October 11-15

The alarm rang at 4 AM. I chucked the remainder of my gear into the back of the pick-up and headed North. It was Thursday morning and the highways from Prescott to Brule were dark and alive with the green eyed critters of the near dawn hours. They crossed the road with little regard for the 1/2 ton 4X4 about to change their  furry lives. More than one almost became a hood ornament. I was going solo for a day and would meet up with a friend from Tennessee  to fish on Friday. The cast of 8 others would all arrive by Friday night

This was my first trip North to the Brule this year and anticipation was high. My friend JT, member of the Sensitive To Women’s Needs Club and also holder of one of the coveted Big Balls from last year’s final steelhed trip, was to have his stag party on Saturday night at the Kro-bar. His instructions, NO SHENANAGANS! We would honor the request,,,,,,,,,sort of.

Arriving in Brule I noticed the streets were puddled with water. Rain was in the forecast  for the next few days and I was hopeful it would help the river pick up some much needed flow and color. Reports from the previous week had described the Brule River as having the clarity of a “spring creek”  and being able to see to the bottom of many of the deepest holes on the river. This is unusual for a river that is normally tannin stained helping anglers stay hidden from the wary eyes of the steelhead. The 1/3 of an inch of rain on Wednesday night brought the rivers flow up 1 cfs, not enough to make a difference in either depth or color as I would find out in the next 4 days of fishing.

Thursday was cool and overcast all day. The chilly wind made me remember that fall was here and winter was not far off. The falling and decaying plant matter blew into the river all day making nymphing somewhat difficult. The water was as clear as I had ever seen it. I concentrated on the deepest water I could find or broken, slower moving deepish water. Being stealthy was difficult. It was just difficult to get into position and not feel like you were scarring every fish that was in the spot. I caught many small rainbows under 12 inches and one of 19″ and browns of 15, 17 and 18″. At least I had a little action but not exactly what I was looking for. Our group has a tradition of not recognizing any fish for the official count unless they are 20″ or larger and steelhead. Brown trout are fine but they are not the desired target and get little recognition. When my friend Doug arrived on Thursday night he considered my official count to be zero fish caught for Thursday. I concurred,,,reluctantly. Saw only two anglers, neither had caught a fish.

Friday was warmer and sunny most of the day. There were times we saw fish move away, slip into the current and disapear as soon as they saw us. Sunny and clear water is no doubt a factor on the Brule right now. I redeemed myself with a nice 24″ steelhead about mid day. The water temp was 43 degrees with a slight warm up at 2 o’clock. 8 hours of fishing, 1 bite, 1 fish landed.

Saturday was busy. Many anglers enjoyed a nice day on the river. The St. Paul Fly Tiers Club had 8 anglers in its group, and we had 10. It is always a pleasure to chat with other anglers and compare notes. It is a great group of anglers. Between the two different spots I fished on Saturday, I must have talked to at least 30 anglers with various results.  It seemed the morning anglers had done a bit better than the afternoon anglers, but all in all there was a consensus that catching was tough. Within our group a few fish were landed on Saturday. A happy group of lads headed for the cabin for a fine home cooked meal and a night cap bachelor party at the Kro-Bar. PM turned to AM. We imparted our marriage wisdom to our lucky friend and went to bed.

Because of the time we went to bed we did not get up early to fish on Sunday Morning. Many of us did not put in a solid fishing effort on Sunday. It was a long drive home for me on Sunday night.

I just received the report today from the Brule. Some of the anglers who remained had an excellent day at catching.

In Summary–

-The water is low and clear. Today’s flows were at 119cfs. Rain did not come on Saturday like fore-casted. Rain is however in the forecast for the rest of this week. The river, the fish and the anglers need it!

-Overcast skies and early morning are both periods of low light . I think this is the best chance for actively eating fish. Either of these periods along with a trend of warming air temps has seemed to be the best for catching. Water temps will rise and may make it more active.

-Fly patterns were wide and varied. Eggs of pink, yellow, and orange produced fish. Bugs like x-leggs rubber leg stones, half backs, pheasant tails and hares ear soft hackles produced fish.

-I believe that the combination of  low water, bright light and fewer fish in the river are compounding catching difficulty.

– The bottom line is the more time your fly is in the water the better your chances are of catching a nice steelhead. Never think that stepping into a spot after another angler exits is in any way a detriment to your chances of catching. Many times it is just being there at the right time. The only way to catch is to go. Go solo, go with friends and by all means talk with receptive  anglers, it is a brotherhood of success and failure and all who have played this game long enough understand. Steelheading the Brule is hard and rewarding. Believe, and it can happen.