Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Angling Miscellany with Gary L. Miller

This is not a story about the missing link. It’s a story about not missing your lynx. Too cute? Ok, let’s get serious. Man spears lynx.

This is a true story that took place back in February of 1955.

A Traverse City man, Perry Ransom, and three of his buddies went up into the Algoma country north of the Canadian Soo to do some ice fishing on Ontario’s Trout Lake. The fishing was slow and they only had four trout between them so Perry decided to call it a day. He started off for camp ahead of the others carrying the ice spud.

Along the trail he passed near a rocky ledge and suddenly a Canadian Lynx sprang at him from the outcropping. Instinctively Perry raised the spud defensively and the sharp chisel edge caught the big cat right behind the ear and killed it instantly. The lynx was a female measuring 55 inches long but weighing only 18 pounds.

A lynx that long and weighing so little must surely have been starving to death and ole Perry must have looked like a banquette to her. Fortunately for him he was an ace with the spud.

Ransom was an accomplished outdoorsman, taking many deer and spearing lots of big pike over the years. His luck held and he lived a long and fruitful life passing away in 1972 at the age of 80. Proof once again that God does not deduct from one’s lifespan time spent fishing or in this case spuding lynx.

-- Gary L. Miller

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lost Patents: The Everlasting Creel (1937)

I'm going to start spotlighting a piece of patented fishing tackle that is a bit out of the ordinary over the coming months. The item for this month is a combined metal creel and tackle box -- and a really neat one at that!

It was invented by a pair of Tioga county, Pennsylvania anglers named William E. Smith and Irving J. Focht of Wellsboro. They applied for a patent on July 24, 1936 and it was granted as Patent #2,098,636 on November 9, 1937.

The inventors described their creation to The Pennsylvania Angler in the May 1938 edition. W.E. Smith noted:

Some of the features of this model creel are as follows: in the first place it makes it unnecessary for the stream fisherman to wear a hunting or fishing coat to carry along the anglers equipment which often as we know, especially in hot weather, is not only too hot, cumbersome and burdensome but also prevents ease in casting and walking.

Further this creel, as one whom we contacted stated, is 'everlasting'--he suggested we call it the Everlasting Creel--it will outwear a number of the present reed or willow baskets.

The 'accessibility' of your tackle in this basket over any form of outer garment is greatly superior. The tackle compartment is water-tight or water-proof, and a safe place for valuable fly-books, etc.

We also claim sanitation--we both know how smelly the old fish basket becomes after being in use a short time--this creel can be washed out in a jiffy and kept clean and sanitary. The fish compartment is designed to permit a maximum of ventilation, and drainage from the ferns and moss that the average fisherman uses to keep the trout cool.

Last but not least, the creel will weigh but only a few ounces more than the present reed or willow basket and the fisherman can keep all his tackle in this creel so when going fishing he has but two things to think about--of his rod and basket. You may, no doubt, be able to think of many things I have stated here that this creel may afford the fisherman but the above is some of what I consider the most important; a built-in bait box with an individual lid is incorporated on the left side, which can be utilized for small gadgets by the fly fisherman, or can be removed in a split-second entirely, leaving this space for other paraphernalia—the compartments are removable and adjustable, so he can take them all out or move them around to suit his personal needs."

It's a nifty design and an attractive creel, but I wonder how many of these were sold over the years. I'm betting not too many, and with World War II around the corner and the spin revolution after World War II, I am betting the Everlasting Creel had a short life.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ben Wright's Spinning Reel Report for January 2013



Was an early Langley Spinlite R810 NIB w/cloth bag, had 30 bids/9 bidders B/4 selling @$202.50 holy cow !!

