Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Last Fifty Feet by Bill Lambot

Today we get a great treat, as Bill Lambot, author of a new book on saltwater fly fishing, has graciously agreed to allow us to read the title story from his book. This is a book that Nick Lyons has called "a perfectly delightful account," Hoagy B. Carmichael has hailed as "A 'Two-Fish' Effort," and Dick Brown has written "it seems we have a new entry in...the elite group of angling storytellers." Well, read for yourself! Enjoy this story, I know I did.

The Last Fifty Feet

by Bill Lambot

© 2010 the Author. All Rights Reserved.

Getting out is hard. Even now when you are older, have throttled back at work and you find yourself largely surrounded by people who are sympathetic, or at least resigned, to your regular flights of fancy, it can still be hard to wiggle free. Some of them still roll their eyes or sigh, but nobody is really any longer surprised by your departures. There is not so much active resistance to overcome anymore, but there is still the inertial weight that leading a “normal” life hangs around your neck when you try to escape.

A lot goes into the process that eventually delivers you to the edge of a flat. You plan your escape for months in advance. All of the moving pieces of your work and your household need to be addressed and managed. It is like assembling a giant, complex jigsaw puzzle where the final picture is still a little bit unclear.

There have been several occasions in your past when you have carefully gathered up all the pieces of the puzzle of your life, and then deliberately thrown them high up into the air. The idea was that after they came down you could assemble them into a brighter and more pleasing picture. Surprisingly, some of the pieces came down quite changed, and some of them never came down at all. So you work with what you have and you do your best. You plan and you plot and you scheme. You lie if you have to.

Packing lists and gear lists are checked, outfitters are questioned, the head guide is consulted, your notes from past trips are reviewed, and then your equipment is checked, double checked and packed. You tie up ten dozen flies and a dozen fresh leaders. Tickets, trip insurance and occasionally emergency medical evacuation riders are paid for. Money is changed, itineraries are distributed, and finally goodbyes are said. Sometimes the goodbyes are a little bit tight-lipped. Occasionally, they are tearful. The shouting, door slamming and broken glass departures are now a thing of the past.

It takes an airplane, or two, or more likely three or four, to get you to your destination. The short take off and landing strips are the most memorable. These are the aeronautical equivalent of a two lane road into a one horse town. Most have no instrumentation and some are not even manned. Its visual flight rules only. This means that you must make the final hop in daylight, so you end up overnighting in some interesting staging areas the night before your final flight. Some of these places are best described as well off the beaten track.

On the last leg, if you are flying fully loaded with full fuel tanks, and looking at a short strip, you may have to come in on final approach so slowly that the stall indicator starts to beep. The first few times that this happened, you asked about it (with a little edge in your voice), but now you understand the procedure. You have to come in as slowly as possible; otherwise, you may not have enough run way for your landing.

In some areas you make a pass over the strip to check it out before you actually go in, just to look over the surface and be sure that it is clear. Many of these strips don’t get what you could call regular traffic, so it’s prudent to take a little look around before you commit to your final approach. At that moment, you are hoping that “final approach” is merely an aviation term describing a standard maneuver, and not in any way a literal description of what is about to happen. Sometimes goats or cattle or dogs or children need to be shooed off of the runway. Once it was llamas.

Usually someone comes out from the lodge to meet you. You drive or fly or walk to the lodge. In some places, if you are driven back to the lodge, you may be in one of the few or even the only vehicle operating in the area. Some of the roads are paved and some have just heard about pavement. Sometimes there are no vehicles and you hike. On Gran Roque Island in Los Roques, it’s about a half mile from the corral, where they park the planes at the end of the strip, to town, and you just walk along the beach.

At the lodge, after the hellos, you hastily unpack. If it’s early, you can still get out, if it’s late, you usually have to wait until the next day. You set up and check all your gear. You double check you tippets, your knots and your hook points. If you’re first born you check it all again. It’s almost time.

Typically there is a boat ride to the fishing. You load you rods, gear bags and the cooler into the boat. When you push off, a lot of the baggage of civilization gets left behind on the beach. The run out in the flats boat is always exhilarating because you realize that you are finally, really out. Your guide cuts the engine and lets the wind push you up to the edge of the flat. He walks out, plants the anchor, and you step over the side to join him.

