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2-22-03 - Pike River looking upstream from A & 13th. Totally frozen!
Like it's going to be any better when I turn my head to look downstream??
Construction!!?! @#$% the bridge at A doesn't exist right now! WTF?
A stormy, windy day at the TOTALLY FROZEN Pike River mouth. Those plumes of water from the waves crashing into the shore are easily twice as tall as I am! No thank you I think I'll pass on this spot today...
The Root River - anyone know what kind of ducks these are?
The Fish Sanctuary with the Root River Steelhead Facility's weir in the background. Still a duckpond.
Open water was found below the weir, but it's too shallow!
DANGEROUS ICE! There's a good 3" of air between the ice and the surface of the river. The Root is SUPER LOW right now.
Some of you may recognize this area of Lincoln Park. If so you know where the normal water level is, even at a low flow of 20 cfm. Now consider that the ice is about 4" thick, and then there's another 3" of air before you actually hit the running water. Folks, the Root River is SUPER FN LOW.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I drifted out a good 20 yards of line + my 10' leader through this gash in the ice into the deeper pool below. No major luck though...
A view upstream from the newly-constructed foot-bridge at the west end of Lincoln Park.
And now downstream from the new bridge, with the Steelhead Facility in the distance.

2-22-03 - Time Better Spent Tying Flies

Rivers Fished: Root River, Pike River (well, technically not "fished") Lake Michigan (Pike River Mouth)
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 2-22-03
Weather: Overcast w/a touch of snow
Air Temp: Hovering around 26F
Water Temp: Verifiably 33F in the Root
Water Level: Ultra Low
Water Color: Root was clear
Fish Species: NONE!
Pattern Fished: Root River Special Spey & Antron Bug
Pattern Color: Olive / tan / herring
Fishing Quality: Poor even by ice fishing standards

2-22-03 - Again, started the day with a very positive mindset. I was hoping last week's warm daytime temps in the 40's would ice out the rivers...boy was I wrong. Oh well..lots of pictures of ice today folks! Sorry to bore you to death with them, but that's what the SE WI Trib Steelheader is facing right now.

Got my start at the Pike River at Hwy. A. around 12:45. NO OPEN WATER TO BE SEEN! And what's this, the bit of construction I noticed two weeks back isn't anything minor, the entire Bridge at A is GONE!?!?!? Anyone know what the heck is going on here and when it will be finished. Access to some of my favorite stretches will be much tougher this spring if they don't finish the construction soon!

So I had to turn around instead of going east to get to the mouth...took E down instead which afforded me the chance to see how that was...turns out (to no surprise) that it was still equally frozen.

Normally the Pike River Mouth would be a great alternative, but not today. Upon arriving, I found out the hard way that winds were from the northeast around 25 miles per hour...those are pretty STRONG winds. The interior lagoon had not remained open DESPITE the warmer weather, in fact it too had frozen over (the FIRST TIME I've found it completely frozen all winter). The mouth was definitely not open at all. Furthermore, the castles of sand and ice had grown, climbing even higher towards the sky than 2 weeks ago. The surf was high and rough...definitely NOT a place to fish!!! Sprays were easily pluming up from the beach 15-20 feet into the air. The Pike River mouth was unfortunately a total bust.

I didn't waste any time more on the Pike...any good holding water was totally iced over. I headed to the root, arriving around 1:45. My gut told me to to have any high expectations, so I didn't waste anytime above the weir; instead I focused on the downstream areas east from the weir all the way to River Bend.

The shallow water in the fish reserve was open, and full of a certain kind of fish that floats on the surface..namely Mallards :) Once again, the root is a great duckpond! Also noticed a couple domestic ducks? (white) as well as 2 males and a female of a species I'm not currently familiar with (see the pics at right). Well, I started immediately below the reserve, which does have some "deeper" water if you can call it that. Fished all the way downstream to the first bridge...a channel of open water ran most of the way, although the water here is probably not even 1' deep in most places right now. One word to the wise; the ice is probably not that safe to walk on right now. The river's surface is 2-3" below the bottom of the ice...hence the ice is NOT being supported in any way by the water beneath it...more like a bridge between the two shores of the stream. Walking didn't 'cause any creaking and cracking in the ice, but a sharp stomp of the ice would easily crack off large pieces (shopping cart size) that were a good 4" thick. While the warm weather did not thaw the ice, it did WEAKEN it. Walk it at your own risk!!!!!!

Eventually made it further downstream to one of the deepest areas I'm familiar with; I had to settle for running line off the reel and floating it downstream under the ice into the hole, very slowly, without weight, to keep the flies from hanging up on the bottom. Even so, I think that most times the flies did end up resting well above my intended target. I DID manage some sort of tug on the end of my line during an intermittent retrieve...whatever it was (ice, rock, smolt or steelhead) didn't end up caught on my line. I fished this as much as I could, but it was just too tedious (aka. too much like ice fishing). I would've loved to pull a fish out this way, but I honestly did NOT have the patience for such a limited presentation.

One other note to those who haven't been to Lincoln Park in a while...both new footbridges are now in place!

A drive to the other deeper areas of the river in Island Park and below showed me nothing but more totally frozen over river. Well, at 2:45 I called it; Waukegan would've been a bust due to the winds, so I opted to tie for the rest of the day. Got some new patterns from Matt Supinski's book tied up and will have them added to the fly patterns section shortly.

One other note; I'm not sure what the "rain day" plans are for Fat Days on the Root (currently March 1), but I will say that MY forecast is that the ice will still be there by the first of March. Pray for a warmup folks; even if the steelies are already in the river we can't get to them until a good thaw! IF FAT goes through with Fat Day on 3-1, I will still be there...however if he doesn't I'll be in Indiana!!!!

  MP 

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