The truck is in the shop. It got you home from Kansas, but just barely. A little fishing may help take your mind off the impending repair bill. It's big. You wait for your wife to get home from school, then load the van and roll up to the lake.
The day has been warm and sunny, but the shadow of the mountain is looming big over the south end. You enter the shadow like a sanctuary.
You work the shoreline with a muddler again. You're thinking of a big Brown. The first fish you find is a Brown, but it's not big--except in spirit and beauty.
There's an Osprey working the south end with you. Three times you'll hear it hit the water and see it lift off with heavy wing beats, a big fish dangling from its talons. As you cross to the other side an eagle soars overhead. It makes a big circle over the lake, as though asserting its kingship to the osprey--and to you.
The evening is calm, and a few fish are rising to midges out in open water. There are a few swirls of callibaetis here and there. You stay with the muddler. On the other side you find another fish hanging back waiting for the big meal.
You're still keeping the net and the fish in the water as long as possible, and you've noticed that you get a lot wetter than you used to.
You swing on around the shoreline taking in the peace and beauty of each moment.
The top of a big stump is now sticking out of the water. This stump, with its tangle of submerged roots, has been a fish producer in years past. You glance at it as you approach and see the fading ripples of a big rise ring emanating from it. So you take your time and work the stump carefully. The second cast plops down right up against it, and a fish is on it before you can strip. It's a big fish, the biggest of the night.
You make another big loop. As dusk deepens more fish are active along the bank, but they're spooky. You miss a couple takes, and there are no second chances. Then, with the light going fast, you cast to the bank, wait, start the strip, get a big hit--and the tippet snaps.
That might have been just a weakened knot, but you like to think that it might have been the big Brown you'd been looking for. Either way, that's that.
By the time you've tied on a new tippet and a new muddler--you snip the fly off once by accident when trimming the tag--the light is gone. So you cast blind, just to prove a point, and one more fish comes to the net.
As you kick in you listen to the soothing song of crickets and katydids. You smell pine and sage on the gentle breeze. You hear the hollow echoes of a rock fall. You look up at a big star rising over the ridge and see swooping bats silhouetted against the dim afterglow.
And you smile a big smile.