Writers Block by Mark Usyk

Posted: Oct 04 2016

Writers block. Yep. I’m in the middle of a good, which is actually a bad, spell of writers block. I want nothing more than to start typing and have some great story that has something to do with wild fish in a great place and a fly rod just start rolling on into some grand vision by the end of a thousand words give or take. But it’s just not happening. So I’ve gone in search of the next story, both physically and mentally, but keep coming up empty. The ideas start but either get shot down like ducks on opening day or heckled into submission in my own mind like those two old wrinkly Muppets that sat up in the box seats showering insults for the entire episode.

The first idea, shot down like ducks on opening day, was to go hit a pond I’ve been looking at on Google satellite all summer but never made it to yet. It looks like it connects to the Mohawk River during high waters which means that practically anything could be in it. The worst part? It’s about a sixty second drive and a 5 minute walk from my front door. The idea has been the victim of there’s always next weekend several times now, so, having nothing to write about I thought it would be the perfect little exploration that might even turn into an adventure with a good fish or two. So I took a walk through town in my waders, fly rod at my side meaning to once and for all find this pond in person and give it a shot.

Walking through town I used to get the odd glance or sideways stare from people on front porches or mowing lawns, but I’ve noticed this year finally the locals seem to hardly even notice me anymore. It’s like I’ve either become a normal sight, and the sound of clumping boots and waders rubbing together like an old pair of corduroy pants is as normal as the sound of passing cars now, or I’m some type of unspoken town weirdo that no one wants to make eye contact with. Don’t look now, here comes the guy in the weird pants and the thirty foot tall fishing pole. I’m actually fine with either one. Weird people don’t get asked as many questions.

When I got to the shoulder of the road leading out of town where I needed to leave the pavement behind the thought occurred to me that I should have had a machete instead of a fly rod because the grass was so tall. I waded in anyhow, holding my fly rod above my head, the grass chest high and as thick as thick could possibly be. I fought to push through the stuff for what seemed like an hour, even though I knew from the road to the pond wasn’t more than four hundred yards or so. The stuff was tall and tangled, and it was real work the entire way, each step a physically taxing push, with the occasional hole that would suddenly have me going under with no warning, thrashing to get my head above it so I could see where I was going once again.

At about a quarter of the way I was questioning whether I should just turn back. About half way I was considering the idea that I overlooked the fact that I should have turned back. And about three quarters of the way there I was considering just stopping where I was, dropping, and taking a nap or dying right there on the spot, whichever came first. And then once I finally came out of it I found where the pond should have been, where it would have been, if there was any water in it. I also found a nice beat down path that lead me out easily. So I figured that story idea was a bust. Who was going to want to read about an idiot fighting grass to get to a pond that was empty?

Two days later I looked at my tying bench and thought maybe if I sat down and tied something, it might motivate me a little, just enough to at least find me something to write about. I had to tie up some buck tail jigs for someone anyways, so I had a seat, grabbed an olive buck tail, and went to work tying 1/8th ounce jigs for my wife’s cousin that’s a big bass tournament guy. The thing is, as I tied these simple things, it didn’t motivate me to write about anything.

Instead I started having all these stupid thoughts about trying to make sense of the entire fly fishing vs. gear fishing thing. Here I am tying deer hair to a hook that has lead cast to it, which means it’s a jig, not a fly. But if the lead was tied to the hook instead of molded on it, then it could be a fly. Also, if the lead was in the form of lead wire wrapped around the hook shank, or a tungsten bead for weight instead of lead, these too would be ok to cast on a fly rod. But the second someone sees you casting a jig on the fly rod, because that jig head was molded to the hook from the beginning, you’re doing it wrong.

There was nothing here at the tying bench worthy of writing about either, so I retreated to a beer and a John Gierach book. I love Gierach. He can write about fishing but not actually about fishing at all, basically rambling on about whatever thoughts carry from his head to his fingertips. With a good beer I could sit under a lamp all night and read his stuff. Man. I wish I could come up with stuff like that. Then I’d have stuff to write about and never have to worry about writers block. Maybe next week I’ll have something to write about. Or not.

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