After this photo came in over e-mail we were convinced Rick had been bitten by a werewolf.
This year Rick Bach went on a cross-country fishing road trip sending weekly dispatches back to myself and editor Gerry Bethge. On a shoe-string budget Gerry sent Rick out to capture fishing culture in America, under a program named Fish America. As Rick put on more and more miles over the summer and into the fall, we began to realize that Rick’s mental condition could be matched directly to his hair. That might sound weird, but click through this gallery and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s Rick during week 1 in Maine. This is about as clean cut as you’ll see the young man. See how happy and sane he looks, now … just wait.
Rick spent months on the road away from his family and friends. His hair began to grow and so did his beard. But he regularly sent in his blogs and galleries so we didn’t worry too much at first.
From Maine he headed down the East Coast never passing up an opportunity to get out on the ocean.
One morning while sitting at my desk I overheard Gerry on the phone with Rick, who was somewhere along the East Coast. “You need to take a shower, shave and put a hat on,” Gerry advised Rick. Rick took the advice for at least awhile.
He continued down the coast and had the pleasure of fishing with Dr. Julie Ball. Would Rick clean up for his date with the beautiful Dr. Ball? Nope. (To Rick’s defense, he was living out of his Jeep and spending more time fishing than sleeping).
At certain points on Rick’s trip he got extremely sunburned. I mean painfully sunburned. It hurt to even look at Rick, but the dispatches kept coming.
Rick’s hair grew more wild and we began to worry about him. Was he going crazy? Would he ever come back? Had Outdoor Life created a fishing monster?
And then our worst fears came true when Rick lost himself in Florida. He grew a ponytail, gained 20 pounds, traded his jeep for a dog and a flute (which he played to buy bait to fuel his fishing addiction). We fell out of touch with Rick for awhile, but we heard reports of a young man wandering the Florida Keys mumbling something about Ernest Hemingway and a giant man-eating tarpon.
How would we explain this to Rick’s mother, or the police for that matter?
It turned out that we wouldn’t have to do either. Rick made it out of Florida and started heading west.
His hair was still wild, but the pictures and blogs started rolling in. The Outdoor Life team breathed a sigh of relief and the authorities were notified that it was a false alarm.
But seriously Rick, a ball cap would really help out the sunburn.
Some people (mostly rockstars and hollywood types) would pay a hair stylist hundreds of dollars for a cut like this. Rick did it all his own, for free.
After this photo came in over e-mail we were convinced Rick had been bitten by a werewolf.
But against all odds, Rick made it to the West Coast, where his hair was allowed to hang loose for awhile.
Finally he took a few last casts in western trout streams, put on a hat and headed home. We’re all glad to have you back Rick.

For Fish America Rick Bach fished his way across the country. As Rick put on more and more miles, his editors began to notice that they could judge his mental health based on the wildness of his hair.