As time marches on, I can't help but reflect on the history of angling from my own personal experiences. Back in the day, mid-1960s, my father and my older brother started to embrace the fishing sport with a degree of seriousness. And as anyone will tell you from that era, a dollar seemed to buy a lot more back then than it does today. The trick was getting the dollar in the first place.
One of the great things about fishing is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you want. Along with that thinking, you can spend as much or as little as you care to as well. Most people are always looking for a bargain in any aspect of their life and what may seem like a steal in my eyes make look more like highway robbery to others. Truth is, most folks can seem to find the time and money to pursue their passions, no matter what the cost.
In the mid-1960s I can remember paying 50 cents for a dozen nightcrawlers. Now, depending on where you go, you'll fork over $4 to $5 for the same. Bait options were pretty simple back then. Minnows were cheaper, too. But then again, it seemed high for the day. Bait retailers and growers have a very tough job in keeping bait alive and healthy during times of weather change and in transportation. Keeping minnows alive costs money, and when a shop owner loses a batch for any number of reasons, he takes a pretty big hit financially. Also, there are many more bait options out there today. B&B Lures & Tackle Shop in Hanover, Pennsylvania, carries a full line of baitfish, worms, mealworms, waxworms and larva for today's discriminating bait angler. Owner Gordon Brady knows full well the need to keep bait healthy and alive for his customers, and takes diligent efforts to do so. Even by today's standards, his bait prices would still have to be considered a very good purchase. Plus he carries a full-line, year round.
Consider fishing license cost these days — good in some states, bad in others. Depending on your quarry or preferred species, you can easily rack up a $100 total to fish your home state and one bordering state to get in the game. Then, there are usually options for various stamps and permits that can mount as well. Some states have toyed with three-year licenses and retired angler options with some degree of success. Others, depending on the location and the economy, have not fared as well.
Other expenses are park and ramp fees, tackle options — a huge one — and just the gasoline expenses to go from one place to another. So many species and not enough time. Is it any wonder I'm happy just to catch a bunch of bluegills at a local pond or wade for smallmouths in a local stream? But for not, I'm staying old school, downgrading even, because I don't care what's tugging at the end of my rod. The joys of fishing are for the rich and the poor.
Jim Gronaw is a freelance outdoor writer from Westminster. His column appears in the Advocate on the first and third Wednesday of the month.