5-18-03 - I was in an "Inland" kind of
Rivers Fished: Palmer Creek, Potawatomi Creek,
Van Slyke Creek, Southwick Creek, Harris Creek, Bluff Creek, Steel
Brook, Spring Creek
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 5-18-03
Weather: Partly Sunny, Cloudy in the afternoon
Air Temp: 60's & 70's
Water Temp: Palmer Creek 60 F.
Water Level: First time visits to most so I couldn't really say.
Probably "normal" flows.
Water Color: ALL STREAMS were CLEAR.
Fish Species: Chubs and Inland Browns
Pattern Fished: MP's Antron
Bug, Various Beadhead Nymphs in attractor configurations (i.e.
with tinsels, flashbacks etc...).
Pattern Color: Mostly Attractors
Fishing Quality: HORRIBLY Substandard
Ah, what a great day to be outside...it's a good
thing I enjoyed THAT 'cause the fishin' STUNK!
After having one brief take on Palmer Creek last
weekend, I wanted to give it another shot when I had more time.
Thus, I started there around 10:45.
A quick temp. check revealed 58F water flowing
crystal clear from upstream. Tons of either small mayflies or midges
were flitting about just above the surface of the water..never touching.
I opted to go upstream first. A quick hike up, along with jumping
over a few little feeder pools and I hadn't stirred up anything
except a frog! On my way back I came across a large snapping turtle
mostly buried in the mud. Still not a trout to be seen. The only
fish swimming about were small minnows only an inch or two long.
Then heading downstream from my access point all
the way to private lands and I STILL hadn't found any trout. In
fact I hadn't found much of anything. Sweating in the sun, I stopped
before I crossed the river again and just looked down. COOL! A couple
little sculpins along with tons of damselfly nymphs and scuds were
in the ONLY RIFFLE in this stretch of the stream.
After an hour of this, I wasn't about to give
up, so I headed to areas where I'd seen anglers in the past months.
Again I came up empty-handed, however I did run across an angler
who had taken two browns earlier, far upstream on private lands.
That's both good news and VERY discouraging to hear.
As today was going to be a scouting day, I made
my move to Walworth County. Gene and I had talked about fishing
Ceylon Pond by Lake Geneva after his outing with FAT, but I hadn't
heard from him. I stopped by and didn't see him, so I moved on.
Well, my next stop was Potawatomi & Van Slyke
Creeks; a pair of small spring creeks that merge and then feed into
Abbey Harbor in Fontana on Lake Geneva. Van Slyke is supposed to
contain native brookies and browns..and while that's true I can
tell you I've already scoped it out once before...so I pretty much
just drove by. Just as I remembered it...TINY as heck and ALL on
privates lands (much of Van Slyke runs along the back side of the
Abbey's Parking Lot; technically fishable but really not worth it
in my estimation).
I proceeded on to Williams Bay; again I've already
checked out the area before but I figured it would be worth another
look. I was more interested in finding Harris Creek, another stream
that supposedly contains native browns.
Walking back in the small nature preserve, I came
across a TINY spring creek that was flowing at 52F. Sure, it could
hold a trout or two...total waste of time. I kept proceeding north
and then found a SECOND little flow..just a tad larger than the
first. This one (the second one pictured) was flowing considerably
warmer, about 63F.
I came back to the main road and noticed that there
was even a third little creek, no larger than either of the two
previous...well, again just a tad larger. This must be Harris Creek
as beyond this point the hills rapidly rise. I didn't even bother
to look...there was NOTHING to look at.
By this time it was 1:30 and I decided what the
heck...went over to Southwick Creek which is just a short walk south
along the road. A quick look in confirmed what I had seen last fall...this
was another worthless river. Totally silt, shallow (mostly 6")
and full of small baitfish. I walked to the lake shore and spooked
"something" but there's no way I'm about to claim that
it was a trout. I DID try fishing for it (whatever it was) but didn't
turn squat. After another double check of the other side of the
road and a temp check (65F) I left myself one of the many voicenotes
I record throughout the day; to quote it "I'm leaving Southwick
and NEVER coming back!" Around 1:45 I started driving north.
Just under an hour later I got to the north edge
of Walworth county and set upon Bluff Creek! WHOA! Compared to what
I'd been seeing all day this was 100 times better. Lots of rocks...a
hard bottom consisting of sand, gravel and interspersed riffles...this
I went downstream maybe 1/4 mile...tried not to
wade but at some points I just had to. There is a deer trail that
runs along the stream but you have to be careful; there are spots
along it of black earth..no growth...I sunk at least a foot down
in when I stepped on my first one (and learned my lesson). Through
my entire walk down I didn't sight ANYTHING.
Now, I'm not entirely sure (cause I DIDN'T remember
to record it) but I want to say the creek was flowing around 58F.
