If you’re interested in Branson attractions that boast an impressive number of positive online reviews, including lots of 5 Star ratings on TripAdvisor, look no further than the fascinating and fun History of Fishing Museum! Guests who thought they weren’t even interested in fishing are raving about this massive collection of everything related to one of our country’s favorite pastimes. The museum is going on it’s third year in the heart of Branson, and it’s easy to find, but also easily missed if you don’t venture off Highway 76, a.k.a. Branson’s famous Strip. You’ll find it located less than a block downhill from Highway 76 on Wildwood Drive, behind King’s Castle Theatre (Wildwood Drive runs right beside the theater.) And make sure you ask if Bill Bramsch, the museum’s curator, can take you on a guided tour - his knowledge is endless and his passion for fishing is contagious!
Now, those 10 really cool things about the History of Fishing Museum:
1. Let’s start with the fact that Branson has a History of Fishing Museum! How cool is that...a enormous collection devoted to one of America’s favorite pastimes, and one of its most entertaining sports.
2. More than 40,000 items are on display, valued at more than a whopping $5 million! Now, if you’re thinking that’s a lot of fishing lures, you’ll be pleased to know that the museum contains far more than lures - rods, boats, reels, motors, sunglasses, and much, much more is on display.
3. It’s more than just fishing stuff. Recent additions to the massive horde include an expansive collection of aquatic dinosaur bones, as well as fish fossils. Isn’t there something about dinosaurs that you just can’t resist? And fossils - exactly how long does it take for a fish to literally turn to stone? Fascinating!
4. Rare and one-of-a-kind items are on display. The Museum has a Snyder Reel from 1840 - it’s the first casting reel made in the United States and, when the owner acquired it, his purchase set a world record for the most expensive fishing tackle item ever sold at auction in America. You’ll also find an authentic Spike Reel from the 1730s, the first fishing reel of any kind known to exist.
5. History isn’t part of the Museum’s name just because it sounds good - there’s something to be learned here - fishing artifacts that date way back to the pre-colonial era are on display, these would be precious items once used by Native Americans and Eskimos.
6. Surprisingly, this incredible array of museum pieces was collected by one man and his wife - Karl and Beverly White. Karl’s obsession began when he was a mere lad of eight; the first lure he bought was the James Heddon Crazy Crawler - that very lure is still in his collection!
7. Many of the items come with their own amazing stories. On display is a Comstock Flying Hellgrammite lure. Created in 1883 by Edward Comstock, it’s the first wood plug ever made. When Comstock decided to introduce his special lure to the fishing supply manufacturer, Pflueger, the company didn’t begin selling Comstock’s lure, instead, they copied his design. Comstock sued Pflueger, and the lure exhibited during the court case is the Comstock lure on display in White’s collection at the Museum. You may notice that the barbs have been removed from the lure; while it was being shown to the judge presiding over the case, they wanted to make sure he didn’t become “hooked” himself!
8. The oldest patented piece in the Museum dates all the way back to 1852 - it’s a Buel Trolling Spoon. White’s collection also contains a Skeeter Boat, the first bass boat to be manufactured - the one on display was the first Skeeter to “float” off the assembly line.
9. You won’t find a collection like this elsewhere! It’s likely the History of Fishing Museum represents the world’s most complete, diverse, and organized collection of tackle that exists.
10. The Museum “fits” Branson in more than one way -- it’s a great addition to an impressive array of museums in the area, but it also makes sense because Branson, and the entire area of the Ozarks, is very well-known as an ideal place to fish. Each of the three lakes found in the Branson area is home to several species of fish, including the meandering, river-like Lake Taneycomo, a lake that’s stocked with trout from the local Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. (Note: The Hatchery, located just below Table Rock Dam, boasts its own small, interesting museum right next to the fish runs.)
There’s just something about an activity that can be as calm and relaxing as you’d like it to be, or truly and completely exhilarating, it’s all up to you, and the type of fishing you pursue. And there’s just something extra special about a parent teaching their little tyke how to fish. Even one of television’s most iconic programs - The Andy Griffith Show - uses an intro scene of young Opie and his “pa” strolling along with fishing gear in hand. There’s a nearly intangible feeling of happiness that comes with fishing, and a visit to the History of Fishing Museum goes hand-in-hand with that feeling -- include it, and maybe a few hours of really good fishing at one of the area’s beautiful lakes, on your next visit to Branson, Missouri!
For information on other great museums in Branson, look here: “Branson’s Museums - Fun and Fascinating Inside and Out!”