The day is rainy and cool. I get away as soon as I can but I only have a couple of hours to fish.
The north lake campground is deserted so I launch from there. I tie on muddler No. 3. The rain quits for now.
I turn my back on the south lake this time...
...and head north.
The lake is very quiet. I haven't seen a rise yet. I'm casting into the pocket water in the remaining weed beds. I'm stripping when, out of nowhere, a hit. The fish jumps--I can see it's a nice brown--then jumps again, and again, and again. When it comes down the fourth time it's off the fly and gone. Wow. All I can do is shake my head.
I'm disappointed but encouraged. I keep heading north, fishing the pocket water.
I go a long way without moving a single fish.
I turn and begin to make my way back south. I'm thinking the channel might be a good place to explore.
I keep on casting and stripping.
Then, on the strip, a hit. There's no way to tell for sure, but my first thought--and my fondest wish--is that I've come back and hooked that leaping brown again. This time it doesn't jump, and I get it into the net. Whether I've seen it before or not, it's a brown to warm your heart on a chilly day.
I go to the channel and poke around. I raise two rainbows, but they don't commit. I see an eagle rise out of the shadow of the ridge, and a second follows. It's the resident pair. They fly down into a tall tree and call back and forth, their cries echoing off the rock face.
I'd forgotten how fast it gets dark when it's overcast. I head back to the truck, pack up in the dark and start for home through a light rain.
Three days left.