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5-10-03 - The Pike is STILL up, although it was receding rapidly. Only a day after it's high, it had already dropped by a foot. You can clearly see the high-water mark in this photo!
The ever-popular shot downstream from the new Hwy A bridge.
Another shot I commonly include, the bend at A & 13th. Notice the old log jam is completely blown out (and a few weeks back another tree fell into the river).
The footbridge just upstream from 13th street. Compare this to prior photos for another gauge of how high the river was on Saturday.
A Blind-Eye 3/0 Black Heron; the best choice for fishing the conditions.
The Pike River was BUSTING out into Lake Michigan!
Horlick Dam. Wading was a death-wish.
The Kyaker's had the right idea....I didn't know this before but Quarry Park is prime white water when the flows are this high!
Quarry Park Lake; 70 feet deep.
The first stocker-rainbow of the day.
Followed up by #2. These were a fun alternate all things considered.
My first visit to Palmer Creek, Kenosha County's only trout stream. Apparently the rains didn't stir up much; it was already crystal clear.
A shot of the only "riffle" I found all evening.
I just have to say that the scenery was great, despite this being "iffy" trout water at best.

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 (a dry)
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 parking lot.

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:

Rainbow Trout
Largemouth Bass
Walleye
Northern Pike
Panfish (including Bluegill, Pumpkinseed & Crappie)

Additionally, the DNR signs list:

Sauger
Walleye/Sauger hybrids
Bullheads
Yellow Perch.

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 "browns".

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!

  MP 

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