I had such a good time at Brookie Lake the other day that I went back last Friday. It was Modern Firearm Season Opener Eve, so the valley was filling up fast with hopeful hunters. The one road was congested with vehicles moving slowly and stopping frequently to pour forth hunters who would scope out the ridges and confer about strategy. And the valley echoed with high caliber reports as guns were sighted in and last-minute target practice was accomplished.
The lake, on the other hand, was deserted. There were hunting camps across the road and around the lake, and cars and trucks drove back and forth the whole time I was there, but no one else was fishing.
The lake is in excellent shape, the best I've seen in the nine years I've been here. Usually by Fall the lake is unfishable with low water and choking algae mats. This year the water level is more than accommodating for a float tube, and the algae mats are non-existent. There is plenty of clean, open water to fish, and ample non-algae weeds providing cover for the plethora of beautiful, hungry brookies swimming in those crystal green depths.
In conditions like that, you can lose track of time, and begin to feel that nothing will ever change. But this dead dragonfly reminded me that time is fleeting, nothing is forever, and this, too, shall pass. So I made the most of it.
It was a dry or die day, and I began with an orange-bodied stimulator to match the season. It got instant attention.
I decided to land the fish by hand this time, for some reason. That worked fine on the first fish, and on this second one.
Then I hooked a very nice fish. I got him in my hand, but he slipped out and back into the water. I grabbed the line and lifted him up, he flipped and twisted--and the line snapped. It was 5X and should have held. But it was a very nice brookie, maybe a good 12 inches or more. Wish you could have seen it. After that I used the net for awhile, just in case.
I had another small black and orange stimulator that I have had for several years. It has accounted for some very nice Fall browns, including one of the best I've ever caught at Trout Lake. So I tied it on and went back to fishing for brookies.
I followed open lanes in among the weeds. At every bend, it seemed, right at the edge of the weeds, brookies were waiting just for my fly.
It's like entering a state of altered consciousness when the fish are there on almost every cast, each one unique, each one beautiful in their glowing Fall colors. It's like a Fall brookie dream.
I heard a familiar chuff, chuff, and looked up to see the otter family porpoising their way toward me. I'm convinced this is the same family, or the same parent or parents and their offspring, that I see at Trout Lake. Otters have a wide range, and can migrate up to five miles or more between bodies of water.
There were four of them, but they were moving fast, and I never caught all of them on the surface at the same time. Two kept on going, but two, curious to a fault, came over to see what I was. I'd like to think they recognized me.
The otters didn't break the spell; they intensified it. I drifted deeper and deeper into the dream.
After what seemed like forever the stimulator was waterlogged. I had an orange-bodied muddler, so I tied it on. I thought it might be a bit too big, but the brookies were happy to take big bites if they had to.
Evening came, and the new crescent moon lit up in the southwest. It was time to wake up.
OK, I thought. One more, and I'm going home. That one more came as I was nearing the takeout and drifting the fly behind me.
I watched that last brookie flash away into the dark water as I released it, then climbed out, packed up and hit the road. It was still busy with deerhunter traffic, and the bright lights of their passing woke me up for good.
Sometimes I wake up and can't remember what I was dreaming. This Fall brookie dream, though--I'll remember it for a long, long time.