Umarex Axeon


Mike Stevens – KNEE DEEP

Knee Deep

Stevens knew he wanted to be a Western Outdoor News staffer when he was 17-years-old, and it happened 20 years later. He worked in tackle shops before a stint at the Hubbs Sea-World Research Institute (white seabass hatchery) and later became the social media manager for several major outdoor brands while contributing to WON as a freelance writer. A member of the Outdoor Writers Association in California, Mike’s area of expertise is the Eastern Sierra, but he also feels right a home fishing his local inshore and offshore waters. He lives in San Marcos with his wife and two daughters.

My Lottery Lake
Whenever I fish with this one dude, the outing inevitably evolves into long philosophical discussions about anything, and sometimes, about nothing. Sometimes, they will occur over email, and he recently sent me a fun one.

If I won the recent billion-dollar lottery, and could do whatever I wanted with any Southern California lake in terms of rules, species, limits, etc. what would I do? He listed several fisheries: Dixon, Wohlford, Poway (we’re both from North County, San Diego) and Irvine, as examples.


HAPPIER TIMES AT IRVINE LAKE — Brady Garrett of Long Beach with a torpedo trout out of “The Vine” before it shut down.

It was Irvine Lake that really got my wheels turning, because that actually is a lake that needs to be back up and running, with or without a billion-dollar investment. During the quick brainstorm session, I found myself taking the best, or at least the coolest or most unique attributes of some of the lakes I already cover on a weekly basis for WON.

As for species, I want it all. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what “The Vine” had. Stocking of quality trout (including some alternate species to spice things up) and catfish, resident monster blue cats, thriving panfish population, and it was a real sleeper largemouth spot. As for striped bass, I like the idea, but I think my official response in the email was “maybe if someone smarter than me didn’t think they’d screw everything up.”

Stocking? I’d go for private stocking of quality trout like they do at Dixon, Wohlford, Poway and so on. But, rather than plant nothing but 2 to 5 pounders on average with some trophies mixed in, I would back off on some of the biggest fish and replace them with smaller two-to-a-pound little guys. For example, swap that 7-pound tanker out for 14 small guys. That’s for you swimbait guys, bass candy baby, and if they’re not eaten, they might still fill out some kid’s limit.

Trout stocking days would not be published, at least not the actual day. I’d do it how the DFW schedule works: post the week the lake will be stocked but not the day. Sorry trout-truck chasers, Irvine Lake brought to you by Stevens/Western Outdoor News is going to be a level playing field. You want to go to the closest cove to the stocking location on stock day, tee off on jaded trout just off the truck and pop off on the Internet like you accomplished something, you’re going to have to do it somewhere else!

Speaking of the location at which trout are delivered, I’m taking my billions and getting creative with that. If possible, I’ll have it one night after the lake closes. I might even have a net-pen barge out in the middle of the lake that new arrivals can “cure” in prior to release mid lake ensuring even distribution throughout the lake. Catfish can be stocked in the same place every time because they holdover from one season to the next, and new batches of catfish aren’t immediately “slain” in half like a trout plant is.

Silverwood Lake is in my area of coverage, and one of the most productive fishing locations for all species therein is the Marina Dock. It costs a couple bucks for access to it, but it always seems well worth it and by God I want one on my lake. I want a big, gnarly angular one that perhaps serves as the border around the marina itself. It should have built-in rod holders like the one out at Willow Beach, and trap doors like they have at Henshaw so you can fish right through it. Also, mix in a few shade structures for the scorchers, lights for night fishing, basically, full-featured but just short of having a Ruby’s Diner on the end.

Dude (his name’s Brady Garrett by the way. You may have read some of his features in WON’s saltier special sections and supplements) suggested one day per week for kayaks and float tubes only. I’m down with that.

He asked about boat restrictions, specifically, higher end bass boats. I stalled for a minute on that one but ended up saying glitter boats are welcome, but I’d have some serious speed restrictions and monster no-wake zones. Rental boats available would be those nicer Lund boats they have at Diamond Valley Lake, maybe a pontoon or three and a couple upgraded sleds with pedestal seats, a trolling motor and maybe even a reasonable Lowrance Hook unit (since anyone can figure out how to use it).

