When I saw the photo below posted on a popular social media website, my first thought was, “That should be an album cover.”
The photo had 54 comments, well over 160 “likes” and at least 16 “shares” at last glance. And for good reason. After all, the composition is excellent, and what’s not to like about three friends geared up to do a bit of fly angling? Good, wholesome fun.
The fact that nearly all the comments were from men comes as little surprise, however. Men are predictable animals. Not all men, mind you, but most. Gotta be careful about generalizations. Post a photo of women fishing and the guys come out of the woodwork.
Some critics will accuse me of shamefully posting a photo of three beautiful ladies for the sole purpose of getting hits on my website, and to those I would say, “I
resemble resent those remarks.”
First of all, I am a blogger of integrity and would never post any content just for the sake of increased traffic. And personally, when I look at this photo all I see are fly fishermen—just three people—period. I am gender-blind.
So let’s keep the criticism to yourselves.
Featured in the photo may or may not be in any particular order or lack thereof: Rebecca Garlock of the Outdooress blog, Rachel Morgan, and Aileen Ellis of MK Flies. (Photo taken in Idaho by Anonymous. While requested, no GPS coordinates were provided.)
It all started as a friendly joke, I think. Or maybe I lost a bet, I’m not sure. At any rate, a poorly-drawn, not-to-scale cardboard rendition of the Unaccomplished Angler first made it’s appearance a few weeks ago over at Rebecca Garlock’s Outdooress blog. I found it to be mildy amusing and wrote about it here. Like any cheezy, ill-conceived fad, I assumed it would die out and my cardboard alter ego would end up in the trash bin.
Apparently I’ve been recycled.
I’m not sure what’s in store for me, but I am now in a small town somewhere in Michigan where Jason Tucker over at the Fontinalis Rising blog has me holed up in a “guest” room all day long while he’s off at work. I don’t know what constitutes hospitality in other parts of the country, but out here in the Pacific Northwest one does not invite someone to go fishing, only to get them all jacked up on caffeine before leaving them locked inside the house all day. I want to go fishing, or at least spend a day seeing the sights.
Stay tuned for who knows what. Bloggers are an odd bunch.
On September 13, 2009 I published the very first web log entry on the Unaccomplished Angler. Being new to the whole blogashere, I didn’t know where to start. Advice from others who knew these waters was fairly simple: “Just start posting.” And so I jumped right in without a plan or any idea what the Unaccomplished Angler would be. I vividly recall my hand quivering as I held my mouse cursor over the “publish” button. Once clicked I realized there was no going back: The Unaccomplished Angler had been launched into an uncertain future. The internet river was wide, fast and foreign. I was new on the oars, had no idea what lie just around the next bend and was adrift without a safety line or personal flotation device. Actually that’s a bit melodramatic – I could have quit at any time. However I made a promise to myself to post at least once a week for a year before deciding whether to tap out or keep fighting the good fight. I’m scrappy if nothing else, and so every week for the last 52 weeks I’ve offered up something for you all to read while enjoying a cup of coffee. At least the coffee has been good.
Defining the Unaccomplished Angler?
When I started my blog I didn’t know what it would become. Certainly there are countless fly fishing blogs operated by folks who catch a lot of fish, take really incredible photos, post valuable gear reviews and generally share a lot of good insight. Not so much here. What I do like to do, however, is use a bit of humor, poke a little fun at myself (and others), employ the use of the run-on sentence and tell a story. In order to tell a fish story, one must get out and fish. Fortunately I had many opportunities to get out and fish this past year, and with the idea of my blog always in the back of my mind I began to approach each fishing trip in a new light: I began to see every aspect of every day spent fishing as potential blog fodder. I embraced the old saying, “there’s more to fishing than catching fish.”
This served to accomplish a couple of things: First, I began to enjoy my time fishing even more because I saw each day as an opportunity to be something worth writing about. Not every day was particularly spectacular as far as the number of fish caught or the size of the fish, but began to find ways to make even the most insignificant seem noteworthy. Even a good skunking, and there have been many. Whether or not you, the reader, actually agree is up for judgment. Still, I look beneath the surface for things that made the day special, and in doing so this has made me enjoy each day fishing just a bit more. Secondly, this always-looking-for-a-story approach to fishing has made my fishing buddies nervous: They know their every action is potentially blog fodder. I hope this hasn’t cost me fishing buddies and friendships. I value my friends, for without them I would have nothing to write about. Thanks, folks, for putting up with me.
A Cast of Characters
The friends you’ve met while reading the Unaccomplished Angler include the likes of Marck, Large Albacore, Jimmy, Stan the Goosemaster and a list of others, including my wife (Mrs. UA), my son Schpanky, and my brother Hal. The Hornet has revealed itself to be much more than simply a Clackacraft 16LP – it has become a stage for many stories. The Lucky Fishing Hat has become almost a religious symbol and while not always lucky, superstition keeps me from wearing anything else. In my writing I’ve taken you to Montana and Idaho, fishing the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, the Big Hole, Rock Creek, and the St. Joe. Waters closer to home have included the Snoqualmie and it’s three forks, the Skykomish and the Sauk, and the Methow. And then there’s the Yakima River. The Yakima has proven to be a nemesis that I love to fish and love to hate (it’s a dysfunctional relationship). I took you along on a salmon fishing trip to Nootka Sound where plans to use the fly rod gave way to downriggers and anchovies, and I planned to tell of my sturgeon fishing trip to Hells Canyon but just haven’t had the chance to publish that story yet. This list of destinations doesn’t exactly read like an all star lineup, but that’s not what the Unaccomplished Angler is all about.
