Local veteran brings fly fishing to Stevens Point
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — After 22 years of military service, 40-year-old Craig Cook has traded army fatigues for fishing vests.
Retiring in May on active duty as a First Sergeant, Cook has now moved his unique fly fishing business to full-time status, and hopes to cement himself as one of many reasons to visit the downtown area. The veteran owned and operated Fall Line Outfitters Co. first opened this January with limited hours in what used to be Sugar Doll.
Now full-time, Cook has launched Fall Line Outfitters into a future fly fishing mainstay in Stevens Point.
“There’s a good variety of fish species in the area,” said Cook, who believes the fly fishing culture is bigger than people think in Portage County. “There’s a lot of people in the area that like to fly fish, but there’s not really a resource or an outlet for those individuals to pick up supplies.”
With little options for fly fishing accessories in Central Wisconsin, Cook has seen an influx of customers from Marathon, Waupaca, and Wood Counties. Fall Line Outfitters specializes in three different brands of fly fishing accessories and rods.
“We’ve grown a bit, but we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg.” said Cook.
As a veteran, Cook has made sure that nearly 50 percent of his products come from veteran-based companies. He also offers a 10 percent discount to any members of military, police or fire. He is looking to soon start a program to get veterans involved in local fly fishing.
For Cook, the old school vibe of the store reflects his vision of what people would expect from a fly fishing outfit. He has been an avid fisher since he was a kid, and believes he carries more supplies and in-depth products than most big-box stores.
“I’m trying to make it that one-stop shop for that niche of people.” he said.
Spending decades in the military, Cook has traveled the country. However, he decided to settle in Stevens Point for the continued support for local businesses in a growing downtown scene.
“The downtown is thriving, and it’s vibrant.” said Cook. “We really believe what the city is trying to keep this area relevant. If that wasn’t the case, we would open somewhere else. We’re really proud to be residents.”
“As we continue to evolve, it’s a big deal for us to be a good steward to the community.” he added.
Fall Line Outfitters offers fly fishing accessories, as well as accessories for downhill skiing in the fall/winter months. They are open Tuesday through Friday, 9-5, and Saturday from 9-2. They are located at 1336 Strongs Ave.
For more information, you can visit their website at https://falllineoutfitters.com/