2010 Roughfish.com Root River Roundup


 group photo




The week leading up to Roundup 2010, Roughfishers kept a close eye on the weather forecast.  Spring was still in a struggle with Winter over who was in charge, and Winter just would not give up.  Rainstorms and high winds were in the forecast, and a difference of only a few degrees would turn rain into snow.  Camping in tents through this kind of weather can be very uncomfortable, and unfortunately the forecast kept quite a few folks from making the trip.  Even more unfortunate, Captain Rainbow could not make it this year either due to some kind of special captain responsibilities.  However, a good number of hardy (or foolish) Roughfishers prepared themselves for the elements and made their way to Eagle Cliffs campground on the Root River eager to take on whatever came.


A handful of folks showed up on Thursday evening.  They staked claims on their campsites and were able to set up camp ahead of the nasty weather system that was rolling in from the West.  Friday morning as more and more folks trickled into the campsite, a steady rain had settled in.  After much discussion, the traditional Friday kayak and canoe flotilla was cancelled due to the conditions.  Instead, raingear and waders were donned and everybody got right to fishing.  The river was in great shape, low and clear despite the rain.  Anglers found the riffles full of golden redhorse and hogsuckers, but the big silver redhorse were rather scarce. 



Some folks explored smaller tributaries of the Root, and were rewarded with catches of greater and black redhorse.  These hard-earned lifelist additions were the result of much research and experimentation, and also documented the fact that these rare and threatened fish are still holding out in the Root system.  Once darkness fell, a handful of anglers grabbed their lanterns and continued to fish the river right around camp.  A surprising number of hogsuckers were caught, along with the ubiquitous golden redhorse and ever-present nocturnal willow cats.  Other campers were content to sit by a roaring fire and chat, before crawling into nice dry tents early in order to greet the next day well rested.

Early Saturday morning, a light rain fell as activity in camp stirred.  Out of their tents and directly into waders and raingear, folks fired up stoves and shared strong coffee among each other while chatting about angling plans prior to the noon start of the species derby. 


Fishing was very good this morning; the river’s brown and rainbow trout were feeding particularly well under the drizzly sky, and limits were taken by those who targeted them.  More and more folks showed up for the Saturday activities, and people met friends old and new.  Just prior to the derby start, the skies cleared just enough for the rain to subside and fish to be easily spotted in the riffles.


This year’s derby was run a little differently than years past.  Species would not have to be identified by judges, and anglers could fish any part of the river they wanted.  Name tags were given to competitors, and a qualifying fish needed to be photographed next to their name tag.  Most different species in a three hour time span wins, and in the case of a tie there will be a sudden death fish-off.  At the start time, folks ran to get to choice locations.  Apparently in his sprint to the honey hole, Gary tripped and displayed an impressive faceplant along the river trails.  Fishing was slow for most during the derby, and certain species were hard to come by.  Various tactics were used, and competitors raced to different spots trying to boost their tallies.  Eric Kol put together a streak of fine angling, and stayed ahead of the pack almost start to finish.  He won the coveted Silver Redhorse Trophy with an impressive 7 species, tying the derby record.  Congratulations, Eric!  A particularly impressive catch was made by Superfrog during the derby, as he hauled in quillback carpsucker and added this species to his lifelist. 




At the end of the derby, everybody filed back to camp and gathered around the prize table.  This year’s prizes were better than ever; folks went out of their way to contribute awesome things, some even made unique hand-crafted items.  Every contestant got to choose a prize, depending on their species tally.  A round of applause was given to this year’s champion as he was awarded the traveling trophy.  After the prizes, it was time to prepare the Saturday meal.  Enough redhorse were kept during the derby to feed the entire group, and a few experienced fish cleaners took over the duty of filleting the impressive pile of fish.  With everybody pitching in to help, soon ground sucker balls were sizzling in the big deep fryer.  A few delicious salads we spread out on a picnic table as well.  Everybody who tries these deep-fried sucker balls is blown away at how good they are.  This year somebody had brought fresh jalapenos, and we made a few batches of jalapeno sucker balls…..my new favorite!  The owner of the campground even came down to try some sucker balls, and he brought with him a substantial amount of free firewood for our group.  Tyler W also made redhorse seviche, which was absolutely delicious.  He better make it again next year.

After the meal, it was time to fish again.





Unfortunately, the rain steadily increased and became very heavy as evening rolled on.  Some folks once again made a trek to tributaries and were rewarded with greater redhorse catches in the heavy downpour.  After dark, most all of the campers gathered on a streamside sandbar and built a nice fire.  Some fished, and some just chatted.  This was a great group of friends.  At some point a trout was caught, and soon it found itself wrapped in foil and lying on the coals.  Soon other trout found the coals, and the delicious fish was shared among everybody.  As the night wore on, a thick fog dropped over the river.  It was difficult to see your rod tip while you sat right next to it.  It had gotten very cold, and rain switched to sleet and even snow at times.  Back at camp, Becky brought out her didgeridoo and made ominous music which fit the foggy night perfectly.  Coyotes yipped and yammered on the ridges of the Root River valley.  Eventually, soaked and tired from a full day everybody crawled back into their (hopefully) dry tents.  Well, Superfrog slept in his car.


The last morning of the Roundup started cold.  However, the sky was clear for the first time in days and everybody got out fishing.  Action was good, as many fine golden redhorse came to hand.  This year’s Roundup had coincided with the peak of the golden run, and Andy was convinced that his record would be broken at the event.  However, it still stands.  A lot of laughs and good times with good friends were had this last day on the Root, but eventually tents had to be taken down and gear packed up.  We all left the Root for another year, but took with us memories and stories to tell for years to come.





Species Covered: