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Sport Fish of B.C.

Chinook Salmon Chum Salmon Coho Salmon

Pink Salmon Sockeye Salmon Bull Trout
Dolly Varden Lake Trout Coastal Cutthroat Trout
Westslope Cutthroat Trout Rainbow Trout Steelhead Trout Kokanee Brook Trout
Brown Trout Smallmouth Bass Walleye Yellow Perch Northern Pike
Black Crappie Arctic Grayling Burbot Whitefish White Sturgeon

Arctic Grayling

Thymallus arcticus
Distribution Map Arctic Grayling

Other common names:

Grayling. Sometimes incorrectly called whitefish.

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 15-50cm
Maximum length: 75cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 1-2kg
Maximum weight: 2.7kg

What do they look like?

Arctic grayling have trout-like bodies; the head is short, with large eyes. One of its most distinguishing features is the large (dorsal) fin on its back. The mouth is small and toothed. This is one of our most beautiful fish; once seen it is never forgotten. The head is olive-green with a mauve iridescence, and the eye is dark green and gold. The dorsal fin is black with a narrow, mauve- or wine-coloured edge, often with a wider blue band below. This fin also has vertical rows of spots that vary in colour; the first row can be orange-red, mauve or wine in colour; the other rows are blue- green to emerald green and also iridescent. The back is dark purple, or blueblack to blue-grey, or olive-grey. The scales on the sides are silvery grey to dark blue, or blue-green with a spectacular bluegreen iridescence. In the sun, the iridescent scales may show yellow outlines. The markings on the sides are either V- or diamond-shaped. The belly is grey to white. The pelvic fins are black with wavy mauve or orange lines; the other fins are dusky to bronze. The colours are more pronounced in males than in females.

Where do they live?

Arctic grayling live throughout the northern drainage systems. A few small populations still survive in Montana. Historically Arctic grayling were also found in Michigan; those fish are now extinct. In British Columbia they are found from the Peace and Stikine rivers to the northern border. For a short time Arctic grayling occured in the Flat head drainage in Southeastern B.C., these were strays from a fish introduction in Montana. These fish like the clear waters of large, cold rivers, rocky creeks and lakes.

What do they eat?

Young fish eat zooplankton at first, but shift to insect larvae, such as mayflies and caddis flies as they grow. Larger fish will eat almost any invertebrates but prefer aquatic and terrestrial insects, such as bees, wasps, grasshoppers and ants. They will also eat fish, fish eggs, and zooplankton.

What is their life cycle like?

In smaller streams, Arctic grayling may begin to spawn in the spring when the ice is beginning to break up; elsewhere they will often wait until spring freshet. They spawn in small gravel- or rockbottomed tributaries or in mainstem rivers. They make no redd, or nest. The young hatch quickly, after only a couple of weeks. Most fish are mature by the time they are six to nine years old; many survive to complete several spawning migrations. Males do not like to see other males nearby when they are ready to spawn; they find a private area, tucked in among some boulders or bedrock, which they protect by attacking rival males.

How are they doing?

In general, Arctic grayling is yellow-listed, which means the species is not at risk in British Columbia. Populations in the watershed draining to the Williston Reservoir are red-listed; these populations have been affected by the flooding of their river and stream habitats when the reservoir behind the W.A.C. Bennett Dam was filled. Grayling are sensitively balanced to their environment and many populations suffer from overfishing and habitat loss resulting from industrial activity, such as logging and oil exploration. How you can help:
  • It is important to obey angling regulations and habitat protection bylaws, guidelines and regulations, since they were designed to protect the fish and their habitat. You should also Observe, Record and Report violations of the regulations by phoning 1-800-663- 9453. Arctic grayling are vulnerable to overharvest so the use of a barbless hook and practicing catch and release are recommended.
  • This species is highly vulnerable to human activities which distrupt migration patterns, reduce cover, or increase sedimentation and water temperature.
  • Form a group of water stewards and volunteer to monitor local water quality.
  • Never transport live fish or other organisms from one body of water to another. You could transfer diseases and parasites from one ecosystem to another or upset the natural balance in the ecosystem where they are released.

No kidding!

