Baits straight from the Christmas tree

When I think fishing lures and trees I think of my inability to cast accurately or otherwise.

But hey, I can live with it, even if I do "decorate" trees year-round, and not just at Christmas.

Many are the trees out there that have at least one bobber or bait of some sort hanging from it that I have basically sacrificed to the fishing gods because I got it hung up and could not retrieve it.

Maybe I was ahead of my time? It has become somewhat acceptable or "fish-fashionable" to hang lures or the like from an angler's Christmas tree.

All this reminds me of a color pattern for bass baits that carried the descriptive title of "Christmas tree."

I'm no lure historian myself. Mine are never around long enough to collect. They all soon end up snagged and lost somewhere.

So I asked lure collector Felix Fly, of Milan, Tenn., if he knew of such a bait and he confirmed my holiday suspicions.

Fly said the company that made Bombers once made a "Christmas tree" pattern.

The Bomber Lure Company, Gainesville, Texas, was famous for its Bombers, the bomb-shaped baits made from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Bomber made many of its baits in various sizes and other models like the Water Dog with the Christmas tree pattern.

The large lure company PRADCO eventually bought Bomber Lures and the bomb-shaped models were discontinued.

In the 1950s, several other companies also latched onto the Christmas tree pattern and today Senko makes plastic baits in a "Christmas tree" color.

Fly told me the Christmas tree Bomber (sounds like a Grinchlike environmental terrorist, right?) was green down its back and belly, with green ribs or stripes down the sides. The rest of the body was white with silver glitter.

When looked at from the back of the bait, you can see the outline of what appears to be a green tree. Throw in the silver flake and you have the reason anglers came to call it "Christmas tree."

Fly explained that a friend, Bobby Keast Sr., had a bait shop on Kentucky Lake near Birdsong, Tenn., back in the early 1960s. A salesman came by and sold him a handful of Christmas tree Bombers.

"Some locals bought 'em and started fishing them, and wore the bass out," Fly said. "Well, the next time that salesman came around, Bobby bought four to five dozen of the Christmas tree lures.

"Of course, the bite quit, they stopped catching fish with them and, 20 years later, Bobby told me he still had most of the second big order of baits sitting around collecting dust."

Darwin Stewart, Clarksville, Tenn., is a lure collector known as "The Bomber Man." His specialty is Bomber Lures. He has more than 1,200 Bomber pieces in his collection.

Stewart also has collection of all the Bomber baits made in the Christmas tree pattern.

"It was known in the Bomber catalog as color No. 15 and seemed to be especially popular in Tennessee, for some reason," Stewart said.

"It's a pretty bait, but not particularly high in value."

A wooden Christmas tree Bomber still in the box might fetch $12 to $15 on eBay, he said.

However, The Bomber Man, also noted there were a handful of Christmas tree Bombers made in colors other than the green-backed "tree" pattern.

"There's a few red/silver and black/silver out there in Christmas tree that are worth considerably more," Stewart said.

"I even found one blue one out there, and the fellow that has it turned down an offer in the $1,000 range," he said.

So, if you can find a Christmas tree Bomber somewhere, it might make for a unique gift for an angler on your holiday list.

It seems there definitely might be a box or two of 'em left around maybe even still collecting dust somewhere in Tennessee?

I don't need to buy one though, I know it would most likely end up in a tree somewhere by a lake rather than under one for Christmas.

Taylor Wilson is a free-lance writer and editor for Bill Dance Publishing in Brownsville, Tenn. He can be contacted at taylorwilson@billdancefishing.com.