You make it back, the third day in a row. Your plan is to stake out the Drake Bank and see what happens.
You launch at the channel again and begin the trip down the shoreline. You run into trouble right away: three guys are ahead of you. They seem to be hanging around and not venturing on down the shoreline. You decide to swing wide and pass them. You troll along and meet one of them coming back your way, also trolling. He says it's still early, still windy...they're waiting for the hatch, alright; but they seem to be willing to wait right where they are.
OK with you. You head on down and move over to the shoreline as soon as you can. You're back on track.
You clip off the Woolly Bugger and tie on a Damselator and begin to explore the shoreline. But then you think, wait, you're here for the Drake hatch. Have faith. So you tie on a Drake.
You haven't seen any Drakes yet, but you put the fly into a little gap in the willows right up against the driftwood, and it disappears. You come up on a good Brown. These fish fight hard, and right at the end this one goes nuts. You barely get it into the net--and find out you barely hooked it at all. It rolls in the net and the fly falls out. You're a lucky guy.
The trip feels like a success, now, whatever the hatch does.
You work down to the end by the fallen tree and on around the far western bank. There are some Drakes showing now, and a few small fish punctuating the quiet with splashy rises.
You get some bumps and splashes, but no hookups. You turn around and head back to the reedy bay. You work up and down the shoreline. You watch for Drakes and wait for the onset of dusk. It's a beautiful evening. You wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
An eagle makes its nightly pilgrimage to its home, and seems to bring the dusk with it. Things begin to happen.
More and more Drakes have been showing, and there have been little flurries of rises. You've chased the rises, but failed to hook up. Now, as the light wanes, a tiny fish explodes on your fly and snags itself. That's the beginning.
You look up and the sky is full of Drakes. The hatch looks as heavy as what you saw last night. Fish are coming up around you. Now when you chase a rise the fly gets immediate attention. You cast it out and a Rainbow recreates this painting:
It comes two feet out of the water and makes a perfect headfirst dive back in. You can't tell if it took the fly on the way up or the way down. But you liked it.
It takes awhile--time speeds up in a good hatch--to bring the fish to the net, remove the hook, revive and release it. These fish won't stop thrashing until you get them back in the water; then they need some time to just lie there.
On your next cast a fish comes up, looks at the fly, and pounces on it like a cat on a mouse. You can see these things.
As soon as you can release that one and get another cast out you catch another smaller one. Then another and another.
You're back at the end by the fallen tree now. You cast the fly up against the trunk. It rests for a few moments, then disappears in a sipping rise. You expect another small fish, but come up on another nice Brown. This one amazes you with its strength and determination. It, too, will not stay still until you get it back into the water. Then it takes its sweet time to burst out of your hand and away.
Where did the light go? A cloudy sky has shortened the dusk and hastened the night. You can hardly see the fly now.
You cast it out anyway, hoping to strike it lucky again. You manage to catch a couple of fish, but they're small. But you feel good. The hatch tonight was a good one. You haven't missed Drake Time after all.
When you can't see the fly at all you break out the headlamp. You clip the Drake off and tie on the Woolly Bugger. Time for the long troll home.
It's a relaxing trip. No fish comes to disturb your reverie.
You pack up and hit the road. The days just keep getting longer: you catch the 11:00 news on the way home.