The old adage says necessity is the mother of invention, and in the case of Mark Cartwright, copious amounts of redfish and speckled trout slime led to his creation of the Catcher’s Mitt — designed to keep your hands dry, clean and cut-free while out on the water unhooking fish.

“Several years ago, my best friend had the best fishing spot in the world. It’s a big camp on Big Lake on a weir. If you’ve ever been to Big Lake, you’ve probably seen it on the south end,” said Cartwright, of Baton Rouge. “In that weir, sometimes the redfish were so thick you could practically walk across them. He’d invite friends and business associates, and he had lights, so people would fish all day and night.

“We were constantly handling fish, and we’d use pliers and rags. I said, ‘There’s got to be an easier way than this.’ So I started working on something you could handle fish with, and it grew from that.”

His first prototype was created about four years ago, and now the Catcher’s Mitt is available in three distinct models. For each, a poly-cotton shell is coated inside and out with latex rubber, and the outside of the mitt has a crinkled rubber finish for superior gripping ability.

The main version is the Rookie, which retails for $39.99 and includes a sheath with a coil bungee connected to fishing pliers. A reel with a retractable cord connected to the mitt is attached to the sheath, and a towel to keep your pants clean is included.

“The Catcher’s Mitt has a J-Clip on the sheath which will go over a belt or over a waistband, so you don’t actually have to have a belt to wear it,” Cartwright said.  “And the towel helps keep slime and blood from transferring to your pants. One side of the towel is vinyl, the other is microfiber.”

The Surf & Kayak model, made for wet conditions, doesn’t come with a towel, and the mitt has built-in grommets in the fingertips for easy drainage. That version sells for $37.99, but Cartwright cautioned it’s not as effective for cleaning fish because of the grommet holes in the fingers of the mitt.

“You reach in to get a fish out of the ice chest and guess what? You have cold, slimy water in the mitt,” he said. “But the models without grommets are very good for cleaning fish and shucking oysters.”

The final model is the Prospect, which features the reel and mitt plus a towel, but no pliers. It retails for $24.99.

Both the Prospect and Rookie models come in a pink-trimmed ladies’ design, as well. Left and right hand options are available for all models except the Surf & Kayak.

“The mitt is one size fits most,” Cartwright explained. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s a little big because the tension of the reel keeps it snug to your hand.”

Currently, there are about 13 dealers statewide, including Superior Bait and Tackle in Baton Rouge, Chag’s and Puglia’s in Metairie, Gus’ Tackle and Rigolets Marina in Slidell and TYD’s Bait and Tackle and Top Water Marina in Leeville. 

For more information, or to purchase the Catcher’s Mitt online, go to reelfunenterprises.com.