Cars flowed into the parking lot of the Hickory Ruritan Club in Chesapeake – bringing traffic on southern Battlefield Boulevard to a standstill.
Curious anglers finally got parked and looked anxiously around, noticing friends and familiar faces – all wondering just what was to come.
The Great Bridge Fisherman’s Association had come up with a late-winter, early-spring idea to hold a flea market for fishermen and women.
Barbecue and sausage smells filled the air as the sun rose on a chilly Saturday morning.
Wow, how things have changed.
Now set to enter its 15th annual event, the flea market over the years grew and moved to the Chesapeake Convention Center.
Well, it’s grown even more and this year’s market will be held at the Virginia Beach Field House at 2020 Landstown Centre Way – next to The Sportsplex.
It seems so long ago when Butch Pierce (the guy in the picture showing off a decades-old machine to pull fishing line of a reel) approached me – asking what I thought of the idea and whether it would work.
Saturday morning flea markets have been a popular mainstay throughout this country for decades.
So why not hold one for fishing?
The event kicked off and now even Pierce is often surprised at its popularity and how much it’s grown.
“I don’t think anybody” saw this happening, he said. “I got the idea from fishing flea markets I’d seen on the computer.”
Pierce and others in the 154-members strong club have gone to similar shows in Richmond, North Carolina and points north to fish out ideas to make their event better.
“People that come to our flea market tell me that ours seems to be for buyers and the others seem to be for lookers,” Pierce said. “We’ve grown to more than 100 vendors and nearly 150 tables.”
They’ll be selling new and used fishing rods and reels, custom lures, gear for both fresh and saltwater, new and used lures and a wide array of other goods. The field house has an area that sells food and drinks.
Outside, there will be quite and few boats and trailers up for sale.
The doors open at 8 a.m. and the event is scheduled to be over at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $5, or free for those 12-under accompanying a paying adult.
The early years are memories now, but good ones.
I remember people who had cleaned out garages to get rid of old equipment or stuff no longer used.
They sat in hopes of making a few dollars from buyers.
Folks like that still have tables at the market.
These days they sit next to rod builders and antique fishing lure sellers, tackle shops and marinas, fishing clubs and artists, fishing clubs and members of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and police departments’ marine patrols.
Many know each other and thrive on the rebirth of their friendships.
New friends are made.
Lots of gear – new and old – to take home and ready for angling in warmer climates.
Fellowship is strong.
Of all the potential things to remember, that could be the one constant that pleases Pierce the most.
“The reason I continue to do this is the people I meet,” he said. “It’s a good time, people make a few dollars and others go home with some neat things.
“Those are the things that make this special.”
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