Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Root River Wisconsin
The Root River is a 44 mile-long river that flows into
Lake Michigan at the city of Racine in southeastern
Wisconsin. Only the first five miles of the river upstream
from the lake holds the fish that fly anglers regularly
pursue. Fly fishing the Root River for steelhead can be
very productive depending on the water levels. The river
also supports good numbers of Brown Trout, lake run
Brown trout, King (Chinook) Salmon and Coho Salmon.
It is a heavily stocked stream.
The short length of the section of the stream that hold
these species is greatly affected by the level of water in
the river. It can be difficult to catch fish when the water is
low and just as difficult when it is too high. The river has
a fish weir-dam that is used to trap fish for the hatchery.
When it is in operation, fish cannot move upstream.
There's yet another problem with fishing the Root River.
At times you will be within hooking distance of other
anglers. It is very popular when the fishing is good and
especially on the weekends.
There are high return of all the species because of the
huge numbers of fish stocked. At times, the fishing can
be excellent. It isn't a difficult stream to fish. It's short
length and common type of structure and holding pools
are fairly simple to learn to fish.
The Root River supports a large run of steelhead simply
because it is one of the streams where eggs are taken
for the hatchery program. Both Lincoln and Colonial
parks provide good public access. A dam on the west
side of Racine marks the upstream limit of the steelhead
run. It also concentrates the fish in this small stream.
August starts the summer run of Skamania steelhead.
September and October are prime months for all four
species, lake run brown, steelhead, Chinook and Coho
Salmon. The steelhead and lake run brown follow the
run of the spawning salmon and eat their eggs. Both
Chamber's Creek and Skaminia strain steelhead are in
the Root River through ice up and on into Spring. When
ice out occurs, the steelhead fishing gets into high gear.
This is usually late February or early March. Ganaraska
strain steelhead start to show up in large numbers in
March and April. By May, you will still be able to catch
some fish but they will be post-spawn steelhead.
Make certain you check the current regulations which
are subject to change from year to year.
The spring run of steelhead starts in late February and
peaks in March. Fish can be taken through May.
Lake run brown trout start in early July. The peak is from
mid-July to mid-September. Chinook salmon come in the
river from early July and peak mid August to the first of
September. Coho Salmon start moving up the Root
River in late August and peak in September.
The Fall run steelhead start up the Root River in August
and continues through November. Mid-September and
late October usually has the best runs. Lake run brown
and Chinook salmon are in the river until mid-October.
Coho are in the river until November.
Late February and early March may provide some
decent steelhead fishing provided the ice has melted.
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