While I fish all year, I really look forward to the first trout stockings of the year in Rim Country streams and lakes. Arizona Game and Fish has recently posted the statewide spring/summer stocking schedule on azgfd.gov, with the first stocking taking place in early April.
I particularly love fishing for trout in streams. If you are unfamiliar with the normal stocking locations for the creeks, just click on the name of the creek you intend to fish, and a map will appear that will show the stocking locations. Weather, road, and stream conditions might affect stocking dates, but this schedule is a handy reference. You should note that the schedule lists the week of the stocking, not the particular day of the week when stocking will occur.
Game and Fish will stock the lakes at Green Valley Park with trout through the end of April, and by then the crappies and the bluegills will have really started biting too.
The interest in fishing has skyrocketed this past year as folks have sought outdoor activities that families can enjoy together safely. Sometimes a lack of equipment, or knowing what to buy impedes folks trying fishing.
If you are just looking to fish for a day, you might borrow a spin-cast or spinning rod from the Payson Parks and Recreation office next to the big dock on Green Valley Lake 3. Even though the office is closed because of COVID restrictions, they are happy to loan you a rod. Just make an appointment by calling 928-472-5110 to pick up the equipment, and plan to return it by the end of the business day. The rods are set up to use either a bobber or split-shot and are rigged with hooks for use with worms, mealworms or PowerBait, which you have to provide.
There is another opportunity for folks interested in purchasing a fishing rod and associated equipment at a very reasonable price on Friday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Humane Society Resale Store, 510 W. Main St. Your purchase will benefit the Humane Society and the elementary and middle school fishing program sponsored by the Payson Flycasters Club. There will be a variety of rods and equipment on hand, and members of the Payson Flycasters Club will be there to help with any equipment questions.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly fish? I will teach an Introduction to Fly-fishing class through the Payson Parks and Recreation Department on April 10. Besides an interest in learning to fly fish, the only thing that you will need for the class is a fishing license. By the end of the day, most participants have successfully caught several fish with a fly rod. COVID protocols will be in place, and I will hold the entire class outdoors.
In the morning session, learn the basics of fly-fishing. This includes fly rods and reels, flies, the bugs that we try to imitate that the fish love to eat, a few important fly-fishing knots, where to find fish in lakes and streams, and some equipment that fly fishers use and why. The afternoon session applies what was learned in the morning, and provides an opportunity to practice casting a fly rod, and then using it to catch fish from Green Valley Lake.
To enroll for the fly-fishing class, sign up in advance through paysonrimcountry.com and scroll through the adult program offerings in the menu. If you have a fly rod, you are welcome to use it in the afternoon session, but if you do not have a fly rod, one will be provided by the Payson Flycasters Club/Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited for you to use that day. This class is a great way to see if fly-fishing is something that you would like to do, and not have to purchase equipment to find out.
Are you unfamiliar with the lakes and streams in Rim Country and the White Mountains? The Payson Roundup offers a fishing book for $5 that identifies where these waters are and gives tips for success. The book is available at the Payson Roundup office, Walmart and Bashas’.
If you are new to fishing, don’t forget to purchase your license. Children under 10 fish free, and 10-17 can get one for $5. The adult resident license is $37. Licenses are valid for a full year from purchase and can be obtained online at azgfd.gov or at Walmart and Big 5 Sporting Goods.
When I purchase my license each year, I always take some time to review the regulations. Page 4 of the 2021-2022 regulations lists changes from last year, and page 6 lists the daily bag limits per species. The daily bag limit for trout is four fish in lakes and streams where they are allowed to be harvested.
There are several waters that are under special regulations. White Mountain waters that are under special regulations are listed on page 12, and Rim Country special regulation waters are listed on page 16.
I would love to have you join the fly-fishing class, and hope to see you out fishing at one of our great Rim Country lakes and streams.