It’s the native fish with a sporting fight. On Feb. 13 on the Verde River above Clarkdale, Rudolph Hoffman of Gilbert found a large pool of water and began cranking in multiple roundtail chub. The first measured at about 17 inches. Then another at 18 … then 18 1/2 inches …
Finally, a 19-inch chub took a 1/4-ounce bronze spoon with a spinning rod and 8-pound fluorocarbon line. This Gila robusta set a state catch-and-release record for roundtail chub. (Topping Dave Wagner’s 16-inch roundtail caught 2011, also on the Verde).
“There is really something special about being able to catch and release a fish that has been part of our Arizona waterways for tens of thousands of years,” Hoffman said.
The Department has initiated numerous conservation efforts since the early 2000s. Maintenance of healthy roundtail chub populations were likely influenced by all of these conservation measures in the Verde River.
By 2008, several flood events and conditions aligned to boost their populations. A few high-flow years helped young chub to survive. Conservation efforts by the Salt River Project’s Habitat Conservation Program and the Department have led to healthy populations of chub in the Verde River and across the state. These efforts included the development of a brood stock of chub to be raised at the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery, near Cornville, Ariz., and a stocking strategy to enhance wild populations of chub in the Verde River.
There also are special fishing regulations for the Verde River and its tributaries that likely have benefitted the chub — it’s all catch and release, and downstream from Granite Creek to Horseshoe Dam, anglers can enjoy unlimited daily bag limits for smallmouth and largemouth bass, and channel and flathead catfish.
So why not chase some of these Arizona natives during your next fishing trip?
“These chub fight better than smallmouth,” said Matt Chmiel, Aquatics Program Manager in the AZGFD Kingman office. “I’ve caught both and every one of the chub fought better than the smallmouth. Fishing from a canoe one time I had three chub break me off on 4-pound line.”
Roundtail chub location and habitat
Roundtails are found in moderate-sized, perennial rivers throughout the state. Chub occupy pools and eddies, often concentrating in swift swirling water below rapids. There’s a special regulation fishing season in Fossil Creek featuring roundtail chub and headwater chub: open Oct. 1-April 30, catch and release, artificial fly and lure, single barbless hooks only.
How to fish for roundtail chub
Roundtail chubs can be caught by catch-and-release special regulation, readily take artificial flies and lures, and put up a strong fight. Effective tackle includes small spinners, spoons, and flies.
Fishing with ultralight tackle and light line is an exciting way to fish for roundtail chub on an Arizona river. Make sure to check the fishing regulations for special regulations.
Chub feed mainly on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates in the spring and summer months, and algae in the fall and winter months.