Salty Air

Hooked: Cape Cod Fishermen Banter & Barter at Annual Yard Sale for Veterans

Laura M. Reckford
Written by Laura M. Reckford

SOUTH YARMOUTH – At some fishing shows, people seem more interested in the beef jerky than the fishing lures. But not at the Annual Fisherman’s Yard Sale, which took place this past Saturday at the Riverway Lobster House in South Yarmouth. It’s an event that, as one attendee said, attracts “authentic fishermen.”

This was the eighth year of the yard sale, which Gary Brown started as a fundraiser for the Cape & Islands Veterans Outreach Center.

Brown, a lifelong Hyannis resident, served in the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam in 1969. He started the fundraiser for veterans because, he said, “I was surprised nothing was being done.”

Captain Gary Brown organizes the Fisherman's Yard Sale every year as a fundraiser for veterans.

Captain Gary Brown organizes the Fisherman’s Yard Sale every year as a fundraiser for veterans.

A longtime charter fishing captain on his boat, the Bass Ackwards, Brown decided to get the fishing community involved in a sale to raise money to help veterans. The sale took place at the VFW for the first three years, then moved to the Moose Lodge in South Yarmouth.

This year’s event was the first time at the Riverway Lobster House, a location suggested by the restaurant’s owner Larry Siscoe, who Brown says he knows from fishing.

There were 26 booths at the event, according to Brown, from the Cape Cod Salties to the Kennedy Gallery & Studios, selling fishing and Cape-themed prints.

As to what you could find at the yard sale, Brown was succinct: “Nothing Alive.” Other than that, pretty much anything, as long as it is connected to fishing, of course.

One of the highlights at the sale, according to Brown’s daughter, Barbara Komenda, were the large display of colorful wooden lures handmade by Robert Davies, 73, of West Yarmouth.

Davies, who drove an oil truck for Canal Fuel for many years, had fished commercially out of Chatham on gillnetters and also owned his own tuna boat. When he retired from the oil company at age 65, it was in the spring and, as he said, “time to go fishing.”

He bought a $22 Gibbs lure and lost it while fishing that same day. He bought a second one and soon lost that one out in the waters too.

Traps for sale outside the Riverway Lobster House during the annual fisherman's yard sale.

Traps for sale outside the Riverway Lobster House during the annual fisherman’s yard sale.

The Gibbs lure is named after Stan Gibbs, the legendary Cape Cod Canal fisherman now memorialized with a bronze sculpture in Buzzards Bay. Davies remembers going fishing with Gibbs when Davies was just a boy of about 10 years of age. Gibbs took Davies fishing for bluefish off of Sampson’s Island on the Cape’s southside.

“Back then bluefish were rare; bass were everywhere,” Davies said. Gibbs’s fishing expertise impressed Davies and the memory has stayed with him for more than 60 years.

Frustrated by losing the expensive Gibbs lures, Davies had an idea. In his garage, he had a 100-year-old belt-driven lathe. He got to work, turning an old handle into a lure. “That lure caught a fish. It went from there,” he said.

In recent years, his business has taken off