Fishing legend Homer Circle dies at 97

Authored By Richard Simms and Jim Shepherd, The Outdoor Wire

The fishing world has lost an icon. Homer Circle, better known as “Uncle Homer,” passed away Friday at the age of 97 at his home in Ocala, Fla.

It was 1982. I worked in the public relations division for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. My job for one week was to serve as chauffeur and escort for America’s most famous fisherman as he and a TV crew filmed fishing shows around the state of Tennessee.

We were driving through a toad-strangler of a storm. I hydroplaned, and the left front wheel of the van strayed from the pavement. A jerk of the steering wheel surely would have sent us into a tailspin and, most likely, a horrible crash.

But on my left shoulder was a steady hand, gripped like a vice, and from the seat behind me the calm voice of Uncle Homer saying, “Steady son, steady.” We slowed, eased back on the pavement and all was well.

It has been 30 years, yet I can still feel Homer Circle’s firm grip, calm voice and great influence as if it happened yesterday. As well as I remember reading his fishing tips and tales as a child.

Uncle Homer was still active and writing when his unexpected death came Friday.

His achievements are almost to numerous to mention: former president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, a Cornerstone Heritage Member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and loaner of his name to POMA’s eponymous Homer Circle Sportfishing Communicator Award. In 1996, Circle was awarded the American Sportfishing Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and he is a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fishing Hall of Fame.

He hosted television fishing shows “The Fisherman,” “Sports Afield” and “The Outdoorsman.” Circle was also featured in Glen Lau’s now-classic film “BIGMOUTH.”

His books, “The Art of Plug Fishing,” “New Guide to Bass Fishing,” “Worming and Plugging for Bass,” “Circle on Bass” and “Bass Wisdom” are classics for aspiring anglers who also want to read carefully crafted prose. Many of us grew up learning about fishing with his work in Sports Afield magazine (1968-2002), and today’s generation of bass anglers know his monthly Bassmaster column “Ask Uncle Homer.”

Across the country, both anglers and fishing writers are remembering-and sharing-their interactions with Uncle Homer. Circle’s granddaughter, Beth Constantino, asks that as a way of remembering him, fans send notes about the way he touched their lives to Uncle Homer, Bassmaster Magazine, 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243 or email them to [email protected]. Letters and emails will be collected and forwarded to family members.

Additionally, donations in Circle’s honor may be made to the POMA Foundation. Those memorial donations will be placed in an endowment trust to generate interest income for the furtherance of POMA’s educational programs. Uncle Homer always advocated two things: conservation and outreach to the next generation.

Uncle Homer Circle was a man who touched many lives directly, but he’s also a man whose faith led him to pen a prayer he was asked to pray many times.

The Fisherman’s Prayer
God grant that I may fish
until my dying day;
And when at last I come to rest,
I’ll then 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!
-Homer Circle

Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.