Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Here is a nifty video that's made the rounds lately on the internet on how a fishing reel is made.

Things I Would Buy If I Could Afford Them

A really rare George Jennings bait in an Abbey & Imbrie box has attracted a lot of attention.

A Heddon 100 in classic green crackleback in a wood slide top box is the archetype of a great old fishing lure.

Two uncatalogued punkinseeds are rarely found alone, let alone together.

Winchester Mania is still in full swing...

A five-tine eel spear will make some collector very happy.

Here's one you don't see every day: an 1877 Allcock Brass Minnow.

A Heddon Daddy Head-On Basser, even in this shape, hardly ever comes to market.

Ah, the beauty of a Talbot Star reel.

A Harris Salmon plug in the box will make the west coast collectors happy.

A complete set of all four Spook Ray glow river runt spook sinkers is a nice addition to a runt collection.

Have a great weekend, and be nice to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review: Matt Lollman's

Review: Matt Lollman's

One of my favorite web sites on the internet is Matt Lollman's fascinating Old & Antique Fishing Lure web site. Matt is of course well known to many collectors, being a regional V.P. for the NFLCC and an all around good guy. He has worked diligently over the past few years to construct an informative and interesting web site that remains one of my favorite spots on the internet.

One of the most worthwhile resources anywhere for old metal lures is the section on Matt's web site dealing with Henry Loftie, John Mann, W.D. Chapman, and Riley Haskell. Great photos and historically accurate information help make this more than just a show-and-tell section. Many items pictured on Matt's web site simply cannot be found anywhere else.

Another outstanding resource is the section containing vintage catalogs. Matt has digitized for collector use such rare catalogs as the 1916 Jamison Catalog, a 1903 Pritzlaff hardware catalog, and a really rare 1897 Reuben Wood catalog showing some incredibly rare items.

There are a lot of other things to like about the site, from galleries and information on Creek Chub, Heddon, and the other big companies, to a section on Field & Stream covers. Overall, this is one of the best sites of its kind going, and we here at Fishing for History are excited to watch the additions to the web site over the coming years.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Grits Gresham, Angler

Grits Gresham, Angler

Many of the outdoor web sites have been running commentary on the passing of Grits Gresham, noted television personality and outdoor enthusiast. Most of these commentaries note that he was the host (and producer) of The American Sportsman and Shooting Sports America, or that he was the shooting editor of Sports Afield magazine for over 25 years. But he was bigger than tv or magazines. He was a true personality, as famous for his Miller Lite advertisements alongside such diverse professional athletes as baseball player Bob Uecker or pool player Steve Mizerak as he was in the field with rod and gun. Most tributes have concentrated on the shooting aspects of his career, which were great indeed; this appreciation, however, is designed to illustrate what an important angler and fishing writer Grits Gresham was.

He was born Claude Hamilton Gresham, Jr. on 21 June 1922 in South Carolina and went on to graduate from Louisiana State University in his beloved Louisiana, where he would reside the remainder of his days. His college thesis was on conservation of the environment--a new field--and this subject would remain a central theme of his life. He served in the military during World War II and married his wife Mary Eleanor while on leave from the U.S. Army Air Corp.

While his hunting laurels were many, it is worth noting that he was an accomplished angler as well. His book Kiss the Land Goodbye was an early call to arms to save the wetlands of Louisiana, and he worked often with Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., to clean up cheating in bass tournaments. Scott considered Gresham's The Complete Book of Bass Fishing "the best book ever written on bass fishing."

Gresham began his writing career as the outdoor editor of a The Shreveport Times, and from the beginning, he was a consistent promoter of new fishing techniques and tackle. A 1958 article noted that the earliest proponents of Buck Perry's spoon plugging lures and methods were "Ray Bergman, Allen Corson, Grits Gresham, [and] Henry Reynolds." He was one of the first and most vocal proponents of the new-fangled contraption known as the bass boat.

