You pull in at the channel access the next day. It's another hot one.
You park in the shade of the willow brake you have come to love. You climb out of the truck and spend a few moments taking in the spicy smells of the lake and its vegetation in the heat of the day.
You notice again the ants busy traveling up and down the willows, taking detours along every branch and twig. How many miles in a season do all these ants together rack up just in the willows?
The lake is starting to go down. The water comes only halfway up the access now.
You hightail it for the Drake Bank hoping to get there before anyone else does.
You do stop by the bush that Brown was jumping into the night before just in case he or others of his ilk have made it a hangout. You try a few casts, but nothing is shaking.
You're fishing a Damselator. The damsels like it but the fish are staying down. You finally see a fish working up against the driftwood when you get to the shade. You lay the fly in. You wait. You get a sipping take. You pull the fly out of its mouth. Maaaan.
At the same place you begin to see Drakes. You hope that's a good sign.
You go to your Drake box. You have a Drake box now because you finally found that stash of Drake flies from years past. You knew you had them, it just took awhile to remember where you had put them for safekeeping.
The variety is astounding. So is the wide range of skill levels on display. But they have all successfully caught fish in the past.
That being said, you go to a fly you just tied up today. You like this 2016 version.
You move on down the shoreline. There's a boat ahead of you. Where did he come from? He's coming your way. And he's catching fish. You aren't catching fish. You hate it when that happens.
You get close. He shows no sign of getting out of your way, so you get out of his. Live and let live...you SOB.
No one else is ahead of you, and you have a clear shot to the end. So that's where you go. You've fished along the way but still haven't brought in a fish. You can find Drakes if you look for them, but they aren't thick by any means. But down here fish are taking them.
You get your first fish, a small but pissed off Brown.
The evening is calm as can be. You stay where you are--this is the heart of the Drake Bank--and methodically cover the shoreline. There are fish under you, and they are rising around you. You get lots of flippy hits from troutlings, but now, when the fish are on the hatch, you never know when that sipping rise is caused by a very large fish.
You try one of your vintage flies. For a moment you think it may have brought you one of those large fish, but it's just another little pissed off Brown, You love these guys.
The Drakes are steady but nothing spectacular. You see dragonflies that seem bored, as if it's way too easy to stay ahead of the hatch. You decide that the hatch must be on its last legs, that you have truly missed the peak of it this year.
You're still catching fish here and there, but they're troutlings. Feisty and pretty, but after awhile just a little bit of a nuisance.
The sun goes behind the mountain. You decide to work your way back toward the truck. You tie on the Brown Drake Muddler. A fitting benediction for the hatch that was.
You get hits, you get hookups--and you get more troutlings. They're small, but they're superb predators.
Halfway back to the truck you sense a change. You look up and the sky is full of Drakes. Holy Cow, they're everywhere. It looks like the hatch has really popped tonight. So maybe it's not over after all.
You keep fishing but still come up with small fry. You wonder what's happening on down the bank where you were. You think about that reedy bay. You really wish you hadn't left so early.
You kick on back to the truck dragging the muddler behind you, and formulate a plan. Looks like you're going to have to come back tomorrow with the Drake box, set up in the prime area, and stay there until dark.
It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.