Monday, August 20, 2012

Trout Lake Report: At Home In the Universe

There has been another spell of 100 degree weather, and the north end of the lake bakes in the heat. There's a wind blowing, primarily out of the northwest, but it swirls and gusts, making every cast an adventure. You've greased a muddler, letting it ride high and skitter over the weed beds as you make your circuit around the shoreline. You find some fish, but they're small and you don't hook up. But it's entertaining to watch them knock the fly out of the water.

You arrive at your real destination: the inlet. You haven't been here for awhile, but for thirty yards fanning out in every direction it remains clear of the weeds that encircle it like a reef around a lagoon. The lake has dropped some more since you were here last, and you can't see how shallow it may be here through the riffles. But the water is still cold, and you wonder if it will still hold good fish.

You don't get too close. You gauge the wind and manage to drop the fly right at the entrance. It sits for a moment, and a big head comes up. You raise the rod.

You can't believe your luck when a heavy fish bores deep and spins the float tube around as it runs into open water. You play him on the reel and make sure he's ready before you show him the net. He's still not ready. But a moment later you have him.

You are enamored of this fish. You can't take your eyes off him. You admire his strength and beauty through the camera lense, giving him the full work up.

You go back with the muddler, just in case there might be another brown hiding under those riffles. But all is calm.

You feel good, and reflect for awhile on that feeling. You remember when you learned how rainbows were formed, and the next time a storm rolled through and the evening sun began to peek out from under the clouds you went outside and gazed at the retreating wall of dark gray clouds and rain. And when the angle of the sun was just right you saw a rainbow materialize out of thin air. You knew then what you know now: the intricate order of the universe holds, and with a little knowledge, and by putting yourself in the right place under the right conditions, you will see the rainbow. Or the brown. And more: you will know you yourself are a part of that intricate order.

So you drift with the wind, at home in the universe.

You come back around again and fish the open water outside the inlet.

You move back toward the inlet. The wind has shifted more to the west, and the water here is somewhat sheltered. A few fish begin rising. You get some splashes and bumps.

You finally edge over to try the inlet again, and flush a great blue heron out of the willows. He grunts in disgust as he lifts ponderously into the air. You cast the fly in and get a quick take. It's another brown.

You go back in and get a second quick take, this time a rainbow.

Now fish are coming up out in the open water between the inlet and the weed beds. So you kick out and beginning working the muddler. You let it sit, and you strip. Nothing is happening.

Then, ten feet to your left, there's a deep rise of a good fish. You strip in fast, false cast once and put the fly down. You give it two strips and the fish engulfs it.  He's deep-bodied and heavy, and he uses all his weight, taking line off the reel twice. But once again you are reassured about the ways of the universe.

While you're releasing him the wind picks up, the gusts increasing in intensity. You're wearing a straw hat on these hot days, with a good band that usually holds it on securely, but a powerful gust flips it off your head before you can get your hand on it. That crazy universe.

You retrieve the hat and keep fishing. There are still fish out there, and they like the muddler waking through the riffles.

You miss some hits, and then hook a rainbow to match the evening clouds.

And then another amazing thing happens. Is it because you have put yourself in the right place under the right conditions? You think not. For there is another characteristic of the universe: serendipity.

There is a big swirl along the shoreline, too big for a fish. You think beaver, but whatever is making it is moving too fast for a beaver. Then a round head with small round ears and whiskers pops up ten feet away, and dark round eyes peer intently at you. An otter. You love these remarkable animals. It has been a long time since you saw one at the lake. The Field Guide to Mammals says they have a range of 15 miles or more, and travel overland between bodies of water. This one has come back to this lake just in time for you to see it.

It talks to you, in an airy, non-musical trill. You answer by trilling your tongue. It's close to the sound, but you can't be sure what you're saying, if you're saying anything. The otter doesn't appear to be afraid, or threatening. If anything, it's curious. For the next half hour it swims around you, coming up over and over to study you--sometimes lifting itself two feet out of the water, talking away the whole time. And for half an hour you're trying, in vain, to get a good photo of it.

All this time you're fishing, but you can't imagine that an otter swimming around will increase your chances. But just before dark you see another rainbow.

If anything, the wind has increased. But for once it's coming from exactly the right direction to blow you straight across the lake to the truck. Thank you, universe.


  1. Another nice trip around the lake. Thanks Universe.


  2. Jim
    Outstanding colors on those browns, big difference in the colors on a brown in a lake as opposed to a tailrace brown. Thanks for sharing a great post