What do you get when you put 80-plus fish specialists and managers in the back country without cell service, wifi, or any ability whatsoever to connect to their day jobs for three days?  You get innovative and forward-thinking presentations that carry over to lengthy and diverse campfire discussions where nothing but Bull Trout is on the mind.  


Lodge at Blue Lake Center, B.C. Photo R. Black

CEC was invited by our colleague Tom Boag, of Applied Aquatics Research Ltd. to attend the 25th Annual ScCS Annual Meeting (October 7-9, 2014).  We joined representatives from various federal and provincial government organizations and consulting firms who had traveled from all over Canada and the Western USA, to gather at a remote lodge on Blue Lake, in the B.C. East Kootenays.  The meeting was a melting pot of presentation topics and attendees which encouraged a good deal of interesting conversation all centered on Bull Trout.

Bull Trout: A Trans-boundary Species
Canadian populations extend from western Alberta throughout most of British Columbia, with a northern limit into the southern Yukon and the central portion of the Northwest Territories. In the United States, they are found from northern Nevada through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. This range necessitates an open conversation across the borderline.  “Trans-boundary Core [Habitat] Areas” have been identified within Bull Trout range (link Revised Draft Recovery Plan for the Coterminous United States Population of Bull Trout , USFWS 2014). Over the 14 presentations, many of them were the result of collaborative efforts between specialists in Canada and the USA through sharing of ideas, experiences, data, and methodologies.  A success story of its own.

A key learning we all took away from this meeting is that there is still a good deal to learn on managing Bull Trout.  No one population of Bull Trout can be treated the same.

Bull Trout Quick Facts
Bull Trout are a cold water dependent species that thrive in pristine watersheds and are slow growing and slow to reproduce. Combining their inherent biological sensitivities with anthropogenic threats to survival, Bull Trout are in decline across their range.  These threats include:

  • Angling pressure,
  • Competition with introduced species.
  • Barriers constructed on streams that isolate populations and impede seasonal migration.
  • Habitat degradation from past and continued land management activities.


In effort to manage the threats to Bull Trout, in Canada, they are listed as a Species of Special Concern (COSEWIC), and under consideration for listing as Species of Concern (federal Species at Risk Act).  In the USA Bull Trout are listed as Threatened (Endangered Species Act).  Bull Trout are regulated in many ways, such as non-retention in all Alberta waters, the use as single barbless hooks in all BC streams and many permanent and seasonal stream closures for Bull Trout.

Here are some Canadian regulations.  Be sure to find those for your region.


Can You Spot the Difference? Do you know the difference between a Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Char, and a Brook Trout? They are all members of the Char family and at first glance, they look similar, especially with all of those spots.  But there are some distinct features that indicate they are definitely separate species.  Fishing regulations differ for each species, so be sure you know which fish is which.

Bull Trout Salvelinus confluentus

Bull Trout

Bull Trout caught on the Pine River, Northern B.C. Photo J. Trask

Read more about Bull Trout. Show More







  Dolly Varden Char Salvelinus malma


Dolly Varden from Toodoggone Watershed. Photo J. Trask

Read more about Dolly Varden. Show More







  Arctic Char Salvelinus alpinus

Arctic Char

Arctic Char from Truelove River, Devon Island, Nunavut. Photo J. Trask.

Read More about Arctic Char. Show More







Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis

Brook Trout

Brook Trout caught in Perry Creek, Wolverine Watershed; Tumbler B.C. Photo J. Trask

Read More about invasive Brook Trout. Show More







Get involved with the Salvenlinus confluentus Curiosity Society (ScCS).  Check them out and keep in touch with future ScCS events on their Facebook page here

Check out CEC’s Resources Page for useful fish-links, as well as links to SARA, COSEWIC and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Tell CEC your Fishing Story! 

Have you ever caught a Bull Trout? 

Are you working on a project studying Bull Trout?