12-16-04 - Can I getta Grand Slam? Well, 3 out
of 4 species were in the river!
Waters Fished: Root River
Fish Caught: 1/2
Outing Date: 12-16-04
Air Temp: lower 30's
Water Temp: 35F
Water Level: Root 50-60 CFS? Gauge is freezing and unreliable
Water Color: muddy, visibility less than 12"
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Coho Salmon, Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Egg Flies
Pattern Color: #10 red and hot orange
Fishing Quality: Fair
Yes, we're pulling the early AM "before work"
outing again. This time, 6:00 AM at the Root, to fish with Rich
(aka. FAT) and Mr. Green. By 6:30 or so everyone was ready and this
time we would heed the advice of our fellow anglers and start our
day in Colonial Park. Rich had already been out from the 6th Street
Bridge up to Horlick Dam...his hours in the pre-dawn confirmed that
Colonial was the place to be.
Upon arriving at the gravel we fanned out...Rich
heading downstream and Gerry going up. Right in front of me I noticed
the obvious surface disturbance that indicated at least one fish
was holding in the tailout. Time to start fishing!
As the morning sunlight grew, I was able to get
a better look at my quarry...definitely a fish holding at the tailout
in front of a fast riffle. It was only a matter of repeat presentations
at the right depth, sooner or later I'd annoy this fish into biting.
While fishing, another smaller fish bolted up into the tailout from
the riffle below...it breezed right on through making it's way upstream
towards Gerry. So far this morning was actually living up to expectations.
Finally it happened, my line went tight. I turned
the fish, but unfortunately that meant it turned 180 degrees around
and plunged into the fast water downstream. Rich, seeing that I
was in need of some help, came upstream. After minutes of working
this fish I got it to shore. I was exhausted as was the fish! As
I tried to beach it, my hook flew from it's mouth. I shrieked! Rich
remained calm...the fish still sat there in the slow water. FAT
bent over and grabbed it by the tail, hoisting it to shore! Talk
about a lucky landing! There it sat before us, the first fish of
the morning, a female Seeforellen Brown. (For the record, adipose
and maxillary clips give away a Seeforellen). After Rich snapped
some pictures, we sent here back to be caught again (hopefully by
another lucky angler).
Rich had to get "something" from the
car, so I started working downstream. Hitting the bridge by the
access, I turned and came back upstream. FAT was still working the
same darn spot...what the heck? Turns out there were 4 or more browns
holding behind a fallen tree. He'd been on them all morning without
much success. While watching FAT fish, I noticed a brown only a
couple feet away from where he stood, holding underneath the tree,
clearly visible in the crotch of a large branch. I pointed him out,
and Rich invited me to try my luck.
I took the daring route - if I hooked up I was
likely not going to land the fish. Drifting in front of the log,
the current pushed my flies under repeatedly, swinging them in front
of the fish. At the end of the drift, I'd have to raise my rod slowly
to pull the flies out without hooking into the tree. After a few
drifts like this, my line stopped...I thought I had hung up.
I came back on the rod gingerly but then noticed
the brown was now shaking and twisting in the water before me. I
came back HARD..the fight was on. The fish immediately turned to
go downstream, but thankfully I could put the hurt on..I was fishing
15lb. tippet. I reared back on the rod and pulled the fish back
in line....if I was to land him I'd first have to pull him upstream,
underneath the tree (this was not some tiny log you could just lift
or something)! As I tried to squeeze him through beneath the tree
my lead fly became lodged into the sunken tree. All it took was
a couple more shakes and the brown was free from my dropper. DRAT!
After this I came upstream to find Gerry and Rich
both working a run. Gerry had some luck earlier, but nothing had
come to shore. As we sat there, a massive brown torpedoed upstream
through shallow water...I shouted, "Gerry, there's your fish!".
Rich and I left to go upstream, now working opposite
the golf course. Rich spotted a trio of browns on a redd tight along
the shore...already having a fish under my belt I watched for a
bit as he fished them. After tiring of watching, I continued upstream
to spook up a dark post-spawn Coho Salmon. Surprise!
I didn't sight another fish until well at the upper
edge of Colonial. Here I found the entire river had been turned
into redds. Fresh, overturned gravel was everywhere - a tan-colored
gaping sore in the otherwise dark brown undisturbed riverbed. Indeed,
Colonial had been a hot spot on the Root for at least a few days.
This time, there were hardly the number of fish
I would have expected...obviously most of the browns had spawned
a day or two prior and these were "old" redds. Then again,
8 browns in front of me is still a lot of fish to work.
The upside? I hooked another brown briefly; it
was the female of a spawning group. I was going for the MALES around
here though. Rather than land her, I popped the hook and hoped that
the males, now scattered, might return. I ended up not having the
patience...30 minutes later I was back downstream; Gerry and FAT
were calling it a day. Josh and a couple buds had just arrived and
were going to work it...FAT recounted the tale of a 20lb female
steelie he had sighted, cast to once, had it on and lost. Yup...your
traditional "big fish" story!
I wasn't quite done yet...I headed up to Quarry
to fish the spot I had yesterday. It's a nice little pocket; I'm
not gonna tell you where it is because I think it gets overlooked.
Every time I fish it, I get at least one hit, and today was no different.
10 minutes in I hooked up...whatever it was charged upstream and
threw my hook. At least another half hour went by without any action...well
except for the guys upstream who hooked 3 steelies and landed one
while I sat downstream. With other obligations, and the skunk off
my back, it wasn't a terrible time to call it a day myself....in
fact pretty much time to call it a year on the Root. Will this be
my last time fishing for 2004? You'll just have to wait and see!