Tributaries

Since starting my new job I have been thinking quite a bit, unsurprisingly, about my favorite stream, the East Verde River. Starting as the tiniest of micro-streams at the base of the Mogollon Rim, it is precisely the kind of ankle deep trickle that is easy to ignore.

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While this might be brook trout land back east, out here this is the home of rainbows, chub, and (hopefully soon) gila trout. Most these fish are small,

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But for those who are willing to do some digging, fight a little poison ivy, and catch more snags that fish, there are some diamonds in the rough.

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It is a perfect stream.


One watershed up the hill, you find Fossil Creek.

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Fed by insatiable springs that push untold gallons down the travertine banks, Fossil is known for it’s warm water and summer time excesses. That’s too bad, because the real story here is the incredible conservation success that is its flourishing roundtail chub population.

Because of the hard work of more people than we will ever be able to count, or thank, Fossil has become a beacon of what Southwestern Fly Fishing can be– a warm weather winter get away with fish you cannot find anywhere else.

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It is a perfect stream.


Moving upstream further, you find West Clear Creek and Wet Beaver Creek, two waters characterized by busy downstream trails and difficult upstream access.

With sheer walls and headwaters protected by large wilderness areas, these are not streams for the feint of heart. Come ready to swim,

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And to to have the canyons to yourself.

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They, too, are perfect streams.


There are more. Together these streams flow into the Verde River, a ribbon of life that cuts its way through the desert. When these waters reach Phoenix, they merge with the Salt River. Here the water stops, but not without reason: these waters are the lifeblood Central Arizona.

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And I guess, in it’s own kind of way, the Salt is perfect too.

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By the time the Salt reaches Phoenix it contains waters from the White, Black, East Verde, and Verde Rivers as well as Tonto, Haigler, Fossil, Clear, Wet Beaver, Sycamore, and Granite Creeks. There are more, of course.

I’ve been out on a bunch of trips lately, everywhere from the Firs to the Cottonwoods. I’ve stood in and swam across a great deal of water as well, but I’ve had some trouble finding ways to talk about each of these trips individually. Instead, as we start a life in a new town, I find it much easier to remember that, in the end, all the water from all these perfect streams arrives up in the same place.

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Max Wilson is a born and raised Arizonan with a love for all that is beautiful and strange about the Southwest. He studied at Arizona State University, where he received his PhD in ecology. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

 

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