Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Simply Enchanted

You still remember a quote from Helen Hayes: "If you want to see the world in a new light, get up an hour earlier." You haven't been to the lake in the morning in a long time, so you get up at six (you overslept; you can already see your hand in front of your face) and hit the road.

On the climb up the ridge you stop to take in the sunrise.

The road is busy at this time of morning. Deer crisscross the road ahead of you.

Cattle are in their fall range now and look at you like they wonder why you're trespassing on their road. Just up the road from the cattle a flock of wild turkeys crosses.

You stop at first sight of the lake and a large round shape lumbers down the hill away from you. You think at first it's the biggest raccoon you've ever seen. Then it stops and looks back at you, and the face markings are unmistakable: a badger. You've always liked badgers, ever since the first time you read The Wind in the Willows.

The sun is painting the tips of the western mountains when you pull in to your parking spot.

You launch at the channel. It's a perfect morning.

You're simply enchanted by it all, by the silent coming of the light to the lake and the world. You can't stop taking pictures. It's like you've never seen this lake before.

You remember you're there to fish, and tie on a stimulator. You drift with the light north breeze down into the south lake. The lake is quiet. There are no early risers. You flick the stimulator out and strip it in and get one or two slashes at it, but no takes.

After awhile you have an inspiration. You tie on the muddler and kick over to the shoreline.

You start working your way along, casting and stripping, enjoying the activity. You get to a place where the low water has revealed some beaver den excavations. There's an indentation in the shoreline, and you figure there might be a hole there. You cast the muddler right up against the bank.

The instant it slaps down a fish pounces on it like a cat on a mouse. A beautiful morning brown.

As so often, you say to yourself, "I could go home right now..." But you have no intention of doing so. You keep going down the shoreline. There is no more obvious structure, but you're filled with the optimism of recent success. You keep dropping the fly right up against the shadowed bank and letting the breeze drift it along before starting the strip.

You've just cast, and the fly is drifting along, when it disappears in a quietly efficient rise. You expect a small rainbow when you tighten up and are surprised to feel heavy resistance. Another brown, with all the colors of the sunrise.

You reach the end of that stretch of shoreline. You're happy. And you're a little chilly. Your hands are cold, and you start to look forward to the coming of the sun over the eastern ridge.

Almost three hours after you launched it tops the ridge. It breaks through and over with blinding brilliance. The waning shadow of the night slips down the bank and retreats east across the water. The light bathes you with warmth.

And suddenly it's full morning, and the lake is aglow.

All is quiet, as though the fish, too, are taking in this change to their world. It feels like one part of the day has ended, and another is just beginning. You can't stay the whole day, and this seems like the time to go. So you kick back to the channel. You drift the muddler behind you, but it's just you, the muddler, and the sun.

But back in the channel you see some small fish beginning to work, as though warming to their task. Their rises glint and sparkle in the sunlight. You cast to one, and he takes eagerly.

You kick toward the take out, but leave the fly trailing behind you, and another fish takes it.

It was fall when you arrived; it's summer again now. You're still slightly dazzled by the light. You pack up and head out. And you're still simply enchanted by it all.


  1. I've been waking, seeing the world in the dark as of late. But that light, right at one of my favorite things. Love the photos and the writing as always. And that is one beauty of a brown!

  2. The lake is definately different in the morning. Speaking of a Badger, one time I had the chance to pick up a dead one (I won't go into how it got dead), but the muscles in that little bugger were solid as a rock. Tough as they come.

  3. just you and the fish and the rest of us along for the ride

  4. Like the transition of light through the day. As always your photo's are gorgeous. Great description of the sun "painting the tips" of the mountains.I am enchanted by it all too.