Once again you slip away for the evening. The channel feels like the right place to be. As you're gearing up you notice that the hoppers are of a delectable size now. The # 12 muddlers you have been using are serviceable imitations, and you suspect that fish have been taking them for hoppers. You wonder, as the season moves into true "hopper time," whether the muddler action will heat up.
You tie on a muddler. You kick out to where the channel drops off into the north end. There are small fish splashing around in the weed beds, but you have a different idea. A south wind is pushing rollers through the channel, and in seasons past the bigger fish would patrol the drop off. A big fly hanging in the swells--a muddler, for instance--would elicit business-like takes. Sometimes a big fly stripped fast would trigger wild chases and big hits. So you try it out.
You cover a 180 degree arc with your casts, and you let the fly sit and you strip it in. You keep at it for awhile, and even change the fly, because twice you see the backs and dorsals of good fish rise up out of the waves and disappear again. They don't take your fly--this time--but you have a good feeling about the future.
The wind calms and you don't see anymore rises out there in open water, so you kick over to the western shoreline and begin working your way along with the muddler.
There are some fish working, too, and you get a couple of hits along the way, but one of you misses. Then you come up on a little bay that always held some fish when you came through in June on your way to the brown drake hatch. You see some rises right up against the bank. They look like small fish, but you haven't caught anything yet. So you put the muddler down, start a quick strip, and get an eager take by what turns out to be a decent fish.
You release him and manage to get your line tangled on the next cast. When you've finally untangled it you glance up and see another rise near where you caught the first fish. You put the fly on it, and before you can even begin the strip a fish hits it hard. He fights as hard as he hit.
There are no more fish there, so you start back toward the truck, fishing as you go. You start the usual stripping routine, but then you realize the wind has created a current along the shoreline. You can lay the fly down and let it drift on the calm surface for five feet or more along the bank.
And you get hits. You don't hook up, but it's clear that some fish are liking the look of that big fly dropping out of the shoreside vegetation and drifting helplessly over their window. It bodes well for the hopper time ahead.