You walk slowly along beside Fidel or Garon or Elvis or Hollywood or O’Neil. You try to remember what it was like on the last few days of your previous trip when you were casting long and putting it down on the plate. After a few days of warm up, you can throw eighty and hit the X, the imaginary spot that they always show as the target in the line drawings that explain casting in the fishing books. But on the first day or two you are always a little creaky, until you get back into the groove. You stumble when you wade, you don’t see the fish, and you cast like they forgot to oil your hinges. It always all comes back, but there is no way to avoid the warm up that takes you back up the learning curve to where you ended the last trip.

In the seventies, my friend Bill Templeman, in trying to explain how certain chemicals changed your perception, remarked that you will come back after every trip (well usually), but that you don’t come back to exactly the same place that you started out from. It’s very close, but it is just barely, just perceptibly, different. It’s like that the first day back on the flats, but without the acid.

You walk in ankle deep to calf deep water. You may go a few steps or you may go miles. On rare occasion you see fish before you even get out of the boat, but usually you see them as you walk along. Early in the trip, Fidel always sees them first and you struggle to catch up. By the end of the second day, you’ll be spotting the fish well again. On very, very, rare occasion you will see a fish before the guide does. You walk along slowly and quietly, side by side. You spend more time standing still and scanning for fish than you do wading. There are long comfortable silences. The environment of these shallow water tropical flats is so overwhelmingly beautiful that silence seems like the most appropriate response that you can make. You have once again been hushed by the shades of blue and green which you will never see anywhere else but on the flats in the Caribbean.

You wade and scan and wade and scan, and then, abruptly, Fidel says, “Bonefish. Making a push. Twelve o’clock, heading to eleven. Ninety yards. See the nervous water?”

You look intently but you have to ask, “Where?”

He points, “There.”

“Got ‘em.”

He signals forward and left by pointing with his index finger. You start the stalk. He stays on your right side because you cast with your left hand. He puts his left hand on your right elbow and steers you along towards the intercept.

You walk slowly and quietly, taking little steps and wading a little hunched over. This improves you balance, lowers your center of gravity, and lowers your silhouette so you are less visible to the fish. You check the fifty feet of fly line dragging in a long single loop behind you. You flip the rod tip up and down to be sure that the line is clear coming off the rod tip, down to the leader and to the fly in your line hand, without any tangles. Your heart beat and your breathing both become more noticeable and you try to stay cool. You take a few deep breaths and try to drop into the zone.

They are at one hundred and fifty feet coming up the flat into the wind. The sun is on your back. It’s a school of about a dozen fish moving in a column of twos. They are moving up the flat slowly and smoothly with the nervous little turns and zigzags that mark fish searching for food. These are happy fish, they are catch able. The intercept looks good.

You concentrate on moving slowly and quietly while you keep your eyes locked on the fish. You tell yourself, “Don’t splash, don’t stumble, don’t make even a ripple.” They are at one hundred feet. You are head to head. The wind is behind you and maybe five knots putting a very fine texture on the surface that will make both you and your fly line much less visible to the fish. You have perfect conditions. You crouch down lower and take another few slow quite steps, thinking “Go slow, go easy, no ripples.”

When they break eighty feet, Fidel says,” Start your cast” and you do it. Now it’s all up to you. You are on your own. It’s time. This is the moment that you have been working towards. The last fifty feet are completely up to you. You focus on to the lead fish, lock on, take a deep breath, and start your cast.

You make the big, long, high, back cast that takes the line, the leader, and the fly out of your line hand. You don’t back cast directly overhead but with the rod canted down in a sidearm cast. You carry the back cast farther back then the books say you should. You pause a half second at the end of the back cast to let your line straighten out. On the forward cast you stroke hard and put a lot of snap into it. Your line hand comes up and grasps the fly line where it comes out from under the index finger of your rod hand. On the next back cast, your line hand gets in a nice long haul and you accelerate to a sudden stop and you shoot a little line. You stay locked on the lead fish. You haul on the forward cast and you can feel the line speed shoot up. Fidel says quietly, “Easy.”

You start your final cast. Everything is flowing smoothly. It feels great. It feels like you are winding up to throw a perfect strike. When you make your final back cast, you drop the rod tip down a little more towards horizontal, easing into a full sidearm cast and you shoot a little line on the back cast. The cast and the fly will follow your eyes so on this final forward cast, the presentation, you shift your eyes off the lead fish and force yourself to look at the exact place where you want the fly to land. You look one rod length ahead of the lead fish. You want to make a good lead, but not too much.

On the forward cast you haul back and down hard bringing your line hand almost down to your knee. You hold the line until the last possible second before you make the release. The fly line shoots out through the little compressed circle of your thumb and forefinger. It’s flying out in a beautiful arc. You look the fly into the water like a pitcher looks the ball into the catcher’s mitt. You try to guide it with your eyes right to the X. You end the presentation just a little high so that the fly drops gently.

