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Mon, Sept. 23

1,000 'cats for Lynx & Fain, 1,000 Rainbows for Mingus<BR>

Andy Clark at AZG&F suggested using hot dogs when stocked catfish won't "turn on." Buy the cheaper brands, he said, the kinds with more chicken in them. Mealworms may work better, too.

If you've noticed fish rising to the surface on Fain Lake in the evening, those are probably the tiny catfish, which feed primarily on insects and microinvertebrates, not chicken livers. I had wondered if the rises were by small trout until I actually saw the catfish. Hopefully, these little 'cats, which AZG&F says are there from natural reproduction, will grow to a fun, catchable size in the next few years.

The water quality at Lynx and Fain is still too poor to allow trout stocking, but the water in Mingus Lake, which is a couple thousand feet higher in elevation, is cooler and holds more oxygen. Before we try Fain again, I think I'll take Sarah up to Mingus Lake and go after some of those 1,000 Rainbows that Page Springs Hatchery delivered on Sept. 4. Since the hatchery brought Mingus twice the usual number of fish, they won't bring any more until anglers pull a bunch of them out of the tiny lake. You might consider leaving work early one day this week to do your part for sport fishing conservation.

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I would have told you about the Mingus stocking last week but I wasn't here - I was fly fishing a mountain meadow stream at Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. The Brown trout were mostly small but very numerous, and the setting was something out of a mountain man novel.

The Preserve opened to fishing for the first time in July, but it was by reservation only and the season calendar filled up very, very quickly. Preserve officials divided 10 miles of San Antonio Creek into eleven "beats," allowing only two anglers per beat per day. While some beats presented Browns up to 15 inches, the trout in my assigned beat were half that size. Still, they literally competed to get at my fly, and the action never stopped until the lightning from an approaching thunderstorm convinced me to leave the huge open meadow.

Even thought the fish were small, I had nearly a mile of mountain stream with no other angler, other than my friend, in sight. Surrounded by pine forests and with the quiet punctuated only by the calling coyotes and bugling elk, it was worth the time and expense.

The Preserve also offers day hiking and an extremely limited number of elk tags.

Visit www.vallescaldera.gov for more information on fishing, hunting or hiking this beautiful, 89,000-acre preserve.

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The Good Gun Foundation of Prescott has organized a clean-up event this weekend in the Dosie Pit area about 10 miles west of Prescott on Iron Springs Road.

Dosie Pit has become a popular area for shooting enthusiasts and other recreational users. Unfortunately, too many slobs with guns frequent Dosie Pit; PNF spokesman Devin Wanner calls it "the worst site for shooting-type litter in the Prescott National Forest."

To mitigate the damage done by the visible irresponsible few, the Good Gun Foundation is sponsoring the cleanup Saturday morning, Sept. 20. The Foundation will provide donuts and coffee at 8 a.m., then hand out garbage bags for the cleanup at 9 a.m. Bring your gloves, rake and shovel, and a willingness to put in an hour or so of work.

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The clean-up coincides with the marking of National Public Lands Day, for which Prescott National Forest officials have waived the $2 parking fee for all day-use areas. For this one day out of the year, we don't have to pay additional money to park and enjoy our local public lands.

Day-use areas that normally have a fee include: Granite Basin Boat Launch, Groom Creek Schoolhouse, Lynx Lake North Shore, Lynx Lake South Shore, Mingus Lake, Playa, Thumb Butte, Wekuvde, Cayuse, Groom Creek Trailhead, Lynx Ruin, Metate, Trail 62, Alto Pit and Hayfield Draw.

Alto Pit, by the way, is closed to public use on Sunday. Central Arizona Trails got a special use permit to use the pit for motorcycle trials. You can run your OHV instead at Hayfield Draw, about eight miles from Camp Verde on Highway 260.

It'll cost you $2 to park there.

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