The outdoor world lost a true giant last week when Homer Circle passed away.
“Uncle Homer,” as he was known, was best known as the fishing editor for Sports Afield magazine — a post he held from 1968 through 2002. He authored a slew of books on bass fishing, hosted three outdoor TV shows and starred in Glenn Lau’s iconic bass-fishing films “Bigmouth” and “Bigmouth Forever.”
Despite his fame, Uncle Homer was as nice a fellow as anyone could imagine. I got a chance to chat with him once, at the 1988 Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Marco Island, Fla.
I had won a fly casting-for-distance event on Breakout Day that year, and was told to show up at 3M/Scientific Anglers’ hospitality suite that evening to pick up my prize. After I was announced as the winner, Uncle Homer walked up to me and introduced himself.
My jaw almost hit the floor. There I was, shaking the hand of the famous Homer Circle while he congratulated me and praised my fly casting prowess.
“You know who you remind me of?” he asked. “Ted Williams — the way you cast and the way you carry yourself remind me of him.”
I could not possibly have felt more honored. Williams was an idol of mine, both for his ability to hit a baseball and for his ability to catch fish.
“You know, Ted and I used to fish a lot together,” Homer said. “I remember once when we were out in a boat, fishing off the [Florida] Keys. We were paying too much attention to the fishing and not enough attention to where we were. We looked up and saw a storm building and figured we’d better get back to the dock.
“Problem was, we couldn’t see land from where we were. Ted stood up on one of the seats and, with his height and his amazing eyesight, was just able to see the tip of a smokestack on one of the Keys. We made it back in just before the storm hit.”
We chatted for several minutes before he got called away to talk to someone else. I still remember sitting there, dumbstruck that someone of Homer Circle’s reputation and caliber had taken the time to sit and share fishing stories with me.
When Uncle Homer died last Friday, he had graced the lives of others for 97 years. He will be missed.