Streamer Junkie

  • 20

    February

    2016

    Red Woolly Buggers by Mark Usyk

    I'd struggled through my first year with a fly rod in my hand in epic failure for the most part. The casting came fairly easy when I decided to give it a try. It was the catching that challenged me. My first fish came a couple months into the struggle, if you can call a four inch minnow a fish. I've found them in the Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales and Dolphins… So as far as I'm concerned when I catch a minnow I've caught a fish. To argue the contrary is like standing around at a wedding reception debating whether or not the little cocktail wienies can in fact be referred to as small hot dogs or not. In the end, they both make a turd. Just like in the end I'll hook minnows from time to time the same as Bass. And now that I think...
  • 13

    February

    2016

    Panfish Epiphanies by Mark Usyk

    The kid was drowning worms on the bank a mere 40 feet from where I was standing in the water casting out to the rocks on the opposite side with a small popper. It was one of those marginal fishing days. It was hot. Nothing, including the fish wanted to move much. Except the pan fish of course. The kid’s bobber was resting off to the side in a shallow pool, out of the current where he only had to make minimal corrections as to keep it positioned where he wanted it. The bobber bounced a couple times and then traveled about a foot and stopped again. It repeated this a couple times before it finally dipped below the surface and the boy set the hook. As he was reeling in his spinning rod my chugging popper vanished with a plunking sound and setting the hook the 3wt bent and...
  • 11

    February

    2016

    Tying The Low Sodium Squid by Mark Usyk

                                                                        The LOW SODIUM SQUID My Low Sodium Squid gets its name from a couple simple facts. That I came up with this pattern in the dead of winter in Upstate NY where there’s a severe lack of salt water would be the first. The other fact being that I’ve never fly fished salt. But this pattern came out of my imagination and day dreams while preparing for a trip at the end of the winter to Clearwater Florida, fly rod tube stowed away in the luggage for that one day I’ve been allotted out of a family vacation to find some flats and give them a shot. I’d like to note that if you’re tying this you most likely are fishing salt water and therefore you should tie it on a stainless hook. I didn’t go out and buy stainless hooks simply because I’m using these flies for one...
  • 07

    February

    2016

    The Adventures of Falls In River by Mark Usyk

    When I was in about the first or second grade I had one of those plastic toy bow and arrow sets with the suction cup tips and a plastic knife in a vinyl sheath. I had a cheesy pair of moccasins too, and a flimsy rubber bladed tomahawk with a red feather that hung from the end. I always loved that stuff as a little kid. Indians had the coolest names. Standing Bear. Crazy Horse. Sitting Bull. Runs With Buffalo. Talks With Eagle. Dances With Wolves. OK, that last one came much later. I always wanted a cool Indian name. Today though, I know exactly what name I'd be given were I taken into a tribe on the Great Plains and observed for even just a day on any given fishing outing... "Falls In River."   The way I see it, if you’re not a little worried about how deep...
  • 30

    January

    2016

    4am Salt Dreams by Mark Usyk

    I open my eyes, but they refuse to focus. It’s dark. Where am I? I’ve got a sore neck and my head is pounding like someone’s put a stereo speaker in a metal 55gal drum, put the top on, and cranked the volume knob all the way up on some Iron Maiden. My eyes begin to clear up and I spot the clock on the cable box across the room on the TV stand. 3:30. Should I be at work? I lie there and think for a moment, panic trying to creep it’s way in, but I suppress it. No, for the past five weeks I’ve been working the midnight shift over the weekend but this one I finally got off somehow. I’m right where I should be. Well, almost. I’m on the couch, my bed is down the hall, but Holly must have thought I looked comfortable here…Or she’s...
  • 24

    January

    2016

    The First Keeper of 2015 by Mark Usyk

    The Trout season of 2015 got a late start. It was an extremely frigid winter, days above zero were outnumbered by the days below, and I'm not just talking a couple degrees below zero either. To see twenty and thirty below on the thermometer failed to register any shock finally at some point, it had instead turned more to just plain resentment. My loathing for the extreme cold had wiped out any shock and awe that the sub zeros had brought on in the beginning of the season. The creek out my back door is one of only a few in the state that's open to catch and release Trout fishing year round, but it was frozen over solid all winter. By late March I was a ranting lunatic, permanent brain freeze had set in. So in the beginning of April when Trout season opened and the ice was still...
  • 16

