NAF was formed in 1984 and from the very beginning have been involved in conservation of local fisheries. At first small projects such as assisting ADG&F in sinking trees (crappie condos) into the deepest part of Upper Lake Mary and removing weeds from local fisheries. As the club grew in membership and financial resources, larger projects were undertaken. We “adopted” four small lakes south east of the City of Williams, stillwater fisheries know as JD Dam Lake, Middle, Elk and Perkins tanks.
NAF’s goal for the Williams lakes was to develop quality fisheries that would provide larger carryover fish. In 1988 NAF in cooperation with ADG&F, USFS, and National Guard, a spillway was constructed at JD Dam Lake. Sediment was removed from lake bottom and used to construct peninsulas and islands, which improved fish and waterfowl habitat and also provided better fishing access. Perkins Tank had reliable water levels but water quality was compromised by large numbers of cattle watering all summer long. So about 1990 NAF worked with USFS and ADG&F in fencing off cattle access. This did not correct the problem when grazing the permittee simply cut the fence and let the cattle water. So with help from USFS, NAF installed a watering system downstream allowing cattle as well as wildlife to water. Perkins became an excellent fishery for rainbows, browns and especially brook trout.
Between 1993 and 1998 NAF participated in several work projects in the White Mountains to reintroduce Apache Trout into the West Fork Black River and its tributaries.
In 1997 NAF participated and provided some funds in reintroducing Gila trout into Dude Creek northwest of Payson, AZ. Unfortunately this population did not survive.
In 1999, after discussions with Region two fish biologists, NAF petitioned Arizona Game and Fish commission to change fishing regulations on 2.2 miles of Oak Creek and all of West Fork Oak Creek. Beginning in January 2000 catch and release, artificial flies or lures, single barb less hook rules went into effect, the first such laws in the state. Our previous work on JD did not provide the desired results so in 1998 NAF reached an agreement with USFS, ADG&F and Army Corps of Engineers to remove additional sediment. In the spring of 1999, 36,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from a three-acre area. This increased the depth from nine feet to seventeen feet. Again we petitioned Arizona Game and Fish Commission to enact the same catch and release regulations as Oak Creek in all four Williams Lakes. In 2001 the new regulations went into effect. ADG&F stocked large trout and by the fall of 2001 anglers were catching fish up to four pounds. In the following years of severe drought fish still over wintered. NAF then re-vegetated the two peninsulas with native grass and sedges.
Middle Tank is one mile west of JD and was too shallow to allow over wintering of trout. Then in early 2001 a flash flood washed out the dam dropping water levels even lower. So again, NAF in cooperation with ADG&F and USFS with three bulldozers and an excavator removed lake sediment, which was used to raise the height of the entire dam by four feet. NAF re-vegetated about one acre. Some years Middle Tank does not have a fish carry over but it is a much-improved fishery.
The same flash flood at Middle tank washed out the spillway at Elk Tank that is two miles up the same drainage. NAF, ADG&F and USFS cooperated in restoring the spillway to its original level.