5-10-03 - 3 Rainbows at Quarry Park!
Rivers Fished: Pike River, Lake Michigan at the
mouth of the Pike, Root River, Quarry Park Lake, Palmer Creek
Fish Caught: 3
Outing Date: 5-10-03
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Air Temp: 60's & 70's
Water Temp: Pike 55 F, Root 55 F, Quarry Park Lake 62 F, Palmer
Creek 60 F.
Water Level: UP A LOT!
Water Color: All muddy except for Palmer Creek, which was clear.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Black
Heron (Spey), MP's
Antron Bug (weighted, in tan & brown), Olive Parachute Dun
Pattern Color: see respective patterns
Fishing Quality: a good day to be out!
Started the day off on the right foot, had to check
the Pike. Arriving at 11:30 AM, I found it was already rapidly dropping
from its high of over 300 cfs on Friday afternoon.
As you can see, in some of the pictures, the high
flows definitely left their mark; check out the deposit of silt
on the first photo! Log jams were definitely "reconfigured";
compare these to some of the photos from the fall.
I spent about an hour at the junction of A &
13th street; wasn't sure if Gene Tuaber was making the trip down
(I found out later that he followed my advice and is delaying his
trip!). I decided to at least TRY fishin', so I tied on the biggest,
darkest fly I have in my arsenal, a HUGE 3/0 Black Heron Spey tied
as a blind eye.
Most of the time swinging I had no luck at all...well...I
take that back...ALL OF THE TIME I got nothing. Only a couple snags
on debris that had washed down. I did notice a bunch of FOOD floating
down from the golf course including pretzels and a banana peel;
just ridiculous if you ask me. But, it is biodegradable...
After an hour of nonproductive swinging in 55F
water, I decided to head downstream. Arriving at the mouth, I knew
to expect another "change" in scenery...and the Pike did
not disappoint. A couple guys were working the lake, but otherwise
it was deserted.
I spent the majority of time working the "lagoon",
but did make my way down to the mouth for a bit to fish the outflow.
While I didn't manage any solid hookups, some sort of fish were
present because I DID see one flash of silver at the end of my line..which
ended all too quickly. I also noticed a couple wakes in the lagoon,
so SOME sort of fish were DEFINITELY there.
By 2:00 I had my share of nonproductive fishing,
so I decided it'd be worth a trip to the Root. I knew it would be
high, but wasn't sure how high! I kept this in mind, so I wasn't
in a hurry. Grabbed some lunch before I got there ;)
Looking back at the USGS flow data, the Root was
at 700 CFS by the time I arrived. I started down at Island Park,
saw no one. Moved on to Lincoln Park, again deserted. Upstream to
Colonial Park...no one fishin', just a hiker or two. Kept moving
upstream, no one at Quarry Park. I had to go all the way up to Horlick
dam to find ANYONE fishing...and the only people there were two
insane kids standing around flogging the water.
I didn't let this discourage me, but I was in no
hurry to jump INTO the raging torrent of water....trust me it was
HIGH and EXTREMELY fast. FAT has always suggested that in times
of high flow, the Steelhead dash upstream and traffic jam at the
Dam. However, I'm not so sure that this was the case today...there
was NO real holding water (at least from my humble opinion).
I had Cortland's Intermediate Ghost Tip Sink tip
on, but a cast straight across and out was done swinging in less
than 2 seconds. Even with the addition of tons of lead, my fly was
NOT getting down. Eventually I ended up treeing my Black Heron,
so I wasted some time to retrieve it and then went back up to the
As I was leaving, I ran into the WDNR Creel Survey
guy, who I now know is named DENNIS...not Andy ;) We chatted for
a while, his river temp for the Root was around 55-56 F. He had
seen only one Steelhead taken that day, a long, fresh chromer about
6 lbs, and it was taken at the Dam.
By this point I was kinda torn between heading
to Oak Creek (which would also have been HIGH) or maybe heading
home! Dennis and I chatted for a bit about the LAKE at Quarry Park
(aka. Quarry Lake). Finally confirmed; this lake indeed holds stocker
rainbows. So I figured, "What the heck?" and headed back
to Quarry Park.
While not in "chronological order", here's the lowdown
on Quarry Lake as per Dennis and the DNR signs at the park (which
I just never NOTICED before). Quarry Lake is about 70 feet deep.
Scuba Divers report seeing BIG BASS in the lake, which is nice to
hear. The fish community in the lake is actually quite diverse;
here's the basic list from Dennis:
Panfish (including Bluegill, Pumpkinseed & Crappie)
Additionally, the DNR signs list:
But it doesn't stop there. Although I only KNOW of Rainbow Trout
in the lake, there is also possibly Brown Trout, as some of the
other anglers were inspecting their catches looking / hoping for
In any event, Quarry Lake isn't exactly a put-take urban fishery
lake like most due to it's depth. However, Quarry Lake does have
it's own specific regulations / bag limits. During the warmer months
there definitely exists the possibility that trout can make it through
and live for even several years due to the lake's depth...not to
mention the host of other fish present in the lake. The possibility
for large bass also exists (and is confirmed by the scuba guys)...afterall
there's a nice stocking of 12" trout every year...imagine what
kinda growth you could get if you dined on 12" trout!
So anyways, I fished right up along shore for a couple hours. The
most successful anglers were using CORN, but worms and other bait
were working too (remember, these are STOCKERS, not finicky wild
trout). My first trout came almost immediately upon my arrival...I
still had my steelhead rod with me (geez, an 8 wt. for 12"
trout...next time I need to scale down A LOT!). 4 lb test tippet,
and a weighted antron bug in tan produced quickly. Weighted is definitely
KEY, as the shore is almost a vertical drop...you need to get DOWN
where the fish are.
After watching guys hooking up left and right, I switched to the
floating spool I had with me and tried (without luck) to coax some
more Rainbows on a dry (fished a mosquito pattern). After about
30 minutes of not a single bit of interest (I figured I'd at least
get a BLUEGILL to rise) I switched back to the weighted Antron,
and got my #2.
Dennis showed up and we talked for a while, we both took lake surface
temps. I got 62F, he showed 61.5 or so. I went back to fishing just
so I could show him what the rainbows were like, and for a while
the bite just wasn't there. But of course, it came back and #3 was
landed and released, as were the prior two. I understand that it's
a stocker situation, but knowing that fish could go for several
years due to the lake's depth, I figured it's worth the chance.
With most of the other anglers keeping limit catches though, I think
by summer there won't be much left to fish for.
After a lazy afternoon, I had decided to call it quits for the
day, and started heading back to Lake Como. But on the way, I passed
Palmer Creek as I do every day I go steelheading...I figured "what
the heck" and decided to kill some time looking around. Palmer
Creek is a tributary to the Fox River, and is Kenosha's ONLY trout
stream, stocked with rainbows and browns according to WDNR info.
While I won't tell you exactly where to go, I will tell you that
at first it looks like it's surrounded by private land, but there
IS public lands. MOST of what is shown on the WDNR map looks like
a little roadside drainage ditch at best, but the public waters
were "alright". The water was very clear, 60F, and it
most places it looked to be only ankle deep at best. This is NOT
a river to wade, but you will want hip boots or something just in
case you have to cross. One step into the creek in the wrong spot
and you're going down a foot or two into muck.
When I first arrived I found a hatch in full swing, and sat for
a while just watching. After seeing my first few "large"
dimples (not to be confused with the dimples from the insects on
the water), I decided it was worth it to try a few tosses. I did
my best to "match the hatch" although my dry fly arsenal
was very limited; I didn't have EVERYTHING with me. A small parachute
in olive was the best I could find.
This was truly challenging fishing from the conditions standpoint.
Crouching on the bank was ideal, although I was still using a 9
ft. 6 wt. (I sent my 7' 5 wt. to my brother to use in NJ and have
yet to replace it). Due to my setup, presentation was a bit of a
challenge, but I managed, basically using the high-stick nymphing
techniques to settle the fly on the water and drift it. FINALLY,
after a lot of patience, I had a nice solid sip on the dry from
an unseen fish (it was too dark to see into the river...especially
with its black-silt bottom). Whatever it was managed to spit the
fly before I set the hook. 0/1 on Palmer Creek thus far. I did also
see a small 2" fish jump towards the evening...2"...I
sure hope that was a minnow, not a trout! Off in the distance the
thunder was approaching....signalling the END of a fine day of fishin!