The fly is a regular Gotcha with pink sili legs tied on a size four Tiemco 811S with medium silver bead chain eyes. You tie them with the wing sparse. It lands quietly, a rod length ahead of the lead pair. It’s a strike. You soar in spite of your effort to stay cool. You drop down to one knee to reduce your visibility, keeping the rod tip low. They are cruising slowly right towards the fly. They are coming right at you. You strip in one foot of line to remove any slack, and then you stop. The lead fish is one foot ahead of his partner. He is three feet from the fly.

Very quietly, but with intensity, Fidel whispers, “Wait. Wait. Wait. Now, one inch strip. Stop.”

The lead fish sees the fly and moves towards it. The silence is as palpable as the water that you are kneeling in. You are submerged in a genuine moment of direct experience, unencumbered by distraction, symbolism, technology, or anyone else’s agenda. You are now deep inside the last second of the last fifty feet. You are completely centered. This is the moment that you have worked for, and waited for. This is the pivotal instant before the bonefish either tails on the fly or refuses it. It’s an existential moment because you don’t know how it will turn out. There is just you, Fidel, and the lead fish.

Time and distance and your focus have merged into this perfect moment. It is now. You are as directly connected to the great electronic tide as you will ever be. Everything, including you and Fidel and the lead fish, is in its proper place exactly where it should be. Destiny has dictated this meeting and here you are. The moment hangs. The outcome of this encounter has already been decided and you are about to find out what it is. There is a moment of stillness, silence, concentration and expectation.

The fish tails on the fly. You reflexively count to two, and then make a long, steady, strip to set the hook. The line comes up tight and you feel the bump that signals that you are hooked up. You tug your line hand back a few inches, and snap your rod tip up a foot, which drives the hook in, and puts a slight bow in your rod. You are connected.

The moment shatters as the fish starts its run heading away from you, back down the flat towards the deep water in the channel. The rest of the school explodes and scatters. You hold the rod butt tight against the bottom of your forearm so that the line can’t wrap around it. You twist your arm, so the face of the reel is looking down towards the water, so the line can’t wrap around the handle. You raise your rod tip to just above eye height and you hold your line hand out in front of you, letting the slack line run up off the water, and through your fingers under very light pressure. You are completely focused on clearing your slack line, and on getting the fish on the reel. In two seconds the slack line has run out, and, with a jolt, the fish is on the reel. The reel makes that high, wild, wonderful drag sound, like a loud power drill. Fidel gives a little laugh, “Hee, hee, hee.”

You stand up for a better angle to fight the fish, raising your rod to forty-five degrees, putting the tip just above the horizon, so that it is applying drag and pressure, while at the same time, acting as a shock absorber to cushion any sudden surge. The fish is still running. The backing knot goes out. The bright day glow yellow backing is running out, pointing towards your fish. The moment of clarity is past. Now you are concentrating on your rod tip and your running fish. You will never get used to how fast they run.

The moment of clarity, anticipation, stillness and silence which lies within the last second, at the end of the last fifty feet, has been pushed aside for now by the run of the fish. At the end of the day, in a moment of reflection, you will recall it. That moment is what you came for, it’s what brings you back, and it’s what you remember.

When you return, people ask about your fishing trip, either because they’re curious or they’re just trying to be polite. They always ask the same three questions: where did you go, how many fish did you catch, and how much did it all cost? These are what they see as the vital statistics. They expect a story about airplanes, palm trees, white sand, blue water, rum drinks and silver fish, which I am pleased to deliver.

They never ask about the last second at the end of the last fifty feet and I never bring it up. That’s a different kind story. That moment resides in an interior landscape that doesn’t translate into a tourist brochure type narrative or into a casual conversation.


Bill Lambot is a dedicated fly angler and writer from Connecticut. His book, The Last Fifty Feet: Essays in Saltwater Fly Fishing was recently published by The Whitefish Press and more information about it can be found By Clicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

An Update to the Archimedean Minnow

An Update to the Archimedean Minnow

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who wrote and posted on Joe's about the article. It was a lot of fun and I think Buck Juhasz has a really special lure box on his hands.

Anyway, several people have asked if there are any good reference books on early British fishing lures. The short answer is yes, there are. There is one book that everyone should have, whether you collect these or not, and it is Chris Sandford's The Best of British Baits. Not only is it a beautiful book, but it is incredibly informative as well.

