THE EAST FORK OF THE BLACK
The East Fork of the Black River is a delightful stream, best appreciated by those canoeists looking for solitude, fun but easy rapids, and good smallmouth bass fishing. This is an excellent overall river in an interesting part of Wisconsin.
The best place to put in for a good day's paddle is at East Pray Road. You can paddle upstream a mile or so to East Fork Falls. Undoubtedly a honkin' bronzeback lurks in the fast water below this drop.
There are many easy rapids on this stretch. You might want to toss a lure to the rock edges at the top of these drops, because that's where I've caught almost all the smallmouth I've hooked and released on this river. A craw colored twister tail on a brown or black jig head works well. Usually these bailbusters sit under or behind rocks on the inside top curve of these rapids.
Once you have negotiated the rocky stretches of this stream, you will end up at a wonderful campground just upstream of Lake Arbutus. I especially love to paddle down a river to my campsite, and that's not too easy to do on a lot of rivers.
The area around Black River falls has some interesting natural features called mounds. Saddle mound, not far from the East Fork, is fun to climb.
You can get an even better view by climbing the ranger tower on top of the mound. My wife Kris and I spotted a five-lined skink on top of the mound.
We also picked blueberries and admired a hoary puccoon (a pretty yellow flowering plant). There is also Castle Mound State Park near Black River Falls to visit. Climbing the mound is well worth the effort.
The main channel of the Black is also navigable for a long distance. Above Lake Arbutus you will find sustained stretches of challenging whitewater. Below Lake Arbutus you will find a quietly flowing scenic river.
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