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A Wotta Frogs are collectable

When I was much younger, each fall I would be in awe when the annual frog migration took place. Leopard frogs by the thousands would be heading back to lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to burrow into mud because of the impending winter freeze up. Anyone old enough to remember this spectacle of nature also recalls how dangerous some roads would become due to dead frogs on the road surface. Sadly, for whatever reason, this migration of sorts no longer takes place due to the low number of leopard frogs. So rare are frog sightings for me, when I see a leopard frog I think back to those early days and the enjoyment they provided me. I better get "on task" for this weeks article.

In celebration of the upcoming frog migration (however small it may be), I choose to talk about Paw Paw Bait Company of Paw Paw, Mich., and their highly sought-after Wotta Frog.

Records vary on some dates, but many say the Paw Paw Bait Company had its' beginnings around 1909 as the Moonlight Bait Company. Company catalogs and many advertising studies establish the transition from Moonlight Bait to Paw Paw Bait occurred near 1927. The end of this special company came about in 1970 when the Shakespeare Company purchased all rights to the Paw Paw Company and their equipment.

I am of the opinion Paw Paw Bait did not produce the magnitude of collectible lures when compared to companies like Heddon, Creek Chub, South Bend and more. However, some of this company's lures are as collectible as any other. One of these lures is the Wotta Frog.

Humor me here for just a sentence or two. I remember casting my father's Wotta Frog's off docks on Lake Emily located just east of St. Peter, Minn. We couldn't afford a boat. Because we never had one in my early years we didn't know what we were missing. Those docks provided me with all the fishing action I needed. I search out Wotta Frog's simply for sentimental value.

The Wotta Frog was listed in the company's catalog as a new lure in 1941. The light green colors and black splattering technique provide great visual appeal to the collector. These lures should have three sets of treble hooks with what some experts call modified bucktails to each set of hooks. Each frog has moveable legs with a multitude of metal hardware. All have tack style eyes and one-piece cup type lips. It is difficult to find a Wotta Frog with tack eyes still completely covered in paint and bucktail on all sets of hooks.

The four sizes I am aware of consist of, Junior Wotta Frog No. 72, Senior Wotta Frog No. 73, Wotta Frog No. 73 and Wotta Frog No. 74. The junior size was first manufactured around 1948-49. Length of lures depending on model number ranges from 2 3/4-inch to 4-inch. The holy grail of Wotta Frogs is their Musky model, which is 5 1/4-inch long. This specific lure is extremely rare.

Wotta Frogs are always in demand for collections. They have done an excellent job in retaining their value. Dollar amounts according to the book, "Fishing Lure Collectibles, Volume Two," range from $30 to $48 dollars. This is one of these rare situations where I believe those values are a bit too low. I have seen on many occasions mint Wotta Frogs with eyes still covered in paint and accompanying bucktail on hooks sell for $75. Before I forget, book value on the musky Wotta Frog is from $500 to $700. I won't speculate whether that's correct or not. I have never seen one. Lastly, all prices do not include original boxes. If you have been reading my articles, you know what a good box will do for the value of a lure. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.