12-28-03 - Paradise Lost
Waters Fished: Paradise Springs
Fish Caught: Closed Season Scouting
Outing Date: 12-28-03
Air Temp: 40's, sporadic breezes
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: Low
Water Color: Clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: N/A
Pattern Color: N/A
Fishing Quality: It would have totally SUCKED!
Alright, I'm posting this as a heads up for the
group of guys who are planning on heading to Psprings on Jan 1 '04.
I was thinking of doing the same thing (great minds...). Anyway,
I did some preseason scouting around sunset this Sunday, and then
checked in with my buddy up in Mukwanago. Here's the scoop on how
quickly a small fishery can get screwed up:
So, I spent probably 45 minutes walking the spring pond and the
rest of the creek above N. 3 small browns in the springhouse, 1
(ca. 5") in the creek. I saw ONE "RISE" in the pond
although I watched for a long time...that rise might as well have
been a pine needle falling into the water. In other words, there
are virtually NO FISH in the pond. Those stunning wild Brookies
appear to be completely wiped out. It does not appear that a sufficient
number of the wild fish remain to repopulate the pond with a viable
Now, you may recall earlier posts about how the dam was leaking,
and then broke, and so the DNR was going to fix the dam/dyke and
restock. So basically sometime after the end of the season they
let the pond drain completely for an unspecified amount of time.
Who knows where all the wild browns and brookies went, but for some
reason I doubt they ended up in the 2 foot X 6 inch creek. I suspect
a Heron Feast.
At some point between Sept. and Dec. they "fixed" the
dam and the pond started to refill. But apparently sometime last
week the dam broke again, and according to my local contact, they
can't get the part needed to fix the dam in time for the season
opener. So the pond drained again...and they are back in the process
of temporary fixes which has brought the water level back up but
not to where it needs to be.
All that good vegetation which supported the scuds and madtoms and
such is gone, replaced by a carpet of decidous leaves. Furthermore,
for reasons unknown to me several shoreline bushes were removed
(these provided some good shady structure along the shore which
often held fish). Additionally, although artificial fish cribs remain
in the otherwise featureless pond, the large fallen tree (again,
great structure for the trout) was pulled out?!
As it stands currently the spillway is not functioning so the surface
of the pond is basically leaves, pinecones and pine needles. There
definitely won't be any restocking anytime soon 'cause they're gonna
have to drain the pond AGAIN to fix it whenever they "get the
part" (where you get a "part" for a 100 year old
dam is beyond me!). My local friend suggested that maybe by March
things will be back to normal...maybe.
But "normal" simply means the spillway might be skimming
off the surface muck, and there might be "fish" stocked
back in the pond. While this may once again be a "trout fishery"
it's not going to be the fishery it was for many, many years, if
ever. Somehow I don't think they'll be restocking the madtom population,
which I'm sure played some role. Don't know if/when the turtles
& muskrat will return. Not sure how long it will take for the
vegetation to recover. And to top it off some great structure which
made angling more challenging is gone...along with all the wild
PhD trout including the 30" brown that was seldom (if ever)
caught. It will be at least a few years before the chance of catching
the odd tiger trout returns (supposedly one had been caught there,
and well, it's sure a possibility, but without naturally reproducing
browns and brook trout there won't be any chance of tigers).
All in all, a case of Paradise Lost. While I can't place blame on
any specific individual or department or organization, and perhaps
it's a sign of tight budgets and higher priorities, all the same
it seems that something more *could* have been done in a more timely
manner. I don't have the entire story, and definitely much of this
information is secondhand. So I do encourage the DNR and other management
bodies responsible for this resource to respond.
All the same I'm not sure what any of us could have really done
to change this...it's not like we're all good at underwater repairs
on dams and could have volunteered to fix it. Perhaps the people
responsible for the maintenance of the spring pond within the State
Forest are looking over the long term, and maybe in 10 or 20 years
it will be fully restored, the trout will be renaturalized and reeducated.
But the flipside is that Paradise might never have been lost to
So guys, FWIW, I'll be fishing the Root New Year's Day.
For more discussions & insight, I encourage
you to check out the thread
I posted at Wisconsin Fly Fishing. I also encourage you to check
out all my other, better outtings in 2003 on Paradise
Springs...perhaps with public pressure and good management we
can have this GEM back in a year or two?