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Lake Joanis at sunset

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Fall Line Outfitters

Interview by Carla Minsky

A Cast into the Past

“My passion for fly fishing started when I was a kid, going to my grandparents’ lake cottage in Wisconsin,” began Craig. “My grandfather, a WWII veteran, was very protective of his baits and rods, but when I saw a different-looking rod hanging on the wall I grabbed it without asking permission, took it to the pier, and gave it a shot at casting.” While Craig admits the first casts didn’t look like fly fishing casts, that is where the love of the sport started. “Because I showed interest and respect, my grandfather didn’t say a word.”

Looking at retirement after a 22-year career in the Army with his last duty in Wisconsin Rapids, Craig and his wife felt central Wisconsin would be a nice place to raise their kids. So Craig set out researching the prospect of opening a fly fishing business. He was amazed at what he discovered about the history of the sport here.

Connections with History

“If this was a place with a rich history of fly fishing and fly tying at one time, why hadn’t anyone put a fly fishing shop here,” he wondered. “It had never been done before and that’s exactly why I wanted to do it.”

That history he’s referring to can be traced to a woman by the name of Carrie Frost, an entrepreneur who employed 150 people by 1917 in her fly tying business in Stevens Point and who was the driving force in having the city recognized as the “fly tackle capital of the world” at that time.

“That designation took me by surprise when it popped up in my research,” said Craig. “That was a totally bold move, starting her business at her home table, to all the employees she had, to bringing other companies into the area that made other fly fishing equipment.”  

Craig noted that fly fishing is becoming cool again, resonating with a younger generation. “It’s not highfalutin and you don’t need a lot of money,” he said.

As for whether fly fishing lives up to its reputation as a difficult pursuit, Craig opined that “any pastime can take some time to get comfortable with but the modern rods and lines have simplified the sport and if you get into a rhythm and practice it becomes an art.”

From Past-time to Business

Admitting he’s a “doer” and “not one to sit still,” Craig says he feels fortunate to have turned his favorite pastime into a business. His storefront presents a feel of stepping back in time and that’s purposeful. “I wanted this to look like an old store from back in the day, where you can have a cup of coffee and talk fishing,” said Craig. By the way, that coffee he’s pouring is a veteran-owned coffee that no one else in the area carries.

When asked whether the sport is about catching a fish or something more than that, Craig replied, “Everyone leads such busy lives, this is a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the serene nature we have in this part of the state.” And if he had a day of vacation to himself to do whatever he wanted, that day would include backpacking with a fly rod, casting a line, and trying to land a trout. “That would be a perfect day.” 

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