You know there's a huge problem with our environment and all the plastic waste that's happening. So often, we see pictures of whales washing up on shore with their stomachs full of plastic, or turtles with plastic straws stuck in their nostrils. It's heartbreaking.
And it's not just marine life that's affected - plastic pollution is all around us, in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even the food we eat. Scientists have found microplastics in everything from sea salt to honey to beer. The situation is dire, and it's only going to get worse unless we do something about it.
In the fishing industry, every day thousands of plastic baits are used in so many ways, from trailers to tubes to senkos to jigging. And when these baits wind up in a fish's stomach, it's not a good thing for the fish. The plastics swell and don't break down. And when one falls off the hook and sinks to the bottom, it stays there for years. Like tens of years, or maybe even hundreds.
There's a new company from Colorado that's changing the approach to fishing plastics. It's called Bio Bait, and if you're concerned about the environment, read on to hear what these guys are doing.
Bio Bait - The Best Environmentally Friendly Baits For Fishing
The founder, the man behind Bio Bait, is Erik Peiker. He leads a team of passionate anglers who are out to change the fishing plastic industry.
In a nutshell, Bio Bait is not a plastic, but it's just easy to say plastic. Or better yet, we will use the term "soft plastic". These baits are plant-based, and made with amino acids and bile from fish, and then infused with fish oil.
The huge difference in this formulation, is that these baits will break down 99% faster than a traditional plastic, and these baits also won't stay in the stomach of a fish. They'll break down and pass through the fish, leaving the fish in much better shape.
It's a revolutionary eco-friendly process, and Bio Baits are to fishing what Tesla is to cars. It's that different.
We had a chance to interview Erik a while back, right during the shutdown, and here's what he had to say.
US: Erik Peiker is the founder of Bio Bait, and you guys are just crushing it right now in the industry with a line of very unique, you can't even call them soft plastics, because they're not quote "plastic" right?
Peiker: Yeah we get stuck always going it's soft bait you know and I'm like it just doesn't sound right so we'll call it soft plastic but since it's plant-based it really isn't plastic. We met months ago I met Jared at a show and then met you guys you and the gang at iCast and we had a blast, it was a ton of fun. So mad that iCast isn't going to happen again this year because, I'm mad for the parties. Well, I'll tell you what, you guys worked your rear ends off, you had that booth full, I mean all the time you were talking to people and I think you made some real good inroads at that meeting too.
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Yeah I mean we were we were the new guys and I mean that was that and be honest with you the whole iCast thing for us was a last minute audible. I mean literally last minute we were begging for a booth space because we had talked to some really big retailers, the biggest ones, and they're like cool we'll see you at iCast and I'm like all right cool. And then I guess I gotta go! I'm gonna get to iCast you know and then we kept calling them and they're like they're sold out we don't have anything left and i said please please please you know if somebody drops out said give me a booth that somebody's rented and I'll pay them triple the four times or they paid for it and finally somebody dropped out and I said I don't care we'll take it.
US: Well it's a good spot, too, a nice corner spot for you as well. How old are you now because even two years ago we were talking or months, you were still relatively new?
Peiker: Oh yeah this is the beginning of our third year so that was like our year one really and I mean we're just guys, you know I mean we're not we're not rich but by any means I mean I was a I'm a contractor really you know I'm up there roofing and doing all that stuff and Tyler, one of our partners he does HVAC um Ryan was working at Comcast, and then we have some other investors that wanted to invest a little bit of money. But I mean we are the group of average joes that are all die hard fishermen that you know we went out and we found this patent on this this material went and shot it and you know into some swim baits and stuff we're like it's perfect and we said let's dump our entire life savings into it.
Us: And it's a great yeah it's a great story it's a great story. Do you remember back to that first meeting or you're sitting down with beers and you said hey I know! Do you oh you remember that?
Peiker: Yeah we all wanted to get in the fishing industry and we said you know it's you know not knocking the industry by any means but it's been the same for a long time. It's like, imagine if the Delorean was still a super car you know that is how we perceived the industry is we were like there's no new Mclarens right there's no nothing it's a Delorean you get the wings and the track and that's what you got so we wanted to come in with more technology robotics and some of our painting methods that you've seen on some of our DNA stuff. I mean that's a that's a soft plastic you know so not only is it eco-friendly but we took it a step further too with the fish oil and the painting on it so we said enough of the Delorean's here's the brand new Mclaren and we're gonna sell it at the price point of a Delorean.
US: So how do you describe the baits if you're you know you've got a -second elevator pitch if you're in an elevator with somebody someone says "what do you do"?
