Break out the rod and reel.
This week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is stocking the Verde River with rainbow trout in time for the annual winter fishing season.
The first stocking in the river between Camp Verde and Cottonwood was scheduled to begin earlier this week, said Rory Aikens, public information officer with the department.
The department is also planning to release fish into the water at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood.
Rainbow trout will continue to be released into the river throughout the season between now and March, Aikens said, with new fish arriving roughly every other week or so.
The agency has already stocked Wet Beaver Creek and Clear Creek. That stocking took place around mid-October and won’t be repeated until the first week in March, according to a schedule published by the Game and Fish Department.
It’s not really a complicated process, Aikens said, as any angler knows.
“We just put them in the water,” Aikens said. “Then they get caught.”
The number of fish released in each stocking event varies on the size of the body of water, Aikens said, but in the Verde River, the department sets around 4,000 to 6,000 trout free each time.
“We release a certain number of fish per surface acre,” Aikens said.
Aikens also revealed where anglers could find areas where the game and fish department releases the trout.
“If you see a bridge over the Verde River between Camp Verde and Cottonwood, that’s where we stock,” Aikens said.
Aikens also said that since the agency stocks the fish at both Dead Horse Ranch State Park and the Verde River, anglers at the park won’t have far to go to take advantage of two trout stocking sites.
The Verde River is a particularly ideal fishing location, Aikens said, thanks to its unique geographical and hydrological qualities.
“The Verde River is at mid-elevation,” Aikens said. “Even though it can get cold, the river doesn’t really freeze over. Some ice, we call it edge ice, can accumulate but usually it’s melted off by the afternoon.”
Aikens said that stocking the Verde River brings trout anglers from outside the Verde Valley, making it a viable economic engine for the region.
To entice the fish to nibble on the line, Aikens recommends baiting the hook with night crawlers, meal worms or spinners, available at many shops and convenience stores throughout the area.
Other waters throughout the region are scheduled to be stocked for the winter, including Oak Creek and Lower Lake Mary, but no stocking is planned this season in the Show Low and Payson areas.
Fishing requires a license in Arizona, unless the angler is younger than 14 or blind, according to the state’s official fishing guidelines.
Fishing licenses vary in price depending on the type purchased and are available online or at one of more than 300 dealers around the state.
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