Immel Bait Company Blair, Wisconsin
One of the most sought after Wisconsin baits would certainly be the very unique Chippewa bait invented and produced by Omer F. Immell of Blair, Wisconsin. Immell received a patent for this bait in 1911. There were 6 different sizes of this lure made from a 3 1/2" bass size to the 5 1/4" Musky version. The lures featured an integrated spinner in the center of the lure that served as an attractor for fish, or at least for fishermen buying the lures. The Immell Bait Company continued making the lures until sometime before 1917 when it ceased production. Finding a Chippewa without a lot of paint chipping is a challenge and those rare baits with 100 year old paint that is unchipped can be a very valuable find.
**Click on many of these photos for a larger view of the image**
Lauby Bait Company Marshfield, Wisconsin
Wonder Spoons & Chunk Baits
Lauby Bait Company was formed in 1932 by Anton Lauby in Marshfield, Wisconsin in 1932. The Lauby wonder Spoon was their top lure and came in a variety of sizes and weedless configurations. They came in a variety of sizes from the 1 1/2" flyrod size to a monster 7" Muskie size......all of Lauby's baits were initially made in his garage in Marshfield. His two sons and daughters did most of the carving and painting. They later opened a "factory" that employed up to 35 people. Not bad considering they were in the middle of the Great Depression. Lauby patented quite a few lures until 1939 when the company was sold to Albert Bates.
O.C. Schaefer Turbulent Lures
Racine, WI 1943-1949
Turbulent lures are some of the most creative and unusual lures to call Wisconsin their home. Oscar Schaefer was an engineer and sportsman who developed these lures out of his home shop in the mid-1940's. He eventually developed 7 different versions with 2 or three sections that spun in different directions on the lures' wire shaft. The sections were hand carved and the lures came in at least 8 different color variations. These lures were made for about 6 years and were sold directly by Schaefer, not in stores. The boxes come in two versions as shown in the photos. The oldest is basically a box with a typed sheet glued to the top. Later boxes show a photo of the lure and have a more detailed description. A great example of homespun Wisconsin fishing ingenuity and creativity!
Hub Bait Company Beaver Dam 1937-1969
Hub was a very well run and creative bait company that was founded in 1937 by Irv Hubbard. The company developed and patented around 25 different baits and produced almost 100 fly baits in addition to the wood and spinner baits in their line. the peak production years for Hub was the late 1940's until the late 1950's. One of their most successful baits was the Muk-Cha-Ko lure which are the round baits shown in the photo. The business was closed in 1969, but left a great legacy of lure creation and production.
Pop & Porter Dean Sayner
Master Baits...**TIP**a "Master" if you are telling your kids... ;>)
If you were to have to choose the best example of Wisconsin folk lures, it would have to be anything created by the Dean brothers, Pop & Porter. All of the baits were hand made and one of them, the Master Bait was patented. Pop painted these in a variety of fish patterns, but the Walleye pattern was the most popular. Both of the Dean brothers worked as fishing guides in northern Wisconsin and in later years Pop guided in Florida during the winter and Wisconsin in the summers. Other lures that were made by the Dean brothers were sucker style baits. And there were quite a few one of a kind creations that have been discovered including wooden loons and a variety of duck decoys and a few rare frogs. Pop and his wife Ole(Viola) operated a gift shop where they sold these creations. Porter died in 1980 and Pop in 2002.
Marathon Bait Company Wausau 1929-1979
Weber Tackle Company
Stevens Point 1888-1988
Weber was one of the most active manufacturers in the state. They produced a huge volume of fishing tackle and fly baits for distribution throughout the U.S. and Canada for many years.
Biff Bait Company Milwaukee
Catch-All Inc Milwaukee
Druley's Research Products
St Croix lures were made in Prescott in the 1930's.....Minnie the Swimmer was a rubber lure and came in at least 2 sizes.
W.H. Hobbs Supply Co. Eau Claire 1949 - 1952
The Bon-Net Bait came about as the result of the end of production of Heddons 6-hook Surfusser lure. Hobbs Supply actually contracted with Arnold Tackle company of Paw Paw, Michigan to produce these baits. They contracted to produce 2 orders of 6,000 baits with the first order being packaged in a green box with the Hobbs address. The second order of 6,000 baits came in a yellow box with the Arnold address. These lures are readily found and come in a variety of colors, although the paint has a tendency to chip easily from all of the hooks making contact.
Gee Wiz Bait Co. Richland Center
Gee Wiz Frog on display card
Hackie Minnow Company Fond du Lac 1930's
Steelstamp Corp. Milwaukee 1938-1954
Witch Fire Lures Madison 1960's
Zinkie Brothers Lake Delton 1940's
Musky Sucker Bait Company
Frank Suick Antigo 1930's-Current
Still made today and a very effective bait for muskies! Found in 2 sizes and limited colors.
Henry "Harry" Berberich Lures
Hayward Area 1920's -1940's
Berberich wooden "Minnie" Lures
The magic of the internet has allowed us to make a positive ID on these lures! I was contacted by the granddaughter of Henry "Harry" Berberich (pronounced Berberick) and she was able to clear the air on these interesting lures. Berberich also invented and patented a spoon type lure in 1931. He put the patent in the name of his son, also named Henry. Harry lived in Chicago, IL and traveled to Hayward on family vacations until about 1950. He was an electrician and made the lures for clients and friends whom he fished with in the Hayward area. The "Minnie" lures shown above are very well made lures with a variety of hook configurations..... some have glass eyes, some with no eyes. The box design is similar to other boxes found in the 1930's and 1940's. The hardware is identical to the hooks and metal tails found on the very popular Suick baits from Antigo and Mudpuppy Baits made by CC Roberts Company in Wausau. It is likely the hardware was scavenged from these lures to make these "Minnie" baits. Check back for pictures and additional information on this maker and his baits! So, is it a Wisconsin lure or an Illinois creation? Well, we will call it both since it has only been found where the man fished it, in Wisconsin, of course! Maybe I need a new category of "IIli-sconsin" baits?
Proof that these lures actually work! This one was 45".....no, really....