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
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
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
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!!!!