OCALA, Fla. — The bass fishing community is mourning the death of its favorite uncle — Homer Circle, who died unexpectedly Friday at the age of 97.
Circle, who titled his monthly column in Bassmaster Magazine, “Ask Uncle Homer,” was one of the most popular, prolific and influential bass fishing writers in the history of the sport. He remained active in writing — and fishing — until his death.
He was perhaps best known to many as the long-time fishing editor for Sports Afield magazine, serving in that role from 1968 through 2002.He was the author of numerous books on bass fishing, including The Art of Plug Fishing (1965), New Guide to Bass Fishing (1972), Worming and Plugging for Bass (1972), Circle on Bass (1996) and Bass Wisdom (2000).
He was a host of television fishing programs, such as “The Fisherman,” “Sports Afield” and “The Outdoorsman,” and he starred in two fishing films, Bigmouth in 1973 and Bigmouth Forever in 1996.
Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1914, Circle began his outdoor writing career for his hometown newspaper in 1940. Following a stint in sporting goods sales, he went to work for Heddon Lures, rising to vice president of the company. He retired from Heddon in the mid-1960s and moved to central Florida a few years later. He chose that state, he often said, because it affording him the opportunity to fish for bass year-round. (See photos of his bass fishing exploits here.)
The former president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Circle has received countless awards, including induction into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in 1981, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001 and the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also the recipient of the American Sportfishing Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
He is survived by his daughter, Judy McCormack, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Gayle. They were married for 70 years by the time she died in 2007. The family plans a private service for him, according to his granddaughter, Beth Costantino.
As a way of remembering him, Costantino suggested that his fans send notes about ways he touched their lives to: “Uncle Homer,” Bassmaster Magazine, 3500 Blue Lake Dr., Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243, or email them to email@example.com. Letters and emails will be forwarded to family members.
She said her grandfather especially enjoyed writing his “Ask Uncle Homer” column because it allowed him to interact with other bass anglers. “It wasn’t just about the fishing,” she said. “It got to be more about the person.”
During his work on the movie, Bigmouth, Circle and Glen Lau, producer and videographer of the classic film, developed a close friendship that lasted until his death.
The two men fished together weekly, weather permitting, with Circle in the bow of Lau’s johnboat and Lau positioning the craft to give his friend the first and best cast at likely targets.
“Our last trip was just five days before he died,” Lau said. “We fished from 2 in the afternoon until 5, and he caught six and I caught five, which is just the way I like it.”
Lau added, “There isn’t anybody like him. He touched the lives of literally thousands of people with his words of advice and encouragement.”
That last outing was an answer to Circle’s own “Fisherman’s Prayer,” which he was often called on to pray during banquets for the Bassmaster Classic and many other gatherings.
The prayer, like Homer Circle, is part of the fabric of the sport.
The Fisherman’s Prayer
By Homer Circle
God grant that I may fish
until my dying day;
And when at last I come to rest,
I’ll then most 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!