Antique tackle connection

One of my favorite "web-side" hangouts is a place called Joe's — Joe's Old Lures to be exact.

It's a relatively quiet place and easy to miss. But for those of us who love and appreciate vintage fishing tackle, Joe's is like a second home. It's the online place to meet with others who share our interests and to see old and obscure fishing tackle, especially lures — more than you can count!

Even if you're not a collector, chances are good you'll find Joe's has something you're looking for. Say you're after that hard-to-find Storm Wiggle Wart or Bagley square-bill, or some other obscure item to fish with — Joe's message board is a great place to begin your search. Each day you'll find fresh new listings of items for sale or trade — some old, some not so old.

Anyone, as long as they abide by the rules, can post messages there for others to read. And there's no fuss with registration requirements or access fees. It's free and easy.

Joe's Bulletin Board is also a great place to ask questions. Almost hourly you'll find someone seeking information on a certain lure, rod, reel or other type of fishing collectible. They want to know more about its origins, who made it, its rarity and/or value. And they usually get the answers they're looking for. In fact, the amount of information available through Joe's board is nothing short of remarkable. There are some very sharp people there — people willing to share their knowledge and expertise whenever asked.

Most of Joe's regulars are seasoned anglers and collectors looking to share a story, swap an old fishing relic or simply find out what others in the hobby are up to. Yeah, Joe's does draw its share of curiosity seekers. But for the most part, those that show up are there for a reason, and they come from all walks of life.

Newcomers are usually there for one of two reasons: because they caught the collector bug or because they want to sell off a relative's old fishing tackle. Most disappear as quickly as they show up, but a few end up hanging around for awhile.

The true regulars are hardcore collectors, always on the prowl for something new to add to their collections. They see themselves as historians or preservationists, protecting the heritage of fishing by securing its keepsakes. They find beauty and value in almost anything that relates to the sport — like early photographs, product catalogs, casting trophies, minnow buckets, creels, licenses, you name it. If it has anything to do with angling, you can bet there's someone on Joe's message board interested in it.

Meet the maker

Joe's Old Lures is the brainchild and namesake of North Carolina resident, Joe Yates. Joe is a longtime collector and historian on the subject of vintage fishing collectibles. Like many in the hobby, his interest was sparked at a young age, when he was gifted with some of his grandfather's lures. He found them intriguing, and it wasn't long before that interest became a full blown passion.

Joe's first exposure to computers came early in their development. He took a mainframe programming course in college during the 1970s, and began working with personal computers in the early '80s — around the time they were first introduced. He served as VP of Operations for a southeastern computer services company and was charged with developing their corporate web presence. Soon after, he decided to set up a personal site that could connect him to others in the hobby. And so, in November 1996, Joe’s Old Lures went live on the Internet.

His initial goal was to simply share information and any available resources with others in the hobby. He also wanted the site to serve as a showcase for his personal collection. Soon after, he introduced the message board.

At the time, there were only a couple of websites dedicated to vintage fishing tackle. But with a booming interest in fishing collectibles, the site's popularity grew at a phenomenal rate.

Today, Joe's Old Lures realizes 5,700 user sessions (visitors) per day, with more than 40,000 daily page views. The majority of visitors are from the U.S. and Canada, but range from as far away as Europe, Asia, Australia, and numerous other distant lands. The site even draws attention from various U.S. military installations around the world.

Besides his own site, Joe has developed and currently maintains numerous other websites, such as those for the Florida Antique Tackle Collectors (FATC), Carolina Antique Tackle Collectors (CATC) and even my own.

When Joe's not juggling all these websites or chasing old lures, you're likely to find him fishing for bass on his home waters of Lake Wylie or Lake Norman. He also makes annual pilgrimages to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to cast in the surf for stripers and giant redfish.

He and his wife, Liz, are nearly inseparable. Both love the hobby and everything related to it. They attend National Fishing Lures Collectors Club, FATC and CATC shows together, and their fishing vacations are always dually planned. Liz has her collecting interests, Joe has his and some they share. In all, collecting is a pretty harmonious endeavor.

Rules of engagement

It's always been important to Joe that the information on his website be freely available to anyone interested. He doesn’t require visitors to register, join, pay or do anything in order to participate. For Joe, it's a public forum for a reason.

Although the door to Joe's place is always open, there are rules that must be adhered to. At the top of the message board you'll see the following statement: "This bulletin board is provided as a public forum for announcements, messages, questions, chat or almost anything else you can think of related to antique fishing tackle. Inappropriate messages will be deleted."

For the most part, Joe's is a friendly place. Yeah, like any other hangout, there's an occasional scuffle over something petty or foolish. But Joe Yates runs a tight ship. He wants the site to be safe and friendly for anyone who visits — especially kids. You could say Joe's is a "community" of collectors.

Besides the message board, Joe's Old Lures offers plenty of additional information, such as upcoming show schedules, info on collector clubs and links to other sites related to the hobby. There's an extensive index of lures from his personal collection, plus a photo gallery of rare and desirable plugs owned by many of the site's regulars.

Users interested in posting pictures can do so by visiting the tutorial at the Frequently Asked Questions page. Although a bit tedious, it's rewarding to see your images come to life on the message board for all to see. But be forewarned — repainted or reproduction lures are not welcome here. Like most collectors of vintage fishing tackle, Joe is a purist and he wants his site to reflect that by preserving the integrity of those items considered truly collectible.

If a lure is beat down to the wood, that's okay. "Old warriors" are welcome, slick and shiny repaints are not!

So, if you have an interest in old fishing tackle or merely want to replace a lost favorite plug, Joe's place is well worth a visit. Chances are good you'll find what you're looking for. And who knows? You may meet a new friend or two while you're there.

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