One of two tackle boxes I “inherited” from the late Bill Shoopman of Kansas City, Missouri, opened up beaucoup memories the other day.
I was alone under the car port, standing next to our 18 1/2-foot aluminum Triton with a 115-h.p. Mercury OptiMax. The OldPal Woodstream tackle box, which is considered vintage now if you search on Google, was on the stern deck behind the driver’s seat.
After I opened the tackle box, which I have done sparingly the past seven years, it was me and him as I looked at the artificial lures, hooks, short trotline, weights, crappie jigs, Band-Aids, knife in a sheath, etc. I imagined him on the water in his or one of his son’s boats, opening the tackle box and seeing the same things.
My eyes were wet, I soon realized, no matter there was an unseasonably dry, north breeze blowing across the car port. I didn’t care. The tear ducts could open like floodgates if they wanted.
The tackle box’s contents have been untouched, for the most part, since dad died on April 3, 2011, at age 81. It is a scuffed, weather-beaten green tackle box with two latches, three trays and plenty of space under the trays.
The other tackle box is a metal model, a veritable tank compared to modern “soft tackle bags.”
My younger brothers, Bill Shoopman of Kansas City, Missouri, and Keith Shoopman of Belton, Missouri, gave me the two tackle boxes after they and my younger sisters, Patti Rendina of Roeland Park, Kansas, and Barbara Henry of Leavenworth, Kansas, sorted through his belongings. I’m relieved the tackle boxes didn’t go in the yard sale in front of the home we grew up in on the 7800 block of Summit Street.
The OldPal Woodstream reminded me of bass fishing trips we took in the Atchafalaya Basin whenever he visited the Teche Area and trips we took at our favorite body of water in Missouri, Deepwater Creek, or Truman Lake, when I visited KCMO.
That tackle box went for a wild ride to West Fork once so many years ago with me and dad in my first or second DuraCraft, I cannot remember which. The Atchafalaya River stage was at approximately 6.0 feet at Butte La Rose, however, those were the days you could get back there to fish for bass and sac-a-lait, although it was a hairy ride at that river stage.
I steered the DuraCraft on step most of the way but after it narrowed to a ditch a little wider than a boat, I saw a beaver dam across the water. I had to decide whether to crash through it, perhaps damaging the prop, or putting the boat on shore. I chose the latter.
Dad and I pushed and pulled the boat from land to the ditch but we did make it to West Fork. And we enjoyed the scenery while catching bass.
There are countless memories in there, all good. Thanks for all, dad, and Happy Father’s Day.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.