Brown trout

In the Little Colorado River, upstream from River Reservoir in Greer, there is a proposal to include a catch and release season during the brown trout spawning window.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently announced it is seeking public input on proposed amendments to the fishing regulations for 2021-2022.

There are several waters in Rim Country and the White Mountains that are impacted by this notice.

There are two critical upcoming dates. On Aug. 6, there will be a Facebook presentation on the proposed changes and on Aug. 28, all comments must be submitted to AZGFD by 5 p.m.

To find the full text of the proposed regulation amendments, go to www.azgfd.gov and click on the fishing tab and then go to the rules and regulations tab.

The closures noted in the proposed amendments are to give Gila and Apache trout in the recovery streams an opportunity to spawn unmolested by angling pressure. This is important to allow the waters to be self-sustaining and provide ongoing fishing opportunities in these waters.

Some recovery streams remain closed to fishing as their populations are not yet strong enough to allow catch and release fishing. Remember that the East Verde River is a great stream to catch native Gila trout, and fish caught there may be kept up to the daily bag limit.

In the Little Colorado River, upstream from River Reservoir in Greer, there is a proposal to include a catch and release season during the brown trout spawning window to still allow fishing for these large trout, but require that they be returned unharmed during their spawning season.

A change to the daily bag limit from six trout to four statewide is being proposed as the department is working to stock larger fish as a response to angler survey input seeking larger average sized fish. The hatchery capacity to accomplish this shift means that these fish will need time to grow before stocking; so somewhat fewer trout, but bigger fish will be produced in the hatchery system each year.

I have read the proposed amendments to the fishing regulations and applaud AZGFD for their scientific approach to determine the value of these changes and considering angler surveys and input regarding their decisions.

Read the amendments and provide feedback to AZGFD by Aug. 28.

AZGFD will host a Facebook Live presentation on Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed changes.

Comments or suggestions can be submitted until 5 p.m. on Aug. 28, either by:

Email: fishregscomments@azgfd.gov or, by mail to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, ATTN: Fisheries Branch, c/o Andy Clark, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

The amendments are scheduled to be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Sept. 25-26.

Proposed amendments

  • Change regulations on the East Fork Little Colorado River upstream of Colter Dam to include a seasonal angling closure.
  • Open Lee Valley Creek to angling.
  • Change angling regulations on Burro Creek to include a seasonal angling closure.
  • Change angling regulations on Thompson Creek to include a seasonal angling closure.
  • Change angling regulations on the Upper West Fork Black River to include a seasonal angling closure.
  • Open Grapevine Creek to angling including a seasonal angling closure.
  • Open Dude Creek to angling including a seasonal angling closure.
  • Create seasonal harvest and bait restriction regulations on River Reservoir.
  • Create seasonal harvest and bait restriction regulations on Little Colorado River (Greer) upstream of River Reservoir to the confluence of the East and West Forks Little Colorado River.
  • Change the statewide daily bag limit for trout to four.
  • Restore the statewide daily bag limit for trout at C.C. Cragin Reservoir, Knoll Lake, and Nelson Reservoir.

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