Stream Highlight: Plum Creek

The Baldwin DNR area fisheries crew completed a watershed survey of the Plum Creek watershed in 2023. Watershed surveys are basically a comprehensive look at the fishery within the entire watershed and valuable information can be gained from these types of surveys including interactions between the mainstem of Plum Creek and its tributaries, areas of importance for natural reproduction, trout species composition throughout the watershed and size structure and densities of trout and non-game species.

For those that aren’t familiar, Plum Creek is in the northern Driftless Area in southeastern Pierce County. Plum Creek in Pierce County is a Class I stream that transitions to a Class II stream in Pepin County where it enters the Chippewa River. The watershed contains excellent cold-water resources due to high connectivity of spring and groundwater sources. To date, the WDNR has completed 11,500 feet of trout habitat improvement work on Plum Creek in Pierce County. 

During the watershed survey, we found that the fishery upstream of the Nugget Lake impoundment features a cool water to warm water fish community and no trout were detected. However, downstream of Nugget Lake to the Pierce and Pepin County line, trout were detected at all stations. Brown trout were the dominant trout species throughout most of the mainstem of Plum Creek and were found in moderate to high densities. The highest densities of adult brown trout were found in and around the town of Plum City as well as within the 2020 trout habitat improvement project downstream of CTH U. The best fishing for larger brown trout is around the town of Plum City and downstream along CTH U. Many streambank easements that provide angler access are located downstream of town; watch for signs posted at bridge crossings or check out the new version of the TROUT tool on the WDNR’s website to locate these easements. 

Most of the tributaries did not contain any brown trout and these streams were dominated by brook trout. Brook trout were present in all stations on the mainstem of Plum Creek except for 1 station and they were found in low to moderate densities throughout the remainder of stations. The highest densities of adult brook trout were found upstream of Plum City as well as within the small tributaries. Natural reproduction of trout was also documented at all stations surveyed. Brown trout up to 21.5 inches and brook trout up to 12.3 inches were found within Plum Creek. 

Overall, the Plum Creek watershed contains a robust, mixed trout fishery. Much has changed, however, within the watershed in the past several decades. In what once was a brood trout dominated fishery, brown trout have increased in densities and are now the dominant trout species throughout much of the mainstem of Plum Creek. Brook trout densities declined in all stations surveyed when compared to previous surveys in 2013 and 1999. This has become a common theme in trout streams throughout the Driftless Area. On another note, some interesting fish species that were captured during the 2023 watershed survey include burbot (which we do capture every year in Plum Creek within our trend sites), walleye (near Plum City) and yellow perch. We also captured 4 tiger trout throughout the stations. A report is available for this survey in addition to Isabelle Creek and Pine Creek watershed surveys that were also completed in 2023. Contact me for copies of that report. The trout habitat crew will also be completing a trout habitat improvement project this summer which is located upstream of CTH U downstream of Plum City. See you on the stream!

Maintaining Habitat Projects

Maintaining Habitat Projects For Years Of Enjoyment.

Nate Anderson WDNR

After a trout habitat project is complete, Trout Unlimited and the DNR plant desirable native trees in select spots. Kasey Yallaly’s (WDNR) current plan is to plant larger seedling trees (over 6ft tall and at least 3 years old) along the stream every 50 feet, a distance that will allow continued maintenance after a project is completed. This spacing allows mowers enough room to get around and in between the trees and the stream. Once mature, the trees will provide some necessary shade to help maintain beneficial thermals. Kasey feels that this is a good compromise between (a) reforestation, which could result in a return to unfishable streams or (b) simply planting nothing.

