Archive for the ‘Black Earth Creek’ Category

Black Earth Creek Headwaters   1 comment

I visited Black Earth Creek for an hour yesterday, aspiring to catch some trout on the last day of the inland waters trout season in Wisconsin. I knew it was a long shot though. The sun was out and the sky was blue, but moreover I was fishing in Cross Plains at Zander Park, a spot that just two months ago was being fully rejiggered by diesel-powered earthmovers and men in hard hats.

I saw another angler downstream of the now defunct On The Creek Fly Shop, so I started fishing the second pool in the “re-meandered” section. I saw a few little fish scatter as I moved along, drifting my nymph along. I moved up past the new bridge into the section of the stream that had not been reworked. Funny thing is though, it was getting reworked. With the gradient downstream restored to its more natural state, the speed of the water upstream has increased and now, instead of lots of muck and silt on the streambed, there are beautiful stones and patches of gravel. Water Cress grows along the banks, accompanied by Jewel Weed and Black-Eyed Susans.

Wading upstream, what used to be a chore in slogging through silt is now a pleasant and easy amble with solid footfalls. Trout will find plenty of places to drop their eggs and spawn, and hopefully multiply appreciably.

I look forward to visiting this spot next spring. As seasons come and go, the habitat will settle in, and so will the fish.


Black Earth Creek, upstream of the Zander Park bridge

Black Earth Creek, upstream of the Zander Park bridge


The cool clear water of Black Earth Creek, running over the newly scoured streambed

The cool clear water of Black Earth Creek, running over the newly scoured streambed



On The Creek Closed?   7 comments

From the look of things, Todd Opsal has closed shop at On The Creek in Cross Plains. I’m sad to think that this is likely the case. I enjoyed visiting the shop, the only good fly shop in the area. Fontana has great flies but the atmosphere and personalities there are not as compelling as what Todd offered.

If anyone knows and cares to share what went down, I’d really like to know.

Black Earth Creek Headwaters Get Fixed   Leave a comment

Olde Timey Times in Cross Plains

Olde Timey Times in Cross Plains


Long ago, when the photo above was new, there was a mill dam on Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains. The dam provided power of some kind to aid in the production of something. It was a beautiful thing. To make the dam work better the channel upstream was straightened out (channelized).

Some time later, perhaps after electrification came to Cross Plains, the dam was removed, but the creek remained straight.

On April 3rd the Village Board of Cross Plains awarded the job of “remeandering” this section of Black Earth Creek to a local construction company. In the short time between April and late June, the job is nearly done.

I went to Cross Plains today to take a look, and stopped in to chat with Todd Opsal at On the Creek. According to Todd, the new work being done on the creek will not only benefit existing fish, but will also significantly add to the spawning habitat in the creek headwaters. That’s a very good thing because more spawning means more trout.

The section upstream of the reworked section is now flowing faster, so a lot of the silt has rinsed away leaving behind sand and gravel streambed that fish and fishermen love.

I look forward to watching the stream take shape and getting after it once the fish return. It should be a real pleasure!


Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - no longer a muddy channel

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – no longer a muddy channel


Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - look at those lovely curves!

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – look at those lovely curves!


Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - the right side is the old channelized streambed

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – the right side is the old channelized streambed


Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - Looking downstream at the reclaimed streambed

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – Looking downstream at the reclaimed streambed






A Cold and Gloomy Friday   3 comments

I took a little time to get out to my home waters and I didn’t see a lot of action, but there were beautiful swallows swooping all around, the trees were flowering and smelling like honey, and the air breathed crisp and fresh.

I hope you can get out to catch some trout this weekend. I’m likely to be seen on the shores of Monona Bay, chasing down a hunch overheard by my ten-year-old son at school about big bass being caught at sunrise. Hopefully I can convince him that Sunday will be the better day to fish. Saturday morning looks like rain and cold. I’d prefer to read the paper and drink my coffee in that kind of weather. But it ain’t easy to make an eager kid wait.






Salmo Trutta!

Salmo Trutta!




Vermont Creek on Monday Afternoon   3 comments

I have a few days of vacation that’ll expire in May unless I use them up, so every time I glanced out the window at work yesterday morning I thought to myself, “Self, it is a beautiful, sunny day outside, and it would be nice to go fishing this afternoon, out in that beautiful sunshine.”

