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2-22-05 - Another bitterly cold winter morning spent on the Root.

2-22-05 - Trib Fishin' with Bamboo!

Waters Fished: Root River, Oak Creek
Fish Caught: 0/2
Outing Date: 2-21-05
Weather: Cloudy, changing over to Sunny by mid day.
Air Temp: 20's rising to 30's
Water Temp: Root 32F, Oak 35F
Water Level: Root - approx. 150 cfs, Oak Creek - approx. 20 cfs.
Water Color: brown, visibility less than 12" in both.
Fish Species: Steelhead???
Pattern Fished: Glo Bugs
Pattern Color: "FIRE TIGER"! plus oranges, reds, white, blue etc...
Fishing Quality: still slow.

Yeah, at least today I'll get to fish awhile! I met up with FAT around 6:15 AM at Horlick - we rigged up, insulated ourselves as best we could and hit the river. Somehow I was ill prepared, but it was gonna be a fantastic day.

It started with an offer I simply couldn't refuse - this offer resulted in my proud ownership of 4 Pine River Bamboo Fly Rods hand planed and built by Steve Pennington. 3 of them are 6/7wt. trout models...technically woefully underpowered for Salmon but maybe they'd cut the mustard on a spring run fish. After casting all night outside at LC, I had pretty much dialed this rod in with a DT 6. Let me tell you now, casting bamboo is SWEET - it was almost like my cast was just actually suited to it all along. Better shooting and tighter loops? Not sure but I don't really think I changed my casting stroke all that much. This may just be a phenomenal fit!

Well, I was ready for my first trib fish of the year and was all pumped up to make it a bamboo rod catch. I was fishing the 'boo' just a bit carefully...I really wasn't sure what this rod could and couldn't handle. As I wrote to Steve this evening, "10 or so casts in I tied into what I thought was a rock. Not wanting to overly stress the rod with our typically "jerk it loose" reaction, I maneuvered myself to put enough slack on the line to pull myself free, by hand. I pulled, and the rock began to swim upstream."

You never heard so much whoopin' and hollerin' on the Root River as I battled my first fish on my new bamboo rod. I let the reel do much of the work, even so the rod was arguably under some heavy load. Nothing beats the sight of that stick doubled over like a man suffering from food poisoning!

I had fair control of the fish, but at times couldn't figure out where he was heading. At one point he swam straight at me and almost tangled at my feet. Still, I could not see this fish! From the only glimpse I caught, I was almost convinced that it had a rather elongated dorsal fin, more like a carp or sucker than any salmonid.

Meanwhile Rich is downstream coaching my battle. "Let him run...you're playing him too close...come down here...come downstream so we can land him". After several SLOW RUNS out to midstream and then being horsed back again, the fish finally submitted and came to the surface in front of Rich. "That's a NICE BROWN!" Rich tried to tail it, only to miss. Figures on a day like this we'd both opt to go netless. Pop go my flies as they jump out of the water and come careening through the air towards me. @#$@#%@#$%

Let's see what's going on at our upstream barrier.
The FATMAN has plenty of ballast to keep from being swept downstream in the icy flows! Here steelie steelie steelie... Rich reriggs.

The rest of the morning was pretty quiet. I secretly hoped this brown would return to his initial resting place - it was indeed a good spot for fish to hold. If not the brown, maybe another fish would be there? Meanwhile I watched Rich working upstream in the riffles...turns out he had sighted a steelhead and was trying to get to it while it ran upstream. No luck!

Up at the dam face we watched the water churn...I caught sight of a full blown porpoise but still couldn't tell ya if it was a brown or a steelie...it all happened so fast. Despite skilled angling we didn't touch another fish - around 8:15 AM Rich had to call it a day.

It's pretty, even if unproductive.
Oak Creek with all those trees makes for a pleasant angling environment.
One more look at Oak Creek just past mid-day.

I opted to head downstream and check my honey holes. Suffice it to say it was a waste of 2 hours. NOTHING.

After thinking about it, I figured I had to head up to Oak Creek - the water was warmer yesterday so perhaps there's a better chance of actively feeding fish? As I pulled up, 2 guys on the first hole literally got up and left it, only to end up sitting right on the opposite side of the hole I had just started on. No biggie, to be honest they weren't in the way at all. While they drifted spawn along the walls, I was working the heads and gut of the pool. No crossed lines, no harm no foul. They gave up pretty quickly, while I stuck it out, determined for another hookup.

There would be no such luck until I turned and hit the first pool. At the edge of fast moving water and a dead still back eddie I watched my line stop abruptly. I came up to set the hook, felt one headshake and then my line shot skyward. @#$Q#%^#! That's the 2nd fish I've missed on the new boo!

I easily fished through noon, chatted with a couple friendly anglers who were out to scout more than anything else, as well as tried my luck on basically what could be considered the entire upper stretches of Oak Creek. I methodically picked apart every section of every riffle, pool, run and glide and still not another hit. Once again, my theory of the stung fish returning to his holding spot did not pan out either! Maybe if I had stuck it out all day, I may have eked out a fish. With a lot of other work to be done, it simply wasn't worth it. 0/2 as you know, isn't the worst kind of day in SE WI. Sadly however, despite coming close, today was just destined to be a warm-up for the new bamboo.

  MP 

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