The Rush River: beware of the beaver

I really enjoy sitting on the bank of a stream or river and doing as little as possible. Even better, give me a fishing rod, a split shot, hook and a nightcrawler, and let me fish for trout while watching day become night.

This week I headed up to the Rush River in Pierce County and did all the above, and had a pretty unique experience while sleeping along the river not using a tent.

Sunday, May 6

High 81, Low 48

First, this river is surrounded with beauty from simple farms that give you the feeling that you are back in the ‘70s, to limestone ridges that make up part of the river banks. In the morning you can hear turkeys gobbling in the trees.

The Rush River has massive brown trout and large amounts of land that you can walk on and you are not breaking the law.

I used to camp and fish here with Kiril Kustief and many friends and family for the fishing season opener, and those are really good memories for me. Kiril is in charge of my retirement, went to school at UWStout in Menominee, and fished the Rush a lot back in the day.

So, today I went in with my backpack which contained a bedroll, tackle, food, drink and nightcrawlers, with a plan of fishing from about 4:00 p.m. until maybe noon the next day.

As I was walking to my honey hole I kept seeing brown trout in the 9-12-inch range and I was getting pretty excited.

My honey hole is about 200 feet long and 5-8-feet deep, and when I came to it I saw lots of trout and a few suckers. I was well aware that I was going to catch something big and for sure going to bring home some dinner.

I cut two sticks for “rod holders” with forks on the end and placed them about 40 feet apart on the river bank and had a bite within a minute and caught a 10-inch brown which I released.

What I just described was the way I lived for the next four hours but I did not hook into anything big but did see at least three browns that ranged 17-22 inches so I was really excited for the primetime and after-dark bite.

The river where I laid my bedroll is only 15 feet wide and I would be sleeping 4 feet from the water with my pole tied to my hand like the true redneck that I am.

Close to dark the attack began and it was in the form of at least three, maybe more, beavers and they were not happy to have me as a neighbor. At the same time I might add the trout bite completely died.

My beaver friends were slapping their tails on the water to warn the world of my presence and I am talking 20-80 feet away and no more than 1-2 minutes apart.

An hour after dark I decided to hit the bedroll and now the “beavs” became much braver and truly were swimming within 10 feet. After an hour of constant tail slapping I knew I had to pull my line or I was going to hook into a beaver.

I was perfectly comfortable laying on the river bank but the beavs were not letting me sleep. At exactly 4 a.m. I heard one swimming no more than 6 feet away.

I was cowering like a wimp in my sleeping bag when I heard it swim up to the river bank. It was now 4 feet away, then I heard it climb out and could hear it breathing perfectly as it could sense the fear in this skinny, white man.

I knew I had to do something, so in a calm voice I said “go on.” I could then hear “Mr. Beav” turn around, enter the water and then from 6 feet with his tail positioned perfectly he slapped the water and soaked me with three slaps of the water. Had this been on a video it would have won an award.

That was it for me. I got up, started fishing and between 4:30 and 11 a.m. caught seven brown trout.

On the hike out I talked to a fisherman who told me that a 24-inch brown had been caught in this stretch of river on Saturday and all I could think about was that I have to come back to the Rush River!

Just beware of the “Beav.”


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