Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) is a member of the North American salmon family, which includes salmon, trout, whitefish, char, and grayling, and is one of four species of char native to western North America. On June 10, 1998, the Bull Trout was designated as threatened in the Klamath and Columbia Rivers, and on November 01, 1999 was listed as threatened in the contiguous US under the ESA. A threatened species is defined as one that is considered likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Bull Trout depend on very clean, cold water and therefore are a prime indicator of the health of forest ecosystems and watersheds.

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Bull Trout data from the Smolt Monitoring Program

Bull Trout observations at Adult Ladders for Rock Island, Rocky Reach, Wells, McNary and Ice Harbor Dams.

Elevation, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and electrical conductivity at the Harris Bridge on the South Fork of the Walla Walls River

  • NOTE: The Ives Island, Hamilton Creek and Walla Walla gauges are not functioning at this time. Historical data are available.
  • Downloadable Data Table.
    Note: This data is provided by USFWS and is provisional.
  • PTAGIS has two PIT tag detection sites near the Harris Bridge Gauge:
    • WW1 - Instream detector at Harris Park Bridge, S. Fk. Walla Walla River
    • WW2 - Instream detector at Burnt Cabin Creek Bridge, S. Fk. Walla Walla River (5 miles upstream from Harris Park)


Bull Trout - Miscellaneous Data

Bull Trout - Useful Links

Bull trout life history

Spawning maturity occurs at four to seven years and they can live 12 years. Unlike salmon, spawning adults survive to spawn again every two or three years. They spawn in fall after the temperature drops below 48 degrees Fahrenheit. The incubation period for their eggs is 4 to 5 months and they hatch in late winter to early spring. They like cold, clean, undisturbed waters. The young eat aquatic insects switching to mainly whitefish, sculpin and other trout as they grow.

Bull Trout that live in streams rarely grow to more than 4 pounds, but lake inhabitants can weight above 20 pounds, with the U.S. record Bull Trout weighing in at 33 pounds.

They are known to exhibit four distinct life history forms:

  • Adfluvial Bull Trout rear from one to four years in their natal stream and then migrate to lakes, returning only to spawn.
  • Fluvial Bull Trout mature in their natal streams much like their adfluvial counterparts but move to large streams and rivers after maturation.
  • Resident Bull Trout complete their entire life cycle in the tributary (or nearby) streams in which they spawn and rear.
  • Anadromous Bull Trout rear in natal streams and migrate to marine environments to mature. This form is reported only near Puget Sound in Washington where anadromous Bull Trout grow large in the salt water and then migrate to mountain tributaries to spawn.

Information about identification of bull trout

Bull Trout have a white leading edge on their fins and small, pale yellow to crimson spots against a darker background of olive green to brown on the back fading to white on the belly. Their tail is slightly forked and the dorsal fin lacks spots. They look very much like the anadromous Dolly Varden, but are larger and have a longer and broader head and exist mainly inland.

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Page last updated on: March 10, 2015

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