Brook Trout (Char) History
" Salvelinus fontinalis "
Brook Trout are a sub species of the Char and a member of the Salvelinus fontinalis family along with the Dolly Varden, Sea Run Char, Arctic Char and Bull Trout.
The Brook Trout can be the most colorful Char when found in shallower water like small rivers, creeks or beaver ponds. In deep water the Brook trout are more silvery gray in color, not readily recognized by most people. As an artist I like to carve and paint the optimum shape and coloration. The Brook Trout is the only Char that has vermiculations (worm like markings) on their backs, dorsal fin and caudal (tail) to blend in with their environment. If you find round spots on their Back and Dorsal Fin, they are crossed with another char. I found some Brook Trout with that kind of marking in a lake near Salmon, Idaho.
To an untrained eye the Brook Trout and Brown Trout look similar. The most important difference is: Brook Trout have light spots over a darker body and the Brown Trout have dark spots over a lighter body. Second, the Brook Trout has a thick white leading edge with a black line behind it on the pectoral, pelvic, anal and caudal fins. The Brown Trout in some cases can have a lesser white line on the leading edge of the pelvic and anal fin only and none on the pectoral fin. Both of them have red to orange spots and light blue to white halos.
DOLLY VARDEN AND ARCTIC CHAR
When I spent 2-1/2 months in Alaska working at a sports fishing camp on the Konectat River , I discovered something that is not mentioned in the books. There is a difference in the fins of the Sea Run Char and the Dolly Varden. I caught fish that were 14” to 17” with the usual Dolly Varden color that had Parr marks on them with normal sized pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. The Parr marks indicate that they are resident stream fish. I believe these are Dolly Varden. Then at the same time and same place, I caught fish the same size that had silver to spawning colors without Parr marks. These fish had longer fins that came out to a swooping point like a Swallow Tail butter fly wing or similar to an Angel Fish fin. The Arctic Char are also more streamline with a smaller peduncle area like an Atlantic Salmon compared to a Trout. Comparing the Sea Run Char to the Dolly Varden side by side, the difference is obvious.
The biologists believe that according to chromosome counts, the Bull Trout are distinct from the Dolly Varden and Arctic Char. The Bull Trout found from Oregon to Northern British Columbia/Alberta and from the coast to west of the Rockies. The Dolly Varden has two sub species. One is found from Puget Sound to Kenai Peninsula and one from Kenai north around the Bering Sea to the arctic Ocean on the North East side of Alaska. The Arctic Char are found from the Kenai around the Arctic Circle , Hudson Bay into Maine and Southern Greenland. In certain areas the Dolly Varden and Bull Trout overlap and are very difficult to tell apart. If the dorsal fin is darker with no spots it is considered a Bull Trout. The main difference that I found between the Dolly Varden and the Bull Trout is the coloration when spawning. The Dolly Varden and Arctic Char have the same red belly in spawning coloration. Bull Trout have a yellowish orange on the belly becoming more brownish on the back. Bull Trout, Dolly Varden and Brook Trout have a more squarish tail. The Arctic Char has more of a forked tail similar to a young Atlantic Salmon. As with all trout and salmon, mature males are more colorful than females.