Fly Rods Are Not Found in the Lawn Care Dept-Take 2 by Mark Usyk

It’s that time of year. The time of year that you count down every last day until trout season ends and you either hit the couple year round catch and release waters over and over again like a broken record for a few months or you chase something else. It’s also the time of year when little critters decide to find their way indoors to stay warm for the coming season. My indoors. So as it was, I was already chasing something else before the end of trout season. Mice. I was standing in an aisle at the big chain hardware store staring at the different devices of death and destruction to all things small and furry, wondering if I should buy the white plastic traps or the black ones. Which looked more inviting or less threatening I wondered, and then I thought about AR-15s and wood stocked rifles. Lead flies out of the end of both, but the AR is scarier for some reason. They call them assault rifles because they’re black even though they do the same thing, throw lead. I grabbed the black traps on principle. But then my eye caught these little live mouse traps, and I wondered why I’d want to keep them alive? Throw’em out the door and they’ll only come back, and I’m sure as hell not going to drive three miles down the road to drop off a mouse.

Then the thought occurred to me that if I were a bait fisherman, maybe I’d have a use for live mice. The thoughts of big pike and browns after dark entered my mind, but I’m a fly fisherman, and a catch and release fisherman at that. Maybe if I was a catch and release bait fisherman, no not just the fish, but the bait too. I wondered how you could tie a live mouse to a hook without hurting it so he could be released later as well. That’s where the sport would lie in bait fishing! And I can tell you right now, after getting whipped around on the end of a fly line, and then clobbered by a big brown or a northern, to be returned to dry earth afterwards and set free… I’ll bet the mouse never comes back in my house.

My thoughts were interrupted by a woman’s voice behind me talking to her husband. “Honey, what are we looking for now?” “Oh nothing” he replied as he walked around a riding lawn mower, "I’m just looking around now.” I wondered, just what in the hell was he looking around at? There weren’t any fly rods to be found in the lawn care department, so I was done looking. It was time to get out of here. I’d wasted enough time not fishing.

After I set the gauntlet of scary looking black assault traps in the garage it would’ve been a perfect time to grab the 5wt and head out back for an hour to see what I could find in the creek on such a mild October afternoon. But NOooooo. Holly texted me during the day that I needed to mow the lawn. She’d take the boys to baseball practice so I could stay and mow. How nice of her. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it or not, but I hate mowing the lawn. I was most of the way through it when the push mower sputtered and ran out of gas. I walked around back to get the gas can and heard the water coming over the spill way through the trees and was reminded, not that I’d forgotten, that I was mowing and not fishing. This late in the year the weather could turn at any time, every nice day is a gift. A gift like today and not being able to fish it was the equivalent of getting a gift card for your favorite fly shop and when you go to use it it’s expired.

As I leaned over the mower pouring gas, aggravation was setting in. Such a beautiful day. Somewhere, maybe a just a couple hundred yards from the house even, someone else was fishing while I cut the damn lawn. I lowered the mower deck to scalp, I hoped I had it set low enough that this would be the last time for the year. Then my imagination took over and a scene played in my head.

There I was standing in the drive way, wearing my lucky fishing shirt, the one with Godzilla tearing down a building, my 5wt leaning against the jeep. I pick up the gas can, and walk around the yard splashing fuel here and there. Like a mob henchman about to erase an office full of incriminating evidence, my face shows determination with a little grin of pleasure mixed in. I stand next to the Jeep, the fly rod just behind me and to the side, and I pull a pack of cigarettes from my pocket. I don’t smoke, but in this instance, it looks badass as I pull a cancer stick from the pack with my lips and light it. I take a puff, and then with my middle finger and my thumb I give the cigarette a fling onto the lawn. The lawn ignites and as the flames spread I feel the heat as I turn and pick up my fly rod. “The lawns done, I’m going fishing.”

Hey, the cigarette thing works in the movies…