EDITOR’S NOTE: The Daily Press will feature a series of articles about local businesses, highlighting their history and what makes them unique. The series will run regularly in the Daily Press.
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ESCANABA — Ken Hyland has been fishing since 1977. They have been sold under the brand name for a little over 20 years. “Sick-Em Lures.” Hyland proudly says that although the logo was drawn by a friend, he does everything himself.
The Sick-Em Lures workshop is located in Manistique. Products created there are sold in stores throughout the Upper Peninsula and prized by fishing charters and guides, Hyland said.
She creates a range of styles, shapes and sizes covered in colors and patterns and self-mixed glitter paint.
“A lot of it is practical because I can’t find what I have in mind” Hyland said. “I started doing this in 1977, so there was no use of the internet. Libraries don’t have that much information… so it was all done from scratch. Lots of hours, lots of money.”
His work seems to have developed in part out of frustration with the quality of mass-produced products on the market.
“I don’t like unnecessary fishing lures” Hyland said. “I don’t like things like that, you know it’s going to panic. I make things for professionals.”
He says himself “claim to fame” is a special service it offers to customers with unique views.
“If someone wants something specific, what I ask them is a painting or – I need specific information about what they’re thinking.” Hyland explained. “Then I will make a model of it. It can be a painting, it can be something made of wood. And I’m going to use markers so I don’t have to open up the airbrush and do it. I will take a picture of it and send it to them. if that’s what they’re looking for, then they’re created.”
He said that the minimum order for such assignments is $25.
But there are tried and true designs that are made in large batches and carried by distributors. In the UP, Sick-Em Lures can be found at Wild Bill’s Bait and Tackle and Parmer’s Farm Market in Sault Ste. Marie, Desert Treasures in Pickford, Lucky Charm in DeTour Village, Duke’s Sport Shop in Newberry, Superior Outfitters in Marquette, Wilderness Sports in Ishpeming and Mini Mart in Garden.
When it came time to expand, Hyland, who retired from his day job in August, said he reached out to contacts in other states and abroad.
Sick-Em Lures ship worldwide; customers pay shipping.
When asked why he loves fishing, Hyland said: “Anything that bites. Don’t expect to get anything when you go fishing. Because it would not be called “fishing”, but “catch”. There was a shared laugh and he admitted that the line was not original.
Despite his passion for meticulous, professional, high-level craftsmanship, Hyland expressed a belief that may come as a surprise.
“I don’t care if you’re a pro or the best angler in the world, you can’t catch a kid” – he said and was amazed at the initial luck of the youth. “A kid with a little Snoopy thing and a bobber will catch more fish, bigger fish. And I have seen it.”
On that note, Hyland said he’s all about getting young people into fishing, and he does “I’m always ready to help in one way or another” children’s fishing tournaments, etc.
The Manistique workshop may open a storefront, but for now, the way to track down a special Sick-Em Lure is via Facebook, email at [email protected] or Hyland’s personal cell phone. (906)286-3680.