Brule Steelhead Trip, 2014   7 comments

My friends and I just got back from the Brule. We fished from Saturday the 11th through Wednesday the 15th and had exactly one steelhead on the line for approximately 10 seconds before it broke off on Monday afternoon.

We were expecting a good bit of rain Monday into Tuesday but it never happened. The weather system went to the east and completely missed the Brule. I’m not sure if this rain would have been a difference-maker but it would have at least given us some hope after completely striking out on Saturday and Sunday.

We talked to many fishermen using every rig along every bit of the river and far and away the story was that the fishing was spotty. There was one peach of a man who called us “buggy whippers”. He said “I’ve got to show you guys something” which turned out to be his centerpin rig with a crappie jig head loaded with a red worm. He had claimed to have brought four steelhead to hand that day using this method and was certain that our “buggy whipping” would not yield a damn thing. I guess we proved him right. Oh well.

We also met a very nice man out walking near Mays Ledges with his wife and dog. He said the key to steelheading when the fishing is spotty is to “hunt” for them. If there’s no action in a particular spot, move along and hunt for them.

Perhaps the funniest part of the trip was a conspiracy theory in the Kro-Bar that the Lamprey Weir gate was completely closed, preventing fish from moving upstream. We posited this question to many people we met and they all shrugged their shoulders as to whether or not it could be true. We went to McNeil’s and walked upstream to the weir to confirm with our own eyes that the fish passage was indeed open. We didn’t see any fish pushing upriver there though.

In the same stretch of river where I had our one fish on for ten seconds we saw big fish slapping the surface every 10 or 20 minutes, sometimes just a rod length away from where we stood in the water. They were in there, but not interested in feeding. And this was a prime spot at a prime time of the day (at dusk) with the sky cloudy and drizzling. Beautiful dead drifts right through the heart of the run did not entice them in the least. On one drift I felt a tug and set the hook but came up with nothing but a single silver fish scale about a quarter-inch in diameter.

We had a great time camping, watching playoff baseball in the evenings with Amy at the Kro-Bar, shooting our bows at a target 30 yards out at Rush Lake, and enjoying the beautiful colors and weather. We also fished during prime periods of the day and put in a lot of time on the water in ideal spots. Our Spey casting session at the mouth was perhaps a highlight of the trip, even though we didn’t sniff a fish there.

Better luck to all you guys out there fishing now or planning to fish this fall!

Sunrise on the Brule River

Sunrise on the Brule River

Gregg drifting a fly through the Brule

Gregg drifting a fly through the Brule

Hunting for Steelhead on the Brule

Hunting for Steelhead on the Brule

Wringing out after a long morning on the Brule

Wringing out after a long morning on the Brule

Warming by the fire along the Brule

Warming by the fire along the Brule

7 responses to “Brule Steelhead Trip, 2014

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  1. Gah, not what I want to hear just hours before I head up there for my fall trip! Thanks for the update though…sounds like you all had fun anyway. There’s always beer and stories at the Kro-Bar!

  2. Pretty much had the exact same trip as you did. Worked for 3 days, had one hook-up for 10 seconds and it spit me…didn’t even see it. The fish are there, but very finicky. Most people were going 1 for 2 or some low counts if they reported catching at all. It was an amazing weekend to be out there, but I was really hoping for some fish!!! Thanks for the report man!

  3. Jason,

    Interesting report from you as well. Dang Steelies. If nothing else your report suggests we’re not complete losers and it’s the nature of the game (at least this year) that catching one is not an easy task. Sorry it wasn’t a more productive trip for you. I guess it just raises the ante for next year.


  4. Hi again, just sent you a test email, not sure how to share any pics from 2014, assuming it’s ok to send them, never too early to day dream about next spring!

  5. Hey Tom,

    I hope you and Stephen are doing well, and are still finding time to wet a line here and there there. I haven’t seen much on your blog since last year, so here’s hoping you’re still actively seeking trout! Best wishes for the 2015 season.

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