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3-23-03 - Started the day getting a suntan at the South Rocks at Waukegan.
Ha Ha Ha! We can wade folks. Looking far back at the mouth of the Pike River.
CS got a bit adventurous for a little bit and was waist deep...that was probably 60 feet out easily!
Um, that doesn't look like a trout...
MOTHER SUCKER! A FAIR HOOKED (?!?) Sucker on a SPOON?! Unreal, but did provide some fun today, and a lot of laughs.
The Pike is certifiably ice-free upstream.
It's also considerably lower. Look at the pics from just a week or two back. We're already back down to the levels that we had in late late November / December.
My first Skaminia on the Root ;)

3-23-03 - Hey Mother Sucker, stop choking my river.

Rivers Fished: Lake Michigan (Waukegan Harbor), Pike River (Upstream and at the Mouth), Root River
Fish Caught: NONE of the "important" kind.
Outing Date: 3-23-03
Weather: Sunny all day!
Air Temp: 50's & maybe even low 60's
Water Temp: Pike = 42-45F, Lake Michigan at Kenosha = 44F
Water Level: Down
Water Color: Clarity is improved in most rivers vs. last week.
Fish Species: Browns, Steelheads, Weird Carp-Looking Things, Skaminia Smolts and MOTHER Suckers!
Pattern Fished: Estaz Eggs, Antron Bug, Wolley Buggers, Streamers, Spawn, Spoons, Spinners and Plugs!
Pattern Color: Everything in the Rainbow!
Fishing Quality: "We were not so lucky...."

3-23-02 - Ok, so by now you all know I have one thing going against me; unless I'm spurred to the river in the pre-dawn hours by a nutcase like FAT, I just can't do mornings! Always too many obligations anyways; today I had to get yesterday's fishing companion home before noon. I was hesitant to fish in the afternoon only, but decided it was worth a shot, at least close by. I put in a quick call to Chromeseeker who had the same thought I did; start fishing in Waukegan!

On the road there, I noted that the air temp was 56F at 1:37 pm. CS had switched spots up on me, today's Waukegan location would be the south rocks of Waukegan Harbor.

Upon my arrival I was pleased to see the following sight; just as I stepped out of my car a lucky angler pulled out a nice brown (probably 5-6 lbs) on a spoon. After surveying the area, I realized there was no way I would be flycasting here; winds were out of the south (thus we were casting into the wind all day). I loaded up my "emergency" spinning gear (which is really set up for carp fishing all night at Lake Como) and rock-hopped my way out on the breakwater to where CS had already set up shop.

The carp rod would prove to be my bane all afternoon; I just couldn't cast it THAT far as it's a short, stout rod lined with 15 or 20lb test. CS was easily tossing double, perhaps even triple the distance I could. Just the same, I made a good effort, trying everything from 10 foot rated crankbaits to Mepp's Cyclops Spoons and assorted spinners. I may have had one nibble during the time we fished; conversely CS had several nips. All the while a sick, pop-eyed carp-like fish was swimming underneath us. I'm guessing something like a Buffalo; it didn't have the build of a carp.

3:00 rolled around and CS suggested we hit the Root. What the heck; I'm actually set up with the proper equipment for that river! Well, the Root wasn't our first stop; the Pike was. The urge of the Pike (CS likes it probably as much as I do) sucked us in...since it was on the drive we had to stop at the mouth.

We got there somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45; first things first, the temp check. River water was 42, Lake Michigan was 44F. The bright sun lit up the bottom of the beach and made wading a breeze; several other anglers were working the lagoon and reportedly had taken "1 fish"...species not determined. CS got a bit adventurous and really went for the wading....he started drifting spawn; I continued with my rig from late Saturday, a combination of a white and red marabou streamer and MP's Coho Killer Wolley Bugger. Afterall, when you can legally dual rig, why wouldn't you. We had the standard "bright day, bright fly" as well as the inverse! After only a short while CS must have been frustrated with floating the centerpin and opted to switch back to his spinning rig with spoons.

CS was the first of us to hook up; whoo hoo! That is, until he landed it. MOTHER SUCKER! And snagged to boot!'s nice to have a fish on all the same. Quickly released. Well, again, he hooked up, and lo and behold, this one has to be a trout, right? NOPE, a FAIR HOOKED Sucker. In all this carnage I got a tug, that's it. 3 more snagged suckers, several crossed lines (more than one angler did not understand the concept of the current and would cast over our lines despite how far we were); at one point I had a kid standing behind me while I was double-hauling...I was concerned not only that I might bean him with a fly but he was casting basically straight at my back, probably even landed at my feet a couple times. Not to mention that the shore anglers had to haul a mile against the south winds to get any hope of distance and deep water. In other words, CS outfished 5 other people who were stuck fishing from shore, as well as the only fly angler out at the lake. Wading was THE solution today at the mouth of the Pike (it's always fun to be standing 30-40 feet out and casting farther with a fly than the shore guys can with their rigs!) So anyways, less than 24 hours after I had just fished this area, the temp change spurred all the suckers to run. Well, 4:57 rolled around and we decided to again check the redds upstream around A.

The plan was to split up, I worked upstream and CS went down. Changed the rig to the Antron Bug and an Estaz egg (I was already thinking ahead to the Root). This was supposed to be a quick check; we managed it in about 30 minutes. No steelhead sighted, but the river was full of MOTHER SUCKERS; the flow was a balmy 45F! We seriously toyed with the idea of just catching suckers for the rest of the evening; heck it'd be nice to wallop 3-4 lb fish on a fly rod for the last 1.5 hours of the day. However, we heeded the call of the Steelhead and literally broke several speed limits to get to the Root.

With roughly 30 minutes of legal fishing time remaining we didn't hesitate to jump in and start trying things out. Fishing well below Lincoln Park (get a map if you can't figure out what's lower) we ran into a couple anglers; one claimed to have taken one steelhead on spawn during the day. A check of the Root River water temp; only 35F, maybe 36F tops! ICE COLD. I stepped in and scared up a small fish right away...wasted 5 minutes or so working through a set of riffles and settled up at some slower stretches and a partial log jam. As darkness crept in I snagged the bottom several times...lost a good 4 - 6 eggs in a matter of only minutes. About 10 minutes after sunset the bite turned on, 20 minutes to go. Got one shaking hit that only lasted a second, and by that time the far bank was popping periodically with careless "smolts" (really fingerlings) hitting the surface. BTW, you're perhaps wondering where the smolts came from? They were stocked during the week, Skaminias and Browns.

Anyways, my "theory" and that's all it is, a non-educated guess, is that if you can find the smolts you're likely to find the adult fish. My premise is that they are the same species, and to some extent will have the same preferences with regards to habitat and such. Thus, I found the smolts, and got my heavier thumping bump. In the process I did hook up with a few smolts; I figure if I can detect the strike of a fish that probably weighs only 4 ounces I can surely feel a larger fish take my offerings. Well, I took a shot of a Skaminia "smolt", which really by my estimate is a fingerling (probably only 6-7" MAX) just so you can all see what they look like. We fished right up to the legal end of the day, 30 minutes after sunset, without producing any large steelhead. But I CAN safely say that I landed a couple Skaminia's today LOL!


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