In part 1, I talked about how the hatcheries provide us with thousands of fish throughout Rim Country and the state. Once those fish reach the streams, the Arizona Game and Fish Department works hard to maximize an angler’s success.
AZGFD employees have researched stocked fish and a key finding is that newly stocked fish do not typically move far from where they are put into a stream. To assist anglers, AZGFD provides stocking locations on their stocking schedule. Click on the name of the stream and a map will identify stocking locations.
In addition to ongoing research in the hatcheries, AZGFD monitors fish habitats on lakes and streams. Part of this work involves regular surveys. I recently spent a day on a survey of Canyon Creek, a premier Arizona trout stream.
While some worked on the capture of fish to determine a population estimate for Canyon Creek, others were taking stream width and depth measurements, checking water temperature and chemistry. This information provides AZGFD with comparative data to assess changes from year to year.
The AZGFD crew was amazed at the devastation caused by the winter floods. From my layman’s perspective, the size of the fish and number of quality fish was impressive. I look forward to hearing what the final analysis of the impact from this year’s flooding had on the population.
This kind of survey helps with management decisions. On Canyon Creek, for example, AZGFD installed a series of stream improvement devices to help the stream return to pre Rodeo-Chediski Fire conditions. Many of those devices held after this year’s winter flooding, but damage in other areas will likely mean new efforts by AZGFD to help stabilize some of the more threatened sections of the creek.
If you have not had the opportunity to fish Canyon Creek, you should make that a goal for this year. AZGFD manages the lower section of the creek below the OW Bridge as a quality wild brown trout fishing area. There are special regulations in place that require that all fish caught are immediately released, and only single barbless flies and lures can be used.
The upper section by the hatchery and campground has a healthy wild population of brown trout and is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. Although bait is allowed in this upper section, there is a creel limit of four fish.
Similar stream improvement work has been done on Tonto Creek. It still provides benefits today. In fact, one of my grandsons caught a trout on Tonto Creek recently at one of those stream improvements.
AZGFD also installed a number of stream improvements on Haigler Creek and this fall plans to add stream improvements on four sections of the East Verde River. This work benefits fish and improves the fishing for all of us in Rim Country.
For those of you who fish Roosevelt Lake, AZGFD has been extremely active in improving that fishery. So far, AZGFD has built and deployed approximately 1,000 fish structures in Roosevelt Lake. They plan to continue to add structures over the next 20 years.
During the higher water conditions that we are currently experiencing on Roosevelt Lake, the fish move in to the brush and dead tree cover along the shoreline, but when the lake recedes that preferred cover is no longer available to the fish. All of the Roosevelt Lake artificial fish structures have been placed in deep water where there is a lack of cover and will remain out of harm’s way to boaters even when the lake levels are significantly lower.
AZGFD found that the fish often move onto these structures within hours of placement, indicating their importance to the fish in the lake. The department provides GPS coordinates to anglers for these structures to improve fishing success on Roosevelt Lake. They are also planning to do a similar project in Bartlett Lake starting this year.
A tip of the hat and thank you to AZGFD as they continue to work hard on our behalf to provide great fishing in Arizona.