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Anglers on a mission extol virtues of local tackle shops


Two college students who have made it their mission to catch fish in every US state have praised local tackle shops for helping with their objective.

Virginia anglers, Luke Konson (above left) and Daniel Balserak (right), were due to begin studies at Clemson University in August last year. But instead, because of the onset of COVID, they set off in a Honda Odyssey mini-van on what they call ‘Fish All Fifty’ – a road trip to catch every state’s official fish.

Asked by Field & Stream magazine about the most helpful information they have received on their journey, Balserak said: “It’s a mixture of both online research and local intel, but we’ve got better advice from tackle shops than from the web. Sometimes, if you can’t find the info online, it comes down to finding the best-looking bait and tackle shop, walking in and just asking what’s going on.”

And Konson picked out Superior Bait and Tackle, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a stand-out store. “The guys there were beyond helpful. They were flipping through pages of an atlas to show us a specific spot, telling us what to use. They even opened a packet of hooks to make sure they were sharp enough.”

Living out of the mini-van, the pair have clocked up over 22,000 miles so far, often sleeping in Bass Pro and Walmart parking lots. To move to the next state they must both catch the targeted fish. After five months they have achieved that goal in 28 states.

As far as tackle is concerned, jerk baits have accounted for most fish. “We caught a lot on Rapala Husky jerk baits,” says Konson. “The set-up I use most is a Penn Fierce 3 reel, which has been extremely durable, and a Lew’s medium-light rod.”

“We also love a rooster tail spinner. A lot of state fish have been caught on that lure,” adds Balserak.

Put on the spot by Field & Stream to choose one destination for their last day of fishing ever, the pair picked the Penobscot River in Maine. “We’d go up there and fish for salmon and brook trout,” said Konson. “We saw three moose crossing the river 50 years down from us. It was mind-blowing.”

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