Once again, we immersed ourselves in nature and had a great time despite unseasonably cold temps, high winds, and 60 hours of constant rain. This is two years in a row of terrible Roundup weather! Well, you gotta take what nature gives you. As it turned out, she was pretty generous. From left to right, there's Rich, Will, Windknot, Nick, JK, KPE, Christian, Andy Geving, Andy N, and myself.
To kick off the roundup, Andy and I decided the best thing to do would be to first make an effort to catch one of the most elusive and mysterious fish in the state: the Black Redhorse. To this end, we headed to a spot known to have a good population of them, and fished it like crazy. Giant 7-inch common shiners, along with huge creek chubs and white suckers, were the only fish we caught there. So we decided to explore this amazing creek a bit more. We found a gigantic cliff, on a never-fished stream (no trout in it), with easy public fishing access. In this photo, Andy drifts a crawler across the cliff base, trying to fool a black redhorse. Unfortunately, all the fish we caught were brown trout and chubs, with a few feisty white suckers mixed in.
We arrived to find the Root River in pretty poor shape. Rich, JK, KPE, and Andy N. were fishing on a riverbank that was covered in 6 inches of mud. What was a sandy beach last year had been transformed into a slippery mudhole. Undeterred, everyone was fishing. And they were catching fish! We watched Andy N. reel in a dozen white suckers and shortheads before we scrambled down the bank to join them. JK took this photo of a picnic table, which was washed into the river and become snagged on a tree during the recent flood. The river was still very high, and the muddy water brought visibility down to almost zero. I had intended to videotape the spawning redhorse underwater, but this was obviously not going to happen this year.
We hadn't been there long before Windknot and his sons Will and Nick showed up. They set up on the upstream side of me. The boys were real troopers, braving the wind, mud, and rain better than most grown men! They caught plenty of fish, too, and added a couple of species to their lifelists in the process.
Meanwhile, downstream, Andy N, JK, and KPE kept a steady stream of fish coming in. KPE broke his roundup skunking with a hefty white sucker right away, and Andy N lost count of the shortheads he caught. Once again, gourmet jerkey and fine cigars were enjoyed by all.
Christian joined the group, catching this impressive silver. His 15-foot custom drift rod with 4 pound test line made every fish he caught an epic battle, but the two big silvers he landed really tested his fish-fighting skills.
After a cold, rainy night, the group was up early to start fishing again. The deep, slippery mud was still there in the morning to greet us. Rich started catching rainbows, and eventually limited out on them, earning the nickname "Captain Rainbow" for the weekend.
I, on the other hand, found an excellent shorthead redhorse hole and caught a dozen of these feisty fish in short order. This particular shorthead had the most beautiful blood-red fins I have seen, and was begging for a photo. JK was happy to snap one for me.
Rich managed to squeeze a few redhorse in between the large trout he kept hauling in. This Silver Redhorse was one of only a paltry half-dozen silvers that were caught at the roundup. At past roundups, silver redhorse are one of the most common catches, but this year they were few and far between. I didn't catch any at all!
A few light taps turned into a solid hookup for JK, and soon he was into a serious battle. When I first sighted this fish, I called out that it was a big silver, since judging by the size it couldn't be anything else. But once I got it in the net, I said "That's not a silver!" As it turns out, JK had caught the biggest golden redhorse I have ever seen. JK earned the Golden Fish Award for this mammoth specimen, and thus became the envy of roughfishers worldwide. What a magnificent catch. This was the best catch of the weekend.
Then I got into a battle with a very determined fish, which turned out to be this huge Shorthead Redhorse. I just had to tape it ... It measured 19.5 inches, making it the biggest shorthead I have ever seen or caught, and a master-angler award in the making.
Rich had kept his trout for an evening meal, and we snapped a photo of him with his fish.
Once the oil was hot enough, we started cooking them. JK snapped this photo to annoy PETA.Well I for one had a great time. The weather certainly didn't cooperate, but it warmed my heart to see everyone tough it out. Especially the kids, who showed their toughness and positive attitudes during the ordeal. Next year, remember to bring BOOTS! The fishing could've been better, but with that many skilled anglers concentrating on their arts, fish are sure to be had. Special congrats to JK for his record-class golden, and to Windknot for the new species he attained. Kudos to Christian for subduing those big fish on that giant drift rod, and for finally getting that big trout he was after Saturday night. Thanks to JK for the cigars, and to KPE for the awesome jerky, and to Andy N for the excellent smoked Chinook Salmon. I hope everyone had a good time, and I hope to see all of you in the near future!