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Southeastern Wisconsin (SE WI) Lake Michigan Tributaries - the Root River

The Root River is famous the world over as a fantastic steelhead fishery, not to mention the huge numbers of Brown Trout, King Salmon and Coho Salmon! As a broodstock river, it receives higher stockings of all four main tributary species than much larger streams like the Milwaukee River. Even when pickings can be slim, it's guaranteed that the fish are in the Root River system...somewhere.

Primarily plauged by low water in recent years, this 5 mile long fishery can be a dog when flows get low. Conversely, when flows are too high it can become a raging torrent of mud. Then there's the Root River Wier - the fishtrap used to trap returning ferel stocks - that can prevent fish from moving upstream when in operation. Coinciding with the high stocking levels (and proportionally high return rates) of this broodstock river is high angler pressure, the fourth plauge of the Root River. On certain days (especially weekends) you may find yourself quite literally shoulder-to-shoulder with anglers. Quite frankly things can get pretty ugly during "combat fishing", but you should let that discourage you from fishing this river.

Despite all these problems, the fishing can simply be phenomenal. Due to it's relatively short length, the Root is an excellent "beginners" river - it's usually not hard to figure out where and what you should be fishing. In theory, you could learn fish and learn this river's structures in a weekend.

As expected, due to high stocking levels, this broodstock river sees high returns of all species. It is the very best place to try for a "Root River Grand Slam" (Brown, Steelhead, Coho and King in the same day from the same river). Also due to these high return rates, this can be one of the better early and late season rivers with early runners and stragglers simply having greater odds of being found here. At these times most anglers have quit fishing for the season and turned their attentions elsewhere and you can literally have the river to yourself. Heap onto all that the fact that this river sees the areas only truly "strong" run of Skamania (summer run steelhead) and you pretty much have a truly year round fishery that's quite nice, especially on off-peak days!

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Images of the Root River

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