Monday, August 12, 2013


Do you remember a time when most hardware stores and mom and pop convenience stores carried a limited supply of fishing tackle? I certainly do , and I can remember going over every rack with a critical eye as a budding young fisherman , probably much to my parents chagrin.

Maybe it's because the area I grew up in was and is a fisherman's paradise , with few big box retailers and a market , however small , for fish hooks and bobbers , maybe even a few lures. As I think about it now , I remember most stores in the area carried a selection of bait , bobbers , hooks , sinkers , and stringers. Rooster Tails and Mepps spinners , on hanging display cards , were ubiquitous as were small plastic bags with spider jigs and grubs stapled to cardboard hangers. It was a simpler time , and these were put in stores not not only for profit or to draw customers in , but to make life easier for fisherfolk who wanted to grab something after work without getting stuck in limbo at one of our two local tackle stores. Most of these stores had registered scales , and a section of countertop devoted to Polaroid pictures of people's catches. It was no surprise that regulars developed a sense of community and would go in for a fishing report , or just to shoot the breeze.

Some of those places undoubtedly still carry a few items for the fisherman , but most are long gone. A big box store started carrying two whole aisles of fishing gear , and one of the local tackle shops invested heavily in advertising. I assume it just became a waste of time for the small places to carry it and from there , they probably sold out or gave away whatever stock they had and put something else in it's place. I think a few even transitioned the space to VHS rentals , back when that was a thing.

Where I live now , tackle in a convenience store is a rarity. Most carry nightcrawlers , " In the bottom of the beer cooler!" , but it's rare to see a fishing section on the wall. One place had a single row of size 2 snelled hooks hanging beside the single dose packs of No Doze and Goody's Powder , but it was placed there as an afterthought , or maybe the other items replaced the former fishing tackle section leaving those snelled hooks as the last witness to a bygone era. I need to look and see if they are still there , maybe buy them , so their dreams can finally be realized. I don't know.

What triggered all of these thoughts and lamentations about the death of convenience-stores-as-tackle shops , was a surprising discovery at my local hardware store. A local hardware store is a rarity in and of itself nowadays , but these guys do things right , and their always busy aisles are testimony enough for their business principles and stellar customer service. That's surprising enough , but the real thing that triggered this was a small , say three feet wide , section of fishing tackle. Not some cobbled together collection of junk either , but things that would actually work in the water here , in sensible sizes and made by quality manufacturers. It really was a pleasant surprise , and brightened my day by way of fond memories of the small stores back home with trophy pictures on the wall , and simple tackle selections that really worked.

I really should have taken a picture , but I think the memories it brought back are enough for me.

Have a great week!


  1. The first I remember is at Uncle Ernie's bar (Wisconsin). He had a tackle section and we occasionally got a free bobber. From there it was at the fishing pier store. Then the memory is mostly a blank.

    1. I guess back home it was so common because of the three rivers and the lake in town. The only place I know of now that still has such an abundance of little tackle sections in almost every store is Hatteras Island. Almost every business down there , aside from real estate and other professionals , has a tackle section. You can still get fishing reports from the realtors.

  2. I remember when Bass Pro Shops was not much more than end-cap displays in a couple of liquor stores in Springfield, MO. That makes me feel old.

    1. Careful now , you'll date yourself. I can remember when they were starting to gain traction as a national brand. I can also remember when a bunch of well known manufacturers in the industry first started showing up in stores. I guess in a way , we watched the birth of an industry. It's certainly leaps and bounds above what was then a cottage industry with just a handful of devotees. I'm glad to see all of the innovation it has brought into the fishing world , but at the same time it makes me miss the old days.


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