Take the Challenge: go explore Arizona’s trout waters

Arizona trout fishing is about to get a boost -- including prizes, certificates and challenges. Take part in the Arizona Trout Challenge Program.
Arizona trout fishing is about to get a boost — including prizes, certificates and challenges. Take part in the Arizona Trout Challenge Program.

 

So you’re learning how to fish for trout in Arizona. Or, maybe, you’re already a serious tamer of trout, finally looking for a challenge.

We got you.

Here’s a Challenge: complete our new Arizona Trout Challenge Program. In doing so, you’ll explore some remote waters, perhaps catch new trout species, all with a chance to prove your trout tussling expertise.

Any angler completing the Challenge will receive a certificate featuring the species caught along with dates and locations. The first group of anglers to complete the Challenge will receive Trout Challenge “schwag” that could include a sweatshirt, hat and/or water bottle.

There’s no deadline to complete the challenge.

And trout privileges are included in all General Fishing licenses. Purchase licenses online  when you do so consistently (annually), you actually lead wildlife conservation efforts.

OK, there are two ways to complete the Challenge:

 

1) Wild Trout Challenge

Catch all five species of wild trout in Arizona. See the list of qualified water bodies. This challenge focuses on waters with the following naturally-reproducing species (and you’ll need to get a photo and record the location for each):

Gila trout

 

Gila Trout Frye Mesa Res
The Gila trout is one of Arizona’s two threatened native trout species and is also found in New Mexico.

 

They are easily caught fishing nymphs, wet or dry flies, and they will also take small spoons and spinners. The same techniques used to catch rainbow trout work very well on Gila trout.

 

Apache trout

 

Apache Trout AZGFD-GA--2
The Apache is one of Arizona’s two native trout species and is the Arizona state fish.

 

Apache trout can be caught by a variety of methods, including wet or dry flies, and small lures,  in either lakes or streams. But artificial flies produce the best results.

Brown trout

 

Exotic from Europe. Introduced in Arizona in 1931.
Exotic from Europe. Introduced in Arizona in 1931.

 

This highly esteemed trout may be caught on the same tackle and baits as rainbow trout, but are often more difficult to catch.  They are territorial and secretive.  The best time to catch large adult brown trout is in fall during spawning and during dawn and dusk periods.  They are more active at cooler water temperatures.

Brook trout

 

Native to North America: most of eastern Canada from Newfoundland to the western side of the Hudson Bay, South along the Appalachian Mountains to the Carolinas and Georgia, the Great Lakes and a few headwaters in the Mississippi River Basin. Introduced to Arizona in 1903.
Native to North America: most of eastern Canada from Newfoundland to the western side of the Hudson Bay, South along the Appalachian Mountains to the Carolinas and Georgia, the Great Lakes and a few headwaters in the Mississippi River Basin. Introduced to Arizona in 1903.

 

They are easy to catch, especially in the early spring or late fall when cold water temperatures keep the fish very active. They are also easily caught near rocky and gravel shorelines during fall spawning runs.  They are caught on wet flies, small spinning lures and worms.

Rainbow trout

 

Original range of the rainbow trout was from Northern Mexico to the Kuskokwim River, Alaska. Some stocks existed in the Great Basin and in British Columbia, but none was native to any part of the Colorado River. Introduced to Arizona in 1898.
Original range of the rainbow trout was from Northern Mexico to the Kuskokwim River, Alaska. Some stocks existed in the Great Basin and in British Columbia, but none was native to any part of the Colorado River. Introduced to Arizona in 1898.

 

Effective baits are worms, salmon eggs, PowerBait, corn, cheese, marshmallows, artificial lures and flies. The number one key to successful trout fishing, is to use light line (2 to 6 pound) and small hooks (10-14 sizes), and small sinkers.

 

2) Arizona Trout Challenge

More waters qualify for this challenge than for the Wild Trout Challenge. See the list. Catch six of the eight total species of trout in Arizona comprised of any of the species above and the following unique species:

Cutthroat trout

 

Original range included coastal streams from Alaska to northern California, eastward through the intermontane basins to the upper Missouri, Arkansas, Platte, Colorado and Rio Grande systems. Introduced to Arizona about the same time as rainbow trout just before 1900.
Original range included coastal streams from Alaska to northern California, eastward through the intermontane basins to the upper Missouri, Arkansas, Platte, Colorado and Rio Grande systems. Introduced to Arizona about the same time as rainbow trout just before 1900.

 

The same techniques used to catch rainbow trout work well for cutthroats. They may be caught on a variety of flies and artificial lures but a live nightcrawler is hard to beat. Use light line and small hooks.

Tiger trout

 

Tiger trout are being raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery and are scheduled to be stocked into select Arizona high country waters this spring.
Tiger trout are being raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery and are scheduled to be stocked into select Arizona high country waters this spring.

 

Tiger trout, scheduled to be introduced into select Mogollon Rim/White Mountain waters this spring,  eat smaller fish, so use small imitation lures and baits such as crankbaits (Rapalas), spinners or dead minnows.

Fly anglers can throw wooly buggers, worms and small bait fish imitations.

Arctic grayling

 

The Arctic grayling is native to Siberia and North America as far south as Montana, introduced into Arizona in 1940.
The Arctic grayling is native to Siberia and North America as far south as Montana, introduced into Arizona in 1940.

 

Grayling are caught on both wet and dry flies. A Royal Coachman, small midge or a black or brown woolly worm often works.

Read more about background, location and habitat,  reproduction, and table fare of Arizona sport fish species.


For complete rules and details on the challenge, including qualifying waters and the application form you’ll download to complete the challenges, visit www.azgfd.gov/troutchallenge.

For other questions regarding the program, please contact Mike Anderson at manderson@azgfd.gov.

Up to the Challenge?

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