For a long time this book was difficult to find, but it seems to be available now through the outstanding Medlar Press (along with the addendum on British Hook Harnesses) by Clicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Earliest American Lure Box? Exploring Andrew Clerk's 1873 Archimedean Minnow

The Earliest American Lure Box? Exploring Andrew Clerk's 1873 Archimedean Minnow

Recently I was emailed photos by Buck Juhasz of what I believe to be the earliest American fishing lure box, and thought I'd do some research and give a little background on the lure that almost assuredly went in this box.

The box is marked "Andrew Clerk & Co.'s Improved Hard Rubber Archimedean Minnow" and is a two-piece cardboard box with an orange paper label.

Since Andrew Clerk & Co. was renamed Abbey & Imbrie in 1875, we know for dead certain that this box pre-dates this 1875 transition. Since Andrew Clerk & Co. was known as Baker, Green & Clerk until 1864, we have a hard date for when this box was sold: 1864-1875. I believe I can more closely date the box based on some other evidence, as we shall soon see.

The Archimedean Minnow

But first a little background on the lure. What is an Archimedean Minnow? It is a fishing lure invented in Britain in 1845 by a man named Frederick Allies of Worcester. Allies received a patent for this lure on July 18, 1845, and the main innovation had a lasting impact on fishing lure design: the Archmidean fins on either side of the lure that made it spin in the water.

The term "Archimedean fins" were used to describe the two upward and downward fins that made the bait revolve. This is because they would make the bait spiral in the water like the Greek mathematician Archimedes' famous screw used to pump water in the ancient world.

Here is an example of a Townsend patented pearl phantom minnow showing the Archmidean fins from an early Cummins catalog.

The Archimedean Minnow became very popular in Britain. The first reference I can find to it is in Edward Fitzgibbon's A Handbook of Angling (1847) in which the author declared that the best artificial minnow is "the Archimedean minnow of Mr. F. Allies of Worcester...the artificial bait of Mr. Allies is sold by Mr. Farlow, of 221 Strand; by Mr. Cheek of 132 Oxord Street, and by all the other good London tackle-makers. Of small and middle size, it will kill (I guarantee it) trout, perch, jack, and occasionally salmon; of large size, it will kill the largest pike, the Salmo ferox, Salmo hucho, and the old Salmo salar in its inconstant moods."

A year later, William Carpenter in The Angler's Assistant (1848) declared "There are various descriptions of artificial minnows, one of which--the 'Archimedean minnow,' invented by Mr. Allies of Worcester--is becoming a great and deserved favourite."

By the time of the famed Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, Allies was clearly manufacturing a full line of Archimedean Minnows. Here is the blurb on Allies from the Exhibition's official catalog showing the range of goods he displayed:

These lures were largely used for trolling for pike and salmon, and as such remained a popular lure for over a half century. The 1866 Allcock's catalog contained a color image of the "Allies' Pectoral" minnow, referenced as the "pectoral fin minnow" at Crystal Palace, and this lure was still available in the late 1880s (see cut later in article).

The Archimedean became a standard bait for British anglers. Francis Francis wrote of it in 1874 in his By Lake & River: "I had a notion that I would spin it, and was rigging out my tackle, which, among other things, comprised a large sized, heavyish Archimedean minnow..." J.J. Manley was still touting it in 1877 in Notes on Fish and Fishing: "There is an infinite variety of artificial minnows. After trying very many, I find that practically the old 'Archimedean' horn minnow is as good as any..."

It was one of the few fishing lures to make it into English verse as well. Edward Farmer wrote of the Archimedean (and its inventor Fred Allies) in his "A Few Fishing Lines, or a Challenge to Angler" (1863) in the following stanzas:

I've learned to manufacture flies
Of every mortal form and size.
I do not mean that I can make them
As Blacker does--but fishes take them.
I've just enough of what's termed 'nouse,'
To build an artificial 'mouse'
'The Archimedean minnow' too,
Quite equal to the 'Derby-killer,'
For which men part with with so much siller;
Although the maker, sooth to say,
Has killed some rattlers in his day'
Mine take the lead, none e'er denies
Of those so noted by Allies.

Not everyone was a fan of the Archimedean. A.S. Moffat penned a blistering attack on artificial lures, naming the Archimedean specicially, when he wrote in 1865 in his Secrets of Angling: "Before, however, we speak of the art of minnow-trolling, I may be allowed a word or two respecting the various new inventions intended to increase the resources of the troller, in the shape of the new-fashioned bait--"Archimedean Minnow, "sensation baits," "nobbler flies," etc.--each one more destructive than any that have been seen in the world before. Truly, they would have one believe that the appetites of the fish were as capricious and as prone to novelty as milliners or young ladies..."

