E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Salvelinus confluentus (Suckley, 1859)
Bull Trout
Family: Salmonidae

Photo of species

© Ian Gardiner  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5598)

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Source: Distribution map provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC
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Species Information

This is a trout-like char with pale pink, lilac, or red spots along the flanks that are large and well spaced; >23 branchiostegal rays. Adults are large (55-85 cm), migratory, and piscivorous. Refer to McPhail (2008) for a detailed discussion of this species in BC.
Source: McPail, J. D. 2008. The Freshwater Fishes of British Columbia. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton.

Identification and Subspecies Information

The BC Conservation Data Centre tracks two lineages of the Bull Trout:

1) Salvelinus confluentus - coastal lineage
2) Salvelinus confluentus - interior lineage


Species Biology

Occurs in deep pools of large cold rivers and lakes (Ref. 5723). Most common in high mountainous areas where snowfields and glaciers are present (Ref. 5723). Rarely anadromous (Ref. 5723). Lacustrine form matures in lakes and spawns in tributaries, where young reside for one to three years (Ref. 10367).

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p


BC Distribution and Notes

The relationship between bull trout and Dolly Varden has a long and tangled history. In B.C., the bull trout is primarily an interior species; however, it reaches the coast wherever large rivers cut through the Coast Mountains. Again, there are a number of life history types — stream-residents, large bodied fluvial and adfluvial populations, and even a few anadromous (or perhaps, more properly, amphidromous) populations. These populations that migrate to estuaries appear to be unique to southern British Columbia but probably at one time also occurred in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Special care should be taken to protect these migratory populations. Where they come together, bull trout and Dolly Varden commonly hybridize; however, even in the face of persistent hybridization (and back-crossing) they maintain themselves as distinct ecological and genetic entities. At the southern margins of their range bull trout are in serious decline.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.
Global Distribution

Coastal and mountain streams of Arctic, Pacific, and Missouri River drainages from extreme southern Yukon in Canada to headwaters of Columbia River drainage in northern Nevada, USA, and McCloud River drainage in northern California, USA.

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Salvelinus confluentusNativeS3S4BlueSC (Nov 2012)
Salvelinus confluentus pop. 10NativeS3BlueNot Listed
Salvelinus confluentus pop. 12NativeSUNo StatusNot Listed
Salvelinus confluentus pop. 26NativeS3S4BlueNot Listed
Salvelinus confluentus pop. 28NativeS2S3BlueSC (Nov 2012)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-08-16 4:11:04 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

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