The day finally comes, and, after taking care of a few things you need to do, you finally break away and make your way to the lake. There's an RV village in the south campground, but fewer campers up along the north lake. You're delighted to find one of your favorite access points--right on the channel--unoccupied. There are winter-downed willows blocking the access, but that's not going to stop you.
You push your way through and kick out into the channel, and there to the left of you is Trout Lake...
And there to the right of you is Trout Lake.
It's Trout Lake everywhere, in all its glory, and you hardly know where to start. But you have a pretty good idea. You've already decided to fish a #10 muddler to see whether you can find a fish willing to take it on opening day. So you head to a stretch of shoreline that you hold in high regard and get to work.
It's like coming home. The shoreline reels slowly by and you get into a deeply satisfying rhythm as you lay the fly as close to the ragged edge of the lake as you can and strip it back. Almost right away you get a splashy hit but no take. You think this just might work. You keep going, pushing the limit to get the fly into tight spaces.
You work all the way down and get more hits and follows. So you turn around and tow the fly behind you while you kick back up to where you started. You want to work in the opposite direction around the bend into John's Cove.
Just as you start around the bend, a fish swirls on the fly. You instantly stop stripping, wait a beat, then start again. You've tried this before, but this time it works. The fish comes back and takes it solidly. It's a fish worthy of the honor of being the first fish of 2013 at Trout Lake.
You go back to the shoreline with the muddler and within two casts get a second solid take. It's a sweet little Brown. You're pleased.
The experiment has been successful. You can catch fish in early spring by working the shorelines with a muddler. You wonder if you should try some other method now, but you're having too much fun. You keep throwing the muddler and work down the channel toward the north lake.
You get a good swirl right under a snag, and then get hung up trying to lay the fly even farther back under it. After kicking in to retrieve the fly you go on.
But on the way back you cast to the snag again and get a hookup. Just a little fish, but as it runs and jumps another fish jumps next to it. It's bigger than yours, and it's a Brown. You wonder. You've had big Browns come out of nowhere and take a small trout, fly and all, right off your line. This one didn't look big enough to do that, but a Brown is a Brown. At the least, this experience gets you eagerly anticipating future Brown interactions.
You rest the snag and go back to it a third time, this time with an image of that airborne Brown in your mind. But nothing doing.
You're having a wonderful time. Most of the trollers are in camp now having supper. A couple of boats will come out again before dark, but in the meantime you're alone. You kick back into the south lake and lazily fish your way along. There are some risers, and you think about changing flies. But why? You stay with the muddler, and you get more follows and swirls.
The swallows are thick overhead as dusk arrives.
And another sweet little Brown comes after the muddler.
You kick slowly in, savoring the moment, and savoring everything you've experienced. One day down, and many, many more to come.