  • Arctic grayling are popular sport fish because of their beautiful colours and are one of the few species in much of northern Canada that provide fly fishing opportunities.
  • The largest grayling ever caught in Canada was 76 cm long and weighed 2.69 kg. These fish are very territorial, with the largest and strongest fish occupying the most advantageous position in a pool. Feeding territories are established and maintained through a series of ritual challenge displays.

Black Crappie Not Native to BC

Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Arctic Grayling

Brook Trout Not Native to BC

Salvelinus fontinalis
Arctic Grayling

Other common names:

Eastern Brook Trout, Speckled Trout,
Coaster Trout, Coasters

Brown Trout Not Native to BC

Salmo trutta morpha fario and Salmo trutta morpha lacustris
Brown Trout

Bull Trout

Salvelinus confluentus
Bull Trout

Other common names:

Sometimes incorrectly referred to as Dolly Varden Trout

Burbot

Lota lota
Burbot

Other common names:

It has a variety of names across North America. In B.C. it is often called ling or freshwater cod. Sometimes it is incorrectly referred to as ling cod; ling cod is a saltwater fish unrelated to the burbot.

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 30-75cm
Maximum length: 90cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 1-7kg
Maximum weight: 9kg

What do they look like?

This fish looks like a ling cod, with a long body tapering to the rounded tail. The head is flattened with a long snout and a large mouth. It has a whiskerlike appendage, called a barbel, on its chin and at each nostril, and two fins on its back. The base of the fin behind the head is quite short; the other is at least six times longer. Burbot can vary in colour from very pale to very dark, but are usually olivecoloured with mottled, darkish markings on the back and sides and a yellowish or duskycoloured belly. Large fins are mottled and have a dark border. It is protected by a heavy covering of mucus which gives it a smooth and slippery feel when handled.

Where do they live?

This fish is widespread in cold, freshwater habitats in Europe, Siberia and North America. In British Columbia, burbot are found in lakes and rivers throughout the Columbia, Fraser, Skeena, St. Kine, Alsek, Nass, Peace, Liard and Yukon systems. This fish usually spends its time on the bottom in the deep, cool areas of lakes and rivers. They have been caught as deep as 210 m. Young burbot can be found along rocky lake shores and in weedy areas, or hiding between the rocks in tributary streams.

What do they eat?

Like many other fish species, burbot are predators. They are able to swallow fish nearly their own size. For example, there is one report of a 38 cm burbot whose stomach contained a 30 cm walleye. As one of the top predators, it has an important role to play in the fish community. Their diet includes whitefish, kokanee, juvenile salmon, suckers, stickleback and perch, as well as crayfish and fish eggs in streams. They will also eat Mysis shrimp. Younger fish feed on aquatic insects.

What is their life cycle like?

The burbot is one of the few Canadian freshwater fish that spawns in mid-winter under the ice. January through March is their spawning period. They spawn at night, in shallow water up to 1.25 metres deep, over sand or gravel. Spawning is usually in lakes but they occasionally move into rivers to spawn. They are weaker swimmers than trout or char and need slower water to make their spawning migrations. Ten to twelve adult burbot usually spawn together in a squirming ball about 60 cm in diameter which moves over the bottom shedding milt and tiny eggs. This species does not make a nest and gives its offspring no parental care. The eggs hatch after about 30 days. Burbot are one of the few freshwater fishes, in the province, that go through a larval stage before growing into a fry. In Canada, burbot live to a maximum age of about 23 years.

How are they doing?

Burbot is yellow-listed, which means that the species is not at risk in British Columbia. It is quite common in some areas of the province and most populations appear to be doing well. However, some populations have declined drastically. For example the populations in the Kootenay River between Kootenay Lake and Lake Kookanusa; and the Columbia River downstream of Hugh Keenleyside Dam, which have been affected by changes in riverflows as a result of dam construction.

How You Can Help:

  • It is important to obey angling regulations and habitat protection bylaws, guidelines and regulations, since they are designed to protect the fish and their habitat. You should also Observe, Record and Report violations of the regulations by phoning 1-800-663-9453.
  • Never transport live fish or other organisms from one body of water to another. This could transfer diseases and parasites from one ecosystem to another, or upset the natural balance in the ecosystem where they are released.
  • Be aware that what you dump down the sink or into sewers may find its way into streams.
  • Help keep water quality high by using detergents and soaps minimally and do not dump harsh chemicals, such as bleach, paint thinners or antifreeze, into drains.
  • Form a group of water stewards and volunteer to monitor local water quality.

