Archive for the ‘Bois Brule’ Category

Brule River Sportsmen’s Club   Leave a comment

I’ve been reading the newsletters of the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club over the past few weeks and have learned a lot about their work to improve the Brule River fishery. One of the most incredible projects is the “Gravel Drops” they collaborated with the National Guard on years ago. The photos are really intriguing. Gravel, of course, is an important substrate for trout and salmon spawning and it allows the eggs a safe place to lie during maturation. Check out the pictures on their website. I think you’ll enjoy them.

I have also gleaned from the Club’s newsletters that they’re struggling a bit financially. This is a real shame, because their work has helped make the Brule a healthy fishery, giving all who fish it better opportunities to experience the tug of a wild Lake Superior Steelhead.

I am planning to send in my membership form with $20, and I’m also going to add a bit extra to help with the Habitat Fund. I’ll purchase a map and a cap as well and I encourage you to do the same, whether you’re an angler who loves the Brule, or just someone who loves the idea of the Brule.


National Guard and Brule River Sportsmen's Club members spread gravel at Mott's Ravine Bend in the Brule River. Click the photo to see the gallery.

National Guard and Brule River Sportsmen’s Club members spread gravel at Mott’s Ravine Bend in the Brule River in 1995. Click the photo to see the gallery.



Damian Wilmot and Tim Pearson Steelheading on the Brule   1 comment

Check out this great episode of “Discovery”, a UP outdoors show, featuring Damian and Tim on the Brule. They sure do catch a lot of fish!


Bupkis on the Brule   5 comments

bup·kis (bêp-kês) – noun: absolutely nothing; nothing of value, significance, or substance.

Small, round fecal pellets, referring to the shape of goat droppings.

A colorful Yiddish phrase: “Bupkis mit Kudachas”, translating roughly to “shivering shit balls”.


8-wt rods stand at the ready

8-wt rods stand at the ready


Stephen Rose, John Jackels and I went up to the Brule River in Douglas County, Wisconsin last Thursday night to take part in the annual fall pursuit of Brule River Steelhead. We went with a cocky sureness that we’d be heros, and we left cold and damp, shivering and sunken.


Heading North alongside the Brule Valley

Heading North alongside the Brule Valley


The rains in October were said to have made for a nice fall run, not at all like the anemic fall run of 2011. Hopes were high for perhaps a dozen fish during our three day outing. But instead, our lines laid limp in the water while we endured soggy-cold skies and frigid water. We saw a few fish roll and jump but none wanted to play.

Midway through the trip we were so unsure of ourselves that Stephen gave our guide friend Tim Pearson a call to confirm that there were, in fact, still steelhead swimming up the Brule River. He assured Stephen that there were, and encouraged us to keep trying, saying that the most important part of Steelheading is having that fly in the water, working hard to present it with a dead drift.

So after a lunch at the Kro Bar we were back on the water doing our thing.


This is Steelheading on the Brule River

This is Steelheading on the Brule River


After more of the same we retreated to camp, dry gas station firewood in hand, and Stephen cooked up some venison steaks and tomato soup. Staring into a campfire on a cold fall evening can lift even the most weary angler’s soul. And a superlative sleep in a Hennessy Hammock is a thing that by all rights should be reserved for the gods on Olympus. Don’t be a dink. Get a hammock to camp in.


Sleep on a cloud

Sleep on a cloud


In the end, the trip was a beautiful thing. The Brule River and the forested valley that it runs through are soul-cleansing, and I’ll plan to go back year after year. And when I hold another chrome trout in my hands it will be all that much sweeter.


John and Stephen absorbing heat

John and Stephen absorbing heat




Brule Steelhead Numbers: 2011-2012   1 comment

Check out the document below on the Brule Steelhead numbers for 2011-2012. The overall run last fall/spring was nearly half of what it has been since 2004. However, the spring run was as big as it’s been in recent history. Looks like those wild Brule Steelhead have strong instincts!

It looks like the Brule rose just a hair this past week. And there’s rain in the forecast this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!


2011-2012 Brule River Steelhead

Bang the image to blow it up!



Time to think about Steel?   Leave a comment

As the days grow shorter, little by little, I find myself thinking ahead to runs of wild steelhead on the Brule River. I’m hoping for a lot more precipitation as we move into autumn. Water flushing out of the Brule River and into Lake Superior triggers those beautiful chrome torpedoes to swim upstream. If all goes well, one or more of those anadromous beasts will find its way to my fishing line.

Tim Pearson, the Brule River Ninja, taught me last year to use a bead to entice Steelhead. I actually bought a slew of them from Tim, along with some of his self-tied stonefly patterns, after our day of fishing was done.

If you’re wondering how to use a bead in your fishing, check out Tim likes to tie a big stonefly pattern on above the bead. On occassion, he told me, a fish will go for the bug instead of the bead. In my experience they ignored the bug and inhaled the bead.

