Focus by Mark Usyk

I drove across the country last month to float and fish The Devil’s River in Texas. I hate using cliché sayings, so I won’t say it was a life changing trip. Instead, I’ll tune the saying in better. Like the fine adjustments we used to make on old FM radios, trying to get those stations to sound perfect by ear instead of looking at where the needle was. It was a life focusing trip.

I figured out years ago what was important in life to me, then over the past couple I tuned it in better. Then last month on the Devil’s River out there in the desert, I suddenly found the focus adjustment knobs and I’ve been fine tuned. It’s all clearer to me than it’s ever been before.

Out there it was as much about desert bluffs against wide open blue skies as it was about the clear turquoise water of the river and the fish gliding under my kayak as I navigated the river… and my mind. I was cut off from civilization, there was no cell signal and even if there was I wouldn’t have known it. My phone wasn’t a phone or a computer for checking emails, it was just a camera. Unable to capture in photos what I was capturing in memory.

It’s hard to put into words and keep them short what I experienced out there in the desert, so I’ll just tell you that I fished the JP Ross 10’6” 4wt Peacemaker for most of the trip, except when I was losing carp to my poor fish fighting abilities on the 6wt Black Jack. My Hobie Compass was an unexpected heavy weight champion as far as sit-on-top fishing kayaks go, and if I had the trip to do over again I’d still take the Hobie. Still take the Peacemaker. And I’d drive the two-thousand miles all over again tomorrow if I was able to make it all happen. Gin clear water, turquoise pools that tricked your mind into thinking you were in the Bahamas, desert bluffs silhouetted against the quickly fading evening skies and the dizzying Milky Way shortly afterward. Cave drawings. Waterfalls. White water. Massive pools several football fields long and wide flanked by cliffs topped off with motionless observing mountain goats. There aren’t enough words in a blog post to do it justice, so I’ll leave the real story to the last chapter in my next book and share some photos here for now.

Do you have a place you’ve wanted to go for a long time but haven’t yet? I did too. It’s the first place I finally actually went to. Guess I need another one now. Go. Get out there. You can be replaced at work as fast as you were hired. Your lawn will still be there when you get back. You weren’t born so you could just pay bills and then die. Who’s to say what you were born for? But there’s really only one way to figure that out. Go find that place to dial in your focus. You need it and you deserve it.


Excerpt from my next book Not All Trout Are Geniuses

    Time suddenly meant nothing, except that I was aware mine wouldn’t last forever and that at any moment those mountain goats could disappear with no more warning than turning and casually walking away. While I was hypnotized by their presence, they probably looked on with nothing more than indifferent curiosity at best. I suddenly felt how small I was in the world again.


Be looking for an announcement about a special preorder of my latest book through JP Ross Fly Rods in the next few days!  While you're here today check out our fly box assortments, fly packs, nets, and rods, and plenty of other gift ideas to get you started for "That time of year."


Last photo- credit: Besnik Nick Hax