Local fishing guide honored by lure company with "Red Head Uncle Ted"

The Red Head Uncle Ted ... The classic red and white color combination fishing lure, such as the one pictured above, was brought back into production by Bill Lewis Lures at the suggestion of local fishing guide Ted Peck of New Albin. The company more recently named the "old-school" lure after Peck, calling it the "Red Head Uncle Ted". Submitted photo.

Recognized with rare naming honor ... Local fishing guide Ted Peck of New Albin, pictured above, was recently honored by Bill Lewis Lures for his contribution to the sportfishing industry by naming one of their classic red and white color combination lures in his honor, dubbing it the "Red Head Uncle Ted." The lure is the only one in the company's Rat-L-Trap line of lures to be named after an individual. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

If someone had told Mississippi River fishing guide Ted Peck of New Albin an Alabama company would ever name a fishing lure after a Yankee from Illinois, he would have said they were telling fish stories.

But that's exactly what happened in October of this past year.

Bill Lewis Lures renamed its signature Rat-L-Trap red/white floating model RT-97 “Red Head Uncle Ted” in honor of Peck. Rat-L Trap has been making lures since 1964. The Red Head Uncle Ted is the only model out of Rat-L Trap's 143 lures to be named for an individual.

“It's quite humbling,” said Peck of the lure that bears his name.

Peck and his wife, Candy, moved to New Albin l1 years ago after living in Wisconsin for much of their lives. He grew up in Carroll County, IL fishing with his dad, who gave him some of his favorite lures.

After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a degree in journalism, Peck worked as a journalist and professional fisherman, as well as a professional firefighter and paramedic.

Since 1973, he has been fishing and writing about it weekly. Over the years, his passion for sharing his tips about angling have led to sponsorships by numerous national tackle and recreational sponsors and membership on several pro fishing teams, including Lund boats, Evinrude Motors, Johnson Fishing, St. Croix rods, Jerry's Sports Service, Northern Batteries, Northland Tackle, Frabill, Bill Lewis Lures, Vexilar, Vibrations Tackle, Taylor Tackle, HT Enterprises, Bimbo Skunk Lures, Choo Choo Lures and Cottonmouth Lures.

He currently writes a weekly column for the Janesville (WI) Gazette, and was named Outdoor Writer of the Year in 1999. He has also been a regular monthly contributor to Game and Fish publications since 1987 and a masthead editor for Big River Magazine.

Other work has included writing numerous articles for In-Fisherman, Catfish In-Sider, Woods & Waters, Fins & Feathers, Wildfowl, Bassmaster and others. In addition he has appeared on ESPN's Anglin' USA, Midwest Outdoors TV Magazine, Babe Winkelman's Good Fishing, Tom Bruenwald Outdoors and Discover Wisconsin.

In 2011, he authored the book "Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide," a collection of vignettes and observances from his experiences as a fishing guide. In 2015, he introduced his own signature series lures, the “Teddy Cat” and the “Perchanator.”

Peck said sport fishing didn't start in America until after World War II. “At the time, every tackle box in America had a red and white. These colors caught fish,” said Peck.

Peck has always had excellent luck with the Rat-L Trap lure, and has written about its success. When Rat-L Trap discontinued making it a few years ago, Peck protested.

“I found a few on E-Bay, but when I couldn't find any more, I pressed Rat-L Trap to start making them again. They made a couple dozen just for me, and I wrote a couple more articles about it, so they decided to bring it back,” said Peck. “There's no better lure for catching northern pike."

Peck said the idea for the name of the lure surfaced a few years ago, when he took a 12-year-old boy fishing. “He just kept catching pike. Then he started calling the lure the Uncle Ted,” said Peck.

Then last February, Peck took an extended fishing tour to the American South. “I fished my way down through Southern Illinois, the state of Mississippi and Florida,” said Peck.

While he was in Florida, Rat-L Trap CEO Wes Higgins contacted him and asked if he could swing through northern Alabama on his way home. “He said they wanted me to fish in the Rat-L Trap Classic at Lake Guntersville,” Peck explained.

Out of 408 anglers, Peck finished 14th in the tournament. “I flew the flag real good for them. Afterward they told me they were thinking about doing something with their flagship lure, so I told them the story about the kid who had called it the Uncle Ted,” said Peck.

"The lure we named after Captain Ted is old-school, and so is he," Higgins said. "I've been fishing with Ted and have seen his abilities with a rod and reel. He's told me more than once, 'never bet against the old guy,' so we listened when he told us that there was no better combination than our classic red and white for catching northern pike. Recognizing Ted's contribution to Bill Lewis Lures and sport fishing, in general, it was just a logical business decision to name it after him when we brought it back."

And although Peck has fished in 38 states and both oceans, he chooses to make his living as a fishing guide on Pool 9 of the Mississippi River.

“It's the premier northern pike fishery in the state… That's the reason you're interviewing me here instead of in Hayward, WI - this is the finest riverine fishery in Northern America, with 115 species of fish,” said Peck. “That's why I live here… It's like Willie Sutton robbing banks, because that's where the money is. This is where the fishing is.”

To find out more information about Peck and his fishing guide service, visit tedpeckfishing.com, email tedpeck@acegroup.cc or phone 563-544-4611.

“A day on the water with Cap’n Ted is more than just catching fish… it is an educational experience about the symbiotic relationship of all creatures great and small on the complex and awesome Mississippi River, one of the greatest natural wonders on planet earth,” writes Peck on his website.

“Understanding the grand scheme of nature is more intense on a river than any lake. The mighty Mississippi can be - and often is - the most challenging water you will ever fish. Lessons learned on this amazing fishery will make you a better angler … maybe even a better person … especially if you bring a kid who thinks text messaging without looking at the keypad is the key to world domination.”

Peck said he always gives customers with kids a discounted rate.

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