Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trout Lake Report: Another Day of Summer Fades Away

"For the Children" by Gary Snyder

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

"For the Children" by Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island.
© New Directions, 1974.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trout Lake Report: Solitude

You love being able to slip away after a hot day to the cool of the lake. You love discovering that you have the entire evening to yourself.

You launch at the far south end. You haven't been there for awhile. You start working the shoreline with a newly-tied muddler.

There must be fish who see it and don't want it. But you're looking for this fish. He's on the edge of a weed bed, and he comes clear out of the water in his eagerness to grab the fly skittering by.

Maybe they're beginning to see a few hoppers.

You work on around wondering if there are any other fish who want the muddler.

There's one more. He's right up in the willows along a drop off, and he pounces on the fly as soon as it hits the water.

You keep going, enjoying the magical transformation of the day into night.

The Goose Family gives you a fly by. You're amused by the youngsters whose squeaky, high-pitched honks remind you of teenage boys going through puberty.

The wind dies, the lake calms, and pods of fish begin to rise out in open water. You tie on a lighter tippet, affix a #20 Griffith's Gnat, and go chasing chain risers.

Too soon the breeze kicks up again and you can't see the fly anymore.

So you tie on a bead head Woolly Bugger and begin a leisurely troll. You get bumps and pulls, and then a hookup. It's a little silver fish that shines like the moon.

Before you know it, it's dark.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trout Lake Report: What a Ride!

Thunderstorms are roaming the area. You make sure you have your rain jacket in the truck and follow the deer over the ridge to the lake.

You kick over to the inlet and tie on a #12 Damselator. You still want to catch a Brown. On the Damselator.

By some act of grace you've hit it right, and you do it right.

You see fish working inside the inlet, and one rolls its yellow sides at you. You drop the little Damselator halfway in and wait. You let the fly drift naturally with the incoming current. You wait some more. You didn't wait before. And now, finally--there it is. A quiet take. You set and quickly snake the fish out of the inlet and into open water where there's room to work with. And soon you've caught a beautiful Brown.

You put the fly back in the same place, and another Brown soon grabs it.

While releasing that fish you see a rise way inside the inlet where the riffles of the inlet stream spread out. This is shallow water, two, maybe two and a half feet. But you drop the fly where you saw the rise. This time you don't have to wait. A fish sucks it in. You set, and all hell breaks loose. It's a big Brown, and since it can't go down it goes up. One, two, three, four times it leaps twisting into the air as you strip as fast as you can drawing it out of the willows and into open water and finally, blessedly, into the net.

This is a noble fish. An extraordinary fish. You measure it before you release it. Twenty on the nose. But it's even bigger than that in your esteem.

By now you've also noticed that the hook is hanging on by the thinnest flap of skin. You came that close to losing this fish. So when all is said and done the biggest thing by far is your gratitude.

A family of geese has moved into the inlet. You've gotten to know them over the past few weeks, since the youngsters were in down, so you give them their turn and kick on down the shoreline to where you missed a good fish a few trips ago. On the way a Rainbow ambushes the Damselator as it drifts behind you.

You cast the fly up into the shallows, and again there is an immediate take. You're amazed to see another flash of yellow, and to net yet another beautiful Brown.

You wonder if it's the dropping barometer. The wind is picking up, and storm clouds are building in the south.

You decide to shelter inside the inlet. You fish along the way, but the action has slowed considerably. It seems that the fish are getting ready for the storm, too.

The geese are still there, but they leave without complaint when you move right in. You get your rain jacket on, pull your hat down tight, and settle in with your back to the wind.

The wind blows harder. The sky gets darker. There is a long, glorious peal of thunder that rolls majestically from horizon to horizon.

Then the rain sweeps in, and the willows begin to thrash in the wind, and the waves begin to roll. You brace your feet on the shallow bottom and grab a handful of willows and ride it out.

When it's over you move out to see if there's any more fishing to be done.

It's not long before the last of the sun comes out.

So you offer the Damselator again.

You get one take, but the fish gets quickly into the weeds and comes off.

And that's it. The lake is quiet as quiet can be. So you kick slowly back across to the truck, dragging a woolly bugger behind you. You throw a muddler along the shoreline for awhile.

And all the time you're thinking about those Browns, and about that storm, and all you can say about the day is:

What a ride!