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Bull Trout

Updated on November 15, 2014

Bull Trout of North America

The bull trout is a type of char, a member of the salmonid family of fish.

Bull trout are inhabitants of clear, cold water streams and lakes in western North America.

These top level predators were once abundant in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

Today, these fish occur in less than half of their historic range, with populations surviving in portions of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

The bull trout is the provincial fish of Alberta, Canada.

In 1998 these iconic fish were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Bull Trout Habitats

Bull trout require cold water temperature and clean stream substrates for spawning and rearing. To thrive, they require complex habitats, including streams with riffles and deep pools, undercut banks and other structure. They need access to rivers, lakes or oceans for adults to grow and feed. These habitats must also connect to pristine streams where the fish can spawn.

Bull Trout - Dolly Varden

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are most often confused with Dolly Varden, a char native to northwestern North America. Both species sometimes inhabit the same environments and are very similar in appearance.

Spawning Phase Bull Trout

Spawning phase male bull trout display brilliant red, orange, and white coloration along their undersides and lower fins. Breeding males also develop a hooked jaw known as a "kype". Bull trout do not die after spawning. They spawn multiple times throughout their adult life.


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