With the year of no winter behind and late spring upon us, there is a definite lack of moisture and ground water in the Rim Country.
Many seeps and small springs are starting to dry up which has a definite impact on the East Verde River watershed. Lengthy stretches along the course of this stream have dried up and are only intermittent pools of water.
That all changed last Friday when the pumps above Washington Park began delivering water from Blue Ridge Reservoir on top of the Mogollon Rim.
“When water flows, Arizona grows” and that is good news to anglers, campers and other weekend visitors to the Payson area.
This river is a magnet for summer visitors from the Valley who want to cool off under a ponderosa pine, catch a fighting rainbow trout, and swim in the cool mountain water.
Provided that the pumps continue to bring water to the streambed, the health of the East Verde only continues to get better for the summer-long trout stocking program. Oxygenated water in the mid-50’s with an excellent PH are deciding factors for the weekly stocking program conducted by the Tonto Fish Hatchery.
As the summer progresses, the trout that are not immediately caught have a tendency to swim up and downstream and actually inhabit some of the harder to reach locations on the river away from the crossings.
The hatchery varies its weekly stocking schedule, so that it discourages following the truck to the pools near the crossings or easy to reach water.
Just a thought, it is not always necessary to catch a six-fish limit every time one goes to the river. One child catching a trout for the first time is a great motivator for the future generation of anglers in Arizona. Many of these youngsters arrive on the weekend with family outings and there may not be any trout left in the easy to reach waters! Believe me, a freshly caught trout in the frying pan is a real treat, but it is not necessary to stockpile them in the freezer.
Good news travels fast, especially the story of catching a rainbow trout. This increases the number of weekend visitors to the Rim Country and also positively impacts every business in this community that survives because of the number of tourist dollars generated by outdoor recreation.
Improving the fishery of the East Verde River can only pay big dividends to the town of Payson and its businesses. A long-range plan is necessary, which should include a steady flow of water, improved habitat, a reproducing trout population, and possibly some changes in the seasonal fishing regulations.
Catching fish catches on, especially with the next generation of future anglers who will be buying those fishing licenses soon. This weekend, take a child fishing and enjoy God’s creation — the Arizona Rim Country.