They say (whoever they are) that there are two kinds of fishermen, those that fish for sport and those that catch something. Fortunately, we happen to be a mix of both. But as RiverBums, fishing is more than a sport and catching fish. It’s about hope. Hoping that there is a smallie hiding beside the boulder, hoping there is a northern in the weeds waiting to pounce on that torpedo, hoping that the skies stay blue and the water stays clear. It takes years of practice to hope the way a RiverBum hopes. A day of fishing may never end because we are too afraid to turn back, thinking we may be missing the best spot just up river. “Ok, just a little bit further, “Dad’ll say. “Ya, just until that next boulder, then we’ll turn back.” AC will respond. Minutes later, maybe a fish was caught maybe not. It is time to turn back, but not until a RiverBum says, “Ok, just one more wade, up until that boulder. I swear last time, just once more…” Hope, my friends, that’s the difference between a Bum and a RiverBum.
Saturday- Day 1
And we were full of hope as we packed up and roadtripped a good 7 hours Saturday morning to northern Wisconsin to discover what the Bois Brule River had in stock for us. It was 4am when we crossed the border into Wisconsin and pitch dark. However, there was plenty of light coming from the 3 massive storms that swirled around us. Systems were closing in, coming from the south and west. It was quite a lightning show, but it turned dangerous when we had to drive through it. We powered through the storms until clear skies broke around 8 am. Our hopes were still high as we checked a local rest stop radar map to see that the northern most half of Wisconsin was storm free.
After filling up on water and gas at the local shop in Brule, Wisconsin, we drove up and down alongside the river, searching for access points and information on the Bois Brule. Oh and did we discover good information or what? 5 of our nation’s presidents have fished the Brule; Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. And apparently, our current president had fished here as well, as we discovered a red coffee can full of night crawlers. The source of the Bois Brule is Lake Superior so there is a great mix of steelhead, brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
One of hundreds of kayakers in the Bois Brule
Now, you may be looking at the picture above and thinking, “Wow, what a beautiful river!.” Ya, that’s what we thought. But, take a closer look at this picture. A little closer, a little closer. THERE! Do you see it? Yes, my friends, that is a kayaker. As you already know, we loathe people. And kayakers are people with kayaks. And people with kayaks don’t mix well with trout that are easily scared off as they come paddling 40 mph down the river, paddles flailing, trash flying, and voices screaming. And just so you are clear, this is just one of the 800 kayakers that crossed our lines. Granted, this is one of the most popular rives in the US and most popular in the summer time for boaters. And while we were annoyed by the colorful floaters invading our peaceful wade into the Bois, there didn’t seem to be any fish to scare away. Dad did catch a brook trout about an hour in, but that was all she wrote about our 4 hour bum in the Bois Brule. The truth is, the trout aren’t hitting yet and the steelies don’t really get hot until October. The lake run fish haven’t come in yet. So despite the lack of fish and invasion of kayakers, we vouched to visit the Bois Brule in the Fall and we are determined to have more tails for you then…As it started to rain, again, we headed out in search of a hotel in Hayward.
A cute touristy town, we arrived in Hayward later than expected and had to stay at this cheap Americinn motel that only allowed hookers in. Which only meant that one of the RiverBums had to put on a cheap facade to get us in. So, Dad pulled on his tube top and daisy dukes and we had found a room in no time. We then walked to the nearest piggly wiggly, grabbed a six pack of Red Lager Leinenkugels, a salad, a samich, and called it a night. Oh and before we forget..YOU, ya you, the host who checked us in! Ya, we’re talking to you. After informing us that we couldn’t use the computer, we couldn’t have extra towels, and we couldn’t find a decent restaurant or church around we would like to formally never invite you to come fishing with us. You have been Bum listed!
Fishing for a Sponsor, we SINK this is a good way to do it!
(when there is no fridge, the sink is runner-up)
Sunday- Day 2
After mass at St. Joseph’s in town, we headed to the Hayward Fly Fishing Co. This quaint but great little fly fishing shop is full of awesome river gear and information on local rivers. They also offer river guides where novice to expert fishermen can experience the best Musky fishing around! We met the owner Larry and he gave us some great access points for the Namekagon river just a few miles away. AC picked up a new pair of fly tying magnifying glasses since she is getting old and we set out for the Namekagon
After a quick breakfast at “The Restaurant” (Yes, that was the name of the place!) we headed out to fish the Namekagon river. This river is a tributary of the St. Croix river in which the RiverBums have fished before about 2 years prior. Unlike the jagged and bouldery bottom of the St. Croix, the Namekagon has a sandy bottom and is much easier to wade. This type of terrain is ideal for muskies and we hear (from Larry) that this river is one of the best smallie rivers in the Midwest.
Upon our arrival at our first Namekagon access point we ran into officials in search of some fishing identification…
Checking Fishing Licenses!
In Dad’s 56 years of fishing this was Dad’s 2nd time having his license checked and AC’s first!
(Ok, you got us! We paid this guy to purchase the outfit and stand there and pose!)
After an A-OK from ranger Roy, we waded into the Namekagon. Within 20 minutes of casting, Dad landed a smallie and seconds later AC landed one too in the same pool with twisty tail lures on orange jigs…
First Smallie in the Namekagon
The RiverBums waded further up river. With a temperature of 55 degrees, the water was quite cool and after 4 hours of just 2 smallies caught, our hopes of catching more of this summer dwelling species seemed dismal. As we were about to turn back, Dad felt something tugging at his wader boot. He reached his hand down to see what it was and pulled up quite a surprise. A 6 foot long rope dangled from his hand and attached on the other side was a northern…
Northern Caught Us!
Some BoatBum had this poor fella tied to the end of a rope and was, what we can only imagine, trolling his catches tied behind him . The drunken bastard didn’t seem to tie his rope tightly enough to the boat as it came loose and all the fish swam away. However, this Northern was strung through the gill pretty well as there was a knot blocking him from escaping his stringy prison. But that’s not all! Yes my friends, we would like to introduce you to the Dun DUn DUN… Lamprey Eel…
The Lamprey Eel makes Saddam and Gaddafi look pretty!
These blood sucking leeches attach themselves to the bodies of fish and suck the life out of them. And, once that fish is dead, they move on to the next one. These are the same chum swindlers that plagued Lake Michigan and sent thousands of fresh water fish to their swampy graves and destroyed the populations in almost every great lake in the US. So, what do you do when you run into an evil Lamprey Eel sucking on a fish in the river? Get out your pliers, pull the damn thing off, get out your knife and chop off it’s head. Simple yet effective! Knife is to Eel as garlic is to vampire as silver bullet is to werewolf, as fire is to Frankenstein monster, as cheese is to the lactose intolerant, and as a male strip joint is to Charlie Sheen…let us stop there…
After finishing up at the Namekagon, we waded out with a count of 2 smallies, 1 Northern, and 1 Lamprey Eel. Ok so with the fall tiptoeing in, we knew this river would be sans smallies than usual. But Hey! At least we have a cool story to tell and we told it!
So as it started to rain, again, we packed up and visited the local Musky Farm! Where we saw the largest musky of all time…But, since it cost more to touch it, the RiverBums enjoyed it’s splendor from the other side of the fence, Bum style all the way…
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat!
We ran into a local Irishman playing fetch with his dog. He would throw this buoy far out into the river and his lass retriever would run out after it. Turns out his dog’s name was Limey cause he was English and the Irishman believed that all Englishmen should be referred to as Limey. That and his dad was a marine in WWII who fought alongside the English and always referred to his friendly allies as Limeys. Wow, it’s nice to see that an Englishman can be subservient to an Irishman for once. We were so impressed that we decided to take his picture. Although we didn’t quite catch the mick’s name we think he looked like an old Duffy O’Doherty and we’re sticking with that me lads and lassies!
Duffy O’Doherty the Irishman and his BonnieLass Limey!
RiverDog all the way!
Monday- Day 3
Since we had an extra day and we ran out of planned rivers to visit, we decided to trek to our favorite river… the ********** (Sorry, hafta kill ya)
After a quick breakfast of nuts, fruit and coffee (Oh my!) we arrived at our never-lets-us-down river. We did a little exploring as it was only 7am and still too early for smallies to start hitting. We visited new access points to the river and discovered a cool suspension bridge tucked within a mile or so hike of forest to the river…
View of the River from Suspension Bridge
Karate RiverBum on a Suspension Bridge
After a bit of frolicking around the river, we drove on to fish a new access point…
Although the temperature never reached higher than 50 degrees we were still hopeful for smallies. This particular access point had great parking (Which is rare near great rivers…New York isn’t the only place famous for lacking this) and there was a cleared path that followed down to the water. Bundled up and packed down we waded on and were surprised to discover the water was quite warm. This made us more hopeful and we began casting away…Would the RiverBums catch smallies this late in the summer? Would AC be able to handle the cold temperatures without whining and crying like a girl???…
AC with a smallie in 45 degree weather!
“Dad and Smallie sittin in the river…F-I-S-H-I-N-G…”
The only smallie on top water!
Dad with a smallie smallie!
AC hooked up with a smallie!
(That’s what happens to a single girl who fishes, she gets too involved with the fish 🙂
Ok, so there was no whining and crying, but there were quite a few smallies. Despite the cool air temperatures, the water stayed warm which in turn, allowed us to RiverBum away. It turned out to be another great smallie trip on the ******* river. We were also able to explore the Bois Brule and Namekagon. And be sure to tune in around late fall as we for surely plan to visit these rivers again when the steelhead are running and the trout are HOT!
Oh and before we sign off…last week we hinted at some possible video footage. Well, RiverBums always deliver and so please take the time to view just a few seconds of Dad landing a smallie on top water below. We apologize for the rough footage and shortage in film, but hey, we’re fishing here! It’s not like Spielberg stops to fish when he’s filming people!
Now that’s exciting! So, we hear Wisconsin is supposed to be sunny and clear this weekend…you know what that means? You don’t mind if we end here right? Cause we gotta put new line on the rods as we are expecting to reel in the lunkers. Until next time, we’ll see ya on the other side of the river…
AC & Dad