Garrett also suggested a day per week with no fishing, a breather. I went with it. Billionaire me can handle the loss of revenue, and it would create a perfect setting for my aforementioned exotic trout-stocking practices.

Of course, I’ll have a tackle shop, maybe a café or at least an area where food trucks can come in and set up shop.

Oh limits! Standard limits on trout, catfish and panfish. But, I might get slightly medieval when it comes to largemouth. Dixon Lake recently changed its limit from five bass to two. As much as I hate seeing bass on stringers, I think that’s reasonable. A little herd thinning can do the biomass some good, even with all that Vitamin T swimming around as an added food source.

I remember reading something in Field and Stream when I was a kid about turning your old Christmas tree into pond habitat, so we’re going to do that, too. Every January, free admission (or, I don’t know, free something) when you bring in your tree so I can haul them out in the pontoon and sink a pile of them in various featureless locations on my lake. That’ll give you crappie guys something to vertical jig over as well as some reduced-pressure offshore bass habitat – that you’ll be able to can find with the Lowrance Hook units aboard the deluxe rental boats.

That should do it.

That was the easy part.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Tackle Shopping Torture
The holidays are a special time for tackle shop employees.

Regular customers are replaced by girlfriends with lists, wives who think they’ll figure out what to get because they know what hubby fishes for and moms adopting either approach all visit with increasing frequency right up through Christmas Eve.

And yes ladies, I know you fish, too, especially these days. I just have no recollection of your men coming in with Christmas lists FOR YOU, which I’m sure was a pride thing on their part.

Of course, my 5-year tackle shop career (Shout out to all the Bob’s Bait and Tackle graduates out there, from both sides of the counter!) took place in the mid ‘90s, so the memories are getting hazy.

The Christmas-specific gift items that would arrive this time of year were awesome in a horrible way. Coozies that looked like fish swallowing your can (available in five species!), everything from coffee cups to wall clocks emblazoned with Guy Harvey art, and we couldn’t keep those obnoxious singing bass mounts in stock for more than half-a-day.

“Take me to the river! Drop me in the water!”

Wind-up/solar powered radios, cases of MREs, pens that looked like jerkbaits, I could go on forever and almost guarantee I name something that found its way under your tree or into your stocking.

“Mmm. Thanks for the dehydrated beef stew and the radio I can hand-crank to life, Aunt Beatrice.”

And this was two decades ago before the “end of the world as we know it” and zombie apocalypse was as trendy and realistic a possibility as it apparently is now.

The worst thing that would come in for the holiday rush was the “Spineless Wunder Boner” (Google it if you don’t believe me) which looked like a medieval torture device in miniature and allowed (allegedly) an angler to rip out the majority of a dead trout’s central nervous system in one fell swoop.

As for the wish lists, they came in three distinct categories: detailed bullet points ensuring success without surprise, basic ideas with a disclaimer to letting one of us do the shopping (those were fun, and I felt like I always nailed it because the dudes would always come back in January and give me a high five), and then, there was a third, and I never understood why someone would think this was a good idea other than for providing us annual entertainment.

The list itself was legit, most of it anyway. Each item would be read to me, and I would run around the store finding them and throwing them into a basket. The last item on these particular lists would be where the magic happened.

It was always a product that didn’t exist, but to the list holder, it was always something that sounded like it could be real, so they’d ask for it with a straight face. Often times, the fictional product sounded so legitimate, it would get us thinking about it for a minute or two.

Most were obvious, for example, camouflage versions of various personal products one might pick up at a pharmacy and not want to mention to anyone, ever.

But you haven’t experienced unintended deadpan humor until you’ve heard a young lady ask for “clam decoys.”

“Excuse me?”

“Clam decoys. The last thing on my boyfriend’s Christmas list are clam decoys. Do you carry them?”

At this point, I knew I had another victim, but I had to know.

“Hmmm. I don’t think we carry those, what are they exactly?”

“Before you put out your “clam trap” (he must have already had one of those), you throw out a bunch of clam decoys, and they attract real clams that will get caught in the trap.”

At that point, the charade is over and I had to put an end to the misery. That’s where it always confused me that guys would pull this stunt. Your lady is out BUYING YOU ALL THE FISHING TACKLE YOU ASKED FOR, and you can’t help yourself and add an element of humiliation to the equation. I’m shocked that I never had one of those ladies dump out the basket on the counter and walk out.

