Ray's Bait Co.
When Alliance, Ohio is mentioned, most collectors quickly think about the rare minnows made by Charles Shaffer and F.C. Woods around the turn of the century. However, there was also a cottage industry made up of less known lure makers from the 1920s thru the 60s. These names include: Charlie Woolsair, Ray Clippinger, Ray Mehnert and a preacher named Lou Ax. The first three, it seems, had ties to the Alliance Machine Tool Company. Ray Mehnert may be the most prolific of these makers. An interview with his nephew and lures from his tackle boxes provide some insight. Ray Mehnert worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, but also produced lures as a side business out of his home on E. College Street in Alliance. His brother-in-law, Karl Scott, worked for the Alliance Machine Tool Company. Karl was a machinist at the company and made tooling for Ray that included metal stamps, die benders for making lure lips and spinner parts. During his time off in the summer, Ray traveled as far west as Wisconsin and as far east as New York to sell his lures. According to Ray's nephew, Mehnert was a bragger - claiming he could catch a fish with a popcicle stick. He was known to fish with George Bodden in Lake Chataqua, NY. and also enjoyed hunting and trapping.