444A first version exc @ 146.01
Record 700 second version ewb @ 233.50
3 champagne first version ewb @ 569.74
33 CDL re-issue nib @ 504.00
57 ewb @ 149.00

Vic gray exc- @ 51.00

Buddy 800 ewb @ 67.61

8100A ewx @ 109.99

Dam Quick:
Microlite nib @ 152.50
110N nib @ 142.50
550N nib @ 81.00

J W Young Ambidex no. 4 nib @ 112.50

Spinette nib @ 93.00

Centaure Pacific nib @ 140.17
Luxor 3 L-A ewb @ 177.50

Silent Spin-Flyte ewb @113.50
Rare Triplex Sol A broken foot @ 659.19

Heddon   Daisy/Heddon  Whats going on with these ???
205R nib @ 67.66
205R nib @ 105.63
222 nib @ 36.98
222 nib @ 81.00
222 nib @ 178.50
266 nib @ 51.00
spin pal nib @ 71.00
spin pal 220 ewb @ 67.66

JDL paint wear @110.00
 Marvil 17 nib @ 149.00
 mignon 33 cut-a way SS like new @ 306.07
junior 418 nib @ 127.50
3V exc- @ 263.99

Thunderbird exc @ 62.00

700 3rd version ewb @ 92.00
712 nib @ 205.00
720Z nib @ 76.99
722 first version ewb @ 110.00

2052 second version nib @ 128.00
2062     "          "        "  @ 42.01

1970 exc @ 277.70
cardinal 6X nib @ 157.50

Fraser mer saumon ewb @ 67.66
Mepps Super Meca orange exc @ 78.00
Centaure River exc @ 20.50

Alcedo Micron bent leg ewb @ 62.00
rare Orvis 50A MPU like new @ 84.05 note-some one had emailed the seller to tell him that the reel was missing the bail and thats what he posted until I told him that his reel was original with the MPU. someone got a great deal!!!

Orvis 150 exc @ 36.10
Langley Spinator 870A exc @ 36.10

430 CF nib @ 66.98
Black 710 exc- @ 59.00

Pres 11 2910 exc @ 20.50

Last was a neat unmarked pivot foot reel exc+ that sold @

Monday, January 28, 2013

News of the Week: January 28, 2013

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!
THE MONDAY 10: The Ten Fishing Stories of the Week You Need to Know

The Big Lead: Incredibly knowledgable (and nice) collector Jim Schottenham, and Lang's Auctions, gets a nice profile in the Wall Street Journal.

Sad news for Iowa -- Pure Fishing distribution moves to Kansas.

Calvin in Cornwall buys a tackle shop.

From the woods, the storm was pretty.

Fisherman rewarded for help with project.

Ice fishing in Finnish Lapland.

Have bamboo rod builders created a unified system of measurement?

This Canadian family is hooked on the fly-fishing business.

Recalling fond memories on Union Lake.

Finishing with a Flourish: The Prince of Wales visits Harrison Rods of Liverpool.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1000 Words

I like this posed shot of a fly rod and reel (and flies) and a pair of nice whitefish.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Abe Saint and the "Go Deeper" River Runt

At one of the first NFLCC shows I attended in 1985, I saw something that caught my eye. It was a #9400 floating River Runt Spook with a deep diving lip on it. The thought crossed my mind at the time that this was a combination that I had not seen before. Some years later I attempted to collect all the River Runt Spook variations in one color. Try as I might, I never saw another 9400 with a deep diving lip in any color. Fast forward more than 25 years and it finally dawned on me what I had been looking at......

The following ad appeared in the July,1950 issue of Fur Fish Game. Beside this ad for the "Heddon Go Deeper River Runt" is an article by Robert Page Lincoln giving a brief history of the invention and success of this new diving lip. He thought it important enough to include a shortened version of this account in his 1952 book Black Bass Fishing which culminated his lifetime of writing about Bass fishing.