I wish I remembered more of these fictional items. I seem to remember “live squid” coming up a few times, with the ever-present background whirr of the shiner-tank pump adding an air of confidence to the request. Another was “bass bacon” which turned out to be – after a long discussion – a real request for the pork trailers that used to be added to jigs (jig-and-pig anyone?), but that would have been just too merciful to make it that easy.

But clam decoys, I’ll never forget the clam decoys.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

One trip on the Prowler
One of my favorite fishing stories is one of my oldest, and it has little to do with fishing. It was more of a humorous tale of “survival” set aboard the Prowler. I’ve never written about it, and I figure now is probably a good time to do so.


I was 19-years-old and working part time for Bob’s Bait and Tackle in Escondido. If that wasn’t dating myself enough, it was 1996…’97 tops. I had never been on anything longer than a 3/4-day, but a steady stream of customers were coming through the shop, and it seemed like each one of them was raving about overnight-trip yellowfin and dorado – which seems normal now but at the moment it was a big deal.

I reached my breaking point and decided to jump on my first overnighter, solo, that night. From right there in the shop, I started calling the landings and each of them told me all the open-party trips were sold out. Eventually, one of these calls revealed a limited-load overnight trip, and it was aboard Buzz Brizendine’s Prowler.

Typically, this type of story ends with “So I went out and caught a limit of tuna and dorado, and I grew up to be an overnight partyboat legend!” but that’s not exactly how it played out. You see, that “limited load” thing was going to play a huge part in why this is a trip story that still comes up way more often than those of subsequent outings where I caught way more fish.

The open-party trips I was chasing were $99, give or take. Limited load trips were around $140, and this starving journalism student was making $6 an hour working part time and had $150 to his name, before buying the ticket. Looking back just over two decades, the details are hazy, but I don’t remember why I didn’t bum a 20 off someone, or at the very least, pack a lunch, but I know for some reason I was not in a position to do either.

So, I boarded the Prowler with ten bucks, a Penn Powerstick/Jigmaster combo, a custom Calstar 210 I bought used and matched with a Daiwa Sealine 30 I scored via birthday money and the employee discount. The reason that ten-spot was untouchable was I knew I’d need it to get fish filleted at the end of the trip, and I found myself almost hoping I wouldn’t catch too many. I’d yet to catch an “exotic,” even a yellowtail, so the thought of driving home with whole fish I’d have to fillet myself already had me anxious, and we hadn’t even untied yet.

The fishing was good not great, but my mission was accomplished when I broke the ice with one of the first fish landed that day: a respectable bull dorado that I eventually brought to gaff with that noodle-of-a-Calstar. I’d catch another smaller dodo later in the day, and that was that.

I have a theory on why boat burgers are so good. It’s not the ingredients. I’ve seen galleys stocked a thousand times. It’s usually from Smart and Final or Costco. Sure there is a bit of magic from the cook, but I think when you’re fishing, you simply don’t realize how hungry you are. As soon as you’re done fishing and heading back to the barn, that’s when the starvation hits you. That was the point I was at on the Prowler.

Famished with a 100-plus mile run home ahead of me and my last $10 earmarked for fillets, a mild panic came over me. I tried to sleep through it, but it wasn’t happening. I remember going into the galley and being surprised no one was hanging out in there, so I started snooping around. I wasn’t going to steal anything, but don’t really know what I was hoping to find.

Sweet salvation arrived in the form of those twin packs of saltines you get with cheap side salads, and single serving Knott’s Berry Farm jelly packs. They were neatly stacked in those wire racks like you’d see on a table in a breakfast joint. I must have made a dozen saltine and jelly mini sandwiches, and by that time, they tasted as good as any galley burger.

I don’t think I ever rode on the Prowler again, for no other reason than the group of anglers I fell in with were loyal to another landing. What I do know, is even 22 years later, that’s all I think about when I see those saltine two-packs and one-shot jellies. That noodle Calstar is still my go-to stick for slinging pinhead ’chovies. Tackle shop guys made fun of it until the ‘chove was all we had and they all started borrowing it.

