I found myself on a mountain lake one morning recently, watching the sun rise over a distant peak. For the first half hour I try some standard streamer patterns, casting more or less blindly into the crystal smooth waters and looking to attract some attention. Though it is relaxing to cast and practice the timing, it is really a prelude to catching fish. In fact it is probably counter-productive. The lake being so calm at this time of day the splash and vibration from the line will scare any fish in the vicinity.

As the sun starts to rise and warm up the lake small duns hatch and hop along the surface. I decide on another approach, and do nothing for a while, wait and observe. There are splashes far out in the middle of the lake as fish being to feed on the duns. The light is getting better, particularly looking south along the bank. I’m able to scan far ahead and deep into the water looking in this direction, while to the north I see only the black surface of the lake. I wait some more and notice a small fingerling trout feeding in a corner bank where the sun is just started to reach. The duns are getting heavier now. Finally I see a nice sized brown trout near the smaller fish, circling , stopping, and feeding in the shallow water. Here, is a fish a might have a chance to catch.

I change flies to one slight larger than the duns, but same color and a close match. The trout has not seen me I think, but perhaps out of instinct he moves away into the shadows, before I can cast. So I wait some more. Out of the shadow he emerges and I can see him circle back in my direction. It is so calm, a direct cast will scare him. So I make guess where he might go and cast there. The fly lands and he is unaware, meandering in that direction. Now I am acutely interested, focusing on the fly and the trout just below surfaces, as he heads to the dun fly. He sees it, moves, and takes it! I have him on the line and keep it tight as I steer him to the shallow water by the shore. The hook is well set in his upper jaw but easy to remove. For a brief moment I can appreciate his beautiful coloring and wildness before sending him back to his breakfast routine.

Then sun is rising more overhead and I see more splashing to my right. But after this encounter I decide wait some more, to let the water get back to its natural state. Then I head south along the bank I scouted earlier. I see a nice cruising fish headed my way far ahead. I raise the rod to cast, but my shadow alone sends him off to the middle of the lake. I wait some more. Now I am walking along the bank holding the fly and line in the opposite hand from the rod. This is the way the bonefish guides teach you in Andros to prepare, and no false casting allowed. “Wait, wait, wait”, then say. “Until you Seeeee the fish”. Then and only then you do cast with conviction, accuracy and intention. You make the first one count because by the second or third cast he is gone. I am able to land a few more this way before the tranquility of the lake starts to wane as the other anglers join in. The heart of the morning begins and I head back to join my family for breakfast and start the rest of the day.


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