The Root River : A Crumbling Fishery for a Serious Angler.
I have been fishing the Root River in Racine Wisconsin for 20 years, most of the time in the fall for Kings and sometimes in the winter for steelhead. There has always been many fisherman and many fish. The Root River draws anglers because it brings a fall run of salmon some pushing 35 pounds! Catching these fish on the fly has burned some completely vivid, awesome, and lifelong memories in my head. First and foremost it is not easy for most serious fisherman to all of the sudden share spots and large fish with others.
Because of this there are some unwritten and some very real laws to help the fisherman get along, catch fish, and like any sport keep a fair playing field as well as good sportsmanship. Here are the UNWRITTEN RULES:
1. Do not be stupid.
2. If you want a good spot get your butt out of bed early and claim one
3. Do not walk through a fishing hole. There is only one way and that is around.
4. If you snag do not go in after it. If you could afford a license, you can afford to lose a few flies
5. Do not be stupid.
6. Do not sleep until 8 eat a nice breakfast and expect to walk up and squeeze into a top spot ( also see rules 1,2,5)
7. YOU CANNOT KEEP A FISH THAT IS FOWL HOOKED (real law) sooo do not waste everyone life by trying to tow a tale hook salmon against the current. Break it off genius.
8. There are fish limits for a reason, do not steal, sell, net, harpoon, or SNAG them (see rules 1 and 5)
9. We do not care where you are from and what they did there or how you were raised. If your dad was stupid don’t pass it on. Your in America now follow rules 1 and 5
10. FISH Sanctuary. I am just guessing but I am pretty sure you cannot fish there (see rules 1 and 5)
11. Get a license
12. I love casting spoons. However casting them in 2 -3 foot of water in the middle of fly fishermen may be breaking rules 1 and 5
13. There is no fishing before the official start time. I am fairly certain that’s why they made one
14. No night fishing in the rivers does not mean hey lets night fish in the rivers
15. Just because you look like a fisherman doe not mean you are one. Manners… Get Some
This weekend we saw almost every one of these rules broken. I asked a friend if he removed all of the fisherman who broke rule #1 how many would be left, he said “ out of all of them here and not here lined up along the entire river 30.” Unfortunately the fun of catching these fish no longer out weighs the endless quagmire of stupidity. As each season passes the amount of sad pitiful characterless wanna be fisherman doubles and the salmon numbers seem to go down. Racine (sorry if you live there) is a dirty nasty town and not a fun place stay. The truly sad part of this is that if the city and state agencies got their heads out of their $%$, and invested in clean up, education, stocking, marketing and shoreline/river up-keep, improvements, and construction this could have been a win win for everyone. You know the saying there is never a DNR agent around when you need one, goes double at the Root. I have read and been told that in other states and fisheries the fishing is better, the areas are nicer, and the anglers in general follow rules 1 and 5.
One of these years this smart young man will be spending his fishing dollars at a real salmon run. By next season unfortunately my anger will have dulled and my endless need for fishing will still not be quenched and I will most likely break rules 1 and 5 and go back.
Oh I almost forgot Root River Report: Water and fish are numbers low. Few fish hooked. Biggest fall run of pee brained scaled slimy want to be anglers to date.