Despite the horrendous terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, the annual ORCA Convention was held in Columbia, South Carolina, September 13-15. The complete halt of all air traffic limited the attendance, as members called in all during the week to cancel their reservations.
There were some calls to cancel the convention, but the officerrs who had made it to Columbia by Tuesday decided to continue with all plans, even if on a limited basis. The purpose of terrorism is to put fear into people and to force them to curtail their way of life, and it was helt that to cancel the convention was to allow them to win.
Members had already arrived from all over the US, and a check of members license plates in the parking lot on Tuesday evening showed New York, Ohio, Illinois, Idaho, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and perhaps others.
There were many informal reel discussions held in rooms througout the day on Wednesday, as more people arrived. The halls of the Travelodge Suites were alive with the sounds of music – Cozzone, Meisselbach, Vom Hofe, Meek and Milam – resounded through the day. Groups gathered in rooms looking at, or discussing reels, with one eye on the TV sets for the latest updates.
Formal convention events began on Thursday afternoon, with several seminars on various reel topics. Scheduled discussions on Automatic Reels by Don Woodhouse, and Early South Bend Reels by Len Sawisch were cancelled as these experts were unable to get to Columbia. However, very lively seminars were presented by Bill Peters about tournament casting, Phil White, the Evolution of the Carlton-Rochester Reels, Mike Goff on The Shakespeare Miller Autocrat Reel, Harvey Garrison on the assembly of the Shakespeare Beetzel Reel, and Craig Barber (shown at the right) with An Overview of pre-1920 Pflueger Reels.
These discussions were conducted in a meeting room in the hotel, and attended by most of the members who were able to make it to the convention. These seminars seemed to be well received, and were very informative.
Following the seminars, the ORCA officers present at the convention held a round table discussion with the members to get their input on some new ideas the ORCA Board was considering. These included an ORCA display to set up at some of the major shows, six issues of the Reel News, cooperative association with some of the modern day major fishing tackle companies, an ORCA Hall of Fame, and others. It was a lively discussion with many good ideas surfacing.
The round table meeting was followed by a pizza supper and drinks provided by ORCA for all members and their families. The display room was then set up and a couple of hours of buy, sell and trade followed. It was a very successful day, with a great deal of information available to ORCA members who attended the various events.
Friday morning the show opened with several new members setting up their tables, and some frenzied buying as usual.
Friday also brought those in attendance the opportunity to look at the wonderful display provided by Shakespeare.
The Shakespeare display consisted of material from the Shakespeare and Pflueger archives. The reels on display were overwhelming. The exhibit included all types of reels from modern production reels to prototypes that were never put into production, to early reels and catalogs. The importance of many of the items on display was overwhelming. (To see some of the reels displayed, click here)
Members who were not in attendance missed the opportunity of a lifetime by not attending their convention. Most in attendance could almost feel the presence of William Shakespeare Jr., and the Pflueger brothers when looking at some of their personal reels and thoughts and ideas that they tried out but never put into production. The display was awesome.
Roxanne Coleman and her helpers from Shakespeare deserve our profound thanks for helping ORCA members gain a better perspective of reel development by two of the major manufacturers of the twentieth century. ORCA also owes Stu Lawson and Craig Barber a great deal of gratitude for sorting through the reels and selecting a nice variation of items to study and observe.
The National Antique Tackle Casting Contest
In mid-afternoon the show hall was closed, and the members adjourned to the Sesquicentennial Park. At the park we had a very nice area for the National Antique Tackle Casting Contest.
Due to the Tuesday tragedy, many of the entrants in the casting contest were unable to participate. However, the quality of competition in this year’s contest was the highest ever.
The Non Level Wind event kicked off the three events. The total score of the events is added together, and the member with the highest score is crowned the National Antique Tackle Casting Champion. The winner of the Non Level Wind event was William Peters of Ohio (shown in photo to the right), with a score of 594 out of a possible 600. William used a Langley Target reel on his bamboo rod in the competition. Dan Basore of Illinois was second, using a Jack Welch Tournament reel, and last year’s Champion Phil White of Idaho was third using a Meek Tournament reel.
