BEAVER DAM — Slop Frog Mama has earned her name.
toils on Beaver Dam Lake’s south shore in the basement of her home
where old Presto deep fryers are used to melt and mix plastic that is
poured into molds. Plastic tails are added later, typically in the
upstairs living room while she watches episodes of “Big Bang Theory,”
“Modern Family” and the PBS hit “Doc Martin.”
Amy McQuin started
her career as a school teacher and later became a stay-at-home mom. She
now makes bins of Slop Frog bass baits that are neatly and temporarily
stored where luggage and Christmas decorations once called home. And if
the plan plays out, McQuin and her husband, Steve, who runs the business
side of the operation, may need to a find a bigger space for their C to
C Bait Co., named after their children, Chloe, 11, and Calvin, 8.
opportunity for us to really grow,” said Amy McQuin, who signs each
invoice with her Slop Frog Mama nickname. “I don’t have a business
background, but I’m learning.”
For the time being, the McQuins,
both 43, are making only Slop Frogs, designed to be used in heavy weed
cover, in a variety of colors. By this summer, they plan to add a Slop
Frog that is three times larger and targeted at muskie anglers. The
ultimate goal is to eventually manufacture, market and distribute a
series of custom baits designed by anglers who either don’t have the
time, ability or desire to run a bait company.
The Slop Frog, for
example, was designed by Jim Torgerson, a Madison native and tournament
bass fisherman. He designed his Slop Frog in the late 1990s after
becoming frustrated with the performance of other weedless, lightweight
top water baits that offered inconsistent hook sets. Between 2002 and
2008, Torgerson sold about 35,000 of the three-quarter ounce baits but
quit after his business partner moved away and the economy went in the
A year later, in 2009, Steve McQuin met Torgerson, who
worked for a maintenance company that serviced McQuin’s office building.
They started talking fishing and in 2013 reached an agreement in which
Torgeson would continue to design baits and the McQuins would do
“We found the story behind Jim very compelling,”
Steve McQuin said. “We want to create a line of baits designed by guys
like Jim and help them take it to the next level.”
rich with businesses geared toward fishing. National big-box sporting
good retailer Gander Mountain was founded in 1960 in Wilmot. Frabill is
based in Jackson, Uncle Josh in Fort Atkinson and high-end rod
manufacturer St. Croix Rod in Park Falls. HT Enterprises, known for its
ice fishing gear, is based in Campbellsport, while Fishidy (Madison) and
Lake-Link (Princeton) are nationally known web-based businesses
offering reports, tips and maps for anglers.
But there are scores of anglers who design and sell their own line of baits.
like legendary muskie angler Joe Bucher, founder of Musky Hunter
magazine in St. Germaine and who is an author and television host,
distribute nationwide and into Canada. Others, however, may be limited
to selling their baits to just a few area bait shops.
estimates there are about 70,000 freshwater baits on the market with
only about 5,000 of those made by major manufacturers like Rapala and
Heddon. That leaves scores of lure designers for the McQuins to court.
In their first year, the McQuins expect to make 15,000 to 20,000 baits
that sell for $6.49 online. Their goal is to add three baits in 2015
with continued growth after that.
“Pretty quickly, we’ll be up to
100,000 baits a year,” Steve McQuin said. “We’re trying to create this
marketplace for these artisan baits. Some (designers) only make 50 baits
For now, the McQuins’ distribution is limited to their
website and a handful of locally owned bait and tackle shops in Madison,
Milwaukee, La Crosse, Tomahawk, Winneconne and Beaver Dam. Ultimately,
they’d like to expand into larger retailers like Fleet Farm and Scheels,
and then get product into the southern U.S. where bass fishing is a
In February, the McQuins sold 250 Slop Frog baits at the
Madison Fishing Expo and had 4,000 of the baits included in the April
shipment for Mystery Tackle Box, a monthly subscription bait service.
when my hobby turned into a job,” said Amy McQuin, who had less than a
month to complete the order. “I had never poured 4,000 frogs before.”
grew up in Appleton and Steve in Milwaukee where he graduated from
Rufus King High School. They met while both were at UW-Oshkosh and were
married in 1997. Amy initially taught at a Milwaukee middle school
before moving to teach elementary school in Shorewood and then in the
Hamilton School District in Sussex.
Steve taught middle school in
Milwaukee before embarking on an information technology career,
including 14 years at Exacta Corp. in Brookfield. He now works in
Madison with an office view of Lake Monona for Farwell Projects
Advisors, a firm that helps businesses with expansions and cost-saving
decisions. Jason Potter, owner of Farwell, is helping the McQuins with
the bait company’s social media.
“That whole (consulting business)
background has certainly helped us understand what a small business
goes through,” Steve McQuin said. “We know how to lay out a plan.”
the worker bee is Slop Frog Mama Amy. She’s never been one to crochet,
knit or sew but has done small woodworking projects and loves to work in
“This kind of really is almost like cooking,” she
said. “There’s a lot of measuring involved and the heating process was
easy for me to pick up. It’s kind of like heating up a stew.”