(Unknown “Surface Popper”)
(Possibly a Moonlight Bait Co Lure?)
Since I started tackle collecting over 30 years ago, I acquired several baits that I did not know the history of. Over the years, I have identified nearly every lure that I have. But, some still remain a mystery. This months “Lure Of The Month” is one of these lures.
This large “surface popper” must have made quite a splash when played through the water towards the fisherman. The large carved wooden collar is the largest I have seen on any lure that I own. I have personally used old wooden poppers like these in the past, and they are very good fish catchers. And, nothing beats having a fish attack a bait on the surface!
This lure features a white wooden body, brass hook hardware, and a red “head” inside the collar (hard to see in the photo).
I strongly suspect that this lure was made by the Moonlight Bait Co out of Paw Paw, Michigan. This company was started by two men who were part of a “Moonlight Fishing Club”, whose members had no time to fish during the day…and did so at night. These men were Horace Ball and Charles Varney and they carved lures for this group and later founded the “Moonlight Bait Co” in 1908. Could this be one of the early lures they made…but never put into production?
The reason I suspect that this is a lure made by Horace and Charles is because the hook hardware is identical to some of their early production lures. Also, Moonlight Bait Co was known for their surface poppers.
I have attached an old ad from around 1909 with the first Moonlight produced fishing lure. Note the similarities…and the differences…in the two lures. Also note in the ad it states “There are imitations, but only one Moonlight Bait”. Could this be one of these imitation lures?
Whatever the case may be behind the history of this bait, it now rests in my collection and hopefully someday it will be 100% verified on what this lure is. It would be nice to finally name the manufacturer, but it won’t be easy as this lure was probably made over 100 years ago.