The Upper Brule has fished wonderfully this season, and with a little more than a month to go it will continue to. The Maples of the Brule Valley are starting to turn red and it is becoming apparent that its time to start looking forward to the next chapter. Grouse, Woodcock and Steelhead are merely days away at this point. My schedule from here on out is about full, with a couple of days available this month and a couple more in November. If You’d like to be notified of cancelations, Please email me with the word “Cancelation” in the subject line.
Speaking of change, I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that after the 2017 season, I will be dissolving the guide service. I cant ever see myself ever totally walking away from it, but as of now I don’t intend on doing more than a handful of trips in a season.
I cannot thank enough all of you that I’ve had the pleasure of guiding for, and for all the other guides, shops and friends that have been so incredibly supportive! It’s hard to find the words!
A lot of cool things happened in 2016! Burnt Wood 1 made its first “working” trip down the Brule! It was on the Opening Day of the Upper River Season and I couldn’t have been more proud to have John, who’s family has been on the river since the mid 1880’s as her first customer! This was the first trip for a “working’ Lucius in many decades!
The Upper River fished well this Summer with more big Brook Trout showing up and some of the nicest resident Browns I’ve seen in years. The Hex Hatch was superb and the mousing was incredible
The Spring Steelhead fishing was excellent despite high water for a good portion of the Spring, many Great fish were caught, with many coming to the swung fly! The Rio Trout Max heads used in conjunction with a Sage One 890 have really become my go to set up for swinging flies on this lovely river!
Fall Steelhead were a little tougher with really clear water being the norm. Even with tough conditions fishing was solid, with many nice fish being brought to hand. Those who “Kept the Faith” and fished hard were rewarded for their efforts!
Grouse and Woodcock hunting was fantastic! Grouse numbers are up and we are supposed to be on the up swing of the cycle, Great news for the next few years. Casper had a stellar sophomore campaign and will do nothing but get better in the years to come. Woof is as reliable as always and in great shape. Looking forward to the next few years behind this cage old vet!
I’d like to thank all of my friends and customers who made 2016 such a memorable and outstanding year!
I am now booking for the 2017 season, with the way things are going, theres never been a better time to fish the storied Bois Brule River! Call 218 390 0629 to get your time on the Brule scheduled!
So, after a little more than a week of open season, this is what I have for you:
Fishing started out pretty good (I was out of town, but have some solid sources), By mid week, rain and dropping temps slowed the bite some, but for those who braved the elements there were pay offs.
I initially thought this would be an early spring, but Mother Nature has seemed to do an about face. most day time highs for the next 10 days will be in the 30’s or 40′ and over night lows down into the 20’s and even a couple of teens in there.
We have been doing a combination of swinging and nymphing, with the swung fly proving to be more successful in the higher water. As water levels drop, look for the fish to be pushed back into the holes and nymphing to start picking up!
Regardless of how you decide to fish for these wild, incredible fish, when you see them up on the gravel, please leave them be. Their spawning success insures these amazing fish to be there in the future! Regardless if you swing, nymph, centerpin or throw hardware for these guys, respect the fish and the resource! that’s the only really important thing!
Not a whole lot to report on from a fishing point of view up in my part of the world, but I’ve been staying busy with boat restoration, fly tying, Fly-fishing Expos and talks.
One of the great things about the expos is that all of us fly-fishing guides get to hang out and talk, something we really don’t get to do during the fishing season. A topic that keeps coming up, is the success or failure of our customers on any given day and the reasons why. What’s the most talked about reason? CASTING!
Sure, when you hire a guide, he or she can help you with your casting, but, coming in with a solid foundation is the most important thing you can do for yourself on a guided trip. When you’re out on the water with a guide, the one thing that is on everyone’s mind is fish. The best time and place for casting instruction and practice is off the water, when you don’t have that pesky little distraction of trying to catch fish! All guides have little “cheats” they can use to help make up for poor casting, but at the end of the day, these “cheats” can result in reinforcing bad habits. The solution? Before your trip practice! if practice alone isn’t enough, find a good instructor to give you dedicated casting lessons. After your session? PRACTICE! you wouldn’t take 1 piano lesson, not touch the piano for a month and then expect to remember everything you learned in 1 lesson? Same thing with casting.
