Joan Salvato Wulff fishing in the 1960s. Source: Mitchell Reel Museum YouTube channel.

Here are four outstanding vintage fishing videos for your viewing pleasure. If you’re a follower of the Bass Fishing Archives site, we know you’ll thoroughly enjoy these historic films from the 1960s. Not only do they spark a nostalgic note but, by golly, you’re sure to learn something as well. They all come from the Mitchell Reel Museum YouTube channel, which is the video platform for the excellent Mitchell Reel Museum website. This website is the most detailed and thorough historical source of specific fishing information – documenting the Mitchell reel from 1939-1989 – we’ve found on the Internet.

The YouTube channel doesn’t have a ton of videos, and it hasn’t been updated in several years, but the 16 videos they do have on there are informative and just plain good. It’s well worth your time to check them all out, especially if you’re a fan of the Abu Garcia company product line, Mitchell and Ambassadeur reels, or fishing nostalgia. I’ve chosen four videos for this brief article, what I personally consider to be the most interesting. Let’s kick it off with a 5-minute video titled “1962 Garcia Conolon Fiberglass Fishing Rod History.”

The text introducing this video states, “This is a short excerpt from the 1962 16-mm film called “The Garcia Story” that shows how they made the Garcia Conolon rods still popular today.”

It’s basically a factory tour of the rod building process from start to finish, overlayed with music and narration that will get your retro-loving buzz going strong. And if you want even more information on cutting edge rod technology of the day, here’s a great BFA story – “Graphite Rods – 1978” – discussing an article that was published in Lunker Hole, that interviewed the major players in the rod construction field at the time.

Next up we have another 5-minute video – “Garcia Mitchell Story ~ Mitchell & Abu Fishing Reels” – of the fishing reels the Garcia company was selling to the public in early 1962. This is essentially a run-through of the spinning (Mitchell), baitcasting (Ambassadeur), closed-face spincasting (AbuMatic), fly fishing and saltwater reels. Of special interest is the portion that shows the Auto-Spin Abu 505 semi-closed face spinning reel in action. You can see this reel in a cool 2-page spread in the Garcia Fishing Tackle 1962 catalog, pages 26-27. Other than the reels themselves, what I really like about this video is the front office scene, with its blue carpeting, early 1960s decor and Garcia President, Thomas Lenk, walking to his secretary’s desk with pipe firmly clenched in his teeth. It just screams of a bygone era.

Next, we have the longest video of the four, a just-under 50 minute film titled “For Life: The Story of Abu Garcia.”  It’s a wonderful mix of the history of the iconic company from its earliest inception through to the modern day, with all of the personalities and characters, developments and setbacks, that made it what it is today. Thrown in are a nice mix of personal stories of people who, although not a practical part of the company’s growth, nonetheless were touched in some way by their connection to Abu Garcia, by way of the reels they or their family used. It’s quite a wonderful, human story. While I first discovered this video on the Mitchell Reel Museum site, the actual link I’m sharing here is from the Abu Garcia channel. It’s the better quality video of the two.

If you want another little taste of the way things used to be, check out this cool story on the Bass Fishing Archives site, titled “Garcia – More Than Selling Tackle.”

We’ll end this series of vintage fishing videos with a brief, fun and light-hearted film of Joan Salvato Wulff fishing in the 1960s. Wulff is known as the “First Lady of Fly Fishing,” although in this video she appears to be using a Mitchell spinning reel for Florida Everglades bass. And the narrator refers to her as a “Garcia Girl.” It’s a wonderful video, with Wulff guiding an airboat through the Everglades to a spot where she gets out and wades to a bassy spot to cast. Among her many accomplishments in the sport of fishing, Wulff was the first female spokesman on payroll for a fishing company, Garcia. I’d encourage anyone to read some of the numerous Internet sites recounting this remarkable woman’s accomplishments and contributions. One fine entry can be found on the American Museum of Fly Fishing site.

The introductory photo to this article is a still shot from the video, of Wulff catching a lunker largemouth. I’ve watched this video several times and it always makes me smile. Her joy while fishing is so apparent, especially as she lifts that hefty bass from the water.

That’s it! Four outstanding vintage fishing videos. I’ll tell you, if watching any of these old school films doesn’t make you want to dust off your old Mitchell or Ambassadeur and get out on the water to throw a Jitterbug or original Rapala, I don’t know what will. And while you’re doing it, imagine yourself with a 1950s-era pipe clenched between your teeth.