Moments by Mark Usyk
...as I fished a stretch of water shed I knew pretty well. So well in fact that I felt I was giving him the wrong impression that I actually knew what I was doing. I’d tell him something like “I’m going to go crouch in those ferns and get a brookie out of that pocket behind that cropping of rocks.” Then I’d do something like just about what I said, complete with the catching of the fish on the first or second cast, and move on to the next spot. It wasn’t that I was that good, not at all. I’d just fished the hell out of the place the year leading up to this and basically knew the names and addresses of most of the brook trout on the stream. Take me to the next stream down the road and I’d have been the normal bumbling idiot tripping and stumbling on slippery river bottom stones and scratching my head as to where the fish were that I usually am.
More Leaves Than Trout by Mark Usyk
Leaves crunch under the felt soles of wading boots. It would be all but silent out here if it weren’t for the leaves underfoot, and the wind ripping through the tree tops sounding like a highway filled with semi-trucks flying by at ninety miles an hour. A blue jay sounds its high pitch call as it crosses the trail in front of me at lightning speed. Its blue is a stark contrast to the ground covered in dull curling reds and yellows and the grays and browns of the naked trees. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked this trail now, but it’s more than the fingers and toes I have I’m sure.
The Cabin by Mark Usyk
There’s a lot to be said about a cabin with nothing in the middle of nowhere. The drive in on an old two track, splashing through mud holes and puddles is only the beginning. There’s no pavement to make the ride smooth. No white lines to stay between and no yellow lines to keep you on your side. It’s up to you to pay attention, to pick your safe speed. To avoid the rocks pushing up from below and the deep mud holes that threaten to hide bad situations in beautiful places. The trees are what keep you on the road, not paint. The road in ironically is actually your way out.
Same Old by Mark Usyk
Back at the camp site I started a little fire at the back of the Jeep, but I wasn’t really sure why. A granola bar for dinner didn’t actually require a fire, and while I did have a folding camp stool, the black flies were so bad that I didn’t see myself sitting out for more than a few minutes before going insane. I guess I was lighting a fire because that’s just what you do when you’re camping. It’s an expected routine thing. You’ve always done it, so whether you need one or not it just seems the thing to do. It passes time anyhow.
Black Flies and Lost Boys by Mark Usyk
The stream’s last defense was the thick alders that lined it, so thick that I doubt thorn bushes could have done much better at all to keep us out. The Lost Boys had told me no waders, you’ll destroy them in there in two minutes. I left my waders behind but questioned it of course, but now I could see, I could confirm. Pushing though the undergrowth, I felt a stinging on the back of my left calf, and then the same on my right thigh as alder branches that were intertwined better than the fibers in a rope held me back as I tried to push through. They grabbed fly rods, slashed at faces, pulled hats from heads, but in the end the will of the fly fishermen was more than they could hold back, and we stood at the water’s edge.
She's the One by Mark Usyk
It was just good to finally be on my favorite stream again, and to see it in such a different way was almost refreshing. In the end on the drive home I thought about it in my head, wondering how I could put it into words that would get the true feelings across.
Sentimental Junk by Mark Usyk
But this morning I came across some pictures from up on the towers, and it lead to me thinking about things that I took away from my short time in that industry. Mostly fly fishing, and a pair of old friends. In the picture I’m looking down past my boots at the featureless landscape four-hundred and fifty some odd feet below. But it wasn’t the height, and it wasn’t the memory of that specific job that made the picture special. It was my boots supporting me up on the narrow, cold steel up in the wind. They’re my wading boots.
Shelf Ice by Mark Usyk
I’ve never considered myself a sappy, emotional, or sensitive person. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure I’ve done my best through a lot of my life to be just the opposite of those things. But alone by myself on a river or stream, I’ll admit that the water, and the fish, do bring out those qualities from somewhere inside me from time to time. That’s most likely the healing factor people talk about water having. Us fly anglers just happened to stumble upon the fact that a brightly colored fly line forming loops above the moving water happens to enhance the healing power somehow. I’m not going to try and analyze it. That’s a rabbit hole for another day. On a warm, sunny day like this, I’m happy to simply accept it for what it is, take it for granted, and enjoy it.