Professor's Detailed Fishing Maps Help Anglers Get Ready for Fishing Season

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It took a professor 30 years to create a highly detailed stream map, then the original drawing and printing plates were lost. So many anglers searched for the few remaining copies that they called it "The Lost Stream Map." At 91, the map creator worked with a publisher to get the map republished, plus new state stream and lake maps.

Anglers shake their heads in amazement the first time they see the map. Every stream is there. Not a single one is left out.

In 1965, after three decades of work, Professor Howard Higbee completed his "Stream Map."

Higbee, who was a soils scientist and Pennsylvania State University professor, personally charted and hand-drew Pennsylvania's 45,000 miles of streams on his map. Starting with many large topographic maps and aerial photographs, he reduced them again and again, drawing in each stream. Then, to check distances, he modified his car's odometer to measure miles in 500ths.    

The maps sold extremely well. But after a printing company reproduced 70,000 copies of Higbee's marvel over the next several years, someone carelessly destroyed his original drawing and the printing plates.

Because existing copies had been printed in non-photographic blue, it was impossible to make new printing plates from them.

Higbee considered redrawing all 45,000 miles of streams. But his advancing age made this an insurmountable task. So it appeared that the "prized fisherman's possession," now widely known as the "Lost Stream Map," was doomed to a life span equal to that of the existing limited copies.

How valuable were the surviving copies? One person offered Professor Higbee $400 for his last copy of the map. The Department of Environmental Resources kept its one remaining copy under lock and key.

This is the so-called "Lost Stream Map" that fishermen spent years searching for. Even the former President of Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited, William Kodrich, was quoted as saying, "I've been looking for a copy of the 'Stream Map of Pennsylvania' for over 10 years."

Two decades later, in 1991, Larry Seaman and Karl Ings, of Vivid Publishing in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, came across a dog-eared copy of the map and made inquiries that led them to the Professor, then 91. When he told them his story, they decided to do what National Geographic and other experts said couldn't be done: reproduce and republish the map. Higbee added, "At this stage of my life there isn't much I really want or need. But seeing the 'Stream Map' available to the public again is one thing that would make me happy."

Following Higbee's clues, Vivid began an extensive search for the lost drawing and printing plates. But the search ended after they talked to the man that cleaned out the bankrupt printer's building and hauled all of the printing plates to the Baltimore Landfill.

Then came a stroke of luck. Entirely new printing technology emerged that would allow reproduction of non-photographic blue. At least that was the claim. Seaman and Ings made test proofs, prepared to be disappointed with the results.

But the proofs looked better than expected. So Professor Higbee did indeed live to see the resurrection of his legendary masterpiece. Before he died at age 93 in 1993, Higbee also supported Seaman and Ings desire to map the streams and lakes of other states by sharing his map making techniques with them.

Vivid has gone on to publish 21 state Stream and Lake Maps, with plans to complete the remaining 29 states within a year. Available at, both rolled and folded at $19.95 each. Also available, write-on-wipe-off lamination at $39.95 each. A free guidebooks and two special reports, "Finding Secret Fishing Spots," and "How Anglers Stalk and Catch Record Fish" are included free with each map. Wall mural versions are also available. Phone orders call 1-800-326-9694. Vivid Publishing, Inc., 620 Jordan Avenue, P.O. Box 127, Montoursville, PA 17754.

Larry Seaman, President
Vivid Publishing, Inc.


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