The stream thermometer read 53 degrees as I entered the clear water with a 5-weight rod and intermediate sinking line. The only sound was the rattle of dry leaves as they raced across the gravel bar. I knotted a size-12 North Fork Nymph to the 4X tippet and cast down and across a sluggish current. At the end of each drift, I lifted the rod tip to mimic a natural nymph’s rise to the surface. After each couple of drifts, I waded a few steps downstream and cast again. Just as I concluded that the smallmouth population wasn’t at home, the fly acquired that “heavy” feel. A lift hookset initiated a head-shaking standoff. Finally, the 11-inch bronze bass was lipped, admired, and released. The same casting position accounted for four more nymph-hungry fish, and a few steps downstream enabled the capture of three more, Twenty minutes of fruitless casting sent me home in the glow of a golden sunset.