Common Game Fish Species of AZ | The fish of Arizona

These are the most popular game fish in Arizona. There are a lot more species than listed below that may be protected such as the native Gila Trout or they may not be considered "Game Fish" or a sport fish. The information below is mostly compiled from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. I've added the Common Carp and Crass Carp or White Amur as a game-fish. You can find Tiger Muskie in Lake Powell, mainly on the Utah side.

Cold water

Arctic Grayling
The Arctic grayling is native to Siberia and North America as far south as Montana, introduced into Arizona in 1940.  The dorsal fin is oversized, dark-gray, blotched with pale spots, with cross-rows of deep blue spots and edged with red or orange.
Apache Trout
Apache Trout
The Apache is one of Arizona’s two native trout species and is the Arizona state fish. Found only in White Mountain lakes and streams on forest and reservation lands.
Cutthroat Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Original range included coastal streams from Alaska to northern California, eastward through the intermontane basins to the upper Missouri, Arkansas, Platte, Colorado and Rio Grande systems. Introduced to Arizona about the same time as rainbow trout just before 1900. Body shape similar to rainbow trout.
Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout
Original range of the rainbow trout was from Northern Mexico to the Kuskokwim River, Alaska.  Some stocks existed in the Great Basin and in British Columbia, but none was native to any part of the Colorado River.  Introduced to Arizona in 1898.
Brook Trout
Brook Trout
Native to North America: most of eastern Canada from Newfoundland to the western side of the Hudson Bay, South along the Appalachian Mountains to the Carolinas and Georgia, the Great Lakes and a few headwaters in the Mississippi River Basin.  Introduced to Arizona in 1903.  Brook trout are actually chars, related more closely to fishes that live in colder areas of the Northern Hemisphere than to true trout.
Brown Trout
Exotic from Europe. Introduced in Arizona in 1931. Olive-brown with yellowish brown sides. Some orange or red spots on the sides, black spots often encircled with light yellow or white, dark spots on back and sides. Tail fin usually unspotted or vaguely spotted and squared off. Adipose fin usually orange or reddish.
Northern Pike
Northern Pike
Non-native, originally found in Canada and northern states around the Great Lakes. Introduced to Arizona in 1965. Back and sides are dusky olive-green with rows of light oval spots. Dorsal, anal and tail fin have round to oblong darkened spots. Dorsal fin located far back on an elongated body. Large canine-like teeth. Cheeks completely scaled, only upper half of the gill cover is scaled.
Originally native to far north in Canada and Labrador, west of the Appalachian Mountains through the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, then west to Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota. Introduced to Arizona in 1957. Back is yellow-olive with a brassy cast. Sides are brassy-yellow with dark mottling. Belly is white. Dark spot at rear of spiny dorsal fin. Anal fin and lower lobe of tail fin are white. Namesake eyes are opaque-silver in color. Moderate canine-like teeth.
Yellow Perch
Yellow Perch AZ
Originally from the northern part of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Introduced in 1919 to Arizona. Back olive-green; sides brassy-yellow with 6 to 9 dark vertical bars. Belly is white. Anal fin, pectoral and pelvic fins are amber-orange tinted. Small teeth, not canine-like. Soft (rear) dorsal fin has 12 to 13 rays.

Warm Water

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass
Native to the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, Hudson bay and the Mississippi River basin: Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida. Introduced into Arizona in 1897. Very large mouth with upper jaw bone of adults extending beyond rear margin of eye. Dark olive-green on the back with green sides shading to white belly. Dark horizontal band on each side. Coloration is darker and more distinct in clearer water and can pale greatly in highly turbid conditions. Deep notch in dorsal fin. Soft dorsal fin usually has 12 to 13 rays. Largemouth bass are actually members of the sunfish family, not the true bass family (stripers and white bass).
Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass AZ
Native to the upper Mississippi River basin, generally east of the Missouri River drainage, and in the Great Lakes system. Introduced into Arizona in 1921. Smallmouth bass most often are bronze to brownish green in color, with dark vertical bars on sides. In contrast to the largemouth bass, the upper jaw does not extend beyond the rear margin of eye. Eye reddish in color. Shallow notch in dorsal fin. Soft dorsal fin has 13 to 15 rays. Smallmouth bass are actually members of the sunfish family, not the true bass family (stripers and white bass). 
Striped Bass
Striped Bass AZ
Originally native to the eastern seaboard of the US and Canada, from the St. Lawrence River to Louisiana. Introduced to Arizona in 1959. Unlike smallmouth and largemouth which belong to the sunfish family, stripers are a true bass.  Body has six to nine black horizontal stripes on silvery-white sides. Dorsal fins are distinctly separate, unlike yellow bass, which are joined at the base. Pelvic fins in large adults, white with anal fin edged in white. Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper jaw. Generally two patches of teeth on tongue. 2nd anal spine distinctly shorter than the 3rd. Tail is slightly forked. 
White Bass
White Bass AZ
Non-native that was originally found in the St. Lawrence/Great Lakes area, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basin. Introduced in 1960 to Arizona. Body silver-white with yellowish under parts, 4 to 7 dark horizontal lines. Lines below lateral line often faint and broken. Dorsal fins are distinctly separate, unlike the yellow bass, which are joined at the base. 2nd anal spine distinctly shorter than the 3rd. Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper jaw; Generally a single patch of teeth at base of tongue. A member of the “true bass” family. Length: 8 to19 inches.
Yellow Bass
Yellow Bass AZ
Originally found in Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basins from Wisconsin and Minnesota south to the Gulf. Introduced into Arizona in 1930. Body has golden-yellow sides with 5 to 7 horizontal lines; Lines appear broken and offset about midway on the lower side. Dorsal fins are connected. 2nd anal spine is about as long as the 3rd anal spine. No patches of teeth on tongue. Like the striper and white bass it is in the “true bass” family as opposed to the sunfish family. Slightly smaller than the white bass.
Green Sunfish
Green Sunfish AZ
Native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi River basin. Introduced into Arizona in 1926. Large mouth with blue-green striations on the cheeks. Opercle flap is black with reddish or orange border. Bodies olive-green in color, dark vertical bars are faintly seen on sides. Pectoral fin short and rounded. Caudal fin and lower fin margins are white or yellowish with dusky spots at rear of dorsal and anal fins. 
Redear Sunfish
Redear Sunfish AZ
Native to the Savannah River in South Carolina to Nueces River in Texas, north in Mississippi River basin to southern Indiana and Illinois. Introduced to Arizona in 1946. The "Red-ear" sunfish has a black opercle flap which is bordered with a reddish or orange color on the rear of the flap. Sides of the head have olive-brown speckling. Body is compressed or flat with an olive-green cast, light speckling on sides. Vertical bars are rarely present on the sides. Pectoral fin long and pointed usually extends far past eye when bent forward. 
Bluegill AZ
Native to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin.  Introduced to Arizona in 1932. The bluegill has blue coloring on the chin, a solid black opercle flap, a small mouth and a dark spot at the rear of the dorsal fin. The body is very compressed or flat and has from five to nine dark vertical bars on the sides.