I took my saltwater fishing to the next level aboard the Prowler, and it looks like I won’t be able to circle back and take another ride on her again like I had always imagined. For my story, the fishing was a side note, but it’s a trip I’ll never forget aboard a boat that played a role in my fishing evolution.

What is it about boats?

Feel free to send in your story about fishing aboard the Prowler. Not sure what I will do with them when they arrive, but I’ll think of something. Send to

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

On the water with Strike King and Lew’s
The highlight of my October was taking part in a media event put on by Strike King and Lew’s at Tennessee’s Kentucky Lake. Members of the fishing media from all over the country were on hand to spend time on the water with the companies’ vast stable of top-shelf pro staffers and talk about their products. They included competitors in the BASS Elite Series, FLW and Major League Fishing.

FISHING WAS VERY tough that week on Kentucky Lake, but Strike King pro Cody Meyer of California had a flurry of six bass landed in about 15 minutes while throwing the Ocho stickbait on a bridge piling. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

Being the only attendee from “out west,” I tried to get a Western angle on everything we talked about, and that resulted in – along with 40 pages of notes and 500-plus photos – a gold mine of info, tips and analytical minutia specific to each angler. Eventually, I’ll boil it all down and use it over the next year in season-specific bass fishing content, but fresh back from Tennessee (where I ate alligator…served by Shaw Grigsby), it would be a shame to not touch on some thought-provoking nuggets from every angler I worked with.

Mark Davis: The former Bassmaster Classic champ has a very out-of-the-ordinary favorite rod that he admits “the average Joe won’t buy this rod because he’s afraid it’s too big.” It’s a 7-foot, 11-inch Lew’s Custom Speed Stick rated for ½- to 3-ounce lures (model TLCPMCR3). He told me he has four on deck in every tournament, and he uses it for jigs, chatterbaits, spoons, Carolina rigs, pitching, pretty much anything but crankbaits. Big fan of the Sexy Dawg walking bait and the only colors he uses are Bone and Sexy Chrome.

Jay Yelas: Another Classic winner and former WON BASS competitor, he cut his teeth on the lakes of Southern California. All these guys seemed to have a specific outfit they used for a variety of applications, and he was no exception with his Lew’s Pro Ti 7-foot, medium/heavy that he also employs for almost everything but cranks, and it’s a big performer at a manageable price point. Now an Oregon resident who has fished competitively all over the United States and beyond, he still says California still has some of the best bass fishing in the country.

Tim Horton: Told me he is always using the latest technology and newest products when it comes to rods and reels. This was after I asked him if there were any old rods and reels that he just loved and still used in competition, and he was one of a very few who said “no” to that question. Horton did say he hangs on to certain pieces of gear that played a big part in winning a tournament, reaching a milestone, or landing a particularly notable fish.

James Niggemeyer: Another top-ranked basser with California roots, I asked him to name five Strike King baits that he would have on hand for attacking clear, pressured Western lakes. While I will get into the details of when he said to use each in future write ups, I can tell you now that he quickly rattled off: Strike King’s Rage Swimmer swimbaits, Rage Tail Menace Grubs, KVD Squarebill 1.0 crankbaits, Ocho and Shimmy Stick stickbaits, Half Shell (drop-shot bait) and Caffeine Shad soft jerkbait.

Wesley Strader: About as OCD as one can get. He has the same reel on all of his rods because he likes the feel to be the same regardless of which one he picks up. He said anglers should pay less attention to a reel’s gear ratio and more on inches retrieved per crank, because different reels with the same ratios might actually have a different rate of retrieve. Like I said, OCD, but he was on to something. He did say he likes a 6.8:1 for “almost everything” and singled out flipping and pitching as situations for faster than that.

Cody Meyer: Northern California native, so I had to take the opportunity to get a West Coast list of Strike King baits as well: Rage Swimmer, Ocho (after all, it did catch him at world-record spotted bass at Bullards Bar), a variety of cranks in craw colors specifically for Clear Lake and the Delta, KVD Super Fry (old-school finesse bait that will ring a bell when you see it) and jerkbaits including a newer model that dives to 10 feet. Fishing was terrible at Kentucky Lake during this event, and I saw Cody stick six bass in 15 minutes on a bridge piling using the Ocho after seeing a total of three bass over the first two days.

