Root River Roundup 2018

Click on photos to enlarge.

The 17th annual Root River Roundup was held May 11-13 on the Root River.  This year we had some cold, wet weather move in just in time for the event, and unfortunately this kept a few Roughfishers from making the trip.  However, despite some admittedly challenging conditions everybody had a fantastic time and the fishing was excellent.  A few firsts were seen this year, including 3 new species being encountered for the first time.

We knew that the river bank alongside our camping area had been worked on since last year to stabilize the eroding bank, but were unsure how exactly this would affect the fishing or shore access.  Upon arrival I was very pleased with what I saw.  What was before a deeply eroded steep bank now transformed into part grassy slope and part riprap.  The entire area by the tents was now accessible and fishable, and the flows were ideal.  Many anglers can now spread out in this area to fish.  Kudos to the campground owners for making this improvement!

Comparing the bank from 2017 and now in 2018 -


A few more views of the new river bank - 


Quite a few folks set up camp on Thursday, and of course fished the mighty Root.  They were treated to a special sight as they fished alongside each other - a lake sturgeon appeared in the shallow run just below the tents.  The great fish lazily swam in the current in front of them, and GeluNumber1 placed a fresh nightcrawler in front of it's face.  The fish slurped up his offering while everyone watched and was hooked!  This strong sturgeon ran downstream but was quickly steered toward the bank where Rich somehow landed it.  This is the first lake sturgeon ever caught at a Roundup.



It was windy, rainy and cold Friday, so we cancelled the traditional Friday float trip.  Instead, everybody fished the river hard.  An impressive tarp shelter was constructed which not only kept a bunch of folks dry but also became a hub for eating, drinking and general shenanigans.  Tarp City was a marvel of Roughfishing ingenuity.


The fishing around camp was fantastic.  As more folks arrived in the afternoon, our camping area filled up with tents and lots more anglers fished the runs around camp and down toward The Bend.  Silver, shorthead and golden redhorse were caught in abundance.  Hogsuckers too. 




The real treat today was the appearance of a species first encountered only a few years ago at Roundup - the spotted sucker.  I believe 1 was caught in 2014, then 3 in 2017.  Friday alone 6 were caught, and all came from the water running right below the tents.  Many were nice males which sported tubercles and seemed to be in peak spawning mode.  It's possible that the campground's stream improvement work has carved out an ideal spawning habitat for the spotted suckers, and hopefully we see even more next year!  



Another awesome species, and a first for Roundup was caught by Casey Shanaberger.  This beautiful river redhorse put a smile on Casey's face as he racked up a new lifelist addition!  



With yet another Roundup first encounter, Graceclaw caught this northern pike.  Never in 16 years has anyone caught one before at a Roundup.  The fish took a tiny bit of worm and was barely hooked on the lip.


I fished alongside Eric Kol and Outdoors4life as they plied the water with their centerpin tackle.  The redhorse were biting well, and everyone was enjoying battling these awesome fish.  


I had a great battle with this big silver redhorse.



This year's species derby included new boundaries which anglers must stay within.  Contestants must only fish from the train trestle at the confluence of the South Branch down to the small park outside of Whalan.  This is 4.5 river miles.  

The Species Derby lasts for 3 hours, and the angler who catches the most species wins. Contestants must take a digital photo of each species they catch, and include their derby badge in the photo. As the noon start time approached, everyone gathered around the prize table to wait for go time.




At High Noon everybody raced to the riverbank and started fishing.  Contestants spread out along the newly repaired bank by camp, waded across to the island, and hoofed it down to The Bend to try their luck.  However, bites were fairly hard to come by today.  The water had risen overnight from rain, and the fish weren't cooperating like they were the day before.  The most action came from shorthead redhorse, and many anglers (myself included) caught only this one species.  However, some were lucky enough to get a few different fish.




As the 3 hour contest came to an end, many folks had caught 4 species and the belief was that we would be having a large group competing in a sudden death fish off to determine this year's Champion.  However, an uncontested winner emerged late in the judging - Jason E had caught 5 species!  Silver, golden and shorthead redhorse, white sucker, and brown trout.  He bested the field and took home the coveted Silver Redhorse trophy, along with a nice spinning reel he nabbed from the prize table.  Congrats Jason E!



After everybody chose their prizes from the table (thanks again for bringing all of the awesome stuff), work began to filet a bunch of redhorse and prepare for the Sucker Ball Feast.  Thanks to everyone for helping out with preparations and bringing all that good food for the Feast!






The sucker balls were DELICIOUS!  They made you want to grab a partner and dance...


Here are a bunch of random photos from the weekend.  Enjoy!







Can't wait to see all of you down on the Root in May 2019!






Species Covered:


Gunnar's picture

Despite the rain and despite catching only one species during the derby, it was a blast. And the Root gave me an awesome bank stick made by beavers. It just floated up to me on Saturday morning and circled in an eddy, waiting while I caught a white sucker.

(As I was reading I thought "I should have sent that sucker grinding GIF." Guess I did!)


Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers:

2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

FP4LifesDad's picture

Great write up buddy, it was a good time despite the rain.  It doesn't look good for us this year as we had a wedding fall on that weekend at work (who gets married on fishing opener? Apparently someone may be in for a bunch of disappointing anniversaries! LOL). Be safe gang and tight lines! FP Crew

Jason E.'s picture

That spinning reel was an AWESOME prize and it hauled in a ton of fish the following summer!  Huge thanks and kudos to Moose439 for such a generous donation to the table.  I still stare at that trophy in disbelief.  After a super-tough winter, I'm definitely looking forward to getting back down to Lanesboro again in May.