No kidding!

  • Female burbot can carry more than a million eggs.
  • As they grow larger, they tend to eat bigger fish, not more fish.
  • Burbot hunt at night, by ambush locating their prey first by smell, then by vibrations as the prey nears. Finally, when the prey is close enough, they make a rapid, close-range attack.
  • Like saltwater cod, the burbot's liver contains large amounts of vitamins A and D.
  • Many anglers have discovered that burbot are excellent for fish and chips.

Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Chinook Salmon

Other common names:

Spring Salmon, King Salmon, Tyee Salmon, Columbia River Salmon, Black Salmon, Chub Salmon, Hook Bill Salmon, Winter Salmon, Quinnat Salmon and Blackmouth

Coho Salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch
Coho Salmon

Other common names:

Silver Salmon

Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus clarki clarki
Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Other common names:

Yellowbellies, cutties, cutts, harvest trout, sea trout.

Size:

Resident fish:
Maximum length: 76cm
Maximum weight: 7.7kg
Sea-run fish:
Maximum length: 68cm
Maximum weight: 3.6kg

What do they look like?

Cutthroat trout usually have a distinctive red or orange streak under their lower jaw. This may not be obvious on those found in salt water. Coastal cutthroat differ from all other trout by having many spots all over the sides of the body, on the head and often on the belly and fins. Like all salmonids, they have an adipose fin, a soft, fleshy fin on the back. Sea-run individuals are silvery; sometimes their bellies have a distinct lemon colour, while freshwater fish are usually darker, with a coppery or brassy sheen. The body may have a pale yellowish colouring, lower fins may be yellow to orange-red, and sexually-mature fish often have a rose tint underneath. Unlike rainbow trout cutthroat have small teeth at the base of the tongue.

Where do they live?

Coastal cutthroat trout are found from southern Alaska to the Eel River in California. They do not extend very far inland, usually less than 150 km from the coast. The farthest inland they occur in B.C. is the headwaters of the Skeena River. They occur on all our coastal islands with suitable habitat, and in practically all streams and lakes of the coastal region. These fish prefer gravelly, lowland streams and lakes. Small, cool, clean streams with gravel are needed for spawning and young cutthroat trout spend up to three years rearing in these streams. Some resident fish have a home territory, somtimes a pool only 18 m long, in which they spend their whole life. Coastal cutthroat also exist as an anadromous form which migrates to the ocean but returns regularly to fresh water to feed or over-winter. Cutthroat trout which migrate to the sea usually remain within estuaries or near shore, moving in and out with the tides as they feed. Extensive migrations can occur along shoals; individuals can travel 100 km from their natal streams to feeding streams. When mature they return to spawn in the stream where they hatched. Although they usually spawn in the spring, fall spawning is also know to occur.

What do they eat?

Coastal cutthroat are highly predatory, feeding on other fish, but during the salmon spawning season they also eat loose eggs. In the ocean they feed on crustaceans as well as fish. The young feed mostly on insects.

What is their life cycle like?

Coastal cutthroat trout are usually sexually mature at the age of three to four years and spawning occurs from February to May. Eggs are laid and fertilized in a redd, a gravel nest built by the female. After six or seven weeks, the eggs hatch and after another week or so the fry leave the nest and are free swimming. Sea-run cutthroat trout usually migrate into salt water in the late spring or early summer at two or three years of age and return to freshwater in the late autumn or early winter to feed and if mature to spawn. They can live to a maximum age of about 10 years but few actually survive long enough to spawn more than twice; angler harvest and predators take a heavy toll.

How are they doing?

The coastal cutthroat is a blue-listed species, which means the species is considered vulnerable in British Columbia. Several populations, particularly those on the East coast of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, near Vancouver, are in serious decline. Many runs are already extinct. Their dependence on small streams for spawning and rearing makes them especially vulnerable, as small streams are easily altered or destroyed and their protection is often overlooked in planning residential, agricultural, and industrial developments or during forest harvesting.

