First paddle of the 2020 season was on a cloudy, slightly breezy afternoon in the 60’s. It was a good opportunity to spend a pandemic afternoon with friends, since social distancing was easy.
This was the first time we did this shuttled route but we previously paddled up stream from Lake Kegonsa into the Yahara
Jaeger Park in McFarland has a nice free launch area with plenty of parking. No facilities.
20 minutes round trip, Jaeger Rd to left on Exchange St to right on Bashford, which becomes Creamery Rd and eventually Elvejem Rd, to right at T-intersection with County Highway AB, to left at the sign for Fish Camp County Park.
This season started during the COVID-19 pandemic. Waiting at the put-in, there were few people wearing masks or worrying about social distancing. Deb was glad she brought a mask with her.
Flow at guage #05429500 Yahara River at McFarland: 350 cfs. Median for this date approx 180 cfs.
We meandered downstream in a slow current, enjoying the clear water. We were surprised that Yahara River and Lower Mud Lake bottoms were always visible. The water level was noticeably lower than when we were on this section of the Yahara fall 2019, but there was plenty of water and no concern about grounding. We encountered several other groups of paddlers and passed a number of fishermen, one of whom had just landed a northern pike about 2 feet long. We passed the row of wood duck boxes south of Mud Lake but we didn’t see any wood ducks.
Wildlife sightings: oriole, swallows, red-wing blackbirds, hawk and eagle in flight above Mud Lake, muskrats, turtle, horses along the river, dogs in boats, northern pike on hook
Duration: 2 hr leisurely paddle
Take out in Lake Kegonsa at the concrete ramp at Fish Camp County Park. It was busy on this Friday start of the Memorial Day weekend, but the big boats didn’t seem to mind waiting a few minutes while we took out the canoe and kayaks. A Dane County Park permit is required. Restrooms were available and open even though it was during coronavirus. Much like the put-in, Deb was the only one worrying about wearing a mask and keeping distant.
Our timing was pretty accurate:
2:00 – Leave
2:15 – Jaeger unload & shuttle
2:45 – Launch
5:15 – Take out, pack up, shuttle
5:45 – Drive
6:00 – Home