Saturday, December 31, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: The Clark's Water Scout - Two Very Rare Ads (1948)

The Clark's Water Scout - Two Very Rare Ads

I have looked through many hundreds of magazines both before and after I started writing this weekly column. Today's ads from the April 1948 edition of Sports Afield and the June 1948 edition of Outdoor Life are the only advertisements for  Clark's Water Scouts I have run across in nationally distributed magazines.

April 1948 Ad.

June 1948 Ad.

 My association with the Clark's Water Scout goes back over 50 years. In the summer of 1957 I had my tackle box stolen. It was a traumatic event. I was a young man who lived to fish. Luckily my father's insurance covered the loss and I was asked to make a list of the tackle box's contents and their value. That was the easy part as I knew every item by heart, where I acquired it and what the cost was. I do not recall what the total value was but it was somewhere around $40. With cash in hand, I set out to build a better collection of tackle than I had just lost. One of my stops was Repp's Sporting Goods in Lima, Ohio. The salesman was a bit suspicious of a 14 year old boy with so much money in hand, but listened to my tale of how I'd acquired it and proceeded to do his job. When I mentioned that my Grandfather lived on nearby Indian Lake, he began to tell me that each bait he showed me was a known killer on that body of water. The fact is, the man must have been honest as almost everything he sold me proved effective. The only baits I now recall were a Shannon Persuader (which I never really fished), a glow pearl colored Shakespeare Swimming Mouse (which proved to be very productive) and three Clark's Water Scouts. I had never seen or heard of a Clark's Water Scout, but he talked over and over about a particular older fisherman that consistently “cleaned up” on these plugs.

When it came time to try out my new Water Scouts, I was impressed with their action in the water, especially the yellow floating and diving model. I hooked and lost a lot of bass on that bait. The hooks always seemed to me to be too stout for good hooking. I found one other Water Scout in 1969 in an old bait shop that was closing. When I moved to Michigan in 1970 I asked around at older tackle shops and took my favorite Water Scout with me as a sample. No one, even a bait store owner that had been in business since 1939, had ever seen or heard of a Clark's Water Scout. My ship came in when I attended my first National NFLCC Meet in Indianapolis in 1987. There was an entire table of Water Scouts for sale for $2 each. Needless to say I bought what has proved to be a lifetime supply.
The best description of the Water Scout's strong points were conveyed accurately in 1942 by none other than Ray Bergman in his book, Fresh Water Bass:

“A remarkably good plug which originated in the Ozarks......... It is a semi-floating type, comes to the surface when not in motion. Submerges on a split second on the slightest retrieve of the reel, and goes down to a nice depth and stays at that level, regardless of how slowly you spool the reel. Has a wonderful sharp, active tail motion.”

Just before his death in 1952, Robert Page Lincoln published Black Bass Fishing, a large book which was to be the culmination of his more than 40 years writing about bass fishing. RPL had this to say about the Clark's Water Scout:

“…..a chunky little underwater plug with a metal mouthpiece that gives it an intriguing, wiggling action. The last time I was in Springfield, Missouri, I visited the Clark factory and among other things was told that the previous year the company had sold over eight hundred thousand of their plugs. This must have been on actual merit, for the company does not advertise. How many of these plugs are used in the South I do not know; elsewhere in the country they seem to be missing in the stores.”

Considering the wonderful success I have had over the years with this bait, it has always amazed me that its use did not spread north. I found that after changing those stout hooks out for lighter ones, I lost very few bass. It also has been effective as a top water bait when just twitched around for a few moments before beginning its underwater work. My largest Smallmouth ever came on one in Canada. The following picture shows a Largemouth caught this past August on my favorite yellow-colored Clark's Water Scout. He was released unharmed after a quick picture.

A few years ago the Cotton Cordell company came out with a very close copy of the Clark's Water Scout, called the “Spence Scout”. I wrote the company at that time asking them if they had made an arrangement with the former C. A. Clark Company, but I received a somewhat meaningless answer. I have not given the Spence Scout a fair field test, but have heard that it lacks the sharp action of the Clark's.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

An underwater camera shows why one angler could not keep his fish on the stringer.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

Talk about eye appeal! This awesome "Noah's Ark" folk art tin minnow bucket is superb.

