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5-18-03 - Started my day out right in the gorgeous spring woods by Palmer Creek...took a nice hike.
I went in farther on Palmer Creek than I was able to last time...no really suitable trout habitat.
Back where I started, the ONLY riffle in the entire stretch. Notice the sculpin in the center of the shot. Also notice all the nymph cases...I think they were damselfly nymphs. Turning over a rock produced numerous scuds and planaria.
Is this Harris Creek?
Or is THIS Harris Creek? There was a THIRD too...guess what...all were this tiny. I don't CARE if there's native browns here. SKIP IT.
Southwick Creek in William's Bay, Lake Geneva. Another to skip.
Ah, finally found some "acceptable" trout water at Bluff Creek.
I opted to head downstream...from Cty. P you have one mile before the junction with Whitewater Creek.
Chubs on the rise. Plopped my nymph down immediately after the rise and nailed it. Um...not a trout.
THIS IS Steel Brook, the only Walworth County stream which was stocked this spring. NOTICE THE YELLOW WDNR Trout sign??? Where is the STREAM???!?!?!?!?!
Ah, walk 10 feet to my left and there's Steel Brook. BTW, all PRIVATE LAND. THIS IS NOT an acceptable use of my Trout Stamp Funds. SKIP IT.

5-18-03 - I was in an "Inland" kind of mood...

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 was QUALITY!

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 a minute!!?!?!

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!

  MP 

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