Suffice to say that the revolving Archimedean Minnow of Frederick Allies was an excellent innovation with a very long history in Britain. By the time Manley was writing in the 1870s, the term "Archimedean" had become a generic term used to describe any kind of similar style minnow as Allies' invention, whether they were made of horn, metal, gutta percha, or as we will see, hard rubber.

The Archimedean Minnow in America

Despite what Graham Turner might write, the use of actual fishing lures before the Civil War was unusual in America. This helps explain why so few examples of early lures show up. The few lures that were available to Americans anglers included the Buel Spoon, the T.H. Bate spinner, the Haskell Minnow, and various British imported devons, phantoms, and Archimedean minnows.

I am going to make a reasonable supposition based on available data as to what the lure that goes in the "Improved Hard Rubber Archimedean Minnow" box.

First of all, I think we can date the lure box a bit more specifically to the early-to-mid 1870s due to its use of the words "Hard Rubber." This is a term that was originally popularized in the late 1860s by the North British Rubber Company of Edinburgh, who wrote in their advertising copy for 1868 of items made of "Vulcanite (or Ebonite, or Hard Rubber)." So Hard Rubber was another name for Ebonite.

It first became popular in American fishing in the early 1870s as well, and soon became common in advertising. In fact, Andrew Clerk & Co. were sole agents (as I've written of before on my articles on A.H. Fowler) for the Fowler's Hard Rubber reel in 1874.

So I believe that this lure box dates from 1873-1875, as the term Hard Rubber became commonly used not just in popular parlance, but by Andrew Clerk as well.

But what does the lure look like?

The following cut comes from the 1871 Samuel Allcock & Co. catalog, and shows the "Allies Pectoral" discussed above.

The same catalog page shows what I believe to be the original Archimedean Minnow, which Allcock called the "Caledonian Minnow."

This is the lure that Abbey & Imbrie (successors to Andrew Clerk & Co.) advertised in its 1883 catalog as its "Caledonian Extra" Minnow, as seen in the cut below:

This is also the lure I believe went in the "Improved Hard Rubber Archimedean Minnow" box.

As an incredible, incredible coincidence, twelve hours before this article went to press, Stephanie Henry posted on the always amazing Joe's Board some photos of an unidentified lure. One look at it and it was clear this was a Caledonian Minnow, in fact, it is (I believe) the very lure that would have come in this box! Simply incredible. Here are Stephanie's photos, with her kind permission:

The Caledonian is also one of the few British lures that survived the American tackle making boom of the late 1870s and 1880s, that saw imported lures almost completely supplanted by lures made by Chapman, Mann, McHarg, and others. Here is a full page from the 1880 Abbey & Imbrie catalog:

Note the use of the word "Hard Rubber" to describe the A&I Caledonian.

So there you have it. The earliest American two-piece cardboard lure box I have ever seen and the lure that likely went in it. There are two very, very old cardboard boxed lures in Arlan Carter's book, including one Chapman that likely dates from 1875. But I believe this one is older.

Can anyone beat the proposed 1873-1874 date for an American tackle company cardboard lure box??

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Voices from the Past: The Lake with the Unpronounceable Name (1902)

The Lake with the Unpronounceable Name

What's in a name? A lake by any other would fish as sweet.

Well, perhaps not if you are a certain lake in Massachusetts.

The Boston Daily Advertiser reported in 1902 about a lake with an unpronounceable name. Give it a shot. I dare you.

The Fish and Game Commission has temporarily prohibited fishing in Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggachaubunagungamaugg. Just why fishing has been prohibited there is not entirely stated. It is rumored that some reckless sportsman drew the lake's name through that body of water several times (after the manner of a seine) and that this reckless practice resulted in catching nearly all the fish that were too large to slip through the "au's" and the "gg's." If the orders of the Fish Commission were necessary to preserve the beauties of this charming lake, they were justifiable. As the town poet of Webster has forcefully song:

No Franklin pond nor Hampshire bog
Can compare with Lake Chargoggagog-

Anyway, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (as it is properly spelled) has a long and interesting history, as attested to by this vignette penned for Webster's centennial in 1959. Apparently the Nipmuck Indian name means "Englishmen at Manchaug at the Fishing Place at the Boundary." It is sometimes called, by those with no soul, Webster Lake. It's more fun name is the longest place name in America (45 letters) and one of the longest in the world.

