Life at the Lake

a diary of living at a small lowland lake


Early moonrise over Lake Ketchum

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Lake Ketchum at dark


Trout fishing has slowed slightly, but is still good, for bait and troll. The crowds are beginning to disperse slightly.

My favorite time of day is at the approach of full dark, when the trout begin to "smut," as the English call it, which means they slurp along just under the surface taking spent insects, or emerging ones (hard to tell which), and betray their presence by leaving a series of rings on the surface. Often these are big, tantalizing splashes.

I cast to them from the end of my dock, trying to place the (current favorite) #14 Prince nymph just ahead of the rise, then retrieve it with a smooth, fast action. Often, no resulting strike. But then, every so often, the trout nails it. More often, though, I feel a faint pluck, miss the fish when I strike back, and know in my heart that that particular fish will strike no more tonight.

This bit of action takes place just as the Mariners (losers that they are, this year) enter the fourth inning, usually tied or one run behind. I sacrifice an inning or two for the fishing. On a good night I will hook and land three nice, scrappy trout, missing another dozen more. On a slow night, but one fish hooked and landed,perhaps. And there are some nights when I don't land any, and cast into the mounting darkness frantically, while the swallows disappear from their twilight quest, are replaced by nightjars, then by bats.

I think there are times when I cast to what seems to be a trout rise, but it is only a bat nickering the water's surface, catching a midge fly. And—still knowing better—I keep casting, hoping for the redeeming trout on the end of my leader, one which invariably fights furiously, with many a jump, and gets ceremoniously and satisfyingly released back into his nearly natural environment.

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