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Peck: When 'ying' meets 'yang' on the Brule

Oct 14, 2018 06:39AM ● By Editor

The fish was caught with a Kastmaster Spoon in the Brule River in far northwest Wisconsin. Submitted Photo


By Ted Peck Special to The Gazette - October 14, 2018


Autumn’s second substantial cold front blew through Wisconsin on Thursday, dropping ducks across the state and snow showers in our cool blue north.

Incessant rain muted the arrival of peak fall color in many areas with trees morphing from brilliant to barren virtually overnight.

Credit 2018 for consistency.

This year continues to disappoint on essentially all things outdoors, with very few notable exceptions. One of these rare high points is arriving with little fanfare or notice where America’s Dairyland defines the border of the big lake Longfellow called “Gitcheegumee” long before we celebrated Indigenous People’s Day.

The vanguard of migrating rainbow trout found perfect conditions to push inland from Lake Superior sashaying into tributaries like Douglas County’s legendary Brule River passing the edge of a town bearing the same name as it continues south under the Highway 2 bridge.

Rain entering the Brule was the ying that set the table. The yang was the north wind that pushes rainbow trout into the Brule and other streams.

The vanguard showed up just prior to Tuesday, which our Canadian neighbors across lake Superior call Thanksgiving Day. The first serious wave of inland migration arriving in the Brule’s cloistered pools just a couple of days ago.

Rainbow trout returning to their birthing streams to spawn are called steelhead. When steelhead find your hook—breaking both fishing line and heart—many other descriptive and often colorful words settle unheard on the buckbrush.

That short run of river north of the town of Brule between County FF and Highway 73 is a great place to wash your waders while waiting for steelhead trying to pass a gauntlet of anglers eager to dance with a fish of dreams.

Guide Josh Teigen allows these spectacular finned acrobats to continue south, headed upstream into the quiet water of a pool. Then he casts past them to pull an Acme Kastmaster spoon toward one of several torpedo-nosed, silvery fish faces. He hopes one of these worthy combatants will stop the fluttering lure with a rocketing chomp.

When steelhead inhales a spawn sac, the bite is subtle.

When you connect with the hook of a Kastmaster spoon, the reaction is at the opposite end of the spectrum. They will often cartwheel in a half-dozen spectacular leaps before your gaping jaw can return to tight-lipped determination of piscatory combat.

The next human response is a smile from the soul when the fish either swims free from the net or escapes from your bond under its own conditions.

Teigen says bringing one out of every three fish hooked to the net is about average, even when using medium spinning gear spooled with 10-pound test monofilament line and a fluorocarbon leader. Venture to the Brule with a ultralight tackle or a 4-weight flyrod and you’ll likely get both spooled and schooled on piscatory power.

There are multiple unwritten rites of passage required prior to looking other Wisconsin fishers in the eye, peer to peer.

One of these is catching a legal muskie.

Even more revered is the bona fide of striking a jaunty stance and honoring nimrods foregathered with a tale of besting a mighty steelhead in Wisconsin’s iconic Brule.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at [email protected].

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