Hamm’s Fishing Derby 1959
[originally published 5.26.2016 Western Itasca Review]
$25,000 in Prizes
In early May, 1959, Hamm’s Brewery located in Minneapolis, announced a summer-long fishing derby for anglers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Dubbed Hamm’s Land of Sky Blue Waters Fishing Derby, there were seventeen weekly contests in which 113 winners received a $100 Fishing Package. There were also Sweepstakes Prizes for those who didn’t win the weekly contest, but had submitted a sweepstakes ticket with their entry. The Grand Sweepstakes prize selected by a random drawing was billed as “your own private fishing retreat – lot, lake home, boat and motor.”
There were 22 official weigh-in stations designated in 22 cities; the closest to Itasca County were Grand Rapids, Bemidji and Walker. The highlights of the full page newspaper advertisement stated:
Hamm’s Land of Sky Blue Waters Fishing Derby
“Here’s a fisherman’s dream contest. If you catch a sunfish, crappie, walleye, northern, small mouth bass, large mouth bass or any other large freshwater fish, be sure to enter it in Hamm’s Fishing Derby.
Every week $100 Fishing Outfits will be awarded on TV, (WCCO-TV , Minneapolis and KCMT-TV , Alexandria, 10:30 p.m., CDT, Thursdays) to entrants of the biggest fish in each category. (Fish must be in season, of course.)
And whether your entry wins a weekly prize or not, you’re still eligible to win a fabulous prize in the Sweepstake TV Drawing on September 10, provided your entry is accompanied by a Sweepstake Ticket.
Get your Sweepstake Ticket at any Hamm’s retail dealer now and start fishing for fun and prizes in the Hamm’s Fishing Derby. Derby runs May 16 through September 7, 1959. Good Luck!”
17 Weekly Big Fish Contests
The Fishing Outfit consisted of the following: Phillipson Casting Rod, Langley Streamlite Reel, Umco Tackle Box, Cortland Line, Knife-Lighter Combination, Weber Portable Cooler, De-Liar Scale and Measure, Assorted lures by: Arbogast, Buck Perry Spoonplugs, Creek Chub, Heddon, Hi Sport Lures, Mille Lacs, Kautzky, Louis Johnson Bait Co. and National Expert Bait Co.
Plus Giant Sweepstakes!
1st Prize: Private Fishing Retreat in the Land of Sky Blue Waters; Sussel Lake Home – New Shoreline Model 24’ x 32’ constructed on a private lot; Aluma-Craft Car-Top Fishing Boat and Scott Outboard, 7½ HP.
2nd Prize: Kayot Voyager – 28-foot pontoon boat, complete family playground afloat.
3rd Prize: Scott Outboard, size your choice (3.6 HP to 60 HP)
4th Prize: Aluma-Craft Flying D Run-about Boat
5th Prize: All-expense paid one-week vacation for 2 on a Northernaire Floating Lodge at Rainy Lake, good in 1959 or 1960.
Hamm’s Fishing Derby Rules
- Hamm’s Fishing Derby is open to everyone. Fish must be registered, however, by a person of legal age.
- Weigh-in Stations reserve the right to open and examine any fish that is entered and to mark entries.
- To be eligible for Hamm’s Sweepstakes Drawing, registration must be accompanied by a Hamm’s Sweepstakes Ticket obtained free from any retailer of Hamm’s Beer.
- All registered fish are eligible for Hamm’s Television Fishing Derby Prizes. Fish must be available for display at Corrie’s, “Winning Fish Headquarters,” 820 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Weekly contests, May 16, 1959 through September 7, 1959. Each contest ends Monday night.
- In case of ties, the entry bearing the earliest date and time wins.
- Employees and families of the Theo. Hamm Brewing Co. and its distributors, WCCO-TV, their advertising agencies and official Fishing Derby Weigh-in Stations are not eligible.
I wish I could write about the recipients of some of the prizes, but could not locate any details about the winners. Instead, I decided to see what I could find out about a few of the prizes.
For instance what would be the value today of the fifth sweepstake prize of an All-expense paid one-week vacation for 2 on a Northernaire Floating Lodge at Rainy Lake? Northernaire Houseboats still operate on Rainy Lake and offer quite a variety of houseboats. The smallest boat listed which slept 2, is $1,400 for one week. Assuming Hamm’s covered gas and food (and beer!) it would probably be closer to $2,000 if awarded this summer.
I cannot imagine what the value of the Giant Sweepstakes Prize would be today. But wouldn’t it be fun to know what lake the Sussel home was built on? And who has lived in it and whether or not it is still standing? Maybe it is actually a part of YOUR family’s current get away!
I did uncover tidbits of information on almost each of the items listed in the $100 Fishing Outfit, all of which were made in the USA and many which are currently listed on e-bay. As a non-fishing person, I found the history of lures to be most interesting, but the rod was definitely one item that has increased substantially in value.
Phillipson Casting Rod ~ The 6’4″ Scout was crafted between 1957 and 1958, so perhaps it is the one in fishing package. It is described as featuring “detachable handle of colorful cast aluminum, redesigned to accommodate all the new “Push-Button” reels, with positive reel locking device. Spin cast rods have 5 chrome-plated guides wrapped in blue thread tipped with red painted rings.” On the Phillipson webpage it lists for $495.
Nine companies supplied lures, and the information I got on them was enough to fill an entire column, so for now, I will focus on a few I found most interesting.
Heddon Lures ~ established in 1898 is the oldest lure company still producing quality fishing products. In the late 1890s James Heddon launched a hand-made lure into a Dowagiac, Mich., pond and the ripples are still expanding. It marked the beginning of a new era – the artificial-lure fishing era – for all anglers. Heddon is the manufacturer of legendary lures, including the Spook, Torpedo, Lucky 13 and many more, and these lures follow the same innovative vision James Heddon captured long years ago.
Louis Johnson Bait Co. ~came to be with the 1923 patent of the Johnson Silver Minnow, by Louis Johnson, a retired Chicago foundry operator. The lake where Louis and his son fished was full of fish, but it was also weedy. So, with the practical style of many creative Midwesterners, he set out to develop a fishing lure that would not catch weeds but still catch fish. The result was the first spoon lure with a weed guard, stiff enough to keep weeds away from the hook, but flexible enough for bass and pike to get hooked. In fact, his experimental spoon lures were made from silver table spoons with the handles cut off and a hook and weed guard soldered to the concave underside.
Mille Lacs Mfg Co. ~was started by Joe and Evelyn Fladebo at their Mille Lacs Lake home in 1937. In 1944 the business was moved to a larger building at Isle. Their son Jim joined the business in 1955. This lure company made many lures, mainly spinners, and used the trade-mark of “Little Joe” an old time picture of a boy holding a large fish. They also bought the rights to the Slo-Poke, made in Mahnomen, MN, and the Lazy Dazy from Preston, MN. I can’t help but to wonder if I should have looked in the tackle box that I found in the cabin we bought years ago, before I gave it away! Jon, if there’s anything of value, we split it 50-50, right?