Fishermen from all over East Tennessee gathered Saturday to buy, sell and trade equipment at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church.
The event lasted 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and included free admission for vendors and buyers. Anglers took advantage of the flea market to sell or trade old equipment.
“Most of us serious fishermen have a few unfortunate tendencies,” Butch Durham, church member and fisherman, said. “First, when we have a good day on the water catching lots of fish on a particular lure, we immediately go out and buy all we can find in that specific size and color. Second, when we are not catching fish we go out and buy more stuff, hoping to find something that works. Third, as we get older, physical limitations restrict how we fish and many of those big ‘power’ technique lures that we used to love to fish now sit in the box getting rusty while we fish with slower, smaller, finesse-type baits. Either way, the result is that we end up with more tackle than we will ever be able to use.”
Durham came up with the idea to hold the Fisherman’s Flea Market three years ago as a community-wide outreach for the church.
“We started doing it as an outreach because we recognized there are a lot of people that retire to this area,” Durham said. “They bought a house on the lake, put a dock in, had a boat, had a bunch of fishing poles and had grandkids visit. Those kids and grandkids grew up and move out, so what do they do with all that fishing stuff? We had several widows in our church whose husbands were avid fishermen and had a lot of stuff, so I decided to have the Fisherman’s Flea Market.”
The first year attracted 12 vendors and has doubled in size the past two years. Saturday’s event drew 23 vendors from Loudon, Blount, Monroe and Knox counties, and one from Chattanooga.
Ben Bradley has been a featured vendor and has made the trek every year to Tellico Village from Chattanooga.
“It’s one of the nicest shows you can go to,” he said. “It’s free tables, free admission and they provide coffee and donuts. They have a great crowd that comes. I enjoy both ends of that.”
The majority of Bradley’s collection included used and older fishing rods and baits.
“I mainly bring the low-end fishing lures,” he said. “Most of the guys that come here don’t collect, they fish. Some of the guys want the older lures. As far as high-dollar fishing tackle, I don’t bring much of that. I bring a lot of what guys are going to use.”
Proceeds from the flea market will go to support the Sequoyah High School fishing team.
“We don’t charge for admission or table space,” Durham said. “We provide free snacks, and we put a basket up with the proceeds going to support the Sequoyah High School fishing team in Madisonville.”
The flea market also serves as a possible ministry outreach for the church, the Rev. Brian Truog, church pastor, said.
“We like to open our building to the community just to let them know that we care for them,” Truog said. “I think all the members are happy with the opportunity, and we’re happy to let them use this facility. The No. 1 goal is always for spiritual growth, but it’s not like we’re putting pressure on anyone. The ultimate goal is to be fishers of men. We want them to know that Jesus loves them, and there’s a place for them in God’s kingdom.”
Durham plans to continue hosting the annual flea market and wants to keep the church involved.
“As long as I’m around, I’d love to keep doing it,” he said. “We’ve got, probably, three other avid fishermen in the church. They help me out every year. We’ve got half a dozen guys from the church that are involved.”
Bradley will also continue to attend and help other anglers.
“I’ll come to this one every year that I can,” he said. “It’s fun and it’s well-attended. They do a lot of good in the community. It’s amazing, and it’s very successful for being here just three years.”