4-27-03 - Root Root Root for the home team!
Rivers Fished: Root River
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 4-27-03
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
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
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
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!