OK so maybe this is something I wouldn't buy…but the "Self Orbiting Bait System" IS interesting!

Man these D.L. Robichaud reels are superb!

They don't come much nicer than this Gar Wood Fin-Nor Tycoon spinning reel…

Instant collection alert: Heddon Preyfish.

LOVE this Heddon Dummy Double.

Most people don't know that Montague made some impregnated rods for Orvis in the 1940s.

A nifty ABU fishing knife would go great with an ABU collection!

A folk art fishing sign has interior decorators going crazy.

I'm a sucker for CCBC Suckers.

This is a pretty Snook Bait Co. pikie style minnow in the box.

This Wilson Bassmeriser is indeed a rare lure.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Voices from the Past: The Killer Fishing Rod (1906)

This week in Voices from the Past we get a story about the unluckiest fishing rod owner in history. Check out the last line of the story, printed in The Los Angeles Herald for 12 September 1906.


Caught under a Passing Train and Dragged Its Owner Under the Wheel

Special to the Herald

Chicago, Ill. Sept. 11. Charles W. Shippey, 47 years old, a well known real estate dealer, was killed by a Pere Marquette train in Englewood last night. Mr. Shippey was about to board the train to go to Rex Terrace, Mich.

It is thought that a fishing rod in his hand caught under the cars and dragged him after it.

In his pocket was a newspaper clipping containing an account of the death of Webster Batchellor of San Francisco, who had left Mr. Shippey $100,000.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 39: Benjamin T. Unkle & Co. of Lancaster, PA

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Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.

For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Trade House Tackle, Part 39:

Benjamin T. Unkle & Co.

Today we'll feature another small retailer who sold fishing tackle but has otherwise receded into the depths of history. There are several reasons why I chose this company. First, he has a killer name--Benjamin T. Unkle. Second, he had a great name for his store: Unkle Ben's Place. And finally, I believe this company was so small that tackle bearing its name is so rare as to be nearly impossible to find.

The company was called B.T. Unkle & Co. and was the brainchild of Benjamin T. Unkle (b. 1896) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The company was in business in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Little is known of Benjamin Unkle. According to the 1930 census, Benjamin was married to a woman named Celia and had a son, also named Benjamin (b. 1927) who apparently grew up to be a banker. The father was also a crackerjack southpaw pitcher for the Lancaster Kiwanis Club who in 1934 pitched a six hit shutout against rival Lebanon Y.M.C.A. (he also had two hits).

I don't know when he started his company but I assume it was in the mid-1920s, when he would have been around 30 years old. The company was obviously very small, serving only the local Lancaster community. He called it "Unkle Ben's Place" and it was located at 17 S. Queen Street.

The only piece of fishing tackle I've come across from Unkle Ben is a snelled hook packet from South Bend Bait Co. (rare on its own) and marked with the Unkle name. It's a neat reminder of the company and of the man with the fascinating name.

There were thousands of small companies like B.T. Unkle who we will never have any tackle from. That makes companies like B.T. Unkle & Co. that much more precious, as they are tangible examples of the unsung heroes of the tackle trade.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ben Wright's Spinning Reel Report (December 2011)



Featured Reels:
A super rare Mitchell Special Presentation Custom Engraved 300 Like New w/300DL wood box and outer cardboard box. thought to be approx 10 made.
after 3 bids by 3 bidders it sold @ $ 4,495.00

A Mitchell Skish Tournament exc+ sold @ $ 1,500.00

A Rare French J. Huillet Type B exc sold @$ 2,644.56

An Alcedo Taurus Deluxe EWB had a buy-it-now of $1,175.00 was ended early by seller and no longer available HUM ???

and A Van Staal VS400 Offshore #0009 one of approx 60 made in like new condition has a buy-it-now @$4,411.44
per seller- reel is currently NOT for sale and is for display on ebay for your viewing pleasure.
seller said that the current market value is $2,500.00???
also said that he will sell at a premium? could that be the buy-now asking price ??
No Bids yet !!!