Todd Faircloth: Will fish a buzzbait any time of year, and likes to speed them up in clear water. That was actually his take on all reaction baits. For western bassers in clear, pressured lakes, he suggests going outside of the box and reaching for a jerkbait instead of drop-shots and other widely-used finesse techniques. Specificlally, in that situation he likes a suspending bait fished on a shorter rod and 16-pound braid to a 4- to 5-foot ,10-pound fluorocarbon leader. Fish it fast for reaction strikes, said Faircloth.

Keith Combs: Well known among his colleagues for his spot-on Mark Davis impersonation, he hails from Texas (home lake, Sam Rayburn), so he’s not one to reach for light stuff very often. He likes the monster KVD 6XD in summer and fall where its tight, subtle wobble draws strikes as deep as 18 feet. He likes those crankbaits in translucent colors for clearer water. When things get tough on any lake – or when he needs to “grind out a limit” – he reaches for a 4-inch Game Hawg (creature bait) and rigs it on a light Texas rig and takes advantage of its respectable action even at very low speeds.

Andrew Upshaw: Only attended the first couple days of the event because he had to hit the road for the WON BASS U.S. Open. He’s a big fan of the Lew’s Dock Sniper rods, which are designed for firing baits under docks and the like, but according to Upshaw, they are also ideal drop-shotting and wacky worm sticks.He also thinks spinning reels have come a long way in just the last few years, but thinks “there is a lot of technology out there that hasn’t been tapped.”

Bill McDonald: He’s all about covering bases and keeping it simple.“Buy the best equipment you can afford, but not so expensive you can’t afford to fish.” He’s also a big believer in Solunar Tables and has determined the best times to fish, generally speaking, are when the moon is straight up or straight “below” you. McDonald fishes straight braid with topwater (this varied greatly from angler to angler) and says the Strike King Rage Tail Craw is the most versatile bait in his arsenal. He also LOVES Winn Grips on both his rods and reels (some of the guys preferred them on one or the other).

Terry Bolton: Kentucky Lake local who also likes Dock Sniper rods and made some good points about putting too much thought into a rod’s name. For example, Lew’s makes a rod specific for fishing hair jigs, but it has a versatile action with a fast “quick to backbone” tip that is also ideal for flipping or any type of “tight quarters” fishing. He was so passionate about it, he went as far as to say he’d prefer if rods weren’t named for a specific application.

Mark Menendez: Another pro calling Kentucky Lake home, Menendez tilts more toward moderate-action rods when fishing for money because he believes it’s a safer option than fast rods when it comes to landing fish. One thing that stood out was, even at the highest levels of bass fishing, each guy still has their own theories on things based on a lifetime on the water, but they differed wildly from angler to angler.

Eric Jackson: Olympic kayak champion and founder of Jackson Kayaks and Orion Coolers, his approach to all things fishing was classic-‘yak angler stuff: simple, stripped down, and efficient. That being said, I asked him what Strike King baits he always has on hand and he listed the: Rage Swimmer (every boat I rode on had one of those rigged up), Finesse Jigs (green pumpkin with same color Rage Tail trailer), Tour Grade Swim Jig, Hack Attack heavy-cover swimbait and KVD 1.5 Squarebill.

John Garrett: Young up-and-comer out of the college bass ranks, I had him throw the new Super Dawg (huge version of Strike King’s go-to walking bait) since I hadn’t seen it in action yet. He likes to throw it in “clean” water with little wind chop where bass prey on big baitfish.Good size for “slick” conditions because it’s not particularly loud and can be given a subtle “slide” action. There was a moment of comic relief when a white bass as big as the bait came up and ate it. Garrett also likes lipless baits like the Red Eye shad in spring, winter and fall in shallow offshore flats, and spawning areas.


THE NEW PARTNERSHIP between Lew’s and Strike King is already making waves in the bass fishing world. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS


“CRAPPIE STAKES” ARE man made structures put up by lakefront residents (usually under their docks) to attract slab crappie, but one also kicked out a nice largemouth for Lew’s pro staffer, Wesley Strader. You can see the stakes under the footbridge. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

A MEMBER OF the outdoor media prepares for a day on Kentucky Lake with Strike King and Lew’s pro staffers which includes some of the best bass anglers on the planet. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

So you want to appear on the cover of Western Outdoor News
“Want to see my picture on the cover,

Wanna buy five copies for my mother!

