It became apparent to me early on when I discovered MFCC that not only are us supporters fans of the website, but fans of Ryan Collins. Ryan’s dedication to take something we are all passionate about (fishing on Cape Cod) and turn it into a full-time career is highly admirable and worthy of sharing.
In a recent conversation with Ryan, I got a "behind the scenes" glimpse of what goes into, and what went into, making My Fishing Cape Cod what it is today. With this article I hope to share a little bit of Ryan’s journey with all of you.
Growing Up in the Town of Bourne
Ryan was three months old when his parents moved to Bourne, Massachusetts. He can remember fishing with his dad since the age of 5. His dad was a 7th grade teacher at Plymouth Community Intermediate School and would take his classes on field trips aboard the Captain John Whale Watching boat.
On these trips, Ryan at 5 years old was able to tag along with the 7th grade classes. These whale watching trips were unique as you could also fish for mackerel after the actual whale watching.
To this day, Ryan still vividly remembers the feeling of anticipation before fishing for mackerel. He recalls that “I really enjoyed the whales, but at the same time I just wanted to get it over with to get to the fishing.”
Along with enjoying fishing itself, Ryan also had a passion at a young age to share his fishing experience with others. Growing up near a small local pond, whenever he caught something substantial, whether it be a bass or snapping turtle, he always felt the need to go share it with his dad.
I would share what I caught with really whoever would listen!
Fast forward a few years and at Bourne High School, Ryan fell in love with creating and editing videos. In the broadcast journalism class Ryan took as a junior, he learned how to film with cameras and how to edit videos on Final Cut Pro, a video editing software.
“I loved it... We made a ping pong video which was a real hit in high school” says Ryan. “We’d go over to friends' houses and pull it up on the TV and everyone would gather around.”
Then once it started getting warm out, Ryan started filming fishing, and made his first ever 15-minute fishing show about striped bass. “I fell in love with the creativity involved in the editing process and really looked forward to it during the school day.”
“I realized the value of personal freedom at a young age,” says Ryan as he reflects on how he would ride over the Sagamore Bridge everyday on his way to school, watching the blitzing stripers from afar, stuck inside the yellow school bus.
Ryan attended Assumption College in Worcester during which he and his dad obtained the 21 foot Miss Loretta, named after Ryan’s grandmother who had recently passed at the time.
During the summers, Ryan recalls going commercial striped bass fishing with his dad up to 4 nights per week. He considers himself very fortunate to spend a lot of time with his dad.
“Most trips we’d go out at 7 o’clock at night and wouldn’t get back until noon the next day.”
The Origin of MFCC
Fast forward a couple years and Ryan started running his own fishing charters in the Miss Loretta. In 2010 he launched his website MissLorettaFishing.com (which would later turn into myfishingcapecod.com) to help promote his charter business.
From May-October, Ryan would take people out on his 21 ft boat to chase stripers in Cape Cod Bay. “It was successful enough for me to see there was a chance of making a living in the Cape Cod fishing world.”
The idea of turning fishing into a career was not a new idea to Ryan. “Running up and down the beaches as a teenager, I always knew it was something I wanted to do long term. I didn’t really know how that would happen, but I had this inner feeling.”
Following college, Ryan did a lot in an effort to piece together a living. He was working for a moving company, selling AFLAC insurance, running fishing charters, mowing lawns, fishing commercially, and writing articles for Patch.com to make ends meet.
“I would literally do anything in the winter to keep my head above water…if we got a snowstorm, I would go shovel driveways.” During this time, the idea of MFCC was ruminating in Ryan’s mind, but he did not really have the framework for it yet.
Ryan was then presented with an opportunity to work for a well established company in the city; “a great job” which would “pay a good amount of money.” But that night Ryan went for a walk with his new girlfriend Lauren, and he asked her what he should do.
Should he pursue the company job or pursue this fishing idea? Lauren responded “You should go where your heart is at.” And that night Ryan made the decision…“There was no looking back, I was going to do this 100%.”
In 2011, while Ryan was continuing his various side gigs, My Fishing Cape Cod was officially launched. As with any startup, there were doubts and uncertainties. Ryan says it would not have happened without Lauren, who at the beginning provided him with a place to live and a space to work. At the beginning Ryan was even using her computer!
At the time, social media was just getting started and MFCC was on the forefront of sharing and publicizing fishing…in a world where that was not yet the norm. “Fishing was much more secretive at that time,” says Ryan. Content available on the website was limited to merely personal blog posts and fishing reports from Ryan himself.
The website gained 150 members in the first year, primarily from fishermen that found Ryan’s content through Google searches.
"A lot of people might look at having no money and an unsteady paycheck and say that's too risky. I've had plenty of moments when I was just about ready to throw the computer out the window, but I've never really thought of giving up."
How The Forum Got It's Start
At the moving company, aside from lifting boxes, Ryan’s boss saw his value in his computer skills. Ryan would go to his boss’s office and help out with marketing when the jobs were slow.
One afternoon, when Ryan was sitting alone at the moving company's office computer, he discovered a software for an online forum. “Why don't I plug this into the website I have going and see what happens,” Ryan thought. After launching the forum, despite it being “slow, rudimentary, and ugly,” people started posting on it every couple of days.
How The Podcast Got It's Start
Ryan’s cousin, Kevin Collins, worked in radio programming for the New England Patriots and “had a really nice audio office with padded walls, microphones, and a sound board,” says Ryan. “We got started talking about doing some podcasting.”
During some of Kevin’s down time, Ryan would drive up to Gillette Stadium, and it was there that the first few episodes of the MFCC podcast were recorded.
How the TV Show Got It's Start
In 2016 Kevin Collins (who produces the podcasts), had a chance meeting with the then vice president of Comcast New England. Kevin mentioned the idea of doing a fishing show to the Comcast VP and he was interested.
But unfortunately after filming a pilot episode for Comcast about walking and fishing 27 miles of the Outer Cape beaches, it was supposedly not good enough for TV. So the next year they tried again and according to Ryan “We got super lucky. Huge bass and bluefish were blitzing everywhere and the filming went great.”
From then on, MFCC has been producing TV episodes every year.
In 2014 Ryan made the decision to stop working as a mover and devote all his energy into MFCC. There were a total of 500 members at that time. Although there’s something every second of every day that could be done for MFCC, “when I want to go for a walk in the woods, I can go for a walk in the woods,” says Ryan - reflecting on how he's fortunate for the personal freedoms that MFCC has allowed him.
"The members mean everything to me...I owe A LOT to the members who have supported me, Lauren, our dog Rosie, and if we have a future family."
Throughout its 10 year journey, MFCC has gained 50,000 fans on social media and 1,500 supporting members, and is not stopping anytime soon!
It's a true joy to be able to see how a simple passion to fish and share the joys of fishing on Cape Cod has grown and evolved into what MFCC is today.
I’m sure Ryan's journey has inspired many people, and I’m excited to see where the future of My Fishing Cape Cod will lead us all.