Friday, August 13, 2010

Lake Report: Just To See

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Three evenings in a row, flowing together, flowing away. The hot weather breaks with a cool wind from the north bringing roaming rains, lightning, and thunder that rolls up and down the valley.
A hopper shivers in the rain, a stunned hitchhiker from the alfalfa fields down on the warm side of the ridge, a sign of hope in trout finally hungry for big leggy bites, a reason to brave the rain and risk high voltage death just to see.
You see the lake is down in spite of the downpour. What would you do were the vault of heaven to lower over you, the billowing stars pressing down on you, dazzling your senses? What will the trout do? Would you go Van Gogh mad? Will they?
You wonder and push off, just to see. The wind pushes, you push back, and breast the waves to a sheltered inlet...
But sheltered only from the brunt of the blow; the rain finds you nonetheless.
You sit in the downpour and pore over the feather and fur pinned to your vest, the record of your optimism. You choose an offering and lay it reverently on the water and pray for grace.
A Loon calls, passes, calls. The thunder rolls.
Fish are there, silver drops pressing up while the rain pelts down, creating drops of sound in the steady hiss. Silver on silver, swimming in the stars.
And the thunder rolls, and rolls, and rolls away.
The new day is washed bright, the haze and smoke gone. You go south, just to see.
The fish are moving, and you think this might truly be a new day. Mays mingle with the midges, a few caddis spiral up, and the fish are restless.
You go with a hopper, prowling the weedbeds along the shore. Memories of fish coming up like missiles to slam the fly prod you to keep going. But they stay memories, the past refusing to break into the present. So you follow the fish out into open water.
You stay with a dry, you try big mays, little mays, and the wind comes and goes, the sun slides down the ridge.
The fish are on something--the little light may? Emergers? Try a caddis. Try anything.
The third evening you come with a little light may like you saw before the sun last went down. But you try a hopper--just to see.
It's calm, it's perfect. The fish are up and feeding. The little fish are crazy into eating, biting off chunks of surface like locusts in swarm.
But they ignore the hopper. They ignore the little light may. Tonight a miniscule black midge seems to be the rage du jour.
You stay on top and remember the subtle take once upon a time of a little dry right here in the chaos of an evening like this one, a take you didn't see on the wind-riffled surface in the twilight, a take you didn't expect after hours of fruitless casting, but a take you felt as a tightening, and then the weight, and then either you were launched backward like you were sitting on a rocket sled, or the fish ran without stopping clear to the far south end and that was that.
These little ones try, and you reel in a few of them on a tiny dark may, and they would break you off if it took not weight but will alone.
And the big ones still bide their time, still come up once in the middle of the small fry like a whale scattering schools of herring, just to show you they're there, just to keep you coming...
Just to see.

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