For some years Mr. Abe Saint of Tulsa Oklahoma had been making and installing a flat deep diving lip of his own design on River Runt Spooks for his personal use. It was a big improvement over the large scoop-shaped diving lip that Heddon had introduced on their Go Deeper River Runt Spooks in 1940. River Runts with Heddon's scoop-shaped lip tended to role over if drawn through the water too fast and would not run as deep as ones equipped with Abe Saint's lip. Word got around that Abe was taking fish with his deep running lures that other folks just could not reach. First he installed his lip on River Runts for his close friends. He then made them available to the general public through local sporting goods stores and by mail. His lip was designed so that installation simply required removing the lip from a River Runt Spook and replacing it using the existing screw holes. The original line tie also needed to be removed to accommodate the new lip. A new line tie was an integral part of the replacement lip.

Long time NFLCC collector Joe Nelson tells me that Abe Saint would visit his father's sporting goods store in Guthrie Oklahoma and install the lip on existing unsold stock of River Runts. The lures that Abe changed over himself were identified by the red paint that he applied to the screw heads after instillation. He also sold individual lips in small cellophane envelopes so fishermen could do the installation themselves.

Demand for Abe's lip got to be so great that he could not comfortably handle all the orders. Soon he sold Heddon the rights to his flat diving lip. They recognized that Abe's lip was superior to their own in every respect and admitted as much in their advertising.

1949 brought the introduction of the new, flat, deep diving lip on the Heddon Go Deeper River Runt Spooks, replacing the the older scoop lip which was discontinued. The new design was a big success, as really deep diving plugs were few and far between at that time.

The following photos illustrate the differences between the original Abe Saint lips and those produced by Heddon.

Here are the three River Runt diving lips laid out for comparison. On the left is Heddon's scoop-shaped lip used from 1940 through 1948. In the middle is Abe Saint's replacement lip. On the right is Heddon's version of the Abe Saint lip. It is slightly larger, has a somewhat modified line tie and is mounted in a slot in the nose of the bait.

Seen here is the Abe Saint diving lip mounted under the chin of a River Runt Spook, replacing the standard diving lip


Heddon's version of Abe Saint's lip is seen here. Notice it is mounted in a slot in the nose of the bait.

A comparison of the two lips shown above showing the different methods of mounting and the different line ties.

A somewhat corroded example of Abe Saint's replacement lip in what is left of its original cellophane wrapper

Good fishermen are always experimenting and occassionaly, like Ab Saint's diving lip, they hit the nail on the head.
Tight Lines,
Wild Bill

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

Joe Brooks is featured in this 1957 press newsreel for the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament (see yesterday).

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

A Pflueger Medalist 1495 1/2 in the box is a great find.

This Talbot Premier No. 2 is a great find.

An Elto Evinrude sign is a great piece for a man cave.

Who wouldn't love this Heddon 150 in rainbow?

I have never seen an eel spear like this one before.

A Winchester bait in the box is a nice find.

Almost as nice as finding Winchester hooks in the box.

This Heddon 185 spin cast reel in the box is breaking some records.

The Lectro-Matic electric rod and reel is interesting.

Even a Leo Wise box without the mouse is causing a furor.

George Grant tied some amazing flies.

You don't see a Stubcaster in the box very often.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Well Isn't This A Nice Big Pile of Bullshit

Just discovered that the ENTIRE FISHING FOR HISTORY BLOG has been lifted and copied word-for-word on to another site (with a shockingly similar name). Great. I've already filled out a DMCA complaint form asking for the site to be terminated, as every single word is a copyright violation. A sickening thought, and it makes you wonder the kind of miscreants who go around doing this (it's shockingly common). A huge bummer to be sure. -- Dr. Todd

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament

One of the legendary fishing events of the middle portion of the twentieth century was the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament. Home to such famous anglers as Erl Roman (Miami outdoor writer and Miami University professor), Harold Lemaster (L&S Bait Co. owner), and Frank O'Brien (of Tycoon Tackle fame), the Metro was heavily advertised and very well attended. The Rod & Reel Club trophy was awarded to the heaviest sailfish. For many years, the legendary Joe Brooks was the director of the Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament, in addition to his duties as outdoor editor of the Miami Herald.

Here is a look at one way the Metro advertised their tournament. It's an envelope for the 1948 Metro sent on "Pisces Day" and featuring a lovely leaping billfish. Inside was the carded invitation to fish featuring a pin-up model and saltwater fishing rig.

