ARCADIA – David Witte started making plastic fishing lures about three years ago, for himself and a few friends.
But as it goes with many hobbies, Route 66 Baits is now a full-fledged side business, and he’s churning out several thousand customized baits every year. He sells his soft plastic baits mostly through social media and by word of mouth, and this is his second summer having a booth at the Arcadia Farmers Market.
In a face-to-face situation at the Saturday market, he said, “it’s a lot easier to educate people about what I do and what I’m capable of doing. I can make them whatever color they want in whatever shape I have molds for.”
Witte custom-blends colors with results not typically seen in retail settings.
“I have one customer that likes my worms because I can add purple flake to the color that he likes,” he said. “And I have molds that you don’t see everywhere.”
Color does matter, Witte said. Some hues work best in clear water, while others lure more fish in muddy water.
Witte creates fish-shaped lures called swim baits. Others look like crawdads, or “generic creature-looking things,” he said. “Some look like worms.”
Witte purchased specialized equipment for the manufacturing process, which starts with plastic in a liquid form. It’s heated to a gel, then returned to a liquid state where Witte injects the color, then pours it all into one of his 30 molds to solidify.
He sells the baits for $6 a bag. Some of his regular customers tell him they catch more fish with his baits; others just like the way they look.
Witte grew up in Chickasha, where his grandfather taught him how to fish. Now he lives near Arcadia and his fishing is catch-and-release. His wife, Carrie, doesn’t care for fishing “but she likes to ride in the boat,” he said.
As a computer programmer, Witte has learned the importance of having creative outlets.
“My primary job is purely analytical,” he said.
The outdoor Arcadia Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Route 66 and Division Street. The year-round Arcadia Farmers Market Store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 210 N. Odor St. in Arcadia.
For more information or to become a vendor, call 405-226-0346 or email email@example.com.