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Gila Trout Season in Southern Arizona

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Historic first-ever Gila trout season proposed in Southern Arizona

The following Press Release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department is good news for all fly fishers.  The Gila (pronounced hee-la) Trout have been long gone from Arizona due to the lack of protection before fish regulations.  Gila Trout were planted in Frye Creek in 2009.  Frye Creek empties into Frye Mesa Reservoir on Graham Mountain.  This mountain area will have a fishery for both Gila and Apache Trout in Southern Arizona.  When you get tired of fishing for Gila and Apache there are also Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout in the same mountain area. 

When I lived in the Phoenix ten years ago I never fished Graham Mountain.  I heard there was a lot of fish but they were all small planters.  I wasn’t aware of the Apache Trout or I would have made the trip.  Now with five different species available I would definitely make the trip if I was in the area. 

This new planting is coming from a New Mexico hatchery that has a Gila Trout surplus.  Thank you New Mexico! These Gila Trout will be planted directly into the Frye Mesa Reservoir.  The open season will only include Frey Mesa Reservoir and not the fish in Frye Creek.  Frey Creek is a recovery area for the Gila Trout planted in 2009.

UPDATE: Rory K. Aikins, the Public Information Officer for the Ariona Game and Fish Department, advises that the Commissioners approved the Gila Trout season.  The fish will be full-sized adults.  The seson will be set as soon as the fish are available from New Mexico


Arizona Game and Fish Department



Feb. 1, 2011


Historic first-ever Gila trout season proposed


Would create the only place in Arizona to fish for 2 native species of trout

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Feb. 4 is being asked to create the first-ever season on native Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on the Pinaleño Mountains in southern Arizona.

“Arizona has never had an open season on Gila trout. They were thought to have been extirpated from the state before we had regulated fishing seasons,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

The Gila trout proposal is possible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico has surplus Gila trout available. The department is asking the commission to establish an open season for Gila trout with a one-fish bag and possession limit for Frye Mesa Reservoir.

“We would like to stock those surplus Gila trout into Frye Mesa Reservoir, which is located below Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains, to provide a unique angling opportunity,” Young said.

That’s not the only unique angling aspect to the proposal. “If the commission approves the proposal, we would create another unique possibility for anglers – fishing for five species of trout on the same mountain – Gila trout, Apache trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout,” said Don Mitchell, Tucson regional fisheries program manager.

In fact, Mitchell said, Mt. Graham would become the only mountain on earth where anglers could fish for both Gila and Apache trout.

Gila trout were reintroduced to Frye Creek on the mountain above Frye Mesa in the fall of 2009. Frye Creek is closed to fishing while the population establishes.  From Frye Mesa, you can look down upon the town of Safford.

New Mexico already has a limited season on Gila trout in specific waters.



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