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
The cool clear water of Black Earth Creek, running over the newly scoured streambed
The July Edition of “Wisconsin Trout” arrived in my mailbox yesterday and the cover article relates to the TU National meeting for 2013 taking place in Wisconsin. I think the secret is getting out about the incredible trout fishery we have here in Wisconsin. Shhhh.
There’s another good write-up by WITU State Council Chair Kim McCarthy about his trip to Canada to fish, during which he reflects on how good we’ve got it in Southwest Wisconsin.
Wi Trout Unlimited July 2012 Page 1
Wi Trout Unlimited July 2012 Page 3
After striking out on Sunday I decided to swing 180-degrees and go from fishing streams I don’t know to fishing those I know well (or better, anyway). My home stream, as it is for many around here, is Black Earth Creek. Many people frown on it because “there was that fish kill awhile back” and “it gets so much pressure from Madison fishermen”. While those things are true, it is still a lovely stream with lots of fish that is fishable for me over lunch or before or after work.
Monday I drove 15 minutes to a spot on Black Earth Creek and caught a couple of nice Brown Trout, whereas on Sunday I drove an hour and didn’t see any fish.
Black Earth Creek in its broad valley
I haven’t yet fished every stretch of this river, so I have some exploring left to do, which will help my neophilic tendencies. There are a few nice tributary streams as well that are proximal to my location that don’t see as many fishermen, and I plan to increase my knowledge of those streams as well.
The spot I fished was basically “in town” and it sees lots of fishing pressure. Even so, I caught fish. This, to me, says a lot about the health of the Black Earth Creek system.
The guys at On The Creek provided an audience during this hookup.
Speaking with Todd Opsal at On the Creek Fly Shop, I found out the section between Hwy P and Hwy KP is going to get some special attention in the next few years from the DNR and Trout Unlimited. Many moons ago this section was channelized and dammed to serve industrial purposes. The project in the works will put the stream back into its original stream bed, with lots of meanders and natural gradient. It will be used as a national example of stream restoration practices and will only serve to increase the fecundity of Black Earth Creek, and we’ll all have more fish to catch and lovelier places to catch them.
Tight Line! Channelized section of Black Earth Creek.
I plan to keep up the blog posts as a sort of journal this season, so hopefully I’ll be taking many more pics of fish and nice places as the weeks go by.
The Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapter organized a work day Saturday morning on a stream in Dane County. Stephen Rose and I went out to lend a hand. There were 34 volunteers clearing Buckthorn, Box Elder, and Honeysuckle away from the stream corridor, and in 3 hours we cleaned out over 1,000 feet of streambank. This section of the stream went from a choked up mess to a wonderful place to chase after trout and take in the beauty of a spring creek.
(Click on the picture below to see 13 more pictures from the cleanup day)
SWTU Cleanup - Photo Copyright James Beecher, 2012
Kurt Welke, the Fisheries Manager for the South Central Region of Wisconsin, was on hand and working hard. He set aside some larger tree trunk sections that would be placed in a section of the stream that was wide, shallow, and silty. He said that the trunks would be used to alter the flow of the water to create faster flow, which would scour away the silt, deepen the stream, and oxygenate the water.
SWTU will be holding two more maintenance/cleanup projects this spring. One on March 17th and one in April. If you’re interested check out the chapter’s website at http://www.swtu.org/, or contact Conservation Committee Chairman Steve Wald (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
It feels really good to help transform an unusable section of stream into a beautiful trout fishing destination. Each section of stream we improve provides another trout fishing destination for all of us to enjoy. Come on out March 17th and help improve your trout fishery!
Driftless Trout Fishing Luminary Len Harris, who writes on his blog The Stream of Time, was interviewed recently on WRCO in Richland Center, talking trout. The interview is excellent! Check it out.
Len Harris at WRCO
My favorite line from Len in this interview has got to be Len talking about fishing in cold weather. Asked if he’ll be out Saturday even if it’s cold out, Len says “I’m gonna be out there unless I’m in the hospital.”
Len, my sentiments exactly. Here’s to your health. Let’s hope you’re not in the hospital!