Joe Bowker began making catfish bait in the late 1940’s He made several fishing trips into Missouri and several fisherman upon seeing his success asked him for his bait. He started making bait to sell to these people and some of his friends around Arkansas City, Kansas. In the early 1960’s he started selling the bait through tackle distributors. One Nebraska distributor confirms carrying the bait in 1962.
After Joe Bowkers’s death in the late 1960’s, his wife Connie married Bill Bush and together they continued to manufacture the bait and distribute it as Bill and Connie Bush’s Bowkers’s Catfish Bait. Connie Bush died in 1992 and a flood created havoc with the Bowker’s manufacturing facility at their home in Arkansas City, Kansas. Additionally, a road that was being planned was going to force the relocation of the facility.
When Roger Belohlavy tried to order Bowker’s Catfish bait formula for his tackle shop in Crete, Nebraska, he found that it might not be manufactured in 1994. He called Bill Bush on April 1, 1994 and asked about purchasing the secret catfish bait formula and Operation. The business was sold to Turkey Creek Furs & Recycling Inc. of Crete, Nebraska and the first day of production d.b.a Bowker’s Catfish Bait in Crete was April 26, 1994. Production continued using the quart glass jars that traditionally had always been
In 1995, Bowkers’s Catfish Bait began using plastic jars for packaging and introduced its first new product, Bowkers’s Dough Bait. In 1996, Bowker’s introduced Shrimp Added formula. Shad and Blood added formulas were introduced in 1998.
Turkey Creek Furs & Recycling, Inc. was started in 1980 in the garage of Roger and Jan Belohlavy. The year 2006 marks our 26th Anniversary of business. In 1987, we moved into our current facility only a few blocks from the Blue River in Crete, Nebraska.
In 2008, Bowker’s Catfish Bait was purchased by International Bait Manufacturers, Inc., which is located in Friend, Nebraska.