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3-30-05 - A literal CLONE of yesterday...very well may be the PEAK of the run.

Waters Fished: Pike River, Root River
Fish Caught: 5/10
Outing Date: 3-29-05
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: upper 30's, rising to 50's
Water Temp: Root 46F, Pike 45F
Water Level: Root 200 CFS, Pike around 30 CFS
Water Color: both somewhat cloudy but continuing to improve - around 2'+
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Egg Patterns
Pattern Color: Threw the gamut. Top producing patterns were small eggs in shades of orange, red and chartreuse. The lighter stuff wasn't working.
Fishing Quality: FANTASTIC!

Um..hmm. Not sure that I really need to write all that much here. I did the exact same thing I did on Tuesday with Karl, but this time I had the place to myself. Tim S. was in from OH and was supposed to meet up with me in the AM. His brother-in-law was also supposed to come out. They never made it. In the same manner, surprisingly, I was the one who gave Mr. Brown a wakeup call around 5:00 AM...apparently he got the call, said he'd just lay back down for a minute and didn't get back up until 8:00 AM. Well boys, buddies, as I told you when we finally spoke on the phone that morning, you missed it! Man, I REALLY wish they had gotten out, but my all accounts, the fish were the highlight that day! The best fish (in my book) include the first Wisconsin Kamloops strain rainbow that I've caught in the tribs, as well as living proof that C&R DOES MAKE for a better run. Had I NOT C&R'd the female Arlee I landed yesterday with Karl, I would have had a 4/9 kind of day, because my last fish today was the very same Arlee I had released yesterday.

3-30-05 - the early bite is great, starting off with my first WISCONSIN Looper, a little guy - Right Pectoral and Adipose clips. Another NICE smaller buck in great spawning color! Next up a hefty fish...keep in mind the total handle length on that rod is 20".
A big hunchbacked not-quite-chrome buck! You can barely see the fly peeking out from the inside corner of his jaw. Wow...what a fantastic morning.
Like most all my steelies...he's released to be caught again. Why C&R your steelies? Well, here's a PRIME EXAMPLE - this is the exact same female ARLEE that I caught yesterday!!! Slammed a chartreuse & orange egg.

So yes, it's one of those reports where I have not much to say about the day, but I have a lot on my mind all the same. Not trying to preach to the choir, but it's really simple. Yes, we don't have a wild steelhead fishery down here, it is Put & Take by the DNR's standards. However, we don't exactly get HUGE numbers of fish in the tribs. To top it off, we get probably the highest angling pressure all year during the peak of the steelhead run...probably MORE than come out for the Kings. Yet by comparison, there is, at best, one FIFTH the number of fish to go after...and that's being VERY LIBERAL in my view of the return numbers.

We're STILL looking at last fall's wier totals...when are they gonna process fish? BTW, how many steelhead were actually sent upstream last fall? Think about how much of the fall run you'd be eliminating if you harvested 5 steelhead...
Lincoln Park wasn't COMPLETELY crowded, but it was relatively packed with anglers...it's 9:00 AM on a TUESDAY MORNING?!?!

So, when someone harvests 5 steelies from the river, how does that affect the run? On a good year, on the Root, lets say the run is 1000 fish processed through the weir. A harvest of 6 fish drops the population of fish in the river by 0.5%. When 10 people harvest a bag limit of steelies? 5% of the fish present are now out of play...they will not be recaught. So, lets just take it to the extreme, and say during the peak of the run, everyone comes down. I can tell you that's easily 300+ anglers on the Root. Lets say they all only harvest 2 fish during the entire weekend...that's a reasonable guestimate. Suddenly over 60% of the fish are gone. How do you think the fishing will be on Monday as compared to Saturday??!?!? Well, in the weekend that just had passed, considering only 250 or so steelhead were sent upstream...it's quite reasonable that the run could be wiped out by angler harvest.

I know it is a legal right to harvest a bag limit of steelies, but if you like to harvest please consider your future angling prospects. Even if one person who'd normally take 5 fish instead leaves them, that means, at minimum, each fish could be caught at least a 2nd time. Suddenly 5 other anglers may have had a better day because of your C&R efforts. I've heard all the arguments against C&R...think about all those times you've come to the river and gotten skunked....perhaps if you, or someone else, had put their earlier catch back, you might have gotten to land something. Are you fishin' for meat or are you fishing for the battle?

Consider that some of our SE WI streams have seen their steelhead stocking CUT by 50% in 2004 DUE TO BUDGETARY issues . If those streams are going to continue to fish even half as well as they do on a normal year, lower harvest is going to have to be part of our future plans for steelhead. For guys who C&R every steelhead they catch, they're already doing their part. For guys like me, who might keep a couple per year, I'm going to have to really really justify keeping the fish to MYSELF before doing so. And for the guys who come and harvest 5 steelhead? Do you really NEED 5 fish?

  MP 

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