Gifford Pinchot National Forest Lakes, WA
By Derek Schroeder
Prowling the shallow weedbeds on Big Mosquito lake, the author straps into a scrappy Big Mosquito Lake brook trout. Photo By Derek Schroeder
It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning in early June and my boss thinks I’m at work. Technically, I am. I mean, if I clear my inbox by the end of the day, that counts, right?
Now, however, I’m trying to glean the last drops of weekend out of the gray area that working from home during a pandemic has created in our lives. Quoting an adage his father said often, a friend once told me, “Never waste a crisis.” Good advice. I can always use another excuse to go fishing.
An evergreen cradle deep in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest backcountry holds a nameless lake like a jewel. At the north end of the lake, fallen trees scattered in the clear water lie like spent bowling pins, forming obvious shelter for a wise trout. My stomach grumbles. I hope the fish that I know must be down there hasn’t eaten breakfast either.
The stillness envelops me, and I try to mimic it with every motion. Quietly I stalk toward the logjam on my paddleboard, until I can nestle into a nook and unhook the leech pattern from my reel seat. Before my fly even hits the water, I imagine a big brown trout haphazardly, confidently, cruising his sanctuary like a wolf stalking a meal in the wilderness.
One. Two. Three false casts are all it takes. My palms sweat. My technique always seems to fail me at times like these. Probably why I’ll never be a kicker in the National Football League, I quip to myself. But I manage to drop the fly just inches from a log. My heart thumps with anticipation as I hope the fly has a clean drop to the lake’s sandy bottom. Please don’t snag, I whisper, picturing the empty slots in my fly box where the other leeches I lost this weekend used to live.