An avid fisherman, Zachary Dubois had a vested interest in discovering the best lures.

After being accepted into the inaugural class of student entrepreneurs at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s business incubator, he drew on his love of fishing to spawn an idea that eventually would become Cajun Lures, a company that creates handmade fishing lures.

“I’ve been fishing since I was small, and I’ve always had a fascination with bait,” said Dubois, a 23-year-old who grew up and still lives in Kaplan, a small city in Vermilion Parish. “I was on the UL bass fishing team, so I got to fish in a bunch of different lakes around the country.”

He graduated in May 2014 and was able to use his knowledge from his industrial design studies, as well as his own research, to develop the hand-made, soft, plastic fishing lures designed with self-proclaimed “Cajun ingenuity.”

Dubois began making lures last year, but what started as a fun idea morphed into a more serious endeavor when his lure brought him success at a fishing tournament.

“I ended up catching tons of fish,” he said. “Since then, I was kind of hooked, no pun intended, on creating bait and going to catch fish with it. It was a proud moment for me.”

Dubois said he was able to use his contacts and knowledge from his time at the university’s business incubator to develop Cajun Lures.

“I had designed an ice chest idea, but the bait idea was something I always had in my head,” Dubois said. “It got to a point with the ice chest project where I realized it just wasn’t feasible, so that’s when the lures started coming up.

“In the incubator, we learned pretty much everything about starting up a business. Once I got started with the baits, Zach Barker helped me out with all the questions I had and getting my business license and everything.”

Barker is the entrepreneur-in-residence at the B.I. Moody III College of Business at UL-Lafayette and assists students through the college’s AcceleRagin’ business incubator. Barker also is executive director of the Opportunity Machine, an initiative of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority that partners with the university’s business incubator.

Barker said Dubois’ tenacity helped make his business a reality.

“When he initially came to the Opportunity Machine, he was working on a project completely separate from Cajun Lures,” Barker said. “As we dove deeper into his previous product, it became clear that the barrier to entry was higher than expected. That did not discourage Zach. Instead, he pivoted to his passion, lure-based fishing, and leveraged his education in industrial design to create Cajun Lures.”

And the business has a decidedly Cajun flavor.

“I’m from south Louisiana, so I wanted to have a Cajun twist on everything,” Dubois said. “A typical color for bait is Watermelon Red; however, I call it Watermelon Rouge. I have a color called Gumbo, which is an original color I made.”

Launched in January, Cajun Lures is still a part-time endeavor, Dubois said, but it’s already racked up $8,000 in sales, mostly in Louisiana.

He has no employees yet, but his mother and girlfriend help out. He makes roughly 500 lures a week, creating six to eight at a time using a mold.

Cajun Lures, he added, is expanding into wholesale sales via retail outlets around the Gulf Coast area.

Cajun Lures can be found at Big Bend Tackle in Toledo Bend and at Lake and Railside Feed and Supply in Broussard. They also can be purchased at www.cajunlures.com.