‘What’s Going to Happen to All of This When You Die?’

The question I’m most often asked as I take my Historical Fishing Display to museums and sport shows is the title of this month’s column.

The reply is usually my attempt at a joke: “Why, do I look sick?”

But after some exhaustive research, it was found that no one has beaten Father Time. And often, this includes anglers becoming pack rats, and keeping tackle, catalogs and books as the norm.

Larry Marek presented Bass Pro Shops Bolingbrook store General Manager Bryan Lemer a collection of Bass Pro Shop catalogs from 1978 to the present.

Larry Marek was one who I became friends with several years ago. He had begun fishing at 6 years of age, and went on Chicago’s Horseshoe Pier on Lake Michigan. Using a cane pole, bobber and live bait, he fished wherever the family travels allowed.

At 76, Larry continues to catch and release trophy muskies, northerns, bass and king salmon. He enjoyed a very successful career, and with his wife Sandy, has had an active retirement.

Recently, he tried to move items he no longer needed, a collection of about 90 Bass Pro Shops catalogs. Starting in 1978, his stash included many special issues, including ones celebrating anniversaries.

Over the years, we wondered the same thing and had begun placing many items in Bass Pro Shops’ locations. In their Bolingbrook location are many items made from rare wooden and cardboard box lures and reels to items found in old-timers’ basements and wealthy anglers’ studies for their fly fishing exhibits.

In Macon, Ga., the world-record bass display we recovered from the Creek Chub Bait Company was installed; a Bass Pros Shops near Toledo, Ohio has many examples of Pflueger and other tackle made in that state. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, many of their locations have great old tackle displays that are seen by far more interested people than any other venue.

Back at the Bolingbrook location, General Manager Bryan Lemer enthusiastically reviewed these early catalogs with Larry and I, agreeing to keep them secure and on display there. In a 1978 issue, we found an offer for Ambassaduer 5000 reels in a leather case with oil, tools and spare parts for $29.99, a Mann’s Little George for 69 cents, a Cordell Big “O” for $1.59 and Bagley Baits for $2.79 each.

In addition to this meeting, Bryan also enthusiastically disclosed that the Wonders of Wildlife museum next door to their Springfield, Mo. store would open soon with 100,000 square feet of fishing- and hunting-specific items of historical importance.

We can’t wait to see them.

Can you help?

While Larry has donated the largest collection of well-kept Bass Pro Shops catalogs we know of, we are looking for donations of the following booklets to complete the collection: 1974, 1975, 1976 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1989. Also, any letters, flyers or ads offering tackle from Bass Pro Shops or its founder Johnny Morris from those early years will be appreciated, as we’ve now found where they belong.

 

Dan Basore is a fishing historian and steward of the history of the sport. In his efforts to preserve fishing history, Basore is always on the lookout for information about early lure makers, old lures, pre- level wind reels, manufacturer catalogs, tournament casting items and the like. If you possess information or materials that can help, please contact Dan Basore, Historical Fishing Display, at 630-393-3474 or 800-347-4525.