Saturday, April 16, 2011

the root river birthday

I spent the morning of my 30th birthday searching for chromers on the Root River. It isn’t often I’m off on a week day but I felt the occasion warranted the day off. I have never seen the river so quiet and was excited to exchange the normal, fast paced, weekend, combat fishing for some solitude. The Root was flowing at 118 CFS which was about 60 points down from last weekend. The water was also much clearer and warmer. It was a peaceful morning spent drifting tandem eggs through Colonial Park and really gave me a chance to reflect on the past 30 years. After 2 hours of peaceful reflection, I decided it was time to actually catch a fish. Colonial Park’s conditions had changed dramatically over the last week. Even the suckers had seemed to move out. It was a good time to check out some more river.

North at Quarry Park I fished the big pool right under the parking lot. I drifted just a single egg with plenty of shot to reach the bottom. That egg drifted that pool for close to 30 minutes without even a nibble. Enough drifting, I was ready to do some streamer fishing. It was time to tie on something big and ugly and work it frantically. Instead of pushing north towards the dam I dropped down to Island Park.

island park on root river
The gravel at Island Park looked great and was a perfect spot to try out my new streamer. It is a bead head white leach with a hot pink tail and lots of crystal flash. I tied it extra bulky to create maximum movement while being stripped on the retrieve. Upon entering the water, things just seemed more fishy. The first step towards my casting position spooked a pod of suckers up to the deeper pool ahead. I took position on the backside of the gravel smack dab in the middle of the river. From this vantage point I was able to cast upstream and fish the pools on either side of the gravel.

island park steelhead on root river
Strip, strip, strip, pause… Strip, strip, strip, pause… Strip, strip, strip, pause… Then came a violent strike just as I was about to start pulling more line. It’s the kind of strike that jars your arm while your just trying to hang on. I tightened my grip and set back on the rod. Fish on! Line came flying off my reel as the fish pushed towards the head of the pool at a lightning pace. A nice aerial display landed her in the pool on the opposite side of my gravel island. I gingerly fed her line as I played her up and down the pool. When it was time I put just enough pressure on the fish to break her plane and roll her over. A couple more seconds of hard pressure and she was beached on the gravel. A few quick photos and I turned my birthday present back into the water from which she came.

Oh how I love streamer fishing and have missed it this spring. There’s nothing in the world like that strike.

close up (steelhead)


  1. looks like you spend your birth day the right way. Nice Steel head!

  2. Yup, it was a great way to start the day off!

  3. Happy B day Blake.
    Strip, strip, pause
    Strip, strip, pause...Sounds like fish porn.
    I've always fished steel with egg patterns and nymphs, with little success. You and a few other bloggers have opened my eyes, I prefer strip, strip, pause over dead drifting anyways.

  4. Blake
    I can't think of a better way to spend your birthday, if I could only go back and be 30 again, enjoy it while you can, because time has a way of passing off faster as you get older.

  5. Awesome Birthday1 Nice looking fish...Cheers to your 30s!

  6. congrats on a beaut of a Steelhead on your 30th B day. Dont get much better than that.

  7. thanks for the birthday wishes all!

  8. john- streamers are where its at!

  9. Happy birthday! nice job pickin up a fresh fish with the streamer!

  10. Happy birthday Blake! Excellent report, thanks.

    I didn't start fly fishing till 36, and now I am trying hard to catch up and make up for all the time I let pass by. You're lucky that way.