The smoke plume was visible from the town bridge on Tuesday as I took the northern route to the lake.
I drove past Trout Lake and on to Fish Lake to check the fire status. The wind was still pushing the fire south and east away from the lake. That meant, though, that the front edge was moving steadily closer to populated areas. Homes were being evacuated along the road I usually take to the lake, and two towns would have immediate evacuation notices issued and then lifted before the day was over.
I drove back to Trout Lake and launched. The wind freshened for awhile, then gradually tapered off.
The lake was quiet again. I explored some shorelines with a muddler, tried some nymphs under an indicator, and cast out some little dries, all with no response. Mostly, though, I watched the smoke to the south.
At dusk a few fish came up. I managed to fool one on an elk hair caddis, but I had to be quick to hook him on his tentative take.
I had just released the fish when the smoke suddenly billowed into the evening sky. A blow-up was occurring. Soon flames were visible as the fire crowned in the tree tops. It looked like the fire was beginning its march straight up the valley to the lake.
I kept fishing, all the time making my way to the takeout. But I was intensely curious about what was happening.
I loaded up the tube but didn't take time to shuck my waders, and drove back south again. The fire wasn't moving up the valley, and was still located around Fish Lake. It had jumped to another mountain side and had exploded with the fresh fuel.
Across Fish Lake to the southeast the fire was still burning strong, prompting those evacuation orders.
I watched for awhile, then took my waders off in the glow of the flames, turned around, and started the long drive home.