Out with the old, in with the new: 2011, the year in review

This will sound like an all-too-common cliché , but the older I get the faster time seems to fly by. It’s some sort of conspiracy–I’m convinced that someone has actually sped up time and/or shortened the calendar, because it seems nigh on impossible that 2011 is almost one for the archives. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains: another year has passed and another is about to begin. Because I’m a sunny optimist whose glass is always half full, I am all about looking ahead rather than dwelling in the past. That being said, let’s dwell for just a bit before we move on, shall we? Here are a few highlights (a term that is up for interpretation) from the UA in 2011.


2011’s umbilical chord had barely been cut when it became clear that Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be the only one winning. Within a couple weeks of the New Year, I was declared the lucky winner in not one, but two contests. First, I won a box of Clif Bars and then a subscription to Flyfishing & Tying Journal. I shoulda quit while I was ahead, but I didn’t. On January 14th I posted what would prove to be my Magnum Opus as a blogger: Fly Fishing Needs Dirty Harry. That defining entry was the beginning of the end, and before the month was out I announced my retirement from the blog industry by declaring goodbye to the blogasphere. Because I no longer had a public fly fishing image to uphold, I promptly fled to Idaho for some steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River with a bunch of roe-fondling gear chuckers. It felt so dirty, and so right.


If January’s events were an indication, there should have been no February for the UA. But after some soul searching, I decided to unretire. During my three week hiatus from being an active-duty blogger, there was a lot of speculation about my whereabouts and I felt compelled to put to rest the rumors. Turns out I wasn’t quite ready for the AARP. But it was clear that nothing I ever posted again would take me close to the level of widespread acceptance that Dirty Harry afforded me. I just hoped that readers would accept me for who I was: a one-hit wonder, of sorts.


Befitting the month that is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, I came out with both barrels blazing. The website got a total makeover thanks to the amazing help of Rebecca Garlock of the Outdoor Blogger Network and Outdooress fame, and a new logo thanks to Itchy Dog Productions (which is rather self-indulgent). If I couldn’t offer consistently good content, at least I could package the Weekly Drivel® in such a way that it looked good. Perception is everything, right? Somehow during this month, a cardboard cutout of “me” sprang up and began to slowly circumnavigate the globe, or at least the country. At the end of the month, I took my son steelhead fishing for the first time. We paid a visit to the mecca of Vampires, Forks, WA. My intent was to show the lad how it’s done. He caught two fish, the last of which was landed under a double rainbow. I came home smelling of a skunk and my angling unaccomplishments had me feeling quite sheepish as March became a thing of the past.


I opted not to engage in April Fools Day trickery this year, for some reason. I’m not even sure why in retrospect–perhaps because it was to be expected of me?  The year prior I had crafted an April Vokey April Fools lark, but I wouldn’t stoop so low as to do that again. Perhaps I was attempting to become not so predictable. Or, I simply had nothing to offer. I’ll admit I was beat down by the weather, which continuted to be much colder and wetter than normal. A lack of Vitamin D brought and gas pains had me in a bit of a fishing funk. The only thing of note for April was that the schedule changed for the Weekly Drivel®: no longer would I be posting on Fridays, and instead moved the weekly deadline up to Wednesday. This may have been due to the fact that internet statistics show more people read blogs on Wednesday than on Friday, or it may have been due to the fact that I wanted to spend my Thursday nights watching quality TV with Mrs. UA instead of handcuffed to my keyboard, sweating a Friday deadline. Oh, April also marked the crowning of my good buddy Derek Young as the 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year. It’s good to have friends like Derek (I’m quite certain he cannot say the same of me). I did not get out to fish this month, which normally would be a fine month to do so at least a couple of times. April showers proved to be incessant rains.


In a month that normally brings good fishing and Spring flowers, May was a lousy weather month across most of the West this past year. Thanks to La Niña (the Bitch), which had a stronghold on the climate for several months, Spring sucked eggs. Bug hatches and everything else were a month behind schedule, at least. I managed to get out and fish twice: once with Derek and Jason Small (a semi-pro photographer who intended to come along to shoot photos and ended up stealing all the fishing glory); the second time as part of the annual Children’s Hospital auction float trip. Actually, I wasn’t even fishing but rather was tasked with rowing a raft for the Reverend and The Father. But no matter how frustrouting May was, it was also the month that marks the annual pilgrimage to Yellowstone. I always look forward to that trip, no matter how much or how little it changes year to year, which it does.


