You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Jay Zahn, left, and Jeff Tikens at Smokey’s on the Bay.
Jay Zahn, left, and Jeff Tikens at Smokey’s on the Bay. / John McArdle/For
John McArdle/For


Whether you’re an amateur or professional, anyone that fishes has a favorite colored lure that comes with them on every fishing trip. A trip down the aisle of any sporting goods store offers scads of lures in every color combination possible. Marketing personnel from Rapala and Berkley have studied packaging, color charts and trends to put forth a product that catches the angler's eye.

They all have great names for their color schemes as well. Names like Wonder Bread, Hollywood and even Monkey Puke just to name a few! Yes, their concerned with hooks and finish and how a particular bait runs (and did I mention its ability to catch fish?) but the end result a manufacturer is after is sales. So what do we fisherman do as a consumer group when we get the lure home? We paint them of course!

Walleye and Muskie fisherman are all looking for that hyper-specialized piece of equipment that will put more fish in their live wells and there’s no better place to find custom painted lures than Smokey’s on the Bay at 1122 North Irwin Ave in Green Bay.

Along with a variety of name brand tackle, rods, reels and live bait, Smokey’s on the Bay specializes in giving anglers that lure he can’t find anywhere else. Flicker Shads, Salmos and Husky Jerks are just a few of the lures that are done up in great color combos.

More on fishing: Fishing news from around the state | Your fishing photos | Build a map | Read fishing reports | We're blogging about fishing

Back in the 90s when I fished many walleye tournaments, a few guys were painting baits in their basements but nothing on the level we have today. The paint was applied by spray can or brush and then a lacquered coating which yellowed over time. Now, with the aid of airbrushes and epoxies, these custom models look like they came straight from the factory and in many cases that’s true. Some bait manufacturers offer special runs or do custom work for sport shows which are available at the shop.

Smokey’s on the Bay is owned by Jeff Tilkens and Jay Zahn. Jay is the president of Muskies Inc., the largest fishing and conservation organization in the world dedicated to the muskellunge. Jeff Tilkens is the owner of Tyrant Tackle and has been in lure manufacturing for over twenty years. Tyrant hosts a huge selection of lures and accessories all of which can be found at the shop.

The man behind the brush is Greg Campbell. Greg owns Custom Tackle and Molds and he is also the in-house painter at Smokey’s. The great thing behind this all, if I have a bait that is a double or maybe it’s a dog that doesn't fetch, I can take them to Smokey’s for a face lift. Lures are very expensive and instead of letting them rot in my tackle box, I can have them repainted and looking better than the day I took them home from the store. I guarantee you will be blown away by the custom colors and the quality of the workmanship.

For more information you can find Smokey’s on the web at or contact Jeff or Jay in the shop at 920-436-0600.

John McArdle is a life-long resident of Fond Du Lac and blogs about fishing adventures in the great state of Wisconsin. Anything from trout fishing the Driftless Area to sturgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago, John will provide stories ,tips and photos of his FINtastic adventures in Wisconsin!

More In

Don't Miss

Join Our Team!

If you are interested in working for an innovative media company, you can learn more by visiting:

Gannett Careers

Wisconsin Day Trips

See all Day Trip Videoes

A new video will be shared in this series every Thursday

Get Published

Report on your outdoor group's news!'s Community Newsroom is a free service provided to clubs, nonprofits, schools, churches, families, scouting groups and civic organizations to publish their news, events and happenings on our website. Wisconsin residents with an interest in the outdoors are invited to write articles that edits and shares with our readers online.

Submit an article today