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April 1, 2011 / flogginwater

Received a Wonderful Gift Yesterday

Yesterday, I was given a wonderful gift – or gifts, if you prefer – from my late brother-in-law’s girlfriend. I haven’t mentioned my brother-in-law here yet, so let me take just a moment to tell you a very little about him.

His name was Kevin Heckmann, and he was barely 30 years old when he died. He passed the day before my brithday last year, which was only a couple weeks after his own birthday. He died of a heart attack. I didn’t really know Kevin very well – despite being with his sister for over 4 years. We simply never really sat down and talked much – despite having many common interests. Kevin was a rabid fisherman – much like myself. He was also quite fond of camping, hunting, shooting, collecting guns, collecting fishing tackle – and in general, anything that would get him outdoors. He owned a drift boat, and he only fished with the highest quality of gear – gear much nicer and more expensive than the gear I fished, but Kevin wasn’t a snob, nor anything resembling an elitest. He just liked fishing good gear.

Kevin’s favorite river to fish was the Deschutes, here in Oregon. He had a special thing for wild trout. Kevin wasn’t a trout snob, by any means though – if it had fins, he fished for it. He didn’t care if it took gear, bait, or flies to catch fish – but he preferred fly fishing above all else.

Kevin came off as a little bit of a spoiled Momma’s boy – he still lived at home with his parents – at least, we thought he did. For the last few months of his life, he shared an apartment with a girlfriend that his parent’s didn’t even know he had! His work schedule (graveyards) made it easier to hide this fact. He really loved his girlfriend though – and I think the reason he didn’t tell anyone, was that he was just very shy, and a bit protective of her to boot. Whatever his reasoning, we didn’t learn of his relationship until after he passed – his girlfriend was the poor soul to find him.

Kevin really cared for the girl, he even took her on a trip to Connecticut to visit her parents – a trip he played off to friends and family as a wild fishing trip up and down the entire East Coast. Kevin did do some fishing in Connecticut – he took one of his favorite trout rods, and one of his heavier rods – he fished ponds and creeks there, and took Heather’s family on a guided Striped Bass trip in Chesapeake Bay. Heather has a nice framed picture of Kevin on her desk, holding up a nice striped bass and his 8 weight flyrod.

Kevin had some gear in his truck – the place where he passed – mostly trout and steelhead spinning gear – all Loomis rods, and some top notch steelhead and salmon tackle in a bag. At his apartment, with his girlfriend, was the bulk of his gear, which brings me almost to the present.

A little over a week ago, my wife had a baby shower, and Kevin’s girl, Heather, attended. She mentioned to my wife after the shower, that she had some things of Kevin’s that she wanted me to have, and we set up a time to stop by her apartment so I could pick it up. My wife said it was a few boxes of flies.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon – we stopped by Heather’s apartment, and waiting on the table were four large Plano tackle boxes, FULL of flies and gear. It looked like someone had taken the display bins from a fly shop! Heather wanted to keep some of the flies to save for her dad, but she had me go through them and pick out the flies I would use most. I wound up coming home with 2 large Plano boxes full – probably 4 or 500 flies worth. Mostly small nymphs and dries – sizes 16 and smaller, although there was a large number of big ugly stone fly imitations, Zonkers, Muddler minnos, a number of different hopper and cricket patterns, and some epoxy minnows. Quite a selection indeed!

In addition to the flies – one of the big plano boxes held bass lures – 9 “scum frogs” as my nephew calls them – large rubber frogs meant for top water bass fishing. There were also a few crank baits in that box.

Heather had meant to pass along one of Kevin’s flyrods to me today – but she held that back, as she wanted to wait for her father to pick one or a few out. She did have me look at the rods – to give her an idea of what each rod was intended for. Each of the 7 rods she showed me were Loomis rods – there was an 8’6″ 4 weight, two 9′ 5 weights, a 9′ 8 weight, a 9’6′ 8 weight, a 13’6″ 7 weight Spey rod, and a 9’6″ Mooching rod (bait caster). There was also a Simms reel case with some beautiful reels to match the rods.

While looking at the rods, Heather found small Plano tackle binder – full of soft plastic worms, and gave that to me. I went through it when I got home – twenty packages of Roboworm finesse worms and Yamamoto Senkos, along with a few boxes of drop shot sinkers. Most of them were still unopened.

I really was amazed at the gifts I’d received – and while a part of me does wish I’d gotten to come home with one of those fly rods – I’m totally stoked and thankful to Heather for letting me have these things. My brother in law had excellent taste in gear – and it really seems that Kevin and I had much the same taste and style of lures and flies and fishing techniques. If I do wind up with one or two of his rods, I’m making it a point to make a special trip to the Deschutes every year to fish Kevin’s rod on his favorite river, for his favorite fish, using his favorite flies. Even if I don’t wind up getting one of those rods, I still think a trip to the Big D is in order, just to honor his memory and try to share the feelings he felt when he was there.

I feel ashamed for not getting to know him better when he was alive – I really think we would’ve been close, we made the effort. I still feel a big loss over his passing. Even more – Kevin was looking forward to being an uncle, and was hoping that we would have a boy, because, as he told his mom & dad, he wanted a fishing buddy. We didn’t find out until last month – but we are having a boy – and I’m sure he would’ve loved going fishing with his uncle.

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One Comment

  1. Mel / Apr 1 2011 20:19

    Very touching post and sensitive topic for sure. Glad you were able to receive some of the tackle selection. The Deschutes awaits you when you are ready.

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