Peiker: Yeah I mean that's tough because it depends on who the fisherman is too but there's so many benefits to it it's tough I mean really, I'm a performance fisherman more than anything. If it doesn't perform, I'm not gonna buy it. I mean period. I mean that's at the end of the day that's really what matters and the bonus of being better for our waterways and better for the fish is just an added bonus on top of it. That as we started the research, we found out that that's a monstrous problem that's kind of being swept under the rug. So it's something we kind of want to bring to light now that there is an alternative for that. So I think our elevator pitch would be eco-friendly, stronger than plastic, infused with fish oil, with amino and bile acids, made in the USA. They're strong points yeah I mean really strong points. % of what we find in in the fishing industry when we do the ibis reports stuff like that is a lot of stuff is made in China or the Dominican, or you know we're like I get they can make good quality stuff, but for us especially in this time I mean we employ a lot of people where people can't come in for a manufacturing and work here we're at like half capacity because the Covid stuff. You know we send out our stuff to get bagged, so if people are out of work they're hitting us up like hey I need to make money to pay bills or feed my family the bucks from the government's not doing it right yeah so we've got people going out and bag and bait we pay per bag. People are I mean there's just such a good feel good about it for us that making worms you know isn't isn't a get rich quick thing you know it's just not but the feel good about helping our community and helping people in need is is another thing that I'd add to what we're about, more than just performance.
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US: And in speaking of performance the baits actually affect the way a hook falls too right?
Peiker: Yeah I mean you have different buoyancy in different plastics right um you have like Yamamoto. Yamamoto's awesome Senko right action on that thing is awesome. When we went to Long Beach though we did in the tank we crushed way more fish than the Yamamoto did in the test but a lot of that's fish oil but having that buoyancy where the fall rate is good. It's not too quick it's not too slow. Getting the proper buoyancy in a formula that's not just an off-the-shelf plastisol is something that takes biochemists to work on. So when you see this this bait and you're like oh this is cool the science behind this with the amino acids the bile acids using real fish oil so it does disperse in water instead of trying to imitate that there's a lot of science behind these and I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't.
US: We did a Lake Erie walleye trip last summer and we were using worm harnesses with a crawler on it we were trolling for walleyes and we were doing pretty well and then I had a bag of the perch pattern with me and I told the captain Paul I said hey Paul let's try some of these and you know see what we can do so he rigged the perch up on a worm harness and threw a couple of them out there and seriously within five minutes they were two of the bigger walleyes that we caught. Unfortunately, the well was already full and we'd kind of run out of time so we couldn't fish for very much longer but the short little test that we did was freaking amazing.
Peiker: Oh yeah we this just this week alone there were three walleye tournaments here in Colorado local where we are and all three tournaments, they were all won by somebody using a Bio-Bait paddle tail swimbait. All of them, two of the tournaments, the top three all use Bio Bait. So I say to catch fish you can throw a pop can out there and catch a bass top water right you throw it enough I mean they'll hit but to catch the bigger fish, the smarter fish, the in between fish, the ones that are seasoned and been around the block, it's got to smell right, it's got to have the right texture, it's got to look right and a lot of those plastic companies you know I mean it works but they try to mask the scent of plastic whereas ours is plant-based so it starts at a natural zero, and then you can kind of build off of that with the amino and bile acid, so, I don't I get too nerdy but I'll tell you just a little. So you got your amino acids and your fish oil right inside real fish oil you'll have that proper amino acid structure and then you have your bile acids which are fish poop basically so you have that proper amount of bile and amino acid compound to where if a fish sees this swimming by catches a whiff of that bile acid when a fish eats it poops almost instantly. So it grabs that pheromone and says okay it's time to feed, there's a predator trying to eat this lonely little bait fish that's in front of me and it triggers it to pounce on it you know is it something you put in front of every fish no matter what and they pounce on it. I mean live bait they won't hit sometimes but it definitely gives a huge edge.
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US: Well I think to your point, the smarter bigger fish and those are the ones we caught on Lake Erie, they were bigger, so maybe it was hey I haven't seen this thing and it looks pretty damn tasty and I'm gonna I'm gonna go for it, maybe that's what it was.
Peiker: It's like when you see a Carl's jr commercial cheeseburger versus what you actually get. You know nothing against Carl's jr but sure just you know it's that type of approach that when it gets closer to it and it becomes more of a reality for that fish that's gonna strike this if one of those things doesn't check out you're gonna take a step back and go wait a minute. That's that split second and I think everybody is a fisherman knows you always know that you're missing fish or that there's a fish down there especially with the new depth charts that you got from my Garmin and all the livescope. I mean we study patterns like were fish coming up, are they taking it, what's the percentage? We're pretty nerdy about fishing, so yeah I mean it's kind of crazy.
