Let’s Look Back – Tackle Industry Friends Part 2

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves.  The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine.  I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves. The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine. I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I miss those days. If you’ve been around as long as I have, I expect you do too.

What days am I talking about? I miss those days when if you had a question about a specific item of fishing tackle you could usually go right to the guy who had his name on it to get the answers. Even if he didn’t actually have his name on it, it wasn’t hard to find out who he was.

I didn’t, of course, have a chance to meet all of them back there 69 years ago when I first started writing but by golly I did get to meet quite a few. I’m talking about guys like Bill Norman, Cotton Cordell, Dick Kotis, Jim Bagley, Gary Loomis, Tex Reeder, Phil Jensen and a number of others.

One of the lure manufacturers I’ve always wished I’d had opportunity to meet was Fred Arbogast. That didn’t happen because Fred was already producing the first of his famous to be line of bass lures about the time I came into the world away back in 1923. [Read more…]

Your Legacy Will Live On Harold

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Without fail, it seems every year one of bass fishing’s forefathers passes to the great lake in the sky and the sport is left with a gaping hole. In 2012 we lost Homer Circle and in 2013, Doug Hannon. In January of this year we lost lure giant Cotton Cordell and I was hoping that would be it – there just aren’t many of the old-timers left – and from my selfish perspective, they have so much to offer with respect to the history of our beloved sport.

Then last week, we lost a man who helped change the sport of bass fishing to make it what it is today. That man was Harold Sharp. Yes, Ray Scott gets the credit for starting the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society – that fact will never be argued. And, Ray started the sport the right way, by making sure there was a firm set of rules and that every angler adhered to them. But it was Harold Sharp who, along with Ray Scott, wrote the B.A.S.S. rules, regulations and bylaws, started the B.A.S.S. Chapter (what would eventually become The Federation/Nation) and started the Chattanooga Bass Club – all in the same night. (if you’d like to read the story, click on this link from one of Harold’s columns back from March, 2013) [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Tackle Industry Friends Part 1

I didn't have any white in my whiskers when I first started corresponding with Homer Circle way back in the middle of the last century.  Over the years he was to become one of my closest friends.  Homer was working for the Heddon Tackle Company when our friendship first developed. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I didn’t have any white in my whiskers when I first started corresponding with Homer Circle way back in the middle of the last century. Over the years he was to become one of my closest friends. Homer was working for the Heddon Tackle Company when our friendship first developed. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s Note: Due to unforseen circumstances, we have not been able to post any stories for the better part of three months.  With this, we will be running two of Stan’s posts from August and September today and tomorrow in order to try and play catch-up with his column. We will also try and get back to posting on a more-regular basis.  We apologize for the lack of articles but the day job had severely hindered the time needed to provide meaningful pieces.]

There’s been a heap of change in this business of marketing baits designed to put bass in the boat since I did my first writing about it.

It was way back in the middle of the last century when I turned out my first fishing columns for a daily newspaper. The exact year was 1946. The way I went about getting details on new products I wanted to write about back in those early days provides one of glaring aspects of the changes I’m talking about.

And even more important, as far as I’m concerned, is how the tackle industry in those early days put me in touch with some lifetime friends. Some of those friends were instrumental in opening doors that led to me eventually having experiences I’d previously not even dreamed about having. [Read more…]

Bass Fishing 1961

Before Charlie Campbell was making waves with the Zara Spook on the Bassmaster Tour, he was making his name in Missouri as a guide. Photo 1961 Don Fuelsch Southern Anglers Guide.

Before Charlie Campbell was making waves with the Zara Spook on the Bassmaster Tour, he was making his name in Missouri as a guide. Photo 1961 Don Fuelsch Southern Anglers Guide.

Bass-specific magazines didn’t come around until the Spring 1968 issue of Bassmaster hit B.A.S.S. members’ mailboxes. Prior to that, bass anglers had to wade through the outdoors magazines of the time in order to get their fix of bass fishing information. Having a good number of vintage outdoors magazines, it was mostly famine rather than feast when it came to learning out to catch bass from periodicals.

