Letter to the Editor:

My goal of writing about Military Creek is to increase your knowledge and interest in the creek and its golden past.

Military Creek, near Phelps, flows through three distinct areas that vary in beauty and trout population.

The headwaters, near the Michigan state line and south to Coveyville, make up four-fifths of the total length of the stream. Those headwaters are poorly accessible with no developed trails. Aerial maps show small springs and some canoe-wide areas. It enters the Coveyville region with flowing clear water and a sandy bottom. There it has a narrow strip of swamp on just the east side making it easy to fish from the other bank or from a canoe.

Below Coveyville, it courses through a wide tamarack swamp with as much as 3 feet of silted bottom. In this area is the largest spring of the entire creek and “Morgan’s Hole,” both with a history of yielding many trout.

For a short distance after leaving that swamp, it flows under County Highway E and empties into North Twin Lake, a section with few trout now or in the past.

In 1950, I was in high school in Phelps and learned to fly fish for trout on Military Creek. A close friend of mine, in one afternoon, caught four 13-inch brook trout just below the culvert on County Highway E next to the former old minnow stand there. I lived nearby.

For the remainder of my high school years, I fished portions of the lower Military Creek from the banks and from a canoe.

The joy of solitude there, enhanced by the frequent thrill of a catch, proved life-enhancing for me. I recall red-winged blackbirds scolding me from the alder brush, while a kingfisher was often watching from the top of a tall, long-dead tamarack.

The stream, at that time, was registered as a Class IA for brook trout. It remained in that class into the 1970s as reported in a 1976 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) survey of the creek.

A survey in the 1980s documented a decade of deterioration caused by beaver activity. That led to a state animal group consistently trapping beaver and destroying their dams for a number of years.

Sometime ago, the DNR decided that Military Creek did not qualify for their support. That led to steady deterioration of the creek.

A fly fisherman I know from Phelps caught trout three years ago in small numbers and is unable to do so now.

The aggressive songs of red-winged blackbirds remain, along with kingfishers surveying the area. Muskrats still swim across the creek.

Local fishermen in the 1940s and ’50s caught many brook trout on flies. At that time, Military Creek was classified as a IA brook trout stream. Seventy years of neglect stole those golden years.

The creek continues to produce fewer trout each year.

Is an enlightened vision needed here? Or is continued neglect to complete deterioration what is in store for this trout stream with a golden past?

R. Larry Schmitt

San Diego, Calif.