The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Feb. 4 is being asked to create the first-ever season on native Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on the Pinaleño Mountains in southern Arizona.
"Arizona has never had an open season on Gila trout. They were thought to have been extirpated from the state before we had regulated fishing seasons," said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.
The Gila trout proposal is possible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico has surplus Gila trout available. The department is asking the commission to establish an open season for Gila trout with a one-fish bag and possession limit for Frye Mesa Reservoir.
"We would like to stock those surplus Gila trout into Frye Mesa Reservoir, which is located below Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains, to provide a unique angling opportunity," Young said.
That's not the only unique angling aspect to the proposal. "If the commission approves the proposal, we would create another unique possibility for anglers - fishing for five species of trout on the same mountain - Gila trout, Apache trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout," said Don Mitchell, Tucson regional fisheries program manager.
In fact, Mitchell said, Mt. Graham would become the only mountain on earth where anglers could fish for both Gila and Apache trout.
Gila trout were reintroduced to Frye Creek on the mountain above Frye Mesa in the fall of 2009. Frye Creek is closed to fishing while the population establishes. From Frye Mesa, you can look down upon the town of Safford.
New Mexico already has a limited season on Gila trout in specific waters.