Who Knows by Mark Usyk
It’s our other “local creek” and I’ve never had much interest in it. I don’t know why. I’ve just never fished it much. Maybe it spends more time flowing through towns than I care for when there are others close by that don’t. Maybe it was the couple times that I gave it a shot and it let me down that didn’t give me a reason to try again. Maybe it’s because my grandfather never took me fishing on it, he never held a flashlight after dark while I flipped over rocks in the shallows and snatched up crayfish to deposit in a bucket. Maybe that was it, there was no connection to my youth there like on the other one running behind my house.
But now I do have a connection to it. Danielle lives on it. And she takes her kids down to it to splash and fish during the summer. Me and my boys joined them one afternoon on it early this summer, an afternoon that turned into four kids climbing the sandy ravine banks and throwing rocks while I watched Danielle continue to fish on her own. And then again later in the summer she’d sent me pictures one afternoon of the trout she’d caught right there where the kids would wade and play, right where I thought a trout should be if there’d be one anywhere. And suddenly, because of her and her kids, now I have a connection to it. Not because of anything I’d done at all.
A couple times in early fall I left work and drove straight to her house, parked there, pulled waders on and rigged my 4wt, then walked the couple hundred yards to the creek. I found what I’d always found in the past; a creek running through town behind a bunch of businesses, trash washed down stream, plastic bags stuck in branches here and there, shallow water over gravel beds. But I also found trout. And crystal-clear water. Finally.
Maybe it was the right time. Maybe I was just lucky. Maybe I was more patient and more observant than I had been years ago. But there were pools, deep pools being fed by plunges of white water, and in those pools I found browns big enough to not say they were small. They were good fish. The trick was the approach from downstream. Stealth. And getting them to move and bite on the first cast. Because much more than a cast or two and they got lock jaw. They acted like pressured fish, and it’s possible, being in town, that what gave the impression of overlooked water wasn’t. I had to do whatever I was doing right the first time.
Out of four good, deep pools, I was able to catch a beautiful brown in the twenty-inch range from each but the farthest upstream, while traffic and human sounds went on all around me. The trout stayed in cover under the white rushing water or tucked against a big boulder just where the white water faded, and grabbed a crayfish pattern or bugger on the first drift past or not at all. All except that big fish in the farthest upstream pool. I could never fool that one. Not this year. I did everything right as far as I was concerned. Stayed well back, downstream, low and motionless. I cast far above its position and used only the best looking fly to be found on the brim of my ball cap on those days, but it seemed too educated, or at least warry, for me to fool it. I’ll try again in the spring, see if it’s still holding its post. I may even attempt it again over the winter, who knows. Life is about making connections the way I see it these days. Me and Danielle. Me and that creek, finally. And hopefully, me and that trout in that last pool, should it feel I’ve done a good enough job, put in enough effort. Maybe it’ll just feel sorry enough for me to hook itself. Who knows.
Mark Usyk is the author of Reflections of a Fly Rod, Carp Are Jerks, and his very soon to be released third book…Not All Trout Are Geniuses. He writes stories about life, where fishing happens. You can find his books here on jprossflyrods.com while you’re poking around looking for your next fly rod or a gift for the outdoors people in your life, as well as on Amazon in E-book format. What's he been using to chase his stories lately? The JP Ross Peacemaker and the JP Ross S Glass series of rods.
Not All Trout Are Geniuses will be announced with a special exclusive hardcover release here at JP Ross Fly Rods in the next couple days and will see a full release hopefully by the end of November. Stay tuned!