September 12, 2013
Vintage Tackle Contest: Pike Spearing Decoys
By Joe Cermele
Here's something new in our vintage tackle contest. No, they're not old muskie lures, but rather pike spearing decoys. For those of you not familiar with the practice, these dekes are jigged and spiraled in the ice hole to lure a pike into spearing range. They belong to Tyler Leichty, who says he "found them at his girlfriend's cabin." Hey, good on you for scoring a girlfriend with a cabin. Now as far as your decoys are concerned, according to Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog, you could start an engagement ring fund by selling them if you're lucky. You may consider this if said cabin is on a great lake, river, or hunting property.
Dr. Todd says:
"You don't have fishing lures but what you do have are spearing decoys. Spearing decoys, of course, do not have hooks (if they do they are called "cheaters" as they are illegal). The red and white plastic one on the right is a manufactured decoy made by Bear Creek ca. 1950 and worth around $20-$30 due to condition. The other three, however, are really interesting. They are seemingly from the same maker, and since I am not an expert in unmarked ice decoys, I called a friend who is. Gary L. Miller is one of the nation's preeminent experts on all things ice spearing, and wrote me the following: 'The other three decoys, as far as I can determine, have not been identified as to maker. They do appear to all be by the same hand and they have a decidedly Cadillac, Michigan influence. I would guess they are 1920s-30s.' As for value, it depends on if you can attach provenance to them. A known Cadillac style maker could bring hundreds of dollars per decoy; even an unknown quality decoy like these could bring $100-$200 each. I suggest you do your research and take a lot of photos of all sides of these decoys so that people like Gary L. Miller can better identify them. They are an amazing find, no matter how you look at it."
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 pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.