Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Riding the Wind

The day won't stay still. It must rush headlong through its appointed time, longer, sweeter, than the day before. It grips me, it grips the lake, it grips the world, in a fist of wind. It pushes everything along. It shakes me, not with malevolence, but out of sheer exhilaration at the lengthening of the light.

I push back at the wind and cross the lake. Then I turn my back to it and ride it along the willowy shoreline. I cast a large deer hair fly into the place where waves and willows dance. I strip it back, and it cuts through the waves and skips over the troughs. The wind pushes me along, and I cast again, and again.

The first fish of the day shoulders up through the waves just off the willows and takes the fly. It's a heavy fish and comes away from the shoreline and stays deep. I see it glow golden in the depths as it circles, and fights, and circles. In the net, it gives back the light of the sun.

I ride the wind, casting and stripping. More fish chase the fly; some take it.

The fly loses its tail. The gold tinsel rib hangs by a thread. I tie on a big muddler and continue riding the wind. I have no more follows, or takes. But I see a fish come up out of the shadows, quicker than I can tell it, never breaking the surface, but giving the fly a glancing blow and disappearing into shadow again. Like a light being flicked on and off in a dark room. I still see its imprint on my inner eyes.

There is a lull in the wind, and I tie on a new fly. A Carpet Caddis with olive body, but black tail and wing instead of olive, and grizzly hackle instead of brown.

I grease it to float, but it's a false lull, and the wind, with a roaring laugh, comes up strong again. I turn and once more push against it, trailing the fly behind me, lost in the chop. A fish takes it as it churns through the waves.

The day finally begins to settle down into evening, and the wind slowly calms, then shifts to the west and becomes a restless breeze.

I stay by the western shoreline, in the lee of the breeze. I dry off the fly and cast it in toward the willows. A few small fish flip at it, and miss. So I cast it far out onto the smooth slate surface and wait for a rise to begin. But the fish are quiet. Only a few scattered rises dimple the surface, and they are far away. Then, out of nowhere, a fish takes the fly.

I cast out and wait some more, happy to let the calmness of the evening fill me. Out of the corner of my eye I see a fish rise near a single clump of willow. I move quietly to within casting distance. Just as I'm raising the rod to cast it rises again. I drop the fly into the rise ring and he takes it hungrily.

The moon looks down as I cross the lake and climb the bank to the truck. I have ridden the wind to this place of calm. The day is finally at rest. Everything waits quietly for the new day.


  1. MY,MY.
    Congrats on that beautiful brown.

  2. I agree , that's one beautiful brown!
    I feel your pain on the wind thing , you should try casting in the 30 mph blows we get here on the plains almost every day it seems.