Corey and Jodi showed up early; Corey caught a nice golden redhorse and a huge shorthead redhorse before everyone else showed up. After a few mandatory beers, we went night fishing, hoping to land some giant channel cats. The dominant nocturnal species turned out to be stonecats, or "willow cats". We caught them on everything, on almost every cast.
Chris displays a ravenous willow cat that engulfed a chicken liver.
The next morning, we began to fish in earnest. Rich was the first to score big...
This golden redhorse measured 18.5 inches. It was the biggest golden redhorse I have ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them. My personal opinion is that this fish would have blown away the standing Minnesota Record (2 pounds, 13 ounces).
Judge for yourself.
After the group caught a dozen more trophy redhorse, Craig shocked everyone by pulling in a new species! The Northern Hog Sucker is a rare catch in most waters, but this weekend we landed two. Craig's was the biggest, and everyone got a good chance to look at this bizarre-looking animal.
Andy, who is the uncontested master of fish species (leading the life-list board with 39 species) has not yet mastered the northern hog sucker. Through a combination of skill, luck, and the will of the fish gods, Craig scored big with this beautiful Northern Hog Sucker. Not only is this a hard fish to find, but they also have a curious feeding habit which makes them hard to hook. Craig obviously figured it out, and made everyone else jealous with this catch.
The big fish just kept coming. Shorthead Redhorse outnumbered the other species, but a few nice golden redhorse were landed, and every so often one of the big silvers would hit. The ensuing battle was always exhilerating; some of the big silvers were real terrors. Jodi landed one that was just begging to be photographed....
Jodi was all smiles at the end of a fierce battle with this hefty Root River silver. This fish measured 20 inches.
Although the Northern Hog Sucker eluded the intrepid Andy, he had already caught tons of trout on caddis and shot a 23 pound turkey. This master-angler class golden was just icing on the cake.
If you look closely, you can see the turkey feather stsuck into the left side of Andy's cap. Andy didn't need to catch any fish to make it a great weekend, but he landed at least 20 big redhorse and went away happy. The big silvers impressed him more than anything. Having never fished over spawning-run silvers, Andy was almost overwhelmed by the number of large fish in the river.
Rich continued to catch big fish all day Saturday. He even hooked a Goldeye, which is a species that nobody in the life-list club has mastered! Unfortunately, the Goldeye escaped close to shore and that slot on the life-list remains empty. Rich did master the Silver Redhorse, however, as this photo proves....
This shot of Rich with a giant silver redhorse gives you a good idea of what the local scenery is like. The cliff behind Rich was a focal point for the local population of vultures, which could often be seen circling around it, looking for carrion. Barred Owls, Wild Turkeys, and Coyotes could be heard at night and early in the morning. This silver redhorse was a tough fighter, and tangled Rich in two different logs before being brought to hand.
Rich lets a big silver run downstream under the root river cliffs.
After everyone else left on Sunday, I decided we needed to keep a few redhorse for the smoker. Jodi obliged by landing two perfect redhorse, golden and shorthead, which wound up in the cooler for the ride home. Then a very smart fish started stealing Jodi's worms. I caught one more shorthead for the smoker before Jodi finally hooked her mystery fish (which she had been duelling for twenty minutes). After a hard fight with several spectacular leaps, the fish came to hand.
Jodi fooled this 16 inch brown on Sunday. It was the last fish of the trip, and her biggest trout to date. Since she was using circle hooks, it was easy to unhook and release - the circle hook imbedded itself perfectly in the corner of this magnificent trout's mouth.
Well, I may be able to post more later. Right now I'm sore and tired and happy and in need of some serious sleep. You don't often find fishing this good. Many thanks to everyone who made this trip possible, from Rich who discovered the spot and shared it with me, to Ivan at Eagle Cliffs campground, who not only rented us a piece of his private riverbank, but also gave us some good sucker-fishing tips.