The Gilbert Town Council voted against making the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch lake a catch-and-release fishing spot almost four years ago. But now the same volunteer fly-fishing instructor who proposed the measure in 2004 is pushing for it again.
"It needs to be zero limit," said David Phares, who teaches fly-fishing courses for Gilbert's parks and recreation department and is the town's presiding judge.
Phares has proposed turning the lake into a "catch-and-release trophy fishery" that would require anglers to use artificial bait and nonbarbed hooks.
Gilbert's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted Thursday to schedule a public meeting May 8 to get input on whether it should recommend the town stop anglers from taking fish from the lake.
In the past, critics have said such a move would limit the number of users at the lake.
"I wouldn't come here," said Queen Creek resident Paul Van Horn. "I'd go find some other fishing area to go to."
The lake is part of the Gilbert's popular Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch that attracts more than 100,000 people each year, according to town officials.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks the lake every two weeks, mainly with catfish.
But the fish don't stay in the water long, officials said.
Board member Von Payne, a "big fan" of the catch-and-release plan, said he knows there are people who use the lake to catch fish to eat, but believes there are more anglers who don't eat the fish.
"I think it's my job to look after the whole town," he said.
To Phares, going to catch-and-release would attract more anglers to the lake because the fish would grow larger and be more fun to catch.
The council rejected a recommended plan to make the lake catch-and-release in 2004. Instead, council members voted to reduce the limits on the number and size of fish taken from the lake.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road.