Creek Chub Bait Company

Location: 113 East Keyser Street, Garrett, (DeKalb County, Indiana) 46738

Installed 2017 Indiana Historical Bureau, Garrett Historical Society, Garrett State Bank, Dr. Harold Smith, and the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club

ID#: 17.2017.1

Visit Blogging Hoosier History to learn more about the history of Creek Chub Bait Company and view images of their lures and advertisements.

Text

Side One

In 1916, Henry Dills, Carl Heinzerling, and George Schulthess established the company, which became one of the country’s leading manufacturers of artificial fishing lures. Crafted by a largely female workforce, the high quality lures featured a patented spray-painted scale pattern and metal lip, giving them a lifelike appearance and motion to help attract fish. 

Side Two 

The company shipped products all over the world and became a key industry here. Popular lures included the Wiggler, Pikie, Darter, and Injured Minnow; many fishermen used them to catch record-setting fish. Business slowed during WWII as European supply markets closed, but grew rapidly in post-war years. Factory closed by 1979; lures remain popular among collectors.

Annotated Text

Side One:

In 1916, Henry Dills, Carl Heinzerling, and George Schulthess established the company,[1] which became one of the country’s leading manufacturers of artificial fishing lures.[2] Crafted by a largely female workforce,[3] the high quality lures featured a patented spray-painted scale pattern[4] and metal lip,[5] giving them a lifelike appearance and motion to help attract fish. 

Side Two:

The company shipped products all over the world[6] and became a key industry here.[7] Popular lures included the Wiggler, Pikie, Darter, and Injured Minnow;[8] many fishermen used them to catch record-setting fish.[9] Business slowed during WWII as European supply markets closed,[10] but grew rapidly in post-war years.[11] Factory closed by 1979;[12] lures remain popular among collectors.[13] (367)
 

 

Note: All newspaper articles were accessed via Newspapers.com unless otherwise noted.

[1] “Quick Chub Bait Company Beginning to Manufacture,” Garrett Clipper, July 27, 1916; “Local and Personal,” Garrett Clipper, August 3, 1916; Articles of Incorporation, Creek Chub Bait Company, November 12, 1918, accessed INBiz, https://bsd.sos.in.gov/PublicBusinessSearch; “Incorporations,” Indianapolis Star, November 23, 1918, 13; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002), 8-12, 235-236.

Sources agree that credit for the invention and development of Creek Chub lures belongs to Henry S. Dills, who managed the company until his death in 1927. While there has been some confusion in secondary sources as to the company’s establishment date, primary sources agree on 1916. According to Creek Chub Bait Company lure collector Dr. Harold Smith, stories passed down over the years suggest that Dills began experimenting with fishing lures in the early 1900s and that he first met with George Schulthess and Carl Heinzerling in 1906 to discuss the business of making lures. While it is possible that Dills was experimenting with lures at this time, IHB located no primary sources to support the 1906 meeting or the official establishment of the company until 1916. Smith notes that while the 1906 meeting “is a wonderful story, unfortunately, that’s what it is – a story.”

The story has caused confusion for some over the years, including within the company itself. Smith provides photos of a 1968 trade show display in which Creek Chub Bait Company claimed a 1908 start date and a 1974 trade show where they claimed a 1906 start date. However, he cites letters between founders Dills and Schulthess written between the fall of 1915 and spring of 1916 showing the beginning of their partnership and the push towards production in 1916. The 1916 date is consistent with newspaper articles in the Garrett Clipper about the company.

On July 27, 1916, the Garrett Clipper reported that “Garrett’s infant industry, The Quick Chub Bait Company, has commenced the manufacture of its product.” One week later, the paper noted that due to a misunderstanding, the wrong name had been printed and that the new bait company was named Creek Chub Bait Company.

The Clipper listed Henry S. Dills as President, George Schulthess as Vice President, and C.H. (Carl) Heinzerling as Secretary-Treasurer. According to the paper, at its onset, the workforce consisted of two women and work was performed at Schulthess’ house at Cowen and Keyser streets in Garrett (DeKalb County, Indiana). By early 1918, Creek Chub reportedly employed six workers. A January 24, 1918 article in the Clipper reported that the company closed temporarily around this time in accordance with orders from the National Fuel Administration to ensure that there was enough fuel available for defense industries during World War I.

