Skinner Gananoque Antique Lure Story
This Skinner Gananoque Antique Lure Story is borrowed from; A souvenir of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River. by John Haddock, and was written in 1895. We see another famed antique lure maker referenced, WD Chapman of Theresa NY. The old articles are great to be able to associate the genre with the lures. Only by looking back through History can we come to fully appreciate the present.
THE TECHNIQUE OF FISHING
Governor Alvord’s most interesting and instructive articles upon the Great River he has much to say about the men he has met and he speaks of all of them more as beloved comrades than as mere acquaintances or as the passing visitors of an hour but he does not say much about the technique the appliances the methods of fishing. Ourself, an amateur we have not failed to seek information upon the points indicated and like all amateurs we try to believe that there is some royal road to learning by pursuing which we may exceptionally get there without the labor and inconveniences of learning by experience. From the great Izaak Walton himself down to our own day and taking our distinguished Governor Alvord as one of the brightest teachers of modern times in all arts piscatorial the methods the little incidentals by which the agile water denizens are lured into the voracious frying pan have been much disputed this grand faculty of becoming an expert fisherman being as elusive various and sometimes as intricate as wooing one of the fair sex whose moods are often as contradictory as are those of the most artful muscalonge or bass and yet when captured are almost too sweet for anything. From the crookedest tree limb with a piece of twine at its end to the jointed and polished rod with silken line and silver reel the margin is wide and expensive .The poorest and the best of these appliances have each won great renown but generally in the hands of those who know how to use them the fish being largely democratic and as willing to take a wriggling worm from a pin hook as from one of Skinner’s best treble arranged feather decorated devices As in all good things in fishing there are many methods but in all fishing good bait is an indispensable adjunct. With it you feel as a soldier feels with a good gun in his hand it is his guaranty of probable success.
The improvements in fishing tackle have been immense during the past forty years In 1849 the writer saw the elder Walton long since dead at work upon spoons that could not now be given away yet of those rude attempts he could dispose readily of as many as he could put together. Chapman at Theresa, and Rochester had made many beautiful and successful fishing appliances. But the most successful man in the business for very many years has been Mr GM Skinner of Clayton whose goods are now known all over the United States and Canada. He began to study the art piscatorial upon the Great River itself having been long a resident of Gananoque Ontario in his early youth. He finally located at Clayton a place possessing some advantages not apparent to the superficial observer among them being a prominent angling resort and the principal gateway for tourists coming to the river over the only avenue on the American side via the NYC System comprising the R W & O and U & BRRR. It is the distributing point for those desiring to reach by water the numerous islands and parks in its immediate vicinity and also the fashionable resort twelve miles down the river of Alexandria Bay.
In this romantic and favored vicinity he served his apprenticeship in fishing and experimenting with all sorts sizes and shapes of artificial baits obtainable He was not content but strove to construct a spoon for his own use which should have decided advantages over any used. As a result of such effort two corrugated or fluted spoons were made one being given to a fishing companion the other he retained for his own use. In numerous practical trials these two spoons gave satisfactory evidence of having uncommon merit notably in the capture by his wife and self of a muscalonge measuring four feet eleven inches in length and weighing forty pounds.
Mr Skinner himself says I have been frequently asked what I considered a spoon to represent as revolving while fishing and why are fish attracted by them to such an extent that they will seize them even when unprovided with any other attraction save the glint of the cold metal. In reply I offer those of an inquisitive turn my humble opinion that the motion or action of a revolving lure unquestionably simulates or means life prey to fish and as a natural sequence life means food sustenance.
Mr Skinner also relates the following, A party from Clayton went to Hay Bay Bay of Quinte to fish for muscalonge. The water in Hay Bay is not very deep where the fish are caught and the weeds come very near the surface. To prevent the trolling spoon fouling a gang of naked hooks is attached to the line some distance ahead of the spoon which breaks off or pulls up the weeds and allows the spoon to go free Messrs D Pratt and Edwin Seymour of Syracuse were fishing in one boat. Mr Seymour in letting out line felt a tug when the line was out but a few yards. Turning he saw the water break where the naked hook was and commenced to haul in finding he had caught a muscalonge upon the naked or weed guard hook.
One of the party trolling with two hand lines caught a large pike under somewhat unusual circumstances. The voracious fish had captured one troll and made a race for and secured the other having both of them securely hooked in his mouth when hauled in.
A most unusual occurrence I would like to place on record. In August 1883 Miss Annie Lee at that time eleven years of age while trolling near Clayton for bass with a No 3 gold fluted spoon which size is fitted with a No 2 hook struck and successfully brought to boat a muscalonge weighing thirty six pounds measuring four feet six inches in length. In the effort to secure this large fish the guide’s gaff was broken showing the enormous strength of the fish yet it was finally secured brought in and exhibited with those slight hooks still fast in its capacious mouth an evidence not only of good tackle but of skillful handling.