I'm making progress on the truck, but I still drove the van to the lake this evening. That meant waiting again until Kim got home from her pre-school Preschool training in preparation for next week's start of classes. So I left around 6:00 and got on the water around 6:30.
I'm not complaining when I say that it feels more like a "fishing break" than a "fishing trip." It's a great break, much better than going upstairs and making a sandwich. But I must admit I'm looking forward to having a truck in good repair and getting some more trips in before the snow flies. (Why am I talking like that?)
One of the problems with a "break" is that a late arrival emphasizes the undeniable fact that the evenings are getting alarmingly shorter, something I would prefer to remain in denial about as long as possible. A month ago a 6:30 start would have given me four solid hours of fishing time. Now it's two and a half if you count the long paddle back in the deep blue twilight.
But, as I say, it's a great break.
I went in at the channel for a change.
The channel is mostly weed-choked, with some very interesting patches of open water amongst all that greenery. The first year I was here, late in the season when it had cooled off, the channel fairly boiled with big trout nymphing the few remaining weed stalks. I remember simply throwing a tiny black nymph five feet out in front of me into the swirls--I was bank-fishing then--and no sooner would it disappear under the water than my tippet would begin to move sideways. I hooked a few of those, but I don't remember landing any of them. Tonight, though, there was nothing working.
I paddled against the hot wind through the weedmats out to open water and trolled for awhile, with no hits. Then the wind dropped and things calmed way down and the fish began to work. Still no hits.
I found--maybe "finally noticed" is more truthful--what I take to be a beaver lodge stacked up on the shore. I like this picture because it includes the rise of a little fish who skipped across the water like a skipping stone.
I have been amused by the beavers recently; maybe they're jumpier at this time of year, or maybe I'm encountering inexperienced half-grown kits, but I'm getting tail-slapped a lot. Tonight one slapped five times before he or she felt at a safe distance from me. That's a lot, but it's not the record; on Tuesday one slapped six times. That's a lot of slapping, and a lot of commotion on a calm lake.
Does it make their tail sting?
Once again I succumbed to the sight of rises all around me and tied on some 5X and a caddis dry. I was some distance from my put-in and figured I could troll all the way back even in the dark, but that I'd better fish a dry while it was still light enough. I had seen caddis at the south end, and I was in water that has been prime caddis water in the past. But I didn't see a single caddis tonight.
What I did see was a definite refusal: a quick swirl toward the fly, and then suddenly away from it.
Hmmm. Sometimes perfectly calm water is a detriment in dry-fly fishing; the trout have a clear view of fly--and leader. And maybe angler.
I tied on a Griffith's Gnat. Nothing.
Oh well. It gave me time to immerse myself in another perfect evening, to listen to the Loons' calls wafting over the water from the north end of the lake, and to ponder again why bats will hit a fly line sitting on the water. Soon it was dusk, so I tied on a leech and began the paddle back. More nothing.
It was almost dark (but still early!) when I beached the float tube, loaded up, tuned in NPR, and made the start for home.
One of the positive things about a "break" is that it feels OK somehow not to catch anything. It wasn't a real trip, after all.
But it was a great break!