First Things First: It’s Time for an Introduction

Welcome to the Temple Fork Outfitters blog. After several weeks of pondering and planning, we’ve officially launched. Now it’s time to execute.

The goal is to provide weekly content that performs a variety of roles. Obviously, we want to promote TFO, not just the products, but also the people behind the corporate logo.

You can buy quality rods and reels from a handful of companies. What separates TFO is their people and their passion for doing things right while serving their customers and shepherding the sport of fishing.

The method of angling — whether it’s fly or spin — doesn’t matter. What matters is that we share our enthusiasm and connect with our customers. This can be done in a number of ways.

Instruction, of course, is the obvious avenue. Everyone learned from someone. Given the wealth of knowledge within the TFO family, we can help you become a better angler. Show me a fisherman who knows everything, and I’ll show you a lousy fisherman. We can all learn, no matter how much we think we know.

I’ve caught nearly 30 different species of fish on a fly rod, I’ve written about fly fishing most of my adult life, but I’ve never caught a big largemouth bass on fly, which is not an accomplishment to be proud of, given that I’m a fifth-generation Floridian.

As the TFO blog editor, I’ll probably be writing and managing content more than I’ll be fishing.

I’ve never been a self promoter, but some of you might be wondering who I am. There’s only two things I’m really good at. I can fly fish. And I can write. That’s it.

I spent most of my professional life as a sports reporter. I started my career in Virginia after four years of college there. I covered college basketball. I later came back home to Florida, where I covered college football, mainly the University of Florida and the Southeastern Conference, a natural fit for me since I’m a Gainesville, Fla. native.

But even the best stories must eventually come to an end, and my career as a print journalist began to feel the suffocating effects of the internet. The first layoffs came in 2000. I survived until 2012, after almost 30 years in the business.

With the internet, advertisers no longer had to rely on newspapers. And without advertising revenue, newspapers began to shrivel up and die.

At first, I was bitter, but fishing was my therapy as I tried to tackle every species the Florida salt had to offer. I fished and I wrote a book about fishing. Eventually, I began to heal.

Saltwater fishing saved me, when I needed comfort and stability, but the mountains of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley ignited my passion for the long rod in the late 1980s.

I learned my new craft on the banks of Mossy Creek, a fabled spring creek, which is not exactly hospitable to greenhorns. And I got schooled. In fact, it took me an entire season to figure out the fish were under the banks and not in the middle of the stream. Fortunately, I found refuge in the nearby Blue Ridge mountains, where brook trout, a far more forgiving fish, saved me from eternal futility.

Since I covered sports at night, I fished almost every morning and I learned quickly, so much so that I entertained the thought of becoming a full-time guide. True story: I went to the Western Rivers (Orvis) Guide School. I was a good student, but got a huge dose of humility when I tried to learn how to run a drift boat. Drift boats are fairly common in parts of the Southeast nowadays. Not so 25 years ago. I must have smacked every rock in the Bighorn.

Needless to say, I decided to guide on foot. The thing I remember most about those days were not the fish that I caught, but the people that I met along the way that I shared my passion with. This blog, I hope, can do more of the same.

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