Another hot, smoky afternoon. You launch on the north end. It's time to visit the cool waters of the inlet again.
There's a boat out there in the deeper water, away from the shallows and the great barrier of weed mats. That makes sense. But you head straight for the weeds, slog through, and find a crescent of open water at the inlet. It is shallow--you can touch the bottom with your fins. But it's calm inside the weeds, the water feels cool against your legs, and--just as you hoped--there are fish working the margins of the weeds. You watch one, two, three, four, rolling and jumping and porpoising--and they're all Browns.
You have a muddler on that you were dragging behind you on the crossing, so you show it to them first. You get a curious bump, and a refusal. You clip it off and tie on a little Damselator. That does the trick. You catch two right away.
There's a smaller Brown splashing around some weeds very near to you. It's the one who refused the muddler. You concentrate on him, and finally get a cautious take. You set, and miss. It seems he spit it out before you raised the rod. After that, he continues to splash around the weeds right under your nose while blithely ignoring the Damselator. He likes to jump clear out of the water, so that the sun flashes off his buttery sides, just to make sure you know he's still there. That fish will go far.
So you cast over to the mouth of the inlet. There's an instant take: Brown number three.
You move around and explore other pools in the weeds. There's a very good Brown coming up every five minutes or so with beautiful dorsal and tail rises. You try for him, without success. And the little Brown is still splashing away.
On a whim you go over to the inlet. The lake is way down, more than you've ever seen at this time of the season. The inlet is now a shallow stream. Just for the heck of it, you cast the Damselator in and watch it drift in the current.
There's a take. That's a little surprising, with the water as skinny as it is, but it's not unknown to get hits from tiny little Rainbows in places like this. So you raise the rod--and there's an explosion in that little creek. Now that's a big surprise. And it's a big fish. You snake it out into the open and work it. It can't go deep, so it makes long, slashing runs back and forth. As you get it closer and closer you can see that it's barely hooked right on the tip of the lower jaw. You hold your breath and finally get him to the tube and start to maneuver him toward the waiting net--and the fly pops out. He just sits there for a few moments, too tired to know what's happened. He's almost close enough to reach out and scoop into the net. And then he slowly fins away.
You fish some more, trying different flies as the day wanes. The little Brown has gone down, but the big Brown you saw before shows up again. You cast a little Stimulator to him. You wait. You strip it. You get a take. Your heart races for a split second. But once again you get the consolation prize.
Things slow down, and you start to kick your way back through the weeds. You cast a big mayfly into the pocketwater in the weeds as you go. No takes.
You get to the other side in deep twilight. The float tube bumps up against the shore, and you begin to reel in the line. Sometimes you'll get a take doing this, so you reel in slowly and expectantly. But not this time. So, with the fly the length of the rod away from you, you start to raise the rod to grab the fly--and a fish jumps out of the water and comes down on the fly. You realize he's hooked, but before you can do anything, he bolts and is gone, fly and all.
You sit there in amazement for a few moments. You can still see that fish in mid-air in front of you.
And you're pretty sure it was a Brown.