Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pop's Lures

This post was written over a year ago, when I first started the blog. It's been sitting in the draft folder ever since, with a revision or two over the past year as I've tried to edit it and make it exactly what I wanted. I have been waiting for the right time to post this, and decided that since today is Grandparents' Day, it was time to share it. I want to dedicate this post to the memory of all four of my grandparents: Jim and Essie Hord and Lib and Dick Hamrick (also known as Pop to me and my cousins). They shared with me the outdoors and supported me in my journey as an outdoorsman. 

"Pop! Pop! Let's go to the basement and look at your fishing lures!" My maternal grandfather, "Pop", must have heard these words or something very similar every day when I was little. I stayed with my grandparents during the day while my parents worked, and even at four years old the fishing bug had already bit me. My grandfather, who had the patience of a saint, would just smile and say "Ok, let's go take a look." We would go down stairs and sit on an old couch and Pop would open up the old metal tackle boxes that to my four year old eyes were treasure chests.
Pop's Tackle Box

One by one, we would look at the lures and Pop would tell me what kind of fish they caught or the name of the lure. I remember well looking at old lures with names like Punkinseed, Water Dog, and a lure Pop called the Whopper Stopper. The striped bass that hung over the basement fireplace was caught on a Water Dog, and I can't remember now what the big largemouth that hung in the den was caught on but I'm sure it was in one of those boxes.
Bomber Water Dog - One of Pop's

 Pop was a fisherman for most of his life, and he used to have an old Johnson outboard motor in the basement that he would take up to Lake James or Lake Norman and put on a rental boat to fish. He often talked about buying his own boat, but by the time I came along Pop's fishing trips weren't as frequent and he never did buy a boat.
Pop and six year old me with a trout

He still loved to fish, though, and often in the summer he would take my cousin and me, along with my parents and my aunt and uncle to one of those trout ponds where you pay by the pound for your catch. These ponds were near either Marion or Little Switzerland, NC and we would have fun catching trout that would wind up on the grill that evening back home. I don't remember Pop fishing much on these trips. I think for him it was a way to help introduce us at an early age to fishing, and these ponds were about as close as you can get to nonstop action. I'm sure Pop wanted us to catch a lot of fish and have a good time without the chance of getting bored with fishing. I'm also sure that Pop couldn't have known at the time that when I got older, trout fishing would become one of my favorite pursuits, although now it's usually with a fly rod in mountain streams.
The "Whopper Stopper" 

I also remember Pop taking the hooks out of one of the Whopper Stoppers for me to use when I wanted to practice casting in the yard. I spent a lot of time casting to imaginary bass behind their house, and caught a lot of whoppers, if only in my mind. Another lure that I distinctly remember asking Pop about a lot were what he called sea trout plugs. Later on, when I began saltwater fishing myself, I would learn that these were Mirr-O-Lures, and that they were one of the popular choices for catching sea trout in the waterways around Oak Island in the fall. I never caught a sea trout on these lures, because my trips to Oak Island were in the summer and I fished for trout using live shrimp. Even so, I always felt like I was following in Pop's footsteps fishing for the same fish at the same location that he used to.
Sea Trout Plug - aka MirrOLure

It's funny how things can come full circle, as I sit here writing this blog post in the den of my grandparents' house, which my wife and I bought, in a recliner in the same spot that Pop's recliner used to sit. I think Pop would be happy to know how much I enjoy fishing now, and some of his old lures sit in a display case on our coffee table as a reminder to me of where it began.
Some of Pop's Lures on display

Pop taught me a lot, and more than that he had the patience to tell me the same stories and look at the same old fishing tackle day after day. I'm sure he got tired of it, but he never let it show. I hope that I inherited some of his patience and understanding, because without a doubt I inherited his love for fishing.
Bomber Lure

There are several people that have had a major influence on my love of the outdoors, but my two grandfathers and my Dad were the earliest influences. I will always be grateful to all three of these men for their guidance and for the passion they instilled in me at a very young age. I hope someday to be able to pay it forward when I have children and grandchildren and help them the same way Pop helped me. Maybe someday they will have an old tackle box full of my lures, and a lifetime of memories.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph