Wednesday, March 31, 2010

President Roosevelt & The Tarpon Inn by Gerald Garrett

Got a very nice email from Gerald Garrett of Texas about the FDR video from the last "Friday Funhouse." Gerald writes:

Enjoyed video clip as I live in Port Arthur. Will scoot on down to the Tarpon Inn where FDR stayed, and on the wall, "as wall paper is what it looks like," there is a thousand tarpon scales. Of which is a scale there signed by FDR. Might have been from this very fish, of which memory serving correctly, was released.
Will take some shots, post on Joes and send to you to do whatever you like with them.

Gerald then proceeded to take a ton of photos and give us a glimpse at a legendary piece of tarpon history, and of presidential lore. Here is his photo essay:

Tarpon Inn from outside.

Plaque commemorating it as a historic site.

Sign showing vacancy.

Outside veranda where Pres. Roosevelt would have smoked as the sun went down.

Front desk with mounted tarpon.

Pictures and signed tarpon scales.

The Tarpon Inn as it originally looked. I believe this incarnation was damaged significantly by a hurricane.

Pres. Roosevelt signed this tarpon scale on 08 May 1937.

Others signed scales, too.

Old photo of the Tarpon Inn.

Roosevelt landing his tarpon in 1937.

Another shot of the President.

On his way back to the dock.

The Tarpon Inn dining hall.

The boat dock attracted lots of men, women and children.

A shot of the dock from the water.

Many thanks to Gerald for taking these and sending them our way! Awesome stuff. Since Joe Pflueger was a member of the Aransas Pass Tarpon Club, I have more than a passing interest in the subject. Very cool stuff!

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Voices from the Part: The History of the Nottingham Wooden Winch (1895)

The following article came from the London Fishing Gazette, 07 September 1895. It details the background history of the famed Nottingham Wooden Winch.

History of the Nottingham Wooden Winch

Anglers throughout the country are by this time familiar with the qualities of the Nottingham wooden winch, and a few facts in connection with its invention and production may prove acceptable to readers of the Fishing Gazette.

The old bobbin or bush reels were in use on the river Trent years before the admirable work, The Angler's Instructor," was written by the late William Bailey, of Nottingham. They were of primitive pattern, and were made for the most part in Radford and Sneinton, suburbs of Nottingham. The mechanic who first conceived the idea of a centre reel was one Joseph Turner, of Pomfret-street, Nottingham. He made several, and one is now in the possession of Mr. Stephen Dale, whose grandson, Mr. H. Dale, carries on business as a fishing tackle and reel maker in St. John's-street in the town named. Mr. Stephen Dale himself retired from the business so long conducted by him a season or two ago, and resides at Burton-on-Trent.

Scarcely had Mr. Turner placed his reel on the market than Mr. S. Lowkes, of Upper Parliament-street, Nottingham, produced one on an improved principle. This, however, possessed defects, not the least being that, if the line by any means became entangled in the aperture surrounding the spindle, and on which, of course, the reel revolved, the angler was compelled to break off his line. Moreover, in order to clear the spindle of any line which might have accidentally fouled it, he was under the necessity of running off the whole in. order to reach the seat of the fastening. This lay on the bobbin or revolving plate (wood) itself, and was unlocked by means of a key.

The reel, however, was eagerly sought after, and was, without doubt, the best in the market up to that period—forty years or more ago. Scores of the reels are still in existence, and in a few isolated cases old Trent fishermen are accustomed to use them. The late Mr. John Morley, fishing tackle dealer, of Carrington-street, Nottingham, used to take the centres, whilst those of the ordinary pattern were taken by Mr. S. Dale. A Mr. Steers, also of Nottingham, used to produce scores of first-class centres, and just previously to his death he was engaged on the production of reels working on two centres.

A Nottingham Winch from Alfred Jardine's "Pike and Perch" (1898).

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, March 29, 2010

News of the Week: 29 March 2010

Woman bow hunting fish gets jaw broken by flying carp...Lady Gaga goes fishing...200 singing fish on a Volvo...rodmaker Ray Wright dies in tragic accident...Fred Hall is over for this year...Bad Day at Flat Rock: $20,000 worth of reels stolen...shad fishing is upon us...Bassmaster Classic TV show gets a sports Emmy praise of stubby rods...Euro fly fishing techniques infiltrate America...discovering the line dryer courtesy Terry Kovel...a totally awesome fishing adventure...Doc Samson, walleye pro...Tim Tebow would rather go fishing...the first immortal creature lives in the sea, must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: A woman bow hunting fish gets her jaw broken by a carp. You simply can't make this stuff up.

From Tosh.0 -- I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this picture:

Lady Gaga goes fishing. In 8 inch heels. Seriously.

Would you put 200 singing fish on your Volvo? No? Well, then you are NOT this guy.

Bamboo rodmaker Ray Wright has tragically passed away. Read about the story by Clicking Here.

The Fred Hall show has wrapped up.

Fishing line is a real hazard.

Bad Day at Flat Rock: A nearly $20,000 theft of fishing reels in Flat Rock.

Britain's Matt Hayes still loves coarse fishing.

Springtime fun is a hickory shad run.

Bassmaster Classic TV show gets another Sports Emmy nomination.

Dust off your fishing rod--so sayeth the New Hampshirites.

Stubby rods make better fishing tools.

Anglers are competing for the President's Cup.

Euro fly fishing techniques are infiltrating America.

Terry Kovel seems stunned there ever was something called a "line dryer."

Dr. Bill Shelton's Totally Awesome Fishing Adventure.

20 Q's with walleye pro Doc Samson.

Night fishing in calm waters = paradise.

A proposed fishing ban in a popular Nova Scotia lake.

The pleasures of angling.