I’ve wondered in the past if there’s a place for these beads on Driftless trout streams. make a few beads that glow in the dark. Perhaps a big brown trout could be enticed late at night with a glowing salmon egg bead? Maybe it’s worth a try…

Click on the image below from their website for more info.


How to rig up a trout bead

How to rig up a trout bead



Brule Fall Steelhead Numbers Very Low   2 comments

I read in the paper last night that the numbers are in on the Fall Run of Brule River Steelhead. The numbers are way down, about 1/3 of what they’ve been in the recent past. It only makes sense that this is the case. There was absolutely no rain last fall in the Brule River Valley. I watched the weather up there from July through November, and a few times there were some storms that came close, but either went north, east, west, or south.

I won’t be heading up to the Brule this spring, but it will be interesting to hear about the run numbers. Will Steelhead come up the river to spawn this spring (most spawning fish overwinter in the river, so those that are now in the lake will most likely stay put). Let’s hope for some more predictable weather this fall so we can have another 10,000 fish run. That would be something!


Tom A-B's 25" hen, caught on the Brule in November, 2011.

Tom A-B's 25" hen, caught on the Brule in November, 2011.


Black Earth Creek on Friday   1 comment

Last November I got an education in fly fishing for Steelhead on the Brule river, thanks to Tim Pearson, the Brule River Ninja. The thing I learned, the thing Tim hammered in to me over 12 hours that cold November day was how important a dead drift is when fishing with nymph flies. That lesson isn’t all that important on creeks that are 3 feet wide. Often the current across that little creek is generally moving at a uniform velocity, so mending your line to keep a faster current from pulling the fly irregularly through the area you’ve targeted isn’t a skill you need to understand.

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

The sections of Black Earth Creek I’ve been fishing the past few times out have been, to my eye, more like a river than a creek. So my Brule River lessons have been relevant to success. The need to read the water comes into play as well. These kinds of puzzles are really nice, the challenges of fly fishing are increased.

The other great feature of a bigger spring-fed creek like Black Earth Creek is that when you stand with your feet in the stream, there’s plenty of room to unload a nice big cast. It’s not all about roll casting, as it is so much on smaller creeks.

I’m not usually a salesman, or a peruasive speaker for that matter, but deciding to focus on one thing, one place, as I’ve planned to do this season with Black Earth Creek, I’m learning to appreciate things about that body of water that I didn’t take the time to understand in seasons past. Maybe there is a reason the stream is as highly regarded as it is.

So, setting out, putting my best stream-reading and line-mending skills into practice, I found myself attached, via fishing line and hook, to a nice, thick, 15″ Brown Trout this afternoon. Have a look at him below.

Get out there and enjoy the natural world!

15" Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

15" Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

Tim Pearson on Minnesota Bound   3 comments

Tim Pearson, our guide for a day on the Brule this fall, has been featured on the TV show Minnesota Bound. I really enjoyed Tim’s instruction and perspective on fishing for Steelhead. He’s a great guy!

Check out Tim’s art at his website by clicking on the pic below…

Rainbow River by Tim Pearson

Rainbow River by Tim Pearson

Video: Stephen Lands a Brule Steelhead   1 comment

It’s not a monster, but it’s purdy. The release is fairly epic as well. Enjoy!



Haunted by a Big Fish   Leave a comment

Recently I read an article on The Drake Magazine’s website called “The Haunted“, by Will Rice. It brought back to memory a moment I had on the Brule River a couple weeks ago.

Stephen Rose and I had just come back to the river after lunch on our second day of Steelhead fishing. The first day yielded a couple of nice fish and a couple of smaller jacks. We had help from Steelhead ninja Tim, of Fly By Night Outfitters that first day out, and we were hoping to capitalize on what we’d learned.

We spent the morning of the second day fishing a section of river we weren’t familiar with, scared away from known sections of the river by cars. Bad choice. We were too far downstream, there weren’t any holes, and there weren’t any fish.

So, back to after lunch. We parked in a familiar place and hit all the spots Tim had shown us the first day. As the afternoon passed, and our casting arms tired, it was looking like a bust. But then, on a long downstream drift, the indicator popped. It didn’t look like a snag, and indeed it was not. I raised my rod tip and pulled on the line with my stripping hand, and I had a fish on!

The fish only stayed under for a second, then made a big, broad-sided leap fully out of the water. I got a look at it and it seemed to be a hand over two feet long. Nice! Back into the water splashed the fish, and that’s when Stephen looked upstream and saw the aftermath of the acrobatics.

And then, it was gone. Snapped off in a flash. My exhilirating connection with that beautiful creature was severed. FUUUUUUUUUUck…..

I can still see that silver slab arching its body above the water along the far bank.

After the echo of my yell died down, I reeled my limp line back in and sat on the bank. Then I tied on another rig and got back at it.

Hunting for Steel on the Brule

Hunting for Steel on the Brule