No more silence of the Lamb

If you’re here on, there’s a pretty good chance you know the work of Craig Lamb. There’s also an equal chance that you don’t know much about Craig himself.

That’s in part because during the 40-plus years he’s been working in the bass-o-sphere he’s done his job too well. Writers who came up back then were taught to tell the story, describe the news and remain in the background. Bass Fishing Hall of Famers like Steve Price and Louie Stout knew they weren’t supposed to inject “I” or “me” into the stories, and Craig followed suit. Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

In later years, those standards loosened up, and members of the bass media broke down the fourth wall. They became personalities unto themselves – think James Hall, James Overstreet, Don Barone. They even gave a part-timer like me a chance to let the audience know more about the person telling the story.

To my knowledge, though, Craig chose to stay on his side of the barrier, and that’s a shame because he has more history in the sport and stories to tell than just about any of us. Did you know that straight out of college he worked for Ranger Boats, where one of his primary responsibilities was towing Forrest Wood’s Ranger to tournaments with a Lincoln Continental? When he called me from a recent tournament at Watts Barr, he had to pause for a second because he saw something that reminded him of one of those earliest adventures.

He also was – and is – a confidante of the legendary Rick Clunn. Clunn has a reputation, deserved or not, of being a tough nut to crack, someone not bowing to convention or necessarily caring what other people think of him. Craig, without compromising in any way, has gotten on the inside of that equation. He may know more about Clunn than any non-family member.

At the recent Hall of Fame induction dinner I urged Craig to write a biography or co-write an autobiography with the four-time Classic champ. He seemed incredulous that I’d suggest such a thing, or that any fishing fan would want to read it. I’ve read the 1988 book Bass Wars, in which Clunn was a major character, no fewer than 30 times. It was one of my introductions to professional fishing and what drew me into the sport. Of course I’d want to read a follow-up from this century.

Even thinking about it now, it’s amazing that Clunn, characterized as the crafty and idiosyncratic veteran in that book, remains relevant today while many of the “young guns” who looked up to him at that time have faded away or otherwise disappeared. Craig is also a living relic of that era – his friendship and working relationship with Clunn predate that publication by about a decade. As we enter Clunn’s 50th year on tour, there’s no one better able to tell the story – and I hope that it has a hefty dose of Craig’s personal memories, more than a bit of “I” or “me.”

I’ve been in this gig for just about 20 years, and Craig has been there all along, both with B.A.S.S. and with non-B.A.S.S. endeavors. He’s always given me room to tell the stories my way, and he’s always been encouraging of just about anything I do. I hope that’s because he recognizes in me someone who cares as much for the sport as he does, and someone who is fully aware that if we don’t document it properly, it won’t get remembered at all.

While Craig’s more of a capital-J-journalist than I am, and certainly more of a road warrior, he’s never lorded it over me. He provides a gentle guidance that prods you to do the right thing, to avoid cutting corners. He provides those lessons not with blustery talk or criticism, but rather by setting a good example. He’s the first one at the ramp every morning, not just when he’s shooting his “Top Lures” galleries, but just about any time, looking for a story, taking it all in.

He’s a few years past 60, and yet nothing is ever old hat. To that end, he’s also been better than 50-somethings like me about integrating new technology into his game. In addition to being a writer and photographer, he also has strong videography skills and is an accomplished drone pilot.

As a writer, I’m obviously sympathetic to the occasional invisibility of my tribe, and I believe strongly in the importance of the written word, but trying to be as objective as I can I think it’s time that the fans and industry folks recognize and elevate Craig. He’s got a lot of miles left on his odometer, and a lot of stories that need to be told — in the first person.