2002 Convention – East Lansing, Michigan

2002 Convention – East Lansing, Michigan

The 2002 ORCA National Convention was held the week of May 27 through June 1, on the beautiful East Lansing campus of Michigan State University. The convention headquarters was the Kellogg Center, a well located hotel and convention center adjacent to the tree lined Cedar River and spacious lawns of the varsity center where special events were held. It was a great setting for a landmark event.

When a complaint sheet was posted during Breakfast with the Board, the only comment about the convention that was registered was that there were so many events and seminars that one person couldn’t attend them all.

Special Events

The second Antique Tackle Fishing Tournament

A small group of enthusiastic anglers gathered at a small pond near Lansing, on Thursday morning, May 30. Bass could be seen swimming in the calm waters, but they proved tough to catch. The fact that 20,000 minnows had been dumped in the pond a week earlier might have contributed to the lack of interest in the artificial offerings.

Milt Lorens devised a strategy of fishing with a fly rod for bluegill to amass a weight total built up a few ounces at a time. He was nearly successful, but fell a few ounces short of his goal. He was weighing 2-3.5 oz bluegill before anyone else even had their rod rigged.

Dan Basore jigged his bucktail and eel combination in a hidden corner a few minutes before quitting time and pulled in a bass (shown above) that brought him the winners trophy. Fish were weighed in by all the anglers, except for one. Bill Peters was skunked, but got his revenge during the Antique Casting Contest. The winning weights were:

Winner: Dan Basore, IL – 7.3 lbs.

Runner-up: Milt Lorens, OH – 6.7 lbs.

Tour of the Heddon Museum

While the ORCA fishermen were hunting elusive largemouth, a sizeable ORCA contingent took a bus downstate to the historic town of Dowagiac. This group had a wonderful tour of the Heddon Museum, owned by ORCA members Don and Joan Lyons. Joan acted as tour guide. Many wonderful artifacts were seen, and it was a very enjoyable trip.

Lunch was enjoyed at the Wounded Minnow Saloon, after which the group visited the James Heddon Park. This is the site of the Mill Pond where James Heddon is reputed to have tossed the whittled stick that brought about a revolution in fishing lures, and propelled Heddon into the fishing tackle business.

The bus returned to Lansing in time for the afternoon seminars, and all seemed to enjoy the trip and the look at the Michigan countryside. To the relief of most members there was no sing-along.

Antique Tackle Casting Contest

Friday events started off on the beautiful green lawn of the Jenison Field House Commons with the ORCA National Antique Tackle Casting Contest. Competitors from throughout the country brought out all types of tackle to compete in this 4th annual event. ORCA members cast all types of tackle from professional tournament rods and reels to Tom Harwood’s Northwest ultra light rig (see photo).

This year’s events provided some drama as Competition Director Bill Peters got his revenge on the fishermen and decisively won the final spinning rod and reel event to successfully defend his 2001 championship. Dan Basore placed second, while George McCabe came in third.

Basore won the Non-Level Wind event with a score of 89 out of a possible 100. In this event he used a Heddon bamboo rod and Jack Welch reel. Basore followed up with a winning score of 95 in the Level Wind event, where he cast with a Shakespeare Sportcast on his Heddon rod. However, he fell to an 84 in the spinning event. Bill Peters had hung close in the first two events, and scored a winning 95 in the spinning event, which gave him a total of 274 overall to claim the All Around Championship plaque for a second year in a row. Basore finished 268 overall. George McCabe was 3rd overall.

Peters cast the spinning event with a Mitchell 304 reel and a Montague 6′ tubular glass rod. He had used a B. F. Meek & Sons and Langley 306 Plug Cast in the previous events.

Tom Harwood and Jim Scott provided a great deal of interest with their tackle. Scott cast in the non-level wind bracket with a Kiest Indiana reel, while Harwood showed up with a Pacific Northwest ultra-light rig.

The Second Annual Stu Lawson Old Reel T

The Reel Toss followed the casting contest on Friday morning, and this year we had a moving target to throw at. The originator of this contest, Stu Lawson (see right) bobbed and weaved his way through the wimpy throws of most of the ORCA members until Nick Purdue of Ohio took his toss.

Purdue is the 13 year old grandson of George Canzeri, and a champion wrestler. Nick demonstrated another outstanding quality of Meisselbach reels as he tossed a Takapart 138 feet. Lawson ducked as the reel sailed far over his head.

Apparently in honor of the location of the contest, more Shakespeare reels were thrown than any other brand, but also honored were a Spin-It Master, Zebco, Ocean City, and J. C. Higgins.

Harvey Garrison demonstrated a new technique that provides relief for aching shoulders in old geezers, with his sling. The sling was made from an old stringer which certainly fit within the lack of rules in this contest.


