Fishing on the Road By Mark Usyk
For three days we had given it our best shot. Driving from the job site in Big Flats NY to our hotel in Elmira, I had located what was supposed to be a “Trout Stream”. Looking down from the cell tower we were working on, it actually flowed by no more than 200yrds from where we worked, and after staring at it most of the day I had convinced myself that my 3wt fly rod was not only perfect for the tiny stream, but that it would find a Trout within the first 3 casts. On the first day, I was wrong. My co-worker Mike, with his spinning rod, also found nothing at the end of his line over and over. I managed to catch two more branches than Trout on the second day. Seeing as how I caught two branches, the second day was also a bust.
We also drove over to a large pond that was actually named on the maps, one we could see less than a mile from our perches on the tower. It was named, and it was part of a town park, containing walking paths and foot bridges, how could it not hold fish? Upon arrival we found fish everywhere. Dead, rotting Carp that is. Location #2, also a bust. I’m never angry or disheartened over getting skunked, but the job we were sent to do and the project manager that sent us to do it were both trying to break our wills and our backs. Just one fish on each of our lines would have been nice. Just one. It seemed the waters and the fish were also working against us this time around. Come on, just a one tiny, lousy fish was all we asked for.
Each day driving Highway 86 between the hotel and the job site we passed a massive retention pond crowded on all sides by pavement. Highway ran parallel on two sides, and on and off ramps flanked it on either end. We joked about pulling off and hopping the chain link fence each morning and each afternoon as we drove by it at 70mph, but on the third day after striking out in better places, the decision was made as it came into view.
We slowed our speed enough to let close traffic pass us, and as we passed the water on our right, coming to the end of it but just before the off ramp, we slammed on the brakes and ripped the steering wheel to the right, the truck coming to a rest on the shoulder in a cloud of dust. Feeling like “We shouldn’t be here” I backed the truck into the high brush along the end of the fence, the sound of scraping paint on thin branches making me grin like a mischievous child. Mike and I hopped out of the truck and to our delight there was an opening in the fence, it seemed as though we weren’t the first to make this decision.
Fly fishing is full of challenges, and this may be part of its appeal for me. Matching the hatch. Reading the water. Finding the fish. Keeping my back cast above and off the 8ft chain link fence on the incline to my back and out of the small scrubby trees all around me while timing it to avoid 18 wheelers traveling at 65 mph and creating one heck of a whirl wind as they passed no more than 20ft behind me, now that’s a challenge you won’t find on remote Adirondack streams or gorgeous western freestone rivers.
It wasn’t a great week for fishing. We didn’t come across post card views and beautiful wild Trout or record shattering Largemouths. But I can tell you that the first bass to bend my 6wt rod on the side of that highway as traffic blew by to our backs…That’s one fish I’ll never forget. The next day we stopped again, with two trucks. We finally got back to the hotel after dark. Fish on!