Another cool day for June. It has rained recently at the lake; you hear thunder rumbling on the other side of the ridge.
Here, though, it's calm.
You see very few damsels. Washed out by the rain, perhaps. You tie on a new version of the BD Muddler. This one has a little less bling.
The shoreline is quiet. You fill the time by watching the subtle light show going on all around.
You aren't moving fish yet, but you move a turtle when you have to kick in to unsnag the fly from some driftwood.
Halfway down the shoreline you begin to see signs of life.
A fish rises out in open water. It's the first rise you've seen today. You have to kick out around an outcropping there, so you cast the fly out and drift it through the rise zone. A sweet Rainbow comes up. Is this the same fish? You don't know. You're just happy to get one in the net.
You make your way along the familiar shoreline. You see your first Drake of the day. You get a take, but you're looking at the sky and miss it. You notice the fly is no longer on top, so you raise up and find a fish on the end of the line. You bring it halfway in when it comes off. That's what happens when you don't pay attention.
You get to Reedy Bay and fish it carefully with the BD Muddler. Nothing doing.
You're seeing more Drakes, though, so you tie on a new Drake dry. A little less bling.
You miss another take--because you were looking at the sky. You suppose that will just be something you do for the rest of your life.
There are takes you don't miss. Troutlings are beginning to whack at anything Drakelike, especially if it's moving. There are some bigger fish mixed in with them. Seems like things are heating up.
More Drakes are rising around you. Their shucks litter the water.
You go on around the bend to the far west side. Lots of splashy rises. Some troutlings are whacking at the fly but you come up empty. It seems like good practice--and it's a fun way to pass the time--to try to be quick enough to hook them before they can let go.
You arrive at one of your favorite little bays. This is where the Rough-winged swallows have their townhouses. This is also where you've found very good fish in the past. You saw a rise in there just a little while ago as you were making your way here. You drop the fly in and get no response. Then you see a tiny little rise right up against the bank. You drop the fly in and get a tiny little take.
Of course, you're expecting another tiny little fish. So you're happily surprised when you come up on a heavy Brown. How do these guys do that? Such finesse for a twenty-inch bruiser of a Brown.
You kick back over to the Drake Bank. You get more hits and misses on the way. You take a break back behind the willows where you can push in through the driftwood close enough to touch bottom. A Drake lands on the tube. What a beauty, still perfect, untouched by fish or dragonfly or bird. As you try for one more shot it takes wing and disappears overhead.
Now that you're looking up you realize the hatch is going to be a good one. The sky is filling up with dancing Drakes, including the one you just held on the end of your finger, and dusk is still some time away.
You kick back out and fish.
You see the moon. It's turning into a beautiful evening.
Drakes are swirling around you now. There are fish working. Most are small, but some are decent. They all fight hard, as though desperate to get back to the feast.
Dusk settles over the lake.
The little fish have been whacking the fly for some time, but now the bigger fish begin the Drake Take. All you have to do is move the fly and they explode on it.
You're catching some and missing some. You know you'd catch more if you would only stop wasting time taking pictures of the sunset.
Then the Nighthawks show up. This is your first sighting of them this season. They put on a superb show, sweeping across the sky in formation and swooshing past your head so close you can hear their beaks snapping shut on hapless Drakes. You know you'd catch more fish if you would stop wasting time trying to take pictures of them. But you can't stop. You get one image out of fifty shots, and it's time well spent.
You do catch a few more fish, and then it's too dark to see the fly.
Once again you've stayed too long. Now you have the long haul back to the truck in the dark. But the night is calm, and so are you.
What an evening it has been. You're sad to see it come to an end as you begin to follow the shoreline back. You troll your way along--with no results; but that's OK; you're satisfied. The Nighthawks follow you for a brief time, then give way to the bats. You just kick along, thinking and remembering.
And all the way back, the moon keeps you company.