Mon, Feb. 24

VERDE HERITAGE 1960: WEST CLEAR CREEK; Native Trout Wait For The Ambitious

"One of the joys for the outdoorsman living in this part of Arizona is the truly virgin wilderness country here where he can go if he has ambition enough and find unspoiled fishing and hunting territory."

"One of the least spoiled is West Clear Creek, which meanders through the Mogollon Rim Country until its confluence with the Verde River below Camp Verde. The best fishing is reached by going down a mile or so from the rim to the most inaccessible stretches of water. Here the big rainbows and browns wait in deep pools."

"A deep, uninhabited canyon is approachable only by a narrow, rough, cactus strewn game trail. It is a rugged journey down through the thick brush and tumbled rock slides to the distant green ribbon of water below."

"If one looks at the string of respectable but not large trout the occasional angler brings out he might be inclined to say that he could do just as well with half the effort in a number of nearby and much more accessible streams. And he would be partly right. But that is not all the story."

"It would be hard to explain the glory of an Arizona night out under the stars in a primitive lonely canyon, or to describe the cool breeze that sweeps down the canyon floor as it has done for countless centuries before you came and will remain the same when you come no more."

"Too, there is a satisfaction in knowing that you have been successful in penetrating the depths of a canyon where few men go. There is first the challenge of a demanding trek into rough, wild country. Add to this the joy of taking a fierce-fighting stream-bred native in his own environs and on his own terms and you begin to understand the pleasures of a trip into the canyon."

"It is a clear, clean stream several yards across that gurgles and froths and peaceably strolls then angrily cascades through narrow chasms and steep waterfalls. Then it will stop in deep, rock-rimmed pools 75 yards long and 30 feet deep. It is superb trout water."

"A ribbon of jade from above is seen and when the angler reaches the water's edge he finds steep cathedral like walls of sheer sandstone rising up endlessly that embrace West Clear Creek as it rushes cold and fast out of the high snow country above."

"Too, the stretch of water you fish will usually be yours alone. The only interruption as you work the stretches of shaded gurgling brook, is the splash of a brown as he smacks the water after pulling down a dragonfly. And there are big, fighting native rainbows and browns in the waters of West Clear Creek that do not often see man and that are all the more cunning and difficult to deceive. Once hooked, they put up a spirited tussle that makes their hatchery raised cousins seem like sluggish carp."

"Down the canyon 10 miles bait fishermen can pull up to the edge of the water in their automobiles and begin plunking salmon eggs and cheese into the stream and hauling out their limits of stocked rainbow trout. Success is almost assured for them."

"Although there are some lunkers in the higher water, in general the trout are no bigger but that is where the comparison stops."

"The ray-sleek battlers from above have lived on a diet of aquatic insects, minnows, and land insects and you only have to taste one fried over the evening's campfire to know that this kind of trout is a lot sweeter tasting than the one that grows up on horsemeat, etc. Once hooked, they will fight to retain their freedom with a fury that will amaze you."

"And once you have tried the natives of West Clear Creek, you'll go back reluctantly to your civilized trout, if at all."

(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, November 10, 1960; Section 2, page 2.)

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