In 1961, Gresham lost much of his material and tackle in a fire; as one writer noted, "Recently Grits Gresham, Louisiana outdoor writer, had...a fire. For weeks afterward he kept remembering items which had been destroyed." He took this personal loss and turned it into an opportunity to instruct American sportsmen on the importance of taking inventory and owning insurance on the fishing tackle and gunning equipment.

His greatest claim to fishing fame was The Complete Book of Bass Fishing. Outdoor writer Donnell Culpepper reviewed this work in 1967 and wrote:

Speaking of bass, Grits Gresham, famous free-lance outdoor writer who lives in Louisiana, writes me that he thinks his new book, "Complete Book of Bass Fishing," published by Harper and Row as an Outdoor Life Library book, is the best on the market. I don't blame Grits one bit for saying that. If I had written such a book, I would be proud to make the same statement. Grits has been a bass fisherman for many years, but he has taken the best thinking of experts such as Bill Adcock, Vic Myers, Buck Perry and others, and put it all into such shape that no man can help but learn many lessons on the art of bass fishing. You won't make any mistake by reading Grits' book, now on sale at your favorite bookstore.

In 1967, his television show The American Sportsman, which he and Curt Gowdy had taken over hosting duties from Governor Foss of WWII fame, was panned in a nationally syndicated column by Cleveland Amory (of cat book fame) as being "the worst show on the air" and for "assasinating weekly certain species of rare game for the dubious enjoyment of the viewing public." Richard Alden Knight and other prominent outdoor writers rushed to Grits' defense and decried the hypocrisy in Amory's arguments. The controversy only served to make the show better.

The show itself took many famous celebrities fishing, ranging from Bing Crosby to Ted Williams to Clint Walker to John Forsythe. Regulars included Lee Wulff, Joe Brooks, and other leading fishermen. From salmon fishing in Alaska to (famously) capturing an alligator in the Louisiana swamps, Gresham became a popular weekly addition to many outdoor enthusiasts' lives. As the show matured it tended to concentrate more on shooting sports, but fishing always remained an important part of its success.

Throughout all of the fame, from the Miller Lite commercials to The Tonight Show appearances, Gresham remained the same humble Southern gentleman throughout. A proficient and prolific writer, he wrote numerous free lance articles in addition to six books and, for many years, a syndicated outdoor column.

Grits Gresham's most famous Miller Lite commercial.

There are many eulogies of Gresham out and many more to come, but I think his friend and colleague Don Miller summed up Gresham best back in 1959, long before Grits had achieved national stardom. Miller wrote:

Grits is a long-time friend of mine, and an ardent, practicing fisherman. He actually has outdoor columns appearing in 35 newspapers across Louisiana, so when you mention "Grits" down there you aren't talking about a favorite Dixie Dish. You're talking about someone familiar to almost everyone in the South and Southwest.

With his trademark driftwood hat and that open, friendly grin, Grits Gresham was an appealing and likeable figure responsible for promoting field sports to nearly three generations of Americans. Perhaps the most fitting memorial of all is that his son Tom Gresham continues the family tradition with a nationally syndicated radio show "Gun Talk," taking up where his father left off. May he rest in peace.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Voices from the Past: M.J.V. Fose

Here is a piece dated 1924 from the Appleton Post-Crescent written by their outdoor writer M.J.V. Fose on a subject we can all empathize with: losing a fish next to the boat. I believe the most underrated skill in the angling world is the ability to properly net a fish. Some things haven't changed...

Rod and Reel

M.J.V. Fose


When you talk of disappointment there is nothing comparable with the loss of a game fin, especially after he has "fought to a finish," and then in the grand finale have him wave his tail as a parting gesture just as you were counting him added to the stringer.

It's either the line snapping, a hook breaking or a slip of some kind that sets the little "gloom bug" to work m the fishing game. Selecting tackle with care will avoid many of these disappointments and pay the angler twofold in satisfaction of knowing that it will hold up under all conditions.

