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I have lost myself in the gentle waters of the Bois Brule River once again. The light is fading as I creep along its boulder-strewn edges. Peering through the rolling fog and drizzle, I spy a brown drake adrift along the tag alders lining the opposite bank. The water is black there. A heavy shouldered brown trout rises recklessly through the tannin-colored depths. I can hear my heart quicken in the quiet of the moment. He rises again. I begin to dress my fly as a whippoorwill breaks into its ghostly song.

This is home for me. In the stealing darkness, with the cedar trees bowing down, the river seems to be granting me permission to fish this place. It is a privilege whose grace is not lost on me.

by Paul Stillmank
June 2018

Morning mist from flowing water rises,
And wafts like clouds swirling through the sky.
The trout beneath are one of life’s true prizes,

Drifting upward to take a matching fly.

bois brule river mist
At forest edge, I step into the stream
And strain to see the water through the mist.
I notice brown drakes drifting, wings agleam
And watch the river for a rising fish.
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A rise appears beneath a cedar tree
Across the gentle water far away.
I pick the fly that is this hatches’ key,
And cast it out as I begin to pray.
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A swirling rise then drags my fly below.
An out-sized brown trout took my artful bug.
Spraying reel sings loud as line does go.
I check with palm in hopes to land this thug.
The battle wages on in waters deep.
A rushing surge breaks surface as he jumps.
Times like these, the ones I long to reap:
My line so tight, I feel the bamboo pump.
I turn him downstream toward a softer run.
He’s tiring now and soon will be set free.
With thrust of net, he knows he’s been outdone.
His beauty something truly nice to see.
bois brule brown trout IMG_8175
Deep golden yellow flank with speckles red,
And hues of blue encircling, hypnotizes.
The potent smell of forest hits my head,
As Morning mist from flowing water rises.
bois brule paragon
by Paul Stillmank
February 8, 2019