July 18, 2008
My good friend Homer Circle received a well-deserved honor Thursday when he was named the 2008 Samuel C. Johnson Fishing Journalist of the Year. The presentation took place in a luncheon attended by scores of his fellow writers, photographers and television journalists during the annual ICAST trade show in Las Vegas.
The announcement called Uncle Homer "The Dean of Outdoor Writers," and I second that label.
Circle was selected by a panel of judges based on his half-century of contributions to the fishing industry through journalism, conservation and philanthropic leadership. He is a true pioneer in this business, having worked as the angling editor for Sports Afield Magazine for 35 years and for his groundbreaking involvement in early television programs devoted to fishing.
At 93 years old, Circle continues to practice his craft, writing a monthly column, "Ask Uncle Homer," for Bassmaster Magazine, along with occasional feature articles. At least as important, he fishes for bass at least once each week, almost invariably with his close friend Glen Lau.
Circle was the costar — along with various largemouth bass — in Lau's outstanding documentary, Bigmouth. He said he learned more about bass fishing through the filming of that documentary than he did in a lifetime of fishing.
His career began as a clerk in a sporting goods store, a job which got him into writing and, later, as a promoter and lure designer for the legendary lure maker, James Heddon. He continues to tinker with and write about lures, always in search of better ways to fish them for bass.
Circle has reported on and promoted competitive bass fishing since Ray Scott's first BASS tournaments, and he was a member of the elite press corps covering the first Bassmaster Classic here in Las Vegas.
He's won numerous other awards, including induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Hall of Fame. He has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Sportfishing Association, and there's even a writing award named after him, the POMA/RBFF Homer Circle Fishing Communicator of the Year Award.
Despite the accolades, he remains one of the most humble, unselfish people I know, always preferring to talk about fishing and fellow fishermen than himself.
Previous Johnson Journalists of the Year are Al Lindner and Jerry Gibbs. The award is named for the late Samuel C. Johnson, owner of SC Johnson and founder of Johnson Outdoors, which now owns Minn Kota, Humminbird and Cannon. Johnson's widow, Helen, made the presentation.
Congratulations, Uncle Homer.