You launch at the channel and start down toward the south end throwing a rubber-legged fly along the shoreline. You tied the fly for the river, wanting to see if you could tempt one of those smallies to come up for it. But someone else is at the river this evening, so you've come to the lake with the fly.
Things are slow until you reach a drop-off. You just happen to see a rise--more a half-rise: a fish has come up right at the water's edge. It's a small, delicate rise. It could be a small fish, but you have a feeling. Big Browns can make that kind of rise, too.
You cast, but the fly drops a bit short. You wait, you twitch the fly, you strip it in. Nothing. You try again. Still too short. Hoping you haven't spooked the fish you aim more carefully, and this time the fly drops right where the water meets the land.
You let it sit for a beat, then you see it: a wake forms a few feet to the right, moving straight for the fly. It stops directly under it. You can't see the take in the commotion of the moving water, so you just raise the rod and hope--and luck is with you.
There's a lovely explosion of yellow, and in a few moments you have a lovely Brown in the net.
You fish on as the evening wears away, but you catch no more fish.
But it's OK. You've been thinking the whole time about that Brown, and of the miracle of that chance connection. Was it luck or serendipity? You don't know. But one thing you do know: it was perfect. And you can't improve on perfection.
It's another beautiful, calm September evening, and you go where you can enjoy it to the fullest.
The lake feels alive. You have a Callibaetis dry on from the evening before, and you cast it to a rise. A little Rainbow tells you your luck is good tonight.
You clip the mayfly and tie on another rubber-legged fly. You like what it did last night. You head down the Drake Bank to see what's happening there.
The water is so low that it feels like another lake. The shoreline is not the same one you fished early in the summer.
But there are still fish here. You cast your fly up against a log that has sunk with the falling water. You have caught some Rainbows here before. You let the fly sit, get distracted, look back--and the fly is gone. You set, and it's not a Rainbow at all. It's one of the better Browns of the season.
You go on down the shoreline, enjoying, as always, the interplay of light and shadow all around you.
There are Rainbows in between the bank and the weed beds. You lose one in the weeds, but manage to "snake" this one out.
While you're working that weed bed a boat comes up, with an electric motor that sounds like a washing machine and spreads a big wake, and sets up right where you were going. You don't want to be anti-social, but you also don't appreciate guys who cut you off and set up within casting range, without even a look in your direction.
So you wait, and go back over some water you already fished. They're casting and stripping, casting and stripping, but you can't see what fly they're using. They don't catch anything. After awhile they start the motor and slosh their way down the shore past you--the old float tube rocks in their wake--and begin fishing where you've already been. They're working their way toward you now, so you continue on down the shoreline.
So that's why this next fish is doubly satisfying. You're now fishing water they just covered. You drop your fly up against some rocks poking out of the water, and there's a big sucking sound and the fly disappears. You set, there's that wonderful yellow explosion, and you work another big Brown into the net, with lots of splashing and commotion along the way.
And those guys hear and see it all.
They still don't catch anything, and after awhile they pack it in and slosh back to camp. You keep going down the shoreline.
Another boat glides silently by, giving you plenty of leeway. It's a man and woman trolling, and as they pass the man asks, "How goes it?" "It's going well," you answer. "How goes it with you?" "Not so well," he answers. "This is not one of my better nights." Now, for him you feel sorry. If you could, you would get him hooked up with a big Brown.
You go down a ways farther, but you can feel the mood of the lake changing. You catch another Rainbow, but things are shutting down.
So you turn around and begin to troll your way back to the truck. You get one bump on that rubber-legged fly as it twists and turns behind you, but that's it,
Up close to the take out you get a feeling, stop kicking and look behind you. The man and woman glide silently out of the channel, pass you, and disappear into the gathering darkness. You silently salute them, and wish them good luck.