3-19-04 - The 2004 "Free FAT DAYS" on
Waters Fished: Root River
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 3-19-04
Air Temp: 26F coming up to 34F or so
Water Temp: 34F
Water Level: still "up" but dropping, about 127 cfs
Water Color: Visibility back to about 2 foot
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Various Egg Patterns, Red
& Black Wolley Bugger - small on light tippet
Pattern Color: Darker Wolley Buggers seemed to work best.
Fishing Quality: Improved
What started as a post on FAT's
board on Monday where I was simply lookin' to see who wanted
to do the AM bang-chrome-n-go-to-work trip turned into Fat's 2004
"FREE FAT" day. At first I was thinkin' Pike, but then
more and more people started joining on so we changed that to the
Root. By Wed. I had "volunteered" FAT to give his "Fixed
Three" & "wilful" presentation (Wilful is
how he pronounces it, it's kinda anachronized differently). We posted
on The Steelhead Site (TSS)
and Wisconsin Fly Fishing (WFF).
When we went to bed we were thinkin' that maybe 6 (including us)
were gonna be there, including a couple folks who I've emailed with
for a year or more yet never met.
Well FAT pulled the 'ole MP trick on myself! He
probably kicked me on the floor in my sleeping bag at 2:45 AM and
told me it was already something like 3:30 AM. By the time I got
ready and in the car after a shower it was only about 3:15 or so
Our meeting place would be the wier in Lincoln
Park at 4:00 AM (I can't tell you how many folks, including myself,
were goin' nuts on the 4:00 AM meeting time...a new record for "should've
just stayed up"). We pulled in and well, my jaw dropped...there
most have been a dozen or more cars already there! FAT DAY's had
suddenly become "THE" Friday morning event for a total
of 16 anglers including ourselves!
After Rich gave his talk (LOL, you could tell how
tired he was when he said "When the falls are flowing",
not "when the flows are falling"), considering conditions
and such we decided we'd head up to Horlick and work the dam on
down into Quarry.
I'm not going to bore you with the details of all
the great anglers I met (can't remember many of their names...no
offense guys, I still don't know 1/2 my student's names!). I will
say that I think everyone had a great time despite the fact that
steelies were just not easy this morning. Ken, a first time fly-angler
who borrowed my 8wt, managed to hook into one (could you ask for
a better way to start on you first day?) but ended up losing it.
Meanwhile I went downstream into Quarry and set
up on one of the pools. Shortly after my arrival a steelie surfaced,
and remember what had happened to a client of Rich's last week,
I decided then and there I would stay put and catch the fish.
Following the newly refreshed tactics that FAT
explained just 2 hours prior, I knew that I had everything under
control. Right leader, right length, right length, right weight,
right drift speed, even right LOCATION 'cause I knew there was at
least one fish there. All that remained was fly choice.
Well I rotated through several egg patterns but
produced nothing except the occasional snag on the bottom. Finally
I pulled out the box and selected a fly that I probably haven't
used since last spring; the red-bodied black wolley bugger.
3 casts in and FISH ON! A good fight considering
the freezing water temps, and eventually Rich tailed the fish...the
paparazzi showed up and many photos were taken. This one I already
knew would be kept, as the graphic artist I work with had asked
me just they day prior if I'd bring him a steelhead...it's Lent,
he's on a fish-only diet. I'll tell you now his eyes lit up and
he smiled like I've never seen him smile when I brought him this
beautiful chrome hen.
Anyway, I had that steelie already in the car and
it was only 7:30 AM! FAT had to head to the office, so I stuck around
and just helped folks out any way I could...I had caught my steelie
for the day. Did a lot more talkin' (always fun) and got to see
Steve hook into 2 steelies (unfortunately both lost). Again, dark
To round up the day, I was the only one who had
landed a steelie until leaving, when we noticed another angler coming
up. From what I noticed despite the lower water temperatures the
only guys hooking up were on the Fly! Either anglers using bait
are more discrete, or it just wasn't working for them on Friday
I already know there will be a TON of folks on
the river this weekend...but it's 8:00 pm as I write this and I'm
meeting my best friend (Wenker) from MO at 5:00 AM. See you guys
again Tuesday or Wed. night, and good luck over the weekend!