    January

    2016

    I Have a Fishing Magazine in my Toolbox by Mark Usyk

    The living room floor's a battle field. Green army men and tan army men stand toe to toe, rifles trained on each other, the wounded and the dead lie everywhere. For a short while it looked as though the tans would prevail against stacked odds, but then there was a swing in morale as a green sharp shooter lowered their numbers one by one from a hidden position in a pile of Lincoln Logs. The tans were in retreat, victory looked all but certain... Then the Lego ninjas showed up. Like tornados sweeping out across a prairie the Lego Ninjas laid all before them to waste, no mercy was given. Bodies lie everywhere. Hard plastic jabs into the underside of my foot as I step though the carnage. Grimacing in pain I stumble and little plastic soldiers are scattered, sliding under the couch to become MIA until the next time...
  • 10

    January

    2016

    Oriskany Creek Logic by Mark Usyk

        I stand in a stretch of the Oriskany Creek, staring down the Weeping Willow that’s attached to the other end of my fly line, a few tugs leading to a few furious shakes, leaves falling to the water and floating on the current as I make the decision to just break off the fly. I pull the line tight, tighter still, until it finally pops…The fly falls to the water and disappears downstream with the current, my eyes follow it in both belief and disbelief at the same time. I shake my head, laugh at myself, and inspect my fly box, wondering which one I’ll most likely lose next.     I tie on a black leech pattern of rabbit fur and make a cast, narrowly missing the same branches that moments earlier dragged a four letter word across my lips. The fly lands against the cutout sand bank and...
  • 04

    January

    2016

    Reflections of a Fly Rod by Mark Usyk

    It’s only 6 and a half feet of graphite and a handful of cork. It’s such a simple thing, not a complicated device by any means. Practically a stick in the simplest of descriptions. Yet to really immerse myself into the backstory of how this all came about, of what it does for my mind, of the things I feel when I stand at the water, of the things I don’t feel because I stand at the water, it stirs up more questions and answers that lead to still more questions and answers. And so I may start to see that if there’s really no meaning to life, if by some chance we weren’t each put on this planet to do something specific, then the odds of falling into something that feels like just that, that it’s what you’re meant to do, they must be so small and remote in...
  • 26

    December

    2015

    Just One More Cast by Mark Usyk

    I’m gonna tie flies to save money. That’s one of the great lies. Once you start, if you didn’t realize it to begin with, you will soon enough. You’ll come to the realization that it has nothing to do with saving money and will most likely cost you more in the long run than if you just bought them in a fly shop or from a tier as you needed them. It’s a fact, a trap many of us fall into, willingly at that. But there’s a another great lie in fishing that’s so great it doesn’t just pertain to fly fishing alone, but to every form of fishing on the planet I’d have to imagine. It’s so deeply rooted in our subconscious, in who we are, that we never see it coming in the beginning, it just happens from the first time we’re taken fishing, and after that we...
  • 20

    December

    2015

    Who's the Real Sucker by Mark Usyk

    I wrote this story some time ago, while I was still working on the road climbing cell towers. This was a typical day after work for me back then, avoiding hotel rooms, tripping my way up unknown streams and rivers, trying to keep the adventures of the work day both out of my mind and continuing into the evenings at the same time. When you're far from home on unfamiliar waters, you have nothing to lose, except yourself.           I’m in Elmira NY. A few weeks earlier I was here for work and before the week was over, after several failed attempts fishing a couple small streams and one large river, I found myself and my climbing buddies hiding the truck behind a guard rail and some bushes and fishing a retention pond in the middle of the highway… with great success no less. Last night...
  • 12

    December

    2015

    A Big Dam Brown by Mark Usyk

    Besides the whole getting purposefully lost thing, besides the finding my inner peace thing, and besides the whole getting outdoors thing, there’s something to be said about the whole “you never know what you might find at the end of your line” thing. I think fly fishermen, more than others, seem to think that they can go out in search of a specific fish and with the right patterns home in on that one species all day. Part of that mindset may come from fishing dry flies on Trout streams, as what you’re doing is giving the Trout what you can already see they’re eating…sometimes. But there’s still that margin for variations in victories, like when the Creek Chub or White Fish are competing in the same waters for a meal. You might not be completely disappointed that it’s not the hog of a Brown you thought it was, but...
  • 06

    December

    2015

    Time, Money, and Fly Fishing by Mark Usyk

    Two weeks. It’d been two weeks since I’d been fishing. Two weeks is a long time for someone that sometimes fishes every day. Painful. Agonizing. The last time I’d been out was the final float of the year on JP’s flat bottom boat with him and his wife Bobbi Jo, a short outing on Lake Delta. We skimmed water sometimes only inches deep, possible only because of the jet drive. It may not make the power a prop does, but it gains you clearance enough to keep cruising on without lifting the motor from the water in super shallow conditions. As we cruised out to super skinny water I saw the look of horror on a kayaker’s face as he was certain we were going to come to a grinding halt, bodies flying through the air like rag dolls. We only had to raise the motor out and push pole...
  • 29

