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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

“Of the Outdoors” In-Line Spinners

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

December 8, 2018

  My Mepps Aglia Long in-line spinner dropped into the fast moving water below Gavin’s Point Dam. To avoid becoming snagged up in the rocks, I held my rod trip high, reeling as quickly as I could as I retrieved the lure back downstream in the direction of my boat.

  Nearing what little current break there was on that side of the dam; a fish came up from the depths, inhaled my Mepps, and dove deep out into the main current.

  It was putting up a good fight, but it was not fighting like a walleye or bass, then it happened, the fish came high out of the water, attempting to shake the hook.

  My fishing partner, who stood beside me, with the landing net in hand, shouted, “It’s a trout”. I gave him that dumb look, a look if disbelief, because, as far as I knew, there were no trout below Gavin’s’ Point Dam.  As I worked the fish to the surface and up alongside my boat, it was obvious he was right, it was a brown trout and from that point on, I was hooked on these spinners.

  That trout, not a monster, only a two pounder, a fish, unique to the area I was fishing now decorates one of my office walls in Hartington, Nebraska. 

That trout was one of the fourteen Mepps Distinguished Angler Awards; I received years ago, when I first moved down to Nebraska from South Dakota.

  Many of these fish decorating my office are those landed with a Sheldon’s Mepps spinner, baits that had been around as long as I can remember. 

  As a kid growing up in Northeastern South Dakota, in an area surrounded by the Glacial Lakes, creeks and rivers where most everyone there fished, you could find about any bait manufactured.

  The one bait that caught my eye was a simple inline spinner called the Mepps spinner; my grandfather Butch had plenty of rusty spinners in his old metal tackle box, but none like it, as there was something different about the Mepps.

  According to what I had read about it, was easy to use, all you needed to do was cast it out and reel it in, with the ability to entice and catch just about ant fish that swam in the waters I fished.

  When I finely saved enough of my meager allowance, which was the few pennies we received each week back then for doing household chores and cutting the grass.

  With my life savings in hand, I  jumped on my Monarch bike and peddled off to the bait shop, purchased the bait and headed straight towards the Sioux River to see the if this bait caught fish as it had my eye in the bait shop.

  It did not take me long to find out as on my second cast, the water boiled and the fight was on. In those days as a kid, using a family baitcasting rod and reel I did not have a clue what the drag on a reel was.

  Since I was using heavy Dacron line, I was not worried about breaking the line and figured the less slippage in the reel meant that I could quickly overpower any fish and drag them to shore.

  Northern after northern slammed the Mepps, one of those great fishing days I had dreamed about, with fish hitting the lure on almost every cast.

  It happened, the northerns I had landed had not broke my heavy Dacron line, but their sharp gill plates and teeth had weakened it enough that the largest northern of the day, as I did see it, just before he broke my line and headed into the deep water with my prized lure.

  I was heartbroken as I finally found that magic lure I had search so long for and would be a long time before I had a chance to obtain another. It would take many weeks of my allowances, and I would have to scour the roadside ditches searching for discarded pop bottles to cash in before I would have enough funds to purchase a new one.

  Ever since that day, when I see Mepps spinners at a bait shop or mass merchant, I buy them. They are the bait, I started all my kids and grand-kids using when I first took them fishing.

Braedon Howey, proudly displaying his first bass he caught using a Mepps spinner while fishing with his grandfather, Gary Howey from a small farm pond in northeastern Nebraska. (Cassie Howey Photo)

  If you would see the tackle bag I use on most bodies of water, there is an assortment of these spinners, as they are one of my go-to baits.

  Numerous fish have fell to my Mepps spinners, including bluegill, brown trout, carp, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, rainbow trout, walleye and white bass.

  The Mepps spinner blade creates a vibration and flash as it goes through the water and it along with the enticing movement of the squirrel or buck tail is something that fish cannot resist.

  As I mentioned earlier Inline, spinners have been around a long time, the Mepps spinner; the original inline spinner developed in France around the late thirties, with this the bait coming to the United States in the early fifties to Antigo Wisconsin, where they are hand assembled today.

  They start putting together this bait using a very heavy-duty stainless steel shaft, then comes the silver or gold plated, polished brass, copper, or Epoxy concave oval blade, spinner body and a hook.

  They come plain or dressed and to find the best material to dress up the bait, they experimented with numerous types of hides including, bear, fox, coyote, badger, skunk, deer, even cow hair, with none of these working as well as squirrel and buck tail.

  Not only does Sheldon’s manufacture the above-mentioned spinner, they also have a complete line of in-line spinners, including their new Aglia Bait Series, with the specific colors and patterns that mimic the predator fish’s natural food sources.  These patterns include Bluegill, Shad, Crappie, Crayfish, Mouse, Frog, Perch, Sunfish, Trout and Walleye.

  So effective and so simple to use, these baits catch fish, no matter what body of water you fish, you can crank them fast, slow, or even helicopter them into open pockets where predator fish are waiting in ambush.

  Its bait that all anglers should use, no matter where you fish, on big or small waters from our Missouri River reservoirs, glacial lakes or small ponds. It can catch fish for those of us who are beginning anglers or one of those seasoned pros, as this bait can be fished deep, shallow or along the surface, no matter where you fish.

  The next time you stop by your favorite bait shop or sporting goods store, check out their in-line spinner section and all of the great products displayed there as chances are, sometime or another, you may find me there stocking up on my Mepps spinners.







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