Then there's the old jinx, "lost him at the boat," where nine tenths of the slip-ups occur. There is about one angler out of ten that understands the proper method of handling a good sized game fish at the boat and one out of five that knows the proper method of using the "fish saver," called a landing net. Where the slips usually occur is in trying to slip a slip net under a game fin by the easy method and which usually falls to connect. Others try to slip it over the head, but the proper method of netting is to hold the line taut, then with a quick scoop, slip the landing net over his tail and at the some time keep the line taut so the hook don't become all tangled into the net, then when you have him in the boat remove tho hook and let the "big one" kick to his heart's content. In slipping the net over the tail first there is less danger of losing him because it's the "swish" of that tail that usually does the damage.

Net your own fish whenever possible, then you cannot blame the loss of a big one on a fishing partner. But there's an exception to this rule in musky fishing, because it takes two to play the game of landing the "tiger of fresh waters" successfully and a gaff is usually used instead of the landing net.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, February 25, 2008

News of the Week, 25 February 2008

Grits Gresham passes away...Minnesota DNR seizes trophy musky for being caught out of season, gives it back when it realizes it doesn't know when season ends...plastic baits are clogging our waterways...get inside the head of Kevin Van Dam...Judy Wong is a bassmaster champion...mark your calendars, May 18 is Ladies' Fly Fishing's largest kayak fishing tournament...Lindy Little Joe is sold...Zebco gets profiled...Kiwis love their Bluenose Warehou...the Vandalia Rod Works makes nice bamboo rods...Ski bum is traumatized by the sight of a naked must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

THE BIG LEAD: Noted outdoor writer, angler, and conservationist Grits Gresham has passed away at the age of 85.

For those who missed the 48 hours of wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN2, Alton Jones won the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.

Sportsmen shoot at global warming.

Anglers seek to clean up buildup of plastic worms in waterways.

The Detroit Free Press seeks to go where no man has gone before: Inside the mind of Kevin van Dam.

A 75 pound catfish on 12-pound test is the Real McCoy.

BREAKING NEWS! The outdoors is perfect for women.

A fisherman fulfills lifelong dream of boating a tarpon.

Joe Ognibene gives you the skinny on the latest rods and reels.

Judy Wong wins the Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship.

An Englishwoman looks at the other side of the Bassmaster Classic.

Britain declares May 18, 2008 Ladies' Fly Fishing Day.

A Kiwi angling writers is glad we have technology on our side in the eternal battle of wits with fish.

An Oregonian trips the bass fantastic.

Noted outdoor writer Bob Schmidt has passed away.

After it wins Field & Stream's Best of the Best award, Doug Hannon's Wave Spin gets even more positive press from The Salt Lake Tribune.

Pro angler Skeet Reese gets profiled by the august New York Times.

The world's largest kayak fishing tournament starts May 2nd. You know, for those who are into that kind of thing.

Long time Minnesota tackle company Lindy Little Joe has been sold.

The Greater Tulsa Reporter profiles the history of Zebco.

Mel Cotton--namesake of the San Jose sporting goods store--has passed away.

Six year old girl is better angler than you, catches 15-pound gag grouper.

The Mitchell Daily Republic opines on Minnesota's obsession with ice fishing.

The Janesville Gazette profiles a Whitewater, Wisconsin man hooked on custom rodbuilding.

This Week in Know Your New Zealand Fishes: the Bluenose Warehou.

Veteran angler hooks, almost lands scuba diver.

Bill Thompson outlines the merits of the Echo Micro Rod.

The Charleston Daily Mail profiles the Vandalia Rod Works, makers of fine split bamboo fishing rods.

Doug Pike explains why direct-drive reels have stood the test of time.

Minnesota DNR seizes ice fisherman's prize musky for being caught out of season, then gives it back when it realizes it doesn't know when the season actually ends.

The growth of professional bass fishing is chronicled in this article by the Anderson Independent Mail.

Finishing with a Flourish: Ski bum runs across naked angler fishing in the Adriatic Sea, does not mention whether his initial reaction was "Dude!" or "Duuuuude." As an aside, Dubrovnik is an awesome place to visit.

Ski bum traumatized by naked angler.

