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Have world's biggest fishing lure, will travel

Most anglers keep their trusty lures in neatly compartmentalized tackle boxes.

Ron Mirabile lugs his with a 14-foot, galvanized aluminum trailer.

Mirabile, a collector and carver of fishing lures, has built what may be the largest wooden lure in the world: an 8-foot-long, 200-pound torpedo called "Bassmonger." The fishing phenom has two 9-inch hooks, two 2-inch glass eyes and a sleek coat of green paint with black spots.

"We get all the jokes: "What are you going to catch with that?' " said Mirabile, 60, a burly New Englander who moved to New Port Richey in November. "We usually say, "Folks from Michigan.' "

In reality, Bassmonger hasn't caught anything, aside from a great deal of attention. Mirabile, the self-dubbed "Lure Doctor," has made Bassmonger an attraction at craft shows and fishing expos _ anywhere he's selling his regular-sized lures or signing autographs.

Now he hopes to reel in a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mirabile is filing the paperwork to have his wooden lure recognized as the largest in the world.

"People kept saying, "That's the biggest one in the world. Why don't you do something with that?' " he said.

There's no such record on the books, so Guinness would have to decide whether to create a new category. And with room for only 4,000 records in each book, the London-based record-keeper is selective about what goes in.

"Guinness World Records receives around 60,000 record claims each year, and it's obviously impossible for us to accept everything that's sent to us," the company's Web site reads.

Mirabile has never tried to fish with Bassmonger. He figures it probably would take a crane to lower the lure and haul in the catch.

When he sinks a line at Lake Tarpon or near Green Key, Mirabile prefers a 3-inch wooden lure he painted to look like a brown mouse. It even has a 3-inch tail made of leather.

Mirabile swears by the effectiveness of his homemade lures and thinks they are becoming a lost art in the age of mass-produced fishing gadgets.

"No plastic, metal or rubber lure can replicate the sound of wood in the water," Mirabile said.

Mirabile grew up in Ware, Mass., a former mill town about 50 miles north of Hartford, Conn. He met his wife, Jean, in a driver's education class and got his start as a dental technician who crafted crowns and dentures.

"I was so proud of my dentures," he admitted, "I wanted to sign my name on them."

By the time he retired in 1993, Mirabile was a dental administrator running four practices in Connecticut. After he retired, however, he spent his time in front of the TV, his thumb firmly planted on the remote control.

Jean Mirabile gave her husband an ultimatum: "I said, "Get a hobby or lose your thumb.' "

A hobby it was.

After flipping through hobby books his wife borrowed from the library, Ron Mirabile decided to start collecting old-fashioned wooden fishing lures. Then he began crafting some himself, and soon it became a franchise.

With the help of his wife, who worked for a company that printed church bulletins, Mirabile published a how-to booklet called Hooked on Lurecrafting. While in Connecticut, he also wrote a regular newspaper column and hosted a local TV show on crafts. He even has his own Web site, www.theluredoctor.com.

The couple bought an RV after moving to Florida last fall. They plan to roam the country to sell Mirabile's lures, buy antique ones for his collection and promote the hobby.

With Bassmonger in tow, of course.

Mirabile used to keep the giant lure on the couple's love seat in Connecticut, but his wife drew the line when they moved into their New Port Richey home. Bassmonger stays outside on the trailer.

Ever conscious that records are made to be broken, Mirabile already is designing his next giant.

"If it's a new category for Guinness, someone will come forward and say, "I've made one that's 8 feet, 2 inches,' " Mirabile said.

So his next lure will be 10 feet.

_ Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is bhallsptimes.com.

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