The Apache trout population has declined significantly in the early 1900’s. The species was historically found in the headwaters of the Little Colorado, Salt, San Francisco, White and Black River systems in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. The range of the Apache trout was significantly reduced to about 48km of stream, less than 5% of the historic range. Conservation efforts paid off and the Apache Trout population have increased by slowly reintroducing them back into their native habitat. They are still on the critically endangered list, despite these efforts
The Apache trout has a short, stocky body with an average length of about 25 centimetres. They can grow larger in their native areas in the wild
They weigh anything from 0.2 – 2.7 kg
United States of America
The White and Black river systems on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation have the highest concentration of the Apache trout. The trout is restricted to head-water streams of the Salt, Little Colorado and Blue rivers in the White Mountains of eastern-central Arizona. The species has been introduced and established outside its natural range in streams in the Pinaleno Mountains, Coronado National Forest and Kaibab National Forest.
The Apache trout has an olive-yellow body with yellow or golden bellies. They have sparse and irregular black spots on their dorsal and tail fin, as well as their bodies. The dorsal, anal and pelvic fins have white tips. They also have black spots on either side of their pupils, giving the appearance of a black stripe through their eyes.
The Apache Trout behaviour consists of:
- Spawning occurs from March to mid-June when the water temperature is higher
- The female requires clean coarse gravel to excavate nests for her eggs
- They prefer gravel under woody debris, undercut stream banks or overhanging vegetation
- The female will deposit about 70 – 300 eggs depending on her body size and she will only spawn once in her lifetime
- The male will fertilise the eggs and then cover the eggs with the gravel and protect the nest.
- The young Apache trout emerges after about 60 days and a downstream nocturnal migration will start to protect themselves from predators
- The Apache Trout reach maturity after 3 years
- The species lives about 4 to 6 years
The Apache trout feeds during the day on terrestrial and aquatic insects on the surface of the water. They also eat small fish, crustaceans, snails and plankton.
The Apache trout is a freshwater species and they inhabit small, clear, cold, high gradient and fast-flowing mountain headwaters, with boulders, rocks and gravel substrates. The streams usually flows through mixed coniferous and ponderosa pine forest and is generally at an altitude of 2 500 metres in elevation. The ideal water temperature is between 0 – 22˚C.
The biggest threat to the Apache trout is overfishing, habitat degradation, wild fires, droughts and the introduction of non-native trout, especially Rainbow and Cutthroat trout in their natural habitat. The Apache trout hybridize with these non-native trout resulting in altered genetics in the Apache trout species.
The preservation, protection and recovery of this species of wild stream trout are an ongoing joint effort by Native Americans, environmental organisations and the federal government. Fishing activities are regulated with catch and release policies or by closing streams for fishing. They are erecting artificial barriers in several streams to separate the Apache trout from invasive non-native trout species. They are removing hybrid Apache trout from streams and are restocking streams with pure Apache trout species. They have succeeded in raising the Apache trout in captivity and started introducing them back in their native habitat to ensure the long-term survival of the Apache trout.