Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Barry County (T1N, R10W, Sections 25 and 36)
Surveyed August 17, 1989
James L. Dexter, Jr.
Prairieville Creek is a small first order trout stream that is classified
as second quality coldwater. Located at the southern end of Barry County,
the creek originates as large springs. Flowing south through a small impoundment
(Mud Lake), Prairieville Creek empties into the north end of Gull Lake.
The town of Richland is located about 5 miles to the south.
The watershed is characterized by marsh and wooded wetland. Some active
farm fields are also located nearby. The terrain is gently rolling hills.
The subsoils are made up of poorly drained Houghton muck in the upper
mile of creek, and well-drained Oshtemo sandy loams in the lower mile.
Prairieville Creek, although small, is the major feeder stream to Gull
Stream width averages 15 feet, and depth averages 4 inches. Water velocities
are moderate. The creek is about 2.0 miles in length.
The water quality appears excellent, but no chemical analyses have been
conducted. The water is extremely clear year-round. The bottom types are
rock and gravel (50-70%) and sand with marl (30-50%). Pools and riffles
are common. Cover types include logs, undercut banks, and overhanging
brush. An excellent mosaic of these cover types is available throughout
the system. The headwaters are characterized more by overhanging vegetation
and watercress with greater depths compared to those areas below Mud Lake.
Below Mud Lake the creek is 80-100% shaded. The surrounding canopy of
brush is extremely dense.
Development is very limited along the creek. Access can be obtained at
road crossings, although it is not known if landowners are allowing access.
It appears as if little fishing pressure occurs on the creek.
This report documents the first study of this water by the Fisheries
Division on August 17, 1989. Backpack electroshocking (240V pulse DC)
was conducted at two sites for a total of 1,436 feet. The objective of
the collection was to determine if landlocked Atlantic salmon had successfully
reproduced during the fall of 1988. At that time, a number of Atlantic
salmon had passed above the weir set up to collect adults for spawn taking.
This occurred in early November during a very heavy rain.
A diverse fish community was found in Prairieville Creek (Table 1). A
total of four young-of-the-year (YOY) Atlantic salmon were captured about
1 mile upstream from Gull lake. All four YOY were associated with woody
debris, but not pools or undercut banks. Final identification of these
fish were made by Dr. Gerald Smith of The University of Michigan. The
characteristics and appearance of young Atlantic salmon are extremely
similar to brown trout, and we could not positively tell the difference
in the field. It was suspected that these four were Atlantic salmon, however,
because the pectoral fins seemed large.
Brown trout were also found, even though the only stocking record is
of 54,000 spring fingerlings in 1966. All other salmonids species have
been introduced to Gull Lake. Browns, rainbows, Atlantic salmon, and smelt
(when present) all reproduce with some success in the creek. However,
the contribution of naturally produced salmonids to fishing is most likely
minimal because of the small size of the creek. All salmonids handled
during this survey were in exceptionally good condition.
Prairieville Creek will continue to serve as an important spawning area
for brown and rainbow trout. Landlocked Atlantic salmon, and smelt if
present, will also utilize the creek.
At this time, nothing can be done to improve habitat except, perhaps,
to increase water depth. The watershed is safe from environmental catastrophes
because much of it is wetland.
Brown and rainbow trout should continue to be available to anglers into
the future. The best management direction at this time is no management
other than to continue the cur- rent fishing regulations. We will continue
to monitor the creek for spawning Atlantic salmon in November and smelt
runs in April.
Report completed: March 1990.
Table 1.-Species, relative abundance, and length range of fish
sampled by backpack electroshocking in Prairieville Creek, August 17,
1Fish were measured to inch group: e.g., "1" = 1.0 to 1.9
inches; "2" = 2.0 to 2.9 inches; etc.
Last Update: 08/06/02