Pan Man: Remembering Frank DeFrancisco and his fishing and teaching [UPDATE 2]
Frank “Pan Man ” DeFrancisco died Tuesday and memories come from those who learned from him or fished with him.
“Pan Man” is gone.
Frank DeFrancisco, one of Chicago’s best anglers, died Tuesday.
“He could catch crappie out of a pothole,” Dale Rehus posted.
Norman Martin was the most frequent fishing companion with “Pan Man.”
“I am going to miss him,” Martin said. “He was like a brother to me.”
They met fishing for crappie in Lyons when the Hofmann Dam was still in place.
“Him and me went everywhere: Sedgewick, Sag, May, Trinity,” Martin said. “On County Line Road, there was a pond he really liked. I learned a lot of things from him: jigs and how to present the jigs. I used to watch him on TV sometimes.”
“He fished seven days a week,” Chicago fireman Billy Miller said. “His true love was crappie, white and black crappie. Frank would say Sock O Lay! Frank was a big fan of Wally Marshall.”
Sac-a-lait is the Cajun term for crappie.
“The best outing we had was at Tampier at last light,” recalled George Johnston, who fished with Mr. DeFrancisco often after work. “We were targeting walleyes and crappies. Frank pulled in walleyes one after another, and he made it look so effortless.”
“Pan Man,” 68, a retired Cicero worker, was a great teacher, too.
Years ago, he was on perch panels at shows with Ken Schneider, Frank Brzycki and the late Chuck Thompson. Mr. DeFrancisco appeared regularly on Midwest Outdoors shows and in print; as well as in Outdoor Notebook.
Miller said it was easy to know when “Pan Man” was at a fishing spot because of his black Honda CR-V with a crappie on it and the “Pan Man 2” license plate.
“I will always remember how much you were willing to share your knowledge of panfishing,” Angelo “Stackem” Garcia posted. “I will treasure the notes you have given me to share with others. You pushed me to start Wackem and Stackem Custom Baits in the parking lot of Pete’s.”
“He pretty much taught me how to fish Lake Michigan for jumbo perch and fall kings,” Rehus noted.
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said he was still coming in regularly.
“I would get him Shakespeare Wild Series rods,” Palmisano said.
Tributes are on his Facebook page. No other arrangements are known.