Hall of Fame

Don Dubin is my Nellie Fox.

The Lincolnwood man–Dubin not Fox–should’ve been in the second or third class of inductees into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Well, at least he’s going in. And at the head of the class being inducted on Feb. 9.

Dubin works over fishing issues the same way I pick on Cubs fans–ad nauseam. But it’s that relentless stubbornness that makes him a Hall of Famer.

When the short bespectacled one-time salesman gets my ear, or any ear, on an issue–trust me I’ve done my share of listening to Dubin at Mayor Daley’s Fishing Advisory Committee and what used to be the IDNR’s annual November updates on Lake Michigan–he’s on my lobe like a bad itch.

Here’s the resume stuff.

Dubin was at the forefront in the formation of Salmon Unlimited, the one-time president of Illinois’ first Muskies Inc. club (Chicagoland Muskie Hunters), and a leader in pushing Illinois’ stocking program for muskies. Not to mention formal (Daley Fishing Committee) and informal roles in protecting the Chicago lakefront for fishermen.

What really sticks with me is his wooden fish carvings. Something he–Dubin’s also a taxidermist–came to relatively late in life.

The first time I walked into Dubin’s house and saw his carvings and collections I felt like I was in the presence of greatness preserved in a living museum.

I was awed.

And people far brighter than me about carvings obviously were awed too. Dubin took “Best in the World” for his wood carving “Bluegill in Walnut” at the 2001 World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Competition.

Bluegills must be his thing. My favorite piece is another bluegill carving.

And maybe that gives the true breadth of Dubin. He’s best known in Illinois for his work with big fish–salmon, trout and muskies–but his touch for the everyman’s bluegill drew world-wide notice.

Tables and tickets ($50) remain for the banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, when the late George Fell and John “Duke” O’Malley will also be inducted. Call (217) 785-2003 for tickets.

Fell was the first executive director of The Nature Conservancy. O’Malley is the long-time outdoors columnist for the Daily Southtown and well-known for the late south suburban institution–the Duke OMalley Fishing Derby–that ended last year after more than 20 years.

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