It's hard to believe, but the last day of summer is here. So many memories. They roll around in your head as you drive up to the lake for the last trip of summer.
Showers are climbing over the mountains and roaming down the valleys as you enter the wildlife area and pass the first lake in the chain.
You drive out of the rain by the time you reach Trout Lake. But today you keep going.
You're heading to Brookie Lake. When you arrive, you get out and take a look around. The weeds are thick around the launch so you find a spot on the bank where you can cast to an open area.
You're casting a muddler. It takes awhile, but you finally strip the fly through a corridor between the weeds and a fish leaps straight up out of the water trying to get it. It misses and hooks itself on the dorsal. It's a beautiful, strong fish.
You want to hook one clean, and you give it a good effort. You try a little woolly bugger and a bead head nymph, but you don't catch another fish in the limited space you can reach from the bank. You determine to come back in the fall, brave the weeds with the float tube, and increase your space--and your chances.
You drive back to Trout Lake and go in at the north end.
The water is stained from the rain, something you haven't seen here before. You wonder if that will affect the fishing. You cross over to the reed bed and the inlet. You've tied a muddler back on, and you get a swirl, so you decide the fish can at least see a muddler.
At the inlet you cast to the entrance and get a quick hit. But you miss the hookup. You go back, wait, then begin a strip. Farther out than the first hit a fish comes up strong and is hooked. You think it might be the same fish. It seems pissed enough.
You make a few more exploratory casts around the entrance, then kick in closer and send a cast way inside. The water can't be two feet deep in there, but you get a big hit and pull a second fish out of the inlet.
There's another guy in a float tube here. You look up, and instead of giving you a wide berth he's bearing down on you, fishing the same areas you just covered. Whatever. He looks around and sees you, so you wait a minute to see if he'll change his course. But he just keeps coming. Too close.
You kick out and cross back over to the other side. This was wonderful water in the spring and early summer when the lake was five feet higher, and it's good to explore now. Even when a cast comes up empty you're remembering many other fish caught along here on days when the summer was young.
Then, in one of the hot spots of the glory days, seemingly barren now, a chase, an ambush, and another fish.
You get up to the far north end where you began and work the corner you skipped before.
One more fish comes to the muddler. The last fish of summer.
You look over, and that other guy seems to be crossing back over here, too.
OK. You're done. You climb back up to the truck, load up, and hit the road.
You're dodging the odd deer here and there when you round a curve and have to hit the brakes. A big flock of turkeys in no hurry to get out of the way. You admire their ungainly wildness, then push them off the road and drive on.
You feel melancholy. There are still a few hours to the actual time of the fall equinox at 1:44 PDT tomorrow. But for you, summer is already over.