Dorn Creek entry bridge from Lake Mendota

Carp, eh? Dayum! Six Mile Creek via Lake Mendota 2023

In our 20+ years of paddling we never found ourselves in the midst of so many active carp. Luckily, the creek itself was calm and beautiful as usual.


The last time we did this paddle was in mid-summer 13 years ago. There were so many lily pads and other plant material that our kayak friend almost didn’t make it through. It made a big impression on us, so we have had it in mind to make this a spring paddle.

We put in at the big boat ramp at Governor Nelson State Park. In the past we may have also put in at the swimming beach, but we are not quite sure why since it clearly would require carrying the canoe a fairly long distance.


Out of the boat ramp, we followed the shore toward the north (left). It takes about 1/2 hour to reach the inlet that leads to the confluence of Six Mile Creek and Dorn Creek, but on a weekday with quiet water and few motor boats it didn’t seem as cumbersome as we remembered it to be.

Carp: After the left turn out of the main lake, we saw some fish activity. “A fish!” – we were delighted. Further in we saw more … then more…then MORE! The carp (probably white suckers, based on pictures on a sign at the boat landing) were swimming fast in that area and the water was churning with these amorous two-and-a-half-feet long fish in twosomes and threesomes. We actually had to be mindful of where we placed our paddles because we bonked a few (sorry). Also, these fish ran into our boat a few times and we had to keep our wits about us – having a startled reaction could cause a tip-over. I have no idea if this happens every year. It was not relaxing! (Found a video of Suckers on Six Mile Creek which gives an idea but shows them swimming in a less aggressive manner than they were around us.)

Dorn Creek: On previous paddles, the entrance to Dorn Creek was choked with vegetation, and there was no temptation to take the left fork into Dorn Creek because we didn’t know there was a Dorn Creek. This time both branches of the fork were clear, and we had to decide which way to go. We decided to go left and were enjoying the lovely wooded surroundings and very little carp activity until we reached a disintegrating viaduct. We might have been able to go around it (definitely kayaks could) but at this point we realized we were in Dorn Creek; and we wanted to preserve our energy for Six Mile Creek, so we backtracked to the fork and took the right branch. On this side trip, we passed a potential put-in at the North Shore Bay Drive bridge. Unfortunately, there are “No Parking” signs everywhere along this stretch of N.Shore Bay Dr. so it’s unclear where one would park a car.

Six Mile Creek: We went under the Highway M bridge into Six Mile Creek and were soon greeted by a killdeer! This is not a bird we typically see on the water. The paddle was quiet, calm, and pretty. We were limited by time as to how far upstream we could paddle. We would have had more time, of course, if we hadn’t gone into Dorn Creek; and perhaps, with any luck, would have be able to paddle quite a bit further, as we had not yet run into any obstructing deadfall which can be a problem on this creek.

Wildlife: carp! turtles, frogs, killdeer, heron, redwing blackbirds and the usual birds.



With the additional vortex of Dorn Creek, for which we have no regret, the paddle was about 3 hours which included two 30 minute crossings of Lake Mendota. Travel time to Governor Nelson from home about 20 minutes.

Area hike bonus:
We later learned there is a walk around Six Mile Creek State Fishery Area.