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THE 2016 SWLCC SHOW

Atoms and Murats and Gibbs, oh my! A look inside the Salt Water Lure Collectors Club's annual show in Bourne, Massachusetts.
By Toby Lapinski
Tags: special, surf

I am not only a practitioner of the art of surfcasting, I am also a fan of its history. From the early beginnings of the clubs on Cuttyhunk, Sakonnet and the Vineyard with their “bass stands,” to the post-war boom and beyond, there is a rich history to this sport which many do not know. And that is where the Salt Water Lure Collectors Club comes into play.

I would have a difficult time doing a better job of describing the club, so from their “about us” page of thee of there website, here is a brief overview.

The Salt Water Lure Collector Club was established in 2009 and is a non-profit organization made up of a diverse group of individuals who share a common interest, or should we call it a passion, for the history of salt water sport fishing and the lures and lure makers of times past. The “Golden Age of Surf Fishing” from roughly 1945 to 1960 is the focus of many collectors, but baits made and used prior to the end of WWII as well as lures produced well after the 1960’s, including present day custom plug builders, are also of interest to many.

The regions which seem to attract the most interest from collectors are New England, New York & New Jersey. Many highly-collectible baits have been produced by and for saltwater fishermen along the Striper coast. Some by large companies such as Heddon and Creek Chub and numerous others by small garage and basement workshop enterprises with names that are music to collectors ears like So-Co, Hicky-Do, Woolner Brothers, Charlie Russo, Famous Floyd Roman, Stan Gibbs and many others you will read about on our website. Many of these smaller companies were only producing baits for a few years. Some were operational for only 4 or 5 years and yet may have produced baits with incredibly beautiful paint patterns and boxes with snappy slogans and wonderful graphics.

Most of us are also involved in the pursuit of striped bass and other salt water species whether by boat or by beaches and rocky shores. Some may drag bait, others may flex the long wand, but all of us throw a plug “Into the Great Gamble” from time to time. What fun it is to clean up a vintage bait and toss it back into the surf after 40 or 50 years spent idle in an old shed somewhere. Of course the best finds are carefully preserved and destined for the display case, while the rest may be fished, traded, sold or given to a young collector to get him or her started in a hobby that can bring a lifetime of enjoyment and camaraderie with fellow collectors.

We formed this club because as a group we share a passion for the striper past. We enjoy getting together at our annual show and sharing stories and knowledge with each other about these famous lure makers. There is still much to learn and even more to be discovered. If you collect salt water lures whether vintage or by the current custom lure makers of today then we believe you will enjoy this club.

Every spring the club gathers in Bourne, MA at the Trowbridge Tavern along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal. I am a very modest collector of vintage surf plugs these days—I pretty much whittled my collection down to needlefish and anything related to Bob Pond/Atom— but I have been meaning to attend this show since its inception. As luck would have it each year something seems to always pop up to preclude me from visiting. Well this year I set my sights on the show well in advance and marked it off on my calendar.

Leading up to the week of the show I was still a go, but late in the week something popped up (as expected) and it looked like I’d be waiting another year. My alarm was set for 6 AM on Saturday, April 30 to head out for a photo and video shoot for The Fisherman, but when my cell phone loaded up for the day I found a text indicating that plans had changed and a rescheduling was in order. The silver lining to this turn of events was that I would be able to make the run up to Bourne after all. So I sucked down a coffee, grabbed a quick snack and hopped in my truck to make the roughly 2-hour ride up the coast to the show. I arrived shortly after the doors opened to the public and was immediately in awe of what I saw. From here I’d have a difficult time describing the sights and doing the show any sort of justice, so this I’ll just let my camera speak to you. Check out the carousel photos at the upper-right for a small sampling of some of the collections that were on display.

And when the show rolls round next spring, do yourself a favor and reserve the date on your calendar for a ride up to Bourne. You will not be disappointed!

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