Rim Country anglers received a pleasant surprise Wednesday afternoon when Green Valley Park was stocked with 450 pounds of rainbow trout including many of which were "incentive fish." Those usually tip the scales at 2-plus pounds.
Arizona Game and Fish Public Information Officer Rory Aikens said the more than 800 trout are from a hatchery in Colorado and considered prime stock.
"Also most stockings (at GVP) are 350 pounds, but it received a bonus of 100 pounds," Aikens said. "Most (fish) will be (in) the 11 to 18 inches range."
Following one such stocking in January of 2006, local angler Eric Smith landed a 7-pound-15-ounce rainbow that set a state record for a trout caught in an urban lake.
The catch of such a large, mature fish in GVP surprised anglers and biologists, who have long believed the species die out during the hot summer months.
Arizona Game and Fish Urban Fishing program Manager Jeff Swanson believes it is possible the fish could have survived the summer.
"The lake is deep enough that there is a cooler zone where he could have lived," Swanson said. "But then again, our supplier from Colorado has been putting some big fish in (urban lakes)."
Although the AG&F Department stocks only rainbows in GVP, bass and crappie have also been caught in the lake.
In 2000, 12-year-old Larry Everetts reeled in a 14-inch crappie and in May 2006, 16-year-old Jess Paul caught and released a 7.5-pound largemouth bass.
Former Town Parks and recreation Director Bill Schwind, who helped oversee the building of the GVP parks and lakes, suspected "Tackle Box Charlie' was responsible for the bass and crappie in the lake.
That theory is that some fishermen returning from Roosevelt or other lakes clean or dump their livewells into GVP, releasing small bass or eggs into the lake.
"Once they are there, they tend to do quite well," Schwind said.
Trout fish stockings at GVP began in 1998 with a one-year trial period that involved an Intergovernmental Agreement between the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Town of Payson. The pact included adding GVP to the Urban Fishing Program.
In May of 1999, game and fish officials recommended the agreement be renewed and the trout-stocking program has continued since.
Trout are stocked into GVP from October until May at two-week intervals.
Since the addition of Green Valley Park into the Urban Fish Program it has become one of the most popular winter fishing spots for anglers from around the state.
For those about to schedule a visit to GVP, the Urban Fishing Program requires one of the following licenses:
Age License Type for Designated Urban Lakes
Under age 14 No license required
Age 14 and over Class U, Urban $18.50 good for calendar year
Class D, One day only $16.25 one day only
Class L, Super Fish good for calendar year. Residents: $53.00
Age 70 and over Class P (Pioneer) free if AZ resident 25 years
The daily bag and possession limit is four trout, two for unlicensed juveniles, two bass, four catfish and 10 sunfish.
Seasoned anglers, including the Payson Roundup's outdoor columnist Dennis Pirch, say trout can be caught on small spinners and spoons, by fly fishermen using nymphs or wet flies, and by baits such as scented Berkeley Power Baits, worms or salmon eggs.
Pirch says anglers should remember to use lighter line in the 2-6 pound range, smaller hooks and a minimal amount of weight.