US: How many patterns do you have? You got saltwater you've got all kinds of freshwater patterns.
Peiker: Yeah I don't know how many different type of skus we have. but we're looking at adding probably another this year for shrimp like a swimming mullet we've got bigger swim baits coming because everybody's begging for those. We got a ton of stuff, creature baits you know.
US: And is saltwater the growth area for you? Everything's a growth area for you right now because you're so young but you know.
Peiker: Oh yeah I mean we're landlocked in Denver you know, so we're like I don't know but we've got a group of guys that started fishing our swim baits for redfish in Texas and Louisiana and they're like, it's night and day. They did a torture test on our swim bait paddle tail, and you'll have to look it up on YouTube okay Mark, he's an awesome guy, and we met him at iCast and he's like "There's no way this is better than (I'll say the competitor) Gulp", and we said "you tell us!" Go out and try it I mean our stuff scent it never dries out it's just as oily right, disperse is the same so you tell us if the strength durability and all that matters to you and he went out and fished ours and I said if it sucks tell the world it sucks then we can go back to the drawing table. But sure he came out and he's like I caught more fish than any bait he was using that day, by far, Torture test I think he was over redfish on one swimbait it's speckled trout and redfish is really good now we're looking into some commercial applications too right now for crab.
US: Fantastic that's fantastic so the iCast was cancelled, all the area shows are canceled this summer, and for who knows how much longer how's that affected your business and you know have you had to pivot you know what changes have you had to make?
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Peiker: Yeah, I mean we were rocking and rolling filling orders like crazy I mean um especially Cabela's Canada, I mean, we have just been on fire in Canada with Cabela's and Scheels and those orders just stopped, because they're pretty much closed, so we've luckily seen a huge uptick in our online stuff right, which is really good, but we are definitely ready for everything to open back up so it's yeah it's allowed us more time to go out and fish a little bit I guess and have some have a little bit of a breather. But we're getting ready to start on a big Walmart order for us and that's the first one so we're like nose to the grindstone here in a minute and just get that thing done. I wish I could show you our shop you know it's got the computer here but small little shop you know I mean we're plucking bait bag and bait there's there's a good chance if you buy bait from us I might have bagged yours. I mean we got a lot of people that come in and help too, but it's just crazy I mean we didn't think it would be this this difficult to really get into. We're like yeah we'll shoot some worms and we'll put them in a bag it'll be great you know, and as an entrepreneur I guess as a group of us you know it's we had about a year and a half of trying to figure out how to properly run an injection machine. Our material's a little different so we build our own injection machines now you know there's a there's a lot that we got into you know we weren't in the industry and then said hey let's do our own thing we were just like you know what let's do it.
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US: At the outset you probably feel like a bunch of outsiders right?
Peiker: Oh it's such a small industry and it's very small you know everybody kind of looks at you. Like we just want to work with everybody you know I mean if we can all work together I'm like let's do it but it's real niche it seems like I think the acceptance for consumers to when they see your product they accept it right and it's expensive to get in front of those people but the rest of the industry kind of looks at you like you're going to try to eat my lunch, you know, and we don't want to do that. We want to work with everybody so if we can share an eco-friendly kind of formula and share that with people and you know my ultimate goal is to use this formula to be kind of the new norm for softy plastic, right? A lot of laws starting to change around throwing soft plastic in the water I mean we spent millions trying to clean the oceans and here we are throwing plastic back in it, but it's crazy to me but you know finding something that we can bring American manufacturing back strong and say leave the place in the Dominican leave your place in China, consumers and our customers are really getting behind that. Because I mean I could employ their uncles, their aunts, their nephews, you know. All these people that need a good job you know we can help supply to them too so us trying to bring those jobs from overseas back to the US and keep a good price point for them that's what we're ultimately trying to do is to try to build that back into this industry.
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US: Well Erik you guys are crushing it. Congratulations on how far you've come in in such a short period of time. If you haven't seen Bio Bait you guys, get out there and get yourself some, these things are killer and they're great guys. You can go to www.biobait.com and get your order there and maybe Erik is the one to put him in the bag for you!
Peiker: Soon we'll be everywhere as fast as we can produce it so I hope we can build machines quicker.
US: That's fantastic. Thanks Erik.
Bio Bait is The Best Natural Soft Plastic Fishing Bait
Bio Bait is doing amazing things for the environment and the fishing industry. They have created a formula for soft plastic that is biodegradable and eco-friendly. This is so important because so much plastic ends up in our oceans. And it's great to see a company working hard to bring American manufacturing back, and to create jobs here in the United States.
Grab your favorite Bio Bait today and start responsibly catching more fish!
Cheers to the outdoors,