-- Dr. Todd

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video(s) of the Week

A bonus video this week. As I am a sports radio junkie (great background noise while I'm working), I have listened to Mike & Mike in the mornings on ESPN. Not my favorite, mind you, but infinitely better than some (READ: the horrible Colin Cowherd). Anyway, this video was posted this morning of Mike Golic at the Bassmaster Classic and I had to put it up. Consider it a Friday Funhouse bonus!

A neat video of a 106 Pound Nile Perch.

Things I Would Buy If I Could Afford Them

I never knew vintage gas cans were collectable!

A Meek & Milam #1 would make a great addition to anyone's reel collection.

This is one super looking CCBC Sarasota

Instant Collection of the Week: Tiny Punkinseeds.

Speaking of punkinseeds, holy silver shore batman!

A nice South Bend Truck-o-Reno, the meanest looking musky bait around.

A nifty Fin-Nor tycoon fly reel in the box will make someone happy.

Very nice vintage lot of 9 Blind Eye Salmon Hooks for fly tying...

I love this Moonlight Polly Wog in the box.

Reason #498 to buy every tackle book ever released: Schmookler & Sils Forgotten Flies.

A nice Kimmich Mouse is a tough little micey to find

How often do you get a shot at a Shakespeare Albany Floating Bait?

Your Heddon of the Week: #100 Underwater Minnow in Aluminum in box!

Your Heddon of the Week #2: Black Sucker in the Box

Who wouldn't love a Detroit Glass Minnow Tube?

A W.D. Chapman Safety Deposit lure is ALWAYS a tough find.

Have a great weekend and be nice to yourself, and others.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: Fishnbanjos Slice of Fly Rod Life

Review: Fishnbanjos Slice of Fly Rod Life

Sante Giuliani is a well-known name in the bamboo fly rod community, but his web site Fishinbanjos Slice of Life in Cyberspace is not as well known outside of fly fishing communities. And that's a shame, as it is a site of broad interest and utility to the fishing community in general. Fishinbanjo, by the way, is Sante's username on the famed Clark's Classic Fly Rod Board linked to the right.

There are really three sections to Sante's web site. The first is the incredible wealth of data available to rod builders. These links and archives contain the transcripts from the old Cracker Barrel web site of the late Dick Spurr of which Giuliani was such an integral part. No question this is one of the more important places for budding bamboo rodmakers to get inspiration and information.

The second part of the web site deals with those, like myself, primarily interested in fishing history. There is a lot of great historical information on the web site, including a downloadable copy of E.C. Powell's Mechanics of Fly Casting and a great article on Syracuse rodmaker Dan Brenan. There is also a useful Orvis rod production database.

The third part is where I think this site could get a lot more use by non-bamboo fly rod collectors. How often have I seen someone post on Joe's about a particular model bamboo fly rod? At least two-three times per week. Well, these folks would do well to bookmark this site, as it has a "Vintage Tackle Makers Information plus Value and Profile Guide" available that gives you current value to hundreds of models of bamboo rods from most of the major makers, ranging from Montague, Heddon and South Bend to Uslan, Dickerson, and Cross. A must for anyone who comes across a nice rod and wants an idea of its value.

Overall, this is one of those sites you'll definitely want to visit on a regular basis. I've posted a link to this site on the right. And who knows? You may just catch bamboo fever and start planning your own fly rod...

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's in a Name? The Phantom Twin Syndrome

What's in a Name? The Phantom Twin Syndrome

What's in a name?

Having spent many years researching fishing history, I have discovered one of the most frustrating things is what I call "Phantom Twins." These are people with the same name as the ones you are looking for, and it happens a lot more than you realize. For example, I had earlier written an article about William Shakespeare, who shared a famous name not only with the immortal bard of England, but also William Shakespeare, a watchmaker from Connecticut (with whom he became great friends).

But that is, of course, not the only instance of a Phantom Twin mucking up the works from a research point of view. You would think that an unusual name like Fred Arbogast would be safe. Wrong. One wonders if Fred Arbogast, former president of Westminster College, ever was called "Jitterbug" due to his sobriquet.

