Not so long ago, I had the privilege to get a call from a local tackle business owner who was looking for a local fishing guide to represent his line of fishing tackle products. Stan Kulak who is the owner of Trinidad Tackle, gave me his pitch on a number of tackle items that he thought I could use while guiding my fishing clients. I was interested in what he had to say and accepted his offer to send me some of the items he sells. He has many effective fishing products that he markets, but this article is about one of his rising stars in the fishing tackle industry, the Optimizer spoon.
The Optimizer spoon has a long history in the Great Lakes area, but the previous owner of the Optimizer had stopped making the spoon and it soon became forgotten in the Great Lakes fishing scene. Stan had some knowledge of the Optimizers previous existence and its fish catching ability. Stan negotiated a deal with the owner and started to produce them for Trinidad Tackle. Stan gave me a bunch of the Optimizers during a lunch meeting and asked me to give them a try. I had just finished my 2016 salmon season and wasn't spending much time on the lakes chasing trout. Some time had passed and Stan invited me to come along on a trout fishing trip on Shasta Lake.
I showed up at the Packers Bay boat launch ready and eager to go catch some fish. Stan had told me he intended to run the Optimizers all day and was going to be looking for big fish. We covered a lot of water that day and I heard a lot of story's about the big browns and rainbows that Stan had caught with the Optimizers and of course, the ones that got away. I listened and watched Stan fishing these Optimizer spoons all day. I will admit that I thought he was out of his mind and I couldn't see myself fishing with them while fishing clients. His techniques and trolling gear in his boat seemed unconventional and were quite foreign to me. Stan spent time in the Great Lakes region learning from some of the best and most successful Captains and his gear reflected his knowledge of that fishery and the techniques used there. We only caught one fish that day, a small rainbow, but I left that day with a bunch of new knowledge and a new perspective on a technique I had only seen on tv.
My experience that day planted a seed in my mind and I have since spent 100's of hours both fishing and studying the Great Lakes trolling systems and techniques. You see, the charter captains back there have advanced their skill levels far beyond what I have ever imagined. After learning more and more about their approach to fishing for lake salmon and trout, it became my obsession to use what I had learned from Stan and my own time on our lakes here in northern California. Its hard to step outside of the box you are accustomed to, but sometimes it opens some new doors and suddenly you are twice as good as you used to be.
I stayed close to my roots and mostly used what I was used to in the way of tackle, but would give the Optimizers time in the water when I didn't have clients in the boat. I just hadn't gained the confidence I needed to fish them with paying customers. I spent the better part of the 2017 summer season on Shasta Lake running small spoons and other tackle quite successfully. I was enjoying one of my most productive seasons ever and some of my new knowledge was paying off in a big way. I still had the Optimizer at the ready and noticed a fellow angler who was fishing Shasta and he was coming in with some impressive catches, especially the brown trout that are somewhat difficult to find in the summer months. Mike Fisher of Cottonwood had seemingly dedicated his days on Shasta to trolling with the Optimizer spoon. I paid attention and became impressed with his ability to catch big browns and rainbows in the cool deep waters of Shasta Lake during the summer months.
As fall arrived and the lake turned over I had the opportunity to fish with Stan and Mike. We were chasing big browns on the McCloud arm and were fishing solely with the Optimizer spoons. Mike had spent a lot of time fishing them and had discovered some color patterns that consistently produced when he fished them. Fall is typically a slow month for fishing guides on the lakes so I took advantage of my free time and fished the Optimizer spoons. Stan and I went out one day in November and hooked seven browns before we had put in a full day on the water. That was all it took for me to buy into fishing the Optimizer spoons on most of my trips out on Shasta Lake. I still used some of my old techniques and hardware to catch some great trout during the fall/winter, but some of my biggest browns were being caught on the Optimizer.
I wrote reports about fishing with Optimizers and over time anglers from all over started to talk about these seemingly new spoons and wanted to get their hands on them. The popularity of these spoons has grown to epic proportions, especially with the anglers trolling for big browns and rainbows. Stan has worked tirelessly to keep up with the demand. but its been tough. He has increased production and has streamlined some if his manufacturing tasks which will surely help him keep up with the demand. Locally these spoons can be found at Phils Propeller in Shasta Lake City or online at www.optimizerlure.com. These Optimizer spoons are the real deal, but for those of you that may have doubts, just ask Mark Simons of Redding, Ca. about the 10.5 pound German brown he caught a week ago while we were trolling a #3 blue and whits Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoon.