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Boreal Community Media

Snowy start to steelhead season on the Brule River

Apr 01, 2018 07:20AM ● By Editor
Bill Molyneux of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., fishes for steelhead in the snow Saturday on the Brule River. Clint Austin / DNT

ON WISCONSIN'S BRULE RIVER — Bruce Koepke slipped his hand under the young brown trout and quickly removed his pink yarn fly from its lip. It was nearly midday on Saturday, opening day of the early trout season on Wisconsin's Brule River.

Koepke returned the fish to the water.

The Brule opener is a hallowed tradition for many steelhead anglers, and Koepke, of Duluth, usually rises early and heads for the river. But the snowstorm that had swept through parts of the Northland overnight made him reconsider.

"I woke up at a quarter to 5 and looked out the window," Koepke said. "And I went back to bed."

He told his wife that if the temperature got near 30, he'd go to the Brule.

In Duluth, it did. He went.

By midday he had released two brown trout and a 2-pound steelhead, he said

The heavily hyped snowstorm — forecasts called for 7 to 10 inches — stayed mostly south, dropping only 5 or 6 inches in the Brule Valley.

Few anglers are hardier than steelheaders, who are accustomed to sliding down riverbank ice shelves and standing in 35-degree water all day. Despite the forecast, many turned out for a chance at the fish they revere on the river they love.

"It was pretty amazing coming over here in a whiteout, and here are all these people," said Paul Piszczek, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Superior.

"I would say the turnout is above average," said Matt Leischer, a DNR ranger at Brule. "Three-hundred cars is usually the average. I think we're on pace to get that."

To read more about the Wisconsin steelhead opener and read the rest of Sam Cook's story, follow this link to the Duluth News Tribune.

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