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JOSEPH BALDWIN: Remembering fishing on the Bear Creek Lakes


“Growing up living here, if you go to other places and you mention Franklin County, folks will say, ‘Oh, you’re by those lakes. There’s good fishing there. I remember me and my grandpa, Robert Baldwin, we did a lot of that – fishing in the Little Bear and the Big Bear.

“Big Bear is basically in my front yard. In the morning I can see the fog over the water. You just see a big cloud of fog on those kinds of mornings.

“Hand-in-hand with that goes hunting. I grew up on a farm, and we hunted and fished and farmed every day – like the Luke Bryan song, ‘huntin’ and fishin’ and lovin’ every day,’ except it was huntin’ and fishin’ and farmin’ every day.

“My grandpa and I would go out in a boat, and it would be really, really cold. I would be freezing. We would be in the boat, and we would leave at daylight, putting the boat in the water before the sun came up. I would wrap up in a blanket and lay in the front of the boat as we would go from spot to spot.

“When you’re on the water, fishing or swimming or whatever you’re doing, and you’ve got a can of potted meat or beanee weenees or something wouldn’t eat at home, it’s like a steak on the water. Pawpaw would bring potted meat and beanee weenees and saltine crackers, and we loved it.

“We spent a lot of time together, and I wish I had those old days back because I would have asked a lot more questions. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It was just so much fun. I have always been drawn to older people, and they become my friends. I don’t have a lot of friends my age. My grandpa was pretty much my best friend. Looking back on it, there was so much more time I could have spent, things I could have done – questions I could have asked.

“My grandpa fished with a lot of different people. Everybody wanted to fish with my grandpa – but when you’re in the boat, you’re a certain distance apart, and if the other guy was catching more fish, Pawpaw would act like the wind was blowing, and the boat would ‘magically’ turn so he would be where the fish were at.”