"As I was driving along a country two lane, I noticed a trail marker I had not seen before. I pulled off and took a look. There was actually a trail map! It looked like the trail ran along a creek. The topo map showed canyon-like features. In my opinion, there’s not much prettier in this world than rocky stream running through a canyon, so I mustered some energy and decided to give a go."
The start of the trip of was fairly typical. I had finished a night shift, took a brief nap and then headed out to fish. I had planned on stopping by Dutch Creek to see if there were any pre-spawn smallmouth bass in the creek. I knew the odds of feeding bass were quite small. If the stream temps were at least 44 degrees (warmer the better), the bass might be active. I got there and measured a temperature of 40 degrees. The chances of catching bass in these conditions are almost zero. But I was there, the sun was shining and I was still pretty wiped out. Dutch Creek is easy and relaxing to fish, so why the heck not?
As I was gearing up, I heard a truck struggling to come to life behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw an aging Chevy pickup with huge flames coming out of the exhaust. It actually looked like the back of the truck was on fire. I ran over as fast as I could make it in my waders to let the driver know what was happening. I was honestly concerned his truck was about to be consumed by flames. He was on his phone calling someone for a ride. When I told him about his flame-throwing exhaust, he said into his phone “yeah, the ol’ girl’s doin’ her thing again”. You just can’t make this stuff up! Anyway, there was nothing happening on Dutch Creek. I fished for less than an hour, caught two chubs and decided to pack it up. I took a different route on the way to the creek that morning and stumbled on a ranch raising bison. Not something you see every day in Wisconsin. I decided to wander a little on the way home and see what I came across. That turned out to be a really good decision.
Bison in the morning mist
As I was driving along a country two lane, I noticed a trail marker I had not seen before. I pulled off and took a look. There was actually a trail map. It looked like the trail ran along a creek. The topo map showed canyon-like features. In my opinion, there’s not much prettier in this world than rocky stream running through a canyon, so I mustered some energy and decided to give a go. The first quarter mile or so was not all that pleasant, as several downed trees blocked the trail. There was a boardwalk part of the way, but sections of the trail were entirely muck. Then I rounded the trail to this view:
A bit shallow in this section, but gin clear in a beautiful setting. I felt like I had stumbled into an enchanted land that was absolutely invisible from the road. And things just got better from there:
I chase down a lot of blue lines on the map. Many of these trips are busts, but every once in awhile, I find a gem, which is what keeps me going. If there happened to be trout in this stream, I think I could count this place among my found gems.
Yep. A real gem!
It really is hard to describe the joy I get from finding these out-of-the-way beautiful places. I would have returned to this creek if it had nothing but creek chubs and minnows, but the fact I found trout in the creek will likely make it the find of the year for me.
After hiking about a mile up the creek, I gave in to my exhaustion and went home. But I couldn’t get the creek out of mind. I went back this past week. After my first trip, it looked like I had seen the most scenic parts of the creek. I was wrong about that.
There is still about half a mile of the creek to explore. According to the map, it looks like the creek originates from a spring pond. In my mind, there are big, naive native brook trout swimming around in that spring pond waiting for me to throw a fly their way. In reality, there may only be water striders and frogs. But I can’t wait to find out.
This sort of trip is really what makes fly fishing and specifically Tenkara so enjoyable for me. The joy of discovery never gets old. Humans are innately curious creatures, and I can’t seem to get enough of the “what’s around the next bend” expedition. The portability of the Tenkara platform is ideal for this sort of exploration. So, grab your pack and a rod and get out there and explore!