This is the story of 88-year-old John Lawrence and his 21-year-old grandson’s riveting day of fishing on a Pennsylvania creek proving that sometimes all you need for a great day on the water is a loved one…and an Original Floating® Rapala®, of course.
Conewago Creek, Pennsylvania – One of the best things about fishing is indisputably the tradition of it all. Whether you’re one of the world’s best anglers or just in it for the fun, so many anglers learned the sport from their own grandparents or parents, grew into the sport themselves, and eventually, wrapped up their own kid in a nerdy lifejacket and watched them try to cast for the first time. Ahh, the memories.
Dylan Lawrence, 21, and his grandfather, 88-year-old John Lawrence – or ‘Pap,’ as Dylan calls him – have been fishing partners for “as long as Dylan has been in this world,” according to the elder Lawrence, a life-long Pennsylvania resident who was born and raised in Hanover. Together, the grandfather-grandson duo has spent every day possible fishing together in their home state of Pennsylvania.
“Since I was little, we’ve always done just about everything together,” said Dylan. “Over my summer breaks as a kid, I was always hanging out with my Pap. We did a lot of fishing, whether it was up at Conewago Creek, local farm ponds or nearby Lake Marburg.”
As Dylan’s responsibilities grew with age (he earned an associate’s degree in Forest Ecosystem Management at Penn State and now holds a full-time position in the field), it became more difficult for the two to carry on their tradition.
But on one beautiful afternoon in mid-June of this year, with the sunshine reflecting crystals off the bubbling water of Conewago Creek near Cross Keys, Pennsylvania, the pair finally found a moment of quality time floating downstream together on a 12-foot-long jon boat. The rustling greenery that surrounded the creek and the rhythmic sounds of nature created a whimsical scene for the two – but this quiet moment didn’t last for long.
Conewago Creek is an 80.2-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River in Adams and York counties in Pennsylvania. It has a reputation as a boring, placid small river for canoeing and kayaking, but a rising reputation as a multi-species paradise. Depending upon what section you’re fishing, one can catch smallmouth, panfish, walleyes, catfish, trout and even muskies.
What began as a quiet day quickly picked up speed as the pair began reeling in fish seemingly faster than they could even cast their line. The energetic chaos that ensued was a four-hour-long sprint of cast, reel, ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, snap a picture, repeat.
“In four short hours, we caught the most fish we ever had caught at one time,” recalls Dylan. “It was one of our most remarkable days we had fishing together.”
To both men, it felt like largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, crappies, bluegills, and sunfish were practically flying into their boat. By the end of the day, the pair had reeled in 65 fish total, each one accurately recorded in John Lawrence’s decades-old fishing log book. As of that date, John noted that the pair had caught up to 274 fish total for the year, so far.
To top off an already ecstatic afternoon, “Pap” Lawrence even caught two fish, a rock bass and a largemouth bass, at once on the same lure, an Original Floating® Rapala in size No. 7 in the Gold Fluorescent Red pattern. Both anglers were shocked by the sight of two fish caught at the same time on one lure.
“There were times where I’d probably caught five fish for every eight or nine casts. And it was the same for my grandpa,” said Dylan. “Since we were fishing from a Jon-boat, we could fish both sides of the creek. It was just really an awesome day.”
Reluctantly leaving the creek at sundown with cheeks red and sore from smiling, both men knew that this day was more special than any picture could capture.
“He is one of a kind. You’re not going to find too many John Lawrences’ out there,” said Dylan. “I can’t even put into words what he means to me. There is nobody I look up to more than my grandpa.”
The Oldest and the Greatest: Rapala® Original Floating® Lure
John was so impressed with the day that he wrote a letter to Pennsylvania Outdoor News, gushing about his record day on the water and the Rapala® lure that made it happen. While he noted that the pair had caught 65 fish that day, they may have lost more than 20 more fish that had just hit their Rapala lures.
“I thought that was pretty impressive for a young man like me, only 88 years young,” John wrote. The letter won John a spot as the winner of the 51st Outdoor News-Rapala Photo Contest, and a feature in the September 30, 2022 issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News. The Outdoor News-Rapala Photo Contest was started in 1971 in Minnesota Outdoor News and continues to this day in all seven state editions of Outdoor News. Read more about the history of this long-running contest here.
“To be a contest winner is really icing on the cake for me as far as I’m concerned,” said John.
Known as the lure that started it all, the Original Floating® Rapala® lure has built a legendary reputation throughout the world for several generations of anglers. There is no lure on the planet that has caught more fish or more world records than a Rapala lure. John Lawrence himself has been using the lure since the early 1960s when it was introduced to the United States from Finland. The angler is thrilled to pass on the tradition to his grandson, Dylan. Clearly, the lure still serves them well to this day.
“It has got to the point that when we fish on the Conewago Creek we don’t use any other lure anymore,” said John, who recounted using that No. 7 Original Floating Rapala in Gold Fluorescent Red several years ago with a great deal of success. “But I lost that lure.”
Over time, both men realized that that particular No. 7 Rapala lure in that particular color pattern was the key to their success on Conewago Creek. Now, they don’t fish with anything else.
“The creek is only about 6 to 8 feet deep,” said Dylan. “Because that Rapala is made out of balsa, it doesn’t dive very deep, which is perfect for where we are fishing. We were both using the same lure and the fish were absolutely hammering it all day long. It was so much fun.”
“The Rapala Floater is a fisherman-proven lure that really does catch fish. Thank you for a GREAT Rapala lure,” wrote John.