It's a rather nice combo to find, and a neat piece of Florida and saltwater fishing history.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Bait Shops, Tackle Shops and Sporting Goods Stores Of America by Harold Dickert

The Bait Shops, Tackle Shops and Sporting Goods Stores Of America

By Harold Dickert

So much has been written about tackle manufacturers. Countless hours of research, resulting in a vast array of articles, have taken place. I am so very grateful that this is the case. Over the last 30 years we have learned so much information that has enhanced our knowledge and made our hobby dramatically more rewarding.

During this same 30 years many of the large retailers in the big cities have been chronicled through some wonderful research and publication. Also the wholesale distributors, big and small have been covered in great detail.

The fact remains however, that a vast majority of the fishing tackle that we enjoy in our collections today were sold by the little tackle shops that dotted the land by the thousands in the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The purpose of this article (and perhaps a few in the future) is to do a little digging, a little reflecting and a little reminiscing about those stores and what we lost as they, and many other small retail businesses, ceased to exist.

Very few of those small shops are still in business today. The story of what happened to them is often more that meets the eye. The first reason often sighted is the lower price structures of the emerging big box stores. Although this was a factor as time went on I believe it actually started with the introduction and proliferation of the automobile. As people became more and more mobile and had the ability to travel greater distances the need for the neighborhood stores cease to exist. It was the beginning of the end for the family owned corner grocery store, the candy store, the shoe shop, the meat market, the drug store, the hardware store and yes, eventually, the bait shop. Many of the families that ran these stores could not see it coming. Often they thought it was because they were poor merchants and could just not compete but actually the handwriting was on the wall. Nothing they could have done would have changed anything. Our buying habits and in reality our American way of life was simply changing, sadly, in my opinion, never to be the same.

Let’s start our journey by examining some of the advertising that took place. The really small stores generally did not advertise in the newspaper. They depended on word of mouth advertising. Like any merchant they realized that a good reputation went a long ways. This is still true today. This type of advertising left no traces for us to find but other types did. One of those, used most often, were advertising novelties to be handed out to customers. They took many forms such as calendars, key chains, ink pens, match book covers and the one I’d like to discuss here, fish rulers to measure your catch. Much like the hardware store with their yard sticks and the paint store with their paint stirring sticks, the bait shop handed out these marvelous little (usually 12 or 14 inch) rulers, with a lot of information printed on both sides. To have a small collection of these provides a wealth of information upon close examination. One starts to realize the diversity of these shops and the vast array of products that were offered.

Take a short trip through time with me as we tour in and around southern Michigan during the 1940’ and 50’s. I picked this area because it is the one I am most familiar with and certainly represents a microcosm of the majority of the U.S. Most of us old timers, if I may be allowed to include myself in that category, are aware that drug stores sold fishing tackle and you can find evidence of that here as we look at the Richmond Drug ruler from Bear Lake, Michigan. Pretty standard fare and I bet a great place to grow up. Fishing Tackle/Soda Fountain…you bet…I’ll take the job. Two small tackle manufacturers near by…paradise.

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Or just up the road, in Beulah, where we have the Oxley (General) Hardware. I’m riding the Way Back Machine now as I to travel back there to hunt for old tackle. Tinning? Not even sure what that was.

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Traveling South we come across the famous Arntz Sporting Goods Store, home of the Michigan Lifelike Minnow. Yes that wonderful lure was made many years before this ruler would have been handed out but I would have liked to see the store in the 1950’s anyway.

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Other shops nearby would have been Chalmers Bait and Tackle in Whitehall or the Voss Hardware In Muskegon Heights or 40 miles to the east to Chucks Live Bait in Grand Rapids. A city the size of Grand Rapids would easily have had 50 or more little tackle shops in and around town over the years.

