More good stuff from the ample, overflowing treasure trove of Jack James’ ‘files’ (this is a word that means his entire basement and back yard garage of fishing related stuff, including a collection of old licence plates that is truly out of this world) on Saanich Inlet fishing in the ‘good ole’ days’.
Two things this week:
This image is a bit smudgy as it came to me as a photocopy of an almost sepia-like piece of newsprint, presumably the Times Colonist, that endured for decades (‘60s, maybe?) and then was photocopied to give to me. I took a digital image and did a little ‘improving’, to find the text is more readable in the image than original. Zoom the image to find out who is who.
Here are a few: The person standing far left is Jim Gilbert, probably the most famous of our historical fishing confederacy. Think of politicians we now hold in esteem like John A. MacDonald or the other guy… ah yes, George Washington. They were nation builders, sure, but not as important as sport fishers.
Jack James is sitting on lower right with the trophy and box of buck-tails and hootchies. The fellow sitting on the left is Kjell Pedersen, who won the Jim Gilbert trophy for biggest fish on a drift fishing lure, in the Stamp River, at 44 pounds. You will note that Ken Turnbull won the grand hidden weight prize of a CP trip to Amsterdam with his wife Margaret, for, get this, a 7.5 pound coho. Where do we sign up to win? On the far right is Bruce Colegrave of Scot Plastics who was one of the top fishers when I cut my teeth in the Inlet in the mid-seventies.
After Alec Merriman, Ernie wrote the fishing column for the TC, then Rob Waters, then me for a decade. The column below, probably from the 1970s, tells the story of how we got UV and ‘glow’ in the lures we fish with today. I have transcribed it verbatim, including the US spellings.
Stamp Collector Sheds Light on Lures
The fishing fraternity would be very callous if it did not send Joan James a dozen roses…or at least a card of thanks.
She brought light into the lives of anglers because, being a stamp collector, she introduced the awareness of ultra violet radiation to her lure-distributing husband.
As a result, the anglers and hubby’s business all have improved on success.
Jack James and partner Ted Packford own Radiant Lures, a Victoria cottage industry that now dominates sales of plastic bait – the ones commonly called hootchies and squires – to those who pursue West Coast salmon, steelhead and trout, not to mention halibut and other groundfish.
Benefits also have spilled off to others, including rivals in the tackle industry.
Radiant’s almost-bizarre named lures like Army Truck, Devil’s Tail, Zapper, Clover Leaf, Peanut Butter, Polar Mist, Mint Tulip and Fuddle Duddle may not mean a thing to the non-fishing population. But all are well known, understood and very popular with all who fish British Columbia’s waters.
The ‘glow’ baits have increased catching success.
Teamed with rolling flashers such as the Hot Spot or Oki on a 36-inch leader, hootchies are designed to imitate squid, while the squirts resemble needlefish (or sandlance) – both relished by salmon.
Lures that react to UV rays now dominate Radiant’s stock. Interestingly, the search for titles honors the Packford and James families as well as Jack’s former firefighting profession (Firebrand and Fire Chief).
He declined to identify the Red Dragon’s origin but Jack admitted he has yet to name a lure after his wife.
“It will have to be special,” he suggested, “because she is the one who twigged the industry onto the significance of UV rays.”
While others used colors that reacted to UV rays, James is convinced “no one in the industry related its (UV) impact to fish-catching success…as far as I know.”
Only within the past decade were sports anglers able to catch sockeye, thanks to small pink squirts. Before then, that salmon species almost totally ignored sport-fishing offerings.
The choicest of the salmon species was considered by most as a fish that could only be taken by nets.
Then commercial trollers and the sporties started to hook sockeye. The success of tiny pink lures spread.
About six years ago, Jack, working in his basement, wondered about why the pink color worked so well on sockeye.
“Maybe it reacts to ultra violet,” suggested his wife, and then she asked: “Do you want me to get my UV light?”
Like all stamp collectors, Joan considers a UV lamp important to her hobby. It helps verify the authenticity of most stamps.
Stamps from most countries are edged with a color shade that reacts to UV rays. It began in the 1960s when post offices introduced cancelling machines. The UV edging ‘tells’ the machine when the stamp is in its proper place for cancellation.
Joan’s light proved the pink sockeye lure was, indeed, a color that reacted to UV. Jack made another discovery that day. He hauled out an old pearl pink Lucky Louie plug to see if that lure reacted. It did.
James says deer hair, a favorite with those who make flies, also reacts to UV radiation.
Ultra violet radiation, almost surely, is one reason why some lures are hot and some are not.
Here is an image of Radiant Hootchies, including most mentioned above. Zoom in to read the names: