|Cuttyhunk Island, Mass. / Photo Courtesy Of John Basil
Antique Saltwater Lures; A Brief History ~
turn of the century in New England, there were a very limited number of saltwater surf fishermen. Most striped bass fishermen
at this time believed the fish were strictly bottom feeders and could only be caught on "bait". There
were those though who knew better, they started making and fishing with tin squids [metal lures] and doodlebugs / bugs [lead
bucktails]. But, still in keeping with the thought that striped bass were solely bottom feeders; they fished them deep
or as close to the bottom as possible.
During this same time period in Florida there was something
very special going on; saltwater fishermen were using freshwater lures to catch spotted trout, tarpon, barracuda, etc. Casting
east with lures was considered the only way to fish by many of the southern sharpies of the time. By the 1920's many
of the freshwater lure makers were now also manufacturing saltwater models.
The word spread
up the coast to "New England's" striped bass fishermen and they started experimenting with the lures being produced
at the time. Many found they could catch fish in all levels of the water column while using these baits. By the mid 1930's
there were individuals making their own versions of the freshwater and saltwater lures in larger sizes, with stronger hooks
and hardware. Some even started to "thru" wire their lures for added strength.
A new era in surf fishing had
begun. But, it was short lived. The country was being thrown into the turmoil of World War II and saltwater fishing had taken
a back seat. The war effort also made materials
such as hooks, wire, etc. used in the manufacture of lures to become increasingly hard to obtain.
With the war now over, there was a massive
surge of people looking for new recreational activities. There was great interest and participation in surf fishing, especially
for striped bass. Up and down the coast of New England, bait & tackle shops opened, sometimes two or three in a town. With
the great influx of people striper fishing it didn't take long before those few ingenious individuals who started making lures
before the war and others capitalized on the situation. This period of time in later years became known as the "Golden
Age of Surf Fishing", it lasted until the early 1960's. On the following pages you will get to view some of
the lures that were produced during this time.......