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Don’t forget Service Stations like Wm. Tulloh, over in Rose City. They Rented out Cabins too…pretty cool. I can hear the waves washing up against the shores of the lake from my cabin as I wait for morning to start a day’s fishing.

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Now, The Irish Hills Bait Ranch sounds like a wild place over in Tipton, Michigan. Besides the usual fare they sold Go-Carts. Now we’re talking. I would have given anything for a go-cart when I was a kid but could never afford one. I even trying making my own but had no way to weld the pieces together.

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If you prefer the big city head on into the Detroit area. I bet the American Army & Navy Stores did a big business after the war.

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Not big enough? How about The Great Chicago Surplus Stores. They simply had “Everything”

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Of course we should picture the flip side of the rulers too. They usually told us the size and catch limits for that state and often gave the year. Sometimes they offered a few words of wisdom too.

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Well, I guess it’s time to come back home to reality and be thankful that we are still around to look back at the good old days.

Hope you enjoyed our short trip and hope we can do it again soon as we continue to look at the Bait Shops, Tackle Shops and Sporting Goods Stores Of America.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Voices from the Past: Bilkin's Electric Frog (1908)

The following story by F.L. Harding from Outing Magazine (August 1908) is a charming story about a fishing contest and a special lure. I enjoyed it very much, and wish now to have a Bilkin's Electric Frog of my very own.

Bilkin's Electric Frog

by F.L. Harding

ENTERPRISE was the slogan of the Parmacheenee Piscatorial Association. Their mahogany bungalow at the salmon reserve up in Canada was chock full of novelties and inventions appropriate for anglers. There was the marble bust of Walton on an alabaster pedestal greeting one right in the front hall. Its electric-lighted eyes had blue bulbs, the chromatic accuracy of the blue having been settled through special appropriation passed standing.

Then the Personal Experience Library swelled the proud breasts of the members when visitors came to wonder and stayed to applaud. It was Crixton's idea. Crixton was Vice-President and chief machine. Many thrilling yarns of their fishing feats were nightly told at the open fire. Why not preserve these Homeric legends? Why not collect these testimonies to the Parmacheenee pluck and skill? A talking-machine, a few words of persuasion to the blushing salmon devastators and a superb assortment of canned fish stories stocked the reading room, on tap at all times.

Life was rosy at the fishing club bungalow. The moving casting platform dotted with wicker reclining chairs, ran along the bank at the salmon run, furnishing a thorough whipping of the water with no chance for fatigue. It passed along the near shore and down the other side, crossing a pair of rustic bridges with a stop only at the buffet for gin rickeys. The power was supplied by the Falls below. Here Crixton's fine Roman hand appeared again.

'Twas he, too, that invented the aquarium railroad car in which live grilse were brought in for planting, as cosy as could be. The "Piscatorial Limited" was the envy of all the neighboring clubs. He was working on what he termed his "preparing tank" when the Events Committee announced the early approach of the Annual Tournament. His scheme was to instill abnormal vigor into the fish by a short sojourn in his swan pool in which Perrier Jouet '78, had been slightly added to the water. So far the results had been rather disheartening and demonstrated the diverse effects of the "craytur" on finny temperaments. "Crixton's salmon jags" were derided by his club-mates. Abandoning his immoral effort to under- mine the stamina of Salmonidae, he threw himself heart and soul into devising a new rod for the great Tourney.

About this time a new member, one Bilkin, turned up at the Lodge and ex- pressed his intention of competing for the attractive prizes offered by the munificent Tournament Committee. Little attention was paid to Bilkin, however, for all the membership list was engaged in fitting out for the coming event. The President's Gold Loving Cup upon which a sportive salmon with emerald eyes was engraved by Diffany of the metropolis. was in danger of permanent capture. The devastating Crixton had two grips on it and needed but a third to amble off with the glorious trophy. His cunning contrivances had seduced the heaviest fish for two years running. With many a pledge of Scotch and soda, his fellow-members swore that this time the tide would turn.

