Lakeland Wholesale Bait Company
Brainerd and Crosby, Minnesota
Richard Brunelle is the founder of the Lakeland Wholesale Bait Company, which manufactured and distributed fishing tackle under the brand name “Fish Bust’r”.
Richard Brunelle was born on September 24, 1926 in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1948 Brunelle founded the Lakeland Wholesale Bait Company in Brainerd, Minnesota.
All of the fish decoys were made by one Lakeland employee, Irvin Westra, who worked with the company until he was 73 years-old. He died at the age of 83. Westra would cut out basswood pieces on a band saw to a rough shape and then the piece was finished carved by hand and holes were drilled into the bottom for lead weighing. Three sizes were produced – three, six or nine inches. The majority of the decoys were painted with a red head and white body. A few examples were painted yellow and red as well as yellow and green. The building of the Lakeland Wholesale Bait Company burnt in the 1990s and this fire effectively shut down the business as no fire insurance was carried by Brunelle. At the height of production, Brunelle had 29 employees working.
Reference: Decoy Magazine, Issue January/February 2004, Article Titled: “Fish Bust’r Spearing Decoys” by Donald J. Peterson