Carl with a Sweetheart Brown

The anticipation level had reached code red………..

My first trek North to the Brule River in Wisconsin played out this last week with the high drama expected of any  angling expedition to a town and river chocked full of  history, tradition and imaginative angler theory.

The Conditions

The recent stretch of sunny and clement weather throughout the upper Mid-West has caused the Brule’s flows to drop below the median daily flow levels. This factor, mostly related to precipitation, is one of a mind boggling number of variables closely monitored by anglers who annually try to predict the peak of the steelhead run on the Brule. Precipitation is considered by many to be the single most important factor in enabling these giant rainbow trout a safer passage upstream through the Brule’s edgy and ledgey terrain. In short, more water will trigger more fish to attempt the journey from Lake Superior to their up-stream spawning and holding areas. If there is not enough water flowing through the river, the fish will wait in the lake and anglers will have little success at catching.  Couple the low flows with sunny skies, abnormally warm air temperatures, and clear water conditions, one would have to say conditions were not ideal this last week.

In my experience talking to anglers, the list of variables that determine when the fish will run in quantities satisfying to each anglers envisioned hooking and catching needs continues to grow. “Brule River Theory” is one of my favorite subjects to discuss with the anglers fishing the river. This attempt by anglers of all technique to prognosticate the “best” time to fish the Brule and why it is acting the way it is, will continue to be an entertaining part of my travels to this special place. Here are some  Conditions theories gathered from the cavalcade of anglers that I met on-stream this last week in regard to why they were or were not catching steelhead.

Brule Theory-“Conditions”

-The heavy rains at the end of September caused flows to quickly elevate, allowing a large push of fish to migrate upstream beyond the boundaries of the section of stream open to fishing. Essentially the fish had made it past the town of Brule(the southern boundary open to fishing) and were safe from anglers for another year.

-Water temps were generally above average because of the low flows and warm weather. This enabled fish to actively feed for longer periods of the day.

-Consistently sunny days had caused the fish to feed actively almost exclusively during the sunrise and sunset period. Fishing during the daytime was almost pointless.

-Low flows and warm temps in the lake had kept the fish well off shore. The coho’s or silver salmon(the first salmon to run up the Brule in the chronology of fish movement)were still 5 miles off shore and the steelhead were behind them further out.

-The run is at least 3 weeks behind because of the warmer than normal weather. The fish will probably not come in until the first part of November.

Here are a few of my conditions thoughts from this past week:

-The conditions were perfect for taking a long nap on a bed of pine needles and leaves. The smell and the firmness of this combination mattress was stunning.

-The conditions were perfect for the jet boil coffee and Bailey’s Irish cream mix that Randy and Gared made each day and offered to any passer by.

-Toes and fingers work much better under the conditions in the last week.

-Conditions were perfect for gallery fishing and great conversation, open to any angler who wanted to join in.

-Fishing was like it always is on the Brule. It was good, bad, and ugly. Some caught fish, some did not. Some lies were told and some truths were stretched. Of course, all but a few anglers I talked had caught a 30″ steelhead, but when asked, none of them could produce a measuring device of any kind.

More stories and pictures later. I have some wood splitting to do before the weather turns nasty and the steelheading turns epic.