Wednesday, July 14, 2004

H. Lea Lawrence, who wrote hundreds of outdoor magazine articles and a number of books, including “Prowling Papa’s Waters,” a book that revisited Ernest Hemingway’s favorite fishing waters, died last week after a lengthy illness. The Franklin, Tenn., writer was 74.

Lawrence was a native of Hammond, Ind., but grew up near the Great Smoky Mountains, where he learned how to fish for trout before he turned 10. He also was a fanatic waterfowl hunter who would drop whatever he was doing to chase wild ducks.

He wrote the hugely popular Archery Bibles and Blackpowder Bibles, specialty books to help budding hunters, and was a Smoky Mountain trout fishing guide. He also was my friend. Over the years, we huddled in duck blinds in Mississippi, waded North Carolina mountain streams for rainbow trout, fished for bass in the Arkansas River and drifted live baits for walleyes in a Kentucky lake.

A group of us writers that included Garvey Winegar, the now retired outdoors editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, as well as Soc Clay, a nationally known outdoors photographer and writer from Kentucky, always would turn to Lawrence for a fitting quote, a little-known fact or one of his never-ending strings of jokes.

When informed of Lawrence’s death, Winegar said, “He was a storyteller of the first order. Lea had a prodigious memory — one of the best I’ve ever encountered. He could cite entire passages of Hemingway, Robert C. Ruark, Zane Grey, various poets, arcane fish and game records or where he was and what fish he caught and what he caught it on in January 1965. If I had his memory, I’d run for president.”

Said Clay: “As you know, Lea had a brilliant mind, though he would easily get ticked off at someone. He was one of the top hunting writers in America. If Lea’s gone, we all have lost a great pal. I miss him already.”

So do I, Soc. So do I.

Berkley introduces new line — Pure Fishing, the corporate umbrella for names like Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Mitchell, Stren and Johnson, has announced its Berkley division will introduce a new Vanish Transition line today at the Icast tackle show in Las Vegas. The line is said to be virtually invisible under water, yet when it’s above the water surface it changes like a chameleon to a high visibility gold color that can be seen especially well in sunlight.

Berkley also will show off its Power Bait Blade Dancer, a new lure that can be jigged, dropped into various depths, stopped and then walked or even made to look like it is swimming.

Magnetic hitch locator — It’s a versatile new product that takes the headache out of lining up a trailer hitch and a hitch ball — and it can be used on any vehicle by using the rear-view or side-view mirrors. The Magnetic Hitch Locator from the White Company consists of a set of reflector globes attached to masts that extend up to 60 inches. It’s simple to use and is ideal for aligning your towing vehicle’s hitch with your boat trailer, camper trailer, travel trailer, motor home or fifth-wheel trailer.

The hitch locator costs $39.95 and is available online at or by calling 701/678-2704.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:

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