On November 12, 1918, just one day after the armistice was signed ending the war, Creek Chub Bait Company filed articles of incorporation with the State of Indiana. According to incorporation records from the Secretary of State’s Office:

The object of the corporation is for the manufacture of wood and other artificial casting and trolling fishing bait, and other fishing accessories, and the marketing and sale of such manufactured articles through the regular trade channels both at wholesale and retail.

The company continued to expand in the years immediately following World War I. For more on the workforce, see footnote 3.

[2] Advertisement, Outing (March 1918), 426, accessed Google Books; Advertisement, Hunter-Trader-Trapper (April 1922), 123, accessed Google Books; Advertisement, Hunter-Trader-Trapper (June 1922), 123, accessed Google Books; “People’s Forum: Criticizes Fishing Article,” Green Bay [Wisconsin] Press Gazette, August 22, 1933; Robert Page Lincoln, “Identifying Some Pop Fishing Lures,” [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star Tribune, June 16, 1937; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 5, 1948; Stuart James, “The Lore of Lures,” Popular Mechanics (August 1964), 90-93, accessed Google Books; “Fishermen Becoming Hooked on Old Lures as Collectibles,” Indianapolis Star, July 10, 1983; “Hooked on Antique Lures,” [Louisville, Kentucky] Courier-Journal, April 24, 2003.

On August 22, 1933, the Green Bay Press-Gazette referred to Creek Chub Bait Company as “one of the largest tackle houses in the country.” Articles in the Garrett Clipper in the 1940s often described the company as the “world’s largest manufacturer of artificial fish lures.” Creek Chub lures earned national and international recognition as products were shipped to every state and numerous foreign countries. For information on sales, see footnote 6.

Advertisements in popular magazines such as Outing, Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Field and Stream, and Popular Mechanics often promoted Creek Chub lures, using the company’s tagline, “Creek Chub baits catch more fish.” In June 1922, Hunter-Trader-Trapper included a note from George McWilliams, a fisherman from Youngstown, Ohio, in which he wrote that he would trade all the latest artificial lures in his tackle box for one natural finished Creek Chub Pikie Minnow: “The Pikie is the real killer for either Bass or Muskies. [I am] sending a picture of 29 bass caught in less than two hour’s [sic] time casting with the Pikie.”

In 1937, Minneapolis sportsman Robert Page London wrote an article in the Star Tribune praising Creek Chub lures as some of the best in their class. Similar articles and notes appeared throughout the company’s history. Even after its closing, fishermen and lure collectors continued to praise Creek Chub. An article in the Indianapolis Star in July 1983 included Creek Chub as one of the four large companies that made the majority of lures sold in the United States, the others being Heddon, Shakespeare, and Pflueger.

[3] “Wanted,” Garrett Clipper, August 29, 1918; “Social and Personal,” Garrett Clipper, January 16, 1919; “Council Grants Permits for City and Waste Steam Heat,” Garrett Clipper, November 20, 1919; “Classified Advertising,” Garrett Clipper, November 26, 1945; “Creek Chub Bait is Remodeling its Factory,” Garrett Clipper, August 21, 1947; Rachel Sherwood Roberts, “A Lure for All Seasons: The Creek Chub Bait Company of Garrett, Indiana,” Traces (Summer 2002): 17-25; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002).

From its onset, Creek Chub Bait Company featured a largely female workforce. Secondary sources, including a 2002 Traces article, attributed this to the delicate nature of the lures and the work they entailed, which some believed women were better suited to perform. According to Smith, in his Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub, “women were selected preferentially over men because management felt they were . . . ‘endowed with a better appreciation of color and detail.’”

Wanted ads in the Garrett Clipper frequently promoted jobs for girls and young ladies at the company, and articles often referenced the “girls” employed in the finishing departments, and sanding and dipping rooms.

By 1925, newspapers reported that the company employed sixty people and that it was shipping lures internationally. Production and employment increased throughout the mid- to late 1930s, before dropping off drastically during World War II. By November 1945, with the war over, the Garrett Clipper again began promoting jobs with the company for girls over age sixteen. According to an August 21, 1947 article in the Clipper, Creek Chub employed seventy-five women at its Garrett plant at this time, while also employing forty women at its branch factory in nearby Ashley. For more on the company during and after World War II, see footnotes 11 and 12.

