Hebron resident passes on the poles, recollects good times hitting fishing holes with friends
Much like a fisherman rarely tells where his favorite fishing hole is, Willie Walcker is keeping a secret of who he gave all of his fishing gear to.
And many of his neighbors are curious.
"I didn't tell anyone that asked who got it," the Hebron resident said. "I wouldn't tell it. I had my mind made up and it's not none of their business."
More than a dozen people responded to his ad in a local newspaper recently which read, "Give away -- all my fishing equipment -- rods, reels and tackle box. All free, no charge. Just come and get it."
Dale Sayler, Hebron, refers to Walcker as his "favorite father-in-law." "It's typical of him, of his good deeds," he said of the give-away.
Though Walcker's gear is gone, memories of the good times are not. Walcker started fishing when he was about age 36. He will be 82 years old in April and many of his favorite fishing memories have his good friend Art Krein in them.
"He moved to Hebron many years ago and that's how I got to know him," Krein said. "We became good friends and I went fishing and he went along.
"We never caught no big ones. He's a pretty nice fella and we always got along good. Sometimes we got nothing but catfish."
The 95-year-old Krein now lives at Park Avenue in Dickinson. The two occasionally took their wives along on fishing outings, "but we should have left them home," Krein jokes.
"One time I tried to set up the stove and spilled the gas bottle and they laughed and then I fell down and the gas went all over me and they got a big kick out of it." He said he was not hurt (except maybe his pride).
Rein's wife Alvina has since passed away and Walcker quit hitting the fishing holes shortly after his wife Eldena died about 15 years ago, Walcker said.
"I really enjoyed it and it was relaxing," Walcker said. "I wasn't really interested in the big lake (Sakakawea) cause I'm scared of water so I was glad when I went to Heart Butte Dam."
Krein still keeps up the sport, but not as often as he'd like. "I went last year one time on the Heart River and I want to go again," he said.
There may not be many whoppers to speak of except for one nice walleye Walcker caught. He can't remember just how big it was and he said his son always says, "Dad, every time you talk about that fish it gets bigger all the time."
Why would someone give away their fishing equipment? Walcker says he needed the room and figured someone else would appreciate the five or six poles, two tackle boxes and "just about everything you needed" more than he did.
More than a dozen calls for the free gear started the moment the paper hit the stands, he said.
"I put that ad in there and the first guy that called me was a guy that used to live near here and they were poor people and he said, 'I'll take it,"' he said, adding the man is physically challenged. "Then he said he couldn't pick it up right away because he didn't have a car. His sister came with a car and we loaded it."
When asked, "Willie, don't you want something," he replied, "I don't want nothing, not a thing," Walcker said. "When I was young, I didn't have much either."
An auctioneer also saw the ad and asked Walcker if he wanted to sell it, but he rather give it away, he said.
"Willie's a very generous man, Sayler said, adding he's made many donations to places including the Brick City Senior Center and his church.
"That's the kind of guy he is," he said, adding he and his wife Laura are happy the gear went to someone who needed it.
Maybe this unidentified man will get a chance to relax and meet friends fishing as Walcker did. He told Walcker he was going to polish everything up and it will be taken care of, Walcker said.
Maybe someday this man will pass on the good deed and share his fishing stories with others.
"I'm not gonna tell anyone who got that," Walcker said. "It's between me and those people."