By Mike Alexieff

Larry Woody

Outdoors columnist

You probably won’t come across a $104,00 vintage fishing lure like the one Mt. Juliet’s Gibby Gibson encountered a few years ago at a tackle sale in Kentucky, but there will still be some great bargains on all sorts of gear — new and old — at an upcoming event at Charlie Daniels Park.

Mt. Juliet’s Gibby Gibson is shown with an antique fishing reel that will be among the items displayed at the Sportsman’s Swap Meet Jan. 25 at Charlie Daniels Park.

The sixth annual TWRA Sportsman’s Swap Meet will be held Saturday, Jan. 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A $5 donation is requested, with kids 12 and under free.

The meet is sponsored by the Percy Priest Striper Club, and proceeds go to purchase high-protein food for striper fry at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Springfield and Normandy hatcheries. The special food produces bigger, healthier fingerlings that have a higher survival and growth rate once they are released into area waters, including Percy Priest Lake.

“It’s for a great cause and offers folks a chance to get some great deals on fishing lures, tackle and all sorts of outdoors gear,” says Gibson, who will have six booths at the show. “Last year, for example, I got a great deal on a life jacket. You can always find something you need, and at a great price.”

Gibson, a nationally renowned collector and authority on vintage fishing tackle, will have some of his favorite lures on display. He will also appraise antique lures if someone wants to bring them by.

Prior to the Mt. Juliet show he will participate in an antique tackle event in Pigeon Forge expected to draw 300-400 collectors from around the country.

Gibson never knows when he might come across a prize like the one he witnessed in Louisville eight years ago — a Riley Haskell Minnow manufactured in the 1870’s that sold for $104,000.

“I was working at the door when a man walked up with it,” Gibson recalls. “He had it in a wooden box, and when he opened it, I saw what he had and knew right away it was very valuable.”

Once the owner was advised of the lure’s value, he decided to put it on the auction block. When the bidding reached $104,000 the gavel dropped.

“Collecting antique lures and other tackles has become big, not just nationally but world-wide,” Gibson says. “There was a time when you might buy an old tackle box at a yard sale and find some valuable lures in it, but nowadays people realize how much they’re worth. Your chances of stumbling on a really valuable lure are slim, but I still enjoy looking. I like to collect old lures, regardless of their monetary value.”

Sometimes the box the lure came in is worth more than the lure itself.

“Usually when a new lure is bought, the box is opened, the lure taken out, and the box thrown away,” Gibson explains. “That means the box could be rare more rare than the lure. That’s what determines the value of an item. — how rare it is, and what condition is it in. A vintage lure box in good condition can be fairly valuable.”

Most anglers are more interested in what a lure will catch, rather than what price it will fetch. The Mt. Juliet show will have plenty to choose from — good tackle at good prices for a good cause.

Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected]