I got my first Garcia Mitchell 300 Spinning reel when I was about ten years old. It took a lot of chores around the house to save for one, and I would always gravitate to the fishing section when we visited stores to look at and try reels like this and the iconic Garcia Ambassador 5000 level wind reel. Stores like Gibsons, K-Mart, Oshmans, Wards and Sears. Wards and Sears in the sixties and seventies maintained quite decent fishing sections, and manufactured and/or branded their own goods for years and years. They also sold other folks wares as well.
I've fished with my 300's all over the States and in the Bahamas. Salt and fresh water fishing. You can find them on ebay, but I generally prefer to find my reels at garage sales or at vintage fishing tackle shows, where I can try them out. I have bought and sold numerous reels on ebay however, and I've really never been burned. The last few Garcia AbuMatic 290's that I found on ebay were, in a word, New. NIB.
There was a whole series of Mitchell 300 reels, from the salt water 350's to the ultra light models they made. Just different size versions of the same excellent reel. My reels are still going strong, decades later. Just as many other of my friends 300's are still going strong.
Surprisingly, there's no wiki page for the Mitchell 300, but I did find some good information on them and their history which I'll be posting below, You can go to the links provided to see the whole posts and lots of other good stuff.
I remember as a teen once there was a fishing tournament on Lake Livingston, and we were fishing out of that same Marina that weekend. Back in the 1970's in Houston, Saturday morning and afternoon TV had the fishing shows (on UHF, as I recall) on and The American Sportsman was on in the afternoons on ABC.
So I remember seeing some of the fisherman and their boats at the tournament, and several of them were endorsers of reels like Zebco and Johnson, which are great reels (I still use many of each today) but the pros were carrying Mitchell 300's and red Ambassador 5000's on their rods, not the reels they endorsed.
Anyway, I found this very informative post on a striper forum and thought I'd quote it here. Here's the link to this excellent forum called Stripers 24/7 :
Here's the post from the Administrator striperjim a/k/a Titus Pullo Administrator
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Planet Earth
"Mitchell Garcia "The Reel story"
Here is the reel story of the legendary classic French-Made Mitchell-Garcia Mitchell open faced spinning reel that would introduce spin fishing to millions of people.The Mitchell spinning reel which would become the Mitchell 300/ Garcia-Mitchell 300 was manufactured in France by a company known as Carpano and Pons. It was 1868 when Henry Jacottet and Louis Carpano founded a business under the name Carpano-Jacottet. This company manufactured watch gears and related items. In 1874 Campano retired and Jacottet continued the business.Carpano retired in 1902. Having no children the company would be taken over by his nephew, Jean Constantine Carpano.Jean Constantine Carpano died in 1927. That same year Charles Pons, Constantine's son-in-law, and the Carpano family formed a new company called Carpano and Pons.In the mid 1930's Carpano and Pons was asked to do some designing of two existing spinning reels: the Pecos by Pecheur Ecossais of France and the CAP reel designed by La Canne a Peche of Agier, France.About the same time a design engineer named Maurice Jocomin started working at Carpano and Pons, Charles Pons asked Jocquemin to work on a design of a new concept for an open-faced spinning reel.
That marked the birth of the most well known open-faced spinning reel ever produced, The Mitchell /Garcia Mitchell Model 300.Just how did this reel get its name? Charles Pons' brother's name was Michel. Michel died just before the company introduced the new reel thus the reel was named after Michel.How did the Charles Garcia Corporation end up being the sole distributor of the Mitchell lines in the United states? It was 1946, and Jules Gumprich and Charles Garcia owned an import/export company named Impecco. Jules who lived in France sent one of the reels to his brother Otto, who was head of the Charles Garcia Co. in New york City. Thomas T. Lenk, who worked for the company, saw the reel and asked if he could try and market it here in the United States.
It wasn't long before sales grew to a point that Charles Garcia and co. would gear its business around the new found success.The Impecco company was the importer while Garcia continued the sales, advertising, etc. Upon Otto's retirement Tom Lenk became CEO of the company.The Charles Garcia Corp. was the only distributor of Mitchell in the United staes from 1947 through 1978. The company was moved in 1969 from New York City to Teaneck, N.J.Also in 1969, 100,000 reels were being manufactured a month. That same year Charles Pons died. The Carpano and Pons company was then restructured. At that point Mitchell became an independent company.By 1972, Garcia was the main stockholder of Mitchell and purchused Mitchell in 1974.In 1980 Mitchell was purchased by Browning.By 1984, Mitchell Sports USA, a division of Mitchell/France, was a major owner and handled all North American sales.
In 1991, Mitchell was sold again, this time to Johnson worldwide. But Mitchell of France retained the manufacturing and design rights of all Mitchell products.In 2000, Mitchell would be sold again to Pure Fishing Group of Spirit Lake, Iowa. Pure Fishing Group is now the main stockholder and principal owner.One reel--The Mitchell / Garcia 300--without question had more impact on U.S. Manufacturers to start manufacturing open faced spinning reels than all others.Also there are more Mitchell collectors worldwide than any other single manufacturer of open faced spnning reels.
There is an endless variety of Mitchell / Garcia Mitchell spinning reels for the collector.For whatever reason, U.S. Mitchell collectors are of the opinion that the value of the left handed reels are the same as the right-handed models yet European collectors will pay more for the left-handed models*I agree with the European collectors. The fact remains there are a lot fewer left handed reels manufactured than right handed.(cont)* Ben WrightFrom Ben Wrights Book. The Wright price guide for the reel man"
HERE'S SOME MORE RESOURCES AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE GARCIA MITCHELL 300 REELS:Here's an excellent series on cleaning and repairing Mitchell 300 reels. http://www.catfish1.com/forums/showthread.php?1719-Cleaning-and-Repairing-a-Mitchell-300-Spinning-Reel
Here's some information about collectable 300's, including SOME with gold plated hardware: http://users.skynet.be/bk292282/articles_mitchellgold.html
You can find schematics and after-market or NOS parts here http://www.mitchellparts.com/
If you made it this far through this post, then you either remember these reels from your younger days or you happened upon this post through a google. Or perhaps you've found my writing is a good cure for insomnia.
In any event, as I've indicated in prior posts, I've had exceptionally good luck with several reels from the later Mitchell spinning reels series, from the late seventies and early eighties. I recently scored a very nice older new in box Mitchell spinning reel of later vintage. I've also got a 1995 Mitchell salt water sized reel that has rendered exemplary performance for 15 years despite being somewhat neglected. I bought it and a very nice medium length salt water rod for about $35 and despite repeated catfishing and salt water fishing trips, it's still catching fish and still working great.
You can read the posts at these links if you are interested in Mitchell reels:
FINDING A NEW YET OLD SPINNING REEL
New American Rodsmith Rod and now I need a new spi...