Abu Cardinals :
3 first version exc- slight wear on foot @ 784.11 wow
3 second version exc- @ 590.00
33CDL re-issue repro nib @ 438.49
33 re-issue repro nib @ 243.50
skirted spool ONLY for a 4 exc @ 40.42 why?
same as above for a 4 exc @ 9.38
C4X ewb @ 141.20
57 nib @ 275.00 holy cow!!!
60A nib @ 149.99
160 nib @ 99.99
754 paint wear @ 59.00

model 365 Japan nib @159.00 wow
standard exc- b/n @ 75.00 NO BIDS
Impala CF black/chrome cap exc @ 55.00
Vic green e-wb @ 49.99

Dam Quick:
Microlite like new @ 81.00
110 nib started @ 120.00 No Bids

SS no 1 super sport exc+ @ 76.00
700C exc+ @ 44.00

Augermatic exc @ 256.57
J.W.Young The Ambidex Deluxe e-wb @ 126.37

Luxor Luxe A e+wb @ 91.00
crack not marked 100 but marked Bermouville nib @ 157.50
Crack Contact exc @ 79.95
Luxor Saumon Mer e-wb @ 112.57
Mepps Super Meca red nib @ 285.60

2C/S marked L'Alcedo e-wb @ 195.01
Micron bent leg mat no 3u483 e-wb @ 162.51
Micron curved leg nmwb @ 177.50
Micron Deluxe exc- @ 202.50
Atlantic exc- @ 315.14
Orvis 175 exc @ 167.55
Orvis 475 exc- @ 103.08
Holiday 30 first version nib @ 322.00
Old Pal Couger 600 nib @ 202.50

Dux 57 exc- started @ 149.95 NO BIDS !!!
Tartan 252 cargem 33 mignon copy nib @ 52.99
LaFayette FT513 mitchell 300 copy w/fb nib @ 21.51

Mitchell/ Garcia Mitchell:
Book, Mitchell Collector's Reference Guide by Dennis Roberts #162 @ 127.00
Balzer M34 exc+ @ 99.00
4TH version ewb @ 400.00
300 Albtros exc @ 300.00
310UL exc- @ 46.00
408 nib @ 250.00
508 e+wb and Conlon 61/2' lite rod @ 760.00
510 ewb @ 203.50
rare June 17,1974 commemorative 300DL e+wb and outer carboard box started @ 2,575.00 NO BIDS
STAY TUNED NEXT MONTH FOR MORE SUPER RARE MITCHELLS wonder who's collection they are from?

Spool only for a 706Z nib @ 41.00
550SS nmwb @ 149.81
706Z exc- @ 175.00

2062NL (no line) first version nib @ 66.00
Pres. 11 2900 nib @ 179.70
2080 w/mpu exc+ @ only 51.00 note the model number for the MPU was 2082

44 CF nib @ 63.00
4 3rd version nib @ 203.00
4 4th version e+wb @ 152.50
4 4th version nib @ 300.00

Other reels:
Heddon Spin Pal 240 w/mpu e-wb @ 47.50
Feurer Bro's Flip Reel 202 Japan nmwb @ 100.00
same as above nib starting @ 150.00 NO BIDS
Feurer Bro's FB 410 e+wb @ 78.50
Schulz easy cast e+wb @ 293.00
Spanish La Dorada Chritin paint wear @ 89.07
Dragon Fly spin/fly nib @ 38.70
Swiss Sport King 40 sold by MW nmwb @ 200.00 wow
Pflueger Sea King 1050 nib @ 37.00
" Pelican 1020A R/H retrieve exc+ @ 96.01
Odd ball Super River pivot foot exc @ 52.00
A&F 250 fifteen ewb @ 51.00
Ocean City 350 marron e+wb @ 71.05
Waltco ny-o-lite marron/white exc+ @ 45.99
" " " " " @ 16.07
See ya all next year !

