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Prices: US Dollars
June 20, 2011
By ART HOLDEN
Daily Record Outdoor Editor
FREDERICKSBURG -- Mose Keim is hoping the little town of Fredericksburg will be big in the fishing lure market.
Keim recently purchased the Kegara Fishing Lure Company, a line of mainly panfish baits that diehard bluegill fishermen swear by.
"The company was originally started by a man named Ralph Bashford in 1969 in Cincinnati," said Keim. "He was getting up in years, and 10 years ago he sold it to an Amish guy in Pennsylvania. That guy was moving to Kentucky, and wanted to sell it, and my brother-in-law, Jr. Miller, at the time had a sport shop in Berlin, and he bought it.
"Jr. wanted to get rid of it, he said it was taking up too much of his time, and I was just dumb enough to buy it," said Keim. "But so far, it's been kind of fun."
Bashford originally designed a "jig fly" back in 1969 that he advertised as being able to outfish live bait 20-1 for bluegill and crappie. Back then, though, there was no Internet, so Bashford used magazines like "Field & Stream" to get the word out. He would mail out catalogs, and wait for the orders to come in.
Since then, word of mouth has been more important, as the legacy of Kegara jigs has spread far and wide.
"For panfish, I get people who wouldn't go fishing without them," said Keim.
"A lot of my customers are customers that have been buying them for years," he added. "People all over the country buy them, and a lot of them are older people who have been buying them for years. They know what they are and how to catch fish with them."
The mainstay for the Kegara line is the Rufus Jr., a 1/64th-ounce feathered jig with a No. 10 hook, and a 1/32-ounce jig with a No. 8 hook. The jigs come in black, white, yellow, green, purple and pink. The feathers on the jigs are the key.
"Black and green are my No. 1 sellers," said Keim, "but I'm noticing that in different parts of the country, people buy different colors."
The Kegara line doesn't end there, though, as there are speckled jigs, super jigs, iridescent jigs, and baits with different styles of jig heads.
Possibly the best bluegill jig in the bunch, though, is the Kegara panfish ant, with the black hair jig personally responsible for winning the last three Dwayne Coblentz bluegill tournaments out of Millersburg. They come in gold and silver bodies, with black, white, green and yellow hair.
The business has helped keep the Keim family busy. When Mose isn't pouring concrete, he's packaging up orders with his wife, Mary, and children Zach (16), Jeremy (10) and Julie (12).
"It's kind of been a family thing," said Keim. "There's times all five of us are in the basement bagging lures and putting them on (retail) cards."
Keim is hoping to expand his inventory to include bass lures, and already sells walleye harnesses, made in Holmes County, as well as the Trout Magnet line and Slider grubs.
"I'm hoping to add more bass lures," said Keim. "What I'm seeing is lure companies making lures to catch fishermen instead of fish."
While the majority of Keim's business is online and mail order, a lot of the smaller sports stores in the area also sell his Kegara jigs.
And, where did the "Kegara" name come from?
"I talked to Mrs. Bashford, and she said it had to do with their three sons," said Keim, who isn't about to change the name of the company, or that of the famous Rufus Jr.
After all, it's a proven winner.
Go to www.kegara.com for more information, or to order lures.
Thank you, and great fishing,
KEGARA FISHING LURES
7813 criswell Rd. Fredericksburg, Ohio 44627
ph. fax # 330-695-9900
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