100 Best: Bois Brule River
Location: Northwestern Wisconsin
Type of stream: Freestone
Angling methods: Fly, Spin
Species: Salmon, Steelhead, Lake-run Browns and Brookies
Supporting Services: Duluth, Superior, Brule
Short take: Best bet for lake-run trout and salmon
Handicapped Access: Yes
Closest TU Chapter: Wild Rivers
Enthralled with salmon, steelhead, and lake-run and browns with brookies up to 15 inches on the side? You could spend a year fishing the Bois Brule in northern Wisconsin. And a year you’ll need. When the season begins in March, anglers start catching steelhead that have held over in the river since the fall run. In April, gleaming silver-sided steelies begin to migrate up from Lake Superior. That run continues into May. Work deeper runs and pools with yarn flies, big caddis, nymphs, and egg patterns. Chinook salmon and lake-run browns move into the mouth of the river in July and continue into October. Hurlers of spoons and spinners do well with these as will fly fishers using nymphs. Come August, Chinook and lake-run browns are joined by cohos and fall spawning steelhead. From mid-September to late October, the lower Brule is filled with these bruisers.
The 44 miles of river break into two distinctive sections. From its headwaters in the bogs northeast of Upper Saint Croix Lake, the Bois Brule drops roughly 33 feet in about 17 miles. From the mouth of a natural impoundment of the river called Lucius Lake, it begins to cut down through the Copper Range and falls about 400 feet in the 26 miles to the lake. This lower and longer section is punctuated by class I rapids and a few rated class II or III.
Gentle meanders through northern spruce fir forest characterize the upper section of the river. Spring fed and rich with brook trout and browns, foot access is limited and it’s best fished from a canoe or kayak. Wild brook trout predominate in this stretch and 12 to 14 inch fish are not unusual. You’ll also find large browns and many good rainbows predominating as you approach Lucius Lake. While the entire length of the Bois Brule is contained within the boundaries of Brule River State Forest, private in holdings are numerous.