West Canada Creek Meetings by Mark Usyk
It was a piece of ice about the size of your average kitchen table top, and it caught me off guard. Bumped into me from behind as I was concentrating on managing my sink tip line downstream. It wasn’t anything close to dangerous or tragic, just a small piece of shelf ice from upriver somewhere. One that maybe a little bit of sun on a warm weekend had broken loose. Or possibly a drop in the water level caused by the dams far upstream had caused its freedom from the river side and subsequent slow speed collision with my hip. It was a quick moment of “what the…!” accompanied by a skipped heartbeat and then a realization that it was nothing but a small slab of ice. As it pivoted off my right hip and continued on I thought for a second about jumping on to float and cast until its next collision with the river bank somewhere downstream. And then the thought passed, and I made another cast.
This Whole Dry Fly Thing by Mark Usyk
Finally the fisherman stood up and stretched his back, dumped out his worms, reeled in his line, and headed for his old Crown Vic with the fading navy blue paint and vinyl top. I stepped out of the Jeep and he gave me a nod. “Good luck, I give up.” I couldn’t tell if he said it as if he didn’t think I could do any better, or because he figured I’d go out there and catch what he couldn’t, but I’ve never seen an elderly guy toss a lawn chair in the back seat and peel out in a cloud of dust from a gravel lot in quite such a perfectly miserable… Well, if a car can have body language, it said he was done fishing. Forever.
Tying Stonefly Looking Things by Mark Usyk
Few words have the impact when spoken that steelhead does. See? You just felt something when you read it. Steelhead. Don’t believe me? Do you remember the scene in Stand by Me, (if you don’t know the movie then stop reading. Just stop. You’re probably too young to have seen it, because everyone else in the world that’s old enough has. Find it, watch it, and then come back to this later) the scene where Ace says to Eyeball and Charlie “You guys are like my grandmother having a conniption fit. I don't see your problem. We brought a whole bunch of fishing gear, and if a cop asks us what we're doing here, we're just here to take a couple steelhead out of the river, and look what we found!” That one line set a tone of extreme maturity and coolness at that moment in the film. Suddenly, a punk, a thug named Ace became a very cool guy for a few seconds. It was a line that would have never worked, never been so powerful had steelhead been replaced by bass, or even trout. Because of the use of steelhead, the line was pure Hollywood gold. I’ve never gone for steelhead, always avoided it because of people, but even I recognize the power in the emotions the name evokes. There’s only one other word in fly fishing that comes close to grabbing the attention of fly anglers by tender regions and making their eyebrows raise, their heads tilt to one side or the other like a dog, listening to the conversation with a feeling of importance. It also happens to be connected to steelhead…Stonefly.