Saturday, August 30, 2008

The UNID Files #4: The Case of the Weedless Florida Darter

The UNID Files #4: The Case of the Weedless Florida Darter

Our resident all-time favorite professional bass fisherman, Bernie Schultz, sends us a puzzler of an UNID and hopes that someone, somewhere can shed some light on it. He writes:

Here's an unknown you might try. I've seen a couple of these and believe them to be Florida made. Hooks are hand-forged and designed to shed weeds, Maybe the super sleuths of the lure world can help. Worth a try.

Indeed...after coming up empty last week for Pepper Jack Gallagher, we need a home run this time out to keep our batting average over .300. My belief is that this is a small cottage lure, since there is more than one example out there. Pretty neat configuration but I'm trying to figure out how the side and back hooks release. Very intricate and VERY neat lure.

Thanks to Bernie for sending this our way! You can contact Bernie through his neat web site.

-- Dr. Todd

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

The controversy over Yo Yo fishing for stripers...when I first typed this it looked like I wrote "Yo Yo fishing for strippers," which would have been funny. Or not. Everyone knows strippers don't dig Yo Yos. Wait...What? Strike that. Wow. I really need a three-day weekend...

Things I Would Buy If I Could Afford Them

A 1990 R.L. Winston rod with all the fixings. You won't find one nicer than this...

How about this ABU 550C De Luxe gold-plated model reaching 4 figures in 2 days?

This is an awesome reel--the 1887 Henshall-Van Antwerp by Thos. Chubb. One of the 10 coolest reels of all time, in my opinion.

This Outing Dewey's Feather Getum in the box is a very interesting lure that you rarely, if ever, see in the box.

This is a flat out STUNNING GORGEOUS Nichols shrimp. Nicest one I've seen.

This (likely) Gregory of Birmingham bait is a real stunner.

Ah yes, the Florida Superstrike. A killer of a bait.

The Granger Victory is classic Colorado cane.

So you say you've got what you think is a prototype Arbogast Jitterbug? That's nice...wait. What?


A Bud Stewart decoy is a wonderful addition to any decoy lover's collection.

Well, aren't we a cute little froggie?

Speaking of froggies, holy schnikies have these Bill Plummer Super Frogs been going insane lately.

What is this a frog convention? A Bud Stewart frog jumps in the pond...

A Jim Donaly Catch-um-Big is a big catch indeed.

I have no idea how old this J. Smith (London) plaque is, but I do know if looks really, really sharp.

We'll end this week with a hand-made Alaskan Inuit fishing lure...or so the description says.

Have a safe and peaceful Labor Day Weekend, and as always, be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Find Fishing & Fishing History Books On-Line

I am often asked where a certain fishing or fishing history book is available, so I thought I'd put together a few tips on how to find the best price on a particular volume you might be looking for.

Now, many of us like having books new and unused, but this makes finding certain volumes quite difficult. Lots of titles relating to fishing and fishing history can be very, very hard to find, and when you do chance to find one, they can be awfully pricey. Take for example Martin Keane's seminal work on bamboo fly rods Classic Rods and Rodmakers, published in 1976. Usually copies of this work sell from between $200 and $300 each, but if you want a copy of this book in pristine condition, be prepared to pay up to $400 to $500.

What is the best way to find more recent titles, however, like Roberts & Pavey's exceptional The Heddon Legacy? Here is what I believe is the best method of finding any title, regardless of printing date.

First, go and do a search on Bookfinder. I often see people reference or other metasites, but NO other search engine except Bookfinder searches all used book web sites, not just in America, but in the world. ABEBooks is just one place--a large site, no doubt--but Bookfinder even searches and for their inventory of books. It is simply the first, and usually, the only place you need to go to find the book you're looking for. In this case, the cheapest I was able to find a copy of this book was for $53.14. One of the things I like about Bookfinder is it adds the price of shipping already to your quote, so that is what you will pay.

The second step is to do a Google search. A friend of mine who designs search engines always says there is an art to using an internet search, and the real trick is to keep your key words limited and specific. In this case, a Google search with the terms "Heddon Legacy Book For Sale" brought up a number of listings, not all of them referenced in the search above. I have had limited luck using Google to find particularly rare titles from sellers not listed on Bookfinder. I just recently found a pristine copy of Harold H. Smedley's revised 1948 edition of his history of fly tying patterns for 1/2 of what Bookfinder was listing it for.

The third step is to search eBay. Currently, the cheapest copy of The Heddon Legacy is $75 on a Buy-It-Now option, but if you save your search, you will certainly find this book listed cheaper at some time in the future. Patience always brings a better price.

The fourth step is to post on some of the higher traffic fishing and fishing history message boards that you are looking for a particular title. Most of these sites, like Joe's Message Board, are linked to the right. Someone may see your posting and realize they have an extra copy they don't need, or may be looking to make some quick cash, in which case both parties usually end up happy.

The fifth and final step is to contact a used book store that specializes in angling books. I won't make a recommendation on whom to use for fear of offending some of my bookstore friends, but I will say there are at least a dozen helpful angling-related bookstores out there, all of which are happy to help you out. Putting the terms "Fishing Books For Sale" or something like it in a Google search (see above) will give you a range of options.