How you can help:

  • Since cutthroat trout are very susceptible to over-fishing, using a barbless hook and practicing catch and release are recommended.
  • It is important to obey angling regulations and habitat protection bylaws, guidelines and regulations, since they were designed to protect the fish and their habitat. You should also Observe, Record and Report violations of the regulations by phoning 1-800-663-9453.
  • Cutthroat trout are highly vulnerable to urban development and agricultural practices that remove streamside vegetation, alter streamflow, increase sedimentation, nutrient input, and water temperature. If you own property bordering a stream or lake, try to protect or plant native trees and shrubs along the banks which provide shade, capture excess nutrients from fertilizers and manure, and prevent erosion.
  • Form a group of water stewards and volunteer to monitor local water quality and other habitat changes in lakes or streams.
  • Be aware that what you dump into your septic tank or roadside storm drain may find its way into streams or lakes. Help keep water quality high by using detergents and soaps minimally and do not dump harsh chemicals, such as bleach, paint thinners or antifreeze, into drains.

No kidding!

  • Coastal cutthroat were much more abundant in the past. There are accounts of people catching several hundred fish an hour in the Qualicum River on Vancouver Island.

Chum Salmon

Oncorhynchus keta
Chum Salmon

Other common names:

Dog Salmon, Keta Salmon, Silverbrite Salmon

Dolly Varden

Salvelinus malma
Dolly Varden

Other common names:

Dollies, sometimes bull trout. They are often confused with bull trout, since these two different species of char are very similar looking. Until recently (the late 1980s and early '90s) they were believed to be the same species.

Size:

Length range for resident adults: 7-45cm
Maximum weight for resident fish: 1kg
Length range for anadromous adults: 30-60cm
Maximum weight for anadromous fish: 2.3kg

Kokanee

Oncorhynchus nerka
Kokanee

Other common names:

Kickininee, Little Redfish, Silver Trout, Landlocked Sockeye, Blueback

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 20-25cm
Maximum length: 60cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 0.1-0.2kg
Maximum weight: 4.5kg

Lake Trout

Salvelinus namaycush
Lake Trout

Other common names:

Char, grey trout, lake char, laker

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 45-65cm
Maximum length: 125cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 1-3kg
Maximum weight: 21kg

Northern Pike Native to Northeast BC Only

Esox lucius
Northern Pike

Other common names:

Pike, Great Northern Pike, Jack, Jackfish, Pickerel

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 45-75cm
Maximum length: 117cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 0.5-4kg
Maximum weight: 13kg

Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha
Pink Salmon

Other common names:

Humpback Salmon

Rainbow Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss
Rainbow Trout

Other common names:

Kamloops Trout, Gerrard Trout, Silver Trout, Redband Trout, and Steelhead

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 30-75cm
Maximum length: 90cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 1-7kg
Maximum weight: 9kg

Smallmouth Bass Not Native to BC

Micropterus dolomieu
Smallmouth Bass

Other common names:

Smallmouth, Bronzeback, Brown Bass, Brownie, Smallie, and Bronze Bass

Sockeye Salmon

Oncorhynchus nerka
Sockeye Salmon

Other common names:

Red Salmon, Blueback Salmon

Steelhead Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss
Steelhead Trout

Other common names:

Historically they were called steelhead-salmon, salmon-trout or in some areas, hardhead.

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 50-85cm
Maximum length: 120cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 1.4-6.8kg
Maximum weight: 21kg

Walleye Eastern - origin species native only to Northern BC

Stizostedion vitreum
Walleye

Other common names:

Pike-perch, Pickerel

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 30-50cm
Maximum length: 70cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 0.5-1kg
Maximum weight: 5kg

Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi
Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Other common names:

Blackspotted Cutthroat

Whitefish

Prosopium williamsoni
Whitefish

Other common names:

Rocky Mountain whitefish. It is sometimes incorrectly called grayling.

Size:

Typical range in length for adults: 15-45cm
Maximum length: 58.5cm
Typical range in weight for adults: 0.5-1.3kg
Maximum weight: 2.3kg

White Sturgeon

Acipenser transmontanus, meaning "sturgeon beyond the mountains"
White Sturgeon

Other common names:

Pacific Sturgeon, Oregon Sturgeon, Columbia Sturgeon, Sacramento Sturgeon, California White Sturgeon

Yellow Perch Eastern - origin species native only to Northern BC

Perca flavescens
Yellow Perch


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