The Apache is one of Arizona’s two native trout species and is the Arizona state fish. Body color is yellowish-gold at the top of the head and the back is a dark olive. Dorsal, anal and pelvic fins are white tipped with dark, bold spots on dorsal and tail fin. Spotting on the body is sparse and irregular and may extend below lateral line. Two small black spots on either side of pupil give appearance of black stripe through eye. Length: 6 to 24 inches. Weight: 6 ounces to almost 6 pounds. Apache trout recovery program
Location and Habitat
Found only in White Mountain lakes and streams on forest and reservation lands. The Department is increasing their efforts in stocking Apache trout in Arizona and has an active recovery and management plan in place. The Apache trout is stocked from Silver Creek Hatchery in the summer months into the Little Colorado River near Greer, the Black River and Lee Valley Lake.
Apache trout typically spawn in early spring. Females excavate redds (nests) in the gravel, after fertilization the eggs are covered with gravel. Generally sexually mature by age 3. Apache trout are capable of hybridizing with rainbow trout which has greatly reduced the range of pure strain Apaches.
They feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects and invertebrates.
The meat is firm, flaky and is considered fine eating. Removal of fine bones is difficult if fish is overcooked.
Apache trout can be caught by a variety of methods, including wet or dry flies, small lures, or natural baits, in either lakes or streams. However, artificial flies produce the best results.
Wet Flies – Small hooks, in sizes 14 through 18, are usually better for Apache trout, especially throughout the day. Use patterns that have olive green, brown, or black coloring. Popular patterns include: Peacock Ladies; Pheasant-tail nymphs; Hares Ear nymphs; zug bugs; scuds; or stonefly, mayfly or caddis fly nymph imitations. Larger wet flies (size 6 to 8 hooks) that work well include: wooly buggers, wooly worms, streamers, and muddler minnows. Colors in purple, black, brown, and green work best.
Dry Flies – Again, use small hook sizes. Best fishing times are at dawn and dust, or any other time fish are rising to the surface to feed. Popular patterns include: Royal Coachman; Adams; Royal Wulff; Parachute Adams; or any gnat, mosquito, mayfly caddisfly, or stonefly adult imitations.
Terrestrial Patterns – Use any grasshopper, ant, or beetle imitation. Pay attention to size when fishing hopper patterns.
Lures – Smaller spinners work best. Some to try are: Panther Martins, Super Dupers, or Rooster Tails.
Baits – Generally, bait will work to catch Apache trout if it looks natural. Use worms or grasshoppers. Some prepared baits can work at times.
For those anglers targeting Apache Trout or Gila Trout in Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks that they take the time to fill out this survey form after each fishing trip targeting Apache Trout or Gila Trout. The form collects information on when and where anglers fished for Apache Trout or Gila Trout, the type of fishing gear they used, and how many fish they caught. Filling out this survey is completely voluntary and responses are completely anonymous. This information will be used by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to better manage Apache Trout and Gila Trout in Arizona.
Where to Fish
A state fishing license and trout stamp are required.
Lee Valley Reservoir
East Fork of the Black River
West Fork of the Black River (campground)
Upper West Fork of the Black River (near Big Lake)
West Fork of the Little Colorado River at Sheep Crossing (below Mt. Baldy)
West Fork of the Little Colorado River in Greer
Upper Silver Creek
White Mountain Apache Waters
(a tribal fishing permit is required)
Christmas Tree Lake
Shus Be Tou & Shus Be Zahze
Earl Park Lake