Snagging the ‘big one’ on the Brule RiverIf you’re called to genuflect at the altar of rushing water, it only makes sense you make your pilgrimage to the Bois Brule River on a Sunday, as that day is set aside for worship.
By: Darrell Pendergrass, Superior Telegram
If you’re called to genuflect at the altar of rushing water, it only makes sense you make your pilgrimage to the Bois Brule River on a Sunday, as that day is set aside for worship.
OK, going fishing isn’t the same as attending formal church services back in town, but standing in the flowing current of the Brule River can be spiritual, in a sense. The incomprehensible force of moving water, the coolness of an awakening morning, the shadows dancing in the cedars as the sun descends into the valley; all of this is cause for contemplation and thought. I won’t get overly philosophical here, but being on the Brule River on a glorious spring day lends itself to a celebration of life. Truly, it does.
My good friend and angling parishioner Dangerous Dan Bloomquist made a trek to the Brule a week past. He found what he was looking for in the waters of a deep bend, hooking a darkened steelhead that had wintered over. Dan’s a flies-only fisherman, although he’s a nonjudgmental purist; he doesn’t preach. He spread the word of his fortune and urged me to follow. So, I did.
Clad in our waders, our fly-rods strung up, my son Jack and I communed upstream from the bridge toward the Sauna Hole, so named because of the streamside sauna house that can be found on the banks of the river. The deep pool that resides here is as splendid a stretch of water as can be found on the 40-plus miles of the river. And in this pool – if your prayers are answered – are steelhead; that’s why we came, we want to catch big lake-run rainbow trout.
We found the pool vacant of other souls, thankfully. Jack and I smiled at one another as we stepped into the waters, and in short order we were casting our offerings into the river. Truthfully, we didn’t hook up with any fish. We spent an hour or so splashing about, laughing, talking, giggling and joking. We didn’t catch a steelhead, but we have faith they’re here. We don’t need to see them to know they exist.
Some might say that a family that prays together stays together. At the risk of blasphemy, along with faith I’ll stake my family’s togetherness on nature and its outdoor pursuits. I hope memories of fishing last a lifetime for my children. One fishing passer-by chimed to his friends on seeing Jack in the river, “Look, a kid fly fishing. That’s great to see.”
We stayed on the Brule for about three hours. Besides fishing we searched the river for “cool-looking” rocks, we hunted for crayfish, we studied stonefly nymphs and we walked the trails that edged the river. It was heavenly.
True story – as one can imagine a lot of anglers seek out the Sauna Hole during any given fishing season. I would be willing to bet that thousands upon thousands of casts are made into this single pool each year. That would mean hundreds upon hundreds of hooks and baits and flies drift through the hole. The numbers of snags that go along with these many casts are likely to result as well.
With Jack standing a bit downstream from me I tossed my bait toward the opposite bank, letting it drift through, my senses keenly aware that a fish might possibly bite. You never know. The drift stopped and I set the hook firmly - right into a branch or a limb or a log. I had snagged up. Hoping to not break the line I put pressure on the snag, hoping for just enough leverage to get whatever was deep in the water to move towards me. And it did.
I could tell by the weight on the line it was a water-logged branch of some size. I dredged the bottom of the pool in hefting the thing towards me. Soon, Jack and I both could see the murky image of what it was coming near. “It’s a log,” Jack said. “It’s just a log.”
But, my son was wrong. It wasn’t just a log; it was the grim reaper of logs. I pulled it from the water, and wide-eyed we brought our gaze to bear on at least 50 to 60 hooks and sinkers and flies. This log was a destroyer of angling dreams and desires. It was a false profit of steelhead success, an instrument of broken promises. How many anglers had felt the rush of steelhead heaven, only to realize they’d chosen a wrong path?
I exorcized the log from the pool.
We laughed the rest of the day, and Jack called me Mr. Snags all the way home.
Read more from Darrell Pendergrass at outtherewithdarrell.blogspot.com