Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Voices from the Past: Arden Baker

Fred Arbogast is a subject I have been thinking about lately, as I am pondering writing a book of essays on aspects of this firm's interesting history. Arbogast was always a company in the news, and thanks in large part to both Fred and his company successor Dick Kotis, they had a very friendly relationship with the press. Here is a piece illustrating that from the 1969 The Fort Pierce (FL) News Tribune, written by long-time OWAA scribe Arden Baker. Check out the plea for early glass-eyed Hawaiian Wigglers!

Tight Lines

by Arden Baker

Free Offer for Wiggler Skirts

Historians tell us this is the 35th birthday of a famed fishing lure known as the "Number 2 Hawaiian Wiggler," first created by an Ohio Bass fisherman, Fred Arbogast. In celebration of the event, the Arbogast Company is offering free rubber skirts for Hawaiian Wigglers everywhere. Already the Arbogast Company has turned out more than 100 million such skirts, more than those worn by hula dancers in all the history of the Hawaiian Islands.

Any fisherman needing a free new rubber skirt for his Hawaiian Wiggler is invited to write to Dick Kotis, President, Fred Arbogast Company, 313 West North Street, Akron, Ohio, 44303.

Meanwhile, old-time anglers who own one of the early models of this famous lure should take a second look at that antique fish catcher. A few of the earliest ones had glass eyes. And Kotis would like to talk fishing with any one who might still have such an antique. Happy birthday to Hawaiian Wigglers everywhere.

I can still remember the only time I ever saw Fred Arbogast. A fishing friend and I were drifting along a wooded shoreline of Turkeyfoot Lake, south of Akron, Ohio. All we had to show for a busy morning of casting were two sorry little bass of about two pounds each. Now this sounds like the sort o£ catches they make on some of the hard fished lakes up there in these modem times. But the year was 1931 and there were still seme good bass in Turkeyfoot Lake.

Coming from the opposite direction were two fishermen in another boat, and as they got fairly close one of them reared bacback on his rod and was into a nice bass. And then we recognized the angler as Fred Arbogast. At the time he was using one of his famous "Tin Liz" lures. The lure was made in the shape of a small shiner minnow, the minnow body being cast of lead and molded onto the hook. There was a flap tail attached to the bend of the hook. To me the only virtue of this lure was that it could be cast a country mile, and it sailed through the air like a bullet. But I'm sad to say I could not catch fish with it. The last one I owned is lying on the bottom of some lake somewhere up in the north country.

But we were polite and asked how the fishing had been for them and Fred held up a nice string of bass running from two to four pounds. And they'd caught them on the Tin Liz! We tied the boats together and had a gab fest while we ate our lunches, and then separated and went our ways. Partner and I put on our Tin Liz lures and fished them as hard as we could, and you know what we wound up the day with? Those same two sorry bass!

-- Dr. Todd

1 comment:

Tom said...

Arden Baker was my Chief Photographer at the Ft. Pierce News Tribune, and I never knew that he wrote.

Arden took me fishing in the Savanahs of Ft. Pierce. He knew of a deep hole that we visited in his boat. He let me use a fly rod and bugs. I'd never used one before and was planning on using a cane pole. We didn't catch anything but I certainly had a good time.

I had lost contact with Arden and had not even thought of him for years. Then one day I decided to call. Mrs. Baker answered the phone and I asked if Arden was around. She paused for a bit and said in a voice tinged with humor, "Yes, he's pretty much everywhere. Arden died a couple of years ago and I spread his ashes all about the yard."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We did have a good talk. Mrs. Baker had a good sense of humor about a lot of things, as I recall.