Bull Trout Habitat
The Bull Trout has a very specific habitat that it requires to live and breed in.
Like the Brook Trout, encroachment in its habitat by industry and pollution has led to declines in its population.
Unlike the Dolly Varden, that many like to compare it to, the Bull Trout does not have a vast distribution and is limited to the waters of the western coast of North America, from northern California to Alaska and a few western states and provinces – what we consider the usual prospects for salmon and trout like ALberta, Montana and much of the mountain states.
Cold, Clear Crisp Water
Fish are not like other animals, specific species have specific requirements. The more requirements, the smaller their distribution and the more susceptible they are to changes in their environment.
Cold water is a must. Most of their distribution comes from mountain drainages, which are characterized by very clear water that is very cold. They have an upper temperature limit of 64°F/17.8°C.
Gravel River Bottoms
Like all Charr, the Bull Trout prefer river and lake bottoms that have gravel or rocky surfaces as well as sandy bottoms. In fact, their spawning grounds must have these conditions.
If their natal stream’s headwaters are altered in any way to change these requirements, the result will be an immediate population drop as they will not spawn. Human activities on their waterways have led to a reduction of as much as 94 percent of their distribution that has resulted in increased turbidity and slowing of flow.
Bull Trout Migratory Patterns
Like most Charr, the Bull Trout migrates from their birth river and streams to the deeper water, which may include river estuaries.
Many other Bull Trout are non migratory, spending their entire life in the same creek and river of their birth. Unlike landlocked Bull Trout, these Bull Trout have the option to migrate, they just choose not to.
The Bull Trout are not ocean going fish for the most part. However, there are some Bull Trout that are found there. The Pacific ocean of coastal-Puget Sound, has a population of Bull Trout that raises its young in the ocean.