Seven years ago, I walked up the stairs of a small town publishing office in rural Tennessee and took a job at a radio station. The job came with a few requirements—host a morning talk show, cover city council meetings, and manage FishingTackleRetailer.com. Such was our success that the two other job responsibilities fell off of my plate within a few months, and my focus shifted full-time to this website and to you, our readers.

After six ICAST shows, seven Bassmaster Classics and four ASA Sportfishing Summits, I am approaching my final day as Digital Editor at FTR. This week, readers will receive the final Tackle’s Top 5 newsletter published by me. Graciously, the publishers have seen fit to allow me an opportunity for some parting words. 

The move was my decision, and it was largely shaped by the pandemic that has consumed our lives these past 13 months. On January 15, I lost my father to COVID-19. When dad passed, I lost my first and my most recent fishing partner. Every bass boat, every rod and reel, every fishing lure that I have seen since has sent a dagger of pain through my soul.

I need a break from dancing with that dagger every day. And you can’t effectively edit the industry’s leading business website without being plugged-in to the products that power it. So, I’ve chosen to step off of the merry-go-round and leave this role in the capable hands of a successor.

I hope that you will embrace him in the same way that you embraced me, because that embrace was life altering. Through fishing, I began to truly see America and its wild places. When I took the job at FTR, I had never traveled outside of the southeast. Now, I’ve been to almost every state and landed a few fish in most of those. My world expanded from the muddy, Mississippi River backwaters of Tennessee to the mirage-like mountain lakes of the Sierras, the dinosaur-lined depths of the Lake Powell, the remnants of the last ice age in Wisconsin, the turquoise tranquility of the Florida Keys, and the gin clear mirage of Lake Ontario. Those travels changed me in a way that only new experiences can, and they forever altered my path in life.

On the road, I discovered what I love most about fishing: the people that I met on the water, and the places those boat ramps took me to. I loved documenting the lonesome highways in between southwestern reservoirs and motoring to the remote reaches of the Northwoods. I also loved documenting the stories of forgotten people on those lost highways—even more than I loved catching fish.

While I was pumping out news articles and advertisements for FTR, I was also working on a slew of side projects elsewhere in the writing world. I started a travel blog, Souled Outside, that spawned bylines with Travel Channel and National Geographic and Forbes. I rarely stopped burning the midnight oil.

Now, I am putting one candle out.

Fishing Tackle Retailer will continue to be the industry’s leading business publication. It was so decades before I arrived, and will likely be so for decades after this week. As for me? You can catch me hosting the award-winning Get Lost Podcast with explorers, archaeologists and entrepreneurs; you can catch me telling fish tales every month in the pages of dad’s favorite publication, Bassmaster Magazine; and, if you look closely, you can still find me on the highway.

On Monday, a new Digital Editor will take the helm at FTR.

Reel him in like a keeper.

 

 

One last thing…I’d like to leave you with my own personal Top 5 compiled from seven years of digital content on this website.

Editor’s Choice: Sills’ Personal Top 5

  1. How I Learned to Time Travel in the Back of a Jon Boat
  2. Searching for the St. Croix Sasquatch
  3. The Lady of Lake Lanier
  4. In Search of the Loch Ness Monster
  5. The Black and a Buck