August, like this caterpillar, is not standing still. Both seem to have a compelling goal in mind.
You're out in the channel when a covey of Gray partridge clatters out of the willows back near the put in. They rush by overhead and land up on the hillside.
You've been throwing the damsel fly for awhile when you hear them flush again. You look up and see them scattering like dry leaves. Then you notice a single forlorn coyote standing there watching his supper fly away. You hope you'll have better luck.
The evening is deep and calm, and the fishing is slow. You get one or two slashes at the fly but miss them. Then, once again, you hit the right spot at the right time.
You range out into the south lake and throw a muddler for awhile along the shoreline, then just tow it slowly behind you.
You raise your apple for another bite and almost eat a damsel fly. You think of the story of some fly fishing icon who ate a mayfly so he could more closely identify with trout. You think, "It's been done," and nudge her out of the way.
You range some more, and tie on a caddis fly for a change of pace. There are scattered rises over the still surface but nothing comes to your fly. You don't mind. You're having a good time.
With the coming of dusk you kick back over to the head of the channel in the north lake to see what might be happening. Fish are rising, small fish. But you know there's always the chance that something big is up and feeding. So you work your caddis and the fish like it.
They're small, but you're hugely satisfied.
The sun is already flirting with the mountain by the time you make it to the lake. On the way in you passed a big rattlesnake crossing the gravel road, the ominous blackness of its last third of length a dead giveaway. You pulled over and ran back with the camera but he had already reached the tall grass. You decided not to kick around in there to see if you could find him.
You kick out into the channel. The evening is alive.
An eagle flies over close enough to hear the rush of wind through its pinions on each wingbeat. Kingbirds pursue him, continuing a constant harassment as if badgering him over and over again with the question, "Who is the king of the birds?"
You notice again, and finally accept the reality with a twinge of sadness, that the swallows are gone. They are among the very first birds to begin the southward journey. But Kingfishers still rattle, Nighthawks welcome the evening, and the Loon calls again in the distance.
You have the damsel on, and trout are still busy along the weed beds. Around the bend from the put in you see a fish rise in the same spot you've seen him rise before. You've missed him a few times, and lost him once in the weeds. You're a forgiving soul; you'll give him another chance.
You're waiting for rises, then throwing the fly at them, and it's not working. You have an epiphany: there is at least a minute between rises, and you're waiting about thirty seconds before picking up the fly. So you wait for a rise, throw the fly at it--and wait. It seems like a long time. But, right on schedule, the fish takes the fly. In fact, he does a somersault on it. But he's hooked, and this time you get him in the net.
You're proud of yourself, but your new found knowledge is unnecessary after that. You've laid out a prospecting cast in open water, and this eager little fish comes out of nowhere and takes the fly just as you're beginning to strip it in for a new cast.
And farther down the shoreline this one begins a little feeding frenzy of his own in some weeds near enough to get a cast to. He grabs the fly as soon as it hits the water.
You drift on farther into the south end. There are always rises beckoning you on, but none wherever you end up. You've decided to keep the damsel on for the rest of the evening to see if the fish will take it after the sun is gone. On this particular evening they don't, but you aren't able to find any steady risers.
It's a pleasant search, though, in your favorite time of day. And you aren't alone. Beaver are busy all along the shoreline, and a single coyote begins to yap and yip up on the hillside. He keeps it up for a long time, but gets no answer but his own echoes.
You troll the damsel through the twilight back to the truck. Ducks whistle by and settle down on the water. Nighthawks still cry overhead. Bats flitter and dragonflies buzz and clatter around your head. You wonder if they're feeding on the mosquitoes that hover over you.
As you're heading down the road you think of that coyote. You should have yipped back, just so he wouldn't feel so lonesome.