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    Old Scout

    [attachment=0:wkc57f4r]Hams_Bear.jpg[/attachment:wkc57f4r]The Lake Ice fishing bear was born as a commercial by the Hamm’s Brewery Company in the 1950’s. Originally, the fishing bear was utilized as an indoor plastic floor display by businesses promoting the sale of Hamm’s beer throughout the company’s “Land of Sky Blue Waters” sales area. The Bear had been originally sitting on top of the beer cooler when George Weizenicker suggested mounting the bear on a real inner tube. Leon Weizenicker took his suggestion and added a fish pole and can of Hamm’s beer. Leon and Florence Weizenicker, owners of the Lake Ice Company from 1948-1973, a local tackle shop, saw an opportunity to call attention to their business by utilizing the bear as an outside exhibit. They had the bear mounted on an inner tube anchored just north of their property on Sawdy’s Pond, a small extension of the Wisconsin River. In 1958, Hamm’s was the top seller beer so the bear was recognized as a trademark. The fishing bear quickly became a popular tourism attraction and photographic stop for motorists. The original bear was hit by a boat coming into the Lake Ice dock so they had it fiber glassed to preserve it. After the fishing bear was put afloat in the late 1950’s and until the business was sold in 1973, the fishing bear was a well-known trademark of the Lake Ice Company. Subsequent owners of the business did not continue the fishing bear promotion. Ultimately, the bear was rescued by Larry Tobin, owner of the Tomahawk Leader. In 1999 Larry gave it to the Fishing Unlimited Club.

    Fishing Unlimited found that the sculpture know as the Lake Ice Bear was suffering from age and the board it was mounted on needed to be replaced. They built a small boat, touched up the bear and mounted the bear on the boat. The bear in his boat holding his fish pole was often seen riding in Tomahawk’s 4th of July parade. In June of 2018 Fishing Unlimited donated the bear to the Tomahawk Area Historical Society to be put on display in the museum.


    One correction:

    I don’t know the exact year that Larry & Kathy Tobin purchased the Lake Ice property but it definitely wasn’t until after 1982. The Tobins purchased the Tomahawk Leader on April 1, 1982 and Larry moved to Tomahawk at that time (Kathy and kids came a little later). The Lake Ice property was purchased sometime after that (I believe years later).

    I remember having to mow the property as a kid and I believe at one time the leading idea was to open a fresh fish store on the property.

    Old Scout

    I am thinking that there was a typo in the information I found on the bear, and perhaps it was supposed to be 1988. Perhaps Larry can give us the correct information. I certainly want to make sure the information is correct.

    Thanks for giving me the update on the critter.


    Back in the late 1960`s and early 1970`s many taverns all around Wisconsin had the famous Hamm`s lighted beer signs .

    If you have any now they`re probably worth a mint, because they were the best signs out there. 😉




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