The overnight temperature had dipped into single digits, and the gauge in the SUV still only registered 17 degrees at midmorning as I parked downstream from the emergence of a spring branch. I expected smallmouth bass to move from the river into the warmer spring water. The spring emits 54-degree water year-round, and I knew the warmth would stimulate the fish’s appetite. My cold, stiff fingers struggled to knot an olive/copper Mini Minnie to the leader tippet before I hiked upstream to the third and deepest pool on the spring creek. Casting down and across the current, the fly swung downstream of my position while attaining depth. Once the fly tightened below me, I executed a couple of strips and then let the sluggish current drop it again. Hoping the action would replicate the movements of a struggling minnow. I repeated the process only after repositioning to cover different water. Before each cast, the rod had to be dipped in the water to free the guides of ice. The first strike came as the fly deep drifted, so my first inkling of a hit came when the line acquired that “heavy” feeling. The 12 incher bore for the bottom and remained there without leaping. I wonder how they know that the air is much colder? Nine bronzebacks fell for the tactic before I headed home with the heater on high.