You get to the lake earlier than usual. It feels like you have all the time in the world. You settle into a relaxed pace. It's over a hundred degrees in the valley; must be close to that at the lake. The water feels cool through the waders. The sun beats down, and a stiff south wind beats up the lake.
The night before, you tied up a new stimulator and a golden-bodied muddler. You start with the stimulator. Nothing is moving along the shoreline. At the far north end, out over the thick weeds that have almost reached the surface, fish are jumping for something. Maybe damselflies. You hope the stimulator might fool one or two of them, but they're wise to you.
You move back to the shoreline. Still nothing. That gold body in the fly patch flashes in the corner of your eye. So on goes the muddler, and up comes the first fish.
You reach the inlet. You see fish in there again. You go for them.
One takes, and you manage to squirrel him out into open water and get him in the net.
You go back in and get another solid hookup. This time you can't keep him out of the willows. You put some pressure on him but the fly comes out before he does. You're glad to still have the fly. You try again, but there's a slight resistance on the forward cast. You start to strip in, but you can't see the wake of the fly. You strip all the way in and find the tippet is bare. The wind has pushed your cast sideways into the willows behind you. You search every branch carefully but you can't see that gold body anywhere. You'll miss that muddler, too.
You once more go to a substitute muddler and continue on down the shoreline. You look for the big Brown, but nobody is home. You round a point and decide to just keep on going.
It's a lovely day, and the fishing is lovely, too. You find a fish busy snapping up damselflies. Just one fish. You cast to him, and he leaps for the muddler as eagerly as he has leapt for the damsels.
You watch the damsels as you fish. They swarm over the water, their electric blue flashing bright against the green. They are intent on mating, and cluster around the muddler as it slips through the water. You see a damsel riding for a few moments on a very confused caddis fly.
You reach the shadow of the mountain. This is the wildest part of the lake, and you love it here. A Bighorn Sheep lies down at the foot of the talus slope and watches unconcernedly as you pass. You feel just as restful and unconcerned.
The wind is retreating, and some fish are coming up out in open water. You tie on a dry--a Carpet Caddis with a black wing and tail--and cast it, first out, then in, and watch to see what might happen. On one cast it drifts slowly past the willows. There's the tiniest little sip--plip--and the fly is gone. You tighten, expecting a baby, and are surprised to find a good fish on the line. Maybe a very good fish. Just a couple of tantalizing head shakes, though, and he's off.
You move leisurely down the shoreline, casting in, not out, and hoping for another plip. You get a closeup view of some good bank habitat when you kick in to disentangle your fly from a low hanging branch, something that happens fairly regularly when you work the shoreline.
You've come all the way around to the "Hex grounds." Here the Brown Drakes swirled by the thousands just a few weeks ago.
You find one on the water, barely alive, like the ghost of things past. Then you see several more rising into the air, or squirming on the water. The Hatch is over, but some drakes are still hatching. You're happy to see that.
There are some rises where you fished big Drake dries back then. You want to knot one on now, but try the Carpet Caddis first. A fish takes it.
You release the fish and then tie on a big Drake. You're looking forward to this. But there's a rushing sound all around. A big anvil cloud has been rising over the western ridge. It now looms over the mountains, preceded by fast-moving outriders. The sound you hear is wind, coming in this time from the northwest. It swoops down the mountainsides and then skims across the water toward you.
You wait and hope. Thunder rumbles; it's far away. The storm seems to be moving away to the northeast. But the wind keeps blowing harder. You know it will be against you on the long troll back to the truck, so you decide to get going.
It's a long, hard kick. But you make it. You're tired--and exhilarated.
More clouds keep pouring over the ridge, and stacking up in the northeast.
The wind blows hard all the way home. You get out of the truck and stand in the wind for awhile watching the brilliant lightning display as the storms that missed the lake roam across the far northern horizon. And you still feel like you're bobbing up and down, up and down, on wind-tossed waves.