White Mountains Online

Williams Creek & Alchesay
Fish Hatcheries



If you enjoy fishing have we got a deal for you! And it's free too! Thousands of trout right in front of you!

Every year, more and more people enjoy one of America's greatest outdoor sports - fishing. In the White Mountains of Arizona, those people are interested in trout. Because of increasing fishing pressure, lakes and streams are no longer able to maintain natural stocks of trout. Only by supplementing those waters with additional trout can a high quality fishery be maintained. This is the responsibility of the Alchesay and Williams Creek National Fish Hatcheries.

Think this is just boring stuff? Guess again!

As an avid fisherman, I can tell you I was more than surprised by the dedication of our U.S. Fish & Wildlife service and the scientific means utilized in their endless effort to provide quality fish for anglers throughout the southwest. You too can see the "life cycle" of these fish in nearly every stage! Enjoy the ambience of ponderosa pine forests in this secluded canyon, bring a picnic lunch, and watch other forest wildlife as well. Here you can not only learn about- but understand - the trout species while you experience a "terrific" day trip! You will find a visit to Alchesay & Williams Creek National Fish Hatcheries in the heart of Arizona's White Mountains - fun and enlightening!


Each year, approximately 350,000 rainbow, brown, brook, or Apache trout fingerlings are brought to the Alchesay Hatchery from the Williams Creek Hatchery. These trout are reared in water supplied from an underground flow of the White River.

All trout at Williams Creek begin life as fertilized eggs received primarily from other National Fish Hatcheries which specialize in the production of trout eggs. Eggs are shipped by air from as far away as Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Montana.

Eggs for incubation are "stripped" and fertilized from specially selected brood stock. Immediately after receipt, eggs are disinfected to prevent the possible spread of disease from other hatcheries and placed in incubator trays where they are hatched. The trout embryo develops from a "germinal disc" of cells on the surface of the yolk. In 21 days the head and tail have formed. Until the embryo's eyes begin to show, the eggs are very delicate and cannot be moved. When the egg is about to hatch, the young fish becomes very active and its wriggling movements help to break the thin shell.

Newly-hatched "fry" have a yolk sac on their abdomen which provides nourishment for about 16-21 days. After the yolk sac is completely absorbed, the fry swim to the surface of the holding tank and begin to feed on specially prepared granular diets.

Once hatching is completed and yolk sacs are absorbed, the fish are transferred to indoor concrete tanks. Here they are fed until they reach a size of approximately two inches long. They are then transferred to outside concrete holding units called raceways.

As the fish grow and begin to over-crowd their new home, they are separated by length groups and placed in other raceways or one of the earthen ponds located in series below the raceways. Here they are cared for until they have reached the proper size for stocking.

When the fish have grown to an average length of eight inches, they are taken from the ponds and raceways and stocked according to plans worked out by a fisheries management biologist located on the station.

What do trout eat while at the Hatchery?

The food used to rear our trout is scientifically developed and tested in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laboratories to produce maximum growth while maintaining fish health and stamina. The high protein diet is composed of animal and vegetable meals and oils plus vitamin and mineral supplements. It is fed as dry granules or pellets.

How are fish stocked?

When the fish are ready for stocking, they are sample counted to determine the number of fish per pound. A predetermined weight of fish, representing the required number to be stocked, is loaded into a mechanical fish conveyor which moves the trout from the raceway or pond into an awaiting delivery truck. The trucks are specially designed to maintain cold water temperatures. Pure oxygen is injected into the holding tanks and mixed with the water by electric pumps. This insures that trout reach their destination in a vigorous and healthy condition.

You can see all of this and more at.. Alchesay & Williams Creek National Fish Hatcheries

Initial construction of Williams Creek began in 1939 and was completed in 1941. This marked the beginning of a highly successful and continuous trout rearing operation. The Alchesay National Fish Hatchery was authorized in 1959 and named for the famous Apache chief, Alchesay. It began rainbow trout production in 1963.

Alchesay was designed to fulfill a federal responsibility for stocking waters on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, San Carlos Indian Reservation, and other federally managed waters in Arizona. It is one of over 90 hatcheries operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

In 1971, the Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery and the Alchesay National Fish Hatchery were consolidated. Williams Creek is noted for its abundant supply of cool spring water which is ideal for rearing brook, brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and Apache trout.


Alchesay and Williams Creek National Fish Hatcheries are located in the tall pine forests of the North fork of the White River on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in a picturesque canyon. They are accessible from Highway 73 between the towns of Indian Pine and Whiteriver, Arizona. Administrative offices are located at the Alchesay Fish Hatchery.


Visitors are welcome at Alchesay, weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Guided hatchery tours may be arranged for large groups or organizations by advance request. Picnic facilities, restrooms, and an interpretative display are available. Note: Reservation permits are required when camping or fishing on Indian lands. These may be purchased in the nearby town of Whiteriver or surrounding areas.


The following policy governs the distribution of trout from the Alchesay & Williams Creek National Fish Hatcheries.

  • Primary obligation is the stocking of waters on Federal lands or waters in which the Federal Government has an interest. These waters include lakes, ponds, and streams in National Forests, National Parks, Indian Reservations, military reservations, and others that are open to public fishing.
  • A secondary obligation is the stocking of State waters which are open to the public.
    • The majority of all trout produced are stocked on the Ft. Apache, San Carlos, Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, Laguna Ft. McDowell, and Salt River Indian Reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. The Fisheries Assistance Offices of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Pinetop, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico, determine the locations, requirements, and suitability of waters to be stocked. The demand for hatchery trout for public fishing waters usually far exceeds the supply. Fish produced at National Fish Hatcheries are allocated to areas where the greatest public benefit will be realized.
    • Whenever possible, trout from a National Fish Hatchery are stocked only after studies by fishery biologists show the suitability of the water concerned and the species, size, and number of fish needed to produce an optimum fishery and provide for the greatest public benefit with a high level of angler success.


As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the Department of the Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally owned public lands and natural resources. This includes fostering the wisest use of our land and water resources, protecting our fish and wildlife, preserving the environmental and cultural values of our national parks and historical places, and providing for the enjoyment of life through outdoor recreation. The Department assesses our energy and mineral resources and works to assure that their development is in the best interests of all our people. The Department also has a major responsibility for American Indian reservation communities and for people who live in island territories under U.S. administration.

Information provided and published courtesy of:

  • Alchesay National Fish Hatchery, P.O. Box 398, Whiteriver, Arizona 85941, Telephone: (928) 338-4901
  • Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery, P.O. Box 398, Whiteriver, Arizona 85941, Telephone: (928) 334-2346

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