Channel Catfish
Channel Catfish AZ
Original range was the central drainages of the U.S. to Southern Canada and Northern Mexico.  Introduced to Arizona in 1903. Scattered black spots on a silver or gray colored back and sides with a white belly. Few spots on large adults. Smooth, scaleless skin. Four pair of barbels or 'whiskers'. Short base on small adipose fin. Deeply forked tail. Anal fin has 24 to 30 rays and is slightly rounded.
Flathead Catfish
Flathead Catfish AZ
Native to the lower Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin. Introduced into Arizona in 1940's. Back and sides mottled, dark-brown to yellow-brown; belly is yellowish-white. Head is broad and flat with small eyes. Large mouth, lower jaw projecting beyond the upper jaw. Adipose fin is large. Tail fin is flat or slightly notched.
Yellow Bullhead
Yellow Bullhead AZ
Non-native originally found in Atlantic and Gulf slope drainages to the Mississippi River basins. Introduced in 1920. Body is yellow-olive to brown on back with yellowish sides, and yellow to white belly. Slight to no mottling. Chin barbels are always light in color, either white or pale yellow. Anal fin is moderately long with a straight profile. Tail fin is rounded.
Black Bullhead
Black Crappie AZ
Black bullheads are native to the Great Lakes area down to Northern Mexico and the Gulf region.  Introduced into Arizona in 1920.  Body is black or dark gray on back with no mottling and yellowish sides; belly is white or yellow. Chin barbels are dark black. Tail fin squared off and is barely notched.
Black Crappie
Black Crappie AZ
Native to the Atlantic slope from Virginia to Florida, the Gulf slope west to Texas and the Mississippi River Basin.  Introduced to Arizona in 1905.  Head and back heavily and irregularly spotted with black blotches on a silver-olive background; tail, dorsal and anal fins are spotted. Seven or eight spines on dorsal fin. Body is compressed or flat.
White Crappie
White Crappie AZ
Non-native that originated from the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and Mississippi River basin, west to Minnesota and South Dakota, south to the Gulf of Mexico. Introduced in 1903. Similar to black crappie but more silvery in color and smaller in size. Black markings tend to form vertical bars rather than random spots as in black crappie. The dorsal fin has 6 spines. The body is compressed or flat. Tail fin, dorsal and anal fins are spotted. 
Tilapia AZ
Exotic from Africa and coastal rivers of Israel. At least four varieties of tilapia have been introduced into Arizona since the 1960’s. Extensive hybridization often makes identification difficult. Similar in body shape to bluegill. Two-part lateral line with front portion higher on body than rear portion. Very long, unbroken dorsal fin and anal fin with pointed ends. 
Desert Sucker
Desert Sucker AZ
Native to Arizona. Body sharply bi-colored, olive-brown above and deep-yellow below. Scales on upper half of body have dark spots forming faint dashed lines. Lower lip is about 3 times as thick as upper lip. Dorsal fin has 10 to 11 rays. 
Bigmouth Buffalo
Bigmouth Buffalo AZ
Non-native. Introduced to Arizona in 1918. Heavy bodied fish. Back is gray to olive-bronze with green-copper reflections. Sides are black to olive-yellow; belly is pale yellow to white. Head large and ovoid with a sharply oblique, terminal mouth. No barbells on mouth or spines on fins.
Common Carp
Carp AZ
Found in abundance along the Colorado River and it's reservoirs. Native to Asia, yellow to golden brown or olive sides, white belly, scales have a dark spot at the bottom. Average side 18 inches and 5 lbs. Can reach well over 40 lbs. Close relative of the Koi fish.
Grass Carp
Grass Carp White Amure AZ
Can be found in urban lakes and ponds. Gold to greenish silver back fading to yellowish white underside, thick body; with a broad head and large forward facing mouth, dark-edged scales and low set eyes. Can reach weights over 50 lbs