Three final provisos. First, for books still in print, it definitely pays to shop around. Take some time and compare prices, and you'll save money in the long run. Second, there are certain tackle books--such as the new Edward vom Hofe biography and the growing catalog of The Whitefish Press--that are only available either at NFLCC shows or directly from the web site. Finally, nothing beats the immediate gratification of buying a book directly from the author at an ORCA or NFLCC show. This way you can get it personalized, and you have the added bonus of meeting and talking to the author, who has almost certainly invested far more time and effort in his book than he or she will ever recoup financially. Take it from someone who spent ten years putting together a History of the Fish Hook in America--it is a labor of love.

Knowledge is everything, so go out and find yourself some good fishing and fishing tackle books!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The First American Fishing Tackle

The First American Fishing Tackle

As I was prepping for a course I'm teaching on the first half of American history, I recently came across a great eBook from the legendary Project Gutenberg that details a bit on the origins of American angling. New Discoveries at Jamestown: Site of the First Successful English Settlement in America by John L. Cotter and J. Paul Hudson (2005) is a very interesting archaeological look at the first major American settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, founded in 1607. As a coastal settlement, the sea and river were extremely important to Jamestown's survival. As such, they were the first Europeans to use fishing tackle. As the authors note:

When the first settlers planted their small colony at Jamestown, the tidewater rivers and bays and the Atlantic Ocean bordering the Virginia coast teemed with many kinds of fish and shellfish which were both edible and palatable. Varieties which the colonists soon learned to eat included sheepshead, shad, sturgeon, herring, sole, white salmon, bass, flounder, pike, bream, perch, rock, and drum, as well as oysters, crabs, and mussels. Seafood was an important source of food for the colonists, and at times, especially during the early years of the settlement, it was the main source.

Those in England who planned to go to Virginia were always advised to provide themselves (among other items) with nets, fishhooks, and lines. During archeological explorations, fishhooks, lead net weights, fish-gigs, and small anchors were uncovered. These are reminders of a day when fish and shellfish were abundant in every tidewater Virginia creek, river, and bay.

Fish Hooks, Fish Gigs, and Lead Net Weights unearthed at Jamestown

It is certain also that the local blacksmith produced fish hooks and spears for local use as well, making them the first pieces of American tackle ever produced in the colonies. It is possible the spear and fish hooks pictured are the earliest American colonial-made fishing tackle. Being able to see piscatorial relics from the founding of the nation over 400 years ago is a real treat.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Decline and Fall of the Creek Chub Bait Company

The Decline and Fall of the Creek Chub Bait Company

There are a lot of "What If" games one can play in fishing history; what if E.A. Pflueger had not left Enterprise Manufacturing Co. in 1906 to strike out on his own? What if South Bend, Shakespeare, and Heddon had all merged, as was reported, back in the early 1950s? What if the Creek Chub Bait Company had managed to stay in Garrett, Indiana in 1978?

The last of these "What If" scenarios was on my mind as I read an article by Dick Lundin, a florida outdoor writer, who penned the following piece on 12 September 1976.

If you catch a largemouth bass on a Creek Chub lure that is larger than the present record of 22-4 established in 1932 by George Perry while fishing in Montgomery Lake, Georgia, the Creek Chub Bait Company of Garrett, Indiana will pay you $1000. This announcement was made by the Haines, Wilson, Lukens & Grady Advertising, Inc., Muncie, Ind., 47305.

The big bass of Perry's has been a sitting duck for a myriad of bassers for more than four decades, yet with all of the sophisticated bass lures that have been devised since then, the record still stands.

Incidentally, Perry's fish, according to reports, succumbed to a No. 2401-W Creek Chub Wiggle Fish, a jointed plug weighing three fourths of an ounce.

Curiously enough, that new record bass, if and when caught, is unlikely to come from Central or South Florida. It seems that to live long enough to attain record proportions a largemouth bass must have a sort of hibernating season in the winter. Down here, bass forage for food the year around, grow quickly and age rapidly, so say the scientific reports.

So, if you're bent on bagging a real lunker bass that just might top 20 pounds, go north, basser, go north.

I've always thought that some tourister, fishing a 10-inch live shiner on North Florida's Lake Jackson under the tutelage of a veteran guide, might be the lucky one in the end.

What if, in some Georgia or Alabama backwater, an angler had read this, tied on an old Pikie Minnow or Wiggler 100, and boated a 23 pound largemouth? Would it have been enough to save the flagging fortunes of the Creek Chub Bait Company, or would it have been too-little, too-late? That, indeed, is the question. No doubt the contest, coming as it does as a kind of final national gasp for the firm, produced some positive press for the company, and likely drove up sales for a short while. But it was not enough to save the firm.

The question remains: was the demise of the Creek Chub Bait Company inevitable, or could it have been saved, even at this late date? Would it have taken a miracle bass to have saved Creek Chub?