Throughout the afternoon on Thursday and Friday, ORCA members and expert guests conducted seminars for members in various fields. These seminars lasted for about an hour each, and were well attended. Anyone who chose to not attend, sure missed an opportunity to enhance their reel knowledge. Subjects and instructors included:

Casting with Antique Tackle Bill Peters is one of the great casters in the US today, and we were lucky to have him as a member who can pass on tips to those interested. At the awards presentation he announced that he will no longer compete for the Antique Casting Championship, but will help all members learn proper casting tackle and techniques.

Reel Cleaning and Composition Len Sawisch and Lorraine Lawrence discussed various materials used in the production of reels, and how to clean, polish, or repair them. Lorraine is leading the discussion shown to the right. A lot of discussion was held at this seminar, and all should have benefited. It is hoped that this information can be passed on to non-attending members in an article in the Reel News sometime in the future.

Pflueger Fly Reels Stu Lawson & George McCabe exhibited and discussed the variations of the Medalist fly reel. Many of the examples displayed are very scarce, and not often seen.

Appraisals for Fun and Profit Andy Foster passed on some of the tips he has learned in 15 years of attending shows and the buy, sell, and trade of our hobby.

Researching South Bend Reels Jim Madden introduced his new book on South Bend reels and passed on much information about the various evolutionary changes in these reels.

The IRS and Your Collection Carol Dean and Ellen Sugrue Hyman, CPA and Attorney respectively, discussed planning your estate and filing tax forms, and the future of your tackle collection.

Reel Repair Tricks Milt Lorens, professional reel repairman, passed on hands on tips on tools and reel repair problems.

Fakes & Frauds Phil White discussed the current and coming problems facing reel collectors over counterfeits and fantasy items.

Meetings and Meals

Any member with a gripe had several opportunities to express their opinions. Open discussions were held and members were encouraged to submit ideas for immediate and future consideration.

Breakfast With the Board

On Friday morning all members had the opportunity to sit down over a breakfast with the ORCA Board of Directors and present their thoughts about ORCA. Sheets were posted on the walls and members were asked to write down their best and worst things ORCA ever did, and their best and worst personal experiences with ORCA.

The educational projects, separating ORCA from the NFLCC, and Reel News were overwhelming winners in the best categories. The annual meetings and the ORCA members were the most satisfying experiences.

Other topics discussed between bacon and eggs were annual memberships, ORCA colors, ORCA badge and membership cards, ORCA brochures online for members to download and pass out, membership drives, and the need to be cloned to attend all the seminars and events that were held during this years convention. Most questions about these subjects were answered and resolved to the satisfaction of those in attendance.

Annual ORCA Membership Dinner

ORCA members gathered for a fine dinner in the Big Ten Room on Friday evening, and a great time was had by all. Dining as a group brought the members together, and many new friends were made. The membership meeting was short and sweet with reports from various officers and an update on the new business plans for the coming year.

After the dinner, Eric Jeska, a grandson of Wm. Shakespeare Jr. spoke about some of the myths about Mr. Shakepeare and answered questions. It was very nice to get an insight into the man behind the company.

The Show & Auctions

The ORCA Convention stresses fun and educational aspects of our hobby. The displays that were presented by our members and the Wm. Shakespeare Jr. artifacts were a major contribution to reel education for anyone who cared to look.

We were able to enjoy the first every public viewing of some items. Members were able to see the lathe used to construct the famous 1897 Shakespeare level wind reel, as shown in the photo to the right, Mr. Shakespeare’s personal tackle box, and dozens of other artifacts from the collection uncovered in the MSU Museum archives.

ORCA members had some wonderful displays of rare and unusual reels. The three judges selected Phil White’s display of Meisselbach Okeh reels as this years winning display, with Andy Foster’s collection of unusual level wind and tournament reels taking second. George McCabe’s Pflueger Medalists came in third. There were many other interesting displays that featured seldom seen items from our member’s collections.

There were a great many outstanding reels that were for sale at the show and during room trading. Many members went home with wonderful additions to their collections. Some seen included a Billinghurst fly reel, 2 Stockford reels, a #3 Milam, a rare Talbot box, a Meek #34 in box, Julius vom Hofe 1st click reel, a Leaver reel, Hardy brass Perfect with rod in hand logo, a Fredrick v Hofe 60 yd brass reel, South Bend 2500 Presentation reel in case, a Bronson Reel O’Mine, and many others.

Two auctions were held on Saturday during the show hours, with a few reels coming in for sale, and some members consigning reels for auction. Bill Muth did a great job as auctioneer, as he sold an Otto Zwarg 2/0 reel, a Hardy Longstone, and a Langley Dynacast. Items consigned by members included some very interesting spinning reels – a Mepps Super Meca; and our very own ORCA reel.

A group of tired, but very satisfied ORCA members made their way to their cars and airports in mid-afternoon on Saturday, and all seemed to have a smile on their face. It was a great ORCA National Convention, and most people can’t wait for the next one.

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