You've been fishing other waters, delaying a return to Trout Lake. The last trip there was troubling. You caught three fish, and three fish died, even though you did your best to revive them. After that third one you kicked in and quit early. You guess that the fish are stressed by the heat, though that has never been a problem in the seven years you've fished here.
But you give the lake a rest--for as long as you can stand it. Then, with your summer quickly passing before your eyes, you need to go back and take stock.
It's still hot, but not in the hundreds anymore. You hope that will make a difference. You also go to the north end where the inlet is still feeding the lake. The water is noticeably cooler there.
You launch and begin a slow kick across the lake. There are fish rising here and there, and things feel much more alive than the last time you were here.
You're casting a little green butt stimulator off to the side, letting it drag out straight behind you, then casting it to the side again. You happen to be looking when a fish takes it with the perfect porpoising rise. It's breathtaking in its compact efficiency.
The fish is strong and fights hard. It dives into the weeds, which aren't far below the surface, but you manage to horse him out. You work him in quickly and keep the net in the water, but when it swims away it seems a little worse for wear. Maybe you lifted it too far out of the water after all.
You get to the other side and fish the inlet and the shoreline all around it.
There are fish working and you get follows and short rises. You switch to a new muddler and move out along the reeds that have risen as the water has receded. You've seen rises in there, and the muddler is just right for twitching through the reeds without getting snagged. You get a splashy take.
This time you try to keep the trout under water. When it's time to release it, you tip the net and put your hand under the fish in case it needs reviving. But it's off like a shot. That's more like it.
You feel better. Things seem to be getting back to normal. You begin to thoroughly enjoy the game of cat and mouse with the fish in the reeds. You get another take, but the fish dives into the weeds, leaves the fly there, and keeps going. He jumps once as if to say, "Not today, pal."
On down the reed line, though, another fish rises. You drop the fly in the rise ring and he takes it. You use the same release routine, and this fish, too, explodes out of the net and is gone.
It's good to be back. The water is down, the weeds are up, the fish are getting active again. It's going to be a good fall. You think about that as you begin the kick back through the weed beds to the truck.
Halfway back you come upon a fish working, so you stop and work the muddler. It takes two casts and the fish is on it. You're surprised and happy to see the flash of yellow in the darkening water. It's been awhile since the lake has gifted you with a Brown.
Nothing like a Brown to begin to put you in a fall state of mind. You're grateful.
And you're reassured. It's half-past August, and all is well.