You have all afternoon and evening. The south end campground is empty so you launch there for the first time this season.
You tie on the latest muddler.
You start the circuit, working the shorelines in a big circle. Fish are in there: you get a few drive bys. Then a hookup that comes undone.
Then, halfway around, a solid take. The fish this time of year fight bigger than they are. This one makes you pay attention.
That's a good beginning. You're ready for anything now.
On down the shoreline you see a small rise ten feet off the bank. You flip the muddler over there and give it a slow strip and a fish sips it in. Sips it in.
You raise the rod expecting a small fish. You're wrong. It's a heavy fish, big enough to sip in a #10 muddler, and it goes deep and then runs. You manage to turn it...and the hook comes out.
You're never ready for that. Had to be the fish of the day. And maybe, as your imagination runs wild, the fish of the season. You'll never know.
You continue on around. More drive bys.
Then another solid take. It's a handsome speckled Brown. It's not as big as the lost fish, but you're happy with it. You think it's the best fish of the season so far.
You come back around to where you began, and pull over for a pee break. You leave the muddler floating out in open water.
You become aware that the line is moving. A fish has taken the fly. You strip it in. A very nice Rainbow. You look for the muddler and discover that the fish has swallowed it whole.
You can see the end of it deep down in its gullet. So you clip the line and leave it in there. The fish swims slowly away, but it doesn't look right. You hope it will survive.
Next time you'll reel the line in like you usually do.
On down the shoreline, second time around. You're fishing a stimulator as a change of pace.
The evening is calm and quiet. The lake is beautiful in the ebbing light. You watch the swallows and listen to the Yellow warblers in the willows and the Baltimore orioles in the cottonwoods.
For these young Whitetail bucks, you are what's disturbing the evening calm.
The shorelines are quiet on this circuit. Not even a drive by.
You come back to the access. A few fish are rising out in open water. So you kick out and cast some little dries under the crescent moon. No takes, but you're too relaxed to be concerned about it.
As you kick in, a lone coyote sings a sweet goodbye song.