[4] Advertisement, Outing (March 1918), 426, accessed Google Books; H.S. Dills, Artificial Bait or Lure, Filed July 1, 1918, Patent no. 1,323,458, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, accessed Google Patents; Dixie Carroll, “Fishing Tackle and Kits: Practical Information on Games Fish: How to Land Them; the Correct Tackle and How to Use it, (Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd Company, 1919), 275-276, accessed Google Books; “Creek Chub Bait Company,” Garrett Clipper, January 20, 1936; “For the Fisherman─Something New,” Garrett Clipper, February 24, 1974; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002), 21-23, 25-26, 36.

From the very beginning, Henry Dills placed an emphasis on quality for the lures the company manufactured. Dills wanted these lures to be attractive to fishermen and fish alike and worked alongside others within the company to ensure that their appearance and motion were lifelike to help attract more fish. In July 1918, he filed a patent application to improve the lures by adding a scale-like appearance on their surface that would imitate a natural minnow.

According to the patent (Patent 1,323,458), the lures would feature:

. . . a cigar-shaped wooden body, to which various coatings of coloring material are applied. The body is provided with a coating forming a background of non-lustrous coloring material; a flexible cloth netting is then wrapped closely around this body, and a coating of lustrous coloring material is sprayed onto the body through the netting. The netting is then removed, leaving an interrupted coating of lustrous coloring material overlying the background of non-lustrous coloring material, the non-lustrous coloring material being visible through the interruptions of the outer coating in the form of a network.

The scale finish on the lures evolved over time and helped revolutionize the industry by resembling natural food for fish. Advertisements in popular publications like Outing praised the lures, noting: “Accurately represents a minnow down to the silvery scales. Wonderful lifelike movements. Convertible.” Photos of Creek Chub Bait Company lures featured in Smith’s Collector’s Encyclopedia highlight the detailed patterns and coloration and showcase the effort taken to ensure that the lures were of the highest quality.

Throughout much of its early history, Creek Chub used white cedar for its lure bodies. According to Smith and articles in the Garrett Clipper, by the time a lure was completed and ready to ship to a customer, it featured as many as fourteen or fifteen coats of primer, paint, and lacquer applied to the body. Over time, the number and range of colors expanded greatly. The company also made specialty colors and custom orders upon request.

[5] H.S. Dills, Fish Bait, Filed December 18, 1915, Patent no. 1,352,054, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, accessed Google Patents; Dixie Carroll, “Fishing Tackle and Kits: Practical Information on Games Fish: How to Land Them; the Correct Tackle and How to Use it, (Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd Company, 1919), 275-276, accessed Google Books; Advertisement, HunterTraderTrapper (April 1922), 123, accessed Google Books; “Creek Chub Bait Company,” Garrett Clipper, January 20, 1936; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002), 21-26, 30-33, 36.

On December 18, 1915, before the company was officially established, Dills filed an application to patent new improvements in fish baits. These improvements included using hooks "to the best advantage and having means to prevent the loss of the hooks as they swing and twist on their pivots. . ." According to the patent, Dills believed the improvements to the lures would help produce ripples, throw spray, wriggle, and dive similar to the way a minnow would, thereby helping to attract fish. The patent (1,352,054) was approved September 7, 1920. The addition of the metal lip, or mouthpiece, attached to the front of the lures had a lasting impact on Creek Chub and other fishing lure companies who would borrow from the design in the years that followed.

Creek Chub's Wiggler, introduced in 1916, was among the first to feature the metal lip. According to Smith, the company's 1922 catalog advertised the Wiggler as "'three baits in one.' With the lip in the standard position, it was a diving, wiggling bait. In the reversed position, it became a water-splashing surface lure. Take the lip off and it was a darting surface lure." Dixie Carroll also described the added movement to the lure in "Fishing, Tackle and Kits" in 1919, noting: "A small metal plate in the mouth of the chub gives a fine bunch of wiggles and wobbles and by moving the plate and reversing it you have a surface splatter lure. . " Carroll stated that the "wiggling wobbling movement" combined with the color scheme of the Wiggler was sure to attract fish. In 1936, the Garrett Clipper noted that the patents for the natural scale finish and the mouthpiece were among the most important patents ever issued in the tackle industry.

