The Transition By Mark Usyk

JP said he wanted to take the opportunity to get some new product photos, Chris wanted to take us back in to where the tumbling pocket water leveled out and transitioned into Stillwater, and I wanted to hike and fish.  So I took a vacation day at work and turned a Wednesday into a Saturday. Every time I take a Wednesday off to go fishing people tell me they’d be taking a Friday or a Monday off instead to get a three-day weekend out of it. I get it, three-day weekends are great. The only thing better is a four-day weekend. But my strategy is just a little different. Taking a Wednesday off turns it into a Saturday. Which to me makes Monday and Tuesday and then Thursday and Friday a couple two-day weeks with a one-day weekend stuck in the middle, flanked by two regular weekends. I suppose I’ve found that life is a bunch of head games, and I’ve become a fairly good player lately.

Hiking in started easy enough. It was a well-maintained trail around a lake that got us moving at a good pace, but once we were off into the woods bushwhacking, progress slowed down noticeably. Not that we were in a hurry by any means of course, but we couldn’t have moved much faster even if we’d wanted to. Chris lead the way as he’d already made the hike, but using contour lines on the GPS to attempt to stay above large tracts of Spruce traps took time. Spruce traps are young Spruce trees bunched together tighter than a full dance floor in a Miami night club on a Saturday night, growing in the shadows of old spruce trees and on top of the fallen and tangled generation before them. The old generations of tree trunks and fallen branches lay in piles and crossed like natures own booby traps, covered with moss and rotting, and are so hard to navigate that even the deer and bears avoid them. The chances of broken ankles and legs are probably greater in a spruce trap than they are in a game of Twister with an MMA fighter. When you can, you go around at all costs.

Last year, Nick Senita, leading the way through one, pushed through a wall of spruce only to disappear on the other side with a dull, damp crunching sound and a thud. He’d stepped on a rotten moss-covered tree trunk and gone straight through it only to end up in a four-foot-deep hole created by the piles of rotting tree corpses covering the depression from an ancient uprooted evergreen. It was comical, but only after he realized that he hadn’t broken anything other than through that tree.

It took us two hours to reach the spot where Chris said the pocket water made its transition to almost still. We came out of the woods and onto the stream bank about fifty feet from where scattered rocks and boulders littering the stream bed ended and flat almost motionless water continued in the form of a large pool before it disappeared around a corner. We rigged rods, JP set up his camera, and then I sat back on the bank at the end of the pocket water and watched Chris and JP fish the pool together. If watching one fly line gracefully loop through the air is a peaceful show, then watching two is downright mesmerizing. It didn’t take more than a couple casts and Chris was missing a very small brookie, and not many more after than JP had one to the net. The sun was shining, there were no bugs, it wasn’t too hot, and the fish were biting. What more could you ask for?

JP answered that question when he removed a tall thermos canister from his pack and three camp coffee mugs. We each pulled up a boulder in the shade on the dry side of the stream bed just above that pool and sipped whiskey from metal cups. We talked about a lot of things. It started with talking about the rods, and then moved onto possible future models, but fairly quickly we found ourselves in a conversation about people needing to do exactly what we were doing at the moment, and now more than ever. The whole unplugging thing. The whole walking out into the wilderness thing. The whole making a living versus actually living thing. I’ll bet we sat there and talked about this stuff for longer than we fished.

It took us two hours to get out there. But you could probably argue that it took us a lifetime too if you looked at it the right way.

Mark Usyk is the author of Reflections of a Fly Rod and Carp Are Jerks, both available in Paperback and E-Book format on Amazon, and signed copies are ready for purchase on this website,


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