When Americans think about fishing in Europe, many times they think of carp. They are revered across the Atlantic as a game fish, but surprisingly, the pike runs a strong second place.
Andy Belenie opened a business called “The Lure Shack” in South London that brokered lures for pike fishermen, and he was successful.
He was asked to find a lure that looked like a large sucker for American muskie fishermen. Belenie was stumped. There was not a lure available that looked like a sucker. He was then asked if a lure that looked like that could be made.
“It was a difficult request,” said Belenie. “First of all, I didn’t know what a sucker looked like. Second of all, I didn’t know a thing, or had ever seen, a muskie.”
He built the lure, and sales started slowly. An American friend told Andy that he needed to come to America to attend the Chicagoland Muskie Show at Harper College in Palatine. Belenie packed two suitcases chock-full of muskie lures and boarded a plane in 2004 bound for O’Hare.
He made many valuable contacts at the show and quickly sold his unique muskie lures. He named his new venture “Shack Attack.” The baits were hand-poured and composed of soft plastic surrounding a wire framework.
The only soft plastic big fish baits on the market were being poured in China, and anglers complained about the workmanship and quality of the products. The plastic wasn’t soft enough to move like a real fish, and they didn’t last very long. Belenie’s products were exceptionally soft and pliable, yet tough.
While at the Muskie Show, Andy met Michelle, who became his wife in 2005. Belenie moved from South London to Illinois.
“I live in the muskie fishing capital of the world – Huntley, Illinois,” Belenie said. “She duped me into coming here.”
The Shack Attack line’s benchmark item is the Suzy Sucker. That bait spawned the Curly Sue, virtually the same lure, but with a long, curly tail. The lures are available in sizes from 6 to 13 inches and come in an extensive lineup of colors. If there isn’t a color combo that floats your boat, Belenie offers custom colors, either pouring custom plastic colors or painting his lures to your specs.
Every Shack Attack lure is touched by Andy Belenie. The lures are hand-crafted and hand-poured right in McHenry County. Shack Attack is a well-respected name in the lure business because they catch fish. Belenie’s ships product to Germany, Sweden, Italy, England, Ireland and Russia.
Belenie lives in Huntley with Michelle and their two daughters, Peyton, 6, and Izabella, 2. Belenie was outraged when he saw people decimating the fish populations of Huntley’s city ponds by keeping fish and began an effort to have all Huntley waters deemed as catch-and-release only. After a lot of effort, Belenie’s initiative was passed and became law in 2011.