Boat Shops of the Past – Leach’s Sporting Goods

Leach’s Sporting Goods ad from 1976.

As a small kid in the early to mid ‘70s, my mom would take me to Leach’s Sporting Goods to buy worms, sinkers and hooks. Although I was there to but these goods, I could stand and stare for hours at the crankbaits hanging on the walls or the plastic grubs and worms located in the coffee cans on the shelves. It was a dream-like place for a kid bitten with the fishing bug.

What intrigued me most about Leach’s, though, was the “boat shop” out back. In the early days of my family’s fishing adventures we didn’t have a boat and resorted to renting when we went to the local lakes to fish. For those of you that fished southern Cal during those days, you remember the old (even at that time) wood and glass sleds they rented that might top out at 3 mph with a 6-horse Merc going downwind.

As we spent more and more time at the lakes, we eventually saw some of the first bass boats that had made it out west. Their sparkling gel-coat, big motors and swivel seats sure looked like a much more comfortable fishing platform than the hard glass and throw cushions we’d been sitting on for a few years.

Anyway, it was at Leach’s where I saw my first actual, dyed-in-the-wool bass boat up close. It was also the place where we bought our first bass boat in 1976 or ’77 – a 15-foot Sea Nymph Jon/bass boat loaded with a 35-horse Johnson and a 23-pound thrust foot-control Pfluegar trolling motor (we didn’t get a depth finder until about a year later).

Leach’s was also the meeting place for my first bass club, the AmBassadeurs of Southern California – a club I joined around 1980. Unfortunately Leach’s closed down, for reasons unknown to me, in the early 90s and in its place now sits an Indian Casino. Not a good replacement as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, this ad brought back a flood of memories for me and I hope it does for those who frequented Leaches during those hey-days of bass fishing in southern Cal. The ad also shows a VERY YOUNG Mike Folkestad at a time when he was just starting to become a western (and arguably national) legend.

Do you have a memory of Leach’s or a boat shop from your past that brings back good memories? If so, let us know in the comments section below or drop us a line.

  • Gary Schwertley

    I wasn’t into fishing, but Leach’s also had a gun department. My cousin bought his first pistol there when he turned 21 in 1958, a Ruger .22 automatic. I used to buy ammo there occasionally. It was a real sporting goods store, with all the fishing stuff, guns and ammo, plaid shirts, rubber boots, boats, you name it. Oh, does that remind you of Cabela’s these days?

    • Al Hustosky

      Doesn’t remind me of Cabela’s one bit. At the old shops you could get fatheads, shiners, suckers, craws… Where are the baits tanks at Cabela’s?

  • Joe Luci

    I just got on line to research what had happened to Leach’s Sporting Goods after finding numerous old hunting items, still in their original boxes with Leach’s price tags. Growing up in Long Beach, my father also frequently took me to Leach’s in the 60’s and 70’s. My father purchased one of my first 22 rifles there and later in the late 70’s and early 80’s I purchased several guns and hunting items there also. Too bad that great places like Leach’s and Dooley’s are now gone…why?