Business booms for bait, beer and boats

July 05, 1997


Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - The bait and beer business was booming Thursday afternoon for Sue Slick and the rest of the crew at Wolfe's on the Square as scores of anglers stocked up for the Fourth of July weekend.

"We'd like to have rollerblades on the weekends," Sue said during a brief interruption in a steady stream of customers heading for the Potomac River and other destinations for the long weekend.

Some were stretching that a bit further by getting out of town before rush hour.

Among those heading for a weekend on the river were Tom Burcker of Sharpsburg, his sons Neil and Brian and their friend Mike Hammond.


"You might as well call me a son, too," Hammond said. They were making a last stop at Wolfe's before joining up with a group calling itself "The Partying Canoers," 50 men who head out for the river each Fourth of July.

Most of them live in Hagerstown, Sharpsburg or nearby but Burcker said some were coming from as far away as Boston and Florida for three days of floating, fishing and camping.

"We're putting in at Paw Paw and we're floating down to Capon," Burcker said of their itinerary.

Behind a Chevy pickup loaded with five coolers, they were pulling a trailer with the two canoes and camping equipment.

"We've got everything a restaurant has," Tom said from his perch on a chair in the bed of the pickup. He said it was going to be a weekend of "good clean fun" with the guys. Beside being a male, Tom Burcker said you also have to be 18 years old to make the trip.

"You won't see a woman in the bunch," 24-year-old Neil Burcker said of the all-male excursion. "Except for the ones we pass" on the river, Hammond added, sipping on a cold Mello Yello under a hot sun.

Back inside Wolfe's, Sue Slick, her nephew Scott, Emma Divelbiss and Lolly Traver were weaving around each other behind the counter, grabbing items from off the shelves and from the backroom for customers.

"I know we're out of large minnows," Scott Slick said when asked how the bait was holding out. Hellgrammites and leeches were running low, as well.

This weekend, Sue Slick said the store will probably sell "between 200 and 250 dozen nightcrawlers" and another 70 pounds of chicken livers - a delicacy for unsuspecting catfish.

Some of the fishermen and campers also were buying plenty of suds. The local adult softball teams, weekend do-it-yourselfers and others working up a sweat would also be keeping the six packs and cases moving out of the coolers, she predicted.

Unlike last year, when the river was high and plenty of weekends were interrupted by rains, Sue said more people are using the river this summer.

Along with it being a holiday, the state of Maryland has added another enticement to those who might wish to drop a line in the water.

"July Fourth is a free fishing day," Sue Slick said. "Anyone can fish in Maryland without a license."

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