Photos: Into the Arizona Wilderness for Gila Trout

Written by: Tyler Coleman

Wild Gila trout are among the rarest trout in the U.S., found only in Arizona and New Mexico.
Photos by Tyler Coleman

Here are a few pictures from our trip spent chasing native wild trout in a remote creek in Arizona. After many setbacks–one being a major car accident that had shutdown the freeway, causing us to reroute and adding an hour and a half to the trip–it was dark when we finally reached a spot to camp. This was our first time fishing the area, and sunrise brought some great surprises. We awoke just before sunrise greeted by a beautiful view of the valley below.

The sound of moving water had us curious, and we found an awesome man-made waterfall coming off the reservoir.

After packing up camp, we decided to head the rest of the way up to the creek. The road was too risky for our car, so we had to park and walk the last mile to the trail head. The walk down to the creek quickly takes you from a rocky desert environment to a rich, green oasis.

The water-slide-style falls welcome you to the crystal clear creek. This is just the base of the falls, which have another couple levels of what looks like a natural water slide.

At this point I think both of us couldn’t wait to catch our first wild Gila trout and forget about the previous day. Right off the bat, we found a few good pools with aggressive trout that wanted to eat. My wife, Anastasia, got the biggest of the day and couldn’t have been more excited. We each had a few other good size ones on, but they didn’t make it to the net.

The rest of the day was spent wandering through dead trees, cactus, and thorn bushes to catch more of these beautiful native trout.

Hiking back to the car, we brought nothing but smiles.

Gila trout are only found in Arizona and New Mexico, which makes it even more of a treat to experience them in your net. Our ride home was much more relaxing and spent talking about all of the fish we caught and the ones we missed. These fish were declared endangered in 1967, so I am very grateful for the hard work that went into the rehabilitation of Gila trout in Arizona, allowing us to share this experience. I hope to see more conservation effort on restoring the native fish population for future generations to enjoy.

Tyler Coleman lives in Arizona. Check him out on Instagram: @thecolemancollection. Click here for Tyler’s previous post on mountain brookies.

9 thoughts on “Photos: Into the Arizona Wilderness for Gila Trout”

  1. Great job- Sharemore from AZF&T wants me to go with him down that way. Looks like quite an adventure.

  2. Tyler,
    What stream/creek is that beautiful Stone Damn on? I haven’t found one like that in Gila Trout Country yet, but have had plenty of fun searching the small streams around the White Mountains for Native Apache Trout…

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