Back in the day, not too long ago...
With all the improvements and modern advancements in fishing, nothing yet can captivate both young and old like the suspense from a simple bobber, waiting to be submersed by a hungry bluegill. (Jim Gronaw photo)

I would venture at least a pretty good guess that almost everyone reading this had heard stories, or read them, about how things were in "the good ole' days". We have parents, grand parents and even older friends that can talk about how it was "back in the day" concerning every aspect of life. We even see reminders of old time, not forgotten, throughout much of today's social media sites and on the big screen as well. Fishing, like all other things, has its own share of timeless reminders of years, even decades, gone by.

For example, who can recall the price of a dozen nightcrawlers the first time you ever bought them? I think I paid 35 cents for a dozen of them from a small sporting goods store called Lake West that sat along Liberty Road just west of Randallstown back in the late 1960's. Seemingly a super cheap price ... the trick was to get the 35 cents to begin with. And minnows were absolutely outrageous at 50 cents a dozen. Things were different back then.


The very first lure I ever bought was an Arbogast Hula Popper at I believe an old Pep Boys store in Essex. Actually, I think Mom bought it for me and was giggling all the way to the checkout counter over the term "Hula Popper." Seems like the price tag for that one was around $1.15. Crankbaits nowadays are as much as $20 apiece and musky lures more than twice that.

The trick now is to get the $20, or more, for the lure you can't be without.

Electronic devices had not been invented yet, so us kids couldn't sit around all day long with some sort of squealing mechanism to entertain us while mom and dad ignored us, did what they pleased or just plain worked to make a living. Video games were still just a thought so we played rare and obscure games like baseball, touch football, rode our bikes or hunt and fished to pass the time when we thought we were "bored."

Might sound crazy, but it's true.

Fishing jargon has also come a long way. As a teen the term "crank bait" would have earned a hard look from mom or dad and if I requested a "flip-tailed worm" I might have gotten slapped in the mouth, or at least lost a couple weeks allowance over such an utterance. Yes a dollar was hard to come by back then, so I learned to watch my language.

We lived about 14 miles from Liberty Reservoir. I would ride my bicycle, daily, to the lake to catch bluegills, crappies, bass or carp or anything else that would bite. It didn't really matter if I caught anything or not because I always had fun fishing and being outdoors, enjoying God's creation and just being around the water. In time, we would learn to catch some fish here and there, even bass over 5 pounds, as we learned the hard way, self taught.

But the lessons stuck like glue.

One day, Dad actually brought home a 14-foot jon boat and we were definitely in "high cotton" that day. Subsequent trips to Loch Raven, Liberty, and other lakes fueled our attention as now we had access to "big fish" because we had a boat! Or at least we thought so! But water vessel or not, we soon learned that there was no magic secret to catching fish. The top lures of the day were plastic worms, and southern boys called them "rubba' werms."

We eventually became proficient at catching crappies and bluegills ... the same basic gig I pursue to this very day on most outings. Catfish trips to the Conowingo Dam made things interesting and a few jaunts to The Eastern Shore seemed like we were on some type of exotic, freshwater fishing safari.

Little did I know that years down the road I would have exciting encounters with powerful striped bass, huge blue catfish, slammer bluefish and giant, golden carp. But then, as always, the revisitation of those bluegills and crappies would reappear, time and again, even with my son and my grand daughters.

Grounded, I have yet to break away from this simple and basic angling form.

Yes, fishing "back in the day" doesn't seem all that long ago. Clearly, they were simpler times back in the 1960's. Fish finders had not come on the scene yet. Spinnerbaits and buzz baits had not been invented yet and no one had a computer. Cell phones? Nope. The Internet? You're kidding, right? And ... what the heck was a "social network?"

Sheesh, if I had to, I might well consider a time machine that could take me back there again. Yes, I miss those times back in the day. But I kind of like the way it is now, too.