CJP Baits makes big splash with fishing community

Carter Phillips, 12, is the owner of CJP Baits. Rebecca Haines / Carthage News Online

A year ago, Carter Phillips had a feeling he could make his business successful. Sure, he had a lot of other things going on in his life, but he wasn’t going to let the fact that he was 11 hold him back.

You might recognize this young Sarcoxie name from a moving story that happened in 2017. Carter rallied for his best friend Clay Wormington, who was diagnosed with Leukemia. With a huge smile, Carter says Clay is doing just fine today, and credits the inspiration for his business – CJP Baits – to his best friend.

“We were just hanging out and he had these bait molds you could do at home,” Carter said. “We made our own fishing bait and I thought that was so cool – and I thought maybe I could do this … make some money, and have fun doing it.”

Berry West of Sarcoxie talks bait with Carter Phillips, 12 – owner of CJP Baits – at the Sarcoxie Farmers Market. Rebecca Haines / Carthage News Online

It was a “why not?” response. His parents Josh and Megan Phillips loved their son’s enthusiasm, so they helped him use his savings to purchase a business out of Michigan – which came with some merchandise and an established label. The rest was up to Carter.


The bait-making process is a hot job but Megan said her boy loves being in the “Bait Cave” almost as much as being out fishing. Now at the age of 12, Carter has added business experience and the creation process to his already-impressive database of fishing knowledge.

“We’re going up to Stockton this weekend and I’ll use a jig with a craw trailer,” Carter said, looking over his inventory. “The water’s up, and so you want to flip it back in the brush – that’s where the bass will be … I love fishing. It’s a challenge, and that feeling when one hits – there’s nothing else like it.”

But there’s more to this bait business than knowing the difference between an Okeechobee Craw and a Craw … which, he does.

“You do feel proud as a parent when you see your kid in something they love,” Megan said. “And maybe he’s pushed more at this than maybe we should let him, but look at him. [Pauses to watch Carter talk to customers.] He’s worked so hard, he’s been so responsible with everything and he doesn’t know a stranger.”

JJ Engle, 7, and his little sister Presley Engle, 4, check out CJP Baits at the Sarcoxie Farmers Market. Rebecca Haines / Carthage News Online

The close-knit community of Sarcoxie – including fishers near and far – have shown Carter wholehearted support. It’s hard to turn down a local face, especially when it’s cheaper than a store brand plus more durable.

The CJP Baits logo can be found at the Sarcoxie Farmers Market (next set for July 3), Lottie’s Soda Shoppe in Avilla and the business’ Facebook page. Click here to check it out – view inventory, place custom orders and watch videos of Carter live from the “Bait Cave.”

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