Not too much to report on from the Northwoods. The recent warm up may provide for some Early Season opportunity, but the preceding temps of -20 has locked up a lot of our water. when conditions have permitted, I’ve found a few trout.
The major portion of my “free” time has been spent on the restoration of another Lucius Canoe. Not sure when this one will see the water, but Lloyd and I are feeling more optimistic every day. This boat was badly damaged and misshapen. Every rib but one was broken along with a laundry list of other issues to numerous to list. Little by little, day by day……….
Before any work was done
The first rib installed
Nylon ratchet straps pulling the hull back into shape
Temporary forms to further fine tune the hull shape
the hull has taken shape
Stop by our Booth at the Badger Fly Fishers Spring Opener on February 13! Check the Fly by Night Guide Service Facebook page for show specials!
First things first, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make 2016 another great year on the storied Brule!
Fishing in 2015:
All in all the Steelhead fishing was fair. It is obvious that we aren’t seeing the big runs that we got earlier in the 2000’s. Is it time to panic? I really don’t think so. The Brule has a run of all wild Steelhead, as with any natural, self sustaining population, there will be some ups and downs. With the exception of very few days, we managed to hook a couple of fish most every time out. Big quantities are great, and the numbers will go up again, but in the meanwhile, keep in mind that these are fish of great quality that have carved out their niche in the Brule and Lake Superior over more than the past century. My observations, and the observations of others indicate we had exceptional fry survival this past summer! This bodes well for the future of our beloved Brule Steelhead! Until the numbers start bouncing back, return all fish as gently and with as much care as possible! Give these magnificent fish a chance, and they’ll bounce back.
The Upper Brule was a bit more finicky this year than in years past. when the fishing turned on, it was as good as I’ve ever seen it, when it got tough, it got really tough. A very positive was the number of large Brook Trout. This is a trend I’ve been seeing for quite a few years, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I saw several Brook Trout over 15″ and even one that measured out at an honest 16″! It wasn’t that long ago that a Brookie of 12″ gave you considerable bragging rights!
Grouse and Woodcock Hunting:
The Woodcock Migration this fall was a little different than it’s been in the past. Warm Fall temperatures didn’t push the “Little Prince of the Woods” down until a little later in the Fall. Hunting was still good, but we didn’t see the biggest number of birds until late October. There were still really good numbers of Timberdoodles around well past the close of their season, which is something I’m not used to seeing. Grouse numbers appear to be comparable to last season, flushing between 2 and 4 birds per hour, depending where we were. The addition of another dog this fall was a lot of fun! Casper made amazing progress (and continues to). Woof was his usual self and pointed a ton of birds this Fall for a lot of folks!
Looking ahead to 2016:
In 2016 I will be offering a limited number of Upper River Floats in a Joe Lucius Canoe. This is the quintessential Brule River Guide Boat! Built on the Banks of the Brule 105 years ago, it was brought back to life this past year by Stub Swenson, at Swenson’s Boat Shed. Stub is a master at his craft and it was great fun watching, learning and even “helping” along the way.
Again, Id like to thank everyone for a great 2015!
The Night bite is in full swing! Brook and Browns alike are hunting mice, and this should only get better as more migratory fish enter the river each day that goes by! Tricos are also in full swing. This can be some very fun dry fly fishing during a wonderful time of day!
A week in to the 2015 season and so far so good! Fishing has been at least dependable with most Steelhead coming to egg patterns so far. Started seeing a little spawning activity around mid week, but cooler temperatures are forecast for the next several days and may slow the spawning process down. If you see these fish on redds, please let them be to do their thing! The future of our Brule Steelhead depends on the success of these spawning fish!
As water temps warm, we should start seeing more action on Nymphs and swung streamers.
This years Opener is going to look a lot different than lasts! The snow is gone, the river isn’t low, but its not high either. With no snow left in the woods, the spring melt is already behind us. We can expect good fishing conditions well in to the foreseeable future. Steelhead will be on gravel soon, trying to produce future generations of Wild Brule River Steelhead!
A few things to consider this Spring when you’re out there chasing these magnificent fish:
Our Steelhead numbers have been down 2 of the past 3 seasons, the fishery is still in good shape, but we as anglers can do a few things to help it bounce back as quickly as possible.
Please quickly release all your Steelhead
If you see fish up in shallow water, on gravel, they are spawning! Please leave them alone to preform this right of Spring that insures generations of Steelhead to come!
