For the past three months, the East Verde River has had a strong flow of water because of the above-normal winter snowpack. Now that the long summer days are here, the crystal-clear waters have diminished. This causes the water temperatures to increase, which determines the future stocking of rainbow trout for the summer.
Well, there is good news for anglers who enjoy a quick trip to the river. The pumps above Washington Park that bring water from Blue Ridge Lake (Cragin Reservoir) have been operating for a few days, and this will revitalize the river.
Shallow streams with rock bottoms and boulders along the shore absorb much of the Arizona sun during the long summer days, causing the water temperatures to rise. Once the water temperatures hit 70 degrees, the Tonto Fish Hatchery cannot stock that particular stretch of the creek because of the likelihood of increased fish mortality.
With the pumps taking water from the deepest, colder part of the lake on top of the Rim, this flow has made the East Verde River perfect for continual stocking. This cool water, which is oxygenated by the swift current, has created a favorable pH reading, perfect for trout habitat.
When the pumps are in operation, there is an additional three miles of fishable water above Whispering Pines, which are often stocked with rainbow trout. The weekly stocking program done by the Tonto Fish Hatchery includes approximately 600 catchable trout with a few incentive or bonus fish included in the number. If the pumps remain in operation, there is an excellent chance for an additional allotment of fish.
All of these rainbows are reared from tiny fry to catchables in the 8- to 12-inch range before they are dispersed throughout the trout waters of the Rim Country. Some fish remain longer at the hatchery and are grown to the two- to four-pound range, then they are stocked in the local waters as bonus fish. Obviously, these are the trophies, which create great fish stories and the perfect “photo op.”
If ever there is a need to entertain family and friends and you don’t know where to go, I would highly recommend the Tonto Fish Hatchery. It is a short 30 minutes from town through the scenic ponderosa pines of the Tonto National Forest. Once you visit the hatchery, there is a new appreciation of every trout caught and the work done by the employees of the Tonto and Canyon Fish Hatcheries.
This weekend, take a friend or loved one fishing and enjoy God’s creation.