You get to the lake alone and head up the north shoreline.
The shoreline--the world--is constantly changing. Another tree has toppled. You and Jeremiah have fished under this one. It came down on a good lie, but the fish will adjust. So will you.
You circle around to the other side and find a fish in the reeds.
You work all around the inlet, then move in to see if fish are holding there. You tie on a damselator and a fat rainbow is on it before it stops twitching.
And there's another.
You hear, then see a good fish working things over back in the reeds, so you kick over.
He comes up again, and you long-line a cast to the ripples, and he rares up and engulfs the damselator. It's a very big brown. Some big browns will thrash, then take a long, deep, not-too-hurried run, giving you time to get things under control and get some line in. This fish keeps thrashing--and rolling. When you get him close to the net you realize the line is wrapped around him. You can't quite reach him, and as you raise the rod to bring him closer he starts to unwind: once, twice, three times, four times--and on the last twirl the fly comes out.
With these big fish it's always a little like a kick in the stomach. You just sit for awhile and watch the water calm.
Some more fish are coming up behind you along the drop off.
You turn around, set up, target a rise ring, and a lovely rainbow comes up and engulfs the fly just like the brown had. It's a consolation prize.
As dusk deepens you cross over and work the shoreline right around the truck with a muddler. There are some hungry fish there.
You're just ready to call it a day when you hear the sound of a good fish coming up along a nearby point you just worked. You look back and see ripples right under a bush. So you kick back and probe the area with the muddler. Just two feet to the left of your last cast a big nose comes up and takes the fly. It's a brown. A big brown.
You feel blessed by the fishing gods. Everything will work out after all. This will be the true consolation prize that will restore the order of the universe. You work it in, it's almost in the net, and it comes off. Why? You don't know.
That kick in the stomach thing.
Time to go home. Whatever consolation there may be for you will have to wait for another day.