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The Game and Fish Commission approved creating the country’s first-ever blue ribbon catch-and-release-only seasonal roundtail chub fishery along Fossil Creek in the Verde Valley starting in October of 2009.
“This is really a landmark fishery for a native fish species,” said Young. “Plus the unique history of Fossil Creek itself makes this a classic fishing story for the ages.”
When the decommissioning of the Childs Hydroelectric Power Plant and accompanying renovation of Fossil Creek was first proposed, many anglers and angling groups expressed support the project but asked that the stream not be closed permanently to angling.
With the stream recovery progressing well, the Game and Fish Department gained the Game and Fish Commission’s approval to create a catch-and-release artificial fly and lure-only (single barbless hook) fishery with a season opening the first Saturday in October and continuing through April 30
The timing of the fishing season is selected to reduce the chance of conflicts between anglers and other users during the summer months.
Lots of Arizona anglers along the Verde River over the years have learned to appreciate the angling qualities of roundtail chub, and have long referred to them as Verde trout. In fact, anglers helped to salvage roundtails from Fossil Creek during the renovation process in 2004.
Young added that not everyone has embraced the concept of having a blue ribbon roundtail chub fishery along Fossil Creek.
“One concern being voiced is that some stretches of Fossil Creek have been loved a little too much. Some fear that increased usage could increase the amount of litter and other abuses.” Young said. “But in honesty, we expect the exact opposite.”
Young explained that the dedicated anglers who will be attracted to this one-of-a-kind fishery are conscientious conservationists and stewards of the land. “These are the type of outdoor enthusiasts who will give this unique travertine stream the watchful loving attention it truly deserves and should help counter some of the abuses currently being experienced there.”
Young added that unless we can successfully cultivate public stewardship including a community policing component, long term conservation of areas like Fossil Creek are likely to be tenuous. “This type of fishery will also engender more public appreciation for all the state’s native fish populations, most of which are imperiled.”