Northern Wilds Magazine
Scott Thorpe
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A message from steelheader Scott Thorpe regarding the March 28 opener on Wisconsin’s Bois Brule River

My friend Scott Thorpe is well known to steelhead anglers from the Bois Brule to the Split Rock
to the Cypress–and many points between and beyond. This year marks his 50th consecutive
opener on the Bois Brule, where the season begins Saturday, March 28. If you are an angler,
please read what he has to say. — Shawn Perich

Today I made some difficult but important decisions. I decided to cancel my Brule Opener tradition with my family and friends. This would have been 50 consecutive years, slipping into the water at daybreak to make my first cast at Maytag Pool. More ever, I decided to postpone my entire steelhead season. No Brule, no north shore fishing.  For five decades, I have fished the north shore, and the last decade I made a living guiding steelhead showing others the rivers I think are the most beautiful on the planet. But today I decided I will have to miss this season.

Today, I got an email from a friend wondering what my thoughts were on being able to isolate
myself on my steelhead trips and in the bigger picture, if even making the trek to Brule or Grand
Marais was a good idea. He said that I am an influential person in the steelhead world and
others would consider my opinions. I have been following Shawn Perich’s FB posts which
alerted me to the reality of the situation. So after some hard thought, I decided the right thing to
do was to skip this season.

Even though I know I can manage an “up and back“ buying gas with a credit card at the pump,
etc., it is still not in the spirit of staying in place and it is not the example I want to set. I realise I
can’t control who approaches me in the fisherman parking lot or using the gas station restroom
or so many other possible scenarios. I really don’t want to get coronvirus myself or possibly
carry it elsewhere. I have been in complete isolation here in my Twin Cities home for two weeks;
I don’t have covid-19. Still, I don’t want to possibly facilitate the spread of it to our out-state
neighbors or even cause them unneeded stress.

Wisconsin just issued a Stay-in-place order. Bayfield and Douglas counties issued Stay away
orders and that shut down access to my Brule area cabin. Minnesota can’t be far behind. So the
questions I have to ask myself are these: Do I think the threat is real? Of course. Do I think
people should stop traveling for non-essential purposes? Yes. Well, is fishing really essential,
really? No. I can miss one season. It’s the right thing to do.

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