``When I came around the corner [at the Chicago Muskie Show] and saw the mount, I had goose bumps,'' Dale MacNair said.
MacNair posed for me Friday afternoon with the mount of his 57 x 33 muskie from Rick Lax Reproductions.
By contrast, I was disappointed in the mount. Not by the execution, but the conception.
We're talking about a likely world-record or, at least a world-record class muskie.
The MacNair mount should have blown my socks off at first sight. It should have distinguished itself from the other impressive mounts behind it on Lax's wall.
It didn't. Not because the fish wasn't impressive, but because of the presentation.
I understand the idea of having the MacNair muskie exploding from the water. It was one of the most impressive parts of the story, how the muskie exploded completely from the water about 25 feet off the back of the boat.
And I understand why MacNair, who had just received photos of the mount when I interviewed him a couple weeks ago, was excited by the mount. It captured a thrilling moment, maybe a once in human history moment.
Please read this carefully, I think the art by Lax of the MacNair muskie is fine and well done. I just don't think it was the time and place for art as much as a time for craftmanship to emphasize the big and bad of that old girl.
I say that as somebody who has written dozens of big fish stories. In big-fish art or stories, the fish should be central; the telling or art should only carry that forward. The time to trot of the tricks of the trade is on lesser fish.
A buddy told me later to come around and look at the MacNair muskie from the back, that was the first time I truly sensed the size of it, seeing how broad the back was.
I should have felt that from the git-go.