For the Love of Bull Trout

All of the char species intrigue me, while northern pike are my favourite fish, the often referred to as trout hold a soft spot in my heart. Most of the char family carry some similarities to pike, they are voracious predators and opportunistic hunters. In Canada we have five of the species, arctic char, brook trout, lake trout, dolly varden and bull trout. It would be six if you count the hybrid splake, a cross between lakers and brookies.

My favourite local lake doesn't produce many huge bull trout but they are fun all the same.


The first char I ever fished for was the diminutive spring creek brook trout in Ontario. Most would have fit into the 8 to 10 inch slot, but if memory serves me correctly there were a few pushing the 14 inch mark. The other common char in the southern Canadian Shield lakes I had the opportunity to fish was the lake trout. The only one I have caught, a small two pounder was dragged up from the depths on steel line while trolling with my Uncle Norm after a blurry night of whiskey at one of our hunting gang’s cottage.


Life in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia leaves me missing pike, there isn’t any within many hours drive. What I do have to fill the void is another char, the bull trout. Like many things in the outdoor world, it is the whispers you must listen to, the whisper I heard was of a local lake that held decent fish. My bull trout fishing started with Little Cleo spoons on spinning gear and evolved into fast sinking lines and chucking meat on fly rods. They smack flies hard, fight well on appropriate gear, roll (like lakers, it must be a char thing) and what really got me fired up, they feed on other fish, sometimes fair sized fish gluttonously.

My largest bull trout, caught on a zuddler pattern while testing out a new 8wt rod for a pike trip.


I’ve read about them attacking rainbows and cutthroat that an angler is fighting, I’ve seen tails sticking out of their throats as I’m unhooking a fly and to top it all off, numerous times I’ve had one follow a fly right into my wader boots. When I’m hanging out at my favourite creek mouth and see small rainbows and kokanee salmon jumping I automatically assume there’s a bull down there terrorizing the neighbourhood. If I need a replacement for pike, a top of the food chain predator, the bull trout is a perfect fit.


See you on the water or the mountains.

-Matthew Mallory