WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Repurposing the fishing creel



I’m very happy share my ideas and tips for bringing the wild inside with The WON. Nature offers so much beauty, and can be so inspiring — why not bring it home with us? 

I just returned from a fly-fishing adventure in New Mexico, so what better way to launch my debut column at The WON than with some tips on how to bring the angling lifestyle inside?


Rita with her guide, Ron, from the Taos Fly Shop, at 10,500 feet, on the Brazos River Ranch with a beautiful Rainbow trout. (Rita Schimpff photo)

Rita with her guide, Ron, from the Taos Fly Shop, at 10,500 feet, on the Brazos River Ranch with a beautiful Rainbow trout. (Rita Schimpff photo)


Fishing creels

I collect new and old sporting memorabilia. Some of my treasures include inherited fishing creels that add just the right touch of nostalgia and interest. They come in many varieties and have many uses:

  • As a planter
  • To hold entertainment remotes with style
  • To stash dog treats
  • For a letter, mail or key drop by the front door
  • Instead of the normal front door wreath



(Rita Schimpff photo)

Here is a vintage iron English creel or bait bucket used as a planter, with a collection of antique ice fishing decoys swimming about.



(Rita Schimpff photo)

Here are 2 classic creels: my grandfather’s split willow creel on the bottom and a potbellied tin creel above. Both are decked out for Christmas with combinations of fresh and fabric greens, berries and tartan ribbon.


Consider the vignette

Little groupings, or vignettes, of fishing-related items can be grouped in a corner, on a bookshelf or table. I always prefer to have “like” items in odd numbers, and I include items in the vignette that vary in height.



(Rita Schimpff photo)

Here are 3 old British Starback reels of different sizes, paired with an old wooden fish decoy.



(Rita Schimpff photo)

These related items are all different, but they complement each other. The wooden disk is a hand-painted Salmon fly called “Kate” ($95). This classic British fly is one of the few originated by a woman in the mid 1800s, and still widely used today!

During the holiday season, flip the lid of the creel and add bright red Poinsettias, a small vintage net tucked inside with a pinecone or two.



(Rita Schimpff photo)

Pillows with sporting motifs will also bring a little of the wild inside. Here are a few of my favorite handmade pillows accented with painted lambskin inserts ($165 to $210). I like the soft, iridescent and irregular texture of the lambskin that, in many ways, resembles a trout.


Front and back porch decorations

It’s almost inside, after all.



(Christie Thomas photo)

I use this creel on the back porch. It’s lovely with just a few fresh flowers right through the hole in the top. It could also be terrific hanging on an inside or outside door!

Protect your creel and tabletop when using fresh greens and flowers by placing a vase or plastic container inside to keep foliage moist and prevent leakage.


Door creel

I wanted this summertime creel to have the feeling of just coming off of a lush stream, so I used different ferns from a hobby store (using the weekly coupons) and found an empty turtle shell, a turkey feather and branches with lichen on them for the look.



(Rita Schimpff photo)

I collect these things from my journeys in the wild and use and re-use them in many vignettes and arrangements. I had some wide burlap ribbon and decided to paint a black stripe to compliment the turtle shell, turkey feather and my front door.

Press blue painters tape down each side of the ribbon, and then paint in with black acrylic paint. Put a little piece of felt or tape on the back of the creel to keep from scratching the door’s surface when the door opens and closes. Then, hang your creel from ribbon that is attached on the top edge of the door with thumbtacks — it makes for an easy, neat presentation that saves your door from nail holes.


Think how nice this will look in the fall by replacing the summer flowers with fall colored leaves, berries, a pine cone and a couple of pheasant feathers. Or, you can bring it back inside and use it for an indoor decoration!



(Rita Schimpff photo)

Now, after all this angling advice, you deserve a glass of sweet tea on the veranda!


Visit Heritage Game Mounts to see more angling lifestyle-decorating ideas.


This retro WON was first published on Aug. 7, 2014.

  • About Rita Schimpff

    Rita Schimpff is an artist and designer who grew up hunting, fishing and enjoying outdoor life in Oklahoma and Texas, thus developing an early love and respect for wildlife and their habitat. She has carried this love to her art and her long involvement with many local and national conservation associations. As a member of the first Junior League San Antonio Mitchell Lake Wetlands Project, she created its logo and illustrated Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge: an Illustrated History. A graduate of Texas Christian University with a BFA in Commercial Art and Textile Design, Rita retired after more than 30 years in an interior design field. She launched her Texas based company, Heritage Game Mounts. She creates elegant, Old-World-inspired panels to display domestic and exotic game. She pens a blog called “Bring The Wild Inside” at the site, and at The WON, that offers ways to bring beauty and balance to the shared hunter/non-hunter home. Rita and her husband, Skip, have made hunting and fishing a large priority with their children. Along with two Boykin Spaniels and numerous adopted rescues, all aspects of hunting are very much a family affair. All of Heritage Game Mounts’ products are American made.