June 28, 2012
Vintage Tackle Contest: Marathon Muskrat
By Joe Cermele
This week in our ongoing vintage tackle contest we have one of my favorite lure styles: mammal imitators. Though I can't say I've caught much on baits that look like ducks and rats and possums, I really get a kick out of them. I guess that's because it's fun to think about catching a fish so big and mean it would crush such a critter. Apparently anglers have felt the same way for a long time. This muskrat lure belongs to Jeff Walters, who inherited it from his grandfather. Jeff hasn't caught any fish with it, but he says, "you need a really stout rod and forearm to hurl this thing around."
"You have one of my favorite Wisconsin muskie lures. It was manufactured by the Marathon Bait Company of Wausau, Wisconsin, and as you can certainly tell, is designed to emulate Ondatra zibethicus, the semi-aquatic rodent known as the muskrat. Marathon manufactured mostly spinners, but also made a few iconic musky lures, including the Musk-E-Munk and Musky-Houn. The Muskrat came out ca. 1960 and was a jointed lure tied with real muskrat fur with a long rubber worm for a tail. It was fished by itself, and with a front "buzzer" spinner. They were made with both black and green bead eyes. It also caught fish…which is why they are usually found in rough condition. Your bait would be worth $30-$40 to a musky lure collector, but keep in mind people still buy these to fish with."
Excellent find, Jeff. Thanks for sending, and enjoy the Berkley Digital Tournament Scale that's headed your 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 Berkley Digital Tournament Scale (left, $40).