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12-16-04 - My female Seeforellen Brown Trout (photo to come)
(Copyright © 2004 Richard Brown)

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
Weather: Cloudy
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!

  MP 

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