Fish and Aquatic Life
Big Creek is a half of a mile and located just below Lake Redstone where it enters the Baraboo River. Big Creek is considered to have a warm water sport fishery. A survey conducted in 1999 found 23 different species of fish in Big Creek and determined the water to be of fair quality as evidenced by the types and diversity of fish species present.
Ripp, Coreen, Koperski, Cindy and Folstad, Jason. 2002. The State of the Lower Wisconsin River Basin.
PUBL WT-559-2002. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available. Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.
Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable
Management goals can include creation or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.
Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.
Grants and Management Projects
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|1280200||Big Creek||573127||Big Creek - Below Dam||4/25/2000||10/9/2020||Map||Data|
|1280200||Big Creek||573128||Big Creek at Mouth||8/15/2000||9/20/2000||Map||Data|
Biweekly chemical and flow monitoring was conducted on Big Creek a short distance below the Lake Redstone spillway (cover photo). Flow measurements ranged from 6.3 to 60 .9 cubic feet per second (cfs) and a mean of 20 cfs. Water quality below the dam is good and the stream benefits from substantial aeration as water plunges approximately 30
feet over the spillway. All continous and discrete dissolved oxygen measurements exceeded 7 mg/1, well above the water quality standards limit of 5 mg/1. Total phosphorus concentrations ranged from 18 to 76 [tg/l with a mean concentration of 41 ttg/1 . The average phosphorus discharge from the lake was 2 kg/day or approximately 13% of the seasonal phosphorus load from May through September. Table 1 below summarizes Big Creek water chemistry results.
The biweekly water chemical monitoring indicated favorable conditions for supporting fisheries . Results of the fish shocking and macroinvertebrate sampling directly support this finding . Five aquatic insect families were found below the dam (Hydropsychidae, Chaoboridae, Empididae, Simulidae, Chironimidae) . The taxa representing these insect families resulted in a Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) value of 5 .45, indicating "good" water quality (Hilsenhoff, 1987). Surprisingly, the water quality based on the HBI was
actually better below the dam than above the lake in the East Branch Big Creek. At LaValle Road, representative aquatic insect (Heptageniidae, Elmidae, Athericidae) and crustacean (Gammaridae) families indicated cool water habitat. However, the HBI value of 5 .81 indicated only "fair" water quality and "fairly signficant organic pollution". The results suggest that the East Branch Big Creek is not meeting water quality potential and sources of runoff pollution are affecting it.
Fish shocking results from July 10 indicated that Big Creek supports diverse fisheries below the dam. Twenty-four species were collected during a survey that encompassed most of the 700-meter stream . The environmental evaluation from the shocking results indicate "good" conditions based on a warmwater IBI (Lyons, 1992) score of 53. Walleye and musky were also observed in the stream during other surveys that summer but were not included in the IBI calculation. The combined fisheries and macroinvertebrate information dictates that management objectives must support warm water fish and aquatic life standards (NR 102). Table 2 contains a list of species and numbers found during the stream shocking survey.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Big Creek is located in the Crossman Creek and Little Baraboo River watershed which is 213.80 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (36.40%), grassland (32.90%) and a mix of agricultural (20.40%) and other uses (10.30%). This watershed has 466.61 stream miles, 244.11 lake acres and 6,321.59 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.