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Bull Trout Salvelinus confluentus


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Bull Trout
credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife/CCSA

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Family: Salmonidae, Trouts view all from this family

Description To 41 1/4" (43 cm); 32 lbs (14.5 kg). Cylindrical. Dark slaty above, without wavy lines; sides olive or gray flecked with many white or yellow spots; belly white. Head flat, broad; eyes large. Fleshy knob at tip of lower jaw. Dorsal fin olive; has adipose fin; tail fin lightly forked; ventral and pectoral fins have white and black leading edges. Spawning (fall) male blackish; side spots, belly, and ventral fins reddish.

Endangered Status The Bull Trout is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. This fish has very specific habitat requirements, and can survive only in extremely clean, clear, cold running water. Irrigation throughout the Northwest dealt the first blow to this species by changing the temperature, the clarity, and the flow of the water in its rivers and streams. The dozens of hydroelectric dams erected throughout the region contributed to the decline, wiping out most of the migrating populations of Bull Trout. Existing populations tend to be small, nonmigratory, and isolated, which makes them vulnerable to changes in habitat (caused by logging, livestock overgrazing, development, etc.) and catastrophic events, such as floods, that can instantly wipe out an entire population. Aside from protecting existing populations, changes need to be made to the watershed in order to restore migratory populations and insure the long-term health of the species.

Habitat Lakes, streams, usually in mountains; small size in headwater streams.

Range Northwestern Canada south to northern California and Nevada.

Discussion This trout was once considered a form of Dolly Varden (S. malma); it is distinguished by knob of flesh at tip of lower jaw.