Wisconsin ClearWaters Trout Unlimited and DNR plan Hay Creek Project
Hay Creek is a Class I trout stream that meanders for six miles through western Chippewa County before it empties into Duncan Creek. It is home to a native brook trout population that is sustained entirely by natural reproduction. The density is well above the average for western WI with about 2,500 brook trout per mile. However, due to a lack of habitat, there is about 1,200 brook trout per mile in the proposed project site downstream of 93rd Street (map attached).
The proposed site for the habitat improvement project has the potential to have a brook trout density equal to or above that of the rest of the stream. This habitat project will add to the long history of trout habitat work that was completed in Hay Creek the 1960s and 1970s. Much of the habitat work is accessible to the public, including the proposed site, because easements provide angler access along almost the entirety of the stream.
Hay Creek has excellent water quality and has been designated a brook trout reserve stream by the Wisconsin DNR.
Brook trout reserve streams are streams where brook trout will likely persist into the future given the current climatic projections. Reserve streams have healthy brook trout populations, strong groundwater input (modeled), and low catches of non-native salmonids. Reserve streams are given priority when it comes to easement acquisition, trout habitat improvement projects and native plantings that will provide future shading.
Additionally, Hay Creek is an important coldwater tributary for the thermally challenged Duncan Creek, due to an upstream impoundment. Hay Creek likely provides thermal refuge for trout from Duncan Creek during warm stretches in the summer, and it also is a seed source for brook trout recruitment into Duncan Creek.