I love the convenience of fishing at the lakes at Green Valley Park. It is such a pleasure having three beautiful lakes within minutes of my home.
I almost always have my fly rod in the car, and I can’t count the number of times that I started out doing some errands around town, and then decided that I had to stop by the lakes and see what was biting.
While bluegills, crappies and bass will bite all year, when the water cools enough, AZGFD stocks all three Green Valley lakes with trout. Starting this week through mid-May, the lakes will be stocked every two weeks.
The azgfd.gov website, under the fishing tab, lists the stocking schedule for the Community Fishing Program (CFP) lakes and ponds across the state. The Valley CFP lakes are stocked with trout starting in November, while the northern lakes in this program receive trout in early October. Anglers should know the dates posted are for the week of, and does not mean stocking will occur on the first day of that week. Stocking is also subject to water conditions at the receiving lakes, and even road conditions that might impact delivery.
The lakes are stocked based on their size, as you might expect. So the bulk of the fish are stocked in the big lake (lake 3), lake 1 gets the next most fish, while lake 2, the smallest lake, gets the fewest fish.
There are a wide variety of approaches to fish for trout at Green Valley that have proven effective over the years. A number of anglers use worms, PowerBait, or corn. Spin fishers will use small jigs or spinners and do quite well. Fly fishers often will use a bead-head or midge under an indicator, or a wooly bugger stripped in foot-long spurts with a pause after each strip, letting it sink three to five feet before starting the retrieve.
Bait fishers fish the deeper water. As a fly fisher, I like to target the edge of the drop-off generally about eight to 12 feet from shore as this is an area that allows fish access to the shallows for feeding, yet provides a quick escape to the safer, deep water.
The daily bag limit for trout is four fish per day. If you decide you want to release your fish, please remember that trout are typically more delicate than the bass, crappies, and bluegills in the lake. I use barbless hooks, and net my fish with the hope of not even having to grab it. Because of the barbless hook, about 75% of my trout wiggle off the hook in the net and are ready for a quick release.
If I have to handle a trout, I make sure my hands are wet to reduce the chance of removing the slime that protects them. If the battle has been prolonged and the fish does not immediately swim out of the net, I revive it by gently moving it back and forth in the net, or by holding it upright while working it forward and backward to get water flowing through the gills. It usually takes less than a minute to revive a trout like this, but if it is just tossed in and goes belly-up, there is very little chance the trout will survive, so please take the time to make sure the trout swims off in good shape.
If you are bait fishing and a trout swallows the hook, it can be released if you take special care. Cut the line as close to the mouth as possible. As long as the fish has been handled gently and is not bleeding, it has a very good chance of surviving and will continue feeding. If the trout is struggling to revive or is bleeding, then that is a fish that you will need to keep.
Fishing licenses can be purchased in town, as well as online at azgfd.gov. Kids up to age 9 fish for free, ages 10-17 will need licenses that cost $5. Adults can purchase licenses for the CFP lakes for $24, or general fishing licenses that are good for CFP waters as well as other state waters for $37. Licenses are good for a year from the date of purchase.
The Payson Parks and Recreation Department has several fishing rods available for loan for the day at their office on lake 3 by the big dock. The Parks and Rec office does not have bait or spinners, so you will need to purchase bait prior to borrowing the rods.
The Payson Flycasters Club/Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited (PFC/GTTU) will be having a sale of a variety of used fishing equipment on Oct. 15 and 16 at the Humane Society thrift store on Main Street. The profits will be split between the Humane Society and the educational programs offered by PFC/GTTU. So this is a great way to purchase fishing equipment cheaply, and benefit a good cause.
This is a great time of year to get out and do some fishing. I hope to see you at a Green Valley lake.