Something Fishy

Something Fishy
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Squirrel seasons open across the Midwest as Mepps seeks the tails

Indiana and Kentucky’s squirrel seasons open this week. And while hunters are seeking meat for the table, a fishing tackle company wants the tails.
World-famous lure maker Mepps® needs squirrel tails to create hand-tied, dressed hooks for their world-famous, fish-catching lures. They’ve been recycling squirrel tails for over half-a-century. In fact, they recycle more of them than anyone else in the world.
French engineer Andre Meulnart invented the Mepps spinner in 1938, but it didn’t make it to the U.S. until 1951. 
According to the folks at Mepps, Todd Sheldon was the owner of a successful tackle store in downtown Antigo, Wisconsin. 
Sheldon was having a bad day on Wisconsin's Wolf River, and decided to try something different. He tied on a small Mepps spinner that had been given to him by Frank Velek, a WWII GI who had returned from Europe two years earlier. Within two hours, he had creeled four trout weighing more than 12 pounds total.
Sheldon was hooked on and began selling Mepps spinners, but soon discovered he couldn't get enough. Velek knew a French woman who sent spinners to the sport shop in exchange for nylon stockings. However, the lures were selling faster than she was wearing out her stockings, so Todd began buying his lures directly from a factory.
Soon, other fishermen were experiencing catches like the one Todd took from the Wolf. But, they were catching all kinds of fish, not just trout. As the Mepps reputation grew, so did sales. In 1956, Todd sold his store and formed Sheldons', Inc. to focus his attention on his growing import trade.
Now the Mepps folks need big numbers of squirrel tails to use for their spinners.
“”We’ve tried hundreds of other natural and synthetic materials; bear hair, fox, coyote, badger, skunk, deer, even Angus cow, but nothing works as well as squirrel tail hair,” explains Mepps® Communications Director, Kurt Mazurek.
The fact is squirrel tails are all hair–no fur. Practically all other animals have fur tails with just a few guard hairs. Fur doesn’t have the rippling, pulsating movement of squirrel hair in the water.
Squirrels are a plentiful natural resource. Plus, squirrel has some of the best wild meat and their skins are used for caps, coats, glove linings and many other items, but the tail is usually thrown away. Mepps is seeking hunters to help them recycle this valuable resource, And, they’re offering to reward you for their efforts.
Mepps buys fox, black, grey and red squirrel tails and will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quality and quantity. Plus, the cash value is doubled if the tails are traded for Mepps lures.
Mazurek says, “We do not advocate harvesting of squirrels solely for their tails.”
For all the details on the Squirrel Tail Program, either visit the company’s web site or call 800-713-3474. Mepps, 626 Center St., Antigo, WI 54409-2496.

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