He was standing in waders on a gravel bar along a North Shore stream. It was steelhead season, when Lake Superior’s gleaming rainbows enter streams to spawn. We spoke of a lot of things. The fish. The river. Where the fish liked to lie in the run he was fishing. He knew the river. That much was clear.
We just had to go. When are we ever going to get to paddle in the canoe country again on April 9? Three of us -- Steve Piragis of Ely and Doug Smith of Lakeville, Minn. -- paddled in to Knife Lake this past Friday through Sunday, April 9-11. It's by far the earliest any of us has paddled in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Provincial Park. One year, in fact, Piragis and a friend were skiing on Burntside Lake near Ely on May 7.
In just eight days at the DNR's Knife River trap, 406 steelhead have been caught, measured, weighed and passed upstream, said Matt Ward, fisheries specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at French River.
"After only a week into our run, that's a good number," Ward said.
So far, the biggest day at the trap was last Thursday, when 116 steelhead were caught. The run had dropped to about 60 on Saturday, and in the 20s on Sunday and Monday.
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