Respect other fisherman, the landowners and the fish.
I hate to make predictions, but with the amount of snow we have right now (less than a foot), it doesn’t look like runoff is going to be the problem it was last year for our Spring Steelhead fishing. Boat projects are coming along nicely, but Im getting ready to go stand in a river!
Had a great time down at the Hawkeye Show this past weekend. It was great to hang out with some old friends and meet some new ones! Coming up, I will be doing a Steelhead class at the Superior Fly Angler on Saturday March 7th. Saturday March 21st we will be in DePere WI for the Tight Lines Open House. This is always a great event, if you’re In the area swtop by to meet some of the best guides, artists and tiers anywhere!
In the meanwhile, check out the video below of some Spring Brule River Steelhead action! Spring dates are filling up fast, give us a call to reserve your date!!!
I am horrible at keeping up to date on some things, this fishing reports page being o ne of them. My apologies.
As we get closer to Spring Steelhead, I can feel my motivation growing at about the same rate as the increasing minutes of daylight each week that passes.
This winter I’ve passed the time by going to a few fly fishing shows, doing a few presentations, tying flies and working on wood canoes. We have a couple of shows coming up that we’re looking forward to, the first is the Badger Spring Opener in Madison WI. Keith Behn will be manning the Fly by Night Guide Service booth on Saturday February 14, so stop by and say “hi” to Keith! Next up will be the Hawkeye Fly Fishers Expo in Dubuque IA February 20-22. We haven’t been to this one before, and are really looking forward to it!
Canoe Projects are going well. The 1911 Joe Lucius Canoe should be on the water some time in June. I cannot describe how much I am looking forward to paddling this amazing piece of Brule River history down the waters she was built for!
This Offseason has brought a new member to the Fly by Night family. In December Grouse Point’s Black Ghost (Casper) came home. Casper is out of the Same Kennel as Woof, and is displaying a lot of the same qualities as his big brother! I have high hopes for this new pup! We’ve spent a lot of time in the grouse woods this Winter and from the amount of birds around, I think next fall has the potential to be one of the best in decades!
There is very little snow pack in the Brule Valley, which means we should not be blown out for the entire Spring like we were last year. Fishing last fall was steady, not spectacular, but fluctuations are to be expected in a 100% wild population of steelhead. There were enough fish around to keep it interesting, and I would expect this Spring to be about the same.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks since my last post. The weather cant make up its mind as to what it wants to do. I don’t think weve had more than one day in a row of the same weather. This has seemed to keep the fish “uncomfortable” and has been brutal on the hatches. The good news: It looks like things are going to straighten out and warm up soon! brown Drakes have been showing up sporadically and are on the brink of really letting loose! Hex cant be far of either. we have a few openings over the next couple of weeks, give us a call to take advantage of our best dry fly fishing of the year!
As it usually goes, everything happens at once. fishing has been good across the board. Rain and warm weather has brought hoards of mosquitos. The Hendricksons have wound down, but caddis and March Browns are providing for some great dry fly fishing, Sulphurs and Brown Drakes should be showing up shortly!
This past week has been a pretty good one! Steelhead, Brook Trout, Brown Trout. Hendricksons are rolling, the lower river has finally dropped to the point where its fishable and the fish are cooperative. for the next week to 10 days, opportunities to get a steelhead on a swung fly should be great! The upper river will continue to fish well, with more good hatches coming as the weather warms up!
The weather this spring has been horrible! and this past week has been no exception. Despite bad weather, the fishing has been a pleasant surprise. The number of Brook Trout over a foot long has been remarkable this past week and we have seen good numbers of very respectable Browns up to about 17″. If this is a precursor of things to come, it’s going to be a great season on the Upper Brule.
The Hendrickson hatch has yet to get going, a bug here and there, but no real hatch. As soon as this weather straightens out, it’s going to bust loose!
A couple of things worth noting: After spending the past week on the water, in rain, wind and cold, The SIMMS Pac-Lite rain pants really exceeded my expectations for a light weight rain pant. Dry as a bone every day! The other new product that I’m thrilled with is the Rio Camo-lux full intermediate line. this line has preformed fantastically in still water applications. I wont fish Spring Ponds again without it!
We have a number of openings over the next couple of weeks, so if you can get away to take advantage of this great early season fishing, give us a shout!
