If you’re thinking of heading over to Green Valley Park today, maybe you should wait until Saturday afternoon.
If catching fish is something that interests you, anyway.
Arizona Game and Fish Department’s eight-month stocking season begins Saturday with 450 pounds of rainbow trout expected to arrive at the lake from Colorado at about 4 p.m.
It’s part of Arizona Game and Fish’s Urban Fishing Program, which is designed to make successful fishing an option for those who can’t afford to travel to participate in the activity. The program started in 1985.
“That’s our motto with the Urban Fishing Program: If people can’t get to the fish, we bring fish to the people,” said fish-stocking expert Joanne Hill of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We try to make it convenient for people to have access to quality fishing. So we put it in their back yard. We bring the fish to where the people are.”
Most of the trout are between a half-pound and a pound in weight, although some bigger “incentive” fish weighing two to three pounds will be included.
“It’s 450 pounds and the trout average three-quarters of a pound,” Hill said. “So that’s about 600-700 fish.”
The fish-stocking program at Green Valley is different from all other Urban Fishing Program waters. Rainbow trout are the only species stocked by the department during the eight-month season that starts Saturday and continues through early May. No other fish species are stocked at Green Valley; however, good populations of bass, crappie, sunfish and even catfish can be found in this highly productive lake system.
There are six fish hatcheries in the state under Game and Fish. Hill said they don’t get fish for the urban program from any of them because those fish are simply too small.
“State hatcheries are already at maximum production just to keep up with the state lakes,” Hill said. “So they don’t have the capability of producing more trout for the urban fishing programs.
“Plus, once those trout get to be eight or nine inches, they stock the fish into the lakes. We want bigger fish for the urban program. Our fish average 11 to 12 inches. So we contract out.”
Hill said this weekend and early next week will be a great time to fish Green Valley Lake.
“The fish are right off the farm,” she said. “So, first of all, they taste great because they come out of Colorado water. Then, they’re dumb. They don’t know what a hook is. They’ll bite anything. The first few days are great fishing.”
She said she’s heard people express concerns about fishing in reclaimed water like what you’ll find at Green Valley Lake. But she said there is nothing to be concerned about.
“They’re perfectly safe,” Hill said. “I know people are concerned that it’s reclaimed water. But if there was any problem with the water, we wouldn’t put the fish in there. We test the fish. We test the water.”
The limit is four trout per day and two for children under the age of 14.
Anybody wanting to fish Green Valley Lake needs to have an urban fishing license, which costs $18.50 and is good through Dec. 31, 2013. The price drops to $9.25 starting Nov. 1.
The money for the urban licenses goes to pay for the fish.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, Game and Fish is simplifying the fishing licenses. Starting that day, both urban and general fishing licenses will be good for 365 days.
Fishing and relaxing along the grassy shorelines is what makes Green Valley Lake, located just a mile west of Highway 87 on Main Street, a favorite of many urban anglers, according to the AGFD Web site.
For more information, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at www.azgfd.gov.
Kids Fishing 101 Saturday
First- through fourth-graders are invited to learn the techniques, discuss the proper use of equipment and have a fun time learning to fish at Green Valley Lake with Tracy Purtee of “Let’s Talk Fishin’, ” Saturday, Oct. 19.
Rods and bait are provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. There are two sessions. The first is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the second from noon to 2 p.m. The cost is $5. Show up at the Payson Parks and Recreation office at 1000 W. Country Club Dr. or call the Payson Parks & Rec office at (928) 474-5242 for more information.