Author Topic: Bull Trout in British Columbia  (Read 2231 times)

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John Wilkinson

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Bull Trout in British Columbia
« on: May 24, 2013, 07:44:50 AM »

When watching a fishing show with Chan and Pendlington in the Kootenay's Brian was mentioning that fish near the coast are Dolly Varden and fish in the interior and east are bull's? ???

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Todd Oishi

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2013, 08:07:34 AM »
Taken form a document prepared for the B.C. Governemnt by Jay Hammond:

"In British Columbia, Bull Trout are found in practically every major mainland drainage, including those major coastal drainages which penetrate the Coast Mountains into the interior of the province (e.g., Fraser, Homathko, Klenaklini, Bella Coola, Dean, Skeena and Nass rivers). In addition, some coastal populations of Bull Trout have been recognized (e.g., Squamish River).

Taylor et al. (1999) identified two evolutionarily distinct units—coastal and interior— based on range-wide mitochondrial DNA studies. In British Columbia, the coastal unit is concentrated in the lower Fraser (downstream of Hell’s Gate) and other south coast rivers such as the Squamish.

This group likely invaded British Columbia from the Chehalis refuge and may extend farther north up the coast; however, sample coverage was poor in that area. The interior unit, occupying the remainder of the species’ range in British Columbia, likely invaded British Columbia from the Columbia refuge."

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/frpa/iwms/documents/Fish/f_bulltrout.pdf
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Chris Puchniak

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 09:01:05 AM »
To add some more:

I know in some systems (such as the Skagit) we have Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Brook Trout, Dolly-Bull hybrid, Bull-Brook hybrids, etc... that have all be verified by DNA.  Identifying visually is tough though.

I don't think there is a 100% reliable way through visual verification to determine if one has a dolly or a bull - it requires DNA analysis.  The brachial rays can give you some strong indication (maybe 95% positive), but even still this can be blurred by interbreeding.

The following quote is from "Fishing with Rod" (www.fishingwithrod.com). 

"In Southern British Columbia, these predatory fish patrol the Fraser River and its tributaries year round, hunting for small fish and fish eggs. Their migratory pattern is irregular, depending on the distribution and abundance of food. Another word, they'll be in waters where the food is. They are also often found in the inshore waters, such as Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound. This type of migratory pattern is known as amphidromous, an unique lifestyle that is only found in several species since it is extremely difficult to adapt between the saltwater and freshwater environment.

As mentioned earlier, bull trout and dolly varden are extremely hard to differentiate. There are only two or three slight differences in their physical appearance that can be used to tell the two apart. Below is a table that summarizes these differences.

                                      Dolly varden                                         Bull trout
Scientific name                  Salvelinus malma malma                       Salvelinus confluentus
Upper jaw length                Short, usually does not pass the eyes.     Longer, usually pass the eyes.
Anal fin ray number            10 to 15                                               Much more

Although the dolly varden and bull trout look so alike, they are not as closely related as many people assume. In fact, they did not evolved from a common ancestor. The dolly varden is more closely related to the arctic char in the North, and the bull trout is more closely related to the whitespotted char in Asia. When the two populations met in the pacific northwest, they have manage to coexist ever since.

The two species have not been studied extensively. However in recent decades, Dr Eric Taylor at the University of British Columbia has used molecular biology as an effective tool to identify the two species. By identifying their genes, they are able to make accurate differentiation between the two species. In his recent co-published studies, he has found that the two species do interbreed and produce fertile hybrids. This makes visual identification even harder because of the intermediate characteristics.

So, finally the mysteries are solved, now you will be able to distinguish between a bully and a dolly when you hook one of these magnificent fish in the Fraser River or Pitt River. Remember, these chars are slow growing fish, some large fish are up to ten years of age. All of them need to be released in the Southern BC. Please handle with care when releasing them."

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Alex Berger

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2013, 04:01:40 AM »
Aren't bull trout protected species in BC? 
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Chris Puchniak

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2013, 06:40:58 AM »
Yes they are Alex, but in the sense that they have to be released when caught. Targetting them is still ok.

Since they started the protection, roughly 10 years ago, the populations have expanded by 500% or more in some areas. There have been other influencing factors, but it is great to see such a regrowth.
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Alex Berger

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2013, 09:39:12 AM »
Chris, "Dominus vias infinitum!"
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
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Chris Puchniak

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Re: Bull Trout in British Columbia
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2013, 10:10:57 AM »
 :)
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.