I was up near Cutthroat Lake the other day, so I stopped by, took the rod out of the truck, and fished from the bank for awhile. The lake was calm, and I saw a cruising fish, but it was already too far past me for a cast. Then, a few minutes later, it came back. I had just cast out a light colored streamer, so I stripped it in quick and got it in front of the fish--and it came over and took it. I was feeling pretty proud of myself when it turned on the jets and ran right off the hook.
Time to get back to Cutthroat Lake and give it a real try.
On the way up, this doe and her fawn crossed the road in front of me, then stopped. I stopped too and looked over where they had come out of the trees and saw this fawn's twin still waiting to cross. I got out of its way and headed on to the lake.
It was another hot August day. I started with the muddler I still had on and worked over to the east shore. There I looped on a sinking tip, tied a red Matuka streamer on the tippet, and started to troll along the drop off.
The line slowly tightened on my finger and put the brakes on the float tube. Really, I thought for a second that I had snagged something. Sometimes that's a metaphor, and sometimes it's a fact. I set the hook hard and finally felt life at the end of the line. This big hen, heavy with eggs, did a lot of head shaking, and took one long deep run, but mostly it was like reeling in a bag of cement. But she sure was pretty.
As she swam away she reminded me, with her big belly, of a marine iguana.
As I was getting reorganized I managed to get the matuka hooked to my wading boot where I couldn't reach it, so I broke it off and tied on a woolly bugger. I proceeded to troll around the lake, and tried two or three different flies.
It was a lovely time out on the water.
I didn't find any more fish, but I found solitude, beauty, and peace.
I got back to the truck as the evening was deepening into dusk. I wasn't ready to go yet. I was hoping for an evening rise. I've been there on other August evenings when the wind dies, the lake becomes like a mirror, and one or two, then three and more big fish begin sipping bugs off the top. Now I saw some caddis fluttering around, and callibaetis began to dance over the water.
I took off the sink tip and tied on a little caddis dry. I drifted around and waited to see what would happen. The callibaetis were thick. Dragonflies, and, later, many, many bats, sliced and diced their way through them. And the sky put on a show.
But the wind didn't die. And the fish didn't come up. But when I finally kicked over to the takeout I wasn't disappointed in the least. And when the big old moon rose up over the mountain it just confirmed what I already knew: it had been another magical time in another magical place.