It's a pretty lake, as you can see from the photo above, and I'd like a fishing report stat so I can plan my next trip to Webst...I mean Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

Of course, there HAD to be several songs written about this lake. The first was a popular duet by Broadway stars Ray Bolger and Ethel Merman called "The Lake Song." I have heard this song but can't seem to locate a version on-line. It's where the incorrect translation of the name "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, no one fishes in the middle" was first popularized.

Here's another song about the lake written in 1935 and popularized Fred Waring and his Pennyslvanians, sung in a very charming way by a local school choir.

Finally, we have a third version sung by folksinger Diane Taraz called ""Let's Go Canoeing on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg."

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, September 27, 2010

News of the Week: 27 September 2010

Don't have time to read 50+ fishing and tackle collecting blogs and web sites? Well, let us do it for you! Follow all of the latest news, articles, and stories on our Whitefishpress Twitter account! Hint: You don't need to be a member...just bookmark the Twitter Feed Page or click on latest links to the right!

Kodiak Custom Spinners are the bees' knees...salmon eggs for steelhead...tackle box lost for 25 years turns up...Michigan anglers against lead fish in danger of overfishing...Aussie tackle store has a lot of support...Mitford girls are crazy, and the families they married too...Sean Carey, angling musician...flea market fool thinks reel is worth $40,000...sight fishing for book on British Tuna Fishing...Martha's Vineyard Derby is attracting veteran must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: The creation of Kodiak Custom spinners is a modern day angling fairy tale.

Salmon eggs are a favorite of the steelhead.

Man loses tackle box with keys in it 25 years ago; is reunited with it in present.

Michigan anglers fight the proposed ban on lead lures.

Why the Tennessee River is a famous attraction.

The top species of fish that are in danger of being overfished.

The movement to save popular Aussie's tackle store is growing.

Don't put that rod away, fall fishing beckons.

Everyone knows the Mitford girls were crazy, but there is a fabulous salmon angling anecdote that shows they married into equally crazy families.

The kiwis are angling for life and fun.

An interview with Sean Carey, angler and musician.

The York Press reviews "Three Men In A Boat."

Iron Rock Flea Marketer hopes to sell fishing reel for $40,000. Seriously.

Man sails up to his own search-and-rescue operation.

Sight fishing for Silvers.

Salmon running on the Salmon River.

Invasive "Killer Shrimp" has British anglers worried.

Jill Meier opines on what happens when the walleye fishing isn't so hot.

This new book on Giant Tuna fishing in Britain looks great.

Bluestone Lake angler breaks the West Virginia state striper record.

Finishing With a Flourish: The Martha's Vineyard Derby attracts veteran anglers.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, September 26, 2010

1000 Words

1000 Words

Terry Oxley sends in a wonderful vintage fishing photo this week. Here's his commentary:

I thought you would enjoy seeing this old photo. This is my great grandfather Munson Monroe Ross and two uncles Ross Oxley and Robert Oxley with a Johnson Lake (Woodruff, WI) musky caught by the two boys. The elder of the two uncles was born in 1912, so I assume this was taken sometime in the early 1920s.

Thanks Terry! What a great image. Incredible fish!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Deconstructing Old Ads: 100 Years Ago Was a Different Era

1902 was only a little over a century ago, but it sometimes seems like a different world. Here's an ad run in the April 1902 Field & Stream. Can you imagine celebrating the 4th by letting the boys shoot off their .22 revolvers?

The second photo is extracted from a 1904 issue of National Sportsman. It shows a really neat photo of a big bass caught in Averill Park, N.Y. Averill Park is not a park per se, but rather a small hamlet of around 2000 people in East Central New York. It's possible the lake is Sand Lake, a famous local fishing water. It obviously held some big bass! Do you know anyone who fishes in a full suit, complete with bow tie, today?

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Southern Mississippi women gets attacked by Asian Carp. Really.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

A pretty Bogdan #0 salmon reel leads off the Funhouse this week.

A nice Heddon Dummy Double would make a great find in the box.

Holy moly, is this Penn 16/0 Senator in the box sweet!

The Heddon Hi-Tail in Indy Checkerboard is always a very coveted bait.

I do very much like this Nichols Shrimp in the box.

A Cardinal 44X from ABU is a very early model of this spinning reel.

Like Kermit the Frog, I'd like to make a Rainbow Connection with this Swedish reel...

An early Shakespeare Acorn style is a Revolution indeed.

You really don't ever see a Lake George FLoater come up for sale...

