Using the Legacy Reel

Fishing with Grandpa’s Reel.

Legacy Fishing Reel

Our son-in-law, Brian Ohlen, shared a photo of a delightful legacy. He is grinning as he works his reel hauling in a fish from Alaskan waters. It wasn’t just an ordinary reel.  He is using a legacy fishing reel.

Rich’s father, Henry Patterson, was a dedicated angler. He loved fishing the ocean off New Jersey. Normally, Dad used inexpensive rods and reels but years ago he bought a top-quality Penn Senator reel. Over the years it helped him catch cod, pollock, flounders, sea bass, and bluefish.



Grandpa gifting Penn Senator reel to grandson.

Grandpa gifting legacy reel to Brian.

In October 1919 our daughter Nancy and her husband Brian trekked from their Alaska home to visit Dad in New Jersey. Knowing that age would keep him from again fishing the ocean, Dad handed his trusty Penn to Brian and said, “Catch me a fish on my reel.”

It took a while, but in 2024 Brian bought a rod suitable to mate with the Penn, spooled on a new line, and went a fishin’.  Sure enough, he caught a codfish…….Henry’s cod.



When Henry handed that reel to Brian it came with a lifelong memory of fun fishing times and delicious meals of fresh fish. Brian continues the tradition attached to that reel.

A couple of factors helped create a fishing legacy. Certainly, important is the reel itself.

Extremely well-designed and crafted, the reel was made to handle big fish for years and years. A cheapo counterpart almost certainly would have been in Dad’s trash bin years ago.

Memories are Legacies

Another legacy factor was Dad’s gifting his reel to Brian. Dad knew he’d not be able to use it again, but Brian, a fishing enthusiast, might get years of pleasure from it. So, the transfer was made.

As we all get older, we have similar prized possessions. Tools, camping gear, sewing machines, sports equipment, household items, books, cutlery, and myriad other fun, functional, and beloved items that have stood the test of time and have more years left in them. Turning these legacies over to a younger person lets these objects span generations.

Carrying on the Tradition

Dad died a few years after giving his reel to Brian but in his later years, I’m sure he sometimes formed a mental image of Brian in a boat bouncing in Alaskan waves with a codfish or halibut coming up from the bottom with the help of HIS legacy fishing reel.