TOXIC BAITS DON’T SUCK
What does it mean being an underground bait brand maker? It sometimes means being a one person operative with no monster marketing or production budget, grindin’ countless hours Perfecting their creations, all alone in a shop or garage. Hand-crafted, painted, and individually tuned by the bait maker himself. often times, these creations are made in extremely limited quantities, because let’s face it, it ain’t easy bangin’ hundreds of these multi-jointed, treble hook sportin’ works of art. But one thing’s for sure, their trophy proven baits sell out faster than you can hit that refresh button, and that my friends, is an art in itself - The Sale. So I have nothing but mad respect to the creators of underground bait brands that constantly push their creative works out to the world while relentlessly perfecting their craft, their brand. Never stop creating.
Now while other garage-built bait brands struggle to be recognized (on the Gram) in a rapidly growing subculture of trophy fishing, Northern California-based swimbait manufacturer, Toxic Baits has quickly managed to captivate the minds of hardcore swimbait anglers/collectors the world over. It wasn’t too long ago that toxic started making some waves on the underground big bait scene which then caught my attention. Mind you, i don’t own any of their baits, but one of the key things that I did recognize (and instantly appreciate) Toxic was doing that most other bait companies aren’t is engaging with their core audience. Too many brands push their products or service on you. Very little talk to or even listen.
Toxic Baits will be hosting its first “Toxic Day” event on January 27, 2019 at Russo’s Marina, Bethel Island on the California Delta. It’s a chance to have a face-to-face engagement with Toxic, its loyal customers, and a handful of industry heads. Toxic Baits Founder/Designer, Ceaser Chavez says, “It’s a day to bring together the people of this culture I’m so lucky to be a part of. Good people, good food, old and new friends to help get through the cold of winter.” I had an opportunity to meet and get to know Ceaser over breakfast to learn more about his company and his upcoming event. Scroll and read down below.
SUB: What up, C! tell us about yourself and your background and how Toxic Baits came to be.
CC: Man, not much to know. Just a fishing fanatic. I grew up in the Inland Empire in Southern California until I was 16, then I moved to the Delta. My dad always took me fishing, but he wasn’t and still isn’t a bass fisherman. He’s a bait guy. We fished trout and shore banged bass at the local community ponds and lakes like Perris and Silverwood. I was big into sports when I was younger, but all that changed when I move to Antioch and saw the Delta. That’s all I wanted to do was fish for bass on this system. A couple months later, I traded a bottle of Kaluah for a 10ft. boat. Toxic grew from that really. I’ve always been a maker. I had a jig company, “Flip This Jigs” when I was a senior in high school. Sold small numbers and had a few guys win tournaments on them. Did soft plastics too, but nothing real serious until further down the road when I wanted a bait to get an edge up on the tournament competition, and I was too broke to buy one.
SUB: So you’re throwing somewhat of a give-back gathering next month called Toxic Day, which I believe is super rad. Could you elaborate on it? The purpose of it, and what we could expect?
CC: Toxic Day! Yeah, it should be an awesome event for whoever shows up. Back when I was younger the old bait shop used to have like a Potluck for the local “hook rats”. It wasn’t an event per say, just a get together of old friends that have been around the scene forever. The Delta was a lot smaller community then, and it was such a family community vibe. Those old dudes actually vouched for me to someone, so at 18yrs. old, I could buy my own used Ranger boat on payments. I wanted to bring that feeling to Toxic Day. It’s the cold of winter, most of the time fishing can be a grind, spring is right around the corner but there’s no tournaments or competitions buzzing on the horizon. It seems like a good time to take a step back, have some good food and drinks with other fisherman, and enjoy the common bond and culture we all share. We will be giving away tons of free stuff for the customers or whoever shows up. Shirts, baits, stickers, lures, reels, rods, complete skate set ups for the kids, BBQ, beer, and drinks. On top of that, we will have a panel of speakers that are willing to divulge killer info on their approach or impact to trophy fishing or the fishing industry. There will be a ton of limited and hard to get baits for sale at the event too. Not only from me, but from other makers as well.
SUB: Your company is giving back with an event not only for its loyal customers, but to our local angling community. Why do you feel it’s important to be face-to-face with your audience?
CC: Probably because thats the day and age we live in. Accountability is lacking in almost all sides of my previous experience in the workforce or corporate America. I have no problem admitting I made a mistake, especially now that I’m learning to navigate this “trade” that there is no playbook for. Plus, honestly, it’s incredibly rewarding and humbling to see all the fishermen willing to spend their hard earned money on my work. I feel like the best way to give back to the customer is stay as connected as I can with the community.
“I feel like the best way to give back to the customer is stay as connected as I can with the community.”
SUB: What is your top advice for aspiring bait makers and entrepreneurs looking to dive into the fishing industry?
CC: I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I would say for bait makers, build with a purpose would be my advice. Don’t build a glide bait to build a glide bait. Build a glide bait that will be perfect for your fishing style and body of water. Then go fish the hell out of the bait. All I throw is Toxic for the most part. I mean, that’s how it’s been for many years, way before building full-time. Start measuring fishing success in what you learn or catch on your own baits. Not how big or how many fish you caught. That seems to have worked for me. Go all in, even before you’re all in. Then work. And work, and work, and work. I’m big on that. It’s hard to measure hours of work when you are doing your own thing, but on average, I work 12hrs. a day including all the crap like buying materials, social, and web stuff. That’s a normal day, and a lot of times I’m in the shop for 12 then spend 6 in the office. You gotta love what you’re doing. Not like love it, but it’s Sunday and football’s on so it can wait… Like love it where you wake up at 4am, because you were too excited to sleep due to the painting that needs finished. The reward is the work for me, so I’m always winning. LOL.
“You gotta love what you’re doing.”
SUB: Aside from Toxic Day, what’s next on the horizon for Toxic Baits?
CC: Everything. Anything. Wherever the winds of change take me, who knows. But I plan on moving back east very, very, soon to expand production and take my style of lures to the south and east coast where the tournament guys aren’t 100% believers yet. Toxic is coming on over to make its stamp on that side of the industry next. Eventually I’d like to run a mass produced line in parallel to my standard resin baits so there are lower priced quality options. Soft baits I designed will be available next year when I can figure out the right course for manufacturing. I don’t have an end goal, just keep building baits and catching fish. That’s my Shangri-La. I get to live a fantasy. I’d like to just hold on to that.
“Start measuring fishing success in what you learn or catch on your own baits. Not how big or how many fish you caught.”
“It’s a day to bring together the people of this culture I’m so lucky to be a part of. Good people, good food, old and new friends to help get through the cold of winter.” -CEASER ON TOXIC DAY
Founder/Creator of SBSRFC & Bass Brigade