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Happy Tackle
Dick Hill's fishing hobby

photo of man in garage stuffed with fishing gearDick Hill stands in his shed surrounded by reconditioned reels, rods, books and fishing memorabilia of all kinds.

Dick Hill is putting finishing touches on what is probably his fifteenth annual fishing tackle/yard sale. “It was a nice little hobby that got carried away,” he quips, looking over two barrels of fishing rods, dozens of reels, stacks of tackle boxes, bins filled with lures and a couple pair of newly painted oars.

All that gear and more goes on sale at noon, Thursday, April 25 at 309 Methow St. in Twisp.

This year’s one-man wingding coincides with the April 27 opening of fishing season and the Twisp Eagles annual kids fishing derby at Pearrygin Lake State Park, which starts at dawn Saturday. Discover Passes are not required at any state park Saturday or Sunday, April 27-28, according to Rick Lewis, managing ranger at Pearrygin Lake.

One of the joys of Hill’s life is getting fishing poles into the hands of kids. “If they come around to my yard sale and they don’t have a pole, they’ll leave with one,” he promises. The sale continues until 5 p.m., Thursday, and resumes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a “maybe.”

Hill started fishing with his dad and uncle as a small fry and never quit. He’s done every possible kind of angling—lakes and rivers, freshwater, saltwater, still fishing, trolling, fly fishing. He says this about the magic: “You either enjoy being out there in the nice and quiet or you don’t.”

In early 2002, Hill held the record for the largest Rainbow trout ever caught in Washington State—a 25.71 pound fat fish, or Triploid, pulled from Rufous Woods Lake, the reservoir behind Chief Joseph Dam. That record stood for 11 months, until another angler caught a 29.5 pounder.

photoAfter retiring from a 34 year career Dick Hill worked part time another 10 years for the Forest Service in the Methow Valley.

Hill was raised in Marysville and moved to Twisp from Stanwood with his wife, Joyce, 20 years ago. He was a beer wholesaler for 34 years before retiring. He spent the next 10 years working part-time for the U.S. Forest Service before retiring again. That decision has stuck for a decade.

His ‘hobby’ started when he went to some garage sales in search of fishing tackle. He started fixing up what he bought and giving it away or reselling it. “One thing led to another” until eventually people started bringing things to him at his home. For a number of years, he also ran a Lions Club-sponsored kids fishing program. It no longer exists. However, it grew to the point that he recently handed off 300 poles, tackle boxes and lures to a man in Okanogan who is doing a kids fishing project.

Some of the youngsters who took up fishing because Hill gave them gear are now out of college. “I lose a whole bunch of money but I sure gain a whole lot of friends and it’s worth it,” he says.

Fishing friends as well as neighbors have come in mighty handy lately. Like many older couples, the Hills expected Joyce to outlive her husband. “We never talked about what to do if she left first. We talked about what she should do with all this when I left,” he says, motioning to shed walls filled with fishing gear.

So when Joyce, his wife of 55 years, died 16 months ago of a malignant vocal cord tumor, he was thrown into more than emotional chaos. “I’d never paid a bill, cooked a meal, cleaned the house. I’d never run the washing machine…I was spoiled rotten,” he says. “I never did anything in the house.”

The learning curve was steep and daily trips out back to the tackle shop came to a halt—but only for a while. “I’m just getting back into it,” he says. But the minute Dick Hill starts talking about this week’s sale, or his love of fishing, or the smiles on kids’ faces when he hands them their very own fishing pole, his own face signals that he’s once again hooked.


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