Friday, June 7, 2013

Fishy Memories

The sign in front of the closed store
I've driven past the former Garwell's store on Route 6 several times in the last few weeks, and it reminded me of how Dad tried to make fishermen out of my brothers and me. The sad truth is that I never developed a fondness for the piscatorial racket.

This is despite the fact that fishing ran in our family. The family photo album is filled with vintage shots of Grandpa Bumke from various fishing trips in Michigan, either grinning with a fish he had caught, or with his buddies in a cabin or boat. Dad liked fishing too, and I guess he wanted to share his enjoyment of the sport with us.

During those fishing years of the 1960s, it seems like almost every Saturday we headed somewhere different: Hot Waters; behind the Water Treatment Plant in Lorain; Mill Hollow; the Oberlin Reservoir; the Kipton Reservoir (now known as the Kipton Reservation); and the grounds of Fathers of St. Joseph out on Case Road in Avon.

The side of the Garwell's store, circa 2009
And each fishing trip started with a stop at Garwell's for bait. I can still hear the bubbling hum of the store's minnow tank.

But unfortunately we weren't very good little fishermen. We were constantly snagging our lines on rocks. Then Dad would have to unsnag them for us, or cut the line and set us up again with hooks. Inevitably, we would snag them again, and he would smile while trying to hide his disgust.

Sometimes we shattered our bobbers on the rocks. We even managed to get our lines caught in trees while casting!

It's a miracle that Dad ever got any fishing done himself, since he was constantly interrupted by our comical hijinks. But, he was a patient man and almost always caught at least a few fish.

After Dad gave up fishing with us, he fished with a few of his work buddies in the 1970s and 80s. One of them had a boat, and they would go out on Lake Erie, usually by the David-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Port Clinton.

During those years, we ate a lot of fish. The family freezer was always jammed with perch and walleye.

When I came back to Lorain after college, I tried once again to take up fishing. (I was unemployed and had plenty of time.) So I would head down to Hot Waters with one of Dad's old rods. Dad even brought me along fishing out on the lake a few times with his pals. I just remember being nervous and nauseous in the boat. So that was the end of my fishing career once and for all.

Despite Dad's best efforts to make me a fisherman, I just never got hooked.

But I cherish the memories of those days in the 60s when Dad spent all that time with my brothers and me on those Saturday afternoons.


Ken said...

Thanks Dan. Brought a tear to my eye first thing in the morning (can't let my employees see it). I haven't been able to live up to Dad's example... but I'm still trying.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Dan- what's up with Hot Waters today, what with the plant being closed?

Dan Brady said...

Hi Alan,
I go down there once in a while. There's still a few fishermen even though the water's not hot anymore.

Randall Chet said...

Wow Dan - great post! You didn't become a fisherman, but I suspect you didn't complain about all the perch and walleye! The last two times back in Lorain I've made it a point to go to Chris's Restaurant for a perch dinner at least once. I owe it to you for pointing me to that restaurant too. Thanks!

I sure do wish we had a fishery like Lake Erie down my way. I was the son that took up fishing like dad. What memories, including the seasickness. My early years were spent alongside dad at Hot Waters catching 15" White Bass on flies behind popping bobbers. When the bass were furiously feeding sometimes we'd even get a double header - two fish on two flies behind the bobber.

Me and my best friend across the street learned pretty quick, including how to make the flies from a #12 hook, some white vinyl covered clothesline and a dip in white latex paint. We then painted the eye end with some Testors red model paint. We would sell them to fishermen at hot Waters for .25 each.

About this time my dad decided to take me out for walleye. We first needed to get the fattest nightcrawlers we could find. He would water the lawn the evening before, then we would get up at 2 am and catch nightcrawlers with the help of a flashlight covered with clear red cellophane. You would have to figure out at which end of the worm was his hole, otherwise you would miss him. Dad rented a 14' aluminum boat with a tiny coughing-would-not-idle-smoke-choking outboard out of Risers, which I believed was in Vermillion. Back then we would troll for Walleye, using a nightcrawler-tipped June Bug spinner or Jet lures behind a trolling-sinker. We would try straight out of Vermillion, off the Ford plant, or sometimes go west and try off Sherod park. This was before you could easily find the action using a fish-finder, then anchor and drift-cast Erie Dearies. I remember we weren't very successful but we tried. This was in the late seventies with the clean-up of Lake Erie just starting to take effect. Shortly thereafter came the Walleye boom of the eighties. My father had a boat by then and those were good times, if we weren't catching our limit of Walleye, we would go for yellow perch or even Smallmouth Bass around the islands. And we always had a bucket full of live minnows from Garwells just in case the Perch were biting.

Dan Brady said...

What a great story, Randall--thanks for posting it! I'll bet more Lorainites identify with your fishing experiences than mine! I love all the fishing talk!

Fishing was a lot of fun from an artistic standpoint with all of the different colors and designs of the lures, flies and plastic worms, etc.

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

Thanks for posting this about Garwells Bait. My father, Harry Limes, and his fishing buddies frequented Garwells quite often I know. I remember going there a couple of times with my father. So many memories, and you are helping us to keep them alive and well!