A thunderstorm is rolling through when you arrive at the lake.
You sit in the truck for awhile waiting for the rain to stop, and wondering what the brown drakes will do. You've come a little early. You should be in prime water by the time the hatch begins.
The rain stops enough to get geared up and to put your rain jacket on, and you kick out into the channel.
The storm rumbles away to the south.
You head north out of the channel and begin to work your way down the shoreline to the Drake Grounds. You're casting a Damselator damselfly dry on 5X tippet. It's the only one you have. You get nothing on cast after cast. Then you find the fish looking for damsels right where you drop the fly. It grabs the fly and snaps the tippet in the twinkling of an eye.
You switch to a black-bodied muddler and head on down the shoreline. You put the muddler next to a log and get a hard hit and the first hookup of the day.
And you see the first drake rise into the sky. Here's to drakes, trout, and pygmy owls.
You keep going. You don't find any fish, but you see more drakes.
You come to the little bay that has been the eye of the drake storm in past years. There are drakes popping along the bank, not heavy, but steady. You find a cripple and compare one of your recent ties. Still needs some work, but the #10 hook seems just right. You tie it on a 4X tippet.
You backtrack and cast right up along the reeds beginning to reach out of the water. You saw a rise there, and it rises again and takes the fly.
You stay right there and work over those reeds. You get a strong take, and the rod bends double as a large brown feels the hook. You work him in carefully, giving him line several times as he makes one lunging run after another.
You think you've got him licked, and you'd really like a photo of the bending rod, so you take the rod in your left hand, hook the line under your index finger, and aim the camera with your right hand. You give the rod a lift to make it bend--and the brown makes one more quick lunge and breaks off.
You're chagrined. You tie on another drake and go back to work, and get the consolation prize.
Drakes are still popping, but they haven't increased in numbers. The light is going, and you have a long kick back to the truck. Fearing that you already lost the best fish of the day, you decide to change tactics.
You tie on another muddler. This is a brown drake muddler, designed to imitate the drakes. You fish this in a size 8. You start back up the shoreline to see what you can find.
You come to another stretch of shoreline famed in your personal brown drake lore. There are two long indentations in the bank that have mud bottoms and reeds along the bank--drake factories. When the fish are on the drakes, they crowd into these areas for the feast.
You look in and right away you see the quick, snapping takes that you associate with the drake hatch. You cast the muddler right to the bank, and there's an instantaneous take. A beautiful brown.
You cast back in as soon as you can and get another instantaneous take. A hungry rainbow.
The light is going fast. You cast back in and again get an instant take. This is the fish of the day. It takes awhile to work him in, and there are no photos until he's safely in the net. He's all shoulders and has a head like an anvil. You measure him on the float tube's apron. He's pushing 21, maybe 22. The best brown so far this season.
All that takes time, but you're finally ready to cast again. It's deja vu all over again.
It's now too dark to see the fly, and you still have a long way to go. So you start the long kick back. The moon lights your way. You drift the muddler behind you on a long line. Halfway back you catch another rainbow.
But you're thinking about brown trout. And brown drakes. Brown on brown. A good start to a good time of year.