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Fishing WisconsinFishing the Brule River

The spring steelhead run usually begins in late March and extends through May. During the first several weeks of the early season, the vast majority of steelhead caught are fish that remained in the river from the previous fall run. Bright, spring-run fish start appearing in April and continue through early May. Water temperatures dictate peak movement. Most fish are taken on yarnflies, spawn, large caddis fly imitations, and various types of hardware (i.e., spoons and spinners). The deep runs and pools are favorite holding areas for the fish.

Photo of a steelhead, a big fish

Streamside look at a steelhead.

A small run of chinook salmon ascend the river from early July through mid-October with a peak somewhere during mid-August to late September. Most chinook are taken soon after they enter the stream. At this time they are still silver and are quite a battle for even the most experienced fisherman. They seem to prefer flashing lures like spinners or spoons and tend to hold in the slower, deep water.

The lake run of brown trout begins in early July and extends through late October. The peak is from mid-July to mid-September. Favorite baits include spoons, spinners, flatfish, and live bait such as night crawlers. The brown is not an easy fish to catch, but with persistence and by fishing the slower, deep holes during low-light periods, the odds of landing one should be in your favor.

Coho salmon are found moving up the Brule from late August to late November. Depending on water conditions, the peak is usually sometime in September. Coho can be caught on a variety of bait selections. They seem to prefer the slower water areas.

The fall run of steelhead begins moving up the Brule in mid-August and continues through late November. The largest runs usually occur sometime between mid-September and late October. Water conditions (i.e., temperature, water level, clarity) will affect the exact timing of the run, so the peak will vary from year-to-year. One can expect to find the fish associated with the moderate velocity areas but usually behind or near some type of current break (i.e., rocks, logs, stream bank). They will tend to hold in the deeper holes as the water temperature drops later in the season. A wide variety of baits which includes yarnflies, spawn, flatfish, and all types of spoons and spinners are appealing to fall-run steelhead.

Opening day of spring steelhead season

Opening day of spring steelhead season.

The river north of U.S. Hwy. 2 has many well-marked day-use access points all the way to Lake Superior. They are located throughout the lower river and provide an excellent opportunity to fish different sections of the river as it changes character. Overnight camping is limited to designated campgrounds.

The section of river south of Co. Hwy. B is noted for its resident brown and brook trout fishery. Some of the best fishing occurs in the stretch between Co. Hwy. B and Co. Hwy. S. (special regulations stretch). This part of the river is slow and wide and is excellent for fly fishing. The larger insect hatches occur in this area from May to the end of June. This area gets a heavy amount of canoe traffic during the summer months, especially during weekends.

The land adjacent to the river between Stones Bridge on Co. Hwy. S to just below Co. Hwy. B is mostly privately owned, so access is limited.

There are two state forest campgrounds located on the Brule River. Copper Range is located approximately four miles north of the town of Brule. The other (Bois Brule) is located near the Ranger Station, about one mile southwest of Brule. There is no electricity provided at either of these sites. If it is desired, a private campground (Brule River Campground) is located in Brule on U.S. Hwy. 2.

Brule River Regulations

Fishing on the Bois Brule River in Douglas County, Wisconsin can be confusing to say the least. There are four regulation sections for the Brule River. Remember, an inland trout stamp is required to fish for trout and salmon on the entire river and its tributaries. Brule River State Forest angler parking lots are for day use only; overnight camping is limited to designated campgrounds. Find a copy of the entire Trout Fishing Regulations if you so choose.

Downstream from U.S. Hwy. 2 to Lake Superior

The season begins on the last Saturday in March and continues through November 15. Fishing is prohibited from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise during this time. Special note: fishing may not begin before 5:00 a.m. on the first Saturday in May

The daily bag limit is five (5) trout or salmon in total.

Rainbow - minimum size 26" (only one may be kept)
Brown - minimum size 10" (only two may be larger than 15")
Brook - minimum size 8"
Salmon - minimum size 12"


U.S. Hwy. 2 Upstream to Cty. Hwy. B

This section of the Brule River and all of its tributaries opens to fishing on the first Saturday in May, (at 5:00 a.m.) and continues through September 30.

The daily bag limit is five (5) trout or salmon in total.

Rainbow - minimum size 26" (only one may be kept)
Brown - minimum size 10" (only two may be larger than 15")
Brook - minimum size 8"
Salmon - minimum size 12"


Cty. Hwy. B Upstream to Cty. Hwy. S

This section of the Brule River opens to fishing on the first Saturday in May, (at 5:00 a.m.) and continues through September 30. Also, this section of the river has a special regulation with more restrictive bag limits and only artificial lures may be used.

The daily bag limit is three (3) trout or salmon in total

Rainbow - minimum size 26" (only one may be kept)
Brown - minimum size 15" (only two may be kept)
Brook - minimum size 10"
Salmon - minimum size 12"


Upstream from Cty. Hwy. S

This section of the Brule River and all of its tributaries opens to fishing on the first Saturday in May, (at 5:00 a.m.) and continues through September 30.

The daily bag limit is five (5) trout or salmon in total.

Rainbow - minimum size 26" (only one may be kept)
Brown - minimum size 10" (only two may be larger than 15") Brook - minimum size 8"
Salmon - minimum size 12"

Last revised: Tuesday September 04 2012