Bluegill by JSJ Bait and Tackle.
Note the scale pattern worked into the side of this bait.
The action of both lures are very similar to the 3-Joint Snack Size Trout as is expected since this bluegill bait is also a 3-joint, 4 piece bait. It measures approximately six and a half inches and Josh expects the baits to fall right around the same 2.4 ounce range. He's not finalized the details of this bait just yet, so MSRP is still to be determined, but look for a late November debut of these baits at the annual Bassathon held by Southern California's Angler's Marine.
Josh winds up for a cast with the crappie pattern.
Here's a better look at the crappie patterned Snack Size Bluegill.
Snack Size Trout Colors: Even with his new baits in the works, Josh still isn't quite done with the original Snack Size Trout. He's getting ready to expand the color selection and showed us his prototype Baby Bass color. A little darker than he intends the finished product to be, Josh also played with the fins on this bait, but found cutting them back negatively affected the action of his bait.
Here's Josh's prototype Baby Bass color. Note the color of the eye on this side of the bait...
... as compared to the flip side on this same prototype.
Field Tests: Despite covering the entire north end of Clear Lake and hitting many of Josh's "money" spots, the bass were simply not cooperative. I warned him early on, this outcome was pre-destined as the TackleTour jinx has been strong this year killing many a hot bite, secret or otherwise. Naturally he was skeptical but no longer.
Josh works hard to find the fish.
A closer look at the Delta Demon color.
During one pause in the non-action, to break the monotony, I pulled out some new products I brought along to test and photograph out on the water. In his hands, I placed my Megabass White Python matched with a new Daiwa HL-SSS Ringa 103L. As it turns out, Josh simply isn't into the round reels, but he certainly enjoyed how the White Python handled his baits - that is, until I told him the new, current price of that stick.
Spot after spot, it's not looking like a big bait, big bite kind of day.
Another look at his white crappie bluegill bait.
Of course, having worked for the previous owner of Specialty Tackle, Josh is no stranger to the JDM mystique and in his rod locker were at least two Shimano Scorpion 1001 reels - yes, Josh St. John fishes left hand retrieve reels. To further demonstrate his tackle affliction, he dug into his stash of baits and pulled out two very interesting soft plastics, one was an overly long lizard he
recently picked up off that auction site and introduced it by saying, "Now this is a swimbait fisherman's lizard". The other was a new, thick bodied, hand poured, creature bait from his friends at Maverick Baits.
Josh shows off a recent "prize" he
procured online. A bait he refers to as a swimbaiter's lizard.
He then pulled out another box full of big-baits he's purchased and modified just for kicks including an eight inch Rago Raptor, a Baitsmith 6" soft bodied swimbait, and another bait we unfortunately cannot discuss. "I just can't leave a bait stock," Josh shared with a grin.
This new bait by Maverick lures was designed by one of Josh's best friends.
Conclusion: Well, the bite we were all hoping for may not have materialized this day, but that does not deter our initial opinion that the baits by JSJ Bait and Tackle are worthwhile products. In fact, Josh showed us his number one bait, a Snack Sized Trout in
Chartreuse Shad that he's absolutely hammered the fish on catching well over 100 bass with it and the bait really, was no worse for wear.It certainly looked used, but the paint was still in excellent condition and the fins were worn, but not broken. Pretty impressive to say the least.
With TackleTour and a box of his own baits looking over his shoulder, Josh St. John was unable to coax the Clear Lake bass into coming out for a picture or two, but that does not deter our opinion of him or his baits.
Our official review of JSJ's three and four piece Snack Size Trout is still in the works. We're fishing this bait right now for the fall run striped bass in the California Delta and assuming a successful season with these baits there, you can expect our full
write-up sometime in Q4 of 2008 or Q1 of 2009. In the meantime, we can say, we like what we've seen and fished so far and we have no reason to believe our opinion will change.