Let’s Look Back: “Fishing Can Be Funny” – Part 1

Darn few fishermen have more of the details about the history of bass lures than does the guy pictured here. He's R. L. (Dick) Streater, a resident of Mercer Island, Washington. Streater is a long time memberof the Western Bass Club. This club, based in Seattle, is thought to have been the first bass club organized in the United States. It was formed in 1938.

Darn few fishermen have more of the details about the history of bass lures than does the guy pictured here. He’s R. L. (Dick) Streater, a resident of Mercer Island, Washington. Streater is a long time member of the Western Bass Club. This club, based in Seattle, is thought to have been the first bass club organized in the United States. It was formed in 1938.

There’s one thing I especially enjoy in writing this column for the Bass Fishing Archives. It’s the opportunity it provides to share thoughts about some really outstanding individuals who have contributed so much to this business of bassin’.

It’s also one of the benefits of having been around as long, or longer than most, of the veteran outdoor scribes who are still whacking out stories of one kind or another. I particularly enjoy sharing those thoughts I’ve mentioned when they are about a man who has been around quite awhile himself.

Ever hear of a guy named Dick Streater? If you haven’t you should. That’s especially true if you want to put a little fun into fishing. It’s also of special interest if you belong to a fishing club or group that brings in speakers or entertainment of one kind or another.

I say that after having just watched a new video that my friend Streater has put together. Dick is one of the country’s most knowledgeable bass lure collectors. He is a long time member of the National Fishing Lure Collector’s Club and has been recognized by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

My friend Dick’s DVD is titled “Fishing Can Be Funny.” If you don’t get a belly laugh or two watching the darn thing I’m gonna be surprised. I mentioned getting a copy of it for a fishing club or group. Actually, I wish I’d have had a chance to see the video myself well before I did, because it would have made a darn good Christmas gift for anyone who loves fishing. I’ve got some friends of my own that I’m going to be sure get a copy.

I’ve never seen anyone with the wealth of old time gizmos or gadgets that Streater displays and talks about in his video dealing with his collection of gear from yesteryear. And old Dick has a sense of humor as broad as his generously endowed rear end that he shares in his presentation of each item.

Many of the items Streater shows his DVD audiences were actually marketed at one time or another. It’s hard to believe some of that stuff, but it’s true.

Writing about Dick’s new video just barely scratches the surface of what this interesting Pacific Northwest man has contributed where bass fishing is concerned. Now in his mid-80s, Streater has played an active role in the Pacific Northwest bass fishing scene almost since the middle of the last century.

Much of his activity has been centered in and around the Seattle area. He came to Washington State from Minnesota back in the 1960s and it wasn’t long before he found his way into the Western Bass Club that’s based in Seattle.

That Seattle club of plug pitchers was organized way back in 1938, making it one of if not the first group of its kind in the entire country. I’ll have more on that in my next column.

Anybody who is really serious about his bass fishing has to have an interest in the lures we use to hook ‘em. You do, I do and so does the rest of our backlash pickin’ brigade. But darn few of us ever had that interest build up with the intensity that Dick Streater has. His almost unreal gear collection proves my point.

His curiosity was what got him started collecting everything he could get his hands on that was designed to put bass in the boat. His knowledge of lure building history developed right along with his lure collection. It was some of this often hard-to-find knowledge he had at his fingertips that brought us together in the first place.

I got up to my own butt in bass fishing almost from the time I finally got out of Washington state’s Madigan General Hospital near Fort Lewis shortly after returning from the South Pacific when World War II ended in 1946. I went to work for a daily newspaper in May of that year and jumped at the chance to do a fishing column as one of my first regular assignments.

Not much was being written about bass fishing in the Pacific Northwest at that time. In the beginning I probably had more reader complaints after detailing some of my bass fishing experiences than I did expressions of appreciation because those fish were finally getting some attention.

Dick Streater is shown holding just a few of items that make up his outstanding and unique collection of old fishing lures and gadgets from the angling world. Streater is a nationally known lure collector who has been recognized by the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Dick Streater is shown holding just a few of items that make up his outstanding and unique collection of old fishing lures and gadgets from the angling world. Streater is a nationally known lure collector who has been recognized by the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

The old timers who had formed the Western Bass Club up there in the Seattle area loved their bass fishing as I did. When Dick Streater arrived from his former home in Minnesota he immediately began making his own contributions.

You’ll find evidence of that in the sizable collection of fishing books I have right here in my office. One of the books that has held a position of prominence in my collection for a long, long time is one I still find myself turning to every now and then.

That book is titled “Streater’s Reference Catalog Of Old Fishing Lures.” This big hard cover book is made up like an overgrown three ring notebook. It is loaded with pictures and information.  I wish I had a couple of bucks for the countless times I’ve turned to that book for information I needed to complete a fishing column or magazine feature.

My attention wasn’t the only interest Streater’s well done catalog captured. It was first made available in 1978. It wasn’t long before it started getting attention all over the country.

Dick had a darn good reason for selecting the three ring binder format in which his book appeared. He made that choice so he could easily insert any new information that he might desire to include in future production runs.

Streater told me about one of the things his book accomplished: “The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame was established in Hayward, Wisconsin,” Dick says, “and they were getting many donations of old fishing lures that they could not identify. I sent one of my first catalogs to Hall of Fame Founder Bob Kutz and solved the problem for them.”

To show his thanks Kutz nominated Dick Streater for recognition in the first Hall of Fame recognition class the Hall of Fame did in 1982. Streater eventually did eight printing runs of his catalog, plus one large supplement in 1981, including the archives of the Pflueger Company that had been preserved by Trig Lund when the Pflueger Company was being dismantled.

I wish I could tell you that copies of Streater’s book, like the one I have, are still available. They aren’t. A commercial edition of Dick’s book called “The Fishing Lure Collectors Bible” was eventually done by the Collector Books Division of Schroeder Publishing in 1999. That book is also out of print. You might be able to find a copy at Internet sites like Amazon but I’m not at all sure of that.

Before winding up this column I want to tell you where you can obtain a copy of Streater’s chuckle provoking “Fishing Can Be Funny” video. Again – you’re missing a bet if you don’t. He’s selling it postpaid for $10. To order contact R. L. Dick Streater, Post Office Box 393 Mercer Island, WA 98040.

I’ve got some other things to share regarding Dick Streater as well as the Western Bass Club and Pacific Northwest bass fishing in general. This is especially true where the states of Washington and Oregon are concerned. You’ll see some of what I’m talking about in my next Let’s Look Back column starting right here on March 1.

  • Dan Basore

    Dick does a great job as a speaker to fishing clubs. He flies to Chicago and travel to National Fushing Lure Collectors Club National meets each year as we will in July in Ft. Wayne.

    He brought joy to the Salmon Club one year and we are all happy to have him as a friend and valuable resource. As I buy collections I some times acquire one of his old 3 ring binder books. Contact me if you want one.