Sheboygan Co. in Wisconsin is somewhat known for trout fishing, but mainly for fishing Lake Michigan and its tributaries for steelhead and big anadromous brown trout. However, there are a handful of inland streams that show up as trout waters on the WI DNR trout maps. I’ve been dying to get out fishing, but given a somewhat sketchy weather forecast, I decided to stick closer to home and do some scouting instead.
Ben Nutt Creek/Onion River
Ben Nutt Creek, located to the West/Southwest of Plymouth, WI, and Mill Creek to the Southwest of Plymouth converge near Hwy U to become the Onion River. An acquaintance suggested that I check out the Onion River once over a year ago, and finally I made it.
I had intended to check out a spot on Hwy E to the North of Hwy U, but the bridge already had cars parked on both sides. I like to give other anglers their space (especially on such small waters), so I kept going.
Ultimately, I arrived at a marked DNR parking area on Sumac Rd. I was excited to see open water. With the winter we had, and my uncertainty about just how trout-worthy these waters were, I was half expecting to see the whole thing frozen over.
This spot on Ben Nutt looks like it could hold fish, but would be very challenging for any fisherman, especially a fly-fisherman. The stream was covered with low-hanging undergrowth. I’m sure that by the end of May, the stream is practically inaccessible due to the foliage growing in. The stream had some areas with a gravel bottom, and the water seemed to be moving at a decent clip, but it was very small water and a lot of areas were silty.
I ducked and plowed through branches to check out the water, and saw nary a fish. That’s not necessarily saying much – the water was crystal clear, so I’m sure any trout would have seen my graceless plodding from a mile away and been able to find a good hiding spot.
Kamrath Creek/Ben Nutt Creek
Kamrath Creek is a small tributary to Ben Nutt Creek which had a bit of an interesting history (as I’d learn from the sign at a DNR parking spot). You can zoom into the pic to read for yourself, but here’s the short version. At one time, the creek was diverted to form two ponds. These ponds degraded the water quality of both creeks by raising the water temps to be too high for trout. In 1999, the property changed ownership, and the ponds were drained to help improve the water quality.
Kamrath Creek was very small water (a foot or two across), but where it joined into Ben Nutt Creek looked promising. I didn’t see any fish in the stretch of Ben Nutt upstream from where Kamrath Enters, but the stream was more open than the first spot I stopped at, even offering some casting lanes for a fly-fisher at least in spots.
La Budde Creek
I stopped at a couple of bridges on La Budde Creek which is just East of Elkhart Lake. It didn’t look like it would be easy to fish, and I’m not sure if there was even any public-accessible land. I need to do a little extra research on this one.
Nichols Creek (North Branch of the Milwaukee River)
My last two stops were at Nichols creek. Of all the stops I made, Nichols Creek looks to have the most promise. Though I had forgotten about it, I had actually stopped at the Nichols Creek State Wildlife Area once before when I was looking for some land where I could take my dogs. Though I didn’t see any today, on that previous trip I had seen trout darting around the creek.
The wildlife area is on Hwy N a few miles north of Cascade, WI. There’s easy access to the creek and many spots where a fly-fisher could cast. However, the water is very narrow and has a lot of long grass on the banks. I was last at this spot in autumn a few years ago, and it would have been very difficult to fish because of the foliage. Early season – before the foliage grows in – is probably the best time to fish this spot.
I took some time to turn over a couple of stones in the creek and was really surprised by all the great invertebrate life on the underside. I saw a number of large (size 14 or 12) scuds and some large caddis larvae cases.
I also drove downstream to Cascade and stopped at Memorial Park to take a look at the creek (and finally got a line wet). This park is technically past the water marked as trout water on the map, but it looked like it would hold fish. And, though I’m not 100% certain, I’m pretty sure I saw a couple trout. Perhaps just wishful thinking, but I definitely saw one fish at the bottom of a big pool, and saw another fish flash in a riffle.
So, my scouting effort was 95% scouting and 5% fishing. The conditions were rough (super windy), but it was really nice to be outside by the water. Maybe next time I’ll actually catch some fish 🙂