[6] “Garrett Forged Ahead with New Construction,” Garrett Clipper, January 1, 1925; “The Personal Side,” Garrett Clipper, March 19, 1925; “The Personal Side,” Garrett Clipper, April 13, 1925; “The Personal Side,” Garrett Clipper, July 13, 1925; “Creek Chub Bait Company,” Garrett Clipper, January 20, 1936; “Many B&O Men Called to Work as Traffic Grows,” Garrett Clipper, December 30, 1940.

By the 1920s, newspaper articles in the Garrett Clipper reported on the company’s shipments of lures all over the United States and Europe. Between January 1925 and July 1925, the newspaper published several pieces on international sales. For example, on March 19, 1925, it reported that Creek Chub Bait Co. had recently received orders for 180 dozen bait from Stockholm, Sweden, 178 dozen from Finland, and 31 dozen from Toronto, Canada. In April, the paper recorded orders from Waines, Hawaii (Hawaii did not become a U.S. state until 1959) and Bombay, India, and in July, it reported that the company had shipped 24 dozen lures to Reddich, England.

On January 20, 1936, the Garrett Clipper provided a summary of the company and reported on its continued growth since its founding in 1916:

Since then sales have increased from year to year and are made not only in this country and Canada, but lures are sent to 48 foreign countries, France and Sweden receiving the largest shipments. The sales demand in Canada is so large that a Canadian branch has been established, the work being conducted by Allcock, Laight & Westwood company, Toronto, Ont. Although in its infancy, the plant has been doing a large business and the prospects for growth are fine.

The company’s foreign trade decreased during WWII as European markets were largely shut off in order to focus on the war (see footnote 11 for more on how the war affected the company). On December 30, 1940, the Garrett Clipper reported that Finland and England had been the largest foreign buyers prior to the war, but with these markets closed, Canada and South America had become principal foreign markets. European sales picked up again after WWII. 

[7] “Trade Grows 20 Per Cent; Much Building is Done,” Garrett Clipper, December 31, 1936; “History of Industries Here Given by H.M. Brown,” Garrett Clipper, January 17, 1938; “Material Shortage Affecting Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, August 21, 1941; “Creek Chub Bait to Close Plant by Order of U.S.,” Garrett Clipper, April 27, 1942; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 2, 1947; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 5, 1948; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub: Lures and Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, KY: Collectors Books, 2002), 15-16.

According to Smith, the Creek Chub Bait Co. “was an integral part of the Garrett community and a very important employer.” Despite its size and international reputation, Smith notes that the company remained remarkably local, with most workers, management, and owners coming from Garrett. Articles in the Garrett Clipper during the 1930s and 1940s support Smith’s assessment and help track employment figures at Creek Chub over the years. With the exception of WWII, when many workers were laid off due to lower production levels, the company remained a popular employer in the city throughout its history.

A December 31, 1936 article in the Clipper reported that Creek Chub was Garrett’s oldest industry after the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In January 1938, at a meeting for Garrett’s Business and Professional Women’s Club, guest speaker H.M. Brown spoke on business in Garrett and referred to Creek Chub as one of the city’s “most enterprising industries.”

The company’s importance in the community can perhaps be best understood during the war years, when business was at its lowest. Not only did WWII cost many at Creek Chub their jobs in the early 1940s, but the company’s misfortunes during these years had a direct impact on other aspects of the city. The Clipper made this point clear in articles it published in 1941 and 1942, stating that “closing of the business would be a misfortune to the community.” For nearly twenty-five years, Creek Chub had been shipping its lures all over the country and to many foreign nations, providing a constant stream of business for the Garrett post office. Decreases in production at the bait company and the fear of possibly closing the plant altogether during the war threatened to significantly alter the volume of business done by the city’s post office. Conversely, in the years following the war, business grew rapidly, with the company hiring many extra hands to fulfill the backlog of orders that had accumulated during the early 1940s.

[8] Dixie Carroll, “Fishing Tackle and Kits: Practical Information on Games Fish: How to Land Them; the Correct Tackle and How to Use it, (Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd Company, 1919), 275-276, accessed Google Books; Advertisement, Hunter-Trader-Trapper (June 1922), 123, accessed Google Books; Advertisement, Franklin, PA] News-Herald, July 30, 1925; Advertisement, Popular Mechanics (May 1962), 204, accessed Google Books; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002); Dudley Murphy and Deanie Murphy, Fishing Lure Collectibles: An Encyclopedia of the Modern Era, 1940 to Present (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2006), 4, 9-22.