I notified the boss-man of my intentions, called up my fishing buddy Stephen, and walked out into that sunshine at the crack of noon to go chase fish.

Stephen and I started fishing on BEC in the upper part of the drainage, but found the water a bit high and dirty, though Stephen did have a strike on his nymph.

I suggested we move to Vermont Creek to see how that trib to BEC was looking. So away we went to a nice meadow section of Vermont Creek. The water was colored but not torrential, and I felt good about our chances.

I fished a deep pool just off the road while Stephen walked a couple hundred yards downstream to find some nice bends. I didn’t have any takers for a while, but I stuck with it, roll-casting to avoid the tangles that come with false-casting in 20 mph winds. If you’re not using the roll cast as a regular part of your game, I would like to recommend that you start. Here’s a video that describes the technique well.

OK, now that you’re up to speed on the roll cast, you can paint a picture in your head of me standing in a field with a five foot wide trout stream running through it, wind whipping from right to left, and me roll casting halfway up a pool into stained moving water.

After a few dozen casts my biostrike indicator twitched. I lifted the rod tip and felt a pull, stripping in line to take up a little slack. I tried to strip more line in to raise the fish, but it wouldn’t come up. I held the line against my rod grip with my right index finger while my left hand reeled in the loop of line between my reel and my right hand. I now had the fish “on my reel”, so I could play it using the drag clutch on my reel. And to my surprise, it ran away with some line, making my reel buzz. It didn’t run far, maybe only ten feet, back and forth in the deepest part of the pool. But what fun it is to get a fish on the line in a little creek that has the power to take some line off your spool!

I hollered at Stephen that I had a nice fish on!!! And he walked back upstream while I played the fish enough to get it to rise. It was a nice fish. Not a monster. Not a twenty-incher. But a nice fish, bigger than most you’ll catch day after day in little spring creeks.

I scooped it up and posed for a photo. The best trout I’ve held since last March. Hopefully there’ll be more, and if I dare to dream, hopefully there’ll be bigger too.


Vermont Creek Brown, Sixteen and one half inches

Vermont Creek Brown, Sixteen and one half inches



A New Spot   2 comments

I’ve been working my way up and down Black Earth Creek over the past few years, attempting to lay eyes on every stretch of that river. I was looking over satellite images of the valley and saw a bend I had not yet visited. So like any curious adventurer I headed west, rigged up, and hiked in to see it for myself.

The section is comprised of a few lazy but significant bends and riffles, and surely there are hundreds of trout hunkered down over a length of 100 yards of the stream. As I approached the tail of the bend I saw a few rise forms upstream where the current collides with the bank. Fish!

The sky was overcast and the stream was slowly coming up in temp from the 50’s to the 60’s. I tied on a little Elk Hair Caddis and cast to the rise forms. On my fifth or sixth cast I was drifting the fly through the zone and saw something floating downstream that I couldn’t identify. It was about the size of a baseball, but brown and shiny, half-submerged in the water. As it passed I looked back upstream to find my fly, but instead saw a turbulent ring in the water. A fish had slurped my fly. And I missed the take. But I had the fish on!

A short tug of war, dominated by yours truly, resulted in my holding the fish below, a beautiful, if diminutive, Brown Trout.

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012


I fished a while longer, moving upstream through the bends, casting carefully with dries and nymphs to likely spots. After some time I put on a Pink Squirrel and made a few nice “reach” casts, making the fly swing around to the left and out of sight, hoping to sneak up on something. I felt a big tug and started stripping line. The fish came toward me with a strong fight and headed straight for the plunge pool downstream. I kept good tension on the line and tried to bring the fish up where I could see it, but I couldn’t raise it. The fish kept diving and fighting and I kept easing the rod tip upward to get it into view.

And then, nothing. Somehow my pink squirrel got spit out by that good fish and I was left to wonder what I might have held in my hands.

I noticed that the chenille collar of pink that was once wrapped around the neck of my pink squirrel fly had come unraveled and was now hanging there seductively, looking like a pink worm emerging from a dark gray husk. Perhaps the big fish I’d had on saw the fly in this new arrangement. Perhaps it was just the thing to entice that big fish. Or perhaps the fight with that big fish caused the fly to unravel. Either way, the thing now looked even more appealing, to me anyway, so I continued to fish with it like that. Funny enough, I caught five chubs on it but no trout. I may tie a few like this to see what happens.