A Loyal Fan base?
The only reason I write is to bring a little weekly entertainment for you, the people. Well, actually that’s not true. I write for myself because I derive satisfaction out of writing for the sake of creative self indulgence. If by chance a few people read and enjoy it, then it’s a win-win for all. I track the number of hits and visits and subscribers, but all that doesn’t mean much to me. Just because someone clicks on a page doesn’t mean they stick around to read it. 48 people have signed up to receive email notifications when new drivel is posted. Of those, there are 8 who remain “unverified”. This means you signed up to receive email notifications, but never followed through with the final confirmation email you should have received, so you are not getting email notifications when new drivel is posted. I post on Facebook when new drivel is available, but never know who actually sees my announcements. In my blog itself I don’t usually get many comments, and when I do it’s always from the same 3-4 people. Thanks to those who take a few moments to chime in.
I’m one of the cool kids There are other, better blogs
Gradually over the course of the last year other folks who operate other fly fishing blogs have added The Unaccomplished Angler to their blog rolls. I know of a few specifically but there are many I’m not aware of who have been generous enough to add me to their lists. Being included in other blog rolls makes me feel like I’m one of the cool kids, even though I know I’m not. Thank you to those who have accepted me – I would love to reciprocate, so send me your blog and I’ll add you to my roll call.
When it comes to operating a blog, there’s much more that goes on behind the scenes than just writing. Technical savvy and knowledge of things like plugins, widgets, RSS feeds, Search Engine Optimization and a bunch of other stuff are important. Unfortunately this stuff was all Greek to me. Honestly I’ve never been interested in the techie side of my creative endeavors, preferring instead to be left to write, draw and create. Smart people always did the other stuff for me. I learned enough about the blog thing to get started and nearly get myself in trouble. Fortunately through the comradery of fly fishing bloggers I met The Outdooress, and she has helped me with technical matters that I never knew even existed. Special accolades and thanks to Rebecca Garlock for her guidance and patience. If you need technical help to make your blog be all that it can be, contact Rebecca. Just as you may not know when your car is in dire need of a new timing belt, you may not even know that your blog is about to implode. She’s a great blog mechanic and can take a look and let you know if you need an overhaul or just a minor tuneup.
The River Ahead
Looking ahead to the second year, the Unaccomplished Angler has no more of a plan in place than he did a year ago. He shall continue to fish as often as he can and when he does he will continue to look beneath the surface for something worth writing about. And if that proves evasive, he’ll make something up. Or he may just tap out – there’s always that option.
Helloooo…is anybody out there?
If you’re reading this, please chime in and help celebrate the first anniversary of the Unaccomplished Angler. Writers can be a needy bunch, so when someone comments I helps alleviate feelings of insecurity. I’m not above begging.
I was recently informed by The Outdooress herself, a fellow blogger of all things fly fishing, that there were some things about The Unaccomplished Angler that were bothering her.
“Oh? Do tell…” I replied, standing with arms crossed and brow furrowed.
She went on to tell me that my blog was in need of some help.
Being insecure, naturally I lashed out in defense of my writing:
“Oh yeah? Well I’ve been told I write pretty good, and anyway – you’re stupider!”
After discovering that what she meant was not a frontal assault on my writing, but rather an observation from a technical standpoint that my blog had some shortcomings, I apologized for my abrupt retort. She accepted my apology and went on to calmly tell me about outdated versions of this and that and unavailable plugins and blocked permissions and broken RSS feeds and a whole laundry list of stuff that made me glaze over. As she rambled on in a manner that attested to the passion she has for tinkering under the hoods of websites, I began to go numb: I felt like a high school senior during their last week of Greek Mythology class. Admittedly I don’t have, or desire to learn about, the technical intricacies of tweaking and fine tuning the behind-the-scenes stuff that make blogs more effective in reaching their intended audience. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and all that goes into captitalizing on a blog’s performance therein is all Greek to me. In my case, ignorance may have been bliss or a while, until one day when neglect eventually caught up to me and my blog imploded, leaving me with no recourse other than to walk away from the smoldering pile, never to look back on a brief career as a blogger.
Thankfully Rebecca not only pointed out the problems brewing, but more importantly she provided solutions. After a couple of days of troubleshooting and turning wrenches, which was likely more than she bargained for, The Unaccomplished Angler is now a finely tuned, souped-up, muscle car of a blog, ready to deliver mind-bending 1/4 mile performance, and optimal efficiency.
Think of it like a ’71 Plymouth 440 Hemi Cuda…
…with the mpg’s of a Toyota Prius.
At least under the hood. On the outside, it still looks like ’76 AMC Gremlin.
So, what does this mean for you, the loyal follower of The Unaccomplished Angler? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the way it should be. But for good measure, buckle up and hold on – I’m not sure myself what to expect.
Many thanks to The Outdooress – blogger, fly angler, and blog technician extraordinaire. I recommend that if you’re at all like me insomuch as you started a blog because you like to write and don’t know or care about what’s under the hood, give Rebecca a shout-out. She’s like your blog mechanic who can improve your air intake system, install headers and a free-flow exhaust and a performance chip so you get optimal performance out of your site. Heck, your blog may only need a new set of wiper blades and a quart of oil – so why risk poor visibility and a potential meltdown when The Blog Mechanic is only a click away?