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Great artical in the Block Island Times

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Great artical in the Block Island Times

Post  smitty on 9/5/2011, 5:59 pm

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Locally made lures land lots of fish
By Dan West | Sep 03, 2011
(Photo by: Dan West)
Lemire's Plugworks

View More... Al Lemire goes to Twin Maples bait and tackle shop almost every day to hang out and chat with the customers about fishing on Block Island. So far, so much the same as many an avid island angler. What sets Lemire apart is that he makes many of the plugs in the store himself.

“It’s great to have him here because I have someone here who can back the lures up,” said Twin Maples owner John Swienton. “Not that there are many complaints — in fact there are hardly any because these lures stand up well to big fish, and we get a lot of big fish out here.”

Lemire has been fishing his entire life and about five years ago, he started crafting his own wooden plugs to fit his style of fishing. This began as a hobby — using woodworking skills he learned from his grandfather in his family-owned cabinet making store in Smithfield, R.I. — and after a year developed into a small business called Lemire’s Plugworks.

Lemire began selling a small number out of Twin Maples four summers ago, and in the time since, has expanded to stock plugs in 35 stores from Cape Cod to New Jersey.

During the summers, Lemire works as a chef at the Naragansett Inn; before that, he was at Champlin’s Marina. When the restaurant closes and the striper fishing shuts off for the winter, he heads back to Smithfield, where he crafts his lures — between 4,000 and 5,000 a year.

Lemire makes each plug by hand, one at a time; they are “thru-wired” for strength, then turned on a lathe to the desired shape. He sands them down, then seals them with oils and paints them with a variety of colors and designs. They are larger plugs meant to catch bluefish and stripers, but can be effective in snagging a variety of salt and freshwater species.

“I can turn one out in 20 to 35 minutes now depending on the size,” Lemire said. “Eventually I’ll get to the point where I have to hire some other people, but for now it’s good winter work.”

His lures have become a hit on the island, with charter captains switching over to his plugs and Twin Maples now selling his entire line. Captain Matt King of Hula Charters fishes with Lemire Plugs and has come to swear by them.

“I always have a rod rigged up [with a Lemire plug], and when there is action on top I toss it in,” King said. “I’m always going to support the local guy, and with [Lemire] it’s easy because his plugs are really good quality.”

King said that he has been having good luck with the plugs this year, catching 75 fish on one plug alone. His customers often ask about the plugs, then seek them out at Twin Maples after the trip.

“People will come back from going out on a charter where they used these plugs and ask for them,” Swienton said. “If they catch a big bass on a plug, they’ll fish that same plug for the rest of their lives.”

Lemire currently sells 18 different styles of plugs ranging from $18 to $26, available in a number of different colors. Lemire will also do custom-paint jobs for anglers with specific tastes.

He is constantly testing and refining new designs and expects to expand on the number of styles he has available.

“I’ll see a new style fresh water plug and think that might work well in salt water,” Lemire said. “I’ll make up a half-dozen and give them to friends and we all go out fishing with them.”

Lemire looks at the movement of the plug in the water and how well the fish respond to it. He’ll redesign the plug to perfect its performance and keep testing until it meets his approval. The last plug he designed took over a year to build and test.

There is still a fairly large community of hand-crafted plug makers in the United States, but Lemire has become one of the larger sellers. He takes his plugs to fishing shows and expos around the region and even hopes to expand internationally to Costa Rica and the Caribbean in the coming years.

“This all started as just something fun to do,” Lemire said. “It’s still a lot of fun to meet people in Twin Maples who use my lures. I think it’s something a little different that people don’t get anywhere else.”



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Re: Great artical in the Block Island Times

Post  JayDizzle on 9/5/2011, 6:52 pm

Nice write-up!

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