Post date: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 14:33
Updated date: 9/5/17
 Arctic Char Salvelinus alpinus


The arctic char is closely related to the bull trout and the Dolly Varden.  These colorful and tasty fighters are fish of the high arctic - a jewel of the wind-blasted north that only the toughest adventurers pursue. Both resident and anadromous populations of arctic char exist. They are found in Alaska and throughout canada, in Iceland, and in Maine. The relict arctic char populations in the Northeastern US and Southeast Canada are a seperate subspecies called Salvelinus alpinus oquassa.




Arctic char sport light-colored spots, usually white, on a dark background of olive, gray, or brown.  Highlights of pink, red, orange, or yellow may be visible, especially around spawning time.  Spawning arctic char may be truly brilliant in color. The arctic char is very difficult to distinguish from the Dolly Varden; to tell them apart, look at the tail.  The Arctic Char's tail is more deeply forked and it has a narrower caudal peduncle.  The artic char's head and snout is also shorter than the Dolly's, and the Arctic Char has larger spots than the Dolly Varden - the spots are usually larger than the pupil of the fish's eye.  Ocean-run char will appear silvery as they ascend streams to spawn.




Of all the trout and salmon, the chars are the true northerners - and the arctic char has the northernmost range of all.  It may be found in the cold ocean as well as rivers and streams across the arctic.  Healthy populations of Arctic Char are found in certain regions of Alaska, but it is far more widespread in the northern reaches of Canada, as well as Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, and Iceland.




Most any tackle can be employed for catching arctic char, but be prepared for a prologed and spirited battle as this fish is no pushover.


In areas where Arctic Char and Dolly Varden occur together, this graphic may prove useful in telling them apart:



Range Map

Photo Credits:

All photos courtesy of Mike Bryant of Yellowknife

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