Word goes out that for the first time since July 19 no fire evacuation levels are in place anywhere in the county. You celebrate by going to the lake. The briefest wisp of smoke greets you as you wind down to Fish Lake and on to Trout Lake.
You have a plan: to see how the far north end is faring. Water levels are way down all around the lake, but the low levels are especially evident here. It's as though a great hand has picked up the north end and tilted the whole lake so that the water has run down to the south end.
You tied up a retro Muddler Minnow especially for the occasion.
You want to get as close to the inlet as you can, It turns out that's not very close. The depth over a great swath of the west side of the lake is barely enough to float the tube. Later, a great blue heron will come in for a landing, and you'll see that the water is barely over its ankles. But that's later. Now, you head for what looks like floatable water and get in way not over your head before you realize it. You crawl back to deep water through the mud like evolution in reverse.
Once you can let your legs hang and begin to kick you cast the muddler out and drag it over the weeds behind you. A shiny little piece of life attaches itself to you. It's precocious and knows just what to do. You have to dredge it out of the weeds.
You kick back across to the eastern shoreline. It's deeper here, and you haven't worked it with a muddler in a long while.
Hits. Little tiny hits. And misses. One out of five of the diminutive troutlings manage to mouth the fly and get hooked.
You switch to a smaller hopper fly. It doesn't seem to improve the catch ratio.
You stray out from the shoreline and begin to work the open water between expansive weed mats. You look back at the bleached logs, now high and dry, that were formerly the haunts of big fish. You think they must have settled into the deeper water to the south.
The evening deepens. Your internal clock says there should still be plenty of daylight left. The sun, however, goes ahead and sets at 7:04,
In the September dusk you tie on a lighter tippet and affix a griffith's gnat. There are a few little fish rising excitedly, and you get some flippy hits but no hookups. Then they fade away. You've just tied on a caddis dry when you see one more fish still busy. You drop the fly in, give it a twitch, and get a good take. It's a slightly bigger version of the troutlings.
That's a good way to finish on the far north end. You're feeling the pull of the tilt toward the south end, too. That's where you'll be the next time.