Gila Trout

The Gila trout is one of Arizona’s two threatened native trout species and is also found in New Mexico

  • Common Name:

    Gila Trout

  • Scientific Name:

    Oncorhynchus gilae

  • Where to See:

    Gila trout are found in moderate to high gradient perennial mountain streams above 5,400 ft


The Gila trout is one of Arizona’s two threatened native trout species and is also found in New Mexico. Dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins have a white to yellowish tip that may extend along the leading edge of the pelvic fins. A faint, salmon-pink band is present on adults, particularly during spawning season when the normally white belly may be streaked with yellow or reddish orange. Parr marks are commonly retained by adults, although they may be faint or absent. Like the Apache trout, some Gila trout may display “bandit” like horizontal bars across their irises.

For those anglers targeting Apache and Gila Trout in Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks that they please take the time to fill out this survey form after each fishing trip targeting either species. The form collects information on when and where anglers fished for Apache and Gila Trout, the type of fishing gear they used, and how many fish they caught.

Gila trout typically spawn in early spring, when water temperature is rising and runoff flows are declining. Gila trout are generally sexually mature by age 3 and their life expectancy may range between 4-6 years. Gila trout are capable of hybridizing with rainbow trout which has greatly reduced the range of pure populations of Gila trout and continues to be one of the largest threats to Gila trout.

More About Gila Trout

They are opportunistic feeders, mainly feeding on aquatic and terrestrial insects and invertebrates.
As Gila trout recovery streams are established and meet necessary population criteria to withstand limited angling use, they may be opened to angling for the public in the future. Currently, two Gila trout recovery streams in Arizona (Dude and Grapevine Creeks) are open to seasonal catch-and-release only angling regulations. Gila trout in the East Verde River, Frye Mesa Reservoir, Watson Lake, Lynx Lake, and Goldwater Lake can be angled year round.

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To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.

Fishing Regulations

Rules and regulations for fishing in Arizona.

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