Wanna see my smilin’ face

on the cover of the Rollin’ Stone”

We hear it a lot. People who have “always wanted a photo in Western Outdoor News.” That’s actually pretty easy to accomplish.

Then there are those with a loftier goal: appearing on the cover.

That’s hard.

There are certainly ways to maximize your chances and plenty of things NOT to do if you are hoping for WON-cover glory. A lot of it’s just a numbers game. There’s only one cover, granted, there are also “inset cover” (the smaller photo on the top right) photos, and sometimes other small ones along the bottom. But oh no, those spots aren’t good enough for you people. It’s full-cover fame or nothing!


THE COVER OF WON is vertical in orientation, so guess how you want to shoot photos to best fit a cover

Here’s how you take your best shot at the cover:

QUALITY: While going on newsprint allows for some wiggle room in this department, the images need to be relatively high resolution. Most digital cameras are going to produce a large-enough image, but where it varies is in the cell phone department. I’m not sure how it happens, since I can’t make even an older phone take this small a photo if I tried, but we still get file sizes below 100k sent in that at best can be a one-column photo on a black-and-white page elsewhere in the paper. It’s usually an easy fix. Go to your phone’s photo settings and look for something about size and bump it up a couple notches. If you are concerned about burning memory (big photos take more of it) just shoot for the middle of the road, which is usually good enough.

Oh, and we still get prints mailed to us (as in, postal mail with stamps and stuff) which is perfectly fine as we can scan them in-house.

TIMING: This has a lot to do with it. If you catch a 20-pound yellowtail in mid-winter, that’s going to be a nice change of pace at a time we are getting mainly rockfish photos sent in. Fire off the same yellowtail shot in July, well, chances are we are getting a ton of similar ones while bluefin tuna or a wide variety of exotics are the bigger story. If you want to make your photo stand out in the pack, make sure as many of the following elements and considerations are part of it.

PHOTO ELEMENTS: I used to edit professional sports photos and we used to look for a “heroic presentation of the athlete.” Just swap out athlete with angler, and that’s your starting point. If possible, shoot with the sun/light in the subject’s face, or at the very least, anything but the sun in the background. Just gaffed or landed are better than pulling dead fish out of the sack and taking photos hours later. If the fish is still wet and alive, that’s half the battle.

Also, keep your background in mind: it’s always better to have the water, trees, mountains, other boats, an island, anything that gives an idea of the setting.

It also never hurts to start shooting before the fish is landed: bent rods, angler looking at a fish at color, deckhands reaching out with the gaff for a circling fish, you might even catch a fish jumping if you shoot at the right time. If you are the photographer, just keep firing away, it’s not like you’re burning film.

OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT: The cover of WON is vertical in orientation, so guess how you want to shoot photos to best fit a cover. Horizontal photos can and do make the cover, but there needs to be room to work with around the subject, so don’t zoom in too tight, we can do that on our end.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Don’t tell us “this is a cover shot,” because it probably isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, while I will make a “pssshhhh!” sound followed by a sarcastic “Okay, dude” when I read that, it doesn’t mean it automatically gets bounced from consideration, but the attached file had better be pretty damn good after such a claim.

Also, lose the sun mask. I get that they have a real function, and I use them myself, but leaving it over your face for the photo not only does not give you “fish ninja” effect you’re going for, but it’s a one-way ticket to Delete-ville. That is also the final destination for posed shots of dead if not gutted fish in your driveway, front yard or kitchen.

Don’t send bribes. Seriously. I was once offered $500 cash and free chiropractic work to put a guy’s photo on the cover. As a matter of fact, never mind, those are pretty entertaining so, bribe away!

Sending ANY photos to WON:

This was in no way intended to discourage you from sending photos. Send them all. If it doesn’t appear on the cover, page 1, or anywhere in the next paper, many are banked for future use in things like supplements or special sections, so you might see yourself in there months from now. Include all relevant info for the caption including the first and last names of everyone in the photo, hometowns, the boat you’re on, where you were fishing (hunting photos are welcome, too) gear, bait, lures used and fish weight. That’s not all required, but the more of those present, the better.

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