Sunday, May 31, 2009

Streater's Thought of the Week

Every weekend Dick Streater gives us his thought of the week, culled from his voluminous files on fishing and tackle history.

Streater's Thought of the Week: In the 1860s Largemouth Bass were known in some places as Carolina Trout.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Shakespearean Math

This is one of my all time favorite ads. It appeared in Recreation Magazine in April of 1901. Apparently William Shakespeare felt some of his clientele could not read all that well so this picture story/ math problem addressed some of those concerns. This also illustrates to the non-believer just how early the aluminum Revolution and Worden Bucktail Revolution came upon the scene. I wonder what a modern advertising agency executive would say today if presented with this ad for approval by one of his artists.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

Kip Adotta has a wet dream.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

It would not surprise me to see this Dickerson 8'2" fly rod reach 6000.

Just your ordinary Heddon wood box filled with underwater minnows.

How about a Spin Diver in Frog Scale?

An ABU Bronze statue doesn't come up for sale very often at all.

Perhaps the most overlooked of all rodmakers is Hiram Hawes, who made some gorgeous rods.

A Heddon Tadpolly in Bar Perch in the box would make a terrific addition to anyone's collection.

How about a Bug-n-Bass in an uncatalogued color?

This Philip Geen Naturalspin lure is one of Britain's finest antique baits.

An ABU Model 1900 in green is one of my favorite reels.

This Bud Stewart ice decoy shows off his great style.

A Pflueger Neverfail in a Four Brothers box is always a sweet find.

I'm not sure when I've seen a Horrocks-Ibbotson reel reach this high of a price.

Couple of tough South Bend lures this week. The first is this Lunge-Oreno.

The other is this great Panetalla Minnow in the box.

I'm always afraid of metal signs, but this is a nifty Pflueger metal piece.

A Paw Paw Salesman's sample is a nice find indeed.

So is a Jim Harvey card of Darting Minnows.

As always, have a safe and happy weekend, and be good to each other and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Review: A New Mitchell Reel Collector's Forum

Thursday Review: A New Mitchell Reel Collector's Forum

There are a lot of good web sites on the internet for Mitchell collectors. A new forum called Mitchell Mates, launched about two months ago, promises to be one of the best resources for the history of Mitchell, the most popular reel in the world.

Mitchell Mates, the brainchild of fishing historian Wallace Carney, is a nifty new forum on all things Mitchell. While still in its infancy, and likely to add a few forums in the future, it already has forums on general interest, servicing Mitchell reels, Mitchell Franken-Reels and Look-A-Likes, Conolon NARMCO Fiberglass rods, old movies on Garcia-Mitchell-Abu-Conolon, Articles, and a wish list. A pretty impressive list of places for anyone looking for ABU-Mitchell information.

One of the things that strikes me as interesting about this forum -- and Mitchell reel collectors in general -- is the massive interest globally these reels command. Users from almost every corner of the globe frequent Mitchell Mates, and are ready to offer answers on any number of questions. I recently queried the body politic on Abu-Garcia leather bags. I got a ton of useful information in the blink of an eye.

Wallace Carney's "Mitchell Mates" is a Yuku forum open to anyone, although only members can post. Membership (like other similar Yuku homes like the Classic Fly Rod Forum and Fiberglass Flyrodders) is open to anyone, as long as they follow a few rules.

You can access this forum by clicking here. I've always fished Mitchells (300 and 308s) so they hold a special place in my heart. Additionally, I've run across interesting information on Mitchell in my research that I'll be uploading there soon. You'll definitely want to bookmark this site; if you buy any tackle, you'll certainly be running across some Mitchells, and the Mates can help you separate a $30 Mitchell from a $300 one.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Voices from the Past: Ted Williams' Error (1962)

This awesome piece by The New York Times outdoor writer Oscar Godbout is one of the funniest during his ten year tenure at the august newspaper. In it, Oscar takes a good-natured shot at Ted Williams, noted Red Sox outfielder and angler. It ran in the spring of 1962.

Engravers get the Blame in Mysteries of Keeper Ring and Dropper Fly

by Oscar Godbout

It appears as if some outstanding fishermen are having a bit of trouble with pictures these days. Ted Williams, the lean and even-tempered baseball player turned outdoorsman, is one example. The Orvis fishing tackle people in Vermont are another.

Williams is currently looking rather silly in at least one national outdoors magazine, Sports Afield. Williams now makes a living tellings Sears, Roebuck & co., how to blow a clear publicity bugle over its fishing and hunting hardware.

