I was told this photoshoot of legendary walleye scientist Denny Schupp was for the May/June issue, but in the magazine business, we work way ahead of publication. That meant we had to get the shots in dead of winter, right after a huge snowstorm that left mountain-sized drifts.
The big question was, what would I photograph? The walleye season was over, so we couldn't get fishing shots. There were no eggs at the hatchery. Even all the fish houses were off the lake. The season was dead.
But Denny gave me the names of the movers and shakers in Brainerd: Tim Brastrup, the area DNR Fisheries manager, told me I could stop by the DNR office and shoot wherever I like; Doug Strange, editor of In-Fisherman magazine, said I could borrow a replica of the world's biggest walleye (wow, I thought, I could do something with that); and Scott Marin, who's in charge of the giant walleye statue in Garrison, said I could plug my lights into their electrical outlets for a photoshoot. Now things were looking up.
After I stopped and picked up the gigantic walleye mount from Doug at In-Fisherman (I gingerly packed the monster into my van), I took it over to the DNR fish hatchery--which turned out to be a beautiful place, with long rows of empty jars that will be filled with fish eggs in a few months.
When the jars were lit, Denny stepped in with that huge fish, we all smiled, and soon we had a great tongue-in-cheek photo that illustrated Denny's life. You make do with what you find, and in this instance it worked.
Next all the DNR guys met for lunch and Denny told me the bad news. He had sprained his ankle and couldn't make it through the snow drifts that were piled in front of the walleye statue in Garrison. Lloyd Anderson, DNR Fisheries technician, looked at me and said, "No problem, we will get him there."
When we arrived at the statue, there was sleet, wind, cold, and snow past my waist. Lloyd and DNR Fisheries specialist Dale Lockwood shoveled a half-block-long path and then helped Denny get right up to the statue. I was amazed by these remarkable men who let nothing stand in their way.
Then, I tried to imagine what would happen if I were in New York and asked the locals to help me shovel a path.