Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For June 26th, 2009 Edition.

Recently I spent an exceedingly pleasant afternoon and early evening enjoying a roast/retirement party for a longtime pal and fellow educator, Scott Peterson of North Lakeland School. Scott spent thirty-two years at the institution as a music teacher and we became good friends during the twenty-three years I spent there.

The retirement bash was held in the dining room of North Lakeland Discovery Center where a large group of present and former employees of NLS assembled to share memories of Scott and reminisce about events and situations that ranged from funny to hilarious. Numerous gifts and cards were opened and the contents shared with the onlookers, most of which were gag-gifts but a few were genuine useful items that I'm sure Scott will use and cherish.

After the roast the assembled multitude enjoyed a cafeteria style dinner of chicken and roast beef with all the trimmings, topped off by killer chocolate cake and blended "mudslides" for those so inclined to partake. As for me, I had two portions of the mudslides!

Once our bellies were filled the crowd pretty much relaxed in quiet conversation as many of the former and present members of the educational institution shared information pertaining to our individual lives and re-lived a few of the many fond memories from our days at NLS. During one segment of an exchange between a long time staff member and myself, she asked if I might include information in one of my upcoming columns concerning which "old fishing lures" a grandparent might select to obtain as gifts to a grandchild that is aspiring to become an angler. So - Lynn, this is for you and anyone else out there who shares an interest in old fishing lures.

Old lures are much like old friends, they hold much sentimental value. Collecting old fishing lures is a very popular and also an expensive pastime, as the availability of old, popular lures that are in good shape decreases with each passing year as the limited supply is taken out of circulation by an ever-increasing number of collectors. As for myself, I do not collect old lures as I still use the few I have in my tackle box.

I'll divide my comments concerning "old fishing baits" into three basic categories - lures or "plugs",(as we old timers still call them), that resemble minnows or small fish, metal lures, called "spoons" and baits with spinners-most often referred to as "bucktails." Also one must settle on a definition of what is "old." For purposes of clarity in my ramblings I'll select the 1950s as a cutoff point and we'll consider any lures invented or manufactured after 1960 as "new lures."

The list of old lures that follows are representative of what my dad and uncles had stashed in their tackle boxes.

Authentic old plugs are most often made of wood with glass eyes. The common models that were found in my dad's tackle box when I began "borrowing" them back in the 1940s were Pikie Minnows, both jointed and one-piece models. Pikie minnows were made with a perch finish and some had white bodies and a red head. Other common wooden plugs were Bass-Orenos, Surf-Orenos, Crazycrawlers, Jitterbugs, Vamps, Mudpuppies, Suicks, Flaptails, Vamps plus many others. The world famous Rapala also came on the market in the 1950s but those of that vintage are very difficult to find.

Some early plastic plugs included the L & S Bassmaster and River Runts. The runts came in three basic models, standard size, midget, and jointed.

The family of spoons was much smaller. Most famous was the Dardevel, (pronounced daredevil) that came in various sizes and two color patterns, red and white and black and white. I caught my first big northern pike when I was thirteen years old, a 36-inch, ten-pounder, on a black and white Dardevel!

Other common fish producing spoon plugs were the Johnson Silver Minnow and the Red-Eye Wiggler.

The most common spinner bait, the bucktail, was and still is a top choice of serious musky anglers. Marathon Bait and Tackle Company in Wausau, Wisconsin produced what was the most popular brand of bucktails among local guides. The other commonly used bucktails were called Skinner Spoons.

Old bucktails are simple lures consisting of one or two treble hooks covered by deer or skunk hair with a large shinny spinner ahead of the hair covered hooks. The most popular colors were natural brown or white, and dyed deer hair in black, red or yellow. Skunk hair bucktails were less common as few anglers enjoyed harvesting skunks. Locally, Toby Andersen helped pioneer the production of skunk hair bucktails as did "Musky Jack" Bohnen.

Many guides and serious musky hunters produced their own bucktails and jealously saved deer tails from animals harvested during the traditional November deer season. I recall dad paying a buck a tail for a buck's tail so he could make bucktails! (Please forgive me for that sentence!)

Many of the aforementioned lures are still in production, but to my knowledge wood is no longer used to form the bodies of modern day lures. Also, glass eyes are a thing of the past. Most of the new breed of fishing lures are produced from plastic and are very durable. Colors are imbedded within the plastic, which stays with the lure during its lifetime and will not flake or peal off, as did the paint on the wooden lures of bygone years.

Where is a good place to begin a search for old lures? I'd strongly suggest e-bay for those of you who are friends with a computer and local flea markets for those who enjoy doing lots of walking and dickering with vendors over prices.

As always, "buyer beware" as there are some individuals who will attempt to pass off bogus new lures as old lures. But keep in mind, as with any hunting or fishing trip, the planning, the going and the being there is part of the fun!

Good luck with your search!

Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin.   Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean,  both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide.   Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email:  or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.

Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here

Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger

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