Gila Trout contributed photo

A Gila Trout.

The last three months have brought a drastic change to Arizona and the country with the COVID-19 virus impact on society and public gatherings.

What to believe and what to do seems to be readjusted almost every day. I have paid close attention to some medical experts saying fresh air and sunshine are healthy for an individual during these times.

The Arizona outdoors has been a big part of my life for a long, long time. Hunting, fishing and hiking have been a major focus of my recreational activities where clean air and sunshine are abundant.

When the summer temperatures go beyond the century mark in the Valley, the Beeline Highway becomes the main getaway for thousands to the high country and cooler temperatures.

Camping and other outdoor activities become a premium for families as many popular recreational businesses stay closed in the Phoenix metro area.

Fishing is one of those activities that all ages can enjoy and still maintain social distancing. The shoreline and six feet of space or more from the next angler is very possible.

The lakes and streams in the Rim Country and White Mountains are being stocked regularly with a variety of species of trout for anglers to pursue. The three hatcheries at Canyon, Tonto, and Silver Creek are working overtime to keep the trout waters well stocked.

There is a unique program sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department called the Arizona Trout Challenge which enhances the understanding of the species of trout available and where they can be caught by recreational anglers.

There are two ways an angler can compete in the challenge and qualify to earn the honor of succeeding.

The first, is by catching four species of wild trout in our streams and some lakes that have tributary waters. The Apache, brown, brook, and rainbow are the four types which have spent their entire life cycle in those waters.

We consider them wild trout. There are a few streams which have Gila trout, but are currently closed to sport fishing.

The other way to complete the Arizona Trout Challenge is to catch six of the eight species of trout stocked by the three hatcheries in the high country. These sport fish are the Arctic grayling, cutthroat, tiger, hatchery reared Gilas, and the previous four species mentioned.

This is the perfect way to learn more about the fishing opportunities in the state of Arizona, besides planning several family camping trips.

To enter one must fill out the application found on the AZGFD webpage by going to fishing and trout challenge. A photo of the fish must accompany the form stating who caught the trout, in what waters, and the date.

A successful angler who completes the trout challenge will receive a colored certificate with the species of fish suitable for framing in your home or workplace.

The trout challenge will help the participants discover new waters in the state and provide additional enjoyment in recreational sport fishing.

I have known some avid anglers who have taken the challenge seriously with the attempt to complete the task within a weekend of fishing. That is more than I want to, but the challenge is intriguing.

If you are looking for a family activity that could take the entire summer, or maybe a personal challenge of your angling prowess, then sign up for the Arizona Trout Challenge and go fishing in the high country of Arizona, God’s creation.

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