In any event, we found the correct turn-off and drove about a mile back on the dirt road paralleling the river, stopping frequently at various wide spots and near bridges that criss-crossed the water. Sean used a dry/nymph rig and I fished a size 18 nymph in the deeper pools and wider riffles–which is to say the sections that were wider than what we could jump. We hop scotched along the different sections of the river working our way downstream. The sun had not yet reached into the bottom of the canyon and it was cold. In fact, ice lined the bank of the stream, especially in the deeper shadows.

As the morning wore on, the sun eventually peeked over the ridge and the overall scene immediately took on a magical quality. Sunlight washed over the tops of the trees and highlighted the light glazing of frost in the almost bare upper branches. A few moments later, shafts of light poured down through the trees and illuminated the ice, transforming the river into a something like a Thomas Kincaide painting.

As beautiful and as peaceful as it was, the fishing was poor. Sean managed to pull in only one small but vibrant Brown Trout the entire time and I only managed to illicit one feeble, half-hearted rise toward my fly. We changed flies frequently but just couldn’t find the winning pattern.

Solo Brownie

We moved further downstream. Sean found a smooth, clear pool with what looked like the dark outlines of several decent Trout holding by the near side bank. I held tight where I had a panoramic view of the unfolding mini-drama as he crept slowly forward in a low, crouching position using the spindly brush along the bank for cover so as not to spook the fish. He made his cast. It was textbook perfect with a fine, tight loop that slipped between the overhanging, barren branches and past the leaning trunk of an old Jeffery Pine.

His dry/dropper combo landed neatly at the edge of the pool but did not move in the normal fashion. After a few seconds, he picked up and cast again. It was another well-formed loop landing precisely where targeted and still it did not drift as it ought.

Puzzled, he cast yet again to the same pool only to get the same result.

Now, it is often said that the definition of insanity is attempting to do the same thing over and over while expecting to get different results.

To the best of my knowledge, Sean is not insane.

Thus, after the third cast with the same results, he pulled in his line and approached the pool that had looked so promising but now simply seemed perplexing.

I too could stand it no longer, so I also approached this little pocket of water. We both stood there for a moment until the cause of the mystery revealed itself. A crystal clear and amazingly thin sheet of ice had formed on the surface of the water where Sean was casting. It extended out from the bank to about mid way across the pool.

He was effectively casting onto a glass tabletop though neither one of us could see it from our original positions along the bank.

There were indeed Trout beneath the ice. They sat tight to the bottom watching us, confident that we could not reach them. They were like the boorish uncle who teases the lion from the outside of the enclosure, smug in the knowledge that the thick plexiglass will allow him to escape the fate everyone else secretly wishes upon him.

We continued to stand there and laughed about this neat little trick of nature. We joked about being true SoCal boys and thus being naïve to the subtleties of frozen water.

Gotta Love The Scenery

It seemed like a good time to wrap things up so we decided to call it a morning and head back to our wives and breakfast.

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