Years ago, during a photo shoot with the late B.A.S.S. writer Tim Tucker, I came up with a concept for an article that grabbed his attention. What followed was amazing.
But before I share what transpired, it's important for you to know that Tim Tucker was never easy to impress. When it came to anything related to fishing, he was an absolute hard-sell.
This time, however, I had him — hook, line, and sinker.
We were shooting photos on a lake at Bienville Plantation in North Florida. With us was outdoor journalist Rob Newell, who at the time was just beginning his career. Rob tagged along to observe Tucker at work, and as it turned out, the experience went well beyond his expectations.
If memory serves, Newell and Tucker were discussing the challenges of being an outdoor writer, with Newell commenting on how difficult it was to get a foot in the door with certain magazines. From there, the dialog went to their shared frustrations of finding a fresh slant on technique-related topics. While all this is going on, I'm serving as Tucker's sole subject in the photo session.
Try picturing yourself holding a large fish in an uncomfortable position for an extended amount of time, all while two writers banter back and forth, one of whom is supposed to be shooting pictures. Needless to say, I wasn't having a lot of fun.
Suddenly, as the two were midstream in conversation, an idea hit me. And as the concept crystallized, I blurted out, "I have an idea for an article that any editor would buy!"
Both Tucker and Newell looked at me — Rob with curiosity, Tucker with contempt ... for interrupting. I continued by saying, "Yeah! Senko De Mayo — five ways to fish the Senko in May!"
Rob responded with, "Gol-dang!" Tucker just smiled and put his camera down. Then he called the editor of B.A.S.S. Times.
Rob and I listened as Tucker worked his magic — convincing the editor to hold the press on the May issue, that he had a story idea well worth the favor. After just a few minutes of dialog, Tucker signed off by saying, "I'll have it on your desk tomorrow." He then turned to me and said, "We're on!"
Newell was astounded by Tucker's finesse with his editor. Me? I knew from Tim's initial reaction it was a home run; I just didn’t expect him to move on it so quickly.
I should point out that it was mid-April, and that the May issue of B.A.S.S. Times was already on its way to the printer. The only possible last-minute submissions would have been for advertising or something truly newsworthy, like a record fish or something time-sensitive. To have the editor put everything on hold and allow Tucker time to complete the piece on such short notice was impressive, especially after a two-minute phone presentation that began almost on impulse.
I recall after the photo shoot, Tucker asked me to stop by so we could complete the interview at his home that evening. I agreed, and Rob and I left together in my truck. All the way back I had to listen to how I just gave up one of the best story ideas imaginable, and why couldn’t I have given it to him. Whether or not my idea was really that good is debatable, but both Tucker and Newell liked it a lot. And evidently, so did the editor.
Because Rob and I were such close friends, I felt bad, as that story idea could have opened a door for him.
As arranged, I met with Tucker, and we banged out an article to the tune of about 3,000 words. When the magazine came out just a couple of weeks later, we were all blown away. The editor thought so much of the concept he gave it full centerfold treatment, complete with large, 4-color illustrations to compliment the text. The layout was a work of art. (See below.)
What was even more impressive was how well it was written, especially on such short notice. Newell and I still talk about Tucker's writing skills and the speed with which he generated that piece. Although Tim is no longer with us, his work lives on. And through our many shared efforts, I now realize I gained so much more than the exposure those projects brought.
In addition to this article, Tucker and I collaborated on countless others. I even illustrated several books that he wrote for Bill Dance and Roland Martin. Rob, too, benefited from that experience. He has since developed into a very talented and successful writer. Currently, he serves as a columnist and videographer for FLW Outdoors.
Rob and I have worked on numerous projects in the past, and those all proved to be mutually rewarding. But when the month of May rolls around each year, the project I remember most is the B.A.S.S. Times feature I did with Tim Tucker — "Senko De Mayo."