Looks like the Ice is off the river to just above hwy FF. relatively warm weather and sun should keep the river opening up everyday. There will no doubt be areas covered with ice on Saturday, but there’s quite a bit open now, and more progress every day!
Here we are one week from the 2014 Brule River Opener and I’m afraid that this report is not the most encouraging one I have ever posted. Expect lots of snow in the Valley, and lots of ice on the river. Snowshoes may be on the list of required gear this year!
3 1/2 feet of snow in the Brule Valley! 3/21
The River at Co-op Park Bridge on 3-21
The news is not all bad though! We may have a delayed start to the season, but this year, Steelhead should be around until at least the middle of May.
In my opinion, there are few things in this world as satisfying as a successful day in the grouse woods, or getting a wild Brule River Steelhead to move to a swung fly. Their similarities are uncanny. Both are difficult to do, but when it happens the you are left feeling that something really special just happened. These pursuits are more about “fair chase” and the aesthetics of the respective sport, respect for the wonderful creatures we pursue, rather than just the numbers.
This will be the first early season opener I will miss since its inception in Northern Wisconsin. With apologies to my fly fishing brethren, I have to admit, I’m kind of happy that temperatures more resemble the deep freeze of January rather than what is typical for March1st. I take comfort in the fact that if I have to miss it, this is the opener worth missing.
For those who do brave the weather, low and slow will be the name of the game. No matter how you slice it, success tomorrow will be determined by how many of your fingers you come home with as opposed to how many trout you catch. Have fun and be careful.
Looking ahead to the Brule Steelhead opener……..We have a lot of snow in the Brule Valley! There has got to be nearly 4 feet on the level. There are a lot of different ways this can play out in the next month, but the bottom line is this: We are going to have great water and great fishing for an extended period of time! Yes, there will be some rough spots when the melt gets going, but those are temporary.
Spring Ponds are unique places, add that to the fact that no 2 are alike, and it gives you an opportunity to fish some very cool and challenging water. These little gems hidden in the North woods have long been a favorite of mine and really offer some tremendous fishing opportunities on mostly untouched waters. They vary in size from tiny little emerald green pockets in the forest to large multi-pond complexes. finding the right ones can lead to some tremendous back country fishing!
For as cold as this winter has been in the north woods of Wisconsin, We are on the down hill side of it. It’s been cold everywhere, even here in South Carolina, I’m looking out my window at ice hanging from eves of houses an palm trees. Kinda surreal!
But in 4 short weeks the early trout season in Wisconsin will open and another cycle will begin. From the reports I’ve gotten from friends in the Brule valley, there is a very real chance that snowshoes may be part of the requisite gear for the steelhead opener, March 29th.
A lot can happen between now and then, so I’m not going to speculate, too much, though it looks like we will have plenty of water this spring and it might be another great year to catch the Hendricksons on the upper Brule.
In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to work on the Redfish that are close to my winter home, and make plans for some of the events Fly By Night Guide Service will be involved with this winter.
First is the Badger Fly Fishers Show in Madison on March 8th. I wont be there, but Keith Behn will be manning the booth for us, so stop in and say “hi” to Keith!
Next is the Great Waters Expo in Minneapolis. Fly By Night Guide Service will be there with the Superior Fly Angler. I’m very excited to be doing a couple of presentations at the Great Waters Show!
From Minneapolis, it’s off to Chicago to do a presentation at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters. This will include a little fly tying and a presentation on the Brule
Next stop will be Tight Lines Fly Shop in DePere. myself, along with the othe Fly By Night Guide Service guides will be hanging out at the shop, tying flies and chatting about all things Brule!
Perfection. When it comes to the outdoor sports that I partake in, I’m not sure if I can tell you in advance what perfection is, but I sure can tell you when it happens. Seldom are there perfect days, but rather moments scattered throughout the season. These are the moments we all look for in our hunting and fishing. Not the days where we catch a ton of fish, or shoot a bunch of birds, but the few perfect moments within the days are the ones we remember.
The last one of these perfect moments for me was the last grouse hunt of 2013. Woof and I left camp at about one o’clock in the afternoon, drove a short distance and got out of the SUV. This was a grouse covert I hadn’t yet hunted this year. I “dressed” Woof with his collar and vest, then donned my own gear. This is a tough place to hunt. The leaves were down most everywhere, but this spot is thick with “Burr Oak” they hold their leaves until the new leaves of spring push the old out.
We started out by walking the trail that leads into the Burr Oak and Hazel Brush thickets. I thought by staying on the trail, this would improve my chances of connecting on a shot should we put one up. Woof got “birdy” a couple of times, but nothing. After working our way about two thirds around the loop I decided to cut through the middle, back towards the SUV.
After about 15 minutes of fighting through some of the thickest, nastiest underbrush Northern Wisconsin has to offer, there it was…………….a rock solid point. Woof was about 30 yards from me at the edge of a small meadow. The path to him was obstructed with more Hazel Brush and Burr Oak. Woof held point for the several minutes it took me to fight through the tangles, the Hazel Brush’s branches were intertwined as if they had intentions of holding me back. It had taken me so long to get there, I was almost certain that Woof was pointing one of the last remaining Woodcock left before its migration south, surely no self respecting grouse would have held this long.
