I head up the road for the last time this year.
The south end will be the setting for this final day of the season. Stellar's jays are making a racket all around the lake. Two rise up, land in the golden willows in front of me, flit away. Their midnight-blue iridescence is stunning.
I will work up along the eastern shoreline, cross over, and work back down the western side.
Around the first bend, and right against the waterline, a brown comes to the Halloween Muddler.
A little farther along another brown comes to the fly.
They are inside the weeds, patrolling the little patches of open water along the waterline.
I pass the beaver house and see that they are thinking about the change of seasons and the coming winter, as I am. Much on our minds is the question of what will sustain us during the cold months ahead.
I will find sustenance in stored memories of the multi-layered beauty of a season of days like this one.
I cast and the resting fly gets a nose bump. I raise up and miss the fish. Must be a rainbow. I go ahead and cast back to the spot and wait. I have time. I'm a little surprised when the fish comes back and takes the fly. Well done, Rainbow. It will be the last rainbow of the season.
Down the shoreline I go, finding release in the familiar rhythms of casting. It's good to see that I have not yet reached the dead end of perfection.
I cross over to the other side.
A brown comes out of the rocks.
I pass the Tiger's Lair, but raise nothing there this time. Maybe it will be the first place I try next Spring.
I come around to the far south end.
It still seems impossible that a good-sized fish would be up along the waterline here where the depth five feet out can be measured in inches. But there he is.
Inside the back channel, now too low to navigate in a float tube, I see a fish working. I crabwalk in along the weedy bottom to get close enough for a reasonable cast. The fish comes right to the fly and I raise too soon and miss.
I cast the fly in again. Wait a beat. The fish takes again. I time it right. Another brown.
I make a full circle and come to the take out, but I'm not ready to call it a day--or a season. I go on around the bend again.
There's one more fish for me there. The last fish of the season. A sleek little brown, shining like the dreams of days to come.
Now it's time. I kick back and step out of the water, drag the tube onto the shore. The ripples of my presence are soon gone. Time for rest.
So long, lake.