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fishing for History's Top 20 Fishing Stories of 2011

2011 is almost in the books, so it's that time of the year to reflect on the events of the past year. And what I know is that 2011 was an interesting year for fishing in the news. Here are my annual Top 20 Fishing News Stories of 2011.

(1) The biggest story of the year--deep sea fishing (and fish hooks) began 42,000 years ago.

(2) Striper record officially moves away from Atlantic City.

(3) The New York Times memorializes Stan Bogdan.

(4) Chapin man invents advanced fishing reel; will it change the world?

(5) A moving account about the death of a reservoir in Texas.

(6) New Berlin, WI cops break up high school crime ring intent on stealing fish-shaped mailboxes.

(7) This professor is a tackle researcher.

(8) Scientists find 12,000 year old fishing tackle .

(9) Nine year old Florida angler much, much better fisherman than you, lands record fish.

(10) An interview with new Bagley owner Bill Cullerton.

(11) Did this angler catch and release a seventy pound musky ?

(12) The Alabama Rig is taking the bass world by storm.

(13) TV Show Pawn Stars buys fishing tackle; chaos ensues.

(14) Monster Mako misses the world record by a few pounds.

(15) 2200 anglers fish for 3 hours in ice fishing tournament…and catch no fish.

(16) John Merwin profiles a great reel made by the U.S. Reel Company (in China...sigh), sold at a great price.

(17) Fly fishing pioneer Billy Pate passes away. A neat article from the Miami Herald here.

(18) As he works to climb out of debt, noted painter Russell Chatham is working on an angling manuscript about fishing San Francisco Bay.

(19) In grossest heist ever, eight thieves armed with golf clubs make off with 100,000 maggots from local bait shop. Really.

(20) A Chinese fishing tackle museum!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Angling Poem

A repost from the past (and last year even printed in Crappie Angler magazine!). I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and overall glad tidings to everyone in this holiday season! Enjoy!

My apologies to Clement Clark Moore for butchering his classic, but I could not let the holidays pass without a shot at rewriting his beloved poem, with a fishing theme...

An Angler's Christmas

butchered by Dr. Todd

'Twas the night before Christmas and all across the lake
Not a creature was stirring, not even a snake
The stockings were hung in the cabin with care
In hopes they'd be filled with bugs made of deer hair

This angler was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of Pfluegers danced in my head;
Shakespeares and Heddons both old and brand new
All served to disrupt my long winter's snooze,

When down on the dock there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Worried about my Big O's in mint silver flash,
I tore open the door to investigate the splash.

The light reflecting from the nearly full moon
Gave the lustre of mid-day to my Dardevle spoons,
When, what to my shock down the hill should appear,
But a Skeeter bass boat filled with reindeer!
And a portly old fisherman, so lively and quick,
I saw it was the angler we knew as St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his reindeer disembarked,
And he whistled, and shouted, their names he did hark:
"Now, Bagley! now, Paw Paw! now, Norman and Zebco!
On, Arnold! on Rebel! on Jamison and Nebco!
To the top of the steps! to the end of the dock!
Then on to the shore, my grazing herd flock!"

As dry flies that before the stiffest breeze fly,
When they meet with the wind and blow in the sky,
So along the dock the bounders they flew,
Followed by the boat full of tackle, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the shore
Their prancing and pawing and reindeer like roar.
As I drew in my breath, and was turning around,
Up the steps St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in B.A.S.S. gear from head to foot,
And his Ranger Boats cap was blackened with soot;
A bundle of rods he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a trout bum just opening his pack.

But his eyes, they twinkled, his smile was so merry!
His hooks were all sharp, his reels were so cherry!
His Orvis fly rod was as lithe as a bow,
And his hand tied streamer whiter than snow;
A piece of his leader he held tight in his teeth,
And the rest of his line lay coiled like a wreath;

St. Nick the Angler adjusted his belly,
And it flubbered around like a worm made of jelly.
But despite his big girth he could handle a rod
And he had taken his share, in spite of his bod
He slipped in the house with nary a word
As I stared in disbelief at his grazing deer herd.