We currently put each new habitat project on a 4-year rotation for mowing to keep out unwanted woody vegetation in an effort to promote native grasses. There are 2 types of mowing that take place on finished trout habitat projects, fishing access paths and mowing maintenance. Fishing access paths allow anglers to access the stream more easily during summer months when streambank vegetation is extremely high. These paths are at least ten feet wide and run along one side of the stream. We have been mowing at Cady Creek, Trimbelle River CTH W project, and Pine Creek annually. The mowing generally occurs through the width of an easement, commonly 66 feet wide and on both sides of the stream. This year’s mowing locations were located at; Gilbert Creek on Thorud’s easement, the fee title property just east of CTH Q, the Trimbelle River Holst easement and the Red Cabin site on the Kinnickinnic River. All mowing takes place in July to reduce chances of disturbing breeding birds but still get to the vegetation before it gets too high.

This year,  mowing was done by Extreme Excavating out of Knapp, WI. The total cost came in at $16,800. Cost breakdowns showed that trout stamp monies paid for $8,500,
Kiap-TU- wish contributed $1,500 from a past gift to the DNR designated for this type of work and $6,800 was paid by The DNR Parks and Recreation Department.

There are many sites along the Kinnickinnic River that have been brushed within the past several years that cannot be mowed. In order to prolong the effects of the brushing this year, the DNR hired a contractor, to chemically treat by foliar spraying 4 sites in order to control the invasive seedlings that usually sprout after brushing has been completed. The contractor hired for this project was 4-Control out of Menomonie, WI and the total cost was $3,500 paid for with Trout Stamp money.

Kasey Yallaly and I work closely with the Kiap-TU-wish- Maintenance committee each year to discuss what needs to be done. Please reach out to your chapter committee members if you have any ideas, thoughts, or comments regarding maintenance issues in your area or favorite fishing spot. 

Summary of Trout Regulation Changes

Summary of Trout Regulation Change Proposal

Philip Kashian

On October 11th Kasey Yallaly Senior Fisheries Biologist with the DNR presented a tentative proposal for changing creel limits for trout. Kasey’s territory is Pierce, St Croix, and western Dunn Counties and is actively involved in managing habitat and fisheries research for the Kinnickinnic, Rush, Trimbelle rivers, as well as other smaller streams and tributaries.  

Kasey’s presentation began with a brief history of fish populations and water quality over the past 30 plus years. The Rush river throughout the 1960’s through the early 2000’s was almost entirely a stocked fishery. Stocking ended in 2007 as a result of improved water quality resulting in enough natural reproduction to support a self-sustaining trout population. 

As the wild trout population has grown the stream regularly rates in ithe top with fish per mile for the entire Driftless region. The Kinnickinnic as well is in the top percentile in fish per stream mile. The Trimbelle, currently a class 2 stream with some support coming from stocking, may soon be moved to class 1 with a strong naturally reproducing trout population. 

This is a real success story with regard to our cold-water fisheries; however, the DNR’s concern is that due to the incredible reproductive rates we are seeing higher fish densities in the 10-12 inch range and fewer “quality” fish in the 13-17 range. For instance, in the Rush, 85% of all fish are in the 6-12 range, and that number is 75%-90% in the other Pierce County streams. The current harvest limits on the Rush, Trimbelle and others is 3 fish 12 inches or larger. The Kinni size regulations currently state 5 fish under 12 inches. Kasey’s proposal is to change these regulations to 5 fish under 12 inches, 1 over 12 inches may be kept. The intent is to increase harvest of smaller fish and protect more of the larger fish. This would apply to all streams in Pierce and St Croix counties except, Cady Creek, Pine Creek, Willow River and the upper Eau Galle River. This is an initial proposal and most likely would not occur until 2026.  

A meeting of this type is a great example of Kasey’s commitment to providing quality fishing and sound habitat management for all of us and we greatly appreciate her efforts and fish management knowledge. Additional information will be forthcoming as these proposals make their way through the WDNR regulation process. If you have additional questions regarging these proposed regulation changes, Kasey can be reached at:, or by phone at, 715.977.7354.

