Thick gray clouds were draped over the river valley like wet laundry on a sagging clothesline. I assembled a 7-wt. rod and attached a reel containing 6 i.p.s. full-sinking line. A size-6 Zonker with a silver body, gray rabbit strip wing, and a matching wool head stacked around extra-small yellow barbell eyes was knotted to a 4-foot length of 12-pound-test mono. The deepest pool in this 4-mile stretch of river was a quarter-mile hike downstream, and I theorized that the area held a large number of wintering bass. It was damp, and the penetrating cold demanded that I zip up my goose-down vest and pull on fingerless gloves. Each slack-line cast enabled the fly to flutter to the bottom. The rod tip was pointed at the fly’s entry point, and slack was removed before an abrupt 2-foot lift of the rod tip, which caused the Zonker to rise off the bottom before it was allowed to re-settle. This presentation replicates the actions of a dying minnow. An hour of casting was fishless. Discouraged but determined, I waded fifty yards further downstream and resumed casting. The strike was subtle. I was completely surprised and fortunate that the fish hooked itself. The smallmouth bass fought a spirited battle before being admired and released in a flash of bronze. Thirty more minutes brought two more bass to the net before numb hands forced retirement.