In the April issue of Sports Afield the former slugger has a full color page to himself with rich, flowing prose telling how the company developed a "better bait casting reel -- Thanks to Ted Williams." The text goes on recounting all the technical and important things he advised them to do to get a "remarkable" reel.

Half the page is a picture in glorious color of Williams intently handling the reel, which is on a casting rod. The line is carefully threaded through the keeper ring.

Now, even the rawest beginner knows the keeper ring is for keeping hooks in and lines put through there just won't cast.

Oh, it's a terrible sight, that line-filled keeper ring, and fishermen turn their faces away in embarrassment. But poor Ted had a spitball thrown at him, it seems, for the line was never really through the keeper ring at all, he says.

In another magazine, he explains that a photographic retoucher--a non-fishing retoucher--came on the photo, saw the line outside the keeper ring and carefully retouched is inside the ring. So that's Williams story and it's a good one. I, for one, will swallow it hook, line, sinker and keeper ring.

The only thing is, in Outdoor Life, the same picture shows Williams with the line outside the keeper ring. Was this a re-touching? At this point, it's all to complicated to keep up with, but the next time I see him on a stream I'm going to check his keeper ring.

As a child, I remember sneaking in the back door of the Orvis factory in Manchester, Vt., to ask if they had any free sampels of their fishing rods. It was a good try, but all I got was a free sample of a catalogue as I was shown the door.

The cover of the catalogue was a memorable color reproduction of a brook trout, hooked and leaping on a leader with a dropper fly attached. It was lovely, just like the brookies one would catch in the Battenkill. The scene was and is the Orvis trademark.

The latest Orvis catalogue explains that the picture was painted in 1874 by S.A. Kilbourne for "Game Fishes of the United States," published by Scribner's in 1879. sometime before 1890 Charles F. Orvis, the founder, commissioned a wood block engraving of the original painting for a trademark. It has been on almost all catalogues and the dropper fly always showed clearly.

The Orvis people have now come by the original Kilbourne color litho, reproduced on the current catalogue, and the dropper fly is missing. Now they are asking if any one has seen the original of the cover color litho or the original Orvis engraving to solve the mystery of "what happened to the dropper fly."

I have a theory about it. The retoucher who fiddled with Ted Williams line had a grandfather, also a retoucher, who didn't like dropper flies.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News of the Week: 26 May 2008

Mid Barbour was the queen of the river rats...a man collects lost bobbers...debate over the saltwater angler's license...silver kings light up the Argentina, NY Times style...a fishing hat weaves a story...a fluke opener...where did the 'cudas go?...a history of A.H. Johnson Department Store (purveyors of tackle)...the Bait man cometh...Maltese anglers up in arms...babes on the bay...wounded vets taught to fly must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: The Life and Times of Mid Barbour, Queen of the river rats.

A Milwaukee man's hobby is collecting lost bobber from the local lake. 1500+ of 'em. Seriously.

Surf angler lands 50.75 pound striper.

One writer thinks the saltwater fishing license is a good idea.

The Silver Kings are lighting up the Gulf.

The august New York Times reports on fishing at the end of the world.

North Carolina anglers give a serious boost to the economy.

The Nashua Telegraph argues that bluegills are for the kids.

The owner of Mack's Bait Shop--an Alabama institution--passes.

Florida marine artist selected for the IGFA Hall-of-Fame.

One man's fishing hat is at the center of this tale.

The Bleacher Report opines on a new obsession: fly fishing.

A new jig leads The Dayton Daily News list of new outdoor gear.

A total fluke of an opening.

Where have all the 'cuda gone?

Dr. Julia Ball teaches us how to fish for black drum.

An Aussie angler is named a fishing legend.

One man foresees rough waters ahead for the boating industry.

The L.A. Times pigpiles on the great Hammerhead Shark controversy.

This article outlines the history of the Andrew H. Johnson department store, which sold fishing tackle. All of which means I am TOTALLY geeked up to find a piece of A.H. Johnson fishing tackle!

A Detroit Lakes tackle shop owner is dubbed "the Bait Man.".

From the Mediterranean island of Malta comes news that the world is the same wherever you go: their fishermen are angry, too, about new rules for amateur anglers.

Sigh. More recalls of fishing tackle.

A man, his older brother, and a fish hook in the thumb.

First Place (Tie) in the Trite Expression Contest: The recession is reeling in more anglers.

First Place (Tie) in the Trite Expression Contest: The Boston Globe opines on the lure of fishing. Because, you see, "lure" is both a noun and a verb. Clever, eh?

A Ludlow angler wants to catch all 22 native Massachusetts species.

Babes on the Bay was a huge success.

The Joy of Carp.

