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BY JESSECA WHALEN
Searching for an airfield over the Andes in a single engine plane, being held at gunpoint by South American soldiers, and getting lost in the Arctic: These are just a few of the experiences Mark Sosin has had while working in the outdoors.
Sosin, 77, could tell 350 such tales about the perils of capturing an elusive story. One for almost every day of the year –– one for every gritty situation he had to escape during the course of his career as an expert fishing journalist.
“I have a whole book full of these things,” Sosin says with a chuckle. “I lost hundreds of stories in that book.”
A natural storyteller, Sosin loves sharing his adventures with others. Titled “A Sportsman’s Memoir,” his first published work holds a myriad of tales he wrote down after some prompting from his wife, Susan.
Sosin has been an outdoor journalist for 50 years. He is well known for his how-to fishing videos and CBS radio travel writing. He’s been to every U.S. state and 50 countries. He also started the first saltwater fishing show in the United States, and has been working for Saltwater Sportsman Television for 26 years.
“My friend asked me once, ‘What do you do?’ I said, ‘I’m an outdoor journalist.’ He said, ‘No, what do you do?’ Well, that drove me crazy,” Sosin says.
“Finally I went back and told him, ‘I’m an educator and a journalist. I display information and I share knowledge.’ He said,‘That’s right, and never forget it.’”
Sosin joined OWAA in 1965. In a major bylaws change duing 1976, the first vice president was to be named president-elect to ensure his automatic election to the presidency the following year. Mark Sosin was the first president-elect, serving from 1977-78.
Sosin says he joined because it’s important to expand one’s knowledge of outdoor journalism by interacting with those who focus their work on other aspects of the
“I like coming into contact with different ideas,” he says. “Seeing what other people are doing, you get a better feel for what you’re doing.”
Interestingly, Sosin never planned to be in journalism for long. A Wharton business school graduate in management and industry, writing was supposed to be temporary job
until Sosin could find employment related to his degree.
“I made a serious mistake,” Sosin laughs. “I was supposed to work in business for 25
years, get a gold watch and retire.”
But the promise of adventure, among other things, held Sosin fast. His love of fishing never released him, either. As Sosin tells it, he began fishing when he was three years old.
“He never said [it], but I think my father hooked a fish and let me crank the reel.”
He attributes his writing skill to his mother, who believed her sons should learn to both write and speak well.
“My mother was an incredible woman,” Sosin says. “She taught me that if you can’t communicate properly, you can’t succeed.”
Sosin and his friend, C. Boyd Pfeiffer, are always willing to help each other become better writers.
“I think most outdoor writers are willing to help each other,” Pfeiffer says. “But Mark and I hit it off right away. It’s nice to find a similar dog in the same kennel. Outdoor writers are a strange breed.”
A Washington Post freelancer, Pfeiffer presented Sosin with the 1991 OWAA Excellence in Craft Award. Sosin has won many awards throughout the years, but he is particularly proud of his induction into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame for his outdoor journalism efforts. Sosin was the 50th person from all over the world who was honored.
“Mark’s really a master of all trades,” Pfeiffer says. “He has good spirits and an optimistic attitude. He’s one of my favorite people.”
Sosin has no immediate plans to retire. He still works in television and writes two columns a month. Angling continues to be his passion, too.
“I like to sight fish,” Sosin says. “The ultimate challenge is fishing for what you can see. If I tell you, ‘There’s a bass, go catch it!’ What’s the likelihood of that happening? Not high.”
Sosin may not always be able to hook what he can see, but he’s had the good fortune to gather rich memories from the unanticipated catch, living a life that makes for one heck of a story.
“It’s been a good ride,” he says.♦
— Jesseca Whalen was the fall 2010 intern at OWAA HQs. Born and raised in Idaho,
she’s been in Montana for five years while completing a B.A. in journalism and B.S. in
Promises of adventure led to career in outdoors writing