New Kinni Monitoring Reports

Two new Kiap-TU-Wish monitoring reports are now available in our Coldwater Science Library

“The Thermal Impacts of Kinnickinnic River Hydropower Dams and Impoundments in River Falls, WI, and Recent Thermal Benefits of the Lake Louise Drawdown”

Author: Kent Johnson, Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter

Summary:  This report summarizes 29 years of Kinnickinnic River temperature monitoring by Kiap-TU-Wish, describing the temperature monitoring network, the thermal impacts of Kinni dams and impoundments (1994-2020), recent (2021-2022) Kinni temperature improvements after the Lake Louise drawdown in 2020, the ongoing thermal impact of the Junction Falls Dam and Lake George, and plans for future temperature monitoring, as a part of the Kinnickinnic River Monitoring Plan, created in 2021 and implemented in 2022. Kiap-TU-Wish has graciously supported this critical temperature monitoring network, as we seek to understand the thermal impacts of stormwater, dams, and long-term climate change on the Kinni in River Falls.

Kiap-TU-Wish temperature monitoring sites on the Kinnickinnic River and tributaries in River Falls, WI

“Kinnickinnic River Macroinvertebrate Monitoring: Past, Present, and Future”

Authors:  Kent Johnson, Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter, Clarke Garry, Professor Emeritus,
UW-River Falls

Summary:  In Wisconsin, the use of aquatic macroinvertebrates for evaluating stream health was initiated by Dr. William L. Hilsenhoff at UW-Madison in 1977, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has long employed macroinvertebrate monitoring to characterize stream condition. This report summarizes the results of recent (2022) macroinvertebrate monitoring conducted at 6 sites on the Kinnickinnic River (Upper, Lower, and the new Kinni through Lake Louise), with a comparison to the river-wide macroinvertebrate monitoring conducted by Dr. Clarke Garry in 2002.  After a gap of 20 years, Kinni bugs and bug-whisperers provide an update on Kinni health, then and now.  Plans for future (2023-2025) macroinvertebrate monitoring at additional Kinni sites are also described.  As with all Kiap-TU-Wish projects, volunteer support was critical for this one.  Kiap-TU-Wish, KinniCC, and UW-River Falls volunteer time was a key to success, and Kiap-TU-Wish and KinniCC provided funding for detailed bug identification (in Latin, nonetheless!).

Net-spinning Caddisfly (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae)

Illustration by Janice Nelson Johnson

Kent Johnson (L) and Reid Dawald, KinniCC Stream Team member (R) at the “new Kinni” monitoring site in the former Lake Louise (2022 photo by Dr. John Wheeler, UW-River Falls)

Update on campaign to remove Kinni Dams

Update on campaign to remove the Kinni dams

Recent Developments:

This fall, the City of River Falls agreed to engage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) for their support of a dam removal project, via their Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program. TheCOE project would involve removal of both dams and restoration of a one-mile reach of the Kinni.  n November 2022, the River Falls City Council voted to proceed with the initial COE feasibility study, at an estimated cost of $800,000. The COE will assume responsibility for the first $100,000 of the study, plus one-half of the remaining $700,000, leaving the City responsible for covering a $350,000 share.

To address some budgetary concerns that the City of River Falls communicated to stakeholders, Kinni Corridor Collaborative, Inc. (KinniCC), Trout Unlimited, and other community partners pledged a contribution of $175,000 (half of the City’s $350,000 share) to help fund the COE feasibility study.  To date, stakeholders working with KinniCC has raised $90,000 toward this goal, leaving a gap of $85,000 to fill by early 2023.

If you do not already know, the KinniCC is a community-led, non-profit (501(c)3) organization working with the City of River Falls and other stakeholders to implement the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan (KRCP), while preserving the river’s ecology and beauty.

As everyone knows, the Kinnickinnic River is a recreational treasure for our area, and we really need your help at this time to ensure the feasibility study proceeds by considering a generous donation. The KinniCC has set up a donation sight at Mighty Cause for this purpose. Thanks for your consideration.

