Clarkson’s fishing lures show love of craftsmanship
Cherokee Nation citizen Glenn Clarkson displays his ribbon-winning fishing lures at his home in Checotah. Clarkson received recognition for his lures in the History of Fishing Museum in Branson, Missouri. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A close-up of a handmade lure by Cherokee Nation citizen Glenn Clarkson in Checotah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
An exhibit called Karl’s Korner displays Cherokee Nation citizen Glenn Clarkson’s handmade fishing lures along with other lures made by people wanting to display their ideas for fishing lures at the History of Fishing Museum in Branson, Missouri. COURTESY
CHECOTAH – Cherokee Nation citizen Glenn Clarkson started his retirement learning how to craft fishing lures. His creativeness led to his craft being featured in the History of Fishing Museum in Branson, Missouri.
Growing up in Checotah, Clarkson learned how to fish from his mother, Glenna.
At 63 years old, Clarkson formerly worked as a heavy equipment operator and foreman in Houston. While there he bought a book on how to make fishing lures from a sporting goods store, brought it back home to Oklahoma and began attempting to make lures.
“I got that book out and started reading and decided ‘well, I might as well be making these.’ So that’s when started whittling and started making them,” Clarkson said.
His top-water and underwater lures are made with whittled pinewood, acrylic paint, a polyurethane finish and other materials such as treble hooks, clevises, hook hangers, propellers, and eye screws.
Each lure has a unique paint design and can take two to three days to complete. “It’s just something to keep me busy,” he said.
Clarkson said he’s caught many bass while testing out his lures and that there is no need to buy new ones when he can use his.
In 2017, while in Branson, Clarkson visited the History of Fishing Museum, which houses the fishing collection of Karl and Beverly White.
Karl White was a former tournament fisherman in the 1960s, and for the past 70 years has amassed more than 40,000 items related to fishing worth nearly $5 million. His collection includes historic items such as a 1730s Spike Reel, known to be the first reel to exist; the first casting reel made in 1840; antique lures; rods; boats; and motors that were made until the 1970s.
Clarkson talked with curator Bill Bramsch about his handmade lures and brought them for Bramsch to look at. Bramsch agreed to add a few of Clarkson’s lures to the collection.
Clarkson’s lures were added to an exhibit called Karl’s Korner, which includes a collection of lures made by people trying to break into the fishing lure business.
“If you had a good idea and it caught fish and nobody stole your idea, you could make a lot of money in the industry. His lures are in that case,” Bramsch said. “Lures are made to catch fish or men, and they looked good. They caught me.”
Clarkson said he is proud to be Cherokee and do what he does. He said his lures are not made for financial means, just for the love of craftsmanship. His collection at home includes brightly, multi-colored, top-water and underwater fishing lures.
He’s also entered his craft in a McIntosh County Fair competition and proudly displays his ribbon-winning lures. “It is a big honor to me to do this and be a Cherokee,” he said.
For more information about the History of Fishing Museum, visit www.historyoffishingmuseum.org