If it's the inland waters fishing season, if you have a valid Wisconsin fishing license and trout stamp, not only will you have the chance to log an EarthCache find at this beautiful location, you may even catch yourself some lunch! Bohemian Creek is a Class I fishing stream in Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Read on, explore, learn more about the combination of geological elements that have come together here to create world class trout streams.
It’s no secret that this area of Wisconsin escaped glaciation. As a result, unlike the rest of the state, there is very little of the silt, clay, sand and gravel left behind by retreating glaciers known as drift….thus, the Driftless Region. It’s also no secret, at least among avid anglers, that this area has world class trout fishing on its streams. What does it take to have such prime habitat for native trout? Believe it or not, a large part of the answer to that question lies in the unique geology of the area, which can be observed and studied right here.
It's in the water
As you can see, this area has a distinctive landscape characterized by craggy limestone, sandstone valleys and steep hillsides. This area is also blessed with one of the highest concentrations of limestone spring creeks in the world. Similar rare resources of this type occur in the chalk stream region of England and the limestone country of Pennsylvania. The spring water emerging from the limestone bedrock supplies the region with a constant flow of cold water. The limestone enriches the water with minerals needed for aquatic creatures that provide prime habitat for native trout and other coldwater species.
How rare is this type of coldwater habitat? According to Gary A. Borger, Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Wisconsin Marathon County, "...scientists have calculated that less than one millionth of one percent of the world’s water actually flows in trout streams at any one time."
Within the Driftless area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, a 24,000 square mile area, more than 600 coldwater spring creeks can be found. These spring creeks are extremely vulnerable to degradation. Farming practices, flooding and erosion have in some places led to 12 to 15 feet of sediment deposition running into these valley floors, finding its way into the precious waterways.
This stream has class
Bohemian Creek is classified as a coldwater stream, which means it has flowing cold water sufficient to keep summertime water temperatures no warmer than 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The exposed bedrock so abundant in the area also plays host to abundant springs to keep cold water flowing. These streams traverse steep terrain. In fact, traveling throughout the Coulee Region, as this part of the Driftless is known, you will find that each valley plays host to its own stream, further evidence of the abundance of springs that feed the streams.
But wait! There's more! This coldwater stream is considered a Class I trout stream, which means this water is of sufficiently high quality to maintain a natural population of wild trout at or near carrying capacity. There is no need for stocking these waters with hatchery fish. As any anglers who fish this stream can tell you, these are the smart ones, and you'll work harder to reel one in...but it will probably be native, and probably be big.
Threats to this classy stream
You may have noticed you traveled through an agricultural area to arrive at this site. Land use practices are one of the main threats to the quality of this stream's water. Run off and erosion from land use practices threaten to degrade this precious resource. Luckily, this stream is in excellent condition, but practices such as streambank stabilization and habitat creation for fish are just some of the approaches used. You will be studying the water and the area for clues to help determine the quality of this water for trout habitat.
Completing the tasks to log this cache will have you looking at those streams you jump with more understanding. You will be assessing the quality of this stream water and its habitat for trout. To do so, complete these tasks and send your findings in an email to the cache owners.
1) Is this water sufficiently cold to support trout year round? Take a water temperature reading and share your results in your email.
2) Is this water acidic, neutral or base? To determine this, please take a pH reading of the water here.
3) Gather a small sample to be examined for clarity. Describe what, if anything, you see in your sample. If there are sediments, are they fine? Suspended in the water? Settled to the bottom of your container?
4) Share a description of the relevant geological formations you can see from this location that might be providing the source of spring waters to feed Bohemian Creek. Share one other feature or structure of the stream itself that appears to provide good habitat for trout and explain why you think this is the case .
Though not required, photos of this beautiful location are always welcome and encouraged....especially if you can capture one of those classic views of the angler working the line in the sunlight. Birdin' loves those!
Any logs by finders who do not send us the answers to the above questions within one week will be deleted.
The Geocache Notification form has been submitted to Jordan Weeks of the Wisconsin DNR. Geocaches placed on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resouce managed lands require permission by means of a notification form.
Driftless Area Restoration Effort Strategic Plan, Jeff Hastings and Laura Hewitt