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Mon, Sept. 23

'Weekend spring' brings anglers to Fain Park

The 1,175 rainbow trout that Page Springs Hatchery brought to Fain Lake attracted enough fishermen to line the shores last weekend. The spring-like weather certainly helped encourage a lot of folks, including myself, to drop plans for indoor activities and head outdoors instead.

After shooting some arrows in my back yard for awhile (yes, it's legal in PV) I took a light fly rod to Fain Lake on Sunday afternoon, but I ended up talking with friends and fellow citizens who also showed up at the park and I never wet a line. It was just as well; I saw few fish come out of the lake during the mid-afternoon. One young fellow with a spinning rig said he caught his single trout on "a lure." He didn't know what kind of lure it was, but said that the fish like "silver or yellow ones." Another angler caught a stocker on Power Bait – purple, I believe. Two fish in two hours among a dozen fishermen on a tiny lake holding 1,175 fish is a pretty good indication that the fish weren't biting. I expect, however, that the action picked up closer to sunset.

All the anglers lined the shore because the floating dock at Fain Park remains closed indefinitely. According to Margaret at PV Parks & Recreation Department, the Town wants to modify the point at which the floating portion of the dock hinges to the part extending from shore. Apparently a child suffered an injury when she stuck her head into the hinging area, and the Town wants to preclude a repeat performance by anyone else.

The holdup, Margaret said, is the welder. "We don't know when he's going to get out there to fix it," she said. She suggested I call back next week to see if they've gotten a commitment from him.

Elsewhere, the hatchery put rainbows in the Verde River this week, dividing 2,400 fish among three stocking points at Tuzigoot, Bignotti and the Jacks. Oak Creek got 1,800 rainbow trout last week for the first time since the storms of November and December blew out the creek, which caused it to miss a couple of stockings.

I fly fished Oak Creek on Monday, without success. I parked at the Halfway picnic area and fished upstream, but never saw a trout, rainbow or brown, though I've caught both there in the past. I stopped at Halfway because construction crews had closed one lane of the two-lane road just beyond it, and I didn't want to deal with that. The water at Halfway was high but normal, and almost clear.

I tried most everything I had in my bug box, including dropping emergers and rock worms behind dry flies, and finally finished up with a big, ugly Stimulator. I knew it was futile when a noon hatch of tiny mayflies failed to produce a single rise, but I'm stubborn and thought just maybe the next pool might hold a fish.

I suppose the creek's blow out moved all the fish out of that stretch. Maybe I was doing something wrong and there might have been fish there, but I didn't see any even in the large, slow pools where I've seen them before. (If you don't use polarized sunglasses I highly recommend you try a pair. You'll be amazed at how they cut surface glare and let you see fish holding at the bottom. I call 'em my "magic sunglasses.")

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Arizona Game & Fish Department is asking us to contact our Senators to encourage their support of SB 2987, a bill to reaffirm states' rights to regulate hunting and fishing within their boundaries. The urging follows a federal court ruling that declared Arizona's 10 percent limit on nonresident big game tags in violation of the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.

AZG&F says that Arizona residents bear most of the cost of wildlife conservation in the sate, so it's only fair that we retain most of the hard-to-come-by tags for residents. But three people associated with US Outfitters, a commercial hunting guide service in New Mexico, sued Arizona in federal court to lift the 10 percent cap (do you think they did it out of altruism or do you think there was a profit motive? Hmm…). The judge decided, essentially, that hunting is really commerce, not recreation, and ordered Arizona to lift the cap. The AZG&F Commission is still looking for ways to retain most trophy elk and mule deer tags for residents; SB 2987 may be the best available vehicle to counter the court ruling.

I emailed Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain and asked them to support the bill. McCain didn't respond at all, but Kyl sent me a concise letter. "It is unlikely that the bill will come to a vote in the Senate this year," he wrote. "However, believing that the states are best equipped to regulate such matters, I have decided to cosponsor this legislation and will support it when it is reintroduced and considered next year."

I hope that you email our senators, too. Let Kyl know you support his position on SB 2978, and tell McCain to get on the ball. You can reach them at www.senate.gov/~kyl/ and www.senate.gov/~mccain/.

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Don't forget that the shorter daylight hours of winter means that National Forest day-use recreation areas in the Prescott Basin close earlier now. Gates to affected sites are only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Those sites include the Lynx Lake Northshore, Lynx Lake Southshore, Ranch Trailhead (Trail 62), Lynx Creek Ruins Trailhead/Gold Pan Area, Thumb Butte Recreation Area, Wekuvde Picnic Area, Metate Trailhead (Trail 261), Playa Picnic Area, Granite Boat Launch, and Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead.

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