On my way back up to Hwy. P I saw something hit the surface on the
far side just below the falls. AHA! I tried tossing a dry in the
vicinity but couldn't coax a rise (nothing was hatching anyways).
After treeing my dry, I repositioned myself, sat and retied.
Next up in the arsenal was a small bead-head nymph
consisting of a silver tinsel body, peacock herl thorax and pheasant
tail for the "wings", wingcase and tail. After about 10
casts I got the perfect drift...at the end I drew my line up and
got a hit! A small fish, about 5"-6" splashed at the surface
and was off my line; all I saw was a flash of deep goldenrod yellow.
"That was DEFINITELY A BROWN!" I thought to myself. I
hit the spot again and after a few more tries got another smaller
silver fish on...which almost made it to shore before managing to
escape as well!
It was about 4:15 by this point and several more
switchups hadn't gotten another hit from "the brown".
So, I took a lunch break and came back around 4:45. I went back
in with a similar nymph that utilized a flashback wingcase and chartreuse
ultrawire for the body. After concentrating my efforts on the same
spot, I noticed a surface slap to my right...lifted my line without
hesitation and literally NAILED the target on the surface left by
the extending concentric rings left by the fish. BAM! Got my only
a second after the nymph landed. WOO YEAH! FISH ON!
I brought this guy in through some overhanging
brush, and as I lifted him out my heart sank...A CHUB. All in all
a decent sized fish considering the size of the creek, but it was
most likely that CHUB that was hitting the surface both now and
earlier. The brown was a fluke at best. Well, for all his trouble,
the CHUB got his picture taken.
Several more casts in the same area did NOT again
coax up any little browns, but I did hook up with more chubs. Oh
well...I'm just getting my feet wet on Bluff Creek. By 5:30 I was
done for now..I had more creeks to check out.
Made another detour but eventually made my way
over to the next closest stream on the WDNR map....Steel Brook.
My Walworth County map clearly showed NOTHING...just an unnamed
flow of water...but it was unmistakably the ONLY flow in the area.
What really gave it away was the YELLOW TROUT WATER NOTIFICATION
SIGN that the WDNR had posted. In fact, that's what I saw first...look
at the two pictures below. According to an earlier press release,
the only 2 bodies of water to receive a spring stocking were Steel
Brook and Behlah Lake (to the east).
Alright, so I was perturbed. I had just come out
of Bluff Creek, which actually supposedly has native browns and
THIS is where they stocked? Until I moved a bit, I couldn't even
SEE Steel Brook. It's just a little flow of water through a bunch
of farmer's fields. Why the heck are they wasting time and money
STOCKING this thing. I understand the concept of the WDNR saying
they have "X" number of miles of trout streams in the
state, but this is probably a total waste. Granted, they could put
ONE TROUT into the creek and say that it's been stocked and it's
now trout water. Gene thought Tichigan was a joke, now I have to
say, "GENE, Tichigan was heaven compared to Steel Brook!"
Knowing what was in store for probably the rest
of the day, I started heading home. Painting my poppers was going
to be a much more productive use of my time. On the way home I was
due to pass Spring Creek...another tiny trout stream no doubt. The
maps were accurate as heck...I could guestimate how much distance
I had and it turned out to be REALLY EASY to find Spring Creek...or
rather to wave by another 6" wide creek as I drove by. Could
the DNR be playing the ultimate joke on us? How many of those trout
streams listed up north are nothing more than flows of a gallon
So there it is; that just about sums it up. The
best trout water in Walworth County seems to be Bluff Creek. Truthfully,
there probably IS better and for some reason they DON'T stock it.
Why does the DNR claim all these little streams on private lands
as trout waters, and why do they even bother to put LIMITS on the
catches? Like I'm really going to catch 5, 3, 2 or even 1 trout
per DAY in a creek like most of the ones I saw. I'd have an easier
time bringing a truck that pumps out holding tanks and simply draining
the stream; it'd be less time consuming. I'd say most all of these
waters SHOULD BE DELISTED as trout streams...they're just playing
a cruel joke on the angler.
I must conclude this all by relaying that my buddy
PeterM already told me that he's been to all the SE WI trout streams
and they were NOT worth my time; I should've listed to him but I'm
one of those folks who sometimes has to learn for myself. Now there
is still one stream and one lake in Walworth county that are listed
as trout waters which I didn't bother to check out (and of course
they'll probably end up being the diamonds in the rough). In the
span of 9 days I've covered Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties
and the only worthwhile INLAND trout fishing I've found are the
urban fisheries I already know about (places like Quarry Lake, Oak
Creek Parkway Pond etc..) Maybe I'll finish up those 2 remaining
Walworth county areas another time, but right now I'm gonna stop
wasting my time and find some real waters...guess it's time to put
the pedal down on the open road and do some driving! Time to go
north or west!