You never know where passion might lead you. This remarkable museum houses the personal collection of Karl White, who bought his first fishing lure, the James Heddon’s Crazy Crawler, in 1948 when he was eight years old. That lure, on display at the History of Fishing Museum, was the start of White’s collecting passion, with more than 40,000 items in his collection of fishing antiquities and related objects now valued at more than 5 million. It has the first known casting reel, an original George Snyder made in 1840, of which only eight were produced and only three survive. It has the first electric outboard motor (a 1900 T.B. Hatch) and the first gas outboard motor, the 1907 Waterman Coughing Sarah Portomotor, and the first manufactured production hull bass boat, the Skeeter #1 from 1948.
But that doesn’t begin to describe the treasures packed in here. There are lures and reels galore, rods, boats, motors, hooks, minnow traps, corks, floats, bobbers and even the first Sports Afield, published in 1888. There are also dinosaur bones and fossils, because they belonged to White’s collection. To help you distinguish all the gems the museum holds, curator Bill Bramsch is happy to give personal tours that can last about two hours to anyone who drops by. I guess you could say Bramsch is passionate, too.