Fishing, like the weather, is heating up at Green Valley Park. Rainbow trout stockings will continue through the end of April and PowerBait, corn, worms, and mealworms seem to bring in trout pretty consistently. Spinners and flies are also working well.

With the water temperatures warming up, the other fish in the lake are becoming more active. Now through early May, the crappies make their shoreline appearance. During the cooler months, and then again when it gets hot, they are deep.

The crappies are the first fish to move into the shallows to spawn. Their numbers close to shore will increase over the next few weeks, so this is a great time to fish Green Valley Lake.

While these panfish are not enormous, they are very cooperative. There are crappies in all three lakes, but the big lake seems to produce the greatest success year after year. You won’t have to cast very far into the lake, as the fish are generally within about 20 feet from shore.

If you are fly-fishing, use a size 12-16 wet fly under an indicator, and plan to set the hook if there is any movement of the indicator. While fly-fishing is quite successful with crappies, worms and mealworms under a small bobber work great too.

If you are fishing with kids and want to avoid the trauma of a potentially bloody release, then using a small bobber helps kids react to the smallest grab of the bait. The quick hook-set helps prevent the fish from swallowing the hook. If the fish swallows the hook, hold the crappie by the lower lip and cut the line as close to the mouth as possible. The fish will do just fine as long as it was gently handled, and not bleeding when released.

Soon after the crappies move back out to deeper water after their spawning period, the bluegills move in and continue to provide great fishing for the rest of the summer. When the crappies disappear from the shallows, I often find them by both docks about eight or more feet deep. From May on, it is common when fishing the docks to have bluegills near the surface and crappies below.

If you are bait fishing, it is good to use an unweighted mealworm or piece of worm to allow the bluegills a chance to grab it before it sinks down to the crappies. Often anglers make the mistake of using a whole worm with a hook too large for the fish’s mouth when fishing for panfish and end up with a bare hook because the fish have swarmed the worm and pulled it off the hook. A small piece of worm on a size 10 or 12 hook will do the trick and keep that from happening.

Flies work well for bluegills too. In fact, it is a pretty common occurrence for me to get what I call a Green Valley Lake grand slam. That is when I caught a trout, bass, crappie, and bluegill on the same fly on the same day of fishing at Green Valley Lake.

One of the nice features of fly-fishing is that every fish feels much bigger than it actually is. So I continue to love catching crappies and bluegills some 55 years after picking up a fly rod for the first time.

Would you like to

try fly-fishing?

The next adult class is Saturday, May 15. I will have fly rods available for participants to borrow, which gives you a chance to try it to see if you like it without having to purchase any equipment.

The morning session summarizes the equipment used in fly-fishing, a look at effective flies, the aquatic insects that fly fishers try to imitate, knots, and tips on where to find fish in lakes and streams. The afternoon session applies what was learned in the morning, and provides an opportunity to learn some basic casts, and then use your new skills to catch fish with a fly. Members of the Payson Flycasters Club/Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be there in the afternoon to help with your casting and to offer fly-fishing advice.

While the May fly-fishing class is designed for adults, there will be a June offering for parents and kids or grandparents and kids to take together. You can sign up for either class through Payson Parks and Recreation at 928-472-5110 or at and scroll through the adult program’s menu to the fly-fishing dates.

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