When Thibodaux native Austin Doiron asked his wife Ashley for an airbrush for his 32nd birthday, she looked at him puzzled. “‘You’re not an artist. What do you want an airbrush for?’” Austin smiles, recalling the exchange with his wife.
Little did Austin or Ashley know that his soon to be new hobby would ignite a business — with products that are raved locally and even admired by a national audience.
After Austin received that airbrush on October 30, 2013, he began painting his own fishing lures. The following month, he caught his first fish off a lure he painted; from there, Austin says, he was “hooked” (no pun intended).
“It became an addiction to me,” he shares. “I was like, ‘Wow, a fish bit something I created.’”
The volunteer firefighter’s new obsession painting his own custom lures quickly became a favorite of his family and friends — which sparked the idea that it might be more than just a hobby for him. “I started small just doing customer orders here and there for people I knew,” Austin says.
His brother-in-law Wesley Landry — who was a member of the Nicholls State University’s bass team – gave Austin’s products a lot of exposure, which in turn helped progress the formation of Blackjack Lures.
“I think my brother-in-law played a huge part in that [in promoting the lures]. He qualified to fish in a state championship as well as the national championship.
He used my baits there and caught fish,” Austin remembers. “And that’s kind of where we realized, ‘Hey they work. We got something special going on here.’”
Word spread, and before long, people outside of his family and friends started calling the hobbyist-turned-entrepreneur. Then in March of 2017, he officially launched Blackjack Lures — which he named after a black dog he had at the time named Jack, who would keep Austin company while he painted.
The word of mouth that Austin’s baits generated carried over to the internet when he launched his website and Facebook, the latter having over 2,200 followers. His lures are also a favorite at Thibodaux’s The Reel Outfitters.
“It’s a great feeling,” he expresses about Blackjack Lures being a local hit. “First of all, I enjoy fishing, but I also enjoy getting pictures back when other people catch a fish on my lure.”
“It’s something unique. It’s not something you can go into Academy and buy,” Austin adds. “I think that’s what kind of drives people to it.”
For the making of his unique baits, Austin orders clear blanks—wholesale. He then chooses if the batch of 15 he is painting will be a crawfish pattern or a bait fish pattern. He then airbrushes the custom items, which typically takes an hour a batch.
Not only are the colors and patterns he uses for the lures unique but also the names of the baits (displayed on his website, blackjacklures.com) that includes such names as “Square Bill Sexy Shad”, “Square Bill Zombie Tiger” and “Blackjack Wart Ghost Chart.”
In addition to the natural local buzz that was spawned by his creativity, Austin makes sure to promote his custom baits as well. He sponsors local professional angler Tyler Rivet, who fishes while using Blackjack Lures for the Bassmaster Elite Series — giving the brand more exposure on a national level.
Besides Tyler showing off the products during televised sporting events, Austin himself makes sure to travel and demonstrate his baits, attending the Southern Louisiana Boat, Sport & RV Show at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center and Louisiana Sportsman Show in Gonzales earlier this year.
“That’s a great experience because I get to talk to a lot of people and actually sell a lot of product. I also get a lot of custom orders from that show,” Austin says about the Louisiana Sportsman Show. “People stop by and realize I basically hand painted these things…Old guys will stop by, and they are like, ‘Man, I have a bait I used to use in the 70s. It was such and such color, and I can’t find it anymore.’ And I’m like, ‘I can make it happen for you.’”