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"Sure. Why not?"
"Some line and a tire iron?"
"There's no need to cast here."
"But there ain't any flies hatching now, in January."
"Well, there aren't any marshmallows hatching now, either."
He shook his head and walked away.
My spot was in the middle of the other fishermen, and the first thing I did was use the tire iron to enlarge the hole in the three-inch-thick ice. With the diameter of the hole increased to more than a foot, I could see the rocky lake bottom six feet down where the fish cruised by in plain sight, usually about a foot above the rocks. My hands were shaking—not with cold, but with excitement—as I lowered the Golden Demon to them.
All the fish ignored the Golden Demon when I held it still, even when they passed within inches of it, but when I jigged the fly, each passing fish struck at it viciously. I didn't hook them all, but I hooked most of them. In fact, I was landing at least as many fish as all the bait anglers combined.
My catching fish didn't seem to bother the bait anglers as much as my releasing them did. After just a few minutes the elderly fellow nearest me came out with it: "How come you're letting the damn things go?"
"It's more fun that way. Besides, I'm too lazy to clean them."