On February 12, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at an all-time high of 29,551.42. In the month that followed, it would record eight of the 10 largest single-day drops in history, all thanks to COVID-19.

When I heard whispers of yet another scary virus, I chalked it up to fear-mongering by the mainstream media. Heck, if I could live through SARS, Zika, bird flu, swine flu, reality TV and TikTok, this virus named for a beer was nothing. Or so I told myself.

Even as it became more and more real, I never thought it would have a serious effect on me — until it did.

No, I’m not physically sick, just sick at heart.

It saddens me to announce that just weeks after reaching a paid audience spanning two states and some 75,000 weekly readers, I’ll be left with just a single paying newspaper after this week: the East Oregonian. Less than a month ago, I published my 500th column and I just finished my first book, “Fishing Across America.” After reaching the peak of my writing career to-date, the coronavirus brought it tumbling down faster and harder than the stock market before it.

The Herald and News was the first paper I wrote for, and it did not represent the only email I received with regrets this week, informing me I wasn’t in the budget in light of the virus. No, I saw this same email several times in the past few weeks. They all hurt, but since the Herald and News was my first paper, it hurt the worst, even though I know the door is open to return if and when COVID-19 is behind us.

I love writing my column. I love sharing epic adventures and misadventures alike. Readers tell me they appreciate my perspectives, how I write about life and broadly applicable issues under the guise of fishing, how I share tips and tricks, bad puns and the unlucky-in-love but still somehow lovable CaughtOvgard brand you’ve come to appreciate — or at least commiserate with — these past few years.

I’m really going to miss that, and I’m forever grateful I still have readers of the EO to join me on every little journey.

Thank you

With the exception of the rare massive fish or rarer still hot date, the best hour of my week is writing this column, and it has been for years. I’ve honestly loved my time with you, and I’m humbled and honored that you’ve stuck with me for as long as you have.

When I first sat down to write the version of this “goodbye for now” column that ran in my other papers, I had to take out my contacts because I was tearing up. Slamming my thumb in the door didn’t draw tears. Nor did embedding a treble hook in my arm, stepping on a bee hive, slipping on a rock and getting a concussion or having a branch whip me in face hard enough to knock me into the river. But this news did.

As I felt sorry for myself, I thought of my friends who’d been fired, who’d lost their entire income, so I knew it could be worse. Sure, I’ll miss the writing and Airbnb income tremendously, but I’ll miss writing this column more.

So I sat there, moping for an appropriate amount of time before it clicked: this doesn’t have to be the end. I hope to be back in every other paper I was to write my column for once this is all over, but in the meantime, I’m not going to stop writing, and I don’t want you to stop reading. So I’m going to keep writing my column every week and publishing it every Friday online. If you’d like to support me or see past columns from my time before the EO, you can subscribe online for as little as $1 per month at www.patreon.com/caughtovgard.

If just 1% of my readers subscribe, I’ll be able to continue writing for the modest but necessary portion of my living. I know everyone is struggling, but a dollar’s worth of entertainment is more valuable now in this time of quarantines and isolation than ever before, so if you can spare $1, please do.

It’s really simple. There’s a website and an app, so you can read from your computer, tablet or smartphone. You’ll simply download the Patreon app or visit the website, register for an account, and subscribe as a patron to CaughtOvgard. The site will securely process your debit or credit card information and charge you at the rate you select (as low as $1 per month) the day you sign up and then the first of every month thereafter.

Even under “Stay at Home,” I’ve tried to visit one of my local coffee shops or restaurants once per day within the guidelines of social distancing because I know that small business depends on every single customer, and I want these businesses to weather the storm. I ask that you consider helping me weather this storm, too. I don’t want charity; I’m not asking you out on a date, after all. I just want you to continue reading and helping me continue to write.

Regardless, thank you for reading. God bless you and yours, I wish you all the best in these troubling times, and I pray that whatever happens, you can continue to be CaughtOvgard.

Fortunately for you, East Oregonian readers, you are my last paid paper, and I plan to be here as long as they’ll have me, but you’re still welcome to subscribe. See you next week, either way.

———

Subscribe for as little as $1 per month at www.patreon.com/caughtovgard; Read more for free at caughtovgard.com; Follow on Instagram and Fishbrain @lukeovgard; Contact luke.ovgard@gmail.com.

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