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Joe Balog's Goby Replica Swim Bait Lure

Joe Balog was born in Northern Ohio, and began fishing Lake Erie at a very early age. Balog's father operated a charter boat part-time on the lake, and his family, as a whole, spent thousands of hours on Erie. Joe's dad and uncles do to this day, and can often be seen drift fishing for walleyes on summer days in the Pelee Island area.

Balog's obsession with Lake Erie smallmouth started while competing in various tournaments throughout Ohio. In those days, as Balog put it, "competitors either fished Lake Erie and caught a big bag, or fished everywhere else in Ohio, and caught nothing". Balog chose to stick with Lake Erie. By 1993, Balog had won his first major event on the Lake, and, since that time, he's amassed hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in tournament earning all around the Great Lakes. Balog's seen the evolution of the Great Lakes smallmouth fishery. He's seen the size of the fish grow, the invasion of the exotic species, the clearing of the waters. Balog is one of the only competitors in national bass circuit history to earn top-10 finishes in all three basins of Lake Erie; the Western, Central, and Eastern; from Detroit to Buffalo. He's a tournament competitor, lecturer, guide, and, most notably, a lure designer.

Round gobies entered the Lake Erie / Lake St. Clair system somewhere around 1990, and, since that time, have taken a major grip on the Great Lakes (for more information on the round goby, see our Why use the Goby Replica page) While fishing the Western Basin of Erie in the mid 90's, Balog observed smallmouth bass spitting up gobies by the dozens, rather than their normal diet of crayfish and shiners. It was evident the bass preferred the easy-to-catch, high protein exotics to their native forage. At that time, Balog developed the first ever goby bait, the Drop Shot Goby. But after a few years of fishing with the bait, even with the incredible success of the technique, Balog theorized that there had to be a better, more realistic way to mimic a goby to the bass.

In 2003, Joe Balog began to entertain the thought of a true goby swimbait. He needed a heavy, bottom hugging lure that closely mimicked the exotic. Balog presented the idea to many lure manufacturers, including some of the largest in the fishing industry, with limited success. No one could build Joe what he wanted. Some got close, others just presented crude hunks of plastic. In 2009, Balog solicited the help of one the leading manufacturers of swimbaits in California. The designer had created the most realistic swimbaits to ever hit the market, and continues to do so with the Goby Replica. The bait is heavy and hugs the bottom, just like the real thing. It lays at rest upright, balanced perfectly on its pectoral fins. Those same fins lightly kick when the bait is moved, just like a real goby. Each lure is hand-poured and painted to exact specifications. The Goby Replica is truly the next frontier of Great Lakes fishing. Field tests in 2010 and 2011 have led to incredible catches. The Goby Replica has finally arrived!