Gone Fishin#8217; opens in downtown Ironton

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

In a glass bowl in the corner of a shop on Park Avenue

swim “Goldie” and “Lipstick,” two good-size goldfish blissfully aware that their cousins in the back room await a different fate.

There in the back room of the newly opened “Gone Fishin’,” a live bait and tackle shop, are five freezer chests filled to the brim with Israeli carp, shiners, tiny blue gill and other varieties of live bait. Nearby are a glass aquarium with live crickets and a container with leeches.

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It’s a fisherman’s paradise and the fulfillment of a long, long dream of the shop’s owner, Jerry Taylor.

You can even get a few fresh chicken livers here if you like. That is if you plan to lure in some catfish with them.

“A lot of fishermen won’t buy them when they’re frozen,” Taylor said. “They will fall apart when they’re put on the hook.”

For 17 years Taylor has been known as the owner/operator of JT Roofing, a small business that consumes much of Taylor’s time.

But all the while Taylor nurtured another ambition — one he often shared with whomever would listen — that was to open up a live bait shop.

“I had the idea about 15 years ago and I didn’t do it. I was too busy with my other work,” Taylor said. “But my wife got tired of hearing about a bait shop.”

So in April Taylor took his dream and turned it into a reality when he opened up “Gone Fishin” at 608 Park Ave. after two months spent remodeling the space.

It is an ironic choice for a man who rarely watches time drift by along a river bank.

“I haven’t got the patience to fish,” he said.

But an awful lot of his friends do and Taylor would go with them as they bought bait watching how the stores were set up.

“By looking at the stuff, I put it together,” he said.

Right down to finding out that blue waters make happy bait. Each chest of bait carries a special product that as it turns the water a color it purifies it, removes the chlorine and adds antibiotics.

“It keeps the fish healthier and a lot livelier,” Taylor said.

As the folklore goes, fishing is an old man’s sport. And statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seem to support that.

From the 1990s to the early part of this decade, the number of fishermen from 18 to 24 years of age dropped to 13 percent. That’s about a 7 percent decline.

But those statistics just flow by Taylor who in almost two months in business has seen all ages come into his shop.

“Little boys come here on their bikes to get fishing worms to go to the creek,” he said.

As do their gender counterpart — little girls.

“Their dad will ask them for whatever they want,” he said. “It’s how they’re raised. Their fathers like to take them fishing.”

Business has taken off so much that Taylor stocks about 10 pounds of bait a week.Also anyone wanting to try out the sport can find gear for under $40 at Taylor’s shop.

And even if you have no desire to go fishin’, you just might want to check out the store.

After all, where else can you see a couple of goldfish smile.