On the cover of Louisiana Sportsman magazine

Fishing images appear on the cover of Louisiana’s largest outdoor magazine

I have worked in the outdoor industry for the better part of 25 years. I’ve traveled the country covering bass-fishing tournaments for Bassmaster and B.A.S.S.Times magazines, but the bulk of my career has been right here at home working for Louisiana Sportsman magazine. Hundreds of articles and thousands of my images have appeared in the pages of that magazine, the largest outdoor publication in the state.

April 2015 Louisiana Sportsman cover photo

Tony Taylor holds up a stringer full of Atchafalaya Basin bream for the cover of Louisiana Sportsman magazine.

Wile I enjoy the writing part of this work, what I really get pumped about is photographing the folks with whom I fish. That’s when the real work starts — and when many of those who take me out on a boat get tired of me. Hey, I’m out to capture great images. Lots of images. And that means stopping holding up fish when the bite is hot; leaning over the side of a boat 50 times to get just the right composition, or hoisting that heavy stringer full of fish up again, even if the stringer is cutting into your hand. Oh, and turning on a huge smile no matter what.

The payoff for these anglers — and to me — is seeing the resulting images in the pages of the magazine. But what I’m really going for these days is capturing that just-right image for the cover of Louisiana Sportsman, where I now serve as editor.

Take the main image on the April 2015 issue of Louisiana Sportsman, which hits newsstands and mailboxes the last week of March. It shows Louisiana Sportsman publisher Tony Taylor holding up a stringer of nearly 100 bull bream we caught a couple of springs back in my secret spot in the middle of the Atchafalaya Basin.

Tony had been hounding me to take him to this hotspot since hearing me brag about skull-dragging panfish every spring. So I finally relented, blindfolded him (almost literally) and made the run deep into the picturesque swamps of the Basin. By 9 a.m. about 100 bream you could barely get a hand around were cooling in the ice chest.

It was time to go to work. I sat down on the deck of my boat and threaded each fish onto a stringer, leaving just enough of the small rope available to wrap around a hand. Then, Tony took a couple of photos for me holding the stringer. But that’s not really what I cared about.

I pushed the boat into the shallows and stabbed the trolling motor into the mud to hold it still, hopped over the side and sank into mud almost to my knees. Working from outside of the boat is the key to capturing great fishing images, so I never pass up the opportunity to wade around — even if it means packing waders. In this case, the water felt good in the hot South Louisiana weather.

After getting my balance, I grabbed my camera and carefully moved out of the way as Tony put the stringer of fish into the water. His job was simple — pick the stringer up so water would be falling off the fish when I triggered the shutter. He had to do it a couple of times just for me to get in the proper position. And then I was ready.

By the time I pulled myself out of the mud, Tony’s hand was red and hurting from holding the stringer. I knew it had been a chore giving a natural smile after the first couple of frames. But it was well worth the effort, because the images were stunning.

I had intentionally pulled under the cypress trees along the bank so we would be in the shade. That really goes against much of the traditional rules of photography, which call for the subject to be at least side lighted by the sun. In fact, I was shooting into a very bright background, a technique I have learned that elevates images from good to great.

Seeing my images on the cover still gives me a thrill. I have a goal of locking up every fishing cover for Louisiana Sportsman in a single year , so reach out to me if you live in Louisiana or Mississippi and are on a hot bite — we’ll try to work out a schedule and get on the water.

Just be ready to work.

About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.