Glen Lau in many ways revolutionized not only bass fishing, but underwater fishing photography. Lau, a former Lake Erie fishing guide who became a self-taught scuba diver and photographer, retired from the guiding business in the late 1960s and moved to Florida, where he met lifelong friend Homer Circle. He decided to make a film about his friend Homer, but when he immersed himself in the clear waters of Florida's rivers he found a different story instead.
What resulted from thousands of hours under water is the finest film ever made not just about bass fishing, but the bass itself.
I was fortunate enough to spend the day recently with Glen Lau--a sprite and active 75 year old. We talked about a number of subjects, but we kept returning to the two films which have brought him so much acclaim--Bigmouth and Bigmouth Forever.
Bigmouth was filmed at Silver Springs, Florida and was released in 1973. It has an award winning script written by Parker Bauer, the son of noted outdoor writer Erwin Bauer, and is narrated by the incomparable Rod Serling (of Twilight Zone fame). This was one of the very last projects Serling was involved with, and in a recorded interview praised the script for Bigmouth as "one of the finest I have ever worked with."
The film itself takes Glen's breathtaking underwater footage and crafts the life story of the largemouth bass. From breeding to fry stage to young adult to full grown, this is a true modern classic that explores bass behavior in an incredibly comprehensive manner. For example, many anglers do not know that bass do not eat anything during courtship and breeding--
With numerous shots of Homer Circle fishing for bass with what we consider today "vintage" tackle but I can promise you was state-of-the-art at the time, this movie is still the best primer on bass behavior you are ever likely to find.
"I shot 45,000 feet of film for this movie," Glen told me, "and I only ended up using a small portion of it in the film. A typical day for me was to spend 10-12 hours underwater observing (sometimes filming) bass; then I would return and watch them through a submarine glass for another 3-4 hours. I couldn't get enough of it."
Glen had many fond memories filming Bigmouth. "One time I was filming and saw a large bass," he related. "I surfaced and told Homer to cast where I knew the big bass would see it. I went back under, turned on the camera, and watched as the big bass sucked Homer's lure into his mouth and spit it out. A bit later, Homer cast again, and the same thing happened. I surfaced and asked Homer why he didn't set the hook. Homer looked at me surprised and said, 'I didn't feel a thing.'"
This was just one of the many lessons to be learned from Bigmouth. Big bass strike so quickly and viciously that often by the time you feel a slack in your line, the bass has already hit, tasted, and rejected your lure.
I asked Glen what he thought was the most memorable scene in the film. "I don't know if it is for me," he related, "but for most people, it is the scene where the big bass--about an eight pounder--hits the baby duck and drags it under. The drama of watching the duck escape is something that stayed with a lot of people."
Released to critical acclaim in 1973--B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott called it not only the finest film on bass, but one of the finest films of any kind ever made and it has won more awards than any other outdoor feature ever--Glen, ever the analyst, took inventory and realized that there were over 60 things he wanted to show in the film but was not able. Thus he eventually returned to some of these subjects in the 1998 follow up Bigmouth Forever. With his great friend Homer Circle, he utilized the crystal clear waters of Rainbow Springs, Florida to craft his celebrated follow up, focussing this time on the angler and the bass.
As poignant and beautiful as the original film, Bigmouth Forever is a worthy bookend to the original classic. Bringing together some of the great bassing minds, including Homer Circle, Hank Parker, and Rick Clunn, the sequel utilized slow-motion underwater photography to show how big bass feed. In Bigmouth Forever "I was only able to touch upon a couple of dozen of the points that I felt were missing in the first film," Glen laughs. Perhaps one day soon we'll get a third film in the series!
I first saw Bigmouth in the late 1970s and was simply blown away. It was incredible to revisit the movie after all these years, and I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to learn from it. There is a reason it is a classic. The later film is as good of a film as has been made of fishing for big bass.
Both films are available in DVD for $19.95 each by Clicking Here.
-- Dr. Todd