The Blueback Trout (Salvelinus alpinus oquassa) is not a trout at all, but is a member of the Charr family (Salvelinus oquassa).

However, despite the scientific discussions by many in academia, many anglers simply refer to the Blueback as a trout and the rest is simply academic. Most fisherman just don’t care if it a charr, to them it is a trout.

Many taxonomists concerning the status see the Sunapee Trout, Blueback Trout and the Quebec Red Trout as the same subspecies while other authors treat each as distinct species, the blueback as Salvelinus oquassa and the Sunapee as S. aureolus. How is that for consensus?

In 1974, Quadri wrote that the Sunapee trout, blueback trout and Quebec red trout as S. marstoni and should be synonymized as a subspecies of the Arctic Char with the scientific name as S. alpinus oquassa. I do not have the original text, but it can be Googled.

Others still recognize the Blueback Trout as S. aureolus oquassa.

One in particular, Behnke, viewed both the Sunapee Trout and the Blueback Trout as S. aureolus oquassa. However, several years later he then reclassified the Blueback Trout as Salvelinus alpinus oquassa, along with Sunapee Trout.

So What is the Blueback Trout?

The Blueback is a landlocked Arctic Charr that was isolated from other Arctic Charr about 8000 years ago when the the ice melted from North America leaving some species of Arctic Charr trapped. These landlocked Arctic Charr are known as the Blueback.

But as you can read above, many disagree on how to classify the Blueback. Due to there being a percieved difference, the Blueback is recognized as being different. The problem still remains as to what level of difference and should it have its own species designation.

Blueback and Sunapee the Same?

The information above only helps to show the confusion surrounding the identification of these to species, it does little to explain why.

The reason why there is a lot of confusion is that the Blueback and Sunapee Trout are different, but only in their mitochondria and restriction enzymes. As such, they are different, but not enough to be considered separate species or at least not enough that there is enough support to grant them as a separate species.

Dee Dauphinee helps clarify the classification in his recent book. In summary, he concludes that the Blueback is Salvelinus alpinus oquassa while the Sunapee Trout is Salvelinus alpinus aureolus.

Other Blueback Trout Names

The Blueback Trout is also called the Sunapee Trout. However, do not confuse the Blueback Salmon for the Blueback Trout as they are both different species. The Blue Back Salmon is another name for the Sockeye Salmon.

Other Rare Trout

The Aurora Trout is another rare and endangered trout found only in Northern Ontario. The Quebec Red Trout is found only in Quebec, but is considered the same sub species as the Blueback trout, though both are isolated and landlocked.

It is thought that they became isolated during the last ice age as the water drained from North America due to the land uplifting after the ice retreated. As such, the Blueback Trout became isolated to the New England States and the Quebec Red to Quebec and the Aurora to Northern Ontario with each developing unique characteristics.

Native Distribution

Let’s get away from all the discussion of who called who what and take a look at something more concrete. The Blueback Trout has a very limited distribution being isolated to the northeastern United States, more specifically Penobscot and St. Johns rivers, which are found in northern Maine. The Sunapee Trout are found in New Hampshire, Vermont and in Floods Pond in Maine.

I can also be found in Big Dan Pond in New Hampshire and Floods Pond in Maine.

Sunapee Trout arrived in North America after the last ice age that left around 10,000 years ago. It is believe that they are adapted from the Arctic charr of Soctland than they are of the Arctic Charr found in Canada and the United States.

The Blueback Trout, on the other hand, is closely related to the Arctic Charr found in modern day Northern Canada and Alaska.