The appointed day broke threateningly but Pluvius withheld his wrath when Crixton emerged in immaculate cream flannel. The sun shone forth as the honorable company took their accustomed chairs and the casting platform was set in motion. Every angler had his valet to keep the ice in his glass, untangle his line from interfering shrubbery and to regulate the angle of his sun shade. The day was warm for June and these minor comforts were dated. The heavily stocked stream yielded a plenitude of sport.

The salmon were in most cases, however, liberated after weighing. The valet, when a struggling fish neared the shore, hopped off the slowly gyrating platform and seizing the line, steered the protesting salmon into the nearest Submarine Scales. Void Crixton encore! Dotted along the shore were small machines, tested daily for accuracy, where a registering arm upon the bank connected with a glass tank beneath the surface. Leading a fish over this trap, a foot-lift ashore elevated the glass cube above the water with the contented catch paddling about within. The pounds were duly noted and the tank returned below the surface. It was the work of but a moment for the valet to draw the salmon to the bank, remove the hook and, running back to his place. mix up a self-congratulatory highball for his exultant patron.

Crixton's new rod was the talk of the day. "Jolly smart chap, old Crix!" was the universal comment. A complicated framework beside his pneumatic-cushioned steamer chair supported the slender rod of aluminium, fifteen feet in length. It weighed three ounces, an exceedingly sporty weapon. His new reel had Baltham Watch Co. mechanism, jewel set with ball bearings. The wooden framework by the chair was his patent Automatic Fly-Caster. Place the rod in the grips, aim your casting sight, note the elevation, draw back the spiral spring attached to the rod tip, place the fly in the sub-catapult, discharge the weapon! Voila, a bull's-eye! It couldn't miss and was absolutely noiseless. Crixton spent many sleepless nights over the plans with a consulting artillery engineer and at last-perfection!

After the cast was executed, he removed the rod, took a fresh-lit monogram cigarette from the attendant and complacently fished that bit of water. Crixton enjoyed his angling.

An hour before sunset, at which time the Tourney was to officially end to give place to a simple repast of sixteen courses at the bungalow, the heaviest fish was credited to the Automatic Fly Caster. It weighed thirty-one pounds, a noble catch. The great Gold Cup was fast slipping from its nook upon the mantelpiece. In sixty short minutes, the greedy paws of Crix. would close upon it for good and all. Too bad and yet no help for it!

Suddenly the new member, Bilkin, was seen to dash down the hillside. Breathlessly he leaped upon the casting platform, and fitted up his rod. Three attendants lugged a large case after him, which he ordered placed at his side. "Been waiting all day for my stuff," he told his neighbor. "Just came in now!"

An ordinary bamboo rod appeared in his hand. His reel seemed to have a glass section in the base like a non-conductor. The line upon it was most peculiar. It was a bit thick for casting and seemed wrapped about a core of some weight. The inside end ran out of the side of the reel and a lackey connected it with the large black box. His movements in the approaching dusk were indistinct but still the curious anglers noted his producing something with elaborate care from a box of cotton waste.

To their disappointment, a common rubber frog appeared which he snapped on to the line with a peculiar swivel and cast out upon a famous pool he chanced to be passing.

His neighbor told them afterward that Bilkin's men started up an electric storage battery in the box, that Bilkin's line was wired, that Bilkin's common frog glowed in the water with a soft effulgence and kicked with most alluring spasms. It jerked about the surface; a perfect counterfeit of a live froggie disporting in his front yard.

He got the big salmon or there would have been no story. He caught "Old Baldy," observed daily, but last taken by the famous Carter ten years before. The old patriarch was half blind, put up no fight at all and fell a victim to a foul deceit in his second childhood. In the last decade as the record showed, he had put on twelve pounds and his forty-seven had Crixton's thirty-one beaten to a custard.

Of course Crixton was sore. He begged the Committee to disqualify Bilkin's frog as an illegitimate device, but the Club upheld the victor. The Gold Cup was saved at the eleventh hour. And now they all use the Bilkin's Animated Batrachian.

-- Dr. Todd