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1-11-03 - The Pike was more frozen than I've ever seen it. The ice was NOT safe to wade on though!
Definitely NOT a fly rod floating down the river...instead a fly rod sitting on the ice covering one of the deeper holes! Ya couldn't break out the ice 'cause there wasn't any place for it to go downstream..just more ice!
One of the first fish "sighted" today, a small dead smolt of some Salmonid resting on the bottom under the ice.
This is what it looks like at A folks!
1/2 hour's worth of ice buildup on my net!
Upstream past the dam, I checked out Petrified Springs Park for the first time. There's a lot of river here, and it's quite scenic. But since fish have a hard time passing the "dam" in the Kenosha Country Club, there aren't going to be any fish up here!
Another shot of the Pike River in Petrifying Springs Park.
Over the past month I have noticed a steady increase of Creek Chubs in the Pike. They are traveling in large schools, usually hiding in the slack water under ice.
Another shot of the Pike, all the way west by Rt. 31 (Green Bay Rd.) Again, it's not likely we'll see fish up this far due to the Dam in the Kenosha Country Club.
Moved on to Colonial Park on the Root River in Racine. There was basically NO open water worth fishing. I did sight some smolts though; perhaps the rivers were stocked last week?
Fishing with Bead Chain! Hey, that's only after a dozen casts or so.
By the end of 2 hours wading (or rather falling through the ice) this is the amount of Ice Buildup on my net. My reel was frozen; anything caught would have been like fishing with a cane pole.
Another gorgeous dusk approached as I left the Root.

1-11-03 - Everything was a skating rink!

Rivers Fished: Pike & Root Rivers
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 1-11-03
Weather: Mostly Sunny
Air Temp: 20-10 F
Water Temp: probably just above 32 F
Water Level: low
Water Color: clear and clear, the root is less stained now
Fish Species: Creek Chubs ;)
Pattern Fished: An Alevin Pattern and Egg Sucking Stonefly
Pattern Color: Alevin is mallard flank, silver and flame egg yarn, Egg Sucking Stonefly was black and chartreuse
Fishing Quality: NONEXISTENT

1-11-03 - Hit the Pike later in the afternoon, starting at A around 2:15 pm. The river was more frozen than I've ever seen it; virtually any area of water that ISN'T a riffle was frozen solid. I would love to say I checked "all my favorite spots" but the truth is that I couldn't even SEE into most of my favorite spots this time.

Wading was dangerous at best; there was ice-slush on the bottom, then a shelf of thicker ice about mid-water level, and then a surface shelf of thinner ice. I went through periodically; thankfully I KNOW the shallow areas of the river and knew I wasn't going in deep. That's part of the thing about hitting the rivers and exploring them frequently; you get to know them like the back of your hand.

Between 13th and A I first sighted a dead fish through the ice, what looked like a salmonid smolt. A bit further upstream I found a school of Creek Chubs; normally these reside further upstream but they had come down a bit. In the last month the population of Creek Chubs appears to have "exploded" whereas the population of Salmonids has declined to nothing. I wonder if these fish grow feeding on the flesh of the dead salmonids in the river?

So I didn't waste a lot of time at A, as there just wasn't any place to really toss a line! Not even ONE cast! I decided that since this was going to be a day of scouting more so than fishing, I'd head up PAST the Dam in the Kenosha Country Club and instead check out Petrifying Springs Park about 2:35. I had heard stories that the fish can occasionally make it past the Dam, so I figured "what the heck" and took a hike. There is a TON of river upstream, and it's quite beautiful (see the pics). I spent a great deal of time looking for signs that salmon had made it past the dam (i.e. carcasses) but didn't see any; well, I did find a dead creek chub (see pic). I did take a moment to toss a line in a couple "fishy" looking pockets that were open, but as I expected I didn't have any interest from nonexistent fish!

In another recent post someone said that the Pike used to be classified as a "Class II" trout stream, and I have to say that I wish they'd do something to get it back to that state, 'cause the area was gorgeous, totally accessible via the Park. What I REALLY would like to see is the Dam taken out in the country club; that would open up many more miles of fishable Tributary! Since the "Dam" in the country club isn't technically a Dam, the Pike IS fishable year round all the way up past Rt. 31, but the truth is that the "Dam" is quite an effective fish barrier for movement upstream past Y.

After hiking and driving all of the Park, I got a little lost but found my way back to Rt. 31 and headed towards Racine. By this point my reel was FROZEN solid. I dropped in around 3:35 at Colonial Park due to the most recent Root River Report from the DNR. I did have to waste some time holding my reel in front of my car's vents to melt out all the ice (probably dripped a 1/4 cup of water all over my car!). Colonial Park area was totally frozen; only the areas of really fast moving surface water were open. I did fish these areas, especially the deep pockets under debris and along the banks, and I may have even gotten a tug, but it just as easily could have been a snag.

In the more languid areas of the river the ice was strong, yet relatively clear, and I did come across a school of what looked like young salmonids under the ice. There were several "gray" looking fish ranging in length from 4" to about 9" or so...I honestly DID try a bit for these fish to see if I could catch one for identification purposes (i.e. a photograph ;) Did the DNR recently drop in the stocking of yearlings?

Anyways, I worked this area VERY thoroughly, moving up and down, and constantly spooking this little group of fish every time I approached. I went through the ice a whole bunch; probably after 15 minutes of being out there I had already frozen my reel again. The line was impossible to keep clear, even my tippet. After every 3-4 casts I had to cast onto the ice to break up the bead-chain line I was casting!

Well, this all went on until about 4:30, when I took a really hard spill on the ice, landing on my side. I am truly LUCKY I didn't go through; granted the water was only about 6" deep so I wouldn't have been in any real danger other than hypothermia if I couldn't get back to the car in time. After this hard landing I figured anything that was there would be spooked for quite a while, so I called it a day!

So I guess my bit of advice is to not even bother with the SE Tribs until we get a GOOD warmup. The weather is showing below freezing temps as daytime HIGHS all week, so I guarantee a trip to these rivers would be completely wasted unless you want to try ice-fishing (which would be really dangerous in it's own right!). So go fish the IN tribs where there is still open water, or get to tying the flies! I may skip out on the next couple weeks of fishing unless I go to IN; if the weather starts to hit 40F again I'll be back!

Fair Hooks!

  MP 

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