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This is the Root River Fish Refuge just below the wier. Refuge to the right, madhouse to the left :)
The wier, with sanctuary below it at left.
A clean hookup (not me folks, the nice guy next to me)!
Still Fighting...
Will It Ever End?
Yes, it ends with a beautiful female Chinook (aka King Salmon)
A great little Jack Chinook that put up quite a fight for the guy to my right.
A beautiful smaller brown; the first I have seen caught this year.

10-13-02 - Action Everywhere!

Rivers Fished: Pike & Root Rivers
Fish Caught: 1 fouled
Outing Date: 10-13-02
Weather: Clear Sun
Air Temp: 40's to upper 50's.
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: Lower Still
Water Color: Root is Muddy, Pike is clearing up a bit
Fish Species: Chinook, Brown, Steelhead and COHO!
Pattern Fished: VARIOUS, see below
Pattern Color: Various, see below
Fishing Quality: Better

Went back out on my own, and without Dan slowing me down arrived in record time at the Pike (ca. 12:00). I figured that those fish I tried for last night may still be there. And the truth is, they probably would have been if not for the people who had snagged them all out. You think I'm making this up, but there were people fishing JIGS and even worse, people fishing with spinners off the bridge, literally snagging the fish straight up as they swam over the lure. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. I was VERY TEMPTED to take some snapshots of the intrepid anglers. Bottom line, no fish left (all on stringers) so I headed back to the Root where I at least knew there were some fish.

The Root River is very low (the rains on Saturday had no effect), so I ended up biting the bullet and getting shoulder to shoulder. Well not quite that bad. It was a bright, sunny, albeit cooler day. There were more folks in the river today, but not as many as last week.

So before I go any further, I just want to point out that there were NO RANGERS to be found, and lawlessness abound. People (kids) were fishing and wading in the refuge, both above and below the wier. Then again, a few adults who can clearly read were ignoring the signs anyways (heck, the one that stands in the river had been uprooted and turned upside-down). SNAGGERS WERE EVERYWHERE. At least if you're going to snag, don't use a FLY ROD to do it! People were literally flossing half-dead fish, getting them any way they could. And in some respects I understand the temptation to snag, especially being out for weeks on end without landing ANYTHING. Well, more on the topic later.

So I settled in and drifted in the pool below the first bend below the wier which feeds into a bit of riffles. Again, the Chinook were spawning, and ticked-off. I used a large (2) White Marabou Streamer; just white marabou, a bit of short red marabou for the throat, and a silver tinsel body. Supposedly a deadly Lake Michigan fly. Well, I fair hooked a NICE BIG Chinook, didn't have the fight in him though...not like there was much place for the fish to go. After about a 7 minute fight he spit the hook (we know he was FAIR because we saw it clearly in his mouth as I tried to land it). Darn! Well, a bit later, using the same, I connected with a smaller Jake that took off down the river like a hydroplane..snapping my leader.

I switched over and tried several other flies (as I was out of the white marabou miracles); ended up even trying a huge purple rabbit hair mumbo-jumbo designed for bass fishing. Here's the cool part; it is tied with a heavy gauge monofilament weed guard and those big lead eyes. This fly DID NOT SNAG; neither fish nor the bottom. Although I know this would never happen, I'd love to see Anglers required to fish with weed-guarded lures; it would really reduce the incidence of snagging, whether intentional or not, and heck, they're easier to fish. If I can find more suitable flies that are weedless I'll be switching.

Well, by the time I left the Root (about 4:30) the situation had deteriorated to the point where everyone around me was snagging. Why should it matter (besides legality)? Well, let's put it this way; as I was leaving someone asked me where my fish was...my response (some guy downriver snagged all my fish). There was NOTHING basically below the first foot bridge, all the fish were above...lounging lazily...and by this point the posers were slapping their fly lines with multiple splitshot over the backs of fish, trying to get them any way they could. I had enough, so I left....perhaps the snaggers on the Pike had left.

And indeed, upon my arrival (ca 5:00 pm) there were very few people on the Pike. One guy was fishing my favorite little spot, so first I tried downriver a bit on the south side of the bridge. The only thing lurking down there was a Steelhead and a Coho literally plowing his way upstream in 6" of water. I headed Northwest.

So headed "above" my favorite spot (the gravel bar with the sharp undercut bank by the tree...those of you who know the pike know what I'm talking about). A bit upstream (between the bend at the Bridge at A and the next bend at that A & 13 junction) there are a couple deeper pools. It was here that I spotted a couple Steelhead lolygagging about. I first threw my purple lead-headed weedless bass thing...and got some interest. However, the fly was almost as big as the steelhead's mouth, so I switched over. At this point I'm pretty piss-poor in the fly selection, as 6 weeks of being on the river has seriously depleted my suppliers). So I tied on a "Blacknose Dace"; and WHAM! Just like fly fishing out west, a beautiful white mouth hit the streamer hard! And just about as fast the fish was off again. So I kept trying, but the fish got smart. I threw all sorts of stuff at them ("Glo Bugs", Wolly Buggers, Montana Nymphs, even a couple Spey Flies)...but no more interest. I counted several steelhead tooling around in the pool, along with 2 or 3 leftover Chinook and what I can now safely say several Coho! Here's why.

So I ended up switching back to the Blacknose Dace, and again trying for the Steelhead. Out of nowhere, with my perfect presentation in the middle of a pair of steelhead, screams in this salmon...on the small side, I'm thinking maybe it's a jack chinook. Next thing you know this fish is flying by and my line is following the salmon. It put up an extraordinary fight...lasted a good 10 minutes...2 nice aerial jumps...wow...finally. I bring the salmon into the rocks and get it up, out of the water. I can now clearly see that I had fouled the fish, so I know I'm going to let this one go. But man, it's my first salmon of the year that I've brought to shore, and it was the MOST BEAUTIFUL MALE COHO I have ever seen...definitely outshining any of the photos I've seen (can't compare it to my other Coho's cause, well this is the first). Simply a stunning fresh male in full breeding dress...green back with pink vertical splotches of color on the sides against a deeper red flank...the most contrasting black and white mouth, and not a knick on the fish except for where I've fouled it. I decide I must have a photograph of this fish, and as I try to get the fish up briefly it flops back in and the fight is on again! So this 22" or so Coho again screams out my line, and wouldn't you know it, my tippet finally exhausted, gives out, and I am without a photo of this fish! So if anyone catches a beautiful Male Coho with a black-nosed dace streamer on it's underside, that's my fish :)

I tried in vein for the dwindling twilight to fairly catch this fish (which was swimming around beneath me, occasionally rolling and jumping, clearly aggravated with the fly on it's underside) but all attempts failed to catch the interest of this stunning fish and his steelhead cohorts.

In summary, here's the headcount for the weekend:

Fish I saw Landed:

Coho - 1
Chinook - 20 or so including 2 jacks
Browns - 1
Steelhead - 0

Fish I hooked up with:

Coho - 1
Chinook - 3
Steelhead - 1
Browns - 0

Flies I lost - 17

Rods I saw broken - 2 (here's a tip, you can't use a flyrod to lift a 30 lb Chinook out of the river guys ;) Urban fishing is truly a weird thing. Maybe I need to head a bit farther north in the coming weeks. For you die-hards, pray for cold rainy days!

Finally, I'll have another post up shortly with all the photos I took of my fellow anglers today on the river. Keep your eyes out for that!

"Tight Lines" as they say, but more importantly, "Fair Hooks for everyone!"

  MP 

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