One publication that was first published in 1961 did provide a lot of information on the five Ws of bass fishing – the Who, What, Where, Why and When. That publication, and we’ve mentioned it here a number of times, was Don Fuelsch’s Southern Angler and Hunters Guide. I’m still trying to figure out exactly who Fuelsch was, that’ll be another story in time, but I can say this with confidence, he put together one of the most complete compilations of fishing information I’ve seen. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Abe Schiller Part 3

Abe Schiller checks out some of the lures he's going to show the bass at Lake Mead.  When I fished with him while aboard the big Flamingo Hotel's cruiser back in the 1950s we rarely ran into other bass boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Abe Schiller checks out some of the lures he’s going to show the bass at Lake Mead. When I fished with him while aboard the big Flamingo Hotel’s cruiser back in the 1950s we rarely ran into other bass boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Any time I take a look back at Las Vegas, Lake Mead and the earlier days of professional bass fishing it brings a mixture of memories – some good and some sad.

I expect many bass anglers will relate both Vegas and Lake Mead to the first Bassmasters Classic in 1971. I was there for that original Classic but my experience with both the city and the lake began well before that event took place. It’s also where some of that sadness I mentioned creeps into my memory.

I touched on some of that in my previous column. I told how I got my first look at Las Vegas in 1952. The beautiful Flamingo was then the only major hotel on what was to become the fabled Las Vegas Strip that we know today. [Read more…]

Marketing Classic Winning Baits

1975 Rebel Super-R ad advertising Martin’s 1974 Classic win.

1975 Rebel Super-R advertisement.

Anytime a pro wins a major tour event, especially a high profile one like the Bassmaster Classic, it is just a matter of weeks, or sometimes even days, before the winning company tries to capitalize on the victory. Partly this is due to the immediacy of the Internet and social networking, and the “on demand” society we seem to have become. But it didn’t used to be that way, and someone had to be the first to tie the two concepts (tournament winning and advertising/bait sales) together. The Rebel ad in today’s post is likely one of the earliest examples of this melding of marketing and bait promotion. [Read more…]

Classic Patches – 1981 through 1990

1981 Bassmaster Classic Patch.

1981 Bassmaster Classic Patch.

Back in early May we posted a piece about early Bassmaster Classic patches that Stan Fagerstrom had collected over the years – 23 years to be exact. In that first post we went through the first 10 years of Classic patches, 1971 through 1980. The post got a low of views and interest, especially from BFA contributor and supporter, Harold Sharp.

Harold was really interested in the first Classic patch – from Lake Mead 1971. In an email to me the day after the post, Harold asked where Stan had gotten that patch, because he doesn’t remember a patch ever being made and distributed to the anglers and writers. He had me ask Stan if he remembered how he came about the patch. I did so and Stan didn’t remember how he got it, just assuming he got it at the Classic like he had so many other patches over time. The mystery was on. [Read more…]

Lost to History: H.W. Ross

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross' giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross’ giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a great piece for you by Ken Duke on a fish that time and a number of people have forgotten. It was a fish mentioned only briefly one time in James A. Henshall’s book More About the Black Bass, published in 1889. The fish of interest was supposedly caught by an H. W. Ross and weighed in at 23-1/8 pounds a weight that would still be the record. Ken Duke, in his usual fashion, disects what we know of this fish and the man, and brings up more questions than answers. We think you’ll enjoy this very early history of record-class bass.]

“Mr. H.W. Ross, when in Florida, caught, in a ‘clear, deep, lily-bound lake,’ near Altoona, in that state, a large-mouthed Black Bass which, he states, weighed twenty-three and one-eighth pounds, and measured, from tip of nose to tip of tail, thirty-seven and one-half inches, and in girth, twenty-nine and one-half inches. The head of this fish was sent to the office of ‘Forest and Stream,’ in New York, and its dimensions were given by the editor as follows: ‘Its maxillary bone measures four and three-fourths inches; the head is seven and one-half inches from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the opercle, and the lower jaw projects one inch. The greatest girth of the head is sixteen and one-half inches.”

