During hot summers of my youth, there was nothing I cared more about than fishing. I’d wake in the mornings and run out to the lake behind my parents’ house, where I’d spend the better part of each day wetting a line.
I’d jump at any chance I had to watch one of the few fishing shows on television, and each month I’d look forward to the new issues of magazines such as Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, and Field and Stream.
Because I didn’t receive them at home, I’d typically sneak to the City Pharmacy at Clover’s town square. Just inside the right-hand door of the business, I’d perch myself by the window and read as much of all of them as I could before settling on one I’d actually buy, take home and then continue to wear the pages out.
I’d try to remember every tip I came across. A regular feature in Sports Afield became my “go to” source for picking up the best tactics on largemouth bass I usually targeted.
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I still remember reading those articles and looking at the name of the writer while saying to myself, “That man has the coolest name of any fisherman I’ve ever heard of.” His name was Homer Circle.
For decades, sportsmen across the planet absorbed more knowledge from the man known as “Uncle Homer” than any other angler in history. While serving as editor with the aforementioned magazine from 1968 until 2002, he somehow found the time to author books considered classics today, including “The Art of Plug Fishing,” “Worming and Plugging for Bass,” “Bass Wisdom,” “The New Guide to Bass Fishing” and “Circle on Bass.”
He also hosted fishing shows, such as “Sports Afield TV,” “The Fisherman” and “The Outdoorsman.” In addition, Circle was prominently featured in filmmaker Glen Lau’s classic film on largemouth bass entitled “Bigmouth.”
This great outdoorsman, who was among the first to champion the conservation of our natural resources, recently died at the age of 97. He hadn’t fully retired and continued as a contributor for Bassmaster magazine, where he supplied his monthly column, “Ask Uncle Homer.”
Despite his age, Circle’s death was unexpected. He had just returned from a fishing trip with his friend Lau several days before. Reports from the excursion indicate Homer bested his pal that day by landing six bass to Glen’s five.
His list of achievements will likely never be equaled in the world of outdoor media. Homer was a former president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, where that organization honored him by creating the annual Homer Circle Sportfishing Communicator Award.
In 1996, he was bestowed the American Sportfishing Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and ultimately found himself enshrined in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame.
I never had the good fortune of meeting the man who helped mold those early days of my fishing career. Still, I’ve read enough of his works over my life to feel as if I knew him well. I’d like to think that would make the man smile.
In tribute to this great American sportsman, I’d like to present what are probably the most well-known words to ever leave his typewriter.
Here’s to you, Mr. Circle.
The Fisherman’s Prayer
God grant that I may fish
Until my dying day;
And when at last I come to rest,
I’ll then humbly pray;
When in His landing net
I lie in final sleep;
That in His mercy I’ll be judged
As good enough to keep!
No license needed
Want to sneak across the border and fish without a license?
Our neighbors to the north in the “Tarheel State” invite anglers, including non-residents, to fish their waters for free July 4.
Between the hours of midnight to midnight on Independence Day, anyone is welcome to fish any public body of water, including trout waters, without coming off the hip to pay for the usually required fishing license.
As if that’s not incentive enough, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will be stocking fish statewide and providing free access to fishing sites and boating access areas.
“The Wildlife Commission offers a free fishing day to show novice anglers how much fun fishing can be and to remind lapsed anglers how much fun they’ve been missing,” stated Robert Curry, chief of the Division of Inland Fisheries, in a news release. “It’s a great opportunity for anglers of all ages and abilities to experience the incredible fishing that NC has to offer.”
You might not need a license to hit the water that day, but the usual rules apply. All normal fishing regulations, including lure restrictions, size limits and creel limits, will be enforced.
If you’d like more information or to obtain a list of more than 500 fishing areas that will be open to the public, visit ncwildlife.org/fishing.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his web site at bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors.