One of the world’s great sportsmen passed from the scene recently. Jed Welsh, outdoorsman and writer for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years, including 40 plus years as Outdoor Editor of the Press Telegram, died at the age of 98 on September 9.
Jed was active in the sport he loved right up to the end. He was a familiar sight on the lakes of southern California and on the decks of fishing boats prowling the coast until just just weeks before his death.
Each week, his avid readers looked forward to reading his column for fishing and hunting reports, advice, recipes, the humorous tales of his fishing exploits and his entertaining stories about growing up among the Paiute Indian tribe. His last column appeared a few days before he died.
Welsh lived a colorful and enviable life. He spent his childhood fishing the remote lakes and streams of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the clear, abundant waters of California’s Catalina Island with his father, Joe. He spent the rest of his life applying the lessons his father taught him and sharing what he learned with anyone who was smart enough to listen to his stories, read his columns and follow his advice.
A gifted athlete in his youth, Welsh was a world-class hurdler and captain of the 1932 USC track team. He left school before graduating to pursue his love of the outdoors.
He was a member of Zane Grey’s crew on the famous Western author’s legendary marlin fishing expeditions in the Catalina channel. Later, he befriended thousands of sportsmen as a Sierra fishing guide, including Earnest Heminway.
Welsh’s expertise led him to become a fishing tackle designer and manufacturer in the 1930’s. Jed and his children roamed the Sierras each summer, selling his lures, camping and trout fishing. Many of the lures he designed are still sold in tackle shops up and down the Pacific Coast.
Welsh would go anywhere in the world for a chance to fish. His good friend and fellow outdoor writer, George Van Zant, wrote, “Jed fished and caught every sport fish on the planet,” in a recent letter to the Press Telegram. At the time of his death, he still held the record for the largest yellowfin croaker ever caught sport fishing.
An avid promoter of his adopted hometown, Long Beach, California, he was instrumental in teaching generations of Long Beach youngsters the joys of fishing. He promoted and participated in the annual Kids Fishing Derby each year in Long Beach’s El Dorado Park. Especially in his later years, few things brought him greater pleasure than seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids catching their first fish. A big part of Jed’s legacy is passing on his love of the outdoors to the next generation of sportsmen.