As often as I write and as often as I fish, I am surprised at how seldom these two very serious leisure pursuits interfere with each other. Maybe because I write mostly in the early hours of the morning and feel no pressure to fish until late in the afternoon, the best days often are those when I get to do both. 

Last week, with a writing deadline looming, I almost cancelled a fishing trip on the Bois Brule River in far northwestern Wisconsin. In fact, I did cancel – but because I was making good progress on my final edits for a manuscript, I reached out to my friends just days before the departure date and invited myself back in. The only issue was the number of mouths to feed, but because the two friends who usually prepare the menus for our trips always pack too much food, even that was not much of a concern. The Bois Brule flows north into Lake Superior and contains steelhead trout. Steelhead are rainbow trout that spend much of their lives in Lake Superior and grow to a size much larger than rainbows that spend their entire lives in a river. They move from lake to river to spawn and, I think, sometimes just to hang out. The Bois Brule often is referred to as just the Brule, but this can be confusing. Wisconsin has another river farther east also named the Brule. This Brule, also a good trout stream, becomes the Menominee River before it flows into Lake Michigan along the Wisconsin-Michigan border. 

For this particular trip, my friends and I did not camp. We stayed in a cabin, so I had the unusual treat of writing all morning in the cabin and then trout fishing all afternoon. My companions were there mostly to hunt ruffed grouse, so this worked well. After a big breakfast each morning, everyone other than me jumped into the trucks to hunt for the day. I wrote all morning, then walked down to the river to fish. I’d return to the cabin around 4pm to see if the hunters had returned early, and if so, asked whether they wanted to join me on the river to fish.  If they hadn’t come back, I’d shower and await their return just before dark. I wrote alone, fished alone, then socialized into the evening. It was perfect. 

As far as writing and editing, this is about the tenth time I’ve gone through this particular 63,000-word manuscript. I am done with major changes and now am looking mostly for typos and awkward phrasing. With this go-through, I find myself putting back the word “that” in many of the places where I’d removed it an edit or two ago. I may end up reading everything one more time and taking them all out again. 

Steven Simpson