No, I haven't been back to Trout Lake yet. This is a flashback to a time before the fires.
Another bulletin went out today. The road all the way through the Trout Lake valley is still closed. Previous reports were that Trout Lake became the last line of defense in a successful effort to stop the fire. But there must be hot spots on the ridges to the east and west to justify the continued road closure for "fire suppression efforts." And a spate of recent windy days has likely played hell with those efforts.
So I still can't get in to see what the lake looks like, and to look for rises that will assure me that it will take more than a wildfire to destroy a prime fishery.
I've been weighing other fishing options, and tomorrow I'll probably exercise one of them and launch the tube at Cutthroat Lake. But my heart will still be at Trout Lake, and it won't feel like "normal" again until I'm once again bobbing on her surface.
Until then, I'm enjoying memories of some Trout Lake trips I made before the fires exploded. Here's a trip from August 2nd.
I had gotten back from the Henry's Fork on Wednesday night, and here it was Sunday already, and I still hadn't been back to Trout Lake. So I loaded up the tube and headed to the lake for an evening of stillwater goodness.
The sky was streaked with smoke from the distant fires around Chelan that had broken out two weeks before on the day I left for the Henry's. But the smoke was high in the atmosphere, and the evening was hot and calm. Perfect.
I geared up at the channel and hauled the tube to the water. That's when I finally realized the flaw in my plan. I had loaded the truck with rod, reel, vest, tube, net, waders, and wading boots. But I had left the flippers in the garage.
Well, time to do what we do at the Henry's Fork: wade. I loaded the tube back in the truck, drove a hundred yards up to an access at the north end of the channel, and waded in.
The lake is low, but I was surprised at how deep it still was around the weed beds. I waded in over my belly button where I found I could easily drop a fly into nearby pocket water among the weed mats. There were some fish in there, too.
As the evening progressed, fish began rising hungrily out beyond the weeds. I maneuvered around, and waded out a little deeper to where I could shoot a long line out just past the weeds.
I got some hits and missed them, and fish rose all around the fly, and then finally a fish rose right at the weedy margin just as I was casting, and I dropped the fly in his rise ring, and he was still there and still hungry. He smacked it. I had to drag him through the weeds, but I was able to get him in the net. A pretty nice fish. He made me feel like I was truly back at Trout Lake.
I played tag with the fish for awhile longer as the sunset flamed in the high smoke, then flickered out.
It was good to be back.