Down the Road: Iowa Great Lakes - Pure Fishing/ Vintage Block Inn
IOWA GREAT LAKES — We continue our journey down the road to the Iowa Great Lakes a region that is synonymous with fishing. And it just happens to be the home to one of the world's largest makers of fishing gear and lures, now known as Pure Fishing. But it all started out with a little boy's passion that eventually turned into a dream come true.It is obvious from the earliest pictures that Berkley Bedell loved to fish. In 1937 at the age of 16 he took 50 dollars saved from his paper route to start a business selling hand-tied flies to tackle shops and vacationers.
By 1945 Berkley and Company was in business. Since that time the company has transitioned from the Bedell family to current owner Pure Fishing. But the basics are still the same."Anglers are looking for a way to improve their fishing experience. And it's all about catching more fish," said Pure Fishing's Ron Kliegl. Kliegl says Berkley is now one of a number of brands sold by Pure Fishing. It's a competitive business where science and research are used to meet the needs of fishermen. "We just go back to the guys back in the lab and say, 'Hey, we want a stronger line, we want a sharper hook, we want a bait that catches more fish.' And they bring it to us," Kliegl said.
Welcome to "the race track." It's where the science of scent, flavor, and action get put to the test, with real world guinea pigs. Like rainbow trout. Or blue gill.There's even a place test the action on a rod and reel, or what is attached to the end of the line. But some of the best feedback comes from out of the office. "Some of the guys have pretty good jobs because that's what they do," said Kliegl. "They spend their time on the lake fishing and come back to us and say, 'I got an idea. Can you market it?' And a lot of times eventually they end up on the shelf." Right now the plant has more than 300 workers filling demand that stretches across the globe. And Kliegl predicts an even brighter future of the company as it evolves along with modern technology.
"Can you connect your smart phone with where your lure is at, how deep it's diving, where the fish are, telling you when you have a bite. The sky is the limit on where we can go with fishing," said Kliegl.Some people like to fish from the dock. But have you ever thought about what happens to those wooden docks when they get old or torn up during a storm? The people at the Vintage Block Inn and Suites have come up with a unique idea. They've recycled the wood from those docks into headboards, end tables, canopies, tables, and even art. Misty Katzfey and a friend who was an interior decorator talked the previous owners into trying the idea on one room. They believed there was a need for a more "relaxed, old-fashioned Okoboji feel." It was a hit. And it eventually led to them to buying the property. 13 of the 54 rooms are big suites with three queen sized beds, a bunk bed, and kitchenette. Katzfey says recycling the old dock wood provides endless possibilities, which may include expansion in the future.