You there. Rim Country resident.
Got a fishing tip.
Flatlanders -- don't read this story.
All right: Have we cleared the room?
OK, Rim Country lovers -- here's the deal. Put down the newspaper, go get a fishing pole, proceed directly to the East Verde River.
The Arizona Department of Game and Fish this week doubled the number of hatchery rainbow trout going into the East Verde and other stocked creeks and streams in anticipation of the three-day weekend. The stocking truck was busy trundling down the bumpy dirt roads early this week, which means that the stocked trout have recovered their appetites by now.
Hoards of flatlanders bringing their traffic jams with them will descend on every campsite and roadside riffle this evening and probably catch most of that bounty of trout flesh by Monday.
So for Rim Country denizens, today could be the best day all year to entertain the trout with your presentation (upstream or down) -- so long as the leftover winter storm hasn't turned all mean and nasty and started pelting Rim Country with sleet and snow.
Even if it's raining, consider a jaunt to the East Verde River along either Flowing Springs Road or Houston Mesa, where Game and Fish fish guy Trevor Nelson spent Wednesday scooping fish out of the tank mounted on the back of his truck and dumping them into most of the deep pools within an easy trundle of the road.
All told, Nelson put more than 600 trout from the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery into the East Verde, including 28 lunkers left over from last season's crop of wigglers -- that's roughly double the normal weekly stock.
Most of those trout will be hooked and gobbled by flatlanders even now preparing to descend upon every scrap of stream front for the three-day weekend. But this afternoon, beneath the pittering and pattering of the predicted, wayward winter storm, conditions on the East Verde should satisfy any fisherman's midnight dreams.
Nelson started his stocking run at the big pool off the East Verde Estates Road just off Highway 87 west of Payson. First he checked the water temperature, to be sure that it didn't exceed the 70-degree comfort zone for rainbows. Catch a trout in 70-degree water and he's giving you all the sport fishing thrill of hooking a wet croissant. The temperature on a bright, sunny Wednesday morning stood at 67, so Nelson returned to the truck to start ladling rainbows into the twin, high-tech, five-gallon plastic buckets -- actually salvaged from some massive detergent purchase at Costco.
The truck is outfitted with medical grade oxygen tanks that sustain the 600 trout sardined in the tank.
The hatchery holds about 660,000 fish and even on a normal summer week, puts nearly 2,000 rainbow trout into the East Verde, Tonto, Haigler and Christopher creeks, The normal drops include a dozen spots along Tonto Creek, 15 locations on the East Verde, four spots on Christopher Creek and eight locations on Haigler. Anglers hook about 80 percent of the fish released each week. But this week, the hatchery has doubled up, anticipating the sweltering masses of Valley escapees.
Befriending amiable fish wranglers like Nelson can yield invaluable secrets to Catching A Lot of Fish, at least invaluable to the poor souls willing to buy $100 worth of fishing gear to catch a couple of $2 fish.
So now, once again, clear the room of any flatlanders who ignored the clearly stated instructions at the beginning of the article.
All right. All clear?
So here's the secret.
Nelson has to scoop out all those fish, dump them in the buckets, then carry those heavy, dripping buckets down to the creek before the wriggle of fish use up all the oxygen in the bucket. So he can't go far. More over, desert-addled Arizonans might call the East Verde a river, but it will never harbor barges ---- and would barely qualify as a stream in places where water actually falls from the sky. So the trout will only do well for the week or so it takes to catch them in the few places along the creek where the topography has conspired to create a deep hole.
So if you want to figure out where Nelson put all those catchable trout, just drive slowly along Flowing Springs and Houston Mesa roads looking for deep stretches accessible to an amiable and well-conditioned man white-knuckling two five-gallon buckets of trout down the embankment to the water before the silly fish use up all the oxygen.
Then break out a fishing pole, and tie on a fly, nymph or funny looking lure. Then ask yourself why you don't do that more often, seeing as how you live in a place where it takes you less time to get to a trout stream than it takes all those poor flatlanders to make it home from the office.