I wasn't sure I'd get back at all before the official close tomorrow. Among other complications the truck is down again. But this afternoon, between trips to pick up or drop off family members, I had the van to myself for a few hours.
I grabbed the chance. For me, the last day has as much ritual significance as opening day.
The water was low, cold, and crystalline; the wind was gusty, and whipped the lake into whitecaps and then backed off, leaving periods of calm in its wake; the temperature hovered around the 45 degree mark; the ragged clouds spit rain now and then--and the lake was richly robed in dark autumnal splendor.
And the fish were there. I trolled out into the deeper part of the lake and soon found them. Their takes were sure, they fought hard, they were cold and strong and shone with a metallic light, and they needed little or no reviving.
I trolled clear to the other end of the lake, with the wind, and then it backed off and the water calmed. So I tied on a hopper, just to see. I tried the shoreline, in vain. But out in open water two fish came up to the hopper as it sat on the quiet surface. Both times I was looking elsewhere--there was much to look at--and missed the takes.
But I was happy to have gotten the rises.
Then the wind rose up again, so I began trolling back against the rolling waves.
There is always a last trout of the season, and this is it. He was long and lean and beautiful, a talisman of the once and future lake.
I don't like to fish on the clock, but I was watching the time to make sure I wasn't late to pick up Kim. I found, though, that the three hours I had fished were ample for what I had hoped to accomplish. I also found that my feet could not have tolerated much more time in the water. Three hours fishing, and almost two hours getting the feeling back in my toes.
I loved it. Lord, how I've loved it, and how I'll miss it. But what a great season it has been.