St. Nick got to work, and with a nod of his face
He gave his approval of my piscatorial cache
He spoke not a word, and went straight to his work,
Filling the stockings with baits made to jerk,
Arbogasts, Helins, Spoonplugs and Skinners
Bass Pro, Cabelas, and multi-blade spinners
The stockings were soon just bursting with treasure
And he threw in a Winston, just for good measure

Then laying his finger aside of his head,
He gave me a nod, and down the steps he fled;
Into his boat he jumped, with its promo decals
And he puttered off out of sight to fish with his pals

But I heard him exclaim, as he trolled out of sight,
"Good fishing to all, and to all anglers, a good-night!"

Merry Christmas!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: A Christmas Gift Book from 1953

A Christmas Gift Book from 1953
As I have noted before in this column, I collected pre-1960 bass fishing books long before starting to collect vintage fishing lures. The first book I ever purchased in this collection was in 1956. It was Robert Page Lincoln's 1952 book Black Bass Fishing which is still a favorite. In the days before the Internet, finding out-of-print books was a slow ordeal. There were a few book dealers that specialized in used "Outdoor Books" and dealt through the mail, but mostly I haunted used book stores that seemed to regularly come up with older fishing books. When one did turn up that fit my budget, it was a time to celebrate. I had no way of researching if Robert Page Lincoln had written other books and was I pleasantly surprised one day to come across another book by him titled The Pike Family. As I was looking over the book, the dealer, who knew me from my frequent visits, commented that it was not an easy book to find and that this one had a personal letter from Mr. Lincoln taped inside the front cover. WOW! ---SOLD---.

The letter accompanied the book when it was sent as a gift to a friend, Thomas S. Rawson. Mr Rawson apparently had a fishing partner that needed a lot of advice and Robert Page Lincoln was only too happy to help his friend Mr Rawson by donating this book to be passed on to Mr Rawson's friend at Christmas. Much credit was given by Robert Page Lincoln in the letter to Mr Rawson for his help writing the book. In fact, some doubt was expressed as to how effective the book would be, especially if a talented fisherman like Mr Rawson had experienced limited success up to that time in his efforts to educate his friend .

Sometime afterward I sat down with great anticipation to read The Pike Family. Might as well start with the "FORWARD" right? I only got as far as the second paragraph when my train of thought entered the "Twilight Zone".

Wait a minute ---- how could RPL send a book to a friend when the forward says that he had already passed away. I tried every which way to come up with a scenario that would explain this mystery. Maybe he sent a proof copy and the letter was later placed in a hardbound copy? My mind went into gridlock. Enter the January 1953 issue of Fur Fish Game. Robert Page Lincoln wrote the monthly "Travel" column at that time. As I was looking through the magazine there at the bottom of Page 3 was a black bordered notice that Robert Page Lincoln had passed away at age 61. It went on to say that he had died on 20 November 1952. That's before The Pike Book was published and more than a full year before Mr Rawson forged the letter in December of 1953. The well-crafted letter was obviously meant as a joke to play on Mr Raw son's good friend. I have since reread the letter many times. I wish I could have been there on Christmas morning when his fishing buddy opened the book and read that letter signed "Bob Lincoln". It always brings a smile to my face.


Have a Merry Christmas!

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

What's Santa doing the day before his big day? Catchin' blue dogs, of course.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

Instant Collection Alert: A massive collection of fishing reels.

A nice Dickerson 8013 fly rod would be a great casting tool.

This is an absolutely super tough Shakespeare Kazoo Killer.

A Bagley DB-3 in Steel Blue will make some Bagley collector very happy.

This Garcia Mitchell 396 is a very rare reel.

The Newell P454-F is an oft overlooked big game reel.

The Penn Spinfisher 706Z is one of the most popular surf casting spinning reels ever made.

A great spear from Michigan is a fantastic find.

The Heddon 200 in the box is a superb bait.

A key chain from Bingo Bait is awesome.

An awesome 1911 Shakespeare dealer catalog is awesome.

I love these wooden Musky Jitterbugs

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

-- Dr. Todd