On the quest to complete the Western Native Trout Challenge there are several species that are specific to one state. The Apache Trout is one of these species. Hidden in the Apache National Forest in the White Mountains of Arizona lies this beautiful piece of gold.
One of the several rivers that hold these beautiful fish is the West Fork of the Black River. From Flagstaff you’ll head East in I-40 until you get to Holbrook. Then head south on State road 77. Continue south until you hit Showlow and link up with state road 260 and head east through Pine Top. You’ll then intersect state road 273 and you’ll drive past Sunrise Lake and White Mountain Reservoir. Off of 273 you’ll hang a right on FSR 409. You’ll continue on until you get to the river and there is a small parking lot where you can park and get ready to go. If you head downstream there is a fish damn to keep the brown trout from coming upstream to compete with the natives. Arizona department of Game and Fish has done a great job with the restoration of this native species and the prevention of invasive species.
If you head upstream from the bridge where the road crosses the river this should all be Apache Trout. You’ll find a winding stream with cutbanks and bends that are chopped full of small fish. I had tons of hits on the smallest hopper patterns I could find but some were still too small to get the hooks in their mouth. I was fishing with my zero weight Sage Dart and still would pull fish out of the river with my hook set. Luckily none were thrown out of the river so please be cautious when fishing
The stream doesn’t have much cover until you get higher up in the valley but talk about fun small steam fishing. It runs through a wide open field full of insect life such as grasshoppers, ants and other small mayflies. Fish can spook easily but come out to hit flies from under the cutbanks. The stream can be small and the fish can be too but the rewards of catching a fish found in only one place in the entire world can be massive.