My last several fishing reports have been far from enthusiastic. That’s changing! With the lower Brule running very high and for all intents and purposes, unfishable, the regular opener couldn’t have come sooner. It was worth the wait!
For the first time in years, I did not fish the Upper Brule on this hallowed day, but chose to explore some water that has been on my list for a while. I’m glad we did. Brook Trout were cooperative, and the size of some of the fish were amazing.
Over the past couple of seasons we have seen some of the largest wild, native, Brook Trout since I’ve been fishing the waters of Northern Wisconsin. to put it simply, it’s never been better in my lifetime, and from todays results, 2014 looks like it’s going to follow suit!
The fact of the matter is; this has been about one of the roughest, toughest Aprils I have ever seen. In talking with others, some who have seen a lot more Aprils than I, they agree. When we were in our pre-runoff stage, the snow in the valley was up to your waist, now that it’s (mostly) gone, flows are such that you are taking your life in your hands stepping into the river. it has been hard to keep the faith this Spring.
The thing that keeps me holding on, is that the upper river (and general trout season) opens on Saturday. The thing about the Brule is that no matter how out of shape the lower river is, the river upstream always remains fishable. Not to say it always going to be great, but with Saturday comes a lot more options! Thank goodness.
Not much new to report (unfortunately). The Brule is running at over 600cfs and its going to be a while until it comes down. I expect the rivers on the lower North Shore to fall into shape before the Brule does, but as of now, its tough going there too. Wish I had better news, but so it goes.
With 14 inches of fresh snow, and at least a foot of dense heavy compacted snow already on the ground, I’m afraid the news isn’t good for the immediate future. The Brule is sitting at a flow of 328cfs as I write this, and is going to do nothing but climb in the near future. As soon as it starts dropping and temperatures start to climb……..look out! Its going to get good!
For those who dare to venture out, be careful! wading is treacherous and crossing the river is an extremely risky proposition!
The past few days have brought mixed results. Monday and Tuesday were very slow despite good conditions. Wednesday, however turned on! fishing was good, particularly in the afternoon.
Warm Temperatures and bright sun are expediting the melting process, and we are very near the end of our pre-runoff fishing. the USGS Flow Gauge is still reading “ICE”, but some info can still be obtained from the Gauge Height graph. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?04025500. At this point, all we can do is wait and see.
For the past 9 days we have had “pre-runoff” conditions. Low, clear and cold water, and the fishing had been good. Yesterday morning things looked a little different. There was a little color to the water. I thought that was really going to fire up the fish, but I was wrong. It was a tough day out there, only hooking one steelhead all day.
There is a TON of snow in the woods, and with warmer temperatures the past few days, and more coming, things are about to get tougher. With the amount of snow still in the woods (the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen this late in the season) I’m not really sure what to expect out of our spring runoff. Its just going to be wait and see. I think we have a day or 2 before things get really ugly, but maybe not.
I really am looking forward to the post runoff fishing. the fish get really grabby, and I think they’ll hang around well into May!
After having been on the river through pretty much every snow storm last spring, I was stoked to fish yet another powder day on the river. It was the first day on the river for me this year, and the fish were more than happy and seemed pretty grabby. All the usual spots produced fish, with nymphs being the top producer. Getting around required snow shoes, but the views of the river made it all worth it. This great pre-runoff fishing probably isn’t going to last too long, but we should have a nice long season of steelhead fishing once the river comes down after it starts to let go of all that snow.
Yes, we are going to get more snow. Yes, it’s already tough getting around in the valley. Yes, the water is cold, and yes a significant portion of the river still has ice on it. With all of that working against Steelheaders, there is still good news, fish are being caught. with a little determination and the right attitude there are fish to be had, and its going to do nothing but get better in the coming weeks. The one thing I can say with certainty, is you wont catch a steelhead sitting at home! If you choose to sit home, at least you can watch some being caught…………
Opening day has come and gone. The river was low and clear and cold and covered with ice from Hiway FF down to the Big Pond. There were fish to be had though! Reports from around the river were spotty. Some nice browns were caught and also some steelhead. With highs in the 30’s for the bulk of the next 10 days runoff should be slow and some what controlled. The Ice dam should slow continue its down stream migration and “new” water should become available every day! The only thing that I really know for sure, is that you wont catch any Steelhead sitting at home on the couch! go fishing!