Or take the case of James Heddon of Mason City, Iowa. One wonders how many times he gets asked if he is related to the Heddons of fishing fame (apparently he is not). Fred Keeling made a lot of very interesting and collectible lures; but he has or had Phantom Twins living in Charleston, West Virginia, Greenville, Mississippi, and Hayward, California, among other places.

Many Phantom Twins, like those mentioned in the paragraph above, lived at the end of or after the death of their fishing namesake. But there are a lot of Phantom Twins who lived alongside their more famous fishing cousins. One wonders if William Jamison of Ottumwa, Iowa ever took the nickname "Smilin' Bill" like the famed luremaker and tournament caster from Chicago. Jim Bagley baits have skyrocketed in the past few years; if you are ever in Victoria, Texas or Syracuse, New York, if you look up Jim Bagley you will likely find no lures at all. Of course, if you ask about Jim Bagley in Twentynine Palms, California, they will think first and foremost about their local politician and mayor named, you guessed it, Jim Bagley. Hiram Leonard was a pioneer rodmaker, but Hiram Leonard was also a druggist, postmaster, and justice of the peace in Warrenville, Ohio from the 1850s until around 1900. In fact, the non-fishing Hiram Leonard has a museum in his honor in Warrenville today--more than we can say, unfortunately, for the pioneer of the split bamboo fly rod. The best we can do for him is a canoe-shaped gravestone honoring his Maine roots.

Sometimes a famous tackle maker is connected by name alone to someone of, how shall we say, lesser repute. Famed rodmaker Jim Payne would have probably been horrified to discover that his namesake Jim Payne (no relation of course) was accused and convicted of murder in Texas in the 1870s. Or Charles Garcia, who founded the firm responsible for popularizing the Mitchell and Ambassadeur reels, would likewise have probably not found it funny that someone who shared his name was arrested for selling opium in Omaha, Nebraska in 1912.

The list goes on and on. James Henshall was a defensive back for the Edmonton Eskimos as well as a pioneer fish culturist and proponent of black bass fishing. Charles Helin was an electrical engineer from Pasadena, California and the inventor of the Flatfish...well, you get the point.

One time at NFLCC Nationals, I heard a gentleman declare "What I wouldn't give to have a conversation with William Shakespeare, James Henshall, and James Heddon" or something to that effect. You can imagine his disappointment if his wish was granted, and he got a lengthy discourse on watchmaking, the nickle package defensive scheme, and weather patterns in Central Iowa.

A rose by any other name may indeed smell as sweet, but when it comes to tackle, try to make sure you get the name right. I think you'd be very disappointed with your Fred Malleson reel if it came from the director of the Oswego Speedway instead of the Victorian reelsmith.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Voices from the Past: The Fishing Rod

This is a very funny anonymous piece published in The Daily Kennebec Journal under the nom de plume of "Old Hunter." It made me laugh out loud, and helps us to understand that the anglers are funny people, no matter the time or place.

The Fishing Rod

By Old Hunter

A fishing rod is not of necessity a rod in length, on the contrary the most popular rods are not over ten feet long, the same as the popular "ton" of coal, which is a ton in name only.

Rods are almost never sold by weight, often have I seen a fine maple rod, two inches thick at the butt and as full of life as a horizontal bar, sell for $2.79, while a four ounce split bamboo brings from $25 up, according to its lineage and your standing with Dunn & Bradstreet.

A real rod was never intended by Nature to be used as a weapon of offence or defense, and shortly after you have passed five eager minutes larrauping an inoffensive water-snake into a comatose state with your new $25 split bamboo, said rod has a pathetic way of looking up at you with just $25 worth of dumb reproach in its agate eyes that is saddening and chastening in the extreme to all true devotees of Ike Walton. Essaying to pry up a flat stone in search of bait has been the down-fall of many a fine rod, so unless you are connected with the sub-treasury, pass this practice up.

