Small Maker & Folk Art Fishing Tackle
Charlie Woolslair worked as a machinist in Alliance Ohio according to the 1910 and 1930 census. He was one of a group of lure makers that made fishing tackle in Alliance from the 20s to the 60s. The history of his lures is documented in a book by the outdoorsman, Ralph Seaman.
"Charlie Woolslair - Master Bass Fisherman" is the title to Part II, Chapter 1 of the book "Hook, Line & Sinker" by Ralph Seaman, The Stackpole Co., Copyright 1956. In the book, Ralph talks about fishing on Meyers Lake and watching Charlie Woolslair successfully catching a series of black bass in a boat nearby. Ralph asked his dad "What in the world was he throwing, Pop, to get fish like that?". "That's a new fangled method of bass fishing......They throw a gaget called a plug" replied his dad.
According to the book, Ralph, age 14, encounted Mr. Woolslair on subsequent fishing trips developing a friendship. Charlie taught Ralph how to fish with different weight lures, to vary the depth, to work the bottom of the lake and fish systematically thru each area of the lake making sure the fish see the lure. Ralph notes his first success with an imitation lure was with a "Creek Chub Goldfish with two pairs of double hooks." According to Seaman, their relationship lasts 36 years, before he moved to California.
To close the chapter, Seaman returns 6 years later to Alliance Ohio and shows a film on fishing at the Carling Convervation Club. During the show, Seaman inquires about Charlie, finds out he is still alive, recovering from a heart attack. He visits Woolslair that night and spends two hours with him. During their meeting Woolslair brings out cases of homemade plugs to show Seaman and reminisce. Seaman promises to visit again and show Charlie his film at his home - a personal viewing. This happens several months later. Several weeks after the showing, Seaman receives a cigar box of 25 lures. The book states a note was included identifying two of the lures as being 50 years old - which would date them around the turn of the century. (Unfortunately the note is missing.)
The chapter on Charlie has an illustration of him holding a string of bass surrounded by sketches of Woolslairs' lures. The illustration is from a photo of him with his fish catch.
William Jackson, a club member visited Ralph frequently in his retirement home in Florida. Ralph gave him the lures mentioned in the book. They pasted thru several collectors including Dick Wilson, and finally, myself. Also, there a red book with Seamans notes and a hand made aluminum rod and reel were part of the Woolslair collection, but the current owners, location of these items are unknown.
Bill Sonnett Collection
note wire restrainer on rear hook
cigar box lure
Bill Sonnett Collection