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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Almanac: American Angler

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about the nation's first fishing magazine. The American Angler appeared on the scene 120 years ago.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. To keep up with news from the fishing world, today's angler can check out more than a dozen different fishing magazines. But 120 years ago, there was only one: The American Angler. The American Angler was the nation's first fishing magazine devoted to the sport and culture of fresh and saltwater fishing. It cost 10 cents an issue back in 1881, or you could subscribe, for three dollars a year. But American Angler was nothing like today's glossy magazines. The only graphic was on the cover; it was a lithograph of a black bass. The editor, William C. Harris, described The American Angler this way: "It isn't pretty but, brother angler, we propose to make it useful." The magazine included stories titled, "Should an Angler Make his Own Tackle?" and "Our Mutual Friend, the Black Bass." There were also fishing reports from correspondents at major eastern rivers, including the Potomac, Susquehanna and the Niagara. The final pages of the magazine were filled with ads for all things piscatorial: tackle, rods, reels, and even mosquito repellant. Back then, of course, you could get your hands on a brand-new, three-piece flyrod for just $2.75. That same rod today will cost you a few hundred dollars. American Angler grew so popular that it moved to New York and started a weekly run. In 1923 it merged with the magazine Forest & Stream. But American Angler was not lost forever. The journal was reincarnated in 1978 and is currently the No. 2 magazine in the United States for folks hooked on fishing. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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