According to Smith, Creek Chub manufactured over 300 lure varieties throughout its history. These lures ranged in color, size, shape, and design. For many decades, these lures were carved from white cedar. Over time, Creek Chub began experimenting with plastic lures as well, and introduced many to the market in the 1950s and 1960s.

Creek Chub’s most popular lures included the Wiggler and Pikie, two of the company’s earliest products, as well as the Injured Minnow and Darter, among many others.

For information on the lures Creek Chub produced, including photographs and estimated value today, see Smith’s Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles.

[9] “Creek Chub Continues to Grow,” Garrett Clipper, July 20, 1931; “Creek Chub Bait Company,” Garrett Clipper, January 20, 1936; “Creek Chub Baits Hook Prize Winners,” Garrett Clipper, March 23, 1953; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002), 275-280; John Merwin, “Classic Lures,” Field and Stream (April 2003), 84-86, accessed Google Books; “Monsters Lurk in Waters Worldwide,” [Rochester, NY] Democrat and Chronicle, June 13, 2010; “Getting Hooked on Books about Fishing,” Indianapolis Star, July 6, 2014.

Creek Chub Bait Co. promoted its lures by touting that they “caught more fish.” Many fishermen across the country agreed and several wrote to the company and to fishing publications over the years boasting of the record-size fish they caught using Creek Chub lures. According to Smith, Creek Chub’s 1925 company catalog included a letter from Florida fisherman Fritz Friebel in which he wrote that in June 1924 he used the company’s Pikie Minnow to catch a 20 lb. 2 oz. largemouth bass, a world record at that time. Smith acknowledges that “rules for establishment of records were lax in these early years.” Still, other catalogs in the late 1920s would also list new records set using Creek Chub lures, including one for northern pike and one for smallmouth bass.

In 1932, George Perry caught the world record largemouth bass in Lake Montgomery, Georgia, weighing in at 22 lbs. 4 oz., using Creek Chub’s Perch Scale Wigglefish (Smith notes that two later catalogs for Creek Chub list that the fish was caught using Creek Chub’s Fintail Shiner not the Wigglefish, but almost all other sources list the Wigglefish as the lure used). The record stood alone for seventy-seven years. On July 2, 2009, Manabu Kurita caught a largemouth bass in Lake Biwa (Japan) tying Perry’s record. According to articles in the Indianapolis Star (2014) and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (2010), the International Game Fish Association took six months to verify the record. It became official on January 8, 2010. Fishermen continue to try to beat Perry and Kurita’s world-record bass.

In 1953, the Garrett Clipper reported that Creek Chub’s Darter was used to catch the biggest largemouth bass (weighing 17 lbs.) entered in Field & Stream’s 1952 national fishing contest. Creek Chub baits were also used to catch top fish in the snook, tarpon, and muskelange categories in the contest.

[10] “Most People are Working; Other Progress Made,” Garrett Clipper, January 1, 1940; “Many B&O Men Called to Work as Traffic Grows,” Garrett Clipper, December 30, 1940; “Material Shortage Affecting Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, August 21, 1941; “Commerce Club Hears Discussion of War Problems,” Garrett Clipper, February 9, 1942; “Creek Chub Bait to Close Plant by Order of U.S.,” Garrett Clipper, April 27, 1942; “Garrett Factory to Close May 31st,” Angola Herald, May 8, 1942; “Creek Chub Bait Petitions WPB to Use its Stock,” Garrett Clipper, May 28, 1942; “Bait Company to Continue Operation During June,” Garrett Clipper, June 4, 1942; “Creek Chub Bait Given Extension Until April 25,” Garrett Clipper, January 28, 1943; “B. & O. Payroll is $205,000 Month and Increasing,” Garrett Clipper, January 3, 1944; “WPB Ceilings Effective,” Garrett Clipper, January 1, 1945;

In 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, business at Creek Chub Bait Co. reached a new peak. Production and sales were up and employment remained steady. A January 1, 1940 article in the Garrett Clipper reported that during this period the company was shipping approximately 100,000 lures a month. Despite its success, Creek Chub was already beginning to feel the effects of the conflict abroad. Finland and England had been the company’s top buyers prior to the war, but both markets quickly closed as each country became engaged in the conflict. The company also purchased many of its treble hooks, which it used on its lures, from Norway and England. In January 1940, George Schulthess, president of Creek Chub, reported in the Garrett Clipper that the company was building a surplus stock of the hooks in the event that Norway became involved in the war and could no longer be relied on for the materials.

