2015-10-19 17.47.04-1

Boom and Bust, High and Low, Up and Down was the theme for this years prime time Brule steelhead outing. The 2014 fall numbers just released, showed 3036 steelhead  moved through the fishway last fall. This is a slight up-tick compared to the previous years totals(112 more steelhead), so hopefully the population is moving in the positive direction. HOWEVER, this wild population of steelhead is sitting near the low end of 10 year trend. Only 10 short years ago in 2005/6 just over 9000 steelhead moved through the fishway in the fall. Anglers, you are seeing some lean years. This is just another example of how fish populations change. Please pass the beer nuts. This has happened before and I suspect it will happen again.


The group ranged from 3 to 6 anglers this year, with 5 days to fish. There were 20 cumulative man days fished. 22 steelhead were hooked and 8 were landed. Three remarkable things happened. First, the group started out in grand fashion, landing 5 fish in the first day. UH OH! Might have been some back slapping, scotch drinking, good old days talk. Even after being a bit hung over from the high energy, Friday night, reunion on the Brule session, the numbers looked good on paper and the outlook was promising.

Day two was a slap in the face. 5 anglers went 0/0. No fish hooked, no fish landed.  Never happened before. Day three there was a rebound and diligent fishing on newish water produced 3 landed fish. All nice! Day 4, nothing, nada, zilch, goose egg. Day 5 was not a rebound. If one angler had not hooked 2 fish near the end of the day, we would not have hooked a legit steelhead in 3 of the 5 days. This is the second remarkable event of last week.

Colored Steel2

The third remarkable occurrence was that the fun meter never wavered from reading on the high side despite the poor catch rate. One evening, tailgate beers were held riverside. After talking the ear off (the “chat them up” strategy) of the Brule’s legendary net maker and his lovely young wife, they gifted us one of the Brule’s primary holes to close out the evenings fishing. In succession, one of the Brule’s guides unexpectedly showed up, then a prominent member of TU. Conversation, cold beverages and fishing could not have been more interesting. At one point after sitting for an hour pretending he was done fishing, my friend waded in, threw one cast and hooked and landed the steelhead on the first picture of this post. Just before and after this “one cast” fish, other fish were hooked as well. Exiting the river, well after dark, the crew was content. Mojo existed.




Clear water, warm weather, no rain. Conditions had not changed since last week, or the week before, or the week before. There is rain falling on the Brule as I write. Hopefully this rain will add some flow and a bit of color to the water to help hide some of the gregarious anglers that I saw last week. They had not read their stealth manuals.


Flies eaten by the steelhead were all over the board. Eggs, nymphs, rubber-legs, Hybrid egg-nymphs, rabbit strip streamers and Soft hackles. There was no trend or “The Pattern” that worked so well you could call it a trend. Spawn worked well for conventional anglers.


Swinging, indicatoring, bottom bouncing. Every fly angler has his or her preferred method. Pick your poison.


Fellow Brule steelheader,

I left a fly outfit at the top end of the Sucker Hole in the High Landing stretch of the Brule on Tuesday, October 20. While it is an inexpensive St. Croix rod with old system 2 reel, it is all I have. If you or a friend found it, please contact me. Good beers and proven steelhead flies will be exchanged along with my sincere gratitude. Thank you. John 612-670-1629




Spend time on the water. Find some answers to solving the Brule River Steelhead catching dilemma. Then please let me know.