The second event was the Level Wind casting reel event. A score of 594 propelled Dan Basore to the winners circle in this event. Dan used a Shakespeare Sportcast reel. William Peters and Phil White tied for second with 592 scores. Peters was also casting a Shakespeare Sportcast, and White used a J. A. Coxe 25N. The closeness of the scores in the first two events led to the possibility that either of the three top casters could win the Championship, depending upon who was able to shoot the best score in the newly added Spinning contest.
With the pressure building, William Peters came through, and won this event and totaled enough points to pull out the National Casting Championship. Peters cast with a Mitchell 308 CAP reel on a conventional spinning rod to just edge Basore, 595 to 594. Again Phil White trailed the two deadeyes for third. Basore cast with an ABU spincast reel, and White used an Orvis 100 manual spinning reel.
William Peters final score was 1781 out of a possible 1800. His name will be engraved on the ORCA National Antique Tackle Casting Contest plaque, which will be given each year with the winner to keep until the next contest. Potential entrants in next years contest were given instruction by Peters and Basore following the contest. Peters has won National Casting Championships in the past, and he gives all ORCA members something to shoot for in future years. Get out your rods and reels, buy an ORCA practice plug from the ORCA Store, and be ready for Lansing, Michigan in May.
The Ugly Reel Throwing Contest
`The first annual Stu Lawson Ugly Reel Throwing Contest was held in the park following the completion of the Casting Contest. Harvey Garrison had the ugliest reel anyone had ever seen (photo below), so he led off the event. Several members then followed with some truly Olympian throws of really ugly stuff. Perhaps we can petition the Olympic Committee to include this event in the next Olympics, and rid the world of some international ugly reels. The event was divided into a Fresh Water Division – under 100 yards, and the Salt Water Division of over 100 yard reels. The reels were thrown from home plate on a baseball field. After all contestants had made their throws, the membership walked the outfield to find the reels and determine the winners.
Show host Craig Barber had a mighty heave with his Shakespeare Service reel to outdistance the field. At press time The Reel News is uncertain if this result will be used in a Shakespeare advertising campaign in the future.
Phil White tossed a really bad Martin Automatic reel to win the Fresh Water event. Automatic reels skip beautifully on the grass surface. Jack Gallagher’s exploding South Bend Automatic reel brought tears of laughter to the audience. Jack let loose with a mighty heave and the top cap came off the reel, the spring flew one direction, the cap another, and the spool a third. It was ruled that Jack came in second, third, and fourth in this division.
The contest was great fun, and Stu Lawson will get the results of the contest. Perhaps by next year these reels will reside in the bottom of Monterey Bay.
Shakespeare had most graciously donated several reels from their current lineup for ORCA to raffle for members who attended the convention. The youngest ORCA member in attendance, John Sheridan pulled tickets for the raffle, and many members went home with a great usable souvenir of the weekend.
Most of those in attendance went out to dinner together Friday evening in a local buffet restaurant, and belly’s seemed a little larger than usual when the show reopened at 7 PM. Bill Crowley and George Canzeri tried to get to the dinner, but missed out when Bill insisted on turning right instead of left on the highway.
Show Display Awards
During the evening the results of the judging of the displays was announced. The first place plaque went to Phil White for his “Evolution of a Reel” display which illustrated the evolution of the Carlton-Rochester casting reels. ORCA Librarian Harvey Garrison won second place with his Shakespeare Display, and Craig Barber took third with a Pre-1920 Pflueger Reel display. These displays are a major part of the ORCA Convention, and it is hoped by all that members will continue to bring items from their collections to display so that all in attendance can enjoy and learn from each other.
The show hall opened at 8 Saturday morning and there were several new attendees waiting at the door. Buy sell and trading continued throughout the morning, but by noon time most tired but happy ORCA members were ready to head for home and look at all their new treasures.