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4-27-03 - As usual, Brose Park on the Root River produced more smolts than anything else!
Bet you're wondering where this stretch of river is on the Root. If you don't know, you need to get out on the river more. Just goes to show that despite all the traffic, there still are "lesser known spots" on the most popular SE Wisconsin Trib!
Brad stayed back and fished for a previously sighted fish....really more than anything he was just learning his cast.
Since I lost the opportunity to photograph my 18" jack, I figured the next best thing was to photograph the rock he was sitting behind :)
On our way out for the day (yeah, a bit early) looking up at the shelf in Quarry Park.
No sooner had I snapped the shot of the shelf than this guy hauled out this fish! Nice!

4-27-03 - Root Root Root for the home team!

Rivers Fished: Root River
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 4-27-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: ?? Lost the Lanyard!
Water Level: low
Water Color: Greenish Clear on the Root
Fish Species: Steelhead & Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: various speys / glo bugs / MP's Antron Bug
Pattern Color: assorted
Fishing Quality: fair

My buddy Brad had been saying he wanted to try his hand at fly fishing; he'd never done it before and so this Sunday he made plans to join me.

We met at Lincoln Park (one of the easiest spots to get to for someone not familiar with the area) and fished it from 1:00 PM until about 2:00. Spent about 1/2 that time coaching Brad in his fly cast.

As we worked our way down the pool below the sanctuary and around the bend, another angler came in and picked up a fish; a BROOKIE! Unfortunately it was snagged (you could tell by the way it dangled from the line); this angler had the good common sense to release it. But a BROOKIE! If I had the chance I was going to come back and try to FAIR this fish!

We were starting to get a bit crowed on this, the arguably most popular bend in the entire Root River, so we moved to Brose Park with the intent of wading it down through upper Island Park. We started at the first riffle (bottom of Lincoln) and fished each one thoroughly, followed by the pools beneath them. All we managed to pick up were smolts, lots of them; I outfished brad like 40 to 1. He had a glo bug, I had MP's Antron Bug.

So anyways, here's the funny part; Brad gets a smolt. I'm happy just cause at least he caught SOMETHING. He brings it up and looks at me and says "Aren't you going to take it off?" My jaw hit the ground. I shouted back, "Get your hands wet, hold it gently, take out the hook and set him gently back in the water!" Brad starts whining like a little girl...I've never seen a man so against touching something that's a bit slimy. He tried, but couldn't bring himself to do it (I think he'd lose out on that show Fear Factor before he even walked onto the set!). This went on with he and I shouting back and forth for a good 5 minutes...until I noticed the smolt was starting to look a bit um...well...not so good. I informed him that if he didn't take it off the hook, and let the fish die, I'd hit the speed-dail on the cell phone and have a warden come down :) He said "Fine, I'll take the ticket"...at this point I was ticked. "What the heck?" I asked. "We're fishing, what the cluck did you expect?". His reply, "I didn't think we were actually going to CATCH anything". So fine, I unhooked his smolt and spent the next 5 minutes REVIVING it.

What I've left out was all the explicatives I was shouting at him. However, he is a good friend of mine, just a wimp I guess ;) Trust me he's going to hear about his fear of fish for the rest of his life. Anyways, being a smart angler, and knowing that he wasn't going to pack up and leave, and for the sake of our friendship, I made a judgment call. He doesn't know this (unless he's reading it now) but for the remainder of the day I instructed him to fish every BAD HOLE in each run! Problem fixed...I just had to make sure he didn't hook up with ANYTHING for the rest of the day. I can only guess what he would've done if he hooked up with a Steelhead!

So we left Brose at 3:30 and grabbed some chow (and beers...I've come to learn that Brad understood the concept of fishing to be sitting around drinkin' beers with a pole and bobber) and we made it up to Colonial. We walked around briefly but it was packed. Not with anglers mind you, but with people everywhere. Dogs were swimming in the good runs (almost got bit by one). This was a total bust, so we moved to Quarry Park.

At first he thought upstream looked good, but like I said before I was only putting HIM on bad water :) I wanted the good stuff, so we waded downstream. I had told him how you should always fish an area of "fishy" water before you cross it, and yet didn't even listen to my own advice. Fortunately, we made it through the riffles without spooking the lunker just below...almost missed it.

I took several casts with MP's Antron Bug, then started switching up various spey patterns without luck until the fish spooked. No worries, I'd try again later on on our way out. Made it all the way down into the first "serious" set of riffles in the golf course; I sighted 2 or 3 more fish but again didn't have any luck. Turned around and again fished those that Brad had sighted as well, again not finding these fish. We made it all the way back up to where the first fish was sighted and I stopped. I was GOING to get this fish. I noticed there was a redd on the far shore, but no fish were to be seen. I tied on Gumbo's Kletzsch Clutch and started swinging.

About 5:15 PM, a good 20 or so swings into the run I hooked up. At first I thought "sucker" but then there it was, a nice chrome steelie! It wasn't terribly large but it did everything in it's power to try to get off my line...constantly thrashing at the surface. I beached the guy; a great 18" Jack. He totally inhaled the 1/0 Spey, the huge hook protruding from his right gill plate. Miraculously he wasn't bleeding at all. As I set him down the leader snapped...thank good he was on the rocks I thought. As I was getting prepared to take a shot, I thumbed him like a bass with his tail in my other hand and gave him a quick rinse....but he thrashed and I lost my grip! I screamed "NOOOOOO!" He sat for a moment and moved just a bit downriver..into about 6" of water....I LUNGED to my left to block him (and hopefully scare him back onto shore)...he started moving faster and I gave chase like a clumsy bear leaping through the water. By the time I got into knee-deep water there was water splashing at least chest high, and I realized this fish had done his own C & R without posing for a shot.

Another 30 minutes of profanity followed; I was determined to recatch this fish (who jumped about 50 yards downstream) 'cause I wanted my picture AND MY SPEY! I guess "Gumbo's Kletzsch Clutch" will have to be renamed "Gumbo's Quarry Clutch" - it saved my weekend from being skunky! Unfortunately, this didn't happen, and I had evening plans, so Brad and I headed out around 5:45 PM. On our way out we watched a young Racine native land a nice hen on a plug or spoon (can't remember which he said) on the third cast! Geez, I wish we had that kind of luck all the time!

All in all, not a bad day, faired Steelhead #4 for the season. From what I've heard that's better than most, but I'm probably putting in a lot more time than most too. So far, from what I've seen, I understand why the Root is THE PLACE to fish the spring steelies...at least from the standpoint of a self-confessed beginner. 50% more fish get stocked in the Root, which is only 5 miles from lake to dam. Compare that to the Milwaukee, receiving roughly 2/3 of what the Root gets and is infinitely larger. I'm not saying you can't catch fish in other rivers, but for my bet I'm convinced that the high return numbers on the Root are great for someone like me who is still "learning" the spring runs. Even better, I think the high stocking translates into a longer run as well...afterall anyone you talk to on the Milwaukee is basically saying the run is done!

  MP 

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