This time of year I’m a sucker for “year in review” pieces. You know Person of the Year, Biggest News from 2013, Most Googled or the America’s Funniest Home Video Finale (people falling and getting hit in the junk will always be funny). So given this was the inaugural year of Hammer Creek Fly Fishing, I’m taking a look back at the best of my Fly Fishing year. Here is an overambitious top 5 list or lazy top 10, either way here you go.
1. Time - One thing we all wish we had more of, right? While I’m no different, I do appreciate all the time I got to spend this year streamside, behind a vise or in front of this computer screen building the site. Time affords you the opportunity to create new patterns, write interesting content (maybe?) and explore new water.
2. Fishing New Water – I crossed a couple items off my fishing “to-do” list this year. First and foremost was exploring the close and underappreciated Cannon River. This has become my go to warm water destination. I had a chance to fish and float several sections. I’m looking forward to the coming season and to working on its abundant population of carp. Beaver Dam, my “Up North” lake, and while I’ve fished it many times this was the first really productive season on the fly. Finally, I had a chance to take my flies to the ocean and fish the surf. Again, not entirely new water, however fishing it once every other year puts it in the very gently used category. While I got skunked the moral victory was putting more of the pieces together.
3. New Gear – Again I was very fortunate to pick up some new gear this year. It all started with George Daniel’s Dynamic Nymphing and things quickly snowballed from there. After reading the book I was convinced I needed a specialized stick and picked up a Sage ESN. You can read the decision making process in my gear review, but I have no regrets. I could have used an existing reel on it, but I wanted a complete system and went looking for the lightest reel possible. My dynamic nymphing outfit was complete when I picked up a Galvan Brookie. This is a fantastic combo and I can’t wait for my winter excursion to take it for a walk. After several years of solid use I turned in my DanVise for a new Renzetti 2000. I’ll get a review up early next year, but really like it. Not necessarily new gear, but the beer blog opened my eyes to some new brews so I’m counting them.
4. Launching the website – One of the things I’m most proud of this year was creating this site. It launched in early May and I still can’t believe what we’ve accomplished since then. I’m an analytic junkie and could quantify it, but I’ll spare you the stats. There were a ton of fly tying videos created, a consistent blog and gear reviews. I’m grateful for the audience that tunes in to check them out. Thank you.
5. Connections – The website also gave me a chance to interact and meet some pretty cool folks. I started participating in fly tying forums this year and shared/learned a lot. Special shout out to On the Vise for their generosity with Project Healing Waters and for all the J. Stockard gift cards. I was introduced to Virtual Nymph and fell in love with their product line, a review to come. I got to test out some gear for Risen Fly, look for their ITB rods out shortly. Matt at Average Hunter has a great hunting/fishing blog and allowed me to share my posts on his site. Eat My Fly Outfitters recently launched and they’ve been a great partner for Hammer Creek. After reading my Cigar Fish blog I got connected with Chris from General Cigar Company. They’ve got top end cigars packaged in waterproof pouches which lock in humidity for two years. Perfect for fishing. The beer blog was awesome. I had a chance to connect with some very cool people in the industry. Some of the greatest partnerships I made came out of the Project Healing Waters fundraiser. Everyone at PHWFF was amazing to work with. I was amazed at the amount of people who got involved and were very generous with product donations and their time. A big thanks to all of the corporate sponsors.
6. Promotions – Who doesn’t love free gear? This is the most fun I had with the blog. It started with the Hollywood Fly Box Giveaway. I had a bunch of flies sitting around from the tying videos so I loaded them in a box and gave them away. Surprisingly there was a great response. After sucking back some Lost Trout from 3rd Street Brewing Company, I got to thinking about what other fishing beers were out there. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask breweries to donate swag and was amazed by the contributions. Throughout the year I passed out stickers and those sorts of thing, but the biggest promotion of the year was the Project Healing Waters fundraiser. Again I was blown away by the people willing to help out for a great cause. We put together a phenomenal gift package from outstanding companies. Hopefully we can make this an annual event and even add one more over the summer.
Allow me a moment to get sappy. All of the above couldn’t have happened without support, so a special thanks to my wife and daughter for putting up with this fly fishing obsession. While I'm fishing, they reluctantly filled the void shopping and now encourage me to take longer trips. Big thanks to my brother and sister in-law for all the help with the site. They are very generous with their time and contributions. And of course thanks to everyone who has read a blog or gear review, watched a video or connected on social. I am grateful.
I’m looking forward to another great year of fishing and further developing the site. There are a couple projects in the works for 2014 which I’m really excited about. I’ll do my best to keep the content fresh and of course more giveaways!