Plum CreekA small Brook Trout stream
Plum Creek originates in southeastern Pierce county and flows southeasterly about 27 miles where it enters the Chippewa River in south central Pepin County. Plum Creek is located near Plum City and contains approximately 12 miles of tremendous Class I brook and brown trout water.
The watershed drains rolling agricultural and wooded areas with many of the tributaries originating in steep coulees. The watershed also drains one small urban area, the village of Plum City. Plum Creek has three named tributaries; Elk, Porcupine and Rock Elm Creeks and a number of small-unnamed tributaries.
Long term monitoring surveys conducted from 1999-2009 reveal Plum Creek brook trout populations range from 1,500 to 6,000 per mile with an additional 500 to 1,250 brown trout to boot. While 6 to 10-inch brook trout are most common, a few trophy brook trout are present. The brown trout population averages larger with fish reaching over 20 inches. The Class I portion of Plum Creek begins just downstream of Nugget Lake County Park Dam and continues south to the Pierce/ Pepin county line.
Historic Watershed Conditions
Historically, Plum Creek and its tributaries had undergone a dramatic transformation from pristine, forested coldwater trout streams to degraded marginal trout streams often requiring trout stocking to provide recreational fisheries.
Prior to the 1850s, the Plum Creek watershed was nearly 100% virgin deciduous forest with a mix of oak openings and prairie. The highly protected watershed supported numerous spring fed coldwater streams and healthy native brook trout populations. However, during the late 1800s through the early 1900s, the stream was severely degraded by deforestation, agricultural activities, wastewater effluent, and construction of milling dams.
Conservation practices beginning around the 1930s including soil erosion control programs, reforestation and wastewater treatment has allowed numerous streams to improve to the point where stocking is no longer needed. More recently, flood control programs have had primarily positive results. These activities have reduced flooding and improved infiltration of surface runoff while only causing minor thermal impacts on permanent flowing waters. Currently, many streams in the watershed have recovered to the point of supporting a variety of native Class I and II brook trout water.
Currently, brook trout dominate the coldwater fishery in this watershed. White sucker, brook stickleback, blacknose dace, creek chub and johnny darters were the most common forage species.