That passage is from James A. Henshall’s More About the Black Bass, his 1889 sequel to Book of the Black Bass (1881). It is the only reference I’ve seen to H.W. Ross or that fish. [Read more…]

Swedish Record Ambassadeur – 1954

Swedish Record Ambassadeur 5000 ad from June 1954. From The Fisherman magazine.

Swedish Record Ambassadeur 5000 ad from June 1954. From The Fisherman magazine.

About a year ago we posted a piece regarding an old Ambasadeur 5000/6000 ad from 1955 and the fact that Garcia wasn’t mentioned anywhere. I contacted Bill Sonnett, who sent me the ad in the first place, and asked him what the deal was and who exactly was Julian A. Wesseler. He sent me to one of the ABU experts of the world, Fred Ribb, who explained to me that although Garcia was given the first shot at representing ABU in the U.S. in 1954, they balked at the chance and Julian Wesseler became the first rep in the states.

Well, tonight as I was reading through a stack of early 1950s The Fisherman magazines, I found not only an early ad but an actual write-up by Art Hutt on the new Swedish Ambassadeur. [Read more…]

BFA Schedule Change

New BFA Logo GMFor the past 3-1/2 years we’ve been posting a new story every weekday that takes us back in the history of bass fishing. With the help of stellar writers such as Pete Robbins, Brian Waldman, Stan Fagerstrom and Harold Sharp, we’ve relived much of bass fishing’s history on a daily basis. We’ve taught a number of people some of the more obtuse history but more so, we’ve learned from our readers too.

Unfortunately, due to schedule, other commitments and responsibilities, we’re going to have to curtail that schedule to a minimum of once per week for the unforeseen future. You’ll see a post by me at least once per week and when Brian and/or Pete have the time or something interesting to share, they’ll provide content. Stan Fagerstrom has committed to continuing his look back on the sport he’s been involved with since 1946 (thanks Stan) in his monthly column, Let’s Look Back. So, at the minimum there will be one new post per week and possibly more. [Read more…]

Battle of the Minnow Lures

Rapala ad from 1966.

Rapala ad from 1966.

Lauri Rapala is rightfully credited with the advent of the contemporary minnow lure, which he first carved out of cork in 1936. Yes, there were other “minnow” lures before that but nothing that could compare to the shape and movement of the Original Floating Rapala.

It wouldn’t be until the mid-1950s that a few of the lures would make their way from Finland to America and for those who had them the results are legendary. Then in 1959 two Minnesota anglers by the names of Ron Weber and Ray Ostrom, came together to import Rapala lures to the U.S. under the name of Normark.

Although the Rapala got its formal introduction in 1960 through Weber and Ostrom’s Normark Corporation, the bait wouldn’t get national recognition until 1962 – specifically in Life Magazine. That was the issue with the recently deceased Marilyn Monroe – the most-sold issue of Life ever. That historic coincidence put Rapala on the map. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Nixon up North Answer and Winner (June 8, 2015)

Nixon 1999 from fishingwithnixondotcom

Well, unfortunately no one won this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. For the answers, please read below. Come back next week for another shot.

From the start of his Bassmaster career in 1977 through his victory in the 1992 Bassmaster 25th Anniversary tournament on Beaver Lake, Larry Nixon won 13 tournaments, an average of nearly one a year. Included among that group of victories was his 1983 Classic win on the Ohio River and of course four Megabucks trophies. After that, however, he hit a dry spell.

Given Nixon’s incredibly high level of consistency over his career, there were of course some near misses:

  • He finished 2nd to Tommy Biffle at the 1993 Megabucks event on Lake Murray;
  • He finished 2nd to Davy Hite by 13 ounces at the 1996 Top 100 on Neely Henry; and
  • He finished 3rd at the 1999 Classic on the Louisiana Delta, trailing only Hite and the prior year’s champion, Denny Brauer.

[Read more…]