June 09, 2011
Vintage Tackle Contest: Tony Burmek Secret Bait
By Joe Cermele
I know we just had a lure in our ongoing vintage tackle contest last week, but when I saw the photo below from Allen Heberer in the contest's inbox, I was intrigued. Never before had I seen a split-tail hard bait quite like this, and Allen's description of the box got me even more interested. Allen wrote:
I found this Tony Burmek Secret Bait at a rummage sale. The side of box reads "cast and retrieve-or troll-slow or fast ...action at any speed. Your Tony Burmek Secret Bait is the pride of 17 years of guidung experience, study and experiments to reach perfection. DO NOT LOSE FAITH IN IT FOR THIS BAIT TOOK 17 MUSKIES IN 12 DAYS FROM 25LBS. TO 43 LBS."
When I sent this photo to vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog, the subject line of his return email read "Favorite. Entry. EVER!" Here's why...Dr. Todd says:
"Now this is a fishing lure that hits close to home! The Tony Burmek Secret Bait was a legendary musky plug in Hayward, Wisconsin, where I spent my summer days as a youth. Tony and his brother Fred were Milwaukee-based musky anglers and guides who vaulted to fame in 1955 when between Oct. 29 and Nov. 09 they caught 17 muskies weighing a total of 533 pounds on their "Secret" musky lure. Soon after they began manufacturing and marketing their lure for sale, and it quickly became a staple in the musky angler's arsenal. Your bait and box are early and quite collectable, likely bringing $50-$75 in that condition. It's a big lure at 7 1/2" but my father (who firmly believes big fish attack big lures) wrote Tony a letter in 1982 asking if he'd consider making the renamed Burmek B-1 in a larger size. To view Tony Burmek's incredulous response to my dad's request, the first known Burmek ad, and other goodies, click here."
Congrats, Allen, and thanks for sending the photo. It's a very cool lure, and I think it's safe to say getting a chance to write about one of his childhood favorites made Dr. Todd's day. Your new pliers are on the way!
If you've already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven't and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to email@example.com, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers ($50).