I hadn't planned to fish on Friday, but by early evening I had a little time and a little inclination, so I drove through the rain to the lake. The inclination was a desire to see whether maybe, just possibly, there would be any Hex hatching.
That won out over the disinclination, which was the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. That's been a way of life around here for the last few weeks, and I've been chilly even at home on these 40 degree nights. And 50 or 60 degrees feels cold when you're on the lake and a north wind is blowing rain down your neck. Now, that's good for you once in awhile, but it looks like sunshine and 80 degree temps are right around the corner, so I was willing to wait a few days and fish in comfort.
But then again, what if the Hex were hatching in the cold and rain without me? So there I was, layered up, and at the north lake.
There were no rises anywhere. I started in the opposite direction this time and began working the shoreline with a different, bigger muddler.
This version of the muddler has a teal flank feather on the back, and it was tending to land upside down. I had stripped it in on its back almost to the tube, and was thinking that maybe it was time to change flies, when there was a big yellow explosion under it. I missed the hookup, or pulled it out of his mouth, or maybe he struck short, but I didn't get that Brown. But I did decide to stay with that fly.
On up the shoreline, again near the tube, I saw a nice Rainbow angle up and slash at the fly. He missed, too, reinforcing my view that they were striking short. But I kept fishing that muddler. It was clearly getting their attention.
I reached the trees at the north end of the campground and cast in under the leaves right along a deadfall.
The fly was more waterlogged now, and was swimming right side up just under the surface, when this Brown came up behind and sucked it in with hardly a splash and a satisfying popping sound. I hooked him solidly, and he fought heavy and long. I measured this one on the stripping apron, and he was pushing 19 inches.
I released him and started trolling the muddler across to the far shoreline where I had seen the Hex the other day. As I passed the campground some guys were building a fire. They kept piling on the wood and got a big blaze going. It looked warm and cozy over there. I could hear them laughing now and then, and wondered what stories they were telling around the camp fire.
When I got to the other side it was raining harder. I worked along most of that shoreline, back around away from the campground. I raised some fish but missed them--or they missed the fly--and hooked up once but lost that one. The forest smelled good in the rain.
The whole time I was watching for Hex, but saw nary a one. Nor did I see much of anything hatching, and while a few fish came up now and again, the rises were as sparse as I've seen them this spring.
So I called it an evening. I had accomplished what I had come for, and more--much more. I didn't find any Hex, but I have high hopes they're waiting for those 80 degree days, too. I switched to a bead head leech and trolled through the rain back to the truck. I didn't get a bump, but that was OK. I could still feel that Brown in my wrist.
When I got home, tired and cold, I built myself a camp fire in the wood stove, and I've been sitting around it telling you this story. And I'm toasty warm.