I stood for a moment and surveyed the situation. The dog was steady and sure. I was not. I took another step and there it was! A single grouse erupted from between me and Woof and, uncharacteristically, flew out through the small meadow.
I swung on the bird, pulled the trigger and watched it tumble to the ground. I gave Woof the OK and off he went. A few moments later he presented me with my prize. PERFECT. I unloaded the shotgun, threw it over my shoulder and Woof and I walked back to where we parked, got in the SUV and drove back to Camp. Grouse for dinner tonight! We arrived at camp slightly over an hour from when we left.
As I cleaned my bird, I couldn’t help but feel lucky. Not so much for getting a bird, but for the understanding of what happened. Dog, hunter, Grouse, conditions, they all lined up to provide a moment in time that I will never forget.
The great thing about outdoor pursuits is that we are allowed to define our own perfection. We do not need to hold ourselves accountable to anyone else’s standards. I have long thought that the amount of fun you have, the enjoyment you take out of theses pursuits are the sole parameter by which success should be judged.
Have a perfect day!
Happy New Year everyone!!!
Well, after a month in the “Low Country” one thing I can say is that fishing opportunities abound down here! I haven’t been out much, but I’m working on that. The purchase of a boat in the near future will make chasing Redfish a much easier proposition!
I’ve had a chance to make a few new friends here, in particular, the guys over at Lowcountry Fly Shop. This is a very nice shop and top notch guide service.
Paddling the swamps of South Carolina is a little different the in the swamps and bogs of Wisconsin! I saw my first alligator this past week!
I have never had to worry about running into something that could eat me before on the Brule!
Aside from plans to get out on to the Redfish flats as much as possible over the next few months, I’m looking forward to making a couple of trips back to the Midwest for the Great Waters Expo in February, and to Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters and Tight Lines Fly Shop in March.
We’ve also got a couple of classes planned with the Superior Fly Angler in March and April.
Here’s to a GREAT 2014!
Yesterday was my first attempt at #Redfish. It was a learning experience to say the least! I went out with Michael from Lowcountry Fly Shop, and fished some of the inshore waters around Charleston SC.
Michael had me in front of fish all day and did a masterful job keeping the boat in position from his perch on the poling platform. Unfortunately the guy with the rod in his hand couldn’t get it through his thick head to strip set, as opposed to lifting the rod. Through my several brief encounters with Redfish the one thing I know is that I really, really want to catch one of these fish. Big, powerful and fast! this is really cool stuff!
This is no doubt a different game, but one I am really excited to get better at!
2013 started out COLD, then stayed that way for a long time. Record snow falls in April made for challenging conditions, but for those who braved the elements there were rewards!
The upside to the high water and frigid conditions was that we found good numbers of Steelhead right up to Memorial day, and that would have continued had it not been for a huge rain event that made the river unfishable for the next week.
The Regular trout opener in May brought more of the same cold and snow, again with an upside.
With cold temperatures and fresh snow, opening day was a tough one, but by Sunday temperatures started to rise, along with some very nice Browns and Brookies to Hendricksons. 2013 was one of the best Hendrickson years in memory, with the hatch lasting well into the 3rd week of May.
The Brown Drake hatch was incredible, with high water, cool temps and a lot of overcast days, we saw daytime hatches and spinner falls with regularity. The Hex hatch proved to be somewhat spotty, but lasted forever. we saw the giant Mayflies into the 3rd week of July.
Mousing was on par for what it has been, with no giant fish taken this year, but very good numbers of fish in the 15 to 18 inch range and a few bigger.
The Brule’s brook trout population seems to be doing well. A lot of Brule fisherman (including myself) say that the number and size of Brook Trout is better that it has been in their memory!
The Fall runs of Steelhead and Browns seemed pretty good. fish were caught very consistently throughout September, October and November, both nymphing and on swung flies.
Lastly, The Grouse hunting was a pleasant surprise! With the afore mentioned late, wet Spring coupled with decreased Spring drumming counts, I was really expecting a tough go for grouse. To my surprise, the hunting was actually pretty good, with flush rates of 3 to 4 grouse per hour consistently throughout the season!
Woodcock flight were fantastic as usual, with mornings of 30 flushes not uncommon. I really don’t know how you could want, or expect to have better woodcock hunting anywhere!
I’d like to thank ALL of you who used our services in 2013, and am looking forward to a great 2014
It’s been a great fall in the Brule Valley! with temperatures dropping, look for steelhead in the slower deeper parts of pools, also expect fishing to be better in the afternoons as water temps reach their peak for the day.
Still a week to get out and chase steelhead!
Hexes just starting to show up on the upper Brule, not in full earnest but this upcoming week could be good…
Opening Morning we were greeted by several inches of snow on the docks, freezing rain, sleet and just about any other form of precipitation you can imagine. As the week went on, and the weather improved (marginally), the fishing has steadily picked up. the warmer days have brought hatches of Hendricksons and Blue Winged Olives. The fish have been receptive. Its great to be back in a canoe fishing the Brule!
It’s been a great winter steelhead season on the Brule. The fish have been making us work through deep snow and cold, but the fish have been happy and grabby. There’s nothing better than bringing a fresh chrome steelhead to hand after breaking trail through fresh powder. It looks like we’ll be climbing out of winter by the end of the week and into “normal” spring conditions.
When will Spring get here???