Fed up with the crappy Western Washington Spring weather, I proposed a radical solution that never gained much traction: removing the Cascade Mountains. Unlike the removal of dams, breeching the mountains may have been an idea that was ahead of its time. I posted of our Yellowstone escapades, but as part of my ongoing campaign to be not so predictable, I did so out of sequence. I thought this cutting edge approach to journalism might increase my readership from 8 to 12. The jury is still out on whether or not that worked, but by month’s end the UA was up to 10 readers. And those 10 readers were treated to a review, sort of, of John Gierach’s newest book, No Shortage of Good Days.


Ah, summer finally arrives to the Pacific Northwest. At least in theory. The calendar may have indicated that it was the first month of summer, but there were obstacles that prevented it from fishing like a typical July. Eventually La Niña would loosen her grip, but July was still  month of developmentally-stunted weather. That didn’t seem to bother my son too much, as he became a professional bass angler. Olive the Woolly Bugger began her quest for Hollywood in earnest with a campaign to garner support from the internet. She could still use your help (hint-hint).


August was a big month for the UA as he ventured via Montana to Victor Idaho to participate in the Casting 4 A Cure event. I felt very fortunate to be able to participate, and hope to do so again. What I do not hope to do again is hit another deer while driving in Montana. The first leg of the journey took us to the Bitterroot River for a day of fishing with Jay Dixon. Having never before fished “the Root”, it was a real treat.  And I outfished Marck, which was also a first, but I would certainly never boast about it. Recommend you give Jay a shout if you plan to be over that way.


The UA celebrated it’s second birthday this month and predicted that readers should expect some irrational behavior fitting the terrible twos. If you were Owl Jones, you didn’t have to wait long for that unsavory behavior to come your way as I announced a Boycott of his website. Fortunately Mr. Jones caved into the pressure and the boycott was soon lifted and Owl resumed his quest for world domination. An epic Crane Fly hatch this month spawned a concept that I thought would be more popular than it turned out to be. Based on the luke warm reception, apparently the world wasn’t ready to combine their love of yard maintenance and fly fishing: Lawn Trout.


With a run of Pink Salmon numbering in the gazillions, I sought to harvest at least a few of these fish and made an attempt at doing so. The score after two attempts?  Pink Salmon: One Gazillion; UA: Zero. The erratic toddler-like behavior predicted a month earlier manifested itself once again as I declared war on Canada. A Cease-Fire was announced within a week. Having crashed and burned in my attempt to humor the world with my antics in September, I announced my idea for another radical idea that combined fishing and another popular American past time: BASSCAR. This proved marginally more popular, but I realized I would have to go back to the drawing board if I hoped to conceive of the next big thing…something that would attract Google’s attention. As it turns out, people seeking a fly fishing blog apparently want something actually having to do with fly fishing, as my review of the Sage One got more traffic than BASSPRO and Lawn Trout combined. Go figure.


The eleventh month of the year is not typically a very productive fishing month for me, and this November was no exception. However, my fishing unaccomplishments are rivaled only by my elk hunting unaccomplishments. Another thing you can do when you aren’t fishing and consequently have nothing to write about with regard to fishing, is conduct interrogations interviews with people who do fish. To that end I did my first interview with a fly fishing celebrity this month, as Olive the Woolly Bugger sat down for a chat. Interviews seem to be a popular fad in the fly fishing blogasphere, as I was grilled over at Eat More Brook Trout. Continuing with the whole interview theme, I gave Chris Hunt a dose of his own medicine in the form of 20 Questions. I began to realize that I really need to do more fishing.


I continued to acknowledge that I needed to do more fishing, but December isn’t the month to acknowledge this because fishing tends to be in limbo this month. I had several excuses for not fishing, however. Some of them were even valid reasons. I sat inside, attempting to fend off a case of the Shacknasties, and putting my creative brain to work. The jury is still out on whether my creativity will be rewarded, but pouring energy into a series of greeting cards is better than pouring alcohol into my system or writing about pink Fish Tacos.

As we say good riddance to 2011 and look ahead to 2012, I wish my 10 loyal followers a very Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support. With 8 more months of potential antics befitting a two year-old yet to come, I make no promises that you will read anything here worthy of your time. I do however, offer apologies in advance. I just hope we’re all still here this time next year.


  1. Patrick

    I can assure you that time would slow, particularly for an angler as unaccomplished as yourself, if more time was spent fishing (something clearly lamented in the previous post); for a lack of catching certainly seems to slow time in my little universe.

    Happy New Year! (And here’s to more time on the water in 2012 and excellent fishing on the Yakima sometime in, oh, let’s say August?)

  2. Sanders

    I certainly appreciate your Brett Favre like return in February, dropping laser like posts on the masses. You can never have too much of a good thing, unless of course you over fish your lawn…that being said, 2011 may have been fast, too fast for even Basscar, but with 2012 in sight, I look forward to another year of the UA.


