Archive for the ‘Bois Brule’ Tag

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

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The Tug is the Drug   3 comments

Brule River Steelhead

Brule River Steelhead

 

Brule River – Autumn 2013   2 comments

The Brule was a cruel mistress this fall, at least to our troupe of fishermen. We spent four days on the water, from November 7-10, and managed to land one single Steelhead. More on that to come, but for now, the money shot!

 

A Beautiful wild female Brule River Steelhead

A Beautiful wild female Brule River Steelhead

 

 

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

 

 

 

Superior X-Legs: The Fly of Choice for Brule Steelheaders   Leave a comment

The Superior X-Legs fly is the eponymous fly for those looking to catch Steelhead in Lake Superior tributary rivers. It is a nymph pattern created by Duluth’s Jim Pollack that many anglers swear by.

 

Superior X-Legs Nymph - Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website

Superior X-Legs Nymph – Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website

 

A common rig used on the Brule is to tie on the X-Legs below a float or indicator, and then tie an egg pattern below the X-Legs as a dropper (I like to use “Trout Beads”). The X-Legs bumps along near the bottom and the egg flutters along behind it.

 

Here’s the “Salmonid Seeker”, Dustin, with an excellent video showing how the fly is tied. Check out his YouTube channel for other videos of Steelhead flies. I’ll be trying out a few myself.