Salvelinus alpinus

Salmonidae

Salmoniformes

Cold Water River, Stream, Pool

12 - 25 pounds

10" - 42"

Arctic Char 

Also Known As: Char, alpine trout, salmon trout, alpine char, sea trout

Arctic Char (Salvelinus Alpinus) Fish Description

Arctic Char is a brackish fish related to the trout and salmon fish, all of which are part of the Salmonidae family. Although they migrate from saltwater to freshwater, most of these species remain in freshwater lakes and rivers for most of their life. Arctic Char have darkish brown or green back and sides. They have small scales that shine silver when hit by the sun. The color of their belly varies from red to yellow, even a pearly white. When Arctic Char are spawning, their belly becomes bright red. A major way to identify them from their salmon cousins is to look at the spots. An Arctic Char has light pink or white spots on its sides, while salmon have dark spots. 

Interesting Facts

  • More than a recreational fish, the Arctic Char is best known for its taste. It is a deliciously mild fatty fish that is easy to cook. It also has delicate skin that makes it a perfect choice for pan-frying. 
  • Arctic Char is an environmentally friendly alternative to farmed salmon. 
  • Because this species is mostly distributed in the northern areas of Canada and Alaska, the Arctic Char is a culturally significant food source for Inuit and northern communities.  The Inuits of Canada typically freeze the fish and eat them like popsicle sticks.  
  • The Dolly Varden fish is their cousin, and it can be tough to tell them apart.

Size 

The average Arctic Char grows to an average length of 11 to 29 inches. It can reach a maximum length of 38 inches, depending on the environment it grows in. This species can weigh up to 20 pounds, but it weighs about 0.7 to 3 pounds on average. 

Spawning and Diet

The spawning of this species occurs from August to October.  For anadromous Arctic Char, they move downstream to the sea to feed then move upstream to the lake to spawn. They lay their eggs on stones or gravel in water that is 9 to 16 feet. 

Arctic Char feed on plankton, invertebrates, insect eggs, small fish, smelt, and vendace.