I can’t complain about the outing. It was a lovely place with lots of wild and pleasing sounds, and I feel so blessed to be able to zip out and fish there for brief moments almost anytime. Hopefully you’ve got such a place in your life to unwind, recharge, and prepare for what life throws at you.


Black Earth Creek in September   2 comments

I made good on my decision to get out and fish often this September. Today was an ideal day to spend a little time on the water, with the overnight temps in the 40s, recent rain, and spawning instincts starting to kick in to gear.

A one hour break from work was just the thing, and I hit a big old pool (formerly a millpond spillway, according to local lore) where large trout have been encountered (again, according to local lore).

I decided to throw a Clouser Minnow for a while, letting it sink for a good-long while before stripping it back in erratically. After five minutes of enjoyable long-reach casting I had my fish on, and upon our initial exchange of pull and pull-back I believed it to be sizeable.

It was “respectable”. Which is all anyone can hope for when fishing at 11:30am on a cloudless day in a hole that sees many, many fishermen. I was and am happy to have caught anything, and my time away was satisfying and refreshing.

I have a plan to get out Thursday afternoon and evening with a good friend, and I hope we run into some fish, maybe a big one, or maybe a lot of “respectable” fish. At any rate, I continue to be a happy fisherman and I’m looking forward to more successful outings this September and beyond.


A fifteen-inch Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, Dane County, Wisconsin

A fifteen-inch Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, Dane County, Wisconsin



I actually went fishing today   4 comments

Today was a very normal day. I did my morning routine (coffee, huevos rancheros, hug kids, kiss wife, drive to work), accomplished a good deal at work, did some more work, got some groceries, came home, opened a beer, had dinner with my family, played some Star Wars Monopoly, served up ice cream cones, read to my kids, and poured myself a glass of bourbon.

I also managed to sneak in an hour of fishing on Black Earth Creek. Can you believe that?


Amazing creatures, those trout are...

Amazing creatures, those trout are…


The last 15 days have been a mix of hell and heaven. My buddy Stephen Rose went from running wind sprints to having a heart attack to being dead to being in a coma to being interactively impermeable to smiling to speaking to trying to get out of bed by himself and now to being transferred from the Intensive Care Cardiac unit to the rehab wing of the hospital, where he is expected to make a significant recovery in spite of the ordeal his heart and his brain have gone through. Whew.



A brown beauty on Black Earth Creek

A brown beauty on Black Earth Creek


So, back to my day. It was normal. I felt good about getting a lot of work done. I felt good about making a good dinner for my kids. I felt good about Stephen moving to rehab. And I felt really good about catching a couple of trout on my favorite Driftless creek.



I don't know what to say about this picture. I'm feeling good, okay?

I don’t know what to say about this picture. I’m feeling good, okay?


Raise your glass tonight, whatever you might be drinking, to Stephen Rose. The man has done a lot in his 42 years of life and apparently he is not done. If that’s not something worth toasting, I don’t know what is.

BEC in Mazomanie   2 comments


Posted July 25, 2012 by troutseeker in Black Earth Creek, Wisconsin

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Black Earth Creek Continues to Warm, Drop   2 comments

This drought is really something. The papers today say we haven’t been this dry since the summer of 1956, back when my parents were only as old as my sons are now. It’s starting to feel like we’re characters living in an Erskine Caldwell novel.

My home creek, Black Earth, is changing in lock-step with the continuous weather trends. I looked up some data on the USGS water info system and found these charts, which span from spring of 2011 to the present. The trends are certainly exceeding average boundaries.


Black Earth Creek temps at Black Earth, 4/2011 thru 7/2012

Black Earth Creek temps at Black Earth, 4/2011 thru 7/2012


Black Earth Creek Discharge at Black Earth, 4/2011 thru 7/2012

Black Earth Creek Discharge at Black Earth, 4/2011 thru 7/2012


Like many of you, I hope we get some rain this summer. I hate to think of the effect this drought is having on water table levels. At some point the springs that feed our precious creeks must start to peter out. We need a “recharge” to bring water table levels up and get those springs gushing again.

I hate to think of the agony many farmers are going through at the moment. I really feel for them.