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Blue Spring Bait Manufacturing Company
Marianna, Florida

Blue Springs is a first magnitude spring located in Jackson County on the northeast side of Marianna in the Florida Panhandle. Also known as Jackson Blue Spring, it puts out over 70 million gallons of water each day. It is part of an extensive system of caves and tunnels carved through the limestone and is not far from Florida Caverns State Park. The spring forms the headwaters of Merritt's Mill Pond, a narrow, seven mile long pool whose waters are gin clear. There are also several smaller springs in the pond.

For many years Jackson County has operated a public park and swimming area at the spring. These pictures show the sign for the public park in 1953 and the park area at the main spring as it exists today. The diving board is located directly above the entrance to a large underwater cave.

Merritt's Mill Pond is well known for its excellent fishing. It has produced state and world records for redear sunfish, aka "shellcrackers". In the 1940's a man named Dennis Melvin Croft, Jr. operated a small bait shop and boat landing on the pond. It was located down the road from Jackson Blue Spring heading back toward Marianna.

"Junior" Croft was both an avid fisherman and a skilled woodworker. By 1949 Croft and a friend from nearby Dellwood, Florida, John Barefield, had begun making their own fishing lures. They formed a company which they called the Blue Spring Bait Manufacturing Company. Only a small number of lures was ever produced by the Blue Spring Bait Company and precious few are known to remain. The life of the company was short lived, with Croft selling his interest to Barefield in 1953. Lure making ended soon after.
Dennis M. Croft, Jr. of Marianna, Florida and John D. Barefield of Dellwood, Florida applied for a patent for their lure in 1949. A patent was granted in 1952. Half of the patent was assigned to B.E. Hasty, about whom I know nothing at all. Patent for Blue Spring Bait Company

The lures shown here are part of our collection. Click on the thumbnail pictures to see a larger image

Blue Spring Humpty-Dumpty
Blue Spring Bait Company Humpty-Dumpty Blue Spring Bait Company Humpty-Dumpty Blue Spring Bait Company Humpty-Dumpty Blue Spring Bait Company Humpty-Dumpty
The first lure produced by the Blue Spring Bait Manufacturing Company was the Humpty-Dumpty. It was a three section jointed lure with an aluminum diving plate. I have never seen a box that actually has the name Humpty-Dumpty printed on it. One of my boxes is stamped Hump Dump. Another is stamped Humpy on one end and the other end of the box has Humpe Dumpe written in pencil, along with the lure color.

Blue Spring Darter Blue Spring Slant Head Lure
Blue Spring Bait Company Darter Blue Spring Bait Compant Slant Head
Very few Blue Spring Bait Company darter lures have been found. The lure has a notch in the forehead, as well as the notch in the face. Only a couple of these small slant head lures have been found. This one was packaged in a box that is smaller than the Blue Spring Bait Company boxes that are usually seen.

Blue Spring Bait Company lures were packaged in two-piece cardboard boxes. Two different
sized boxes were made. The side panels of the boxes read Croft's Special Fishing Lures.

Merritt's Mill Pond Postcard As a footnote, I should add that I was born in Marianna, Florida, though I did not live there long. That is part of why I am so fond of the Blue Spring Bait Company lures. I still enjoy occasional visits to Marianna. Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt's Mill Pond are among my favorite places to go whenever I am there. Both are as pretty as the picture postcard shown here...

We are always interested in adding to this collection. Please send an email if you have any old Blue Spring baits for sale or trade.
Visit my page about Antique Florida Lures to see other lure makers from Florida.

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