Wednesday, October 18, 2017

High Country Fall Fishing
By Diane Tilton, Education and Information Manager
As Summer draws to a close and temperatures cool down, trout fishing will be picking up in the White Mountains. Although any day with a line in the water is a good day, of course, it’s always better to get a fish in hand for dinner. Here are some great, easy-to-access fishing spots for Fall trout fishing.
Woods Canyon Lake
The Arizona Game & Fish Department built Woods Canyon Lake for aquatic recreation. Woods Canyon has easy access, close proximity to Phoenix and excellent visitor facilities. It’s a beautiful, canyon bound, deep lake with plenty of trout fishing opportunities. Woods Canyon Lake has produced a couple of winners of the Department’s “Big Fish-of-the-Year” Program in the rainbow trout categories, including a 10-lb. brown trout in 1999. Now, very few, if any, brown trout are present. However, tiger trout were stocked here beginning in Spring, 2016. Green sunfish can usually be caught easily from the shore. 
Woods Canyon Lake is located close to the edge of the Mogollon Rim, approximately 30 miles east of Payson in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. To get to this scenic Rim lake from Highway 260, drive west about four miles on paved Forest Road 300 (the Rim Road), then turn north onto paved Forest Road 105 and proceed about a mile to the lake. Access is restricted in the Winter when roads are closed at the highway due to snow, generally from December to early April.
Woods Canyon Lake consists of 55 surface acres, with an average depth of 25 feet and a maximum depth of 40 feet. It lies at 7,510 feet. Because it is deep, the lake maintains good water quality and is stocked weekly from May through September with catchable rainbow trout. Tiger trout are stocked less frequently, based on availability of the fish. 
Visitors to Woods Canyon Lake can enjoy a picnic area with restrooms and a boat ramp. There is also a concessionaire who rents boats, sells fishing licenses and bait and tackle and operates a well-stocked country store. There is a dump station about a mile from the lake. Campers can stay at one of four fee-use campgrounds. Spillway Campground has 26 sites, each accommodating a trailer up to 16 feet long. It fills quickly on weekends, owing to its proximity to the lake. Amenities here include barrier-free restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire rings and a campground host.
 Aspen Campground, along Forest Road 105, is much larger -- with 136 sites -- and can accommodate trailers up to 32 feet long. It has the same amenities as at Spillway. The Crook Campground is mainly a group camping area, with two loops and a total of 26 sites. Usually, one entire loop is reserved for a group. Each loop has a large ramada with picnic tables. Finally, Mogollon Campground, located along Forest Road 300, has 26 units accommodating trailers up to 32 feet. Amenities are the same as at Spillway Campground. No reservations are taken for this campground. The campgrounds are open from April 15 to October 15, weather permitting. Get more camping information and reserve a site by visiting
If fishing for trout from shore, try Power Bait with garlic, worms or Roostertail spinner for rainbows. If you’re trying for a tiger trout, try Kastmasters, small Rapalas, Pather Martin spinners, or flies. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for large trout with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Fish for green sunfish, along the rocky shore, with nightcrawlers. 
Statewide fishing regulations apply. The daily bag limit is six trout (any combination) and unlimited for sunfish. Boat motors are restricted to single electric motors only. 
Becker Lake
Becker Lake is managed as a catch-and-release, trophy trout lake with special regulations. Located near Springerville, it also includes the 622-acre Becker Wildlife Area, where wintering bald eagles can be spotted most years in nearby cottonwood trees. Built around 1880, Becker Lake is one of the oldest reservoirs in the White Mountains. The Arizona Game and Fish Department acquired the lake in 1973. The lake is located at 6,910 feet. Easily accessible, it is a mere two miles from the center of Springerville, off the west side of U.S. Highway 60.
Becker Lake has 107 surface acres with a maximum depth of 21 feet and an average depth of 10 feet. It is located on a diversion of the Little Colorado River. The Department owns water rights in the lake so water levels can be maintained. The lake is stocked with sub-catchable rainbow trout in the Spring. Many of these fish survive the winter, reaching a good size the following Spring. It is open to angling year-round but usually freezes over the winter.
The lake has a boat ramp, dirt parking and barrier-free restroom. The Department has developed two hiking trails through the Wildlife Area. No camping is allowed at the lake but there is a private RV campground nearby. 
Fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout, Little Colorado suckers and illegally introduced green sunfish, largemouth bass and channel catfish.
Becker Lake is catch-and-release only for trout and artificial flies and lures with a single barbless hook. Big fish lurk along the weed beds on the south end. Flies to try are midges, Prince Nymph, brown Montana stone and KP bugger. Using a boat or float tube are the best ways to fish here. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading because of heavy vegetation. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single barbless hook.
Remember that special fishing regulations apply at Becker Lake. Year-round angling is catch-and-release with artificial fly and lure with a single barbless hook. No bait fishing is allowed, and all trout must be released immediately. Boat motors are restricted to either single electric motor or 10 hp gas motors or less. NO TROUT MAY BE KEPT. 

Silver Creek
Silver Creek Hatchery was purchased by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission in 1978. The site was previously owned by the Bourdon family. The facility includes an 840-acre wildlife area that is open to the public for fishing and hunting. This is a popular destination and has opportunities for viewing all forms of wildlife. There is an established trail along the creek but during wet weather the area is extremely muddy.  Use caution while traversing the hatchery property. Some of the hatchery property is restricted and no public access is allowed. Areas closed to the public are marked by signs on the trail.
Rainbow trout are raised at Silver Creek. During the catch-and-release season, October 1-March 31, rainbow trout that are often 18 inches or larger can often be caught. This is a great spot to fish during the winter; the creek is fed from an underground stream and doesn’t freeze.
Silver Creek Hatchery is located east of Show Low about five miles on Highway 60. Turn north off 60 onto Bourdon Ranch Road for five miles to Hatchery Way Road. Turn east on Hatchery Way Road for 1/2 mile to the facility. There are bathrooms and one picnic table at the parking area. 
During the catch-and-keep season, April 1- September 30, nightcrawlers and PowerBait work well. Try hiding upstream, where fewer people fish, or around some shade or cover. During the catch-and-release season, try a variety of flies including white bunny leeches, buggers, simi-seals, San Juan works, egg patters, shami leeches or zebra midges. 

Special fishing regulations apply. Fishing opportunities on the hatchery property are split into two seasons.  Catch-and-release only for trout from October 1 - March 31. Trout must be immediately released unharmed; no trout may be kept; artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hook only. From April 1– September 30, bait and barbed hooks may also be used and the limit is six trout in any combination. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How to Save on Your Water Bill

   Water is a precious resource. It’s important to be aware of water usage before the summer storms hit, and even then, being water-smart is important to the ever increasing demand and decreasing supply. Rainwater harvesting is the most trending way to save on water when it comes to landscape irrigation, wildlife and livestock watering, in-home use and fire protection. It also helps with storm water control to prevent flooding, and because the the new modern tanks are sealed from light the water stays clean for months, so it can be used for nearly any purpose that requires water.
   Landscape and gardening irrigation is one of the largest usage of water collected in tanks. It is one of the easiest ways to use stored rainwater because it can be used without pumps and without treatment. It’s great for plants because it is free from salts and other minerals that harm root growth. As rainwater percolates into the soil, it forces salts down and away from root zones, allowing roots to grow better, making plants more drought tolerant.
   The catchment area, generally a roof, is the first point of contact for rainfall when using a tank-based rainwater harvesting system. The size of the roof will determine how much rainwater can be harvested. You can determine how much rainwater you roof can collect by multiplying the square footage (SF) and annual rain fall for the year. The total sum is then multiplied by .633. For example; the average rainfall in Show Low, Arizona is 17”. So, a 1000 SF roof can collect 10,761 gallons of water! Even a smaller 100 SF roof can collect 1,076 gallons per year.
   Rain gutters can be added to the outside of a building at any time. Proper sizing of gutters are important to collect as much rainwater as possible. Before storing the rainwater that you have collected, it’s important to filter it to remove particles and debris. You can put a stainless steel mesh over the gutter, called a “gutter guard” to filter water off a roof. Once you have collected and filtered the rainwater, you can distribute it through a hose, contracted channels, perforated pipes or a manual drip system that directs the water from the tank to the landscape area or garden. Gates and diverters can be used to control the rate of flow and direction.
   If you need to collect water for household uses, an additional filter system inside the house is needed. Depending on the use, will determine the type of filter you will need. If it is only for laundry, grey water or even showering, an inexpensive filter can be used to ensure safety. This is a great way to reduce your water bill and bypass water restrictions during drought conditions.

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wild Things to Avoid

9 Wild Things To Avoid

By Dan Groebner
Bear (yearling) climbs tree after release.

   Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing are some of the safest healthy physical activities.  You can not only become more physically fit, but mental health also gets better with outdoor activities for many people.  When we make efforts to be in the “wild”, we usually want to see, hear, and experience wild things.  Fortunately, 99% of  those wild things are safe and won't harm us.  However, certain precautions can make the experience even safer and more enjoyable.  
   The following information is not intended to scare anyone, or be a complete review of all dangers encountered on our ventures. You always have to be aware of unique dangerous situations.  For example, a rock that makes a nice stepping stone can be an ankle breaker if stepped on awkwardly.  A good day can turn bad quickly if you're not prepared for the basic wild things that we can count on up here in the White Mountains and Rim Country of Arizona. Weather: We have little reason to not be prepared for bad weather such as cold rains and wind in the summer along with sudden, blinding snowstorms in the fall, winter and spring.  Exploring unfamiliar territory means you should have a map, compass, GPS, and knowledge how to use them.  This article focuses on the wildlife of the White Mountain area, so cockroaches and scorpions and unruly neighbors are not included. 

1. Elk and deer: We are all aware of the obvious big stuff to avoid.  Well, maybe not everybody, as you can find plenty of videos on the internet of people getting run over or gored by elk and deer that seem tame.  By far, the most dangerous elk and deer are those roadside nocturnal car killers that prey on vehicles traveling too fast at night.

2. Large Carnivores: There have been enough stories and hysteria published about large carnivores, such as wolves, bears and lions to get our attention, but how much should we worry about these predators when hiking and camping?  Although these animals are certainly capable of killing people, they rarely do and you are in much more danger from your wife, husband or hiking companion (and we are not talking about their cooking!).  It's uncommon to encounter these animals in the wild, but the experts say to make yourself look big and confident, yell at the animal and slowly back away to a safer location if possible.  So don't use the old prank of just making sure you can run faster than your hiking mates to avoid a bear attack, as the animal may just choose to chase the thing moving the fastest and looking the most worried!

3. Rabies: Less obvious, but just as deadly, can be tame-looking animals that are infected with the calm or dumb form of rabies.  Foxes, skunks, and bats are the animals most commonly affected in the White Mountains.  Children (and some of us challenged adults) should always be reminded not to touch any of these critters, but if they do get exposed through a bite or open wound, they can get medicine to keep them from getting real sick and dying.  The post exposure vaccinations are not given with pencil-thick needles in the belly anymore and are relatively painless.  But they must be given within a day or so of the exposure to be effective.  Rabies is 100% treatable, but it's also 100% fatal if not treated right away.

4.  Javelina and venomous snakes: With mild winters and warmer summers comes more javelina and venomous snakes.  Common sense keeps most of us at safe distances from these guys, and you almost have to try to get hurt from them.  Unfortunately, it's not the same for the dogs we bring hiking, as their instincts and curiosities often get them in trouble. The best way to avoid this problem is to keep pets close enough to react and help them out if these animals make an appearance.  If you plan to hike in warmer areas with more javelina and snakes, you might want to consider specialized training that's available for you and your dog.  Snakebites are rarely fatal to humans if treated immediately.

5. Birds: Most people wouldn't consider blackbirds very dangerous or something to worry about, unless a grackle decided to use the hedge by your front door as it's new nest site!  Many birds can become so aggressively defensive near their nest that blood is drawn from beak strikes on a  surprise strafing run to the forehead.  Northern goshawks usually nest in more remote areas, but if you happen to wander underneath one in the spring with chicks present, be ready for some amazingly quick and acrobatic attacks from every angle.  Great horned owls are said to have enough strength to break a persons neck if you are messing with their chicks in the nest.  So keep your feet on the ground and you should be OK with Arizona's largest owl. And remember, it's against the law to disturb nests if they have eggs and chicks in them, unless it's a human health issue.  Most chicks fly out of the nests in a matter of days or a couple weeks, so these types of problems are usually just temporary.  Don't worry, birds can't give you rabies, only mammals!

6. Mosquitos: And then we get to the really deadly critters.  Fortunately, it's not moist enough in Arizona's White Mountains to harbor many mosquitoes, which are the world's deadliest animals since they transmit malaria.  But the Africanized honey bees sure make up for the missing mosquitoes.  So far, it appears to be too cold along the Rim and into higher elevations for this type of bee to survive.  But local hornets can certainly swarm and ruin a hike unless you can vacate the area quick enough to avoid many bites.  Insect bites always carry the risk of an allergic reaction  so carry your “epi-pen” or other medicine if you know you could go into anaphylactic shock.  Anybody stung by a bee, hornet, or even centipede, should be monitored closely for at least an hour to look for signs of shock, which need to be treated immediately in a medical facility. 

7 spiders: Although we don't have brown recluse spiders around here, there are black widow and brown spiders that can cause some nasty bite wounds if left untreated.  Some bites aren't painful at first, but can progress to larger lesions, pain, and flu-like symptoms of cramping, nausea, and headaches.  We don't have the official fire ant either, as it's found in more humid areas of southeast US, from Texas to Florida.  Unfortunately, there are cousins of the fire ant who live in the White Mountains that can bite and sting, luckily not with the potent alkaloid poison of the real fire ants. People most vulnerable to complications from bites include the very young, old or others with weak immune systems.  Even healthy people might need oral antibiotics to clear the bite infection.  If serious symptoms are absent, a simple cold compress and OTC pain medication may be all that is needed.  Lotions containing antihistamines or corticosteroids can also help relieve symptoms.

8. Young animals: There are also wild things to avoid, not for your safety, but rather for the wild thing itself.  Springtime is when many people find young animals such as deer fawns or baby birds on their hikes or in their backyards.  Kind-souled people want to pick them up and care for them since they appear abandoned.  However, most of these critters have not been abandoned and will be cared for once you leave the area.  Chicks that have fallen out of nests can be safely put back into the nest or in the nest tree, as it's just an urban myth that they will be abandoned by their parents because they have the human scent on them now.  Even elk calves, whose mothers have a keen sense of smell unlike birds, will be accepted by mom after handling by humans.  In the vast majority of cases, wild animals will have a better chance of survival in the wild with their parents than they will being taken care of by humans.  Rehabilitation in captivity is very stressful for most animals.
9. Poison Ivy: So there's a list of some of the animals to be aware of when enjoying the White Mountain outdoors, but are there any plants we should avoid?  Of course, unless you enjoy itching your skin raw from wandering barefoot through a poison ivy patch or possibly dieing from eating the wrong mushroom.  There are many more types of plants to avoid for various reasons, but we don't have room here this month.  Tune in to next month's GYMOAZ for a guide to problem plants in the White Mountains.
   Although most problem encounters with wildlife occur in the spring when young are present, or the fall during mating seasons, you'll want to be prepared throughout the summer also.  A little common sense goes along way when dealing with wild animals.  Be aware of your surroundings, especially any children and pets that get to come along.  Don't feed the wildlife no matter how hungry they look or how many people fed them before you.  They'll lose their fear of people, possibly threaten or hurt someone, and then will have to be permanently removed, just because somebody fed it.  Keep Wildlife Wild!  Now that you are better prepared to deal with wildlife encounters, go enjoy yourself with some healthy exercise and feel more comfortable surrounded by Arizona's White Mountains.