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Trout, Salmon, and Char of the World

Spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the members of the Salmonidae family have an interesting story to tell. These fish have thrived through the previous ice ages and spread from the worlds oceans to the highest elevation streams on Earth. The old saying, trout don't live in ugly places holds true around the globe as they occupy some of the most pristine environments on the planet.  Learn a bit about each of these fish, where to find them, and how to catch them.

Salmonids of the World Chart.jpg

Trout Species of the World

Overall there are about 25 trout species found around the world with another dozen honorable mentions that are either genetically significant, geographically isolated, or simply aesthetically distinct from their closest relative. Rather than dive into the the semantics of what is and what technically isn't a trout, we will categorize what most people refer to as trout into their continent of origin. 

Trout of North America

There are 7 species of trout native to North America. 3 of which , the Bull Trout, Lake Trout, and Brook Trout are actually members of the Char genus Salvelinus. The other 4 are the Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Gila Trout and Mexican Golden Trout. Several notable sub species occur within these trout such as the Redband and Golden Trout of California belonging to the Rainbow trout species. The Cutthroat Trout has an ever growing list of subspecies with 8 or 9 major subspecies. Learn more about these in our Trout of North America page.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout

Gila Trout of North America

Gila Trout

Mexican Golden Trout

Mexican Golden Trout

Rainbow Trout of North America

Rainbow Trout

Trout Species of Europe

Europe also boasts 7 species of trout, all of which belong to the Brown Trout Genus Salmo. Brown Trout have the largest distribution that stretches completely across the continent, while the other species have more isolated ranges . The Softmouth Trout, Marble Trout, Ohrid Trout, Fibreno Trout, Gilaroo Trout, and Sonaghan Trout. 4 of these trout are lake dwelling species.

 

The Gillaroo and Sonaghan which are native to Lough Melvin of Ireland and the Ohrid trout and Fibreno trout being native to the lakes that give them their name. The Fibreno trout is a very small trout living beneath boulders and deep springs. Like the Belvica and Carpione, the Fibreno Trout is likely not able to be caught on the fly. 

All of these trout behave significantly different within the lakes they call home. Often occupying different niches and feeding habits throughout the year. Their one commonality is their willingness to eat during a prolific fly hatch. Learn more about fly fishing Gillaroo and Sonaghan in this article.

The Softmouth and Marble trout are native to drainages of the Adriatic Sea. While the Softmouth Trout has evolved into a similar role as grayling, the habits of the Marble Trout still resemble those of the brown trout. Both species are aesthetically distinct from their brown trout relatives. Read more about fly fishing for Marble Trout and Sotfmouth Trout in these articles.

Trout Species of Asia

Like Europe and North America, Asia to has 7 species of trout. All but one of these species belong to the Brown Trout Genus Salmo. The other being the Cherry Trout/Salmon of Japan which is locally referred to as the Yamame or Masou. Brown Trout again have the largest distribution that stretches from across the far western part of the continent to the Caspian and Aral Sea drainages beginning in the Kashmir Mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

The remaining species are all found in Turkey along with another half dozen subspecies. These species are the Coruh Trout, Alakir Trout, Flathead or Turkish Trout, Tigris trout, and Euphrates trout. Turkey has been a hot bed for speciation in the Salmo genus due to its unique geography and drainages to the Mediterranean Sea, Marmorata Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean. You can read more about these species in our article on the Trout of Turkey. 

The Native Trout of Africa are limited to Morocco, Algeria, and possibly Tunisia. All are closely related to the brown trout and members of the Salmo Genus. 2 or 3 distinct species exist in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. 

 

The Moroccan Trout and Green Trout are native to small alpine lakes, Lake Ifni and Lake Isli, while the Fine Spotted Trout is native to the Dades River. The populations of these trout are extremely limited as fishing pressure from locals, a small distribution, and the local arid climate are difficult obstacles to overcome. 

Lake Ifni and Lake Isli have incredibly unique geology. Little to no insect life is found within these lakes leaving the two native trout species to feed on roaming clusters of copepods. The scarcity of food has caused the Moroccan trout to stay considerably smaller than its brown trout cousins at full maturity. 

Trout Species of Africa

Marble Trout of Europe

Marble Trout

Ohrid Trout of Europe

Ohrid Trout

Gillaroo Trout of Europe

Gillaroo Trout

Softmouth Trout of Europe

Softmouth Trout

Sonaghan Trout of Europe

Sonaghan Trout

Fibreno Trout of Europe

Fibreno Trout

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Coruh Trout


Alakir Trout


Euphrates Trout

Trout Species of Asia

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Flathead Trout


Tigris Trout


Cherry Trout

Sevan Trout of Asia

Sevan Trout

Green Trout of Africa
Fine Spotted Trout of Africa
Moroccan Trout of Africa

Green Trout

Fine Spotted Trout

Moroccan Trout

Char Species of the World

There are about 12 major Char species found across the world. Most of these species occupy the cold, pristine waters of the Northernmost latitudes of the globe. Aesthetically, many of them are the most vibrant species of the Salmonid family. Many sub populations have been isolated in lakes and rivers since the end of the last ice age leaving many unique subspecies scattered throughout Eurasia. 

Char Species of North America

5 Char species can be found in North America along with one notable subspecies. These are the Lake Trout, Brook Trout, and Bull Trout we mentioned earlier with the trout species, as well as the Arctic Char and Dolly Varden. The notable subspecies is the Blueback/Sunapee Trout of Northern Maine and a handful of Canadian lakes which is a member of the Arctic Char species. 

The Dolly Varden and Bull Trout are closely related, occupying the coastal rivers of the Pacific Northwest, with the Dolly Varden using a much more expansive range that extends across the Bering Sea to Hokkaido, the Northern island of Japan. Learn about Fly Fishing for Bull Trout here.

Lake Trout is native to the Great Lakes Regions of North America Eastward to Maine and Eastern Canada and all the way northward to the Arctic Circle. Stocking of Lake Trout has occurred in the Western U.S. in states such as California, Colorado, Montana and