Pro football prospect Tim Tebow may go fishing rather than attend the draft.

Finishing With a Flourish: The world's first immortal being, and of course, it's a marine animal.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, March 28, 2010

1000 Words

1000 Words

This week we have a great photo dated ca. 1920 of a fly angler on the stream. Another classic composition.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Deconstructing Old Ads:
The Value of old Advertisements
In looking at old ads, it is important to be able to extract valuable information from them while being able to ignore what is advertising hype or in some cases downright falsehoods. A case in point are these two ads from National Sportsman. Both are Heddon ads. The first is from May 1916 and deals with the Heddon Crab Wiggler and the New Baby Crab Wiggler. Warren Platt sent me this ad that purports to quote Jim Heddon saying, "If I could have only one Dowagiac in my tackle box it would be a crab wiggler." There is one BIG problem with this statement. The advertisement states the Crab Wiggler was introduced in 1915 and the Baby Crab Wiggler in 1916. Unfortunately. Jim Heddon passed away in 1911!

The second ad presented here is from May 1919 and is one of my favorites because it answered so many questions that were unknown to collectors 25 years ago. It tells us that "Red Scale" color was introduced in 1919. It tells us that the Deep-O-Diver was introduce in 1919 and shows us that the first model of that bait is the one with the nail in the middle of its back to hang pork rind on. It also shows us that the change had already been made on the baby crab wiggler from the "U-collar" to the later round collar.

When you see the Deep-o-Diver listed here in "Natural Scale" don't be fooled. This information needs to be processed a little. 1918 was the first year that Heddon offered a scale finish. There was only one and it was simply called "Scale Finish." It was cataloged as color 9D. In 1919 when a second scale finish was offered ( i.e. the "Red Scale" ) the name of the first scale finish (9D) was changed to "Natural Scale" as seen in this ad. The following year as more scale patterns were offered the name of color 9D was changed once again to "Green Scale." It was the same color all along, although the earliest versions had that aluminum and black colored stripe down the back that collectors like to call "Deluxe Green Scale."  

This 1919 ad also ask us to send for a "Circular" showing their rods and minnows. We know now that there was no large Heddon catalog  in 1918 or 1919. Only "circulars" were offered these two years. By the way that 1919 circular is very, very rare. Our friend Joe Stagnitti has the only one I've ever seen. Read this ad carefully and you will find there several more things that can be learned.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Third Birthday to Fishing for History!

Happy Third Birthday to Fishing for History!

March 26, 2007 -- it was a different world. Radio dominated our lives (television had yet to be invented), President Calvin Coolidge presided over the goldenest year of the decade, Babe Ruth was preparing for an epic season that would see him...

Oh, wait, that was March 26, 1927. My bad.

March 26, 2007 -- it was a different world. Twitter was still just emerging from its egg while the universally beloved Tiger Woods prepared for the Masters, and our watchdog media, ever vigilant, declared that the sub-prime risk was much lower for big banks.

Yes, there was this new thing called "blogs," of which -- if you can even believe this -- there were only seventy million as of August 2007. Ridiculous, I know. Always in tune with the latest breaking trends, one intrepid fishing historian decided to jump into the shallow end of the pool and start the first fishing blog dedicated to preserving fishing history and disseminating fishing news. Apparently, only 120,000 people had the exact same idea of starting a blog on the exact same day.

Well over a million words, a thousand posts, a half million visitors from 100+ countries and nearly a million page views later, we are still here. Exhausted, but still alive and kicking. And according to Alexa, Fishing for History is currently the fifth largest fishing blog in the world. Yikes. Perhaps that's a comment on the fishing blogosphere more than anything else.

Of course, it is not just me who should celebrate this achievement. Over the course of three years, over a hundred people have contributed in the form of guest articles, features, photos, etc. I can't possibly list everyone but you know who you are. A few, however, stand out for their exceptional (and welcome) contributions. They include Wild Bill Sonnett, who gives us the awesome "Deconstructing Old Ads" on Saturdays, Dick Streater, who contributed a host of "Thought of the Week," and Doug Jobe, Peter Nilsen, Warren Platt and others who contributed to "1000 Words."

Three years is not a very long time when it comes down to it, but in the world of blogs it is a true milestone. Trust me when I say how incredibly difficult it can be to stay motivated to do this day in and day out. I started thinking I'd do it once or twice a week, soon moved to every weekday, and then every single day and now haven't missed a day in over eighteen months.

So my sincere thanks go out to everyone who's come by and stayed a moment or two to read the News of the Week, played around in the Friday Funhouse, or read one of the features or a Voices from the Past. Thank you for indulging me and my friends. Thank you for helping preserve fishing history. And thank you for just being you.

I hope to be here for another three decades or more, but for now I'll settle for being here tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

-- Dr. Todd

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

This is a great vintage video of FDR fishing!

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

Hardy saltwater reels are rare, and this one is no exception.

This is a great Vom Hofe Restigouche.

A Garcia Mitchell 300 DL Gold presentation reel is a superb find.

This Helios looks like a very rare spinning reel.

A Jim Payne rod made for Lefty Kreh? Sign me up.

Heddon Spindivers will always make the Friday Funhouse.

Wow! This Super Cargem 55 is a classic spinning reel.

This is a flat out awesome Heddon Bucktail Surface Minnow!

A Paw Paw license topper is really, really rare.

I LOVE the color on this baby CCBC Dingbat.

This is a super cool hand-forged eel spear.

A really rare Keen Kicker frog doesn't come up very often for sale.

A Moonlight Pikaroon is always a nifty find.

Creek Chub's Castrola is an often overlooked lure, but is beautiful and rare. Especially in the box.

As always, have a great weekend, and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd