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4-27-05 - The Barnes Creek Mystery

Waters Fished: Barnes Creek???
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 4-27-05
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 60's
Water Temp: 52F on the one I took a temp.
Water Level: low
Water Color: crystal clear
Fish Species: N/A
Pattern Fished: N/A
Pattern Color: N/A
Fishing Quality: Poor

OK, so I got my car back...it's running rough but at least the transmission is working. I had limited time to drive around before heading to Chicago...what should I do?

Well, after 2+ years of fishing the SE WI tribs there was one nearby that I'd never bothered to look at - Barnes Creek. Rest assured, many folks have told me it's not worth the effort. Stocking reports confirm that as well...any fish this tributary might see would be strays from other tributaries and from harbor stockings.

4-27-05 - Armed with a Wisconsin Delorme, I scouted out the north fork of Barnes Creek up by a gravel pit. Um, yeah...that's steelhead water. I was pretty confident this was Barnes Creek.
It makes a nice little shot into Lake Michigan. All of the land around this creek is heavily posted.

I went at this the right way but honestly, a GPS would have helped. As I headed east towards the lake I stopped at what is technically the north branch of Barnes Creek...it even looks small on the Delorme map! I wasn't expecting to find anything significant and my expectations were met - we had a larger drainage ditch flowing through the yard of the old Lake Como house than what I found as the "north branch" of Barnes Creek.

After finding my way to the lake shore in a residential area, I started driving south, looking for signs of an overpass or bridge. I wasn't let down..I did find a creek flowing into Lake Michigan. This *should* be Barnes Creek.

I parked on the shoulder and took a look around...this area was as it had been described - bordered by houses on all sides. A neighborhood that wouldn't likely be very welcoming to folks walking on their lawns. In fact, a run down home who's property was posted "no trespassing" in several spots bordered the best looking stretch of this dinky stream. Could fish show up here? Sure. Can you legally fish it? Nope...I'd have to say that Barnes is too small to be covered under navigable water rights.

As I walked back to my car, I was actually stopped by a friendly police officer who was interested in what I was out doing. After explaining my scouting mission, he went on his way but not before asking me to move my car. Not a problem...the Delorme showed a 2nd, smaller tributary to the south as well as other stream crossings on Barnes Creek.

Wait a second...if I'm reading my map right this is actually Barnes Creek.

I went off in search of these other crossings on Barnes Creek but the roads simply didn't match the map. Some gravel, some roads were missing...this was odd. In fact, I must say I'm pretty good at reading maps (that are accurate) - just look at Northeast Iowa! For whatever reason, this area just DID NOT match up with the Delorme! Perhaps I was on the wrong little creek?

Well, heading south I found a 2nd creek looking even more private and secluded than the first. Either this was the 2nd stream on the map OR this was Barnes Creek. It didn't matter, judging from what I could see there was again no way to legally fish this water anyways.

I started looking for a way out of this tiny shoreline subdivision when I happened upon a 3rd stream...this one bordered by a small public beach. Wait a second...there's only 2 streams on the Delorme Map but I've just found 3?

Well, the third stream held about as much promise as the first two, and again I wasn't let down. Another dinky, tiny stream that would not hold fish very long even if a stray or two happened to make their way up.

Ah but the Delorme shows a 2nd tributary, but this is actually the third one I found. Another dinky flow into Lake Michigan. Looking north along the beach.

That pretty much sums it up. In my opinion, the last stream in some respects was perhaps the most likely to actually be the Barnes Creek listed on the Wisconsin DNR Trout Stream Map. However, even the Delorme Map, which shows 2 streams, isn't accurate either, especially consider that I'd found 3 streams. According to both maps, this third stream was too far south to be Barnes Creek.

So which one of these drainage ditches is actually the Lake Michigan Tributary referred to as Barnes Creek by the DNR? Does it really matter?

I'm content to leave it as a mystery.

  MP 

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