going to take a LONG time to thaw out even the Southernmost
view of the Pike River Mouth at Lake Michigan, standing south
of the mouth looking north. The mountains of ice and sand make
some unique landscape for this time of year!
- The channel widens and "heads out to sea" at the
Waukegan discharge. I'm sure the fish were just beyond that
Fishing Pier at Waukegan...going out to the very end was the
best hope today, but it wasn't enough!
2-08-03 - Getting Impatient (aka. WARM UP ALREADY!)
Rivers Fished: Root River, Lake Michigan (Pike
River Mouth), Lake Michigan (Waukegan)
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 2-08-03
Weather: Overcast, Extremely Cloudy...dark all day
Air Temp: Hovering around 30-32F
Water Temp: Couldn't have been over 33 in most spots.
Water Level: Low
Water Color: Root was clear, Lake Michigan was its usual blue
Fish Species: CARP & Coho Carcasses
Pattern Fished: Crystal Nymph and various Speys
Pattern Color: Green Nymphs, Bright Speys
Fishing Quality: 2 Thumbs WAY down
2-8-03 - I started this Saturday of fishing with
a very POSITIVE mindset despite having slept in a house that was
only 45F all night (the motor on the furnace blower was burned out!).
I was supposed to meet up with Chromeseeker at
noon but was running a bit behind after waiting for the furnace
guy to come fix things. I am very intent on checking out the lower
regions of the Root as soon as everything thaws, but I knew going
in that there was 0 chance of open water down there. Chromeseeker
did a check to verify firsthand and then headed towards Horlick,
where I met up with him around 12:30.
The Root has "cleared up"; it's not as
stained as in months past; I directly attribute that earlier stain
to falling leaves. Anyways, the real surprise was to find that it
was MOSTLY open water (I had NOT expected that as lower riffles
were frozen in weeks past)! We tried under the bridge all the way
downstream to Quarry....in most places the water was only ankle
to shin deep. There are really only 2 potential spots upriver this
time of year and we fished them both (I tossed a bright green stonefly
pattern); we didn't even have to though as ANYTHING that was out
from under the ice would have been easily sighted. Despite being
open water, basically the entire upper stretches of the Root were
barren (again, not terribly a surprise there) except for some Coho
carcasses. One thing to point out is that the ice along the SHORE
was VERY thick (see the pics). If the rest of the ice along the
river is like this (I don't see why not) it's going to take at LEAST
2-3 days of 40F weather to thaw everything out by my guestimate.
Chromeseeker noted the wind coming from the west,
so we hurried to the Pike River Mouth and got there around 2:00.
Lake Michigan was GLASS. The flow on the Pike has slowed down from
last week, but it was still going. During the week much of the beach
had been either eaten away into the lake or was still up on the
huge mounds of ice and sand that have formed along the shoreline...the
was maybe 1-2 feet of shallow shore before it dropped off into the
murky blue abyss. I switched up to a 2-fly system with splitshot
and indicator; the wind made casting a breeze. Tried a simple yellow/chartreuse
spey above, with a "Wooley Wife" below. Chromeseeker continued
to try a glo bug. We fished for a while but saw nothing and took
nothing. Ice on the guides did make casting difficult at times,
but it wasn't as bad as some past trips.
Around 3:30 we decided to try yet another spot,
so we moved south to the warm water outlet at Waukegan. I again
switched my rig and went "sure fire" with my White
Marabou Spey below and the "Coho
Killer" wooley above. 3 splitshot for the current as well.
No indicator (just causes more surface drag). Chromeseeker switched
over to his sure fire (everyone has one) and opted to try drifting
So we started in the channel. On our way down we
saw a couple guys who had a fish in a bag (a REALLY good sign by
my thoughts...)..turned out to be a CARP! Nothing wrong with Carp,
I fish them all the time, but not what I was hoping to see today.
So I stepped into a shallow area of the channel and started tossing.
TONS of steam was rising all around us. After 5-10 casts I noticed
something unusual...my feet were getting TOASTY WARM. I figured
"what the heck is going on here...my feet should be freezing?"
Well, I took off my glove and touched the water..it was as warm
as BATH water. At minimum it was 80-85F!
Last I checked trout DIE in that kind of water,
so I KNEW this wasn't the place to be. Around Waukegan, the farthest
you can go away from the discharge is the end of the fishing pier
so I made my way out there. Granted, you can't easily check the
temps there (would require a thermometer on a LONG string) but if
there were going to be ANY fish anywhere that was the best chance.
Fly Casting from the pier wasn't as difficult as had been suggested
by some, but it wasn't easy (the west wind DID help). Chromeseeker
and I tried until about 5:00 and called it there!
One other noteworthy bit of info, on the way back
I was stopped by an Illinois warden to inspect my license. No biggie,
but I found out WHY we can't fish the beach (I'm sure many of you
already know this); anyways it's because they had problems with
people DROWNING out there when the water was higher a couple years
ago. I'm pretty sure if there was any place to be fishing today,
the beach would've been the spot!