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2-08-03 - the Root River Upstream IS open, but we all know that the good winter holding water is further downstream (totally frozen over)!
There is a LOT of THICK ice on the Root (probably the same on the Pike).
It's going to take a LONG time to thaw out even the Southernmost Wisconsin Tribs!
Another 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!
No-man's-land - The channel widens and "heads out to sea" at the Waukegan discharge. I'm sure the fish were just beyond that sandbar!
The 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 spawn.

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!

  MP 

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