2016 Year in Reveiw

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!


Brule River Report 04-04-2016

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!

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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!


Fly tying, fly fishing expos and boat (re)building

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!

2016 in Review

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.


Click here to view the 2015 Brule River Steelhead numbers

Upper Brule River Trout:

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!

Casper on Point

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.

Lucius Canoe

Again, Id like to thank everyone for a great 2015!











Brule River Fishing Report 4-5-2015

Mark with a nice hen

Mark with a nice hen

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.


Opening Day


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.

Good luck to all this season

Just Around the Corner

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!!!

It’s been a while

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.



Some things just don’t change.

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!

Tough Sleddin’

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.Falls

Here’s to options!

Up, Up and Away


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 Waiting Game

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!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Here is an update from Luke Kavajecz. Check out his Blog at http://www.freshcoastangling.com/

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.





Up and Running

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!


If only it was this easy to get around this year!




Wing & Swing

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.1980681_220788628112902_1969520170_n

Early Opening Eve

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

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!

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On the down hill side

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!

Tom_s_24_22 Steelhead


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 From Fly By Night Guide Service

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!

Not your typical Brule River Report

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!