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, August 25, 2008

News of the Week: 25 August 2008

Man uses Barbie rod to catch record catfish...criminals steal tackle in Britain and Canada...a brouhaha has erupted over the National Saltwater Angler man's search for the Sunapee Trout...remembering a 34-year old marlin record...more rock snot...Fishing & Hunting News goes bankrupt after 50 years...the Pacific Goliath Grouper is a new species...96 year old woman lands 35 pound King Salmon...19 accidents involving fishing resulting in 26 deaths and 297 must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

In the single most reported article in the history of Fishing for History, a man uses his daughter's Barbie fishing rod to land a record catfish. It was news so big it made MSNBC and got all the way to Pakistan.

Britain's St. Albans & Harpenden Review report on a fishing tackle burgled by thieves.

Not to be outdone, Canadian criminals steal the grand prizes for the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular.

Fish & Fly reports on a new premises for the Helmsdale Tackle Company.

Life is good, especially when the pompano are hitting.
Saltwater anglers are leary about the creation of the National Saltwater Angler Registry.

The Keene Sentinel reports on one man's emotional search for the Sunapee Trout.

This Hartford angler win $25,000 playing fantasy fishing.

Controversy erupts over Yo Yo fishing for stripers.

Sooner cats like it hot.

13-year old better angler than you; graduates Carp Academy with 24 pound specimen.

Javier Serna reports on a 34-year old marlin record.

Canada's Prosperous Lake gives up a bonanza in the form of a 42-pound Lake Trout.

First mud comes...rock snot, aka Didymo algae? Ewww.

A Navajo Dam couple celebrates 50 years in the tackle business.

Captain Bill Walsh reports on a great shark adventure.

More commentary on the ASA's Top 10 Tackle innovations of the past 50 years.

From the Sign of the Times Files: 50-year old magazine Fishing & Hunting News, with a 75,000 subscription base, goes bankrupt; 23 out of work.

This Fishing Musician has a web site and a foul mouth.

The Return of the Spey Rod.

This Illinois angler boats a 78-pound flathead.

From the More Reasons Why Texas Rules Files: Texas Rod Builders are crafting hand-made rods for soldiers.

From the You're Never Too Old Files: 96-year old woman boats 35-pound King Salmon.

New Dowagiac, Michigan City Manager Kevin Anderson hopes to make the Heddon Museum a national tourist draw.

This massive Pacific Goliath Grouper has been named the newest species of fish.

Finishing with a Flourish: Practical Fishkeeping details 19 terrifying accidents involving fish (sum total: 26 dead, 297 injured, and 2 left traumatized).

"Willy fish or Candiru might swim up your penis or vagina if you urinate in the Amazon."


Dr. Todd

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The UNID Files #3: The Case of the Torpedo Minnow

The UNID Files #3: The Case of the Torpedo Minnow

The legendary "Pepper" Jack Gallagher sends info on a lure he believes is a production bait. First impressions are important, and this bait leaves a first impression like a blonde in a bikini at a black tie event. It is simply a stunner.

Here is what Jack has to write about it:
On your blog you were looking for some unidentified baits to post. Here's one I've had for some time that is in my "folk bait" collection that is so well made that it may be one someone can ID as a production bait.

As you can see the body is 4" long, it's hand painted and it is wood, even though it may appear to be plastic. Eyes are painted glass beads applied with nails. Hook is two single hooks wired together as a double hook. Shaft goes completely through the body. Would love to know who made this.

My hunch is also a production bait. Anyone with any information please contact Jack Gallagher at PEPPERJACK@FTC-I.NET.

Anyone who would like to have an UNID lure featured in the UNID Files please drop me a note, preferably with a picture!

-- Dr. Todd

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Bill Dance is one of the funniest guys around, but there is NOTHING funny about getting hooked in the nose. Except, of course, if it happens to Bill Dance.

Things I Would Buy If I Could Afford Them

This Pflueger Mustang is in a rare Sunfish Scale color.

This 1980s Stan Bogdan 5wt Trout Reel is a modern classic.

Wheeler & McGregor reels do not come down the pike very often at all.

Last week, the Snake. This week, the Walleye. Its a veritable Arbogast-a-palooza!

Instant Collection Alert: 10 Pluggin' Shorties from Texas.

This Salesman's sample case of Heddon Punkinspins/Cousin II lures is a nice find indeed.

An aluminum Shakespeare Revolution is one of the classic lures of all time.

A Buel Kidney Blade with the 1876 patent date on it has metal collectors breaking their piggy banks open.

This is a fairly odd looking vintage minnow bucket.

This early Heddon casting rod is a rare bamboo rod.

An Allcocks Waterwitch is a great example of a classic British bait.

Heddon Crazy Crawlers are popular; Crawlers in Yellow Shore? Belle of the ball.

This Doug English Bingo in Christmas colors is my pick as your Texas lure of the week.

This CCBC Injured Minnow is in a very rare Yellow Spot color, and is new int he box.

This Thoren Minnow Chaser is one of the best of the oddball baits.

Barber Pole baits seem to have disappeared from the radar of late; hopefully this great Reel Lure will remind us how nice these baits are.

Mitchell sold not only reels but spinners, and this dealer display is a great example of these Mepps clones.

As always, be good to each other--and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd