Welcoming trout to Payson’s Green Valley lakes with fly-fishing, filleting, frying

GreenValley1PAYSON — Heard some tasty rainbow trout had just been stocked into Green Valley Park lakes, just 1 hour, 45 minutes northeast of Phoenix.

So on Friday, Oct. 15, two days after the lake had been stocked, I threw a lime-green kayak into a silver Ford F-150 and headed up to this lush Community Fishing Program lake for some fly-fishing action — and hopefully an awesome dinner.

Like many fish species, trout tend to bite best during first and last light. Yet arriving at 9 a.m. at the main, 10-acre Green Valley lake, probably during the tail end of this “bite window,” a rainbow trout took an offer of a black woolly bugger fished 3 feet under a strike indicator cork.

See this video of a trout taking a No. 10 woolly bugger tied to a 3-pound tippet.

Watch the trout skyrocket!

The fish selfie followed…


Or it is a fishelfie?

Regardless — why the use of flies? Green Valley lakes, located a mile west of Highway 87 on Main Street, was stocked on Wednesday, Oct. 15 with 340 pounds of trout. This trip took place two days afterward. Typically during the following few days after a trout stocking, these iridescent fish will remain near the surface, often cruising shorelines.

Dropping a fly a couple feet under a cork puts the bait right in the likely target zone. (Be sure to bring PowerBait to Green Valley lakes, because trout will primarily be deep once the stocked trout settle down, especially once the sun comes up.)

But trout were not hitting flies near the shorelines, although sunfish were taking refuge — and woolly buggers — near the cattails. So the thinking was that the fountains, which cool and clear the water and increase the surrounding oxygen supply, would entice these stockers, likely craving a dose of fresh water and extra oxygen after their long trek from Colorado.

Can’t blame ’em.

This is where this fish was caught using a 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod. Another trout twice came to the surface and tried to gobble the strike indicator cork. Then the trout bite shut off.

The most consistent bite until about 3 p.m. was on crappie along the cattails. Hardly a better tasting fish.

Bluegill also bit black or olive-colored No. 10 woolly buggers just off the tules. The secret for sunfish was pulling the cork across the surface about a foot, pausing for a few seconds, then stripping in the slack. Bites came as the bait was still.

Tasty crappie
Tasty crappie

Filleting the trout, crappie and bluegill

Fish kept — a trout, two crappie and a bluegill — were cleaned with a 4-inch Rapala Finlander knife, an excellent all-around blade that can be purchased at Wal-Mart for about $13.


Fresh, fried fish for dinner

Fried in peanut oil in some Louisiana Fish Fry seasonings (the local Safeway was out of white corn meal), along with a side of cheesy broccoli (brown) rice, the catch-and-cook cycle is complete.

Fresh, healthy, organic dinner! (Well, the fish were organic anyway.)


Fishing Green Valley and other Community Fishing Program lakes/ponds

No other fish species is stocked at Green Valley; however, good populations of bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish can be found in this productive lake ecosystem.

Trout will be stocked at Green Valley lakes every two weeks until early May.

See more information on the Community Fishing Program.

Trout can also be caught on small spinners and spoons and with baits such as scented dough balls, worms or salmon eggs. Popular flies for trout are peacock lady and zebra midges fished slowly, 4-6 feet below the surface.

To catch more trout, use lighter line in the 2-6 pound range, smaller hooks and a minimal amount of weight. Limits on trout are four per day for licensed anglers.


Anglers age 10 and over must have a General Fishing, Combination Hunt and Fishing (ages 10-17), Combination Hunt and Fish or Community Fishing license to fish Green Valley Lakes. The Community Fishing license is $24, and like all licenses, is now valid 365 days from the date of purchase.

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