    November

    2015

    Thoughts on Fly Tying... I'm Getting Dizzy by Mark Usyk

    I could grab a rod that’s strung up and ready to go, the water after all is within eye sight of the wall on which the rods are hung or leaned against waiting in their rod tubes to be called upon. But somedays, as diehard of a fisherman as I claim to be, I’m content to look out the window in the knowledge that I could be out there, not that I am. Maybe it’s too close to home, too familiar, taken for granted and I long to be on waters farther away and less familiar. Maybe it’s the spray paint graffiti on the concrete wall at the opposite side of the creek that I wish to distance myself from, or the empty worm containers and beer cans I know I’ll find when I get down there that seem to take more of the specialness away from having fishable water...
  • 22

    November

    2015

    Fly Class is in Session by Mark Usyk

      I was never a good student, right from the beginning. I went through the first grade twice, probably because my head was anywhere but school. It was outside building tree houses, it was shooting my little red fiberglass long bow at the old hay target in the yard, it was on Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday afternoon Godzilla movies. Not addition and subtraction, not learning to read, and not learning to write my letters in cursive. That last one may date me just a bit. Once we hit division in the third grade I had pretty much had enough of numbers and math, and by the fourth grade I was such a horrible student that my parents pulled me out of the Catholic school I went to and tried me in a public school. This only made me worse, and I was returned to the nuns before the end of the year...
  • 15

    November

    2015

    The Fish Know Better Than You by Mark Usyk

    I stood in the river, the current passing around my knees and continuing on it’s path downstream as if I mattered not to it. It may have been named a river, but it couldn’t have been more than thirty feet wide and for it’s deepest part here in this stretch it may have reached four feet in a skinny channel along the far side at most. I thought to myself that it was more of a creek or a large stream than a river, but then who was I to question such things. I should probably leave such great debates to the more educated and knowledgeable on such subjects and be happy enough to say I stood in a river.  I made my cast just above a submerged tree trunk up stream and as the streamer sunk and drifted past I gave the rod tip a little waggle and added...
  • 09

    November

    2015

    Hudson River Smallmouth by Mark Usyk

    I spent quite a bit of time fishing the Hudson River in various places throughout New York State while I worked on the road doing the cell tower gig. I’ve fished it where it’s nothing more than a small creek in the high peaks region near Mt. Marcy and the fish you find are the wild Adirondack Brook Trout that average around 6”.  I had the opportunity many times, while working anywhere between Gore Mt. and Lake George to fish several sections where it’s a wide, rock strewn but still wadeable full size Adirondack river of crystal clear water holding Brown Trout and Smallmouth Bass, and below the Dam in Glens Falls where the river is no longer good for wading but holds much bigger fish and is a very dark, deeper, faster moving water. And finally I’ve fished it as it passes through the city of Albany, a huge,...
  • 01

    November

    2015

    Scales, Teeth, and a Fly Rod by Mark Usyk

    You know how it is. You just don’t always have the time to drive to someplace out of the way and secluded from the manmade world. At least I don’t. I’ve got to be to work at 11:30 at night, so lately, now that I can’t chase Brook Trout in the Adirondacks anymore, and now that the creek out back’s gotten slow with the drop in temperatures, I’ve found myself coming home from work in the mornings, putting the boys on the bus, kissing the wife good bye as she goes out the door to work, and then vacuuming and doing the dishes. Yea… right. The boys get on the bus, the wife goes to work, and I jump into my waders. I point the truck at the Delta Lake Dam, one of the spots close enough to home to not need to load up the canoe and still be...
  • 30

    October

    2015

    Everything RIGHT With Fly Fishing Today by Mark Usyk

    I normally don't post to the blog until Sunday and today is Friday. But, after seeing another blog go basically viral on all the fly fishing pages recently about what is WRONG with fly fishing, I've been thinking. I questioned, and I answered. The question I had was are we, the fly fishing community, doing good or bad. Are we a bunch of wanna be rock stars and reckless braggarts hurting fishing and conservation or are we doing good things. The answer I came up with is one I want to share with you, my fellow brothers and sisters of the fly rod. My answer... We are NOT that bad. As a matter of fact, we're doing a lot right.   Everything RIGHT With Fly Fishing Today 1. Growth. We’re growing and attracting new anglers at light speed. Growth is good. For as long as I’ve been alive, reading anything in the...
  • 28

