After hearing about the world record bass caught in American BeheMouth, some fishermen have asked where the lake is. Readers want to know how the story came together and which parts are fiction versus fact.
In Chapter 13, "Back to Reality," the protagonist discusses this:
"After a fishing trip like this, going back to work the following Monday was brutal. It made the fishing experience seem like a fantasy, a dream, and I wasn’t sure it truly happened. Did I really catch the world-record bass? I hooked it, right in the jaw, fair and square.
I knew I could not tell about it—not even Lauren should know about this. Some secrets were worth keeping. That’s how I felt about it. I had created what was like the “Area 51” of Bass Fishing.
The slogan for my fishery could be 'THE WORLD-RECORD BASS IS OUT THERE.'"
I want readers to experience the protagonist’s journey, from beginning to end, and figure out this question for themselves. That is the beauty of fictionalizing the true content of the book. Yes, the formula is viable, and someone could reproduce what takes place in the book.
However, I want them to think over the ethical questions, issues, and debate first. If we just told them the world-record was caught and released and where the lake is, the mob would be there and ruin it, raising even more ugly ethical issues, like private lakes versus public domain, what records count, how much of a cheater you must be to be despised, etc. Also, if the book were entirely fiction, and the catch was dismissed immediately as folklore, some might miss the important messages raised here.
I want readers to return to a time in childhood when there was still some mystery in the world, when there was hope and wonder in nature, and promise of what man is capable of. Also, I want all of us who have grown up in the “real world” and been hardened by struggle to look at the men who have taken short cuts and ask ourselves, “Is it really worth it? Do we really need to get ahead that bad?” We need to examine our values and priorities. Why are we doing what we do? Why do we need a bigger [bass]? What is this sport really about? What has it become? These questions apply to our careers and personal lives as well.
In American BeheMouth, I have taken my own life story and put it out there--raw and bare--while fictionalizing some parts to protect the guilty and innocent and hold the broken pieces together. So much of life does not work like a novel, so we have fiction to hold the pieces together and make sense of it all.
People who know me understand that most of the novella is true. To those who ask where the lake is, I think have said more than I should in telling that it is in Kentucky. This answer raises more questions than the original question, like "Why not California?"
My response to all these other questions is "Read the book." You cannot understand the enigma and the discovery process unless you follow the protagonist's journey.
In the process of following the journey, you will learn that life is more profound than just fishing, although fishing makes an excellent metaphor for life."
Copyright 2012 Jason Covington
Quote borrowed from Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It":
"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."