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! Geez...it'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!