Respect the finer feelings of your rod, refrain from derricking large mudturtles, muskrats, and lamprey eel with it, as all these aforementioned critters have a degenerative effect on a well-bred and cultured rod which is little short of ruinous. Bear in mind also that each individual style of rod is adapted to one function, that to us, a four ounce fly rod as a means of propulsion for a quarter-pound bullfrog usually necessitates the immediate purchase of a new fly rod, and that many an industrious angler has lost his sole chance for ultimate redemption while essaying to cast a single fly up-wind with a stiff-backed bait rod.

Beware eels, the average able-bodied eel can give any rod you ever saw more forms of infantile paralysis in less time than it takes a hungry young robin to devour two squirming feet of angle worm (which is a bit less than no time at all), than any other marine dweller on record.

If you should hook your guide In the lobe of the ear with a Parmacheenee Belle while fly casting, do not subject the rod to any unnecessary strain, for if a pull of more than seven pounds is exerted the rod will be strained, and possibly the ear will give slightly (in which case the guide may or may not take the trouble to notify your relatives), but try to avoid straining the rod by all means/

In closing, the best rod In the world is on that you borrow from a friend who owes you money, with this ou may disregard rules of caution, for if it breaks you can easily square yourself with your indebted friend, which you might have difficulty in doing otherwise.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, February 18, 2008

The News of the Week, 18 February 2008

A scandal involving using technology to get an unfair advantage not involving the New England Patriots...ragin' about cajun an unintentional chub can warm a cold to be a fishing guide...the Kiwis love their trumpeter...a good time for barracudas?...Lee Marvin's widow regales us of stories of one tough must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Cheating. Skullduggery. Unfair competitive edge. No, we're not talking about Bill Bellichek and the New England Patriots. It's fishing competitions that's got one UK writer's ire up.

Bobby Knight offers to coach pro anglers at The Bassmaster Classic, then proceeds to mock one of them for his long hair and accuse the other of graduating from a dirty Auburn program. No word on whether he threw a seat cushion.

The Rochester Democract tells us that ice fishing is an inexpensive way to relax.

The Detroit Free Press is ragin' about cajun monafilament.

The Miami Herald profiles Doug Hannon, inventor of the WaveSpin fishing reel.

The Minot Daily News gives us the gory details on fishing elbow and other angling ailments.

Well, it's never to early to list your tackle box needs. Mine is a nice Kent Frog.

Ted Lund is the new editor of Bonnier's Salt Water Sportsman Magazine.

Unintentionally Hilarious Headline of the Week: 'ACCIDENTAL' CHUB EASES A COLD NIGHT.

The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center is asking for help buidling a gallery to honor shoreside industries that
supported local fishing fleets.

The Mother Earth News gives you tips on how to become a fishing guide.

This Week in Know Your New Zealand Fish: The Trumpeter.

The Murray State News informs us that lure making is a lifelong hobby.

Berkley/Pure Fishing guru Tom Bedell will be the commencement speaker at Buena Vista University.

From the "I Give Up" File: Farming & Water Interests seek to target striped bass so they can suck more water out of the delta region.

Bad fishing movie "Bait Shop" cannot be saved, even by professional anglers as consultants and extras.

The Argus Leader declares that we should not believe the hype on some fishing products.

Great combos in world history: Bird and McHale. Dolce and Gabbana. Martin and Lewis. And now, Larry Cupper's Country Station and Tackle Shop in Broussard.

Come on in and meet the Ayatollah of the Fishing Hole-ah.

Apparently, anglers go a little overboard when it comes to fish of the order Siluriformes.

The Fon Du Lac Reporter covers the annual spearing harvest.

Foster's Daily Democrat argues for, but I don't think there is ever a good time for barracudas. Hey, I saw Finding Nemo...

The latest rage: fly fishing film tours.

Lure maker Mark Nichols of D.O.A. Lures is still garnering national press.

Finishing with a Flourish: Pamela Marvin--widow of The Dirty Dozen star Lee Marvin--still keeps his fishing gear along with his Oscar.

-- Dr. Todd