Norka is a funny name for a nice reel (read it backwards to understand how Pflueger got it).

The Zuckweiler is a very rare and very old Midwestern metal lure.

A Heddon Walton Feather Tail in the box is a superb find.

Some feel Gar Wood designed the finest spinning reel in history.

That's it for this week! Have a happy and safe weekend, and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Review: Classic Angling (Sep-Oct 2010)

Thursday Review: Classic Angling (Sep-Oct 2010)

Every two months we will be reviewing the fine British publication Classic Angling. A lot of collectors in America are unaware of this magazine, but it is certainly the largest circulation periodical dealing with antique fishing tackle in the world, and covers a ton of material on both American tackle and fishing history in general. It is an indispensable addition to your library.

The current issue is No. 67 (September/October 2010) and covers a lot of territory. In addition to numerous pages devoted to the latest fishing and tackle news--including previews of the upcoming Lang's and Angling Auction's auctions and a warning on faked 1st model Mitchell reels--there are a number of feature articles, too.

For example, Roger Still gives us "Easy to be Fooled by These Fakes" which covers fake Hardy reels. Articles like this are invaluable in making the collector world safe for both novices and advanced collectors alike.

David Beazley gives us a great historical piece in "The Fishing Monks of Dendy Sadler," which details this artist's wonderful foray into his fishing images.

Neil Freeman gives us "Rainbow's End on Our Bit of the Test" which is a great fishing piece in the long tradition of British chalkstream trout writings.

John Bailey penned "The Delights of Long Trotting" which centers on the traditional British form of fishing known as centrepin float fishing.

Book maven Judith Head deconstructs the life of Sir William Jardine, author of British Salmonidae, in "Inspired By Travelling Around Scotland in a Wheeled Boat."

Tom Kerr and Charlie Fleischmann give us a rare jewel in "Maria, Queen of the Ustonsons" in which they deconstruct this fascinating female and place her in the context of angling history.

I sometimes contribute to this fine magazine, and my own contribution this issue was "The First Big Match" which detailed the battle between Jamison and Decker and how it was recreated by NFLCC members this past summer.

Simon Runting ends the features with " Chub, on a 90-Year Old Allcock Aquatic Spider" in which the author finds, fishes, and ultimately loses this beautiful fly while fishing for chub.

This magazine is an absolute must for anyone interested remotely in fishing tackle and fishing history. It is ably edited by Keith Elliott and you can learn more about it by Clicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Leonard Warren, Opera Singer and Angler

Leonard Warren, Opera Singer and Angler

One of the most notable baritones of the middle part of the twentieth century was Leonard Warren. Often headlining at the Met and other prestigious venues, his voice was considered "rich, rounded, [and] mellow...bursting with resonant overtones."

But in his spare time was also famous as an angler, and a dedicated one at that. His biographer Mary Jane Phillips-Matz wrote that he was a regular at the New York City Boat Show, and even rearranged his calendar for it, and always came home with a trunk full of catalogs. She related the following anecdote:

[Warren[ had been unable to find his favorite fishing reel, a Pflueger, which had formerly been made by Enterprise Manufacturing Company in Akron. During the war, Enterprise had stopped making tackle, and gradually the Pflueger reels became collector's items. Warren told many people about his search for this reel. "You can't find one anywhere," he complained. Finally, John S. Pflueger, the president and treasurer of Enterprise, heard of Warren's search and asked his employees to look for the reel he wanted. In a salesman's old sample line, one was found. Pflueger gave it to him. "And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship," the baritone said. The reel became the pride of his tackle box.

As a dedicated Pflueger historian, the story makes me smile, but I can't for the life of me think of what reel this was. My first thought was a Pflueger Golden West -- anyone got a better guess than this? Perhaps a Pflueger Atlapac?

Warren was a fascinating individual who's voice was said to fill the Metropolitan Opera house "like black smoke." He was born the son of Russian Jewish immigrants as Leonard Warenoff in 1911, and by the late 1930s was signed by the Met after winning an audition contest. After years of great success he died tragically on stage on March 1st, 1960 at the age of 48.

Here Warren sings the famed "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Lest we think he was a one-dimensional singer, here Warren sings the great Kipling classic "On the Road to Mandalay."

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Voices from the Past: A Fish and a Dog (1895)

The following story--perhaps the greatest dog and fish story ever--came from the Penn Yan Express for 03 June 1885.

