By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When Dylan Baker’s grandfather, Gilbert Hammons, took him on a fishing trip to Norris Lake in Tennessee at 14-years-old, little did he know that an entrepreneurial spirit would ignite from within.
“I’ve been fishing all my life and it goes back generations,” Baker said.
His first all-night venture at Laurel Lake was at 3-years-old, and he fished practically every night since, but it soon became costly. Each time Hammons took Baker on a trip, he would hand him his extra dollars and change for safe keeping. While traveling to Norris Lake, Hammons stopped at a small store where Baker found a mold to make fishing jigs with. Elated, he purchased the mold with his saved up money, and since he didn’t have any lead to make molds with, Hammons stopped by a thrift store and discovered scrapped vintage measuring cups.
“I was excited of course, so when I got home I went to the basement and took a blow torch and stuck some old jigs in that cup and sinkers. I ran the torch over them until I got it hot enough to melt,” Baker said.
Making his own molds of jigs allowed Baker to fish more frequently, even enter into a few bass fishing tournaments, and often winning on his homemade tackle. Eventually, experienced fisherman began inquiring about making them several jigs of their own, and it just escalated from there, Baker said.
“It got to where I was making more baits than I was fishing. We’ve come a tremendous way, now, I’ve got furnaces and it’s all done by machines,” Baker said.
Today, at 20-years-old, he makes hundreds of different styles for his small business Bubba’s Lures, and has created over 100,000 molds. He fishes in lakes all over the U.S., searching far and wide for the biggest largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and Kentucky spotted bass fish. Nearby each lake he visits, he puts a bug in the ear of the nearest tackle and bait shops for his business.
“You’ve just got to get your name out there, you can’t be afraid. You have to walk in like you own the place and hope for the best,” he said. “I like the challenge of being an entrepreneur, the challenge of making a dollar.”
Although his business seems to be booming, he says, it’s not always been easy. In between helping his debt-free business grow in 2011, he worked 3,200 hours at D&D Machinery Movers in Nicholasville, Ky. getting neck deep in his LLC.
“I didn’t do much fishing that year,” he said. “It’s like a baby, the business is, you have to nurture it.”
He would work all day, drive an hour home and work all night on jig orders. In addition, he had two young children to support, Madison and Dalton.
“My whole family is solely the rock that I stand on, my mother, father, grandparents, my children and my fiance, Courtney Deaton,” he said. “My grandfather, he’s very proud of me, and he says I’m the center of his universe. Still to this day, he’s very encouraging with anything I need and in any way to help me that he can.
“The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is finding time to sleep, Baker said, and the most important thing is to not lose focus after setting your goals high with no limit. Eventually, Baker hopes to see his company competing with major retail stores such as Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse.
“I’ve always had the drive to do something. I guess you could say it’s just bred in me,” he said. “My will and ambitions are generally above, I’ve tried my entire life to be above and beyond the ‘norm’ of the average person.”
Like his grandfather and father, and men before them, Baker takes his children fishing as often as he can. He started young and was inspired, and so he hopes that many others will help inspire more youth to go outdoors and make time for quality time.
“As adults we get so caught up in the day to day life, working, and with children I had to grow up pretty fast. But I wouldn’t take nothing for it—my life is my children, my family, my baits and fishing.”
To check out Baker’s swimbaits, jigs and lures, visit www.fishbubbaslures.com.