Angler Who Appeared On First GON Cover Passes Away

John B. McWhorter, an avid angler and hunter, was on GON's very first cover 31 years ago.

Simone Gibson | February 1, 2019

On Jan. 4, John B. McWhorter, Jr., 73, of Rochelle, passed away.

John will always have a special place in the hearts of the GON family. His picture was on the front cover of the very first issue of GON, which was published March 19, 1987. John was photographed by GON founder Steve Burch and put on the cover after a West Point crappie fishing tournament that he was competing in with his brother, Nelson.

Nelson McWhorter with his wife Mary Nell, who both live across the alley from John and Jackie McWhorter. Four or five times a week, John and Nelson would leave to go fish and spend brotherly time together.

John will be remembered as an avid fisherman and hunter. Being the third oldest of six siblings, he spent his whole life fishing and hunting with family friends. Sidney McWhorter, his younger brother, told GON about John’s passion for hunting and fishing.

“We grew up hunting and fishing. Since we were little, my father would take us up by to the Alapaha River and go hunting and fishing,” said Sidney.

John and all of his brothers and sisters grew up in the country on a farm and were raised to hunt and fish.

“Our father would take John and the rest of us one by one to the river (creek) near our farm and teach us how to hunt and fish,” said Sidney.

To John and his family, hunting and fishing were a way of life.

“We’d have city folk come down with their camping gear, but me, John, and the others would grab a gun or fishing pole and walk right out through our backyard,” said Sidney.

John McWhorter (left) and his brother Paul with a slab crappie from West Point that weighed 2.97 pounds. They were fishing a 400-boat tournament on West Point Lake, and John was photographed and put on the cover of the very first GON magazine.

For the last 50 years, John developed a routine with his brother Nelson to go fish fishing two or three times a week, usually on the Ocmulgee River or Lake Blackshear. Each day after catching plenty of fish, John and Nelson would cook fish at least two times a week, usually Thursday and Saturday nights, for family and friends to enjoy.

“They would catch a lot of fish, so much that they would cook it and have it ready that afternoon for the fish fry,” said Sidney.

The McWhorter crew works together to seine a pond.

“They finished ninth place in that tournament that was on the cover of GON and caught some lunkers in some other crappie tournaments, but they stopped fishing those tournaments because they had to weigh in at 6 p.m., and they wanted to be home cleaning and cooking fish and eating by then.”

Funeral services were held on Jan. 6, where his family was able to grieve and say one last goodbye before John was laid to rest.

John and several of his grandsons.

“We didn’t know how to transport the casket at first, but his son, Trey, came up with the idea, and I know John would have loved it,” said Sidney.

John’s casket rode on his fishing boat to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Owensboro in Wilcox County.

 All the fish gave a sigh of relief when John went to be with the Lord.

On Jan. 6, John McWhorter was pulled away on his beloved boat pulled by his truck by his son Trey and grandsons Preston and Bodee to his final resting place at Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Owensboro.

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  1. ebankston on February 4, 2019 at 8:35 am

    What are the crappie doing on Clarkhill

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