By August 1941, Creek Chub experienced great difficulty acquiring the necessary hooks and other supplies for their famous lures, as materials were reserved for defense industries. Supply markets from Norway were shut off and the recent embargo on trade between the United States and Japan stopped the shipments of hooks from that country as well. On August 21, 1941, the Clipper warned about the future of Creek Chub, writing “. . . unless there is some early change in the world situation the business of the company will be greatly restricted, if not entirely stopped.”

The outlook for the company became bleaker throughout 1942, particularly following orders from the War Production Board curtailing the manufacture of fishing lures. On May 8, 1942, the Angola Herald reported that Creek Chub would cease production on May 31, in accordance with government orders. In response, Creek Chub petitioned the War Production Board to allow it to use the metal it had on hand, which it estimated at approximately six months’ supply. On June 4, the Clipper announced that the War Production Board gave the company permission to continue manufacturing lures throughout the month of June, but gave no response to Creek Chub’s request to continue production until its supply of metal ran out. According to the article, since the WPB’s orders, the company only had a portion of its employees working to cut, bore, and paint the wooden bodies of the lures.

Newspaper articles throughout the summer and fall reported on additional temporary extensions for the company that allowed them to continue production, albeit at a much reduced rate. By January 28, 1943, the Garrett Clipper noted that Creek Chub employed thirty people, two to three times less than it had before the war. Employment decreased again slightly the following year, but the company remained open, using materials it had on hand to produce lures.

By January 1945, employment began to increase as more materials became available. Employment figures and production at the company continued to rise when the war ended later that year.

[11] “Classified Advertising,” Garrett Clipper, February 4, 1946; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 3, 1946; “Branch Factory of Creek Chub Co. at Ashley,” Garrett Clipper, December 26, 1946; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 2, 1947; “Creek Chub Bait is Remodeling its Factory,” Garrett Clipper, August 21, 1947; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 5, 1948; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, December 30, 1948; “Personal. . .,” Garrett Clipper, March 31, 1949; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, January 5, 1950; “Creek Chub Bait Co.,” Garrett Clipper, February 16, 1953.

In September 1945, Creek Chub received its first shipment of steel hooks from Norway since the beginning of the war. Business was slowly getting back on track as employment rose to fifty by early 1946. Wanted ads for “girls over 16” and “girls over 18” appeared frequently in issues of the Garrett Clipper throughout 1946 and 1947 as the company sought additional employees to meet production goals and fill the backlog of orders that had accumulated during the war.

On December 26, 1946, the Clipper announced that Creek Chub leased a hotel building in Ashley, north of Garrett, and planned to establish a branch factory there. According to the article, “the concern is in need of more floor space to expand operations, the Garrett plant at the present time being occupied to its fullest capacity.” Part of the wood working would be performed at Ashley as the company looked to increase its production of fishing lures.

Employment continued to rise in 1947 and 1948. By August 1947, the Clipper reported forty women working at the branch factory in Ashley, with another seventy-five women employed in Garrett. The article noted that some machinery was moved from Garrett to the Ashley plant and that operations in Ashley would include: “part of the concern’s wood turnings, all drilling, buffing, sanding and white paint and white lacquer dipping.” By early 1948, employment at the company reached a new peak with a reported ninety-eight employees at the Garrett factory and sixty-three at the Ashley plant. Gordon S. Dills, president of Creek Chub Bait Company, reported in December 1948 that the expansion in facilities helped business double from 1947 to 1948 and that production was finally increasing as well. By 1949 and 1950, business began stabilizing, as the company finally caught up on its backlog of orders. Though employment decreased during this time, the outlook for the company remained bright as they introduced several new lures.

[12] “Places and Faces,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, December 24, 1978, n.p.; Bob Barnet, “Creek Chub Co. Sinks; Lures Still Afloat, [Muncie] Star Press, April 6, 1979, 17; “Lazy Ike Files for Chapter 11,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, September 11, 1979, n.p.; “Natural Lure Hauled ‘em in, but Lazy Ike Couldn’t Keep Up,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, September 16, 1979, n.p.; “Lazy Ike of Des Moines to be Sold to Dura-Pak,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, October 1, 1981, n.p.; “Bankers Trust Wins Lazy Ike Audit Judgment,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, July 25, 1985, n.p.; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002), 282-283.

