Seeking final chapter for 1927 fish story

ON THE OUTDOORS

March 25, 2001|By CANDUS THOMSON

Once upon a time, long before I was born (no foolin'), The Evening Sun ran an annual contest that honored anglers who caught the largest fish in 11 species.

Now, stick with me here, because when I finish this story, I'm going to ask for your help to solve a mystery.

The tournament was started in 1923 by the outdoor columnist, Pete "Skipper" Chambliss as an offshoot of his column, "Fisherman's Luck." His column and the contest, which carried the same name, ran for more than 30 years.

The top angler of the year - the one who caught the heaviest fish regardless of species - got his or her name engraved on a large silver trophy, which went home with that person for the year. First-, second- and third-place finishers in individual categories got smaller silver-plated versions.

One of those little 7-inch trophies, a 1927 model, somehow made its way to Monroe, N.C., a town of 20,000 outside Charlotte. It wound up on a yard sale table about seven years ago.

Randy Clontz, 38, a tooling engineer and master gunnery sergeant in the National Guard, bought it for $5.

"I'm not an antique collector, but I pass through yard sales once, maybe twice a year," he said. "Once I picked up a nice golf bag for $5."

The trophy has a dented handle, a ding in the base and a scrape mark, where it looks like someone tested to see if they were holding solid silver. The inscription reads: "Angling Trophy Awarded by The Baltimore Sun to Charles H. Snow as Third Prize Striped Bass Class 1927."

Clontz cleaned it up and placed it in a bookcase alongside another $5 bargain, a tonic bottle from 1913. And there it sat. Recently, when a member of his family began doing some genealogy research, Clontz got an idea.

"This belonged to somebody in Baltimore, somebody's granddaddy. It would be really neat if his family could get it back," he said.

Clontz asked me for help, and now I'm asking for your help.

Here's what we know, thanks to detective work by Sun librarian Dee Lyon:

Snow was living at 204 Edgevale Road in the city when he caught a 36-inch long, 16-pound, 1-ounce rockfish in late September 1927.

In his column, Chambliss reported: "And just think of friend Charlie Snow in white knickers landing a 16-pound striper and never even putting a crease in said knickers!

"Charles, it seems, with his buddies, was trolling off Market Basket Lump [what a significant name] when he landed sundry rock or stripes, one of which tipped the scales at 16 ounces better than 15 pounds."`We had some others, but this was the top fish,' Snow wrote."

From the picture in The Evening Sun, the bow-tied and be-knickered Snow bears a striking resemblance to Thomas Edison. But unlike Edison, he is smiling, perhaps at the thought of the big silver trophy.

The top prize eluded him. Snow's catch was bested by first-prize winner Howard M. Taylor of the city, who caught a 40-inch, 24-pound striper, and second-place finisher Josiah S. Bowden, also of the city, with a 40-inch, 23 1/2 -pound fish.

The winner of the large trophy for the biggest fish was Fred Herman Jr., a 14-year-old who lived at 1710 East 33rd St. His catch was a 63-pound black drum.

The winners were announced on the front page of the sports section on Dec. 4, 1927.

Chambliss died in October 1952, six months after his retirement at age 63. He had worked 35 years for The Evening Sun.

Can anyone add another chapter to this story? Does anyone know what happened to Charlie Snow or any descendants? Is the top prize winner of 1927 still around (he'd be 87 or so now)? Do you have one of these loving cups in your home? Give me a call (1-800-829-8000, ext. 6889) or send me an e-mail (candus.thomson@baltsun.com) with your story.

Clontz said he'll pay to have the little trophy shipped to a member of Snow's family.

"It's not for a reward or publicity," Clontz explained. "It would just feel good to know it was in his family's hands."

No mystery here

As those of you who read The Sun's weekly fishing report know, Duke Nohe is the bass king of Prettyboy Reservoir.

But now the March edition of Bassmaster magazine has acknowledged his prowess, adding Nohe to The Lunker Club, which is open to anglers who catch a largemouth in excess of 10 pounds or a smallmouth topping 6 pounds.

"It's quite an honor to bring to Maryland waters," Nohe said. "I'm very proud." Last year, Nohe kept the Department of Natural Resources busy logging his catches, including bass weighing 7.5 pounds, 7.8 pounds and 8 pounds.

So, with the season just around the corner, what does he have up his sleeve for an encore?

"I don't know if I can do better," Nohe said, laughing.

By the way, Nohe said the water temperature at Prettyboy is 39 degrees, and the fish are cruising in 35-45 feet of water.

Talk about your cold fish.

Tournament time

Where will you be Saturday? How about Piney Run Reservoir in Carroll County, home of the Early Bird Fishing Tournament?

This year, 10 fish are tagged; catch one and win $1,000. A trophy will be awarded to the angler catching the largest fish, regardless of species.

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