Arctic char is a cold-water Salmonid, native to alpine lakes and coastal waters of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. While it spawns in fresh water, char can also migrate to the sea. Arctic char are the northernmost freshwater fish. They have been introduced into many European and North American Lakes.
Arctic char is typical to other Salmonids in appearance but the white edges on its fins are a distinct characteristic. The reddish abdomen and fins, especially during breeding season, contrast with the white fin edges. Other distinguishing features include a dark background covered sparse pink to red spots on their back and sides and the lack of teeth on the upper palate of the mouth. While the size they obtain is dependent on their environment, specimens have exceeded 36 inches and approached 20 pounds.
Char are fall spawners, typically September to November, using a gravel or stony bottom in lakes where there’s up dwelling highly oxygenated water. They may also use gravel-bottomed pools in rivers and streams. Females construct redds to deposit their eggs in. The eggs hatch in the spring. During the first 3-4 weeks they develop using the yolk-sac for nourishment. After that the fry emerge from the gravel. Most char are ready to spawn between six to nine years and individuals usually spawn only every other year. Char have been recorded living up to 20 years.
Arctic char’s diet is seasonal. Spring and summer is a time for insects, fish eggs, crustaceans, and smaller fish. During the autumn and winter months zoo plankton and suspended freshwater shrimps are the primary menu items, supplemented with the occasional smaller fish.
Arctic Char in Colorado
Length - 26 7/8 in. from Mount Massive Lakes
Weight - 3lb 12oz, 20.5 in., from Dillon Reservoir (Summit County)