Sonnier Brings Full Line of Fishing Tackle to Region | Outside
Converting a small but popular bait shop into a bigger and better bait and tackle shop was more than a labor of love for New Iberia’s Ryan Sonnier.
It was a way of honoring his father, the late Rickey Sonnier, who lived in rural Iberia Parish, and in his view a necessity for freshwater and saltwater anglers here in the heart of Acadiana .
“I wanted it to continue. It’s something we needed. I had to go to Broussard, Lafayette (for fishing gear), myself,” Sonnier said.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to is thrilled with it. Everyone said we need it in New Iberia.
His father built the 40ft x 60ft addition in 2013 for a bait shop next to the existing building that houses Iberia Outboard & Marine Service along Frontage Road at 2703 East US 90.
Most of the time, customers went to buy crickets, minnows, worms and shrimp. There were a few artificial lures inside the store, as well as crayfish traps, crab traps and frog cages, all handmade with wire by Rickey Sonnier.
After his father died on January 25 at age 62, his son had options. It would have been easier to close this half of the building but, like his father, the veteran outboard mechanic is a fisherman at heart.
Sonnier, 38, decided to bring a modern bait and tackle store with a wide selection to the Teche area. While the bulk of the work is done, he puts the finishing touches on the store.
” He is proud. I know it,” Sonnier’s mother, Wanda Sonnier, said of her husband, who battled lung cancer with chemotherapy beginning in 2018.
“After dad died, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on this side. But I knew I wanted it to continue for him. That’s what he liked. This is where he liked to be. He would come in the morning and drink coffee with his friends. I guess they were swapping fishing stories and stuff,” Sonnier said, looking around the spacious, newly renovated shop with artificial lure cards hanging from large pegboards along the walls.
“So I decided to keep going, but I wanted to make it bigger. We had a bit. He had some milkbag stuff and some sea bream stuff. I got more bass bait and stuff. saltwater,” he said. “So I connected with distributors. I would order direct. I received lots of information from local fishermen about what we needed and placed an order.
These local bass anglers included Ron Boutte, Wrenwick Drexler, Craig Frilot and Felix Jeanminette, who are in tune with what the fish are biting and where from Atchafalaya Basin to Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn Lake.
Plus, he said, distributors have helped him tremendously by showing him statistics on top-selling brands and colors for both freshwater and saltwater products. For example, he ordered 100 bags of june bug/red Zoom Speed Craws.
Sonnier invested $20,000 in stocks of popular brands such as Spro, Scum Frog, Boo-Yah, Reaction Innovation, Missile Baits, Big Bite Baits, Cajun Lures, Delta Lures, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Strike King, Humdinger, Rebel and bandit. Boutte suggested Delta Lures spinnerbaits, buzz baits, swim jigs and bladed jigs.
And Sonnier has expanded the saltwater fishing line to include H&H, Norton Lures, GULP!, Matrix Shad, Vortex, Storm, MirrOlure and Four Horsemen Popping Corks.
The milk bag fishing enthusiasts of the Teche region have not been forgotten. The line now includes Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, Lit’l Hustler, Stinger Shad, Big Bite Baits, Crappie Magnet and Cajun Lures, as well as premium jig heads.
Terminal tackle includes hooks, sinkers, swivels, line (braided, monofilament and fluorocarbon), etc. box, so ask about the size.
And, of course, he has a selection of fishing rods and fishing reels.
Based on what followed when ordering, getting the product was the easy part.
“It took three weeks to record and hang it, me and my wife,” Sonnier said.
Well, he hooked it up, his wife said. Tables throughout the interior were stacked with artificial lures and other fishing tackle.
“It was very interesting,” she said with a wry smile, putting an inflection on the last word, “making sure we had the right product and keeping everything organized so it could work its magic in setting it up.”
Sonnier said: “It’s weird. I had it in mind. I knew how I wanted to set it up.
“He dreamed of it,” says his wife.
Some of the merchandise had disappeared before it could be hung on the shelves.
“Everything was on tables and in boxes and people were coming in and buying on the table,” she said.
Lindsay Sonnier is proud of her husband’s decision.
“I think it’s a very good thing that we have in this area. Ryan really likes the artificial tackle. I said, ‘Your father was more live bait and you are more artificial bait, but you use live bait.’ It’s a good mesh of what they both love and they both love to fish,” she said.
The morning coffee round table, so to speak, lives on. Elton Landry, a seabream and sackfish fishing veteran who once owned a bait shop on Loreauville Road, works every morning at the new bait and tackle shop. Landry opens at 5:30 a.m. and leaves at 7:30 a.m., his shift being taken over by Rickey Sonnier’s brother, Earl Sonnier, who runs the shop until closing time at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Weekend bait and tackle shop hours are 5:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday and 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“The Sunday deal is something new. We have never been open on Sundays. It works well,” Sonnier said.
He enjoys chasing cat and java in the morning.
Sonnier said his uncle would start making crab landing nets by hand like his father did.
“He’s a big seller,” he said.
However, the company will no longer manufacture crayfish traps. He will offer the yarn to make them.
“We can help them. We still have wire rolls, flat nose rings and pliers for those who would like to make traps themselves,” he said.
His wife said they would continue the tradition of giving artificials that did not sell well to children.
And, naturally, the staples of crappie fishing or saltwater fishing are right at your fingertips. Worms, frozen grass shrimp, crickets and minnows are available.
“We have prawns and we will have mullet (frozen) once we find someone to start catching them for us,” he said.