According to Smith, “in the late 1970s declining sales, increased competition, difficulty finding high quality cedar, and a need for modernization and upgrading facilities were just some of the challenges facing the management of the Creek Chub Bait Company.” Smith notes that another consideration was the fact that no family member of the original founders was in a position to take over the company, as had been the tradition throughout its history.

On December 24, 1978, the Des Moines [Iowa] Register reported that Lazy Ike Corp. of Des Moines had purchased the Creek Chub Bait Company. Reporter Bob Barnet confirmed the sale in the [Muncie] Star Press in April 1979, writing: “. . . Hoosier-owned Creek Chub Bait Co., one of the nation’s oldest and most respected manufacturers of artificial lures, has been sold.” According to Barnet, Lazy Ike, which was also in the lure industry, would continue to manufacture and market Creek Chub lures, many of which had been in production for decades.

Unfortunately, within just a few months of the purchase, Lazy Ike filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Articles in the Des Moines Register in September 1979 and July 1985 offer details on the company’s struggles. According to the publication, problems including depleted inventories, which resulted in numerous losses in sales; accounting errors by Lazy Ike’s accountant Ryun Givens & Co. that miscalculated the company’s financial health; and poorly planned marketing and advertising expenses that put further strain on the company. On October 1, 1981, the Des Moines Register noted that Dura-Pak Corp. of South Sioux City, Nebraska acquired Lazy Ike Corp. and another fishing tackle manufacturer out of Vancouver, Washington. According to the article, Lazy Ike had continued to operate since 1979 “under provisions of U.S. banking laws that allow a company to continue business while it tries to pay off its debts.” This year is consistent with Harold Smith’s findings. Smith reports that production at the Garrett plant continued under Lazy Ike until early 1979.

[13] Bill Quimbly, “Collectors Quietly Gathering Old Fishing Lures,” Tucson [Arizona] Daily Citizen, April 5, 1974; “Fishermen Becoming Hooked on Old Lures as Collectibles,” Indianapolis Star, July 10, 1983; “Collectors Show Brings Back Fond Memories,” Green Bay [Wisconsin] Press-Gazette, March 31, 1996, C-8; Paul Andrea, “Antique Lures Catching on as Collectibles,” Orlando [Florida] Sentinel, April 14, 1996, 13; “An Angling Assembly,” Indianapolis Star, July 23, 1998, E1-E2; Harold E. Smith, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles, 2nd ed. (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2002); Dudley Murphy and Deanie Murphy, Fishing Lure Collectibles: An Encyclopedia of the Modern Era, 1940 to Present (Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2006), 4, 9-22.

In April 1974, the Tucson Daily Citizen ran an article discussing collectors’ interest in finding early fishing lures. While the fad was still fairly young, it was slowly beginning to grow. According to the article, “collectors of fishing lures seldom talk about their hobby because they fear publicity will cause prices to soar. They prefer to quietly search junk stores, swap meets, even the tackle boxes of friends for an ancient bass plug.” The article noted that there was no “Blue Book” or official guide for lure collectors, but this would change in the years to come as finding old lures became a more popular hobby.

By 1983, the Indianapolis Star ran an article entitled, “Fishermen Becoming Hooked on Old Lures as Collectibles.” The Star included Creek Chub Bait Company as one of the four large companies that had made the majority of fishing lures sold in the country, alongside Heddon, Shakespeare, and Pflueger. According to the article, a collectors’ group called the National Fishing Lure Collectors’ Club, began in the mid-1970s and included about 700 members. This figure exploded in the mid-1990s to include more than 5,000 members. The National Fishing Lure Collectors’ Club continues to remain popular today. For more information, including details about upcoming shows and auctions for lure collectors, see the organization’s website at http://www.nflcc.org/index.php.

Articles in the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the Orlando Sentinel in the spring of 1996 address the lucrative market for antique lures and both note the continued popularity of Creek Chub lures among collectors. Memories of the company spurred former employees to begin a reunion in the late 1990s to trade stories about the lures and the work that went into making them.

For information on the types of lures Creek Chub made throughout its history, as well as details about different colors, variations, and estimated monetary values for each lure, see Harold E Smith’s, M.D., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures & Collectibles.

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