CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) – Fishermen will tell you, it’s one of the best times of the year.
The weather is great, and the fish are biting.
One of the most popular places to get fishing gear in the Heartland is the Grizzly Jig Company.
It’s rooted deep in family tradition, a love of fishing and it is located right where it all started in Caruthersville, Missouri.
“We are the largest crappie store in the United States, bar none,” said Louie Mansfield.
Back in the 1980s, Louie Mansfield got an idea when he was out fishing one day on Reelfoot Lake.
“I love to catch bluegill,” said Mansfield. “I saw some bait and thought if I had something a little smaller on a fly hook … I believe I could catch a few bluegills.”
Part of the inspiration came from his son, Wade Mansfield.
Back then, Wade was in school in Caruthersville and was taking a fly tying class.
“My dad took one of the trout flies, he put a little bit of lead on it, took it over to Reelfoot and wore the bluegill out.”
Fishermen at the lake definitely noticed.
“People saw me catching fish with them and wanted them and it kind of went from there,” said Louie Mansfield.
It wasn’t flashy, was pretty small … and certainly led to big opportunities.
“The feather (on the jig) that color is called the grizzly, that is a mallard flank feather off a mallard duck,” said Louie Mansfield.
So they started calling them grizzlies … and from that, the Grizzly Jig Company was formed.
“The rest is history,” said Louie Mansfield.
The gig business started in the family’s garage, then went to a small retail store inside the Sheltered Workshop in Hayti.
From there, they operated a store out of a couple different locations beginning in 1991 in Caruthersville.
“I worked 26 years at the Caruthersville shipyard,” said Louie Mansfield.
Louie’s son, Wade, also had a day job at the time.
They both quickly learned though, they had something.
So, they went full time into the fishing business.
“We’re a destination place now,” said Wade Mansfield.
They moved to a much larger location on Truman Boulevard in Caruthersville in 2015.
They now have 15 employees, many who spend a great deal of time shipping merchandise out all over the country.
“If it’s in the crappie industry, we try to have it,” said Wade Mansfield. “We try to have everything that’s out there, any new technology … we have a lot of seminars.”
They hold those seminars on location in a large room designed for that purpose.
“Some days you may show up and Bill Dance may be sitting up front or Wally Marshall may be here,” said Wade Mansfield. “Jimmy Houston was here at our show.”
We suggested, Grizzly Jig may even need its own show.
“Definitely we need a reality show,” said Wade Mansfield. “There’s always some crazy stuff that goes on here.”
They try and have fun, and sometimes have to pinch themselves because they get to do this for a living.
“Oh there’s a lot of pride,” said Louie Mansfield as he looked out over his store.
They’re only about six miles off the Interstate 55, so Grizzly Jig has become a destination spot for travelers and locals alike.
“If there’s a crappie pole or a crappie lure that people are asking for, we’re gonna have it,” said Wade Mansfield.
As for the future, the founding father of the business isn’t quite ready to hang up his own “Gone Fishing” sign.
We asked him about retiring.
“I’m sorry, that’s not in my vocabulary,” said Louie Mansfield.
He said he doesn’t even have to go fishing to enjoy fishing.
“I take pride in fishing with just talking to people about it who come into the store,” said Louie Mansfield.
So, with that … it looks like Grizzly Jig isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Much to the delight of fisherman, not only here at home, but across the country too.
The Grizzly Jig Company is located at 1503 Truman Boulevard in Caruthersville, Missouri.
They are open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm
Click here to go to the company’s website.
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