A Dog and a Fish

A day or two ago a party of exposition people consisting of Mr. Arthur E. Rendle of New York city, Messrs. Frank and Charles Earle, sons of Mr. Parker Earle, chief of the horticultural department of the exposition, and Mr T.N. Miller made a fishing excursion to Davis bayou, about four miles from Ocean Springs, Miss.

The party was away several days and by the united efforts of all the members thereof they succeeded in capturing one fish. This was sufficient to furnish them with material for a capital fish story, which Mr. Rendle told a New Orleans Times-Democrat reporter in the following words.

"While we were waiting one morning for a fish breakfast that Miller and Charlie Earle were pledged to supply us with, Miller noticed a long pole in the water some distance up the bayou which is about fifty yards wide at this point. It floated down the bayou until opposite our camp and then suddenly turned and went backwards quite rapidly. Then we saw that it was a fishing rod and that a big fish must be attached to the line. All was excitement at camp. Our breakfast was assured us provided we could capture that fish. How were we to get it? We had no boat and the bayou was deep, the water cold, and our fishy friend on the other side of the bayou, say forty rods away. Somebody suggested making a log raft and Frank Earle eagerly grasped an ax and was about to make some young pine trees sick, when Charlie Earle sang out, "why not send your dog for it, Rendle?"

No sooner said than done. 'Charlie,' my water spaniel, a magnificent waterdog who likes nothing better than swimming and diving had his attention directed to the fishing-rod by a stone thrown in its neighborhood. He swam toward it, divined his errand, grabbed the rod at the thick end, and proceeded to swim back with it. Our 'breakfast' at once noticed that somebody else was bossing that rod, and he began to object very vigorously. He tugged at the line, the dog tugged at the rod and for a few moments, it was a question who would win. Finally, by a supreme effort, the fish made an immense dash and actually pulled the dog (weighing fifty two pounds) completely under water

First round for the fish.

'Charlie' came up looking half drowned, but still holding the rod in his mouth. He dropped it, however, and swam to shore looking very puzzled and annoyed. Having taken a breath, he was a second time dispatched to secure our breakfast, which was now careering madly up the stream, no doubt "chuckling to hisself as how he had fooled that dawg."

'Charlie' again swam to the rod, grabbed the big end and began hauling it to shore. All was quiet until about half way to the shore, when the fish began to give battle. The struggle was tremendous, but resulted in a victory for the fish who again pulled the dog under water.

Second round for the fish.

The dog again returned to shore, and was again sent out after our breakfast. He grasped the rod for a third time and with a look of desperation on his handsome doggy face, and a feeling in his breast, no doubt that the honor of his race was at stake, he swam toward the shore. The fish tugged and tugged, but slowly and surely, 'Charlie' reached the shore, and at last laid the rod at my feet, and then I landed a magnificent redfish. As a matter of fact, this was the only fish caught on our fishing and ducking expedition.

We fouud out afterward that the rod had been pulled by the fish at the end of it from the hands of a farmer's daughter who had been fishing near her father's home. We found the owner, and returned the rod."

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, September 20, 2010

News of the Week: 19 September 2010

Don't have time to read 50+ fishing and tackle collecting blogs and web sites? Well, let us do it for you! Follow all of the latest news, articles, and stories on our Whitefishpress Twitter account! Hint: You don't need to be a member...just bookmark the Twitter Feed Page or click on latest links to the right!

Lefty Kreh is still making a splash...extreme fishing...tackle thefts on the rise in Britain...tour a salmon hatchery near Syracuse...the Atlas Legend 400 are catching the fishing bug...River Run Tackle musky lures...the box of evil lures...Brits catch massive 54 pound carp...the latest on the EPA Lead Tackle ban...Tenkara fishing is all the must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh is still making a big splash.

A kayak, a gar, and insanity ensues.

Man catches little sturgeon, controversy erupts.

Fishing that takes on an edge.

In Britain, there is an increase in tackle thefts.

The town of St. Helens has lost its character (because the tackle shop closed).

How to chose the right rod.

Man realizes his dream with his tackle catches.

Project Healing Waters gets its own boat.

If you're near Syracuse, come tour the salmon hatchery.

A press release for the new Atlas Legend 400 saltwater fishing reel.

The fishing bug is hitting young anglers.

River Run Tackle is making some killer musky lures.

These British anglers reel in centenary prizes.

This Aussie writer hates his box of evil lures.

British angler catches massive 54 pound carp.

The latest on the proposed EPA Lead Tackle Ban.

Two brothers catch massive mirror carp.

FInishing with a Flourish: Why Tenkara fishing is catching on all across America.

-- Dr. Todd