It is famous as "The Lure that made Lake Erie the Walleye Capital of the World," but what is little known is the fact that it took a charter boat captain to come up with it.
The lure is the legendary "Erie Dearie," and has stood the test of time for over 40 years. The inventor and charter boat captain, Dan Galbincea, is indeed a legend in America.
Captain Dan's love of fishing began at the age of 14, in 1936, when he would arise at 4 a.m. to make dough-balls for carp fishing on the Mahoning River in his hometown of Liberty Steel, Ohio.
After serving his country in the Army's 17th Airborne Division during World War II, he returned to his hometown and became an arc welder for Mullin's manufacturing. After work he would seine minnows and sell it to local sport shops.
On June 21, 1947 he married Helen Kachenko, and they had five children. One day as they were out for a Sunday drive, they happened upon the Causeway at the then very early completed Mosquito Lake. Dan noticed all the cars parked there and came up with an idea. He thought it was a great place for a business and gave the owner $1,200 for little more than an acre of swamp. Dan decided to pursue his dream and told Mullin's he was quitting to start a sport shop business. They all laughed and asked how he could quit a good job and raise five children by selling worms and minnows.
In 1954, he and Helen built the Causeway Sport Shop, which sits on the Northeast shore of Mosquito Creek Lake on route 88 in Mecca, Ohio. The family still owns the sport shop, managed by daughter Linda Galbincea Finlaw.
Captain Dan caught the walleye bug (also in 1954) while fishing for the first time on Lake Erie. He went with a friend, who was to teach him the ways of the walleye. This first time experience is what ultimately spawned his charter boat and lure-manufacturing career.
Back then, most walleye fishermen had been using a standard type of spinning lure. Therefore, Captain Dan thought he could improve the spinner by adding a weight-forward feature. This feature would yield a more realistic "swimming" action in the water. He did so in 1956 and called his new lure, "Old Reliable."
Captain Dan gave those early lures away while he continuously improved their design. In perfecting his lure, Dan would pull the lure through the minnow tank as he continued to whittle and shape his lures. By 1960, after two dozen trials and error changes, he was finally satisfied that his painstaking creation was as irresistible to suspended fish and bottom dwellers as it was ever going to be. Little did Dan know his lure design would forever change his life or the impact it would have on the Lake Erie fishing industry.
The naming of Captain Dan's new lure became something of a family jest. Captain Dan was always going to the Lake to go fishing and Helen asked why he did not stay home for once. He loved to go fishing; Helen said fine go to your Lake Erie, "Dearie" and that is how they came up with the name.
Captain Dan contacted Herbert and Marilee Harper, who at the time made plastic lures which they sold out of their home. It would be over six months before the Harpers took with the idea of manufacturing his Erie Dearie line, leaving Dan free to promote and test his lures.
Today, the Original Erie Dearie, Super, Mini, All Gold, All Silver, and the Top Dog are well known. New additions have been included, the Harness, Weapon, and the New Ambassadear (Bass lure) in the Erie Dearie line. Erie Dearie has become the largest selling walleye lure in America. Maybe because it is known to catch not just walleye, but a surprising share of Bass, Northern Pike, Crappie, Sauger, Stripers and a few prize Muskies as well.
Charter Boating? That came to Captain Dan some time after he had floated his lure business. While he was working on his early, "Old Reliable" lure. Dan decided to take a break from his tackle shop business, leaving Helen in charge, to do some research work on Lake Erie.
In 1962, he bought his first "laboratory," a 23-foot, wood hull Lyman. With this he began in earnest to perfect his lures... along with his growing reputation for finding the secret haunts of the ever-more-popular walleye that abounded in the Lake Erie waters, which was considered a dead sea. However, Captain Dan would catch 300 to 400 walleyes a day out of that so called Dead Sea.
In 1964, Captain Dan bought another Lyman. The 26-footer was named after his newest lure; "Erie Dearie." By then, the word had spread across the lakes that, not only did Captain Dan have a truly special knack for tracking the lunker walleye, but also his incredible Erie Dearies were the very best at catching them.
In 1972, Dan acquired his third Lyman; a 30-footer also named "Erie Dearie." It was the last wood boat Lyman built. Captain Dan loved his Lymans and considered them the best boat for Lake Erie waters.
In 1977, Captain Dan became a founder of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. In 1984, his professional teams won their first walleye trophy for a seventh place finish in that year's LECBA Professional-Amateur derby. They then took a third in the following year and finally, his all-women team captured a coveted first in the 1986 LECBA Pro-Am using all Gold Erie Dearies. On that team were two chips off the old block, Dan and Helen's Daughters, Janice Thomas and Dianne Trevena.
Captain Dan credited also with assisting in the founding of the Lake Erie Sportfishermen Association.
In 1980, Captain Dan put together a team of charter boat captains, that he considered some of the best fisherman on the water. With his Fishing Team in place, he proceeded to dominate the fishing lure industry on the Western Basin of Lake Erie.
In 1984, Captain Dan Galbincea is inducted into the Ohio Sportsmen's Hall of Fame. This honor bestowed for his "inventing, pioneering and marketing skills."
In June of 1996, Captain Dan had been recuperating from a stroke and was making a rare outing on Lake Erie with daughters, Janice, Dianne, their husbands and Dan's best friend Captain Jack Bolduan. It was a beautiful day with perfect fishing conditions. Many of his friends and members of his "Erie Dearie Fishing Team" were on the lake that day. As they cruised by the boat, he greeted them with a wave of his hand. After a productive day of walleye fishing, we started our journey back to the dock. While in route to the dock, Captain Dan suffered a heart attack. He always said he wanted to die with a fishing pole in his hands and on Lake Erie, which he would refer to as his second home. It was a fairy tale ending to a life he loved.
In the spring of 1997, a member of the Inventure Place in Akron, Ohio approached the Family. The Inventure Place was putting together an exhibit that would recognize local inventors throughout Northeast Ohio. In November, 97 Inventure Place opened its exhibit remembering and honoring Captain Dan as an "Inventors in our own backyard" for his pioneering skills.
On July 3, 1998, in Port Clinton, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie a memorial park opened. The honor was bestowed to Captain Dan Galbincea for his vocation and legendary career of over 30 years as a Charter boat Captain. A memorial sign made from the transom of the Original Erie Dearie Lyman stands as a tribute to a man and his dream. A local artisan carved a likeness of Captain Dan and his Erie Dearie Lure, which are credited with making Port Clinton and Lake Erie the Walleye Capital of the World. After the ceremony in honor of Captain Dan, family, friends and the Mayor of Port Clinton toss 1/4 ounce gold Erie Dearies into the restored fountain that graces the Erie Dearie Park.
Shortly after the death of Captain Dan the family pulled together to decide what was to be done with the business. Herbert and Marilee Harper, the owners of Harper Manufacturing Company of Boonesville, Indiana who had been manufacturing the Erie Dearie line for about twenty years wanted to retire. After several discussions, the family decided to keep Captain Dan's legacy alive. They decided to move the manufacturing part of the business home to Mecca a suburb of Cortland, and called the company Captain Dan's Manufacturing after its founder.
Today, Erie Dearie Lure, Inc. and Captain Dan's owned by the Galbincea family, (Dan's wife Helen, daughters, Janice Thomas, Dianne Trevena, Linda Finlaw, Cathy Brunstetter, and son Dan Galbincea III) still produce the world famous Erie Dearie Lure.
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