|The roundtail chub, AZ's equivalent of the Rockies' oft loathed whitefish.|
They do have a beauty all their own. They do take dry flies. They do fight sportingly.
The roundtail chub is a species native to the lower Colorado River basin. The species is imperiled, and some of its most critical, currently occupied habitat is in Arizona. Anglers fishing waters within the Gila, Salt and Verde River watersheds are likely to incidentally catch the species while targeting trout. Few anglers specifically target roundtail chub.
Last week I found myself on Arizona's Fossil Creek in search of chubs... specifically in search of chubs. The creek is a perennial tributary of the Verde River with a base flow of more than 40 cfs (substantial by AZ standards). Over the past century the majority of its flow was diverted to supply the increasingly irrelevant Childs-Irving hydroelectric facility. As part of a transformative habitat restoration project on Fossil Creek, the facility was recently decommissioned and the diverted water returned to the streambed. Not surprisingly, the project has been of great benefit to the native fishes of Fossil Creek, including the roundtail chub.
The roundtail chub is a candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Any successful efforts to expand its currently occupied range will help reduce the likelihood of the species being listed. ESA mandates would potentially have far reaching implications upon the management of Arizona fisheries within chub habitat (i.e.: termination of non-native trout stocking, and the removal of competitive and predatory non-native fishes).
|Fossil Creek: 16 miles of stunning, emerald-green watercourse.|
The creek is Arizona's only designated roundtail chub fishery, complete with seasonal closures, and C&R regulations. The pools along the stream's course hold good numbers of chubs, including large representatives of the species, up to 18 inches or more. A small stream rod, a box of attractor flies, pant waders, and - perhaps most importantly - an open mind are all that is needed to enjoy this unique fishery.