ELIOT, Maine — For Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, 2022 is a very special year, a significant milestone in its corporate evolution. It is proof of the company’s powerful commitment to the world of fishing across seven decades. The company will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of its original Al’s Goldfish lure with a series of special products and giveaways throughout the year.
“We are extremely proud and humbled to be owners of a company that is celebrating its platinum anniversary. We would like to thank our customers and business partners around the world who have helped to make this possible,” said owner Jeff DeBuigne. “Al’s tagline is ‘Proven Versatility’ because these lures have proven to be effective for numerous fish species in many different applications for seven decades and counting. It is our hope to supply anglers around the world with our products for another 70 years.”
The company has a storied history with ups and downs and ups again. Ardent angler Al Stuart started the company in 1952 with a single product, then known as Stuart’s Goldfish, by launching it through Stuart’s Sports Shop in Indian Orchard, MA. In 1954 he changed the name to Al’s Goldfish and began marketing the lure nationwide. With the help of outdoor television pioneer Roscoe Vernon “Gadabout” Gaddis and his groundbreaking The Flying Fisherman weekend TV show, the lure quickly gained popularity, selling nearly one million lures annually through 1973.
It was at this time that American lure manufacturing lost market share to imported fishing tackle, and many domestic tackle manufacturers closed shop. When Al passed away in 1984, his daughter Joan kept the company alive by modifying the scope of the business to include production of promotional fishing products. While this transition kept the Al’s recreational brand alive, it lost much ground to its competitors in the recreational fishing market.
In the 1990s, another Massachusetts native, John Occhialini purchased Al’s and over the years worked to improve the quality of the company’s product lines and manufacturing processes. John began plating gold color-based Goldfish and other Al’s lures in 22K gold and breathed new life into the brand that had become a New England cult classic. In 2015 John retired his Al’s hat and Mike Lee purchased and moved the company to Maine. Mike introduced several new versions of the Goldfish and began a series specifically configured for saltwater applications.
In 2018, husband and wife, Jeff and Mandy DeBuigne decided that since their shared passion is angling, they should drop out of the corporate machine and do what they love. They moved to Maine to own and operate the business. Their team at Al’s includes dedicated employees and supplemental help in the busy seasons from local work programs which assist individuals with barriers to employment. “Our employees and paid interns are one of the best parts of this experience,” said Mandy. “They provide much needed help to Al’s and they are eager to be on the job and productive members of the workforce.”
Jeff and Mandy’s plans for the future of the company is to bring the brand’s name back to global recognition, which is a big goal, but is gaining momentum every season. “With pandemic closures of fishing expos, we have not been able to interface personally with anglers to talk about how they can use our products in their waters for their targeted species, but the word is still getting out and we gain what we call new #believers every day. We frequently are contacted by new customers who mention how pleased they are to have tried our products and tell us about their fishing trips ,” said Jeff. “It’s another great part of this experience – to learn how much your product made someone’s day on the water.”
Today, many of the improvements made during Al’s history are still maintained. The Goldfish lures are still made of solid marine brass, are plated by a jewelry-plater and individually hand-painted. All the gold lures are still plated in 22 karat gold, which makes them extremely shiny. They are then finished with top-quality components, so you never have to replace hooks and rings. All of the Al’s Goldfish products are proudly made in the USA and backed with an “if you’re not satisfied, we’ll make it right by you” guarantee.
In addition to the original Goldfish, Al’s manufactures other high-quality lures, including configurations for ice, saltwater and bottom fishing and accessories such as Al’s hook bonnets which are the only hook covers made in the USA. For a complete look at Al’s entire line visit, www.alsgoldfish.com.