It's the last day. The faithful float tube is waiting.
You've tied up your version of a Halloween muddler just for today.
On the way in another prescribed burn is underway. It will perfume your evening.
You park under the great Ponderosa one more time and kick out into the north end.
You start across. Fish are rising under the smoke.
There's a rise behind you and you drop the new fly near it. The fish takes before you can begin a strip. It's a rainbow in perfect condition. It churns the water, then trembles cold and firm in your hand as you release it.
You move along the familiar shoreline past the inlet still feeding the lake with icy water.
You cast into a shallow curve of shadow under overhanging willow canes, and there's a firm take. The fish jumps, and you think rainbow.
But it's the last brown of the season. You think it might be the most beautiful one of all.
You move on over the reflection of the Autumn sky.
There's a rise ahead of you, and you cast to it. You leave the fly suspended there, and the fish pulls it under. It will be the last rainbow--and the last fish--of the season.
You take your time--you want to stretch it out. But you begin to make your way back to the truck.
On the way you miss two splashy takes. Or maybe the fish miss.
It seems right, though, to end the season with unfinished business; to be reminded that seasons come and seasons go, but fishing goes on forever.
So long, lake. Thanks for everything.