FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club (NFLCC) started its 47th annual National Convention Thursday, fishing lures of yore graced the floor of the Grand Wayne Convention Center.

The Hoosier State had a major presence at the convention, with many classic lures coming from former Indiana companies such as Creek Chub Bait Company and South Bend Bait Company.

“Indiana was a hotbed for lure manufacturers. At one time, there were well over 100 manufacturers here in Indiana,” said Bob King, co-host of the convention.

Creek Chub Bait Company, a defunct fishing lure company from Garrett, drew plenty of praise from some people at the convention.

“Just a great company all-around,” said David Howe, an NFLCC member at the convention.

Despite the company’s lures all being decades old, Howe said he still uses a Creek Chub lure when fishing for muskellunge.

Although he said he has caught dozens of “muskie” in his life, he hopes to catch one using a Creek Chub Bait Company lure someday.

“Hopefully, I’m going to get one one of these days,” Howe said.

Although the company has been out of business for over 40 years, the lures still live on not only through collectors, but through one of the three families that started Creek Chub Bait Company.

Judy Ruoff, granddaughter of one of the three founders of Creek Chub Bait Company

On Tuesday, WANE 15 spoke with Judy Ruoff, who is not only part of the family that founded Ruoff Mortgage, but she is also the granddaughter of George M. Schulthess, one of the three founders of Creek Chub Bait Company.

Although Ruoff does not frequent conventions anymore, she still has mementos of the company her family helped create in the form of old lures and memories.

When the company closed down, Ruoff said she remembered how the industry had changed and affected Creek Chub Bait Company.

“It was sad, but it was time,” Ruoff said. “I think making baits became too expensive, and it was hard for them to compete.”

However, Ruoff said she first noticed the rise in popularity of Creek Chub lures after the company closed down through local lure conventions that were held in Garrett.

“I was amazed at the collections that so many people had,” Ruoff said. “It was huge. It was wonderful.”

Ruoff said the collectors of Creek Chub lures also serve as a way to honor the men and women who helped turn the company into a success in the first place.

Display owned by Judy Ruoff that shows a step-by-step process of how a type of Creek Chub lure was made

“I think it’s a tribute to the men who started the bait company — Mr. Dills, Mr. Heinzerling and my grandfather — and the women who made the baits,” Ruoff said.

Although Ruoff may not have the greatest collection of Creek Chub lures in the world, she said she is more proud of having “memories a lot of people don’t have.”

“I think it means more to me probably because I saw them made [and] I saw them used,” Ruoff said.

The lures also hold sentimental value to some NFLCC members, but some of the lures from Creek Chub and other brands can be both rare and valuable as well.

“There are lures that cost as much as a Ferrari,” King said.

Even though some NFLCC members said having valuable lures is a neat part of collecting, most said the most important parts of the convention are the preservation of history and being able to see old friends.

Stuart Strange, vice chairman of the NFLCC, said the NFLCC is the “largest organization of its kind dedicated to the preservation of antique tackle.”

“It’s something that we try to preserve: the history of it,” said Gibby Gibson, an NFLCC member who traveled from Nashville, Tennessee to make it to the convention.

Multiple people at the convention said they have been NFLCC members for decades, and many members knew people around them by their first name.

“These shows are like reunions,” Gibson said.

King said Fort Wayne and the Grand Wayne Convention Center both are great places for the convention, and officials plan to host another National Convention in Fort Wayne in 2026 for the NFLCC’s 50th anniversary.

The convention will continue Friday and Saturday and will include an auction on Friday and more chances to view the showroom on Saturday

Although the convention is for NFLCC members only, non-members may attend a show by paying a “Temporary Membership” fee, according to the NFLCC’s website.