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Jerry Pabst honored: A rumination

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More than six years ago, I called Jerry Pabst ``the old man of Lake Michigan'' in a column. Nothing's changed, except he is older and just picked up a national honor.

DNRmeeting02-25-09

Above is one of the more serious moments with Pabst (left) at the IDNR informational meeting on Lake Michigan in Des Plaines a year ago. [changed from first post]

For all the clowning and fun and games around Pabst, with whom I have shared numerous boat fishing excursions, shore fishing adventures and goose hunting trips, he takes his outdoors very seriously.

And deservedly, he picked up the ``Legendary Communicator'' honor from the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis. It's undetermined when he will receive the formal presentation.

``Not bad for a Chicago cop's kid,'' said Pabst, now in his early 70s.

Not bad indeed.

His dad George, a Northwest side cop, often took him fishing in Wisconsin.

Pabst's roots are in Chicago outdoors, though he is long retired now and moved out farther west in northern Illinois. But I still share fishing trips with him and his friends on Lake Michigan once or twice a year.

Pabst was so into fishing salmon when that became hot on the lakefront, around 1970, that he began chartering. He was president and helped found Midwest Charter Association. From 1973 to 1998, he ran the Strike Two out of Diversey Harbor.

The boat earned that name because he bought it instead of the dining-room set his wife wanted. I will get back to Jerry and his wife.

From chartering, Pabst branched into doing some writing. For some 30 years, Pabst has written for various outlets, most notably MidWest Outdoors.

My favorite of his writings I consider the all-time classic piece of satirical outdoor writing in Chicago outdoors, a send-up of the late John Husar and his obsession with whitefish. It was published in the Salmon Unlimited newsletter.

For all that, Pabst is not a great writer, great sculptor of prose. That is not his strength, knowledge and wisdom is. That is not why I seek out and trust his counsel.

He has the wisdom of years, and I would throw in integrity. And that is considering that Pabst and I are pretty far apart on politics.

When he sends me a chastising note or tells me something he disagrees about. I consider the source and take it under serious advisement.

That brings us back to Jerry and his wife.

On a fishing trip one time, I mentioned how many times when I was doing stories about fishermen and I found that they lost their marriages because of their obsession with fishing.

At that point, I was just a few years into my own marriage so I took it seriously when Pabst pointed out it was a commitment that needed to be honored. And he successfully did for decades, juggling his family, wife and an obsession with the outdoors. He and Kathy will celebrate 50 years of marriage this summer.

jerrypabst7-19-04diverseychallenge

Well, as he demonstrated at many late-night discussions at OWAA, AGLOW or Illinois outdoor writer gatherings, don't take yourself too seriously. Keep a perspective, Let a camera catch you with the smallest fish caught on an outing on Lake Michigan.

Hey, if I could have found the photo, I would have run the one of Pabst doing a dinner trick with a spoon on his nose during too many cocktails at an outdoor gathering at Rend Lake Resort.

Writing about the outdoors is serious business. We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously doing it.

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3 Comments

Congratulations Mr. Pabst on a great career.

Congrats Jerry. Found your name while searching for a chrarter trip this weekend. You have quite a fishing bio. Enjoyed the Musky fishing blog. You probably will not remember me, I went fishing on your charter back in the late 70's and had a blast. You knew my dad, Rocco Dantona, who unexpectly passed very young in '69. Being a passionate fisherman himself, I'm sure he would be envious of your "catches"

Congrats Jerry. Found your name while searching for a charter trip this weekend. You have quite a fishing bio. Enjoyed the Musky fishing blog. You probably will not remember me; I went fishing on your charter back in the late 70's and had a blast. You knew my dad, Rocco Dantona, who expectantly passed very young in '69. Being a passionate fisherman himself, I'm sure he would be envious of your "catches"

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 22, 2010 9:22 AM.

Big shooters get way: IDNR requests 4th waterfowl zone was the previous entry in this blog.

Hustle Up the Hancock: I think I can is the next entry in this blog.

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