BRULE RIVER, WIThe appearance of a shiny, bobbling object in the water of the Brule, just upstream of the big sunken oak stump, is generating considerable interest among members of the fish community, river sources reported Monday.
"The luminous, gray-dappled exterior of this dipping and jogging object is so captivating that trout, bass, bluegill, and even members of the normally indifferent carp population are drawn to its undulant movement," said a 67-day-old yellow perch who has lived in the Brule all his life.
The perch added: "No one's sure what it is, but it certainly has our attention."
Descriptions vary due to differing levels of color vision and depth perception, but freshwater residents agree that the object is about the length of three adult crickets, laid end to end.
One freshwater source said the object appeared near the stump just after sunrise, then migrated sinuously upstream.
"I saw the shiny object this morning," an eight-pound walleyed pike said. "I was up in that area by the stump waiting for the late-summer caddis-fly hatch that should be coming any day now, when it came out of the air. It rose out for a time, only to reappear again by the stump a minute or so later."
The walleye characterized the object as "mesmerizingly minnow-esque."
"The bass were the first to talk about it, but they're kind of a coarse fish," the walleye said, slowly swaying his tail fin from right to left. "It's when the trout get involved that you have to take notice. They're cautious, generally. When I saw that even they were gathering around the glinting thing, I thought, 'Well, I'm game!'"
Some say they have seen the object before, on weekday evenings and weekend days. Local authorities have had difficulty gaining a consensus, however, because river fish do not commonly associate in schools.
Aquatic experts say that decisive action will be taken regarding the object in the near future.
"Someone's going to lunge for it," said a black crappie, speaking for members of the river's large Pomoxis nigromaculatus population. "What we are seeing now is a contest between patience and curiosity. We're enraptured, frankly. Is it the shininess, like unto the scales of a smaller fish? Or the flickering, recalling the wings of a struggling beetle? Perhaps it's those baffling silver extensions, glinting so in the light. What are they? And, then, of course, there is the wriggling. The wriggling! Like a helpless, flailing tadpole, when you have him in your mouth, and you experience that delicious moment when he still might get away."
Added the crappie: "All I know is, I can't take either of my non-stereoscopic eyes off of it."
Not every species was impressed.
"That shiny thing, that ain't no new thing," said a 19-pound muskellunge who traveled up the nearby chain of lakes to the Brule earlier this summer. "That thing is in all the rivers. These guys have no long-term memory at all. Brains is too small."
Although interest in the object varies, with smaller panfish being the least curious and larger freshwater predators sustaining their interest over several hours, no fish has yet made contact with the object.
"Shiny as it is, wriggly as it is, and tempting as it would be to just snatch it up, there's a feeling in the downstream area that it isn't to be taken lightly," said a brown trout and self-described expert in shiny objects. "No one will soon forget the example set by that perch a couple years ago. Why, they say he brashly ignored the elders' repeated warnings about suspiciously colored worms, and he hasn't been seen since."