History was made Nov. 4 when Mount Graham became the only place on earth to have both native Arizona trout species as well as three other species of trout living in the same area.
After scouting Frye Creek for more than two years, Arizona Game and Fish Department Region V Fisheries Program Specialist S. Jason Kline saw the beginning of his dream come to fruition with the introduction of Gila trout to the creek.
Frye Creek was previously stocked with Apache trout, but the species became hybridized. All of the fish were killed after the Gibson and Nuttall fires in 2004.
Approximately 20 AZGF, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and United States Forest Service officials participated in stocking about 500 fish in the creek. Another 150 fish were taken to Grapevine Creek in Prescott to be stocked there.
The fish were trucked in from the Mora National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center in New Mexico and were transferred into three 55-gallon drums. The drums were attached to a helicopter one at a time and flown to three separate locations along the creek. Officials then transferred the fish into several 5-gallon buckets at each location and stocked them in various pools throughout a two-mile section of the creek.
"We just Johnny Appleseeded them up and down the creek," Kline said.
After acclimating the water in the buckets to the temperature of the water in the creek, officials released the fish into the pools.
Kline said the creek may be open to anglers as soon as three years from now but would probably start off as catch-and-release fishing.
"It will be a unique wilderness experience," Kline said.
He said Mount Graham will be the only place on earth where a person will be able to fish for five different species of trout on one mountain, including the two native Arizona trout.
"We made history here today," Kline said.
Currently, fishermen can catch brook, rainbow and brown trout in the Frye Creek Reservoir and hybridized Apache trout in Grant and Ash creeks.
While fishing is off limits for five miles of Frye Creek from its headwaters above the reservoir, fishing in the reservoir itself is still permitted.