Outdoors blog: Brule steelhead numbers on the rise
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Brule River steelhead numbers up
The numbers are in, and they're a pleasant surprise. Wisconsin's Brule River took a run of 8,130 steelhead last fall, the best in several years, said Dennis Pratt, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Superior. Pratt said the total was "a surprise, considing all the reports of poor fishing success."
That total was about 1,500 higher than the fall 2008 run.
Seventy percent of last fall's steelhead were repeat spawners, Pratt said, which meant that a lot of them were big fish.
Those fish spent this past winter in the Brule and will be moving up to spawn when anglers return for the March 27 steelhead opener from U.S. Highway 2 to Lake Superior.
Past year's fall-run totals were: 2008, 6,640; 2007, 6,345; 2006, 7,290.
John Fehnel, who owns Great Lakes Fly Shop in Duluth, was impressed with last fall's run.
"Wow," he said. "I think that's a good number, actually really good. It's looking like it's going to be steady. It's not increasing dramatically, but 2,000 fish [above the 2008 total], that's quite a difference in the numbers.
Some anglers complained that the Brule wasn't producing as many fish last fall, Fehnel said, but the size of fish was good.
"We can't complain about that," Fehnel said. "We were averaging 8-, 9-, 10-pounders."