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Sunday, April 12, 2015

There and Back Again: A Midwest Tale (2014)

So there we stood, in northeastern Pennsylvania, with uncertainty in our eyes, after all this trip was organized in little over a week. Out of the dead remains of another trip, our eyes gazed west hopeful, but with a lot less assuredness than we are accustom, after all I usually plan a trip and research for at least 6 months, this was more like 6 days and just so happened to take place in terrible, terrible weather.

Snakeykyle (Or just kyle), Mark, and I put it in drive an embarked west, a first for kyle and I. We cruised to Pittsburgh for a rest, but then from there cruised through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, straight to our destination on the root river in glorious Minnesota. For all of you currently reading this at present day the weather in the Midwest has been less than stellar and as Ben Erb stated the wettest in over a century, a recurring theme of our trip, we decided to start in the Midwest opposite our original plan, we did our best to narrowly miss inclement weather by barely driving out of it.

We first started out at the root river campsite home to the roundup, it seemed like a logical place to start seeing as there was a place to sleep and redhorses galloping about through the depths. We set up camp and descended into night fishing on the root. Hogsuckers by the loads were to be had, a previously legendarily elusive PA fish was found here in vast numbers. We quickly followed up by one Golden Redhorse and called it a night. We arose the next day to a 90 degree day a stark contrast to the 40 degrees we slept in just hours earlier ( and that we preferred ) Kyle being do it yourself inclined built us this fine shelter where hid from the sun during dismal fishing. We recouped our bait, took a nap and hit the root with an almighty fury. Silvers, Greaters (yes Greater), Goldens, Shortheads, Redhorse everywhere! Fortunately for kyle he caught his silver and greater early on in the trip, ours wouldn't come til later.

We contacted Ben Erb and hit up the mooneyes, mark quickly caught one but a judgement call was made out best bet was to move on to the super elusive Channel Catfish, to our surprise Lake Sturgeon also shared this residence and imagine that after a few channels, one came to shore line!!! Mark got his lake sturgeon and we left before the rain came. Ben we had a blast fishing with you dude, I apologize in advance for the radio, thanks for taking us out.

We also talked to Alex who we've now fished with in 4 states. My recently late grandma had the privilege of meeting Alex and Miles two dudes generally revered by the entire Pa clan of anglers as a crowd favorite. We met up with Alex fishing for Common Carp and he was kind enough to let Kyle reel in a lifer carp. We also got to meet Aaron (outdoors4life), and similar to Ben and Alex was just an all around awesome dude. Shortly thereafter we fished for black bullhead in what could be casually described as a RAGING THUNDERSTORM. As Alex predicted the bullies came in with great ease as the lightning blasted down. Not to be deterred we then hit up a spot on the croix for white crappie, we must of brought the bad PA mojo because we caught endless BLACK crappie. Wrong color! At least we had the pretty lightning to light the skies while we fished!

The next day is where Alex really flexed his adept skills, easily helping us catch the elusive Greater Redhorse with relative ease and confidence. The river Redhorse was a little more worthy adversary breaking lines and causing general havoc but after most of the day everyone's lifer came to shore, Alex makes it look easy but we know knowledge when we see it, these may as well been his pet Redhorse. We then headed to another really great channel catfish spot, but no big bottom feeders were having our offerings. We rested up for another night at the Orr residence, which may I add is full of hospitable and friendly people. Kyle also got to enjoy Alex's rendition of "18 and Life to Go", commemorating Kyle's just passed 18th birthday. 

Then we headed back to where Ben pointed us, to where the channel catfish abound. We didn't catch any channel catfish, but we did get 5 Lake Sturgeon in an hour, imagine that. I laid into my lifer lake sturgeon and an epic battle ensued, the look in my eyes of pure terror as the ancient dinosaur fought to best me on that very day, upon landing it I became totally enamored and humbled by the whole occurrence, it was the thing of legend and it was in my hand staring back at me, it was an incredibly humbling experience. I mean it wasn't a channel catfish but I'd settle. You guys have spiked freshwater fish HOW COOL IS THAT!? Kyle then brought in the biggest Lake Sturgeon of the trip, and when it was beached on land, I jumped three feet in the air, punched a hole in the sky and let out a battle cry that shook the lands, being that Kyle had already caught his target channel catfish he was free to embrace the sturgeon in all of its glory. Man what a gorgeous fish. In case any of you are around when we catch our shovelnose sturgeon in the future be aware that I for some reason start belting out "heat of the moment" by Asia, I didn't even know who Asia was but somehow it just came to me, I apologize Wisconsin.

We then went back to the mooneye spot and weeded through endless smallmouth bass and freshwater drum until both kyle and I held a mooneye in our hands. As Alex said mooneyes make you work for it and work for it we did. As we photographed mine, the rain came pouring down and we sought shelter as the severe weather came bearing down, with tornadoey weather hitting Nebraska us easterners were a little leary of being outside in that kind of weather.

With all our grand successes in mind we made a judgment call to avoid the weather and drive into Illinois and target gar. Unfortunately hidden costs had dwindled our chances of being able to target Asian carp, little did we know what the gar had in store for us. We stopped at various places all pretty uncooperative and fruitless. The real kicker was when we got lost in what seemed to be an endless field of poison ivy, we asked a passing kayaker if he saw any gar and he pointed to our would be destination a crisp 3 mile bushwhack in the opposite direction, he remarked "you will get lots of poison ivy where you're at though" it's at this point things turned sour, morale, and morals went way south and things got hairy. Coupled by the newfound expenses we decided to end the trip on a high note and go home, and reintegrate into "normal life"

For your viewing pleasure here is a fine resident of Iowa trying to engage us in racing activities in his porsche.

We came home with only 10 or so lifers a man, but we don't chase numbers, we chase targets, we caught every fish we chased and one for each person that's how we operate. Instead of chasing a micro each person contributed to the other persons successes and that was key to the trip.

Mark made the drive back to the homeland with relative ease, the crazy man drove from eastern, Pa, to Minnesota, in circles in every state and back to eastern Pa in seven days, by himself, the dude is a pure driving machine and deserves worthy recognition forever immortalized in this report. Thanks you crazy %#####. Can we get a badge for driving 3,000 miles in seven days? But in all honesty, crazy, mad man....machine.

The list of people to thank is long and wide,this trip was put together in a weeks time and was totally fueled by the good people here on Roughfish, who without, we would of got a really scenic road trip with fishing poles. A lot of people offered there time and houses, find another website on the internet where that happens, this site is awesome the people are awesome and here's a list of awesome dudes for which this could NEVER had happened without.

- Alex seriously, you're the man and pretty much the whole Orr family that dealt with our occupation.
- Ben Erb, unforgettable memories hahaha
- J Dunfee, the elusive red bearded dragon who I will one day fish with....
- Aaron (outdoors4life), Gunnar (Olaf), Drew, Riverrat (Scott), Jknuth, Garman, gelunumber1, Greenwood, Pat (Pmk), Nick Li, Gabe Peck, TonyS, Dylan V, Ben, Smurph, DT.

Yeah like I said, we did a bit of consulting on this one, and we can take no credit for it. Seriously I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, who helped in such a short amount of time, so if you were left out it wasn't intentional so just shout out and I'll give you the proper inclusion, this trip was put together by roughfishers, fished by roughfishers, this trip dare I say, was Roughfish incarnate.

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