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Columnist
Five lures make a lasting legacy
By Mike Jackson | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/24/2008 12:17 AM

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I had just returned from a great fishing trip to Costa Rica.

I called Daily Herald sports copy editor Aaron Gabriel to inform him I was sending him another column when he told me his father passed away the day I left for my adventure.

Aaron's dad, Jerome J. Gabriel, had been fighting a terminal illness for some time and the family was with him until the last moments.

Aaron shared with me that his father had given him a tackle box a long time ago and in it were a handful of popular lures.

Those five lures were:

• A Johnson Silver Minnow, weedless

• Rapala countdown minnow bait

• Arbogast Jitterbug

• South Bend Bass-O-Reno

• Mepp's No. 2 spinner

That in itself is constitutes some major building blocks for years of great angling. And along with the box and lures came a statement from Aaron that also rang true for me.

Aaron's father told him when he presented the tackle to him that "these are the only lures you will ever need."

I went through that very same ritual with my late father. When Irv decided it was time for him to buy a new plastic Plano tackle box, he handed me his old standby, a large, well-used, slightly banged up, Kennedy metal tackle box. This was the box he took to Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Arctic for his own adventures.

And inside, like in Aaron's scenario, were his favorite lures, the ones he used to entice muskies in Hayward, smallmouth on the Peshtigo River near Crivitz, Wis., South Bend Super-Duper bent spoons for crappie and bass on the Caldron Falls Reservoir, and Heddon Hep spinners he threw on the Fox Chain for the white bass and crappie that swam the murky waters of Pistakee Lake.

Being the extra-sentimental one in my family, I became slightly choked up when Aaron shared that information with me because it made me flash back to those days when my father Irv started passing down his fishing and hunting gear to me. And because I proudly accept the title of "Grand Pack Rat" my wife bestowed upon me, I have never gotten rid of any of that old stuff.

I've shared with you that I often use Irv's old Luxor spinning reel which still performs like it came out of the box. I have since polished the Super-Duper lures and also replaced the rusty hooks on the old Heddon Mouse, surface plugs as well.

Aaron mostly fishes with fly gear and has had his share of great angling over the years. I too started with a fly rod Irv gave to me, only this one is far too valuable to take any chances with some big fish. It's a 9-foot, Montague split-bamboo which I gave to custom rod maker Jim Grandt to recondition. That beauty sits on pegs in my home office, right under Irv's picture holding a jumbo smallmouth bass.

As I have said numerous times, those of us who grew up with fishing parents acquired an education foundation that was ultimately far stronger than any of the super glue products on the market today. And we were also lucky enough to have those early seeds planted for us that have blossomed into great adventures.