Sponsors, Donors, and Partners

Platinum >$20K

Babcock RI Trust

Bye, Goff & Rohde Partners

Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter (WI)

Red Bottom Boat 2.0

Twin Cities TU Chapter (MN)

Wisconsin TU State Council

Gold >$5K-20K

Flygare, Tovah

Johnson, D. Kent

KinniCC Board of Directors

Mid-Missouri TU Chapter (MO)

Morrison, Sean

R4F Film Festival Team (2022)

River Sky Drones

TU Driftless Area Restoration

Silver >$1K – 5K

Benevity Fund

Blackhawk TU Chapter (WI)

Central WI TU Chapter (WI)

Coulee Region TU Chapter (WI)

D & C Brockway Charitable Fund

Elliott Donnelly TU Chapter (IL)

Frank Hornberg TU Chapter (WI)

Hanson, Amanda

Joyful Baseflow Fund

Lee Wulf TU Chapter (IL)

Marinette TU Chapter (WI)

Most, Betty

Peterson, Christina

Southeast WI TU Chapter (WI)

Southern WI TU Chapter (WI)

Vanden Bloomen, Dennis

Welter, John “Duke”

Wild River TU Chapter (WI)Wissota Hospitality/Country Inn

 Kinni Friends < $1K

Amazon Foundation (Smile)

Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop

Brilliant Impact

Chambers, Rob

Dahm, Peter & Linda

Falls Theatre

Fischbach, Lawrence & Candy

Garry, Clarke

Goff, Steve

Horvath, Gary

Hub 70

Network for Good

Ostrow, Winston

Potts, Jack

Prin, Tom

Ritzinger, Mark & Jean

River Falls School District

Topple, Ben

WIN-CRES Chapter TU (MN)

Collaboration Partners (These partners have provided a letter of support and/or technical assistance)

  • American Rivers
  • Ecological Restoration Institute /     CAFEs– UWRF
  • Express Pro Employment Services
  • Feuerhelm, Langer & Nelson, CPA
  • First National Bank – River Falls
  • Friends of the Kinni
  • Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks
  • Freshwater Collaborative (UW System)
  • Grow To Share
  • Hope 4 Creation
  • Illinois State Council TU
  • Inter-Fluve
  • Kinni Conditions Facebook Group
  • Kinnickinnic River Land Trust
  • Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission
  • Meyers Creative
  • MGI Consulting
  • MightyCause
  • North Woods & Waters of the St Croix Heritage Area
  • Photography By Wurm
  • River Alliance Wisconsin
  • River Falls Chamber of Commerce
  • River Falls – Neighbors For Intentional Growth
  • River Management Society – Midwest Chapter
  • St Croix Valley Community Foundation
  • The Prairie Enthusiasts – St Croix Valley Chapter
  • Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • United States Fish & Wildlife Service

Thanks To Saturday’s Workday Volunteers

Thanks to Saturday’s Workday Volunteers

Randy and four volunteers turned out Saturday morning to begin clearing buckthorn and box elders from the area around the DNR fishing access parking lot just upstream of the Hwy 35/65 bridge on the Kinni. Pictured are Loren Haas, John Skelton, and Dave Gregg. Also helping but not sticking around for the photo op was chapter member Joe Paatalo. The clearing work being done here is to provide a service learning opportunity for the 4th grade students from Greenwood Elementary who will turn out for an afternoon later this fall to drag the brush to one or two bonfires for burning. The students currently participate in Trout in the Classroom through our chapter.

On the day of the event, students will be split into two groups with one group learning about riparian corridors and stream entomology while the others haul brush and then switching off later. We got a good stat on Saturday but, Randy could certainly use the help of a few more volunteers. Lets face it folks, the buckthorn and box elders are growing at a faster pace than we with the help of the DNR are removing them. In places, the jungle just gets thicker and thicker each year. Watch for an email midweek containing details for next weekends workday.

Contact Randy Arnold, Kiap TU Wish Habitat Volunteer Coordinator for more information at