Bear Creek Tweedler
Bear Creek Tweedler
Bear Creek Bait Company - Kaleva, Michigan
This little guy (and his buddies) is a product of the Bear Creek Bait Company of Kaleva, Michigan. It was one of three lures produced by this company from the 1940's until the 1970's as well as a line of fish decoys called "Ice King." The Bear Creek Tweedler was originally a wood bait and supposedly was made in plastic as well, although the collector who provided these has never seen one in plastic. The Tweedler came in two sizes, one measuring 2" in length and have a double-treble on the tail, and one measuring 2 1/4" with a double-treble on the belly. Both sizes are shown in the picture. The lure is unmarked so there is no clear way to identify it save for its distinctive features such as the metal lip. It has raised nail eyes, i.e., a nail was put into the lure where the eye is located and then material is used to build up around the nail to make the eye.
Luckey's book indicates the lure came in 'six unlisted finishes' but the collector has only been able to identify five, including dark green frog, spotted brown frog and green scale which are shown. Also known is a yellow frog with brown spots and a brown scale. Prices for Tweedlers run from $30 to $50. (Additional note: these price estimates are from the original 1997 article.)
Tweedler in Red Head, White in Box
Update 9/26/2010: This Tweedler pictured above was found in the color Red Head, White which is therefore the sixth (6th) known color! According to the owner, the box is marked "T-20" on the end. (Special thanks to Chuck for providing the picture and information!)
3 1/2" Bear Creek Sucker Minnows
As stated earlier, Bear Creek made two other lures as well, the Coho King and the Sucker Minnow. The Sucker Minnow was a plastic lure and and in 3 1/2" and 2-1/2" lengths. Unlike the Tweedler, it is marked "SUCKER MINNOW" on the front blade but does not bear the company name.
2 1/2" Bear Creek Sucker Minnow (picture courtesy of Glen Brewton)
- The company was organized by brothers Reino "Walter" Wiitala, Elmer Wiitala and a friend Leo Mannilla.
- They had quite a bit of success in the ice decoy field. They only had three lures that were produced. The aforementioned Tweedler, Sucker Minnow and Coho King.
- The patent for for the Tweedler was issued on January 18, 1949. It is Patent Number 2,459,401. You can see the patent here.
- The Tweedler Colors are reported as:
- Brown Frog, Green Frog, Silver Scale, Black Scale, Orange with Black Spots, Red and White (rare) and a supposed seventh color (maybe green scale picture below).
- The Sucker Minnow Colors were:
- Natural Sucker, Goldfish-Yellow Scale with an uncatalogued Yellow Scale known of.
- The company was sold in 1983 and the new owner, K & E Tackle Company of Hastings, Michigan still makes ice decoys but not fishing lures.
Below are some images of a couple of Tweedlers and a vintage ad (thanks to Langs Auction for use of one of the images).
Tweedler Orange with Black Spots
Tweedler in Green Scale (the mystery 7th color?)
1949 Bear Creek Tweedler Ad (notice 6 colors)
If anybody has additional information or paperwork such as early advertisements they would share it would be greatly appreciated.
OK - these aren't exactly 'unknown' as the owner believes these are called a "Rolling Plug Bait" but knows nothing more about them. They are made of wood, measure 3 1/2" in length, and have a raised eye.
If you have any further information on any of the items displayed on this page which you'd like to share, please send your comments to me and I'll update the page accordingly. Contributions of interesting items and/or unknowns are encouraged.
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