Are more tiger trout coming to Arizona?

Tiger trout new trout to AZ this spring cross between Brook abd Brown released into 4 High country AZ lakes 2016. Photo from Tonto Creek Hatchery, Northeast of Payson, AZ.
Tiger trout, a cross between brook and brown, were released into four high-country Arizona lakes. Photo from Tonto Creek Hatchery, northeast of Payson.


Now that anglers have made some memories with the elusive tiger trout, the question is: Will there be any more tiger trout coming to Arizona?

Yep. More tiger trout eggs will be received this summer to be raised for stockings in May and June of 2017. We’ll be monitoring the tiger trout that this summer were stocked into Carnero, Becker, Woods Canyon and Willow Springs lakes.

But first, a heads-up on what’s happening right now.

Arizona tiger trout fishing report

Many anglers had success with these aggressive and brilliant-looking fish. We expect catch rates on tiger trout to drop as more are harvested and lakes warm through the summer.

Woods Canyon and Willow are being stocked with tigers this week, and more tigers are planned to be stocked again this fall.

So look for tiger trout fishing to improve once again during the fall. And look for that first cool-off …

Most of the tigers are still being caught on lures. Some are beginning to get caught with PowerBait and worms.

Tiger trout fishing has been fair to good — a bit better at Woods Canyon than Willow Springs. Get a license online and go catch fish — and conserve wildlife at the same time.

“I’ve not heard recent reports at Becker and Carnero, but anglers were catching them there OK back in May and early June,” said Mike Lopez, AZGFD fish program manager in Pinetop.  “Lately at Woods and Willow, anglers targeting tiger trout are not having as much success.  Most of the tigers being caught now are incidental by folks just fishing for trout. ”

Monitoring effort: a tiger needs room

There are no plans to expand tiger trout stockings to other lakes. We’ll be monitoring the four lakes where we have tigers for a few years. We need to gauge how — or if — the tiger trout grow, their return to creel, and impacts on other fish species.

Also, it takes “room” for the tigers to grow to a catchable size. We are at full capacity in our fish hatchery system, so if we grow more tiger trout, it would potentially mean less rainbow trout for other lakes and streams.

In lakes where they do grow, it might be possible to stock more tiger trout fingerlings. We just don’t know how well they’ll do — yet.


Tiger trout are stocked into Woods Canyon Lake in May.


So for now … we’ll keep it with the four lakes we have and monitor angler success.

We hope you are enjoying this addition to Arizona’s trout fishing menu.

A tiger trout AZ summer

Here’s a brief look back at some of the best tiger trout pictures of the summer. Thanks for sharing these memories with us!

Willow Springs Lake tiger trout caught by Todd G. on May 30.
Willow Springs Lake tiger trout caught by Todd G. on May 30.

Tiger caught weekend of June 30 at Woods Canyon Lake.
Tiger caught weekend of June 30 at Woods Canyon Lake.

A Willow Springs Lake tiger trout. Larry S reported catching no less than 25 tiger trout during the last weekend in May,
A Willow Springs Lake tiger trout. Larry S reported catching no less than 25 tiger trout during the last weekend in May.

See more fishing information.

22 thoughts on “Are more tiger trout coming to Arizona?”

    1. Hey Rick. I can tell you they were pretty significant numbers — thousands — so there should be some holdovers next summer. We don’t ever release exact numbers (just an unwritten agency rule), but we stocked the most into Woods and Willow.

  1. I don’t at all understand why AZGFD would stock predatory trout that are unable to reproduce. That’s putting in a non-renewable resource that will eat renewable resources. Also, the Tigers are stocked in lakes (Woods Canyon and Willow Springs) that feed a creek and lake system (Chevelon) that’s a natural fishery, that’s unable to be stocked. Seems like some of the Tigers will get into Chevelon and eat the Brown trout fry. Please, help me understand!

  2. It would be good to emphasize that the department is working to ensure that stocking policies and fishing regulations are designed and implemented to safeguard native species particularly those that may be threatened with extinction.

  3. The tiger trout is a hybrid created in hatcheries between nonnative brook trout and nonnative brown trout. What are the ethics of creating a fish that doesn’t exist in nature, that is not a native, that is aggressively piscivorous, and then putting them in lakes where they will eat native fish? A really dumb idea if you ask me.

    1. Totally agree Kevin. I *might* be on board IF the Tiger trout were being put into waters where we have invasive species that are a threat and need to be dealt with – then the Tigers could eat their young and essentially cleanse the lake. Problem here is we WANT the Rainbow and Browns to survive (or maybe even thrive!) in these waters so I fail to see the upside of planting a fish that cannot reproduce in those waters.

  4. hey pibtv the reason why tigers are stocked if you do some research on your own is they have been tremendously successful in Utah, Washington, Colorado at eradicating/controlling unwanted species from bodies of water as they are highly pisciverous. Before you get all mad at AZGFD try and understand what they are trying to balance out our awesome amateur bait bucket biologists have illegally introduced green sunfish, crappie and bass to willow springs and I believe green sunfish to woods canyon. these are the fish that the tiger trout are to target since they are prevalent and can reproduce in these lakes unlike a rainbow trout.

  5. I hope the Tiger Trout do get rid of the sun fish. I had never seen a sunfish in Woods Canyon Lake until 2 or 3 years ago, and I’ve been going up there for 25 years! Now, it seems that sunfish are indeed a growing problem there! So, if these Tiger Trout can take care of that problem, I’m all for it because I don’t go to Woods to fish for sunfish, I want to catch trout!

