Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Voices from the Past: A Briton Looks at American Tackle (1901)

A Briton Looks at American Tackle (1901)

Following the Paris Fisheries Exhibition of 1900, an unnamed attache for the British Government penned up the following description of American fishing tackle. On the whole, he was very impressed with the wares of the American tackle industry, and hoped his British countrymen would take a few tips from their American cousins. This comes from The Reports From Commissioners, Inspectors and Others, 1901--Vol. 23 (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1901).

The United States give an object-lesson of a most impressive kind to their foreign competitors in the magnificence and variety of their exhibits, including stuffed fish and fish-casts of great excellence, a lobster which comes near to the Canadian giant with its 33 lbs., and some splendid specimens of American up-to-date rods and tackle for the capture of everything, from the brook trout of the North to the huge tarpon and "leaping tuna" of Florida and California. From the English point of view some of the rods are too light for their destined work; but the modern American angler is refined and chivalrous, disdainful of all coarseness in appliances and methods, and proud of killing a 4 lb. trout with a 6 oz. rod, or a giant tarpon with a fine salmon line. For all this, Abbey & Imbrie and other good firms supply him with the daintiest appliances, while Milam, of Frankfort, makes a speciality of the old favourite Kentucky reel, and Benn & Daughter, of San Francisco, and Howarth, of Florissant (Colorado), are typical exponents of the fly-tying kit.

But there is surely a national lesson to be learned from the magnificent contributions, in fishery engines and produce, and in all the costly appliances of intelligent pisiculture, of the "United States Fishery Commission" and kindred institutions, which have also a large library of literature on a subject the importance of which is fully realised on the other side of the Atlantic, and a beautiful collection of large photographs illustrative of their work and its surroundings, as well as large models of hatchery stations and apparatus, and of very remarkable railway cars for hatching and transport purposes.

Salmon, shad, and "white-fish" are the fish principally dealt with.
Dr. Tarleton Bean, of New York, in addition to very valuable and interesting publications on fish and fish culture, shows most curious specimens of nets and lines made entirely of whalebone, used by the Eskimos for the capture of salmon and other fish.

The great firm of Tiffany has a most attractive and instructive show-case of marine and freshwater pearls of every size and colour, in connection with which the exhibits of the "river-mussel button industry" are of suggestive interest.

Life-like coloured fish pictures are sent by Mr. Baldwin, of Washington.
There is a complete collection of sponges from Florida, and plenty of nets, harpoons, and other whale fishery implements.

-- Dr. Todd

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