- When you can't catch fish, it's easy to blame the lure. If you need something different, an Antigo company makes a lure that you might want to try. The Mepps assembly plant is located right off Highway 45.
Mepps fishing lures were originally made in Paris, France, starting in 1938. Back in the 1970s, a local Antigo sporting goods store owner, Todd Sheldon, decided to buy that facility and moved it to Nice, France. His son, Mike, is now the president of the company.
"The guys that own the Mepps company in France were getting old enough to where they wanted to retire, so we bought the Mepps company in France in 1972," said Sheldon.
One detail that makes the lure No. 1 in the world is that it uses actual animal tail fur.
"The tails are washed, dyed, and tied back there," said plant worker Kim Wiegert. "And they're dehydrated. They will store a long time, so they can last three to five years."
There are many benefits to using real hair as opposed to artificial hair.
"The hair is hollow and goes through a lot of wear and tear," said Wiegert. "Other hairs would disintegrate and fall apart. With these, it'll last longer, the fish can bite on them, and it'll take a long time before they'll actually chew them apart."
Along with the hairs, there is a secret way to put the lures together that makes Mepps the best.
"We have a certain wind that we have, and we can tell when we put them together how it should be. All of our spinners are field tested before they actually go out," Wiegert said.
Even though the company distributes its product around the world, the Sheldons still enjoy being based in Antigo.
"It's home," Sheldon said. "I grew up here and my parents grew up here and of course my kids did. And it's such a different pace of life here than the rest of the world."
Every person putting the little pieces together is a woman. Kim is just one who works in the plant that has been there for nearly 40 years. She also gives tours of the facility to the public.
"I like to react with the people when they come in, especially ones that have fishing stories to tell you," Weigert said. "It's interesting here, and you get to meet other people."
|Story By: Katie Leszcynski