Common name: Apache Trout
Synonyms and Other Names: Behnke (1992) treated the Apache Trout as a subspecies (Oncorhynchus gilae apache), Arizona trout, yellow belly
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Identification: Apache Trout have a short, stocky body that is moderately compressed and a yellowish golden coloration varying to dark olive on the head and back (Behnke 2002; Minckley and Marsh 2009). Parr marks along the side are absent or reduced in all life stages (Behnke 2002). The dorsal fin is larger than other western trouts. The dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins have white tips, along with a yellow, orange, or watery orange cut-throat mark (Minckley and Marsh 2009). Apache Trout have larger and few spots compared to the Gila Trout (Oncorhynchus gilae). Pure strain Apache Trout have black pigment spots in front of and just behind the pupil, like a mask, but this trait is absent from many hatchery-raised fishes (Behnke 2002).
Size: length range of 13-23 cm and weight of 28-170 g; maximum weight in lakes 230 g (Behnke 2002)
Native Range: Apache Trout historically occupied streams and rivers in the upper White, Black, and Little Colorado River drainages in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Oncorhynchus apache are found here.
Table last updated 5/25/2018
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: Apache Trout's native habitat is small cool water (< 25º C) creeks that are relatively unstable and above 1,800 m in elevation (Behnke 2002, Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009). Due to human impacts, current creeks occupied by this species occur above 2,100 m (Rinne and Minckley 1985). Lake populations have been stocked, due to no natural lakes occurring in the native range of Apache Trout (Behnke 2002). Creeks usual occur in mixed conifer and ponderosa pine forest (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009). This species typically lives four years, but the maximum know is six years. Their diet consists of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates (Behnke 2002).
Apache Trout require clean coarse gravel substrates for spawning and prefer cover in the form of woody debris, pools, rocks/boulders, undercut stream-banks or overhanging vegetation at stream edges (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009). Spawning occurs in the spring (May) when water temperatures are rising and runoff flow decrease. Temperature seems to be the critical factor to the initiation of spawning. Females lay between 70-300 eggs based on body size (Behnke 2002).
Widely stocked non-native trout species have impacted the Apache Trout. Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) and Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) devour eggs, fingerling, and parr and out-compete Apache Trout for food and space. Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) will also predate on Apache Trout and hybridize with them (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009; Minckley and Marsh 2009).
Means of Introduction: Stocked outside the native range for conservation efforts (Minckley and Marsh 2009).
Status: Apache Trout Recovery Plan (2009) indicated that 27 pure (non-hybridized) Apache Trout populations exist within their historical range in Gila, Apache, and Greenlee counties of Arizona, on lands of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
Two streams outside of historical range have pure replicate populations, North Canyon Creek (Ord Creek stock) and Grant Creek (Pinaleño Mountains) stocked in the late 1960s (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2009).
Lakes and streams outside the native waters are maintained by stocking (Behnke 2002).
Impact of Introduction: As of yet, this species has not been adequately studied or evaluated to determine what ecological consequences, if any, have resulted from its introduction into the USA or elsewhere. To better understand and adequately assess the possible types and magnitude of any suspected ecological and economic impacts would most likely require further field and laboratory research, along with a review of any possible new literature on the subject.
References: (click for full references)
Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, White Mountain Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 2009. Apache trout recovery plan. Western Native Trout Status Report.
Behnke, R.J. 1992. Native trout of western North America. American Fisheries Society Monograph 6. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.
Behnke, R.J. 2002. Trout and Salmon of North America. The Free Press, NY.
Minckley, W.L., and P.C. Marsh. 2009. Inland fishes of the greater Southwest: chronicle of a vanishing biota. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
Rinne, J.N., and Minckley, W.L. 1985. Patterns of variation and distribution in apache trout (Salmo apache) relative to co-occurrence with introduced salmonids. Copeia 1985(2):285-292.
Daniel, W. M.
Revision Date: 6/17/2019
Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016
Daniel, W. M., 2019, Oncorhynchus apache Miller, 1972: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2545, Revision Date: 6/17/2019, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 6/18/2019
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.