I’ve been a member of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of American since 1968, a year after I began writing outdoor magazine articles for Sports Afield and other major outdoor magazines. I needed a member to sponsor me for OWAA membership, and since Homer Circle, angling editor of that magazine was one of my favorites, I asked if he’d do me that favor.
Uncle Homer, as he was known to millions of anglers, quickly agreed. A month or two later, I was accepted as a member. A year later I attended my first OWAA annual conference, which was held in Duluth, Minnesota.
I attended my first conference that year and met the great man in person. We chatted about fishing, and over many years we became good friends. That friendship continued until last Friday when Homer Circle passed away at the age of 97. Now, more than four decades later, I could Homer’s sponsorships as a major highlight in my life.
|Meet My Friend, HOMER CIRCLE
photo courtesy Bass Research Foundation
He had fished in many places, and written many magazine articles, but I remember Homer for one specific talk we’d had at a later OWAA conference.
We had covered each other’s lives, and caught imaginary fish together, and he was a walking encyclopedia of fishing information… and a joker. He was known for telling some pretty corny jokes, but then we settled into our conversation, and it was one most people never share with others, but one that often drifts my way.
Death was the topic that day, one that rarely is discussed, and over many years we happened to drift back to cover our tracks. I’ve had such chats with John Voelker (Robert Traver), Dale Earnheart, Homer Circle, and several others. Homer led the way on this day, and it soon became apparent that he had given this topic great thought.
“I’m getting old,” he said, “and will be in my early 80’s this years. I expect I’ll have some of the normal miseries that come with old age.”
“Like what,” I asked, thinking that he was as sharp as a carpet tack.
“Ah, the usual things like arthritis, forgetting things, aches and pains in my body … that sort of thing. The brain is still working fine.”
“Sounds to me like the normal process of growing older.”
“I guess, but I’ve got all my plans laid out. My old buddy Tom Mann, and I have chatted about the hereafter, and for me, I’ve decided to be cremated. It’s a big decision, and I wanted to make certain everything is set right and proper before the need arises.”
“How so,” I muttered half aloud, wondering how a living legend went about setting up plans for his own death and cremation.”
“Tom and I have worked out a plan. Once they toast me up nice and proper and turn me into five pounds of ashes, Tom is going to mix up some of that goo he uses to make plastic worms. He is in charge of tossing my ashes in and stirring them up.”
And that’s where his story got more than a little interesting.
“Tom will set up a special fishing lure campaign. It will be called the Uncle Homer Fishing Program, and once these special worms are all cooked up with my ashes mixed in, he will make a news release.
“It will be called Uncle Homer’s Bassin’ Worm, and they will be made in several colors. On the outside of the package will be a picture of me, a short write-up, and an invitation to Take Uncle Homer Bass Fishing Again by buying and using these special worms to catch bass.”
“Uh, yea, I guess that would work,” I said. “I’d bet lots of people would buy those Uncle Homer-dosed-up lures.”
And then, the topic slowed to a stop and we began talking about other things. The odd thing is over the years that followed, the topic never came up again.
That was his story, and now we must wait to see if such a magical plastic worm comes onto the market or whether Homer Circle, with his marvelous sense of humor, was just telling another story and using himself as the focal point.
So, until we meet again up yonder, I’m still on a high lope, and can only say: Go With God, Homer. Millions of your fans and I will miss you, and, if Tom Mann makes such a lure, I’ll buy one and take you bass fishing again.