You go back to Early Lake for the evening. It's busy again, and you remember that today is opening day for the people who couldn't get here yesterday. And so on. There is a big group of several families set up for a cookout. The women are getting the fire going while the little kids run around and play. The men and older kids are out in at least three boats fishing.
You're all ready to go, but the two guys at the launch--old fly fishermen, wouldn't you know it--are taking forever. So you head across between the pickups and past the fire and launch by the cattails.
You slip around the budding willows...
And out into the open lake.
You aren't alone. Boats come and go. But you're still enjoying the holiday atmosphere, and everybody is having fun, and fun is contagious.
You fish and you catch fish. The first one comes to the little mayfly still on the tippet from yesterday. It's smallish, like most of these stockers, but it's pretty.
Others come to trolled beadhead muddlers again, and a bushy brown nymph, and then later another dry fly.
You feel absolutely no pressure. These are eager, inexperienced fish, and you know that you can probably catch them at will. You know others are doing just that, harvesting their five fish limit each day. Soon there won't be so many to catch.
The sun sinks lower in the west, and you pull over to put a jacket on. It has been another 80 degree day, but when the sun is gone it will get chilly.
You kick out again and wonder what to try next.
Then you remember Athena, the sweet daughter of a friend. That's her in the pink.
Way last fall you saw that she had two long hackle feathers braided into her hair. This was back when that fad had apparently created shortages of good hackle for fly tiers. You told her then that whenever she was finished with the hackle you would like to have it to tie some flies with. And that you'd name one after her.
You forgot all about it. Then one day this spring she brings you a long orange grizzly hackle feather. The other one--green--fell apart, she says. So you go to work with the orange one and tie a fly.
It's a big bugger, with a big tungsten bead. You tried it at Rocky Ford Creek, with no luck. Now you wonder if one of these junior trout might like it.
One does. It's small, but it manages to hook itself. The fly looks especially good connected to a trout. You're eager to show these photos of the "Athena" to Athena
You continue to troll with it for awhile and it gets lots of hits, but no more hookups. Too big. You might tie some in a smaller version, but you'll definitely tie up a few more big ones. You think this pattern could be a big hit at Trout Lake when it opens.
Noisy geese circle the lake. You fish on.
You catch more fish. One of them is a jumper.
As the sun settles you go back to a dry fly.
The lake is peaceful. Pods of fish are popping up here and there, and they'll take the dry, sometimes just sitting, sometimes if you twitch it along. The sounds of laughter from the camp fire, and the boats full of kids take you back to your own childhood fishing trips, and to good times with your kids when they were little.
Good memories to enrich a good spring evening. You shake out of your reverie, thank the day, and kick in.