    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Sanders. How many times did Favre unretire? And I can’t remember, is he still playing? Depending on your answer to that question I may have some ideas.
      Cheers to a great 2012 to you and the dogs.

  3. Fontinalis Rising

    I’m glad we were able to taunt you back out of “retirement”. It made for an entertaining year. I should note that it wasn’t until after I mailed *you* to Kyle Perkins that I started catching fish again.

    • Kirk Werner

      After a dog tangles with a skunk, it takes a while to get rid of the smell. When it’s gone, there is much rejoicement. No doubt when you drove away from the post office after having sent me off to Kyle, there was celebration of good riddance. Thanks for the good coffee, hospitality, and smelt.

  4. deanwo

    Thanks for wasting 30 minutes of my work day, Kirk (yes I am at work). I needed to catch up with all of the UA 2011 antics. With the exception of my trip to CO this summer, I too wish good riddance to 2011.

    Wishing you a very Merry belated Christmas and all the best for family, Olive and you in the coming year.

    Your (ten and one quarter)th loyal follower,

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Dean,, for wasting your time and the well wishes. It’s good to have your support, even if you’re only one-tenth of a man.

  5. Erin Block

    Good year. Hope unretirement continues to treat you well. 😉

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Erin. May 2012 bring continued greatness from you!

  6. Mysticfish

    Dirty Harry was so 2011. I’m thinking fly fishing needs Chuck Norris for 2012!

    • Kirk Werner

      I agree, Dirty Harry is last year’s news. But I’m not convinced of Chuck Norris–I think fly fishing can do better. I’ll have to give this some thought. Charlie Sheen is out of the question, right?

  7. Wade

    I don’t think I would be the only one saddened by retirement. I have not yet read all of your posts, but I am working my way through them. And as far as Chuck Norris for 2012, I think there could be some potential there.

    • Kirk Werner

      Wade, I can’t retire twice–that would be outrageous. Besides, people would expect me to unretire again, and then we’d just enter a vicious circle. Where would it end? Chuck Norris? I dunno, he seems so…2010. Maybe Justin Beiber?

      • Wade

        I am not too sure that Justin Beiber would be in your target audience’s range of appreciation. You can give it a shot though. Instead of “Baby, baby, baby, ooh” you could play “Ten-and, ten-and, ten-and two!” It may help your google search results though. He seems to be pretty popular these days. Google search Fly + fishing + Justin + Bieber = Unaccomplished Angler. 🙂

        • Kirk Werner

          Wade, as you may have guessed by now, my shame knows no bounds when it comes to attracting Google. It’s all about stats, my man–content quality be damned!
          Justin Bieber Justin Bieber Justin Bieber Justin Bieber Justin Bieber Justin Bieber Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian. Sorry.

          • Wade

            Nothing wrong with that. Gotta pay the bills to keep this place running right?

          • Kirk Werner

            Gotta at least keep the lights on!

  8. Clif

    I recall the float trip story with fondness…keep at it man.

    Do you draw a pension from retiring while sill getting paid for the weekly drivel?

    • Kirk Werner

      Clif, thanks for the good word. Truth be told, I draw many things, but not a pension. However, as CEO of the UA, I gave myself a pretty hefty severance package when I retired, and I also receive unemployment and welfare benefits (even though I’ve been back to work for 11 months). Gotta love the American socialist programs–what a great country!

  9. cofisher

    Ah, great memories. Thanks for those Kirk.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Howard. That’s the second time this year you’ve said something to me that borders on nice…you’re losing your edge, sir. Happy New Year!

  10. jon

    Thanks for your insight and humor. Looking forward to your 2012 writings. By the way Happy Birthday !

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks Jon, for taking time to occasionally read my writings. By the way, Happy Birthday 3 days after me!

  11. The River Damsel

    Gee…lookee here! You must have at least 11 followers. You have had a very fine, unaccomplished year…one that many of us could only wish for! Congrats…

    • Kirk Werner

      I have no idea where the extra person came from, Emily. It wasn’t such a bad year, but there’s always room for improvement. Cheers to you for a great 2012!

  12. Aileen

    The fact that you did not answer The Fonz’s phone call should be the highlight of the year.

    • Kirk Werner

      Hey, no comments from the peanut gallery 😉 That event may qualify as a lowlight of the year (sigh).

  13. Derek Young

    Kirk, what a great review of 2011. I had the pleasure of fishing with you a few times, and it’s always a joy. I always enjoy your entries, and being one of your 10 readers who actually fishes with you and calls you a friend, I say with confidence that you should probably eclipse the 25 reader mark this year.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Derek. Always a pleasure to spend time in your boat. I like it when you let me row because for a fleeting moment in time, I get to feel like it’s my own StreamTech Salmonfly.

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