High-Country Snow Will Help Fisheries

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The recent storms dumping two or more feet of snow in the high-country will help the mountain trout fisheries and should extend the spring trout fishing opportunities, but two storms don't necessarily reverse the affects of a dry winter and early spring, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

"Over the past several months there has been growing concern about the warmer conditions and lack of winter precipitation affecting the late-season fishing opportunities in many of our high-country waters. The potential availability of waters for trout stockings had a lot of us nervous," said Fisheries Branch Chief Larry Riley.

To respond, he said, the department moved its stocking program into high gear early to create as much early trout fishing opportunities as possible.

"The recent snowstorms and the promise of a storm or two yet to come has brightened the general fishing outlook, especially the short-term picture. The added moisture and cooler weather should extend the good spring fishing opportunities. Since we still have to wait and see what hand Mother Nature deals us the rest of this spring and summer, anglers may want to take advantage of the good trout fishing opportunities that are available the next couple of months," Riley said.

Riley said depending on how the high country snow melts, there could be some filling of reservoirs to help keep them more fishable. "A slow snow melt means percolation into the soil and some relief from fire danger. Rapid snow-melt might mean more runoff into streams and lakes. I hope we get the best of both worlds. These storms have definitely bought the angler time, and increased opportunities; take advantage of them," he said.

As with all things, there are drawbacks to the snow. "Roads in the high country were closed in many areas. Anglers should call before heading for their favorite lake. Those roads are the same ones we use for our trout stocking access, and we are going to be cautious. Our hatcheries near the Mogollon Rim received lots of snow, and we're just now punching our way back out. That may mean that stockings will be slowed down this week, but we're already way ahead of the game with early stockings and we'll catch back up quickly," Riley said.

The storms also mean at least short-term relief from possible fire dangers, said U.S. Forest Service officials, but the return of dry warm weather, especially if coupled with high winds, could alter the situation rapidly.

Those visiting the forests should avoid traveling on roads that are muddy. Besides the possibility of getting stuck, damage to the roads could also occur.

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