  6. Ok folks, seems some here are confused. First of all, these are reservoirs not lakes. The only fish that would be native in that watershed is a Spike Dace minnow, and possibly the Gila trout. The Spike Dace is the reason they no longer stock browns in the watershed as they are protected, although I really don’t understand why. Anyway stocking of sterile Tiger trout shouldn’t cause any issues in the water shed. At least no more than the existing Brown trout that already inhabit the area. The Tiger won’t affect the Brown or Rainbow populations in any of these reservoirs. They will just offer the angler more opportunities. In some ways the Tiger might be a better solution as the Rainbow stockers become Largemouth bass food late in the season at Willow Springs.

    Note to AZG&F: I myself personally wish the Smallmouth population at Willow Springs would be accepted and left alone. If not for netting during the spawn, I believe there would be an awesome Smallmouth fishery there by now. This fishery would be a much better Smallmouth fishery than it ever will be a trout fishery. There are large trout and bass in Willow Springs already, but high volume traffic in summer months keeps them mostly out of the creel.

  7. In the case of tiger trout, we don’t have the option of stocking fish that are able to reproduce. They come out sterile naturally from the cross between brook and brown trout, which have different number of chromosomes, whether we do that cross in the hatchery or whether it occurs in the wild (rare).

    Our intent with tiger trout is to manage them within the reservoirs that we are stocking them into. Since there is no natural trout recruitment within lakes in Arizona, there are no natural renewable resources in Woods Canyon and Willow Springs lakes that the tiger trout would eat, except for nonnative crayfish and fathead minnows, illegally stocked fish (green sunfish and golden shiner in Woods Canyon; green sunfish, black crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and white sucker in Willow Springs; green sunfish, largemouth bass, and channel catfish in Becker; fathead minnows in Carnero), and the natural invertebrates. They could eat fingerling and subcatchable size trout that we also stock into Becker and Carnero, but we are planning to account for that. In Woods and Willow, we stock only catchable size trout, so the tigers would have to get really large to eat those.

    We would be happy if they got large enough to eat catchable rainbows because it would give anglers an excellent opportunity to catch big trout in those lakes. Thus, this is also a good thing that the tiger trout are naturally sterile, so we have complete control of their numbers and can stock less of them if predation on stocked rainbows becomes a problem in the lakes. We are entirely okay with the Tigers preying upon crayfish, fathead minnows, and any of the illegally stocked species in these lakes.

    A fertile trout stocked into a lake would have to escape into a connecting permanent stream to reproduce successfully in Arizona. In the case of Tiger Trout, they won’t reproduce even if they did get into Willow Springs Creek, Woods Canyon Creek, or Chevelon Creek, and thus would never take over and become a problem down there. Plus, we believe very few, if any, will escape the reservoirs where they are stocked.

    Becker and Carnero are sort of closed systems and really no chance of them escaping those lakes.

    Willow Springs Lake and Woods Canyon lakes both spill on a regular basis, but we don’t expect significant numbers of tiger trout will get down into the streams, at least any number that will cause any problems with the brown trout or brook trout populations there. We stock around 50,000 to 60,000 rainbow trout per year into each of Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake, yet we rarely find any rainbows in those streams. For example, we surveyed Willow Springs Creek extensively in 2015 and 2016 and found no rainbow trout that had escaped Willow Springs Lake. We know that some do occasionally escape into the stream, but it is very few.

    We are only stocking about 5,300 tiger trout into each of Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake, which is very small number compared to the number of rainbow trout stocked, and thus we do not expect significant numbers to escape and have an impact in the streams below.

    Regarding Chevelon Lake, the only natural part of this lake are the wild brown trout, which maintain numbers in the lake by spawning in the creek coming into the lake. We do stock rainbow trout annually into Chevelon Lake. But again, we don’t expect numbers of tiger trout to escape Woods and Willow and cause impacts on wild reproducing trout downstream, whether that is in the streams or Chevelon Lake.

    The very few tiger trout that might escape Woods and Willow might eat some brown trout fry, but that would be such a small drop in the bucket that it wouldn’t impact those fish populations. Again the tigers are not able to reproduce so they can’t increase their numbers once down in the creeks. And they are more likely to feed on the very numerous speckled dace that inhabit Chevelon Creek and not only on brown trout fry.

    We seriously don’t think we have to worry about the tiger trout impacting brown trout in Willow Springs Creek, Woods Canyon Creek, Chevelon Creek, or Chevelon Lake — but thanks for your concerns.

  8. It is my understanding that all rainbows planted in the state are triploid females, which are sterile. Therefore all of the current rainbow stockings are just for put-and-take waters and couldn’t establish themselves with reproducing populations.
    Furthermore, just because the trout are named TIGER trout doesn’t indicate that they act like four-legged tigers. It’s more of a marketing strategy since all trout are pisicivorous once they get large enough. Correct me if I am mistaken.

  9. I am a big trout fan. I originally was born and raised in central California and spent most my fishing days in the seirra and Yosemite mountains -I have caught most species and figured there wasn’t to much more than brook brown and rainbow trout.. I moved to Arizona in 2010 Arizona offers 8 different -I am super excited to hopefully see the beautiful patterns and amazing trout species that Arizona has to offer. Thank you guys behind the scenes making my fishing dreams a reality

    1. Hi, Bob. Woods Canyon and Willow Springs lakes have been stocked this week for the first time this year. We will also be stocking Carnero and Becker lakes once again.

  10. Just came back from a four day camping and fishing trip at Woods Canyon Camping at Spillway Campground, fishing at both Woods and Willow Springs. Much better luck at Willow than Woods but great time and we came our with two full limits. Love the Tigers we caught better fight than Rainbows.

  11. Just got back from Woods Canyon. Agree Tigers fight a bit stronger than Rainbows. Meat was orange/pinkish. Yummy.

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