Bull trout (Salvelinus)
Bull Trout average 6 to 12 inches long, but can be as long as 34 inches. They get their name from their relatively large head and mouth, in comparison to their long, slender body. Coloration is olive green with cream to pale yellow spots on the back and red or orange spots on the side. The pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins have white- or cream-colored margins. There is a hook to the lower jaw.
The bull trout is often confused with the brook trout, but brook trout have irregular markings on their dorsal fin while bull trout do not. Bull trout have wavy lines on their backs, while the brook trout instead have bluish-orange spots.
Bull trout are opportunistic feeders, eating snails, shrimp, leeches, fish eggs, aquatic insects, frogs, snakes, mice, ducklings and other small fishes. Larger bull trout rely on other fish as their main food source, as much as 99 percent. They feed heavily on mountain white fish when available.
Bull trout inhabit the waters of Canada and the Pacific Northwest: Montana, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.
Bull trout live in cool water and cannot survive at water temperatures above 64 F. Resident bull trout prefer lakes and rivers that are both large and have clear, clean water, but usually enter small streams to spawn. Younger bull trout tend to stay in these small, clear streams that are often fed by groundwater springs high in oxygen, while adults prefer to move to deeper water.
Bull trout are anadromous, migratory or non-migratory. The anadromous bull trout live in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Washington and return to the freshwater streams and rivers of their birth for spawning. Migratory bull trout remain in the freshwater systems of the lakes and rivers and migrate to their natal streams for spawning, while the non-migratory remain in their birth streams throughout their lives.
Bull trout sometimes spawn with brook trout creating hybrids, which are believed to be sterile.
Bull trout are listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The native population of bull trout in California is extinct.
There are around 438 distinct bull trout, primarily resident, populations in the United States.
The all-tackle world record is a 32-pound, 40 1/2-inch bull trout caught in Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho in 1949.