- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Arctic char (Salvelinus)
Arctic char are one of the five species of char within the salmon family. They are related to the brook, lake and Dolly Varden (or bull) trout. They are long, slender fish that vary greatly in color depending on the time of year and the environment in which they live. In fact, color varies so widely that many are thought to be a separate species or subspecies, creating a debate among experts.
Arctic char may be brown, olive, yellow, gold, orange, red, deep green, blue or silvery, though most shade to silver on the sides and white on the belly. An identifying feature of arctic char is colored, usually violet or pink, round spots distributed along the sides of their bodies.
Arctic char have a small pointed head. They have teeth only in middle front part of their mouths. The tail is slightly forked.
Arctic char can be very difficult to distinguish from their relatives, especially when compared to the Dolly Varden trout. However, there are some features that separate the arctic char. Their head is usually shorter, the tail slightly more forked and the base of the tail narrower. Also, the leading edges of the lower fins are white.
Arctic char are widely distributed throughout the world's arctic region, though they are found in some non-arctic areas. They are the most northerly-distributed freshwater fish in the world and are the prevailing species of fish in the arctic region.
They exist primarily in the pure, cold rivers and lakes of arctic territories. They are known to inhabit waters within 500 miles of the North Pole.
Arctic char are native to the cold streams and lakes of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, England and Russia. In North America they can be found in areas ranging from the Bering Sea and Arctic coast east to Hudson Bay, Baffin Island, Maine and New Hampshire. They are present in the greatest number in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut provinces of Canada.
In Alaska, the only known arctic char are of the freshwater variety. They can be readily located in small lakes in the Brooks Range, Kigluaik Mountains, Kuskokwim Mountains, Alaska Peninsula, Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and within a limited area of the interior near Denali Park.
There are two sub-groups of arctic char: sea-run and freshwater. Although anadromous arctic char live part of their lives in ocean waters, none live exclusively at sea.
Freshwater arctic char prefer clean, shallow water at the mouths of tributary streams. Because of the cold water temperatures, they prefer to reside near the surface or upper levels. In rivers, they will seek out pools and runs because they offer similar conditions to those found in the shallow water of lakes.
Sea-run arctic char generally stay in shallow inshore water very close to the river from which they migrated, where food is most plentiful. However, they will migrate to more productive areas if lack of food warrants. Migrations of 20 to 30 miles are common, but they have been known to migrate as far as 600 miles.
The spawning season for arctic char generally runs from August to October, with spawning occurring later as one moves south. Evidence suggests they spawn every two to three years and that it occurs when water temperature is about 38 to 40 F.
During spawning season, arctic char develop bright red, orange or gold color on their sides, belly and lower fins. This color is more prominent in males than females.
The female will seek a steep area with a bed of gravel or broken rock at adequate depth to protect the eggs from winter ice. Occasionally, spawning will take place in the bottom of a rapid, where ice is not likely to form. She will use her tail to scoop out a nest, known as a redd, in the loose bottom material. The nest is little more than a shallow depression about the length of the body.
Into this depression the female releases a proportion of her 3,000 to 7,000 eggs; at the same time, the male releases his milt to fertilize the eggs. The female will then lightly fan the loose material to cover the fertilized eggs, usually as part of creating another nest. This process will continue until the female has deposited all her eggs.
Arctic char eggs will hatch around the first week of April, though light and water temperature determine the actual time of hatching. Temperatures that rise above 46 F may be fatal to the eggs.
Sea-run char live in the area of their birth until near maturity before making a first run to the sea. However, all arctic char will return to spend the winter in the inland river and lake environment.
Arctic char diet depends on location and environment. However, their diet generally consists of a mixture of insects, mollusks and small fish. Arctic char will often go the entire winter without eating. Their metabolic rate slows and they rely on the fat accumulated during the summer feeding season. As a result, growth is very limited during the long, cold winter months.
There are a number of factors that are contributing to the arctic char's increasing popularity as a sport fish. In addition to its succulent meat, it is a colorful species that presents itself as a challenging catch to many anglers.
It is an excellent food fish with high quality meat. The white or orange-red meat is tasty, though it can spoil quickly if not properly stored. Today, it is mainly sold as fresh or frozen steaks, though a small amount is canned.
Arctic char are known for their long runs and frantic jumps when hooked, as well as their spinning and twisting when fought. Some anglers are attracted by the relative isolation of arctic char, which makes them a trophy fish to many.
September is the most productive month for arctic char fishing when spawning fish are at the height of their color and strength. Arctic rivers tend to be fast and tumultuous, so most fishing activity centers on the head of pools where channels empty into open areas or pools.
In lakes, they will congregate at the inlets where streams flow in. In spring, arctic char will be found near the edges of ice floes that are breaking apart.
Fishing for arctic char can be a hit-and-miss proposition. At times they are found in such numbers that the rivers and lakes seem chock full of fish. At other times, they seem non-existent. Fishing action can be fast and furious, though arctic char are easily spooked. In general, river fishing is more predictable than lake fishing.
Arctic char can be caught on a spoon, jig or streamer fly using spinning or fly tackle. When fishing strong flowing water, it is advised to use heavy-bodied spoons that sink below the surface disturbance, perhaps with a bit of red or orange color. Weighted spinners and plugs may also be a successful strategy. Anglers typically use light- to medium-action spinning tackle, although bait-casting gear is also popular.
Fly-fishing is better when the water level is low and a wide variety of flies will work, especially if some color is included. Most fly-fisherman prefer using a sinking fly line with at least 75 yards of backing, as arctic char are known for making long runs.
Although they have been a staple of the Inuit diet for centuries, it is only since the 1940s that they have been caught commercially and sold to restaurants in the lower United States.