Finishing with a Flourish: Wounded vets learn to fly fish.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day (Re)Post

A Memorial Day (Re)Post

Today you may be expecting the News of the Week. However, here at Fishing for History we never work on Memorial Day. Instead, I want everyone to reflect on the meaning of this holiday. For too many, it is just a convenient day off from work. But the reality of the matter is that this is a day when everyone should reflect on what it means to be an American.

As I was driving through Indianapolis yesterday on my return trip back home, I looked up in the sky and saw four planes flying in formation. It was the Blue Angels, getting ready for their fly by at the start of the Indianapolis 500. As I listened to the invocation at the start of that great race on the radio, it struck me that those of us interested in fishing history have as much to remember and memorialize as everyone else.

It was, after all, Civil War veterans like Capt. Thos. H. Chubb who helped found many of the tackle companies in the wake of that great conflagration that first popularized the sport of fishing. It was men such as Major Charles Conover of the Kansas City wholesale hardware firm of Richards & Conover that helped distribute this tackle across this expanding nation. And it was the host of veterans who, seeking a moment of solitude to forget the horrors of war, turned to the peaceful art of angling by the legion. It did not matter which side you fought on; fishing was the great equalizer.

In the wake of the Spanish-American war, noted firms such as the Shakespeare Company and Abercrombie & Fitch--who hand-tailored Col. Teddy Roosevelt's personal uniform--plied the growing nation with the tackle it needed and desired. But it was really the First World War that transformed fishing. Returning veterans in 1918 and 1919 created the greatest demand for fishing tackle to that point in the nation's history, and a plethora of companies ranging from Thos. E. Wilson (who created a special fund to care for the families of employees at Wilson Meatpacking who were wounded or died in the war) to the ever-present Winchester Repeating Arms Company entered the fishing tackle field with a grand flourish.

Fishing and the Second World War is a subject of great interest and one I plan on penning a significant work on one day. But suffice to say the contributions of tackle makers was extremely valuable, as noted tackle makers made everything from the Norden Bomb Sight to survival kits. One manufacture--Montague Rod & Reel Company--made everything from bamboo ski poles to intricate firing pins for machine guns, all under the same roof. It was not unique. Back home, the tackle makers like Creek Chub and Pflueger continued to advertise, press for the purchase of war bonds, and remind Americans that brighter days were ahead. And in the wake of the war, returning veterans once again kick-started the American fishing industry and propelled angling to a position as the most popular past time in America.

Hand-made lure fashioned by US Navy Sailor during WWII from an oil tin, engraved with various stops across the Pacific.

So no News of the Week today--you can come back tomorrow for that. Today we remember the sacrifices necessary to preserve our freedoms. My father came back from the war and the occupation of Japan to start a family and fish once again. Others were not so lucky and their absence is still felt today. Is it too much to ask that one day every year we remember the contributions of soldiers past and present?

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Streater's Thought of the Week

Every weekend Dick Streater gives us his thought of the week, culled from his voluminous files on fishing and tackle history.

Streater's Thought of the Week: In the 1930s the standard bait casting rod was between five and six feet in length.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

The Worden Combination Minnow

The Sporting Goods Dealer Magazine was often used to introduce new items to the dealers. This ad for the Worden Combination Minnow appeared in the July 1905 issue and leaves little doubt as to when the Combination was featured. Advetising featuring the three and five hook underwater minnows followed in 1906.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

For those who enjoy the comedy of Monty Python, here's the origins of the Fish Slapping Dance.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is one incredible Hardy fly reel...

An unopened is attractive a lot of attention.

Mitchell 300

Instant Collection Alert: A set of 70 Bingo lures from Texas.

He may be just the other brother to some, but I love Julius vom Hofe reels.

Yes, I like Kent Frogs, which is why they show up on here a lot.

A 5-Hook luminous Woodpecker from South Bend in the box is a sweetheart lure!

A CCBC Beetle in the box is one of the finest Creek Chub lures.

The Heddon 3-30 German Silver reel is a classic baitcaster.

This Ed. K. Tryon "Jay Harvey" trade rod is really a neat fishing instrument and collectable.

We don't feature many fly tying vices on the blog, but this Abel Supreme is a Rolls Royce in the field.

Ah, the K&K Animated of Florida's iconic baits.

Fishing Lines have been going through the roof lately. Here's a neat Kinfisher silk line in the box.

Charles Fasoldt fishing reels are beyond rare.

Across the alley from the Alamo, lived a Shakespeare reel and a Navajo, who sang fishing reel Hi-De-Ho, to the people passing by.

As always, have a safe long weekend, and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd