We hit the redhorse run at absolute peak!
Every year as Roundup approaches, we watch weather and river conditions very carefully and hope for somewhat decent conditions. This time of year in Minnesota, it could be either snowing or sweltering heat and the Root River could be low and clear or so high it floods all of the river towns along with the Campground. In 2014, storms wreaked havoc on river systems to the North of the Root Valley yet our beloved Roundup gathering came through in ideal shape. Weather looked to be decent as well.
Lots of folks arrived on Thursday, eager to test the waters of the Root. With the river in perfect shape, groups of spawning redhorse were visible all over the gravel shoals. In fact, a broad gravel run right by our camp site was covered with active silver redhorse! Right away it became clear that this was going to be a stellar year as bites came very quickly Corey and I couldn't make it down to camp until Friday morning. Thursday night, I got a text from Superfrog who had been on the river all day - he had caught a golden redhorse which appeared to best my current state and world record. Dangit! I have to admit - when he texted me about where I took my record fish to be officially weighed - a friend looking for advice - I told him - no lie - that I took it to his Mom's house. He got no help from me. Superfrog's fish was a half of an ounce larger than the one I caught seven years earlier. It was caught from the same stretch of river.
Here is Superfrog's account of his world record catch -
"It wasn't long before we were catching fish. A lot of fish. I was bringing in male golden redhorse, one after another, all from the same pool. I commented to Josh that there must be a female down there with all those males swarming her. About that time, Josh connected with a large fish and brought in a beast of a female golden redhorse. We both thought it could be close to the record, and it went quickly on a stringer for measurement later. At this point, I made a comment to Josh that, "I want to catch a fish this weekend to have you do a mount of, for me." To which he replied, "What were you thinking of catching?". My usual sarcastic self kicked in and answered, "A record, of course".
Friday at noon, the traditional float trip started. Some good fishing was had around upstream islands like usual, and a fun float was had.
However, the real action was downstream right around camp. The broad gravel shoals were full of fish. Deeper water on bends and behind points were full of fish. I caught a 20.5 inch golden redhorse, matching the length of my former record, and also my first freshwater drum from the upper Root. A 25" silver redhorse also found my crawler. I was just fishing a single split shot and a #6 circle hook with crawlers along current seams. These were just a few of my highlights from a couple hours of constant action.
More folks showed up to camp in the afternoon, and everybody was having some great fishing.
Dutch, Fiddlefish and Jason E had been enjoying some great action in an area right by their tents all afternoon and into the evening. Toward dusk, I heard Fiddlefish yell "Hey that's a spotted sucker! Get him in here." Sure enough, Mr. Dutch had caught an incredibly cool fish, the first spotted sucker ever caught at a Roundup. And it was BIG, too...
After such a great day of fishing, many of us were content to chat around a roaring bonfire and have a beverage. However, lots of harcore Roughfishers had just showed up and a night fishing campaign was soon underway down at The Bend. Some great catches came tonight, including hogsuckers, redhorses, shovelnose sturgeon and quillback carpsuckers. Great fishing was had both nights for those who stuck it out. If you believe nothing other than stonecats bite after dark, you're wrong! This set of photos is from Friday and Saturday nights combined.
Saturday morning started out beautiful, with a sunny sky. Spirits were very high, as folks enjoyed breakfast and fished around camp. Thoughts turned to the Species Derby and anticipation grew as plans were hatched. This year we had seen a wide variety of species caught already, and many believed it would take 7 species to bring home the traveling trophy.
The Species Derby was intense. Fish were biting very well! However, no angler could break from the pack and nail that difficult species. At the end of the three hour contest, there existed a 7-way tie for the lead! I believe the top contenders had 6 species. Oh, and of course toward the end of the derby it began to rain. I personally stashed the prize table objects into whatever available dry space existed while the derby waned. A sudden death fish-off was needed to declare an outright winner. The judges and competitors decided that the showdown would be held at The Bend, and that the first angler to catch two fish would win. The players walked confidently down to the arena, and a crowd of onlookers followed them. It was down to Superfrog, John, Dr. Flathead, Moose, Angry Mongrel, Outdoors4Life and Jknuth...
Fish came pretty fast right from the start, and it was obvious this sudden death fish-off wouldn't last very long. JKnuth had his second fish right to the bank, but it came unhooked and the race was still on. Before JKnuth could even re-bait and cast out again, Outdoors4Life battled and landed a silver redhorse and became Champion!
Congrats to Aaron! Well done.
After the Derby was over, all contestants walked away with awesome prizes. Thanks again to everyone who contributed prizes to the table! We had easily accumulated enough redhorse for the annual sucker ball feast, and soon the filet knives were flying and we began to prepare the feast. Unfortunately it began to rain harder, and we had to get ceative with tarps to set up the deep fryer and food area. This rainstorm picked the perfect time to show up...
Eric Kol making tea
The feast, although very wet, was a huge success and everything was delicious! Thanks again to everybody who contributed either food or work. Of course, more fishing was done throughout the evening as well as the next morning before everybody headed for home.
Here's just a couple more random photos from the weekend, showing the river and the campground. This was one of the best Roundups yet!
Jackie and I were the last to leave camp on Sunday, as it rained off and on all day. Thanks to everyone for leaving the campground looking better than when we arrived!
Well, that's all I've got. Can't wait to do it all again in May 2015!!!