HOW I GOT THAT SHOT

Anglers Journal - - CONTENTS -

Austin Coit needed a bearded sub­ject to pull off this photo, but the awk­ward mo­ment that en­sued also pro­duced a cool shot.

When I first imag­ined this por­trait con­cept, I was think­ing of my buddy Shawn, a Florida guide who has a thick beard. But he went and shaved it, so that op­por­tu­nity dis­ap­peared.

Fast for­ward a few months, and I’m on a bone­fish­ing trip at

Deep Wa­ter Cay in the Ba­hamas. We caught two fish on a half-day trip, but I paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to the fish­ing. I was think­ing about whether I could talk noted Ba­hamian guide Mervin Thomas into pos­ing for this por­trait when we got back to the dock.

I should note that Mervin is one of the most mat­ter-of-fact per­sons I’ve met. He’s done it all, seen it all — and he has a semi­man­i­cured beard.

After we hopped off the Hell’s Bay skiff and thanked him for putting us on fish, I slid over next to him. “Hey, Mervin,” I said. “I have a fa­vor to ask. It may seem weird, but I want to take your por­trait with a bunch of flies in your beard.”

“OK,” he an­swered, and re­trieved a small box of flies from the back of the skiff.

“Just stick as many flies in your beard as you can pos­si­bly fit,” I said. “No, no,” he said. “You have to put them in.”

I did it, but it was un­com­fort­able. I’d known Mervin for a to­tal of maybe six hours, and now I had my hands all over his face after he’d worked his ass off all day. He wasn’t crazy about the idea but was will­ing to play along. At any rate, I stuck a few flies here and there, mak­ing sure I didn’t poke him. Then I took a step back and fired off a dozen shots.

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