My first photo in a magazine was a self-portrait, hand pulling a lead rope up a limestone cave in So. Arizona. Outside Magazine Sept 2002. It took two more years to get my first real editorial assignment, a week-long junket for the magazine Hooked on the Outdoors. Armed with my Nikon D70 and a bucket of DEET, I headed down to Grand Isle off the coast of Louisiana to shoot a story on a kayak hunt for Redfish. We stayed on a camp that belonged to a kind old lady named Miss Ruby. She passed away a few months later. In a year, the home where she lived for 40 years would be swept away by Katrina.
I wrote this short field report around then. It’s unpublished:
Winnie the Pooh could have been a fisherman, with all this talk of “honey holes” – those elusive and magical spots where the water boils with hungry fish – the old bear would have fit right in. His childlike quest for the good stuff was no less single-minded.
“Over here!” I shouted over my shoulder, “Look – just over this hill!”
Dave the Human Fish stayed quiet, safety-hooked spoon flashing in the sun, feet in the sand.
I had seen it, the hidden pool, while photographing a refrigerator on the beach. The others were busy hunting Bull Reds at an inlet where the surf met marsh water. The breeze gave them respite from the monster mosquitos, but I had a feeling this spot further inland might be our honey hole. I was giddy like a kid, pointing, “There! What do you think?”
He gave me a skeptical look, “Yup, looks like a perfect spot to get eaten alive.”
Why wasn’t he as excited as I was? It was obviously the honey hole, and The Human Fish could smell Reds a mile away. Earlier today he even spotted one by radio.
I led in, tackle over my head, guerrilla-style, “Here, its solid here.” The muck was thick. It wasn’t the quicksand that had tricked me earlier, sucking me instantly to the hips, threatening life and camera. I peered over the tall grass into a deep pool of black miso soup with lots of good cover. I turned to look for Dave. He was too far away. He looked worried now; he shouted something. The marsh had set my boots like cement. I was stuck, but I had made it to the water’s edge.
Something massive moved under the water, tailing toward the shore, and my adrenaline surged. I released my spoon and drew my rod back, and then I learned some age-old hunting wisdom about the reversal of roles. Just like how that Silly Old Bear was always getting into trouble chasing after honey. I cast into a tangle of weeds and sank to my knees in the stinking mud. Then the black horror of ambushing mosquitoes descended, obscured my vision of The Human Fish, grinning at me from the beach.