Wildlife, Fishing Grow When Water Flows


Former Payson High School teacher and coach Jerry Daniels, now retired, bagged this nice-sized elk during a recent hunt. Good winter and spring precipitation create grazing conditions that help wildlife grow into great specimens like this.

Former Payson High School teacher and coach Jerry Daniels, now retired, bagged this nice-sized elk during a recent hunt. Good winter and spring precipitation create grazing conditions that help wildlife grow into great specimens like this.

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Remember an old Salt River Project commercial, which stated “Arizona Grows When Water Flows”? How true that is, especially when it comes to outdoor recreation in the Rim Country.  

During the last six weeks we have had a total of more than 6 inches of water, be it snow or rainfall!  This is great news with the calendar still showing early February and the anticipation of a few more winter and early spring storms.

A few days of having to stay inside because of the weather or not being able to venture into the back country with the flooded washes is a small price to pay for the later dividends of healthy lakes, streams, and forests.  It will be interesting to note if the numerous springs and seeps that have literally dried up over the past year will start flowing again with the improved ground water.

Wildlife will benefit from this moisture especially when the grasses and browse start their growth as the temperatures begin to warm by mid-March.  The antler growth of bull elk and buck deer depends on the nutrition from these plants when they grow that new set of antlers from May to July.  If the Rim Country receives some late spring moisture, which will continue plant growth, the antler size will grow even more and improve the chances of taking a real trophy deer or elk in the upcoming fall hunting seasons.

Recreational fishing will also benefit, especially Roosevelt Lake, which was down to 41 percent of capacity just two weeks ago.  The main drainages of the Salt River and Tonto Creek are well above the normal winter flow rate and that should correlate to a greatly improved lake level.  The other three Salt River lakes of Apache, Canyon, and Saguaro are near capacity so hopefully SRP will allow Roosevelt Lake to benefit from the improved runoff from the latest storm.

Indian Point Launch ramp is still 10 vertical feet from the shoreline, so there is still many acre feet of water needed to make it operational.  If the water continues to rise, there is a chance for some great spring fishing for bass and crappies in the newly submerged brush on the Tonto end of the lake.  If this happens, Tonto Basin and the surrounding area will receive a real boost in the economy with the influx of recreational fishermen and of course the professional bass tournaments that will be putting Roosevelt Lake on future schedules. 

High country trout fishing will also benefit when the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery stock truck starts making its weekly visits to fill lakes and healthy running streams.  Hopefully Blue Ridge Reservoir will fill to capacity, which provides the water that is pumped into the East Verde River throughout the spring, summer, and fall. A strong flow creates cool water temperatures and allows for trout stocking throughout the hot summer months.  When there are good fishing reports trout enthusiasts will come to the Rim Country in hopes of catching a trout and camping in the shade of a ponderosa pine. 

The economy of Payson gets a real boost with a healthy wildlife environment.  Remember, Arizona grows when water flows.  

This weekend get outside and enjoy some facet of the Rim Country, God’s creation.

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