A fellow angler has usurped my parking place on the north end. I go on to the northern limit of the lake. Yesterday's break area becomes my new put in. It puts me right on the doorstep of where I lost the good fish. So that's where I begin, casting and stripping a big muddler. I probe the area carefully, but this time nothing comes.
I start around the lake, working the muddler into the contours of the shoreline. It becomes a discipline after awhile, a ritual of hope. I move fish but seldom hook up. When I do hook up, the fish, with the reckless energy of youth, run right off the hook. I enjoy every minute of it.
I have covered a lot of water, and the sun is dipping behind the mountain, when I pay heed to the writing on the wall. It is an ant evening. They dot the calm surface. Some wriggle helplessly, some lie still in a spent position. The fish make no distinction; they eat them all.
I tie on my winged ant imitation. The fish eat it, too.
I fish the ant until dusk, then switch back to the muddler. I cut the tippet back to 4X. I start working up the other shoreline. Soon it's too dark to see the fly land. But I cast and strip. The bats don't mind me, but the beavers are alarmed. They depth charge all around me as I pass. I hope I don't hook one.
I get a bump, then a take. I've been thinking big marauding Browns, and my heart skips a beat, but this is a medium-sized fish, a Rainbow. I admire its spirit and release it without a photo.
I work all the way up to where yesterday I had seen rises ripple the reflection of Venus. I cover the area but nothing moves. By now Venus has set behind the mountain. I turn and head back, stripping out line and letting the muddler trail far behind me. The stars are bright and a light breeze freshens, bringing the scent of pines still warm and redolent from the sun.
The line pulses and a fish is on. I play it in the dark, net it, and see by the faint afterglow in the west that it's another Rainbow, bigger than the first. I record it for posterity.
I use my head lamp to find the take out and climb up to the truck. By the time I start the truck and pull out onto the road it's ten o'clock. And all is well.