15 Minutes — Tahoe’s favorite sportsman gets his time in the spotlight | TahoeDailyTribune.com

15 Minutes — Tahoe’s favorite sportsman gets his time in the spotlight

Chris Wellhausen/Tahoe TribuneLong-time resident of South Lake Tahoe Jack Martin stands next to the sign outside his store.

Name: Jack Martin

Birthplace and date: Sept. 1, 1933, which makes me 69 years old. I was born in Oakland.

How long have you lived in Tahoe?: I’ve been living in this area since 1938 when my parents decided to move up here. My father, Bodie Martin, was in real estate and property management over the years.

So you saw this place long before it was a destination resort?: Oh yeah. I remember only a few houses around, maybe 50 or 60 people lived up here full time. They were mostly caretakers to some of the estate homes up here.

Where did you live?: Well, my father owned Martin’s Lodge, which was where Kmart is now. There were small cabins, and he had an eating place in it. When I went to high school, we moved down to the Carson Valley to live in winter.

So what did you do to make a living here all these years?: Well, as soon as I got out of high school I went to work for the Outdoorsman store, where I worked for 31 years. It’s where the Longs Drug is now. After longs bought the store, myself and two other men, Rick Muller and Stan Promin, started the Sportsman. Stan has since died.

So you worked at the sporting good store?: Yeah and I did guided fishing tours in the summer. Did that for about 33 years.

What’s the history of the Sportsman?: We opened our store up about 10 years ago. We have a complete line of fishing, camping, boating, and water sports gear. In winter we are 90 percent ski rentals. Right now, the rental business is really doing good.

Which season do you prefer?: Well, both are good. I love fishing in summer. I’ve been doing it for 45 years, so I’d say spring and summer. Which do you prefer, hunting fishing, or boating up here?: I’m a fisherman. There’s great salmon, rainbow, brown trout and mackinaw on the lake.

Any big ones left in the lake?: You better believe it. They’ve cut down the limit now, and the fish growing has been very good with the freshwater shrimp. I think the biggest fish still have yet to be caught.

What’s the biggest you’ve caught?: I’ve caught fish between 28 and 30 pounds in the lake.

What do you tell the beginner whose never fished Lake Tahoe?: Go out with a guide first because you’ve got to know what you’re doing. Once you’ve got it down, then you can go out on your own. Guides are the best way to go for the first timers.

How’s the shore fishing?: Pretty good on the Nevada side because they stock it. Cave Rock is a good place. For salmon, the California side. But I think some of the best shore fishing is at the lakes in Alpine County — Caples, Blue Lake, Silver Lake, Red Lake. If you’re a stream fisherman, both the east and west forks of the Carson River are the hot spots.

What’s the best bait to catch fish, live bait or that pink stuff in the jar?: Night crawlers early on, but Powerbait is always good.

What about hunting? Any good game in the area?: Well, they shut the basin down for hunting, but once you get outside the basin, there’s great deer hunting. Mostly mule deer and black tail when you get along toward Placerville.

What’s the best way to cook a fish?: I like it barbecued myself. All the fish up here are good to eat. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, fish is about all we had sometimes.

Was it hard to get around the lake back then?: In the winter, they would close off Highway 50 for the season. So most people went down Spooner and did their shopping in Carson City. When the snow was deep, you didn’t get to Carson City that often.

So what did people do for food?: Well, like I said, we ate a lot of fish. Back during (World War II) there was a ration of meat, sugar and coffee. You got coupons to use when you went shopping. Sometimes, the folks who stayed and who were fed at our lodge would give us their food coupons to buy food.

How did you get to school?: Because there wasn’t that many of us up here, we went to a one-room school, called Tahoe Valley. For high school, my father had a house he built down to Carson Valley, where myself and my sister went to Douglas High School. Then, in summer, we would go back up to Tahoe.

When did they open Highway 50 to year-round traffic?: In the late 1940s. I remember the locals meeting the snowblowers after that final season where they closed it down. People were really happy about that.

When did people start coming up and staying here?: Probably around the time they built the Tahoe Keys. More people started moving in; casino workers, state employees and small businesses started opening up.

What was the worst winter you’ve ever seen?: It was the winter of 1951-1952. The snow was so deep you could walk over the power lines. We were living in the Carson Valley at the time, but it was bad there, too. There was probably 5 feet of snow on the valley floor. We’ve never had anything like it since.

So, this last series of snow storm pales in comparison?: Yes, but there’s still some hardship for those trying to get around. It’s different with all the plows, but its still slow.

What’s your advice to living winters here?: Get yourself a snowblower, a shovel, warm clothes and stock the refrigerator and freezer. And if you’ve got a fireplace or wood burning stove, have plenty of firewood.

Do you know someone who would make a could candidate for 15 minutes? Write Tahoe Daily Tribune City Editor Jeff Munson at jmunson@tahoedailytribune.com

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