    October

    2015

    Beaver Meadow Glass-The 5wt Trials by Mark Usyk

      When JP said he was going to put a glass 5wt in my hands and turn me loose to run it through the gauntlet of streams, rivers and lakes I explore on a sometimes daily basis, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Glass? Isn’t that old tech? Didn’t graphite replace glass because it was better? I was apprehensive at first. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. When I first laid eyes on it I was kind of taken aback by it’s physical appearance. It was glass…and it looked it. Awesome. There wasn’t any paint covering up what it was, it wasn’t even tinted, it was simply what he described as Milk White. I said it looked like a cleared raw glass. You could see the glass, the texture, the material. It looked deep, like you could reach into it. The only way I could describe it was...
  • 25

    October

    2015

    Angler's Circle of Life by Mark Usyk

    A child sits on the end of a dock, feet dangling just above the water, a short superhero themed fishing rod with a hook, a worm, and some split shot to keep it down there. The child watches the little Bluegills, the Pumpkin Seeds, the Perch, as they hover around the worm, curiously staring it down, now and then a mouth puckering to bump the juicy morsel. The child bounces the worm up and down, trying to force a take. The bait is raised slowly to see how far the fish will follow it up. Will they come right to the surface, will they stay down deeper. Will they think it’s getting away and finally take it? On this day for whatever reason the fish just won’t take the worm, and the child feels disappointment, a hint of things to come in life. On the next day, attempting once again...
  • 18

    October

    2015

    Trout Bum Misadventures by Mark Usyk

        I met JP at his place right after the midnight shift on a Wednesday morning. There were only a couple weeks left and we only had a half a day free before we each had to meet work and family obligations, so we were heading for a place JP had found on the maps, not far away, a river we’d both fished numerous times, but never in the area he pointed to on the GPS screen in the Jeep’s dash. The idea, one only a couple Trout Bums could come up with was to use half a day near the end of this Trout season to scout out water to fish next season. Scouting I decided was a safe way of saying “We’ll take our fly rods and check this place out, but if we don’t catch anything it’s OK…We’re just scouting.” Fishermen aren’t just liars, we unconsciously...
  • 11

    October

    2015

    The Angler's Path by Mark Usyk

        As I turn off the pavement the soft rumble of dirt pressed under rubber tells me “I am here.” A dead end sign greets me, its faded yellow paint blends in with the fall foliage surrounding it yet it’s flat and metallic form stands in contrast. It tells me at the end of this dirt road there is nothing. I know it lies. The end of Trout season is 9 days away, and although I swear I’m not simply just a Trout Bum, that I chase all fish, I’ve found myself in an excited state of Brookie anxiety over the past couple weeks. I have a Brown Trout creek running behind my house that’s open to catch and release year round, but it is not a Brookie stream in the Adirondacks, and I find myself thinking that, even though I’ve chased Brookies more this year than any other...
  • 03

    October

    2015

    The Old Man Said So by Mark Usyk

    When I was a cell tower climber 95 percent of the time we were out somewhere on the countryside, in the hills, up on mountains, our days full of long drives, great views, and I usually ended them fishing somewhere far from home. But there was always that 5 percent when the drive wasn’t far, and the view was nothing more than looking at other rooftops from the rooftop our job was on. Nothing to write home about, and no fishing to be had at the end of the day. On one such job, myself and one other guy, my buddy Mike who I spent equally as much time on the towers with and on the water with afterwards were doing a small antenna job on a roof top in Syracuse. Below us were 5 floors of antique shop, which to me means old pocket knives and fishing gear. Getting...
  • 26

    September

    2015

    Learning to Fly by Mark Usyk

    It was said half-heartedly in jest, but with the truth of sincerity that I thought would be missed for sure. Holly would make the comments to her friends in my presence “He’s running off to go fishing again, he doesn’t want to hang out with his wife,” while shooting me a sly grin as I headed down the stairs, fly rod in hand. “You can always come with me.” I’d grin back and then be out the door to chase scales, Bass or Trout or Pike, something calling to me like a compass leading the way to itself instead of to a destination. And then one day it happened. Our 12th anniversary approached and I found that Holly had booked a room at the Tailwater Lodge on the Salmon River. Just slightly early enough that to find Salmon in the river would be possible but only in very small numbers,...
  • 20

    September

    2015

    In Search of Angler's Paradise by Mark Usyk

    Here it is. It’s still pretty warm during the days, but they’re getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and I just chewed through a thin blanket of dry brown leaves as I mowed my lawn. Fall’s here, and while I enjoy fall, it’s what follows it that I’ve come to loath deep down inside. New York State is beginning to wear on me, what with its high taxes, and ice cold winter climates, I think it may be time to move on. The problem is where? I’ve drawn up a small list of things I’ll be looking for in a new place to call home, and once I’ve located the geographical location that will meet these needs, it’s see ya later thirty below zero winters and hello paradise. Please give my list below a read, and if it matches up with where you live or a place you vacation...
  • 13

    September

    2015

    The Lucky Fishing Shirt by Mark Usyk

    I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t care if a black cat crosses my path. As a matter of fact, I’ll keep moving to the left so it has to keep crossing my path just to prove the point. I don’t believe in the broken mirror thing. If you knew how many mirrors I shot in the old trash pile on the old farm behind my house as a kid, and then shot the broken pieces into smaller broken pieces, you’d see I’m serious about this whole anti superstition thing. Ladders? Yea, I’ll walk under a row of twenty of them, just line’em up. And I never knock on wood. I’ve got this red t-shirt. Red, not a color that makes stalking fish in the clear small creek outback easy, but if I wear it out there, I still manage to catch fish. It’s a Godzilla t-shirt. “Godzilla. King of...
  • 06

    September

    2015

    Where the Fly Rod Leads by Mark Usyk

    There’s been a lot of “How did I get here” questions in my head recently. There’s been almost an equal amount of “Where am I going” questions to counter the former. Then there’s the questions of what fly rod should I take, but that may be getting ahead of myself. No, I’m talking about assessing life. Maybe it’s the midnight shift at a thankless job that I feel no sense of accomplishment at the end of the day that merely “pays the bills.” Maybe it’s the looking back at opportunities missed or ignored in the past that may have lead me in other directions. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ll be 40 in a couple months and this is that mid-life crisis thing I always doubtingly contorted my face at the mention of as something that wasn’t real. Something that only existed in the minds of men who suddenly realized...
  • 30

    August

    2015

    The Fishing Hole by Mark Usyk

    I’d been up this stretch of small Adirondack stream before. It’s the beginnings of one of the well-known rivers that flows from the largest park in the U.S. It makes its way out of the park and eventually empties into Lake Ontario., gaining volume and width along the way, the scenery changing many times over but always remaining rocky whether it be the river bottom or the banks it cuts through. I’ve fished it in so many places along its length that I feel I’ve fished the whole thing, but in reality I’ve fished less than .1 percent of the water. But it’s here, in its early youthful stages that I enjoy it the most. Here I can hop from rock to rock, boulder to boulder, casting to pocket water as I pick my way up stream and pluck out the small but vibrant wild Brook Trout that call it...
  • 24

    August

    2015

    Adirondack Sunsets by Mark Usyk

    Photo credits-Holly Usyk I waded out about fifty feet from the shore line where our camp site met the water. I crossed a sandy bottom littered with scattered cobble stones, water logged branches and pine needles, and the occasional submerged chunk of drift wood in about waist deep water to get to the large boulder that hid just below the water’s surface. I stood on the flat rock’s top which put the water about half way up to my knees and looked up to the sun dropping toward the horizon on the opposite side of Cranberry Lake, hidden behind the clouds. This would be my last evening here, my last chance at a Smallmouth at dusk. Early in the morning I’d gotten up as the sun had just begun to lighten up the sky and paddled out about twice as far as where I now stood. I’d stripped out line...
  • 14

    August

    2015

    Anglers Anonymous by Mark Usyk

    Hi. My name is Mark, and I’m a fly fishing addict. Um, well, I guess it all started innocently enough. I was just a kid, I guess you could blame my Dad or my Grandfather, which ever one of them put the cork handle in my hand first. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a green and white casting reel, a Zebco, on a white rod with green thread wraps. And that’s where it all started. I didn’t think anything of it back then. Everyone was doing it. A split shot, a juicy worm, and a smooth red and white plastic bobber was all it took, it was so easy. Heck, Grandpa was doing it. He helped me untangle lines and even told me where to cast. I guess him and my Dad, they were the first enablers. But like I said…Everyone was doing it. As...
  • 08

    August

    2015

    Throwing Darts at Maps by Mark Usyk

    I punched the time clock and made the comment, “Here goes another 8 hours I’ll never get back.” Later on it hit me on my lunch break. Flipping open a new fly fishing magazine which I’d covertly slipped into the shopping cart the night before while Holly scanned the ground beef packages for just the right amount of fat content, I flipped the next page and was met with a two page photo spread of a beautiful bending river and a drift boat frozen in time, the sun setting just above a long mountain ridge in the background. In the top left corner was something about naming the river and winning something or other, and the name of the last months contest and its winner. I studied the picture. I obviously had no clue what river it was, only by the landscape could I tell that it was somewhere out...
  • 02

    August

    2015

    The Dog Days of Summer by Mark Usyk

    The dog days of summer are here. It’s so dry, the creek has receded it’s width to that of a small stream in several places, dry and white round stones exposed to the sun where there should be liquid flowing and hydrating the earth. Insects seem to float on a warm breeze more like the burning embers of a fire, riding the wind where it may take them, rather than fluttering and buzzing about working to get somewhere. I can hear them sizzle as they pass in the baking UV rays cooking us all. The water is cooler than the air no doubt, but as water temps of the creek go, it’s very warm where it hardly moves, and only somewhat cooler where it gathers in deeper pools where I can see the fish lazily resting on the bottom seeking cool comfort and shelter from the warmth created by the...
  • 26

    July

    2015

    Sight Fishing To Bone Fish by Mark Usyk

    We started the summer off with a ton of rain. This creek was blown out, high and brown more often than not, and the few days that it was fishable were singles in between weeks of non-fishable conditions. Now it’s gone to the opposite extreme. The rains ceased a couple weeks ago or more and the Oriskany Creek is low and clear. As I stand on dry cobblestone creek bed I scan the shallows, there is a deeper channel that runs about twelve feet out from me here and there, inconsistently. I believe in this deeper water is where I will find the fish, taking refuge in what little darkness they can find. The water is so clear that in most places I can see everything as if I were looking through the glass of a fish aquarium, even as the deeper channel darkens on the bottom, I can still...
  • 25

    July

    2015

    Got a new review from the Fishing Guys up in Canada... Check it out.

  • 24

    July

    2015

    Great testimonial from a customer about the Beaver Meadow Adams

    Jordan,

    I just wanted to let you know I used the Beaver Creek five foot rod, and it was perfect for what I needed. I had a field day nailing nice trout in very small streams and pools, some no larger than a bathroom sink with a heavy canopy. It has been nearly impossible (or frustrating) to fish these streams with a longer rod. When I got used to the rod's action, I could deliver about a twelve foot cast accurately. I like the details of the rod, and it was a lot of fun playing fish. A minor addition you might want to consider is alignment dots at the rod's ferrule points to speed up connecting the rod. That is a very minor detail, but I can see you are into details with your rods! Here are a few picts so you can see where I used it; a small creek named McGee in the Sierra.

    Regards,

    Eugene
    Jordan,I just wanted to let you know I used the Beaver Creek five foot rod, and it was perfect for what I needed. I had a field day nailing nice trout in very small streams and pools, some no larger than a bathroom sink with a heavy canopy. It has been nearly impossible (or frustrating) to fish these streams with a longer rod. When I got used to the rod's action, I could deliver about a twelve foot cast accurately. I like the details of the rod, and it was a lot of fun playing fish. A minor addition you might want to consider is alignment dots at the rod's ferrule points to speed up connecting the rod. That is a very minor detail, but I can see you are into details with your rods! Here are a few picts so you can see where I used it; a small...
  • 19

    July

    2015

    Excuses by Mark Usyk

    Sleeping bags were hung in the sun, draped over the canoe rack on my truck. My father’s tent was set up not where he would be sleeping in it by the fire but in front of my truck also in the sun. Along with some clothes that were laid out on the hood, everything, even my pack was emptied out and drying. A hasty camp the night before while lost in the Adirondacks and the subsequent storm that rolled through had brought all of our gear to varying degrees starting at damp and ending at soaked. It was about noon, and we had managed to find our way out of our predicament roughly an hour earlier. Instead of continuing on to where we wanted to go, we made the decision to drive out a couple miles the way we had come in and to just camp along a stretch of...
  • 12

    July

    2015

    Raiders of the Lost Fly Box by Mark Usyk

    When I was a little kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. True story. I wanted to be an archeologist and search far off places that were hard to get to. The history part was cool no doubt, but seeing places and things that most other people didn’t get to see and the adventure that got him there was what grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me with incredible excitement. I wanted to carve my way through a jungle with a machete, and let’s face it…We all wanted the hat and the whip. Before the word epic was thrown around it was iconic. The hat and whip were just that and still are. Iconic. Had I been a brighter student focused more on actually working towards something instead of just stumbling through my school years, maybe I’d have followed my dreams and went further than high school with my...
  • 06

    July

    2015

    The One That Got Away by Mark Usyk

    It wasn’t hot and humid as the weather man had predicted. It was overcast and maybe 72. The water flowed a clear tinted tea color, as most Adirondack streams and rivers do, unlike the waters back home. 72 miles south, the creek that flowed past my house was a far from translucent. Dark brown, the color of liquid mud from days of rain and run off. We waded up stream, myself lost in the beauty and serenity of a remote stream that I had fished twice before, yet I felt I knew it well. I was glad the water back home was blown out in all honesty, it was the perfect excuse for me to suggest to a fishing buddy, Brian, that we should make the 70 mile drive to clearer water, my last convincing sentence, the deal closer being “I’ve never been skunked there before.” What fisherman in his...
  • 27

    June

    2015

    In Pursuit of Northern Pike by Mark Usyk

    10:30pm. I sit in silence under the light of my tying bench, my wife and kids asleep, the rest of the house dark. Bear paces back and forth from one end of the house to the other, his nails clacking on wood floors, stressing out over whether he should be curled up on his dog bed in our bedroom where Holly is sleeping or sitting by me in my fishing room as I tie yet another bait fish streamer meant to entice the long slime missiles I’ve made it my goal to catch on the fly this year. I’ve tied most likely upwards of 30 streamers of different sizes and colors, and lost 3 of them to my intended targets, but not one yet has brought me my Northern Pike I am so intent on hooking into and landing this year. In fifteen minutes I’ll have to be out the...
  • 21

    June

    2015

    Discovering the La Chute River and History By Mark Usyk

    The schedule on the shop wall said “Microwave dish install. NYSP. Ticonderoga”. I turned and asked the question. “Who’s been up there? Where do we stay and is there water close to the hotel?” Jerry piped up… “There’s no place close to fish.” It was in the Adirondacks. You couldn’t make me believe that if you hypnotized me. My fly rod tubes were stashed in the back seat with our climbing gear and away we went, headed north, to hang off towers overlooking whatever great views awaited us, as comfortable on our perches as the birds in the trees. Hours later as I climbed around on a small little communications sight built atop the historic Mount Defiance, I found myself taking more time looking down on Fort Ticonderoga and the mouth of the La Chute River flowing into Lake Champlain than actually working. I laughed to the other guys up...
  • 14

    June

    2015

    Priorities and Avoiding the Skunk by Mark Usyk

    Coming off the midnight shift I came home and showered, trying to scrub off the smell of work. Not so much because I smelled, I’ve gotten used to the smell of the alloy plant, but because I didn’t want to be reminded of work every time I raised my arms near my face for the rest of the day. I wanted to forget it. The one good thing about quitting a life on the road working in the great outdoors for a life at home sweating in a dirty, smelly alloy plant is also the one and only goal I had when I took the job. I get to see my kids grow up. So After showering and throwing a bowl of cereal down my throat I met my oldest sons 4th grade class in town to go on a tour of Fort Stanwix with them, then on to the...
  • 07

    June

    2015

    Fly Rods Are Not Found in the Lawn Care Dept. by Mark Usyk

    It’s an older bike. Not an old Pan Head or Shovel, just a 15 year old Sportster. But it looks like it’s 30 years old as it sits in the drive way, rust breaking through chrome, chipped, black paint covered in dust and a yellow layer of spring pollen. A speedometer that doesn’t work, and a missing air cleaner cover. Fogged and faded orange turn signals. A crude but functional sissy bar is what my pack containing my waders, my fly box, and the fly rod tube is strapped to with a couple miss matched bungee cords. The exhaust is missing the heat shields, in reality the only reason the waders are rolled up in the pack. I’d hate to burn a hole in my waders as I sat at a traffic light waiting for the green, while contemplating the time the red light was stealing from my allotted fishing...
  • 31

    May

    2015

    Fly Fishing in the Blood by Mark Usyk

    Everyone has that one fishing place that trumps all others. Mine is a small lake on a farm that belongs to distant cousins in Cobleskill NY. My grandfather started picking me up before sunrise on Sundays sometime around the second grade to drive the hour and a half in a pickup, over weighted with the tools of a crack mechanic that smelled of gear oil and cigarettes, so that we could sit in the grass and drown worms all day. We did this my entire youth, all the way up until I left for the Air Force after high school. We hardly spoke at all, he was one of my best friends but I have a very hard time remembering his voice, we spoke so little. But I can hear his gruff, raspy, smokers laugh as I would complain that the Sunfish had stolen my worm yet again like it...
  • 27

    May

    2015

    A Worthy Fish For the Fly Rod? by Mark Usyk

    On a fishing page on Facebook this past week I came across someone who had posted up a picture of a decent sized carp. There were a couple “Nice Carp” and “Great fighters” responses to the photo, but within the first four reactions to the golden scaled tank of a fish there was one guy who posted “Garbage fish. Throw it on the bank for the birds.” Most everyone ignored him, a couple didn’t, but it led me to the question of what qualifies a fish as worth catching? Carp have long been considered a trash fish by many, it’s only recently become somewhat of a game fish, and I believe a lot of that has to do with the progression of fly fishing and those who chase bigger fish with bigger rods. But why does a Trout get the love and a Carp gets the evil eye? Let’s compare...
  • 17

    May

    2015

    Near Misses Near Trout Streams by Mark Usyk

    It’s not every day you see one of your fishing buddies almost squashed like an ant under a boot. We were building a new cell tower down near the famous Beaverkill and Willowemoc Rivers, and while unloading a truck full of tower legs that weighed as much as a car it happened. Maybe it was all the drift boats parked in town that we passed that morning on our way in. Maybe it was the small platoon of fly fishermen marching in formation, 9’ tall fly rods rested on their shoulders, marching off for battle. Maybe it was the three fly shops we passed in town. Whatever it was, it clouded judgements and ended up with my fellow tower climber and fishing partner positioning himself in a very bad place. As the all-terrain fork lift lifted one leg off the semi-truck trailer, the now unbalanced load saw its chance to...
  • 10

    May

    2015

    Blood Shot Fly Fishing by Mark Usyk

    It’s called “Group 3.” I go to work Monday and Tuesday for the day shift, have Wednesday and Thursday off, then go in at 11:30PM Thursday night and do the same the next two nights. Monday Morning I’m back on days. It’s a vicious cycle, it’s no fun, and the person that came up with such a shift must be evil incarnate. Not only does it mess with your sleep schedule, but it messes with your fishing time. You wake up wondering what day it is and where you should be. And if you’re me, when you get home in the morning from being up all night, the sun rise giving you your second wind, you question whether or not you should go fishing or go to bed. I may look like the walking dead…But I’ll look like the walking dead in waders. I can sleep anytime. Anytime I’m not...
  • 04

    May

    2015

    A 7wt Named Story Stick by Mark Usyk

    I’d been up all night working a twelve hour midnight shift. My eyes itched. My reflexes were somewhat slowed. My mind might have slightly drifted towards auto pilot…If it wasn’t for the fact that I had picked up my new 7wt streamer rod from JP earlier in the week and I’d been thinking about nothing else other than hitting the water with it on this fine Friday morning. Blue skies, a calm breeze, and a box full of meaty streamers I’d been tying for a couple months to go with the new rod accompanied me and my new rod, the “Story Stik” on its first outing. I was in search of fish mean enough to chase down and attack flies tied on hooks big enough to hang a side of beef on and enough feathers and fur to make any PETA activist vomit. The night before through a series of...
  • 26

    April

    2015

    Hope Is At The End Of Every Cast by Mark Usyk

    A small river I had never been on before, far from home. Out the back door of a roach motel and through the woods, the map on my cell phone had shown me the water that you would never know flowed through otherwise. What was its name? Not important. It was a river. A small river, my favorite. I knew by the satellite picture which way the river flowed simply by zooming in and seeing the turbulent water coming off the downstream side of the rocks, so I traveled in a direction that would put me downstream of a section that looked to have enough width to give me room for my back cast, and one that had lots of large boulders. I love traveling upstream and fishing pocket water. Passing under tall second growth evergreens lined in perfect rows, the carpet of rust colored needles was like walking on...
  • 19

    April

    2015

    Carry Less, Fish More by Mark Usyk

    It started while I was working on the road. I was traveling all over the north east, the majority of it New York State. I traveled for work, but besides the beautiful, expansive views afforded to me because of the nature of my job…Working hundreds of feet above the ground on communications towers, I found my mindset more that I was traveling to fish. And work just rudely took up more of the time each day. I never knew where I would be fishing on any given day, and so along with a truck filled with a couple thousand pounds of tools, ropes, and rigging gear, I traveled with practically every piece of fishing gear I owned. At least one pack, the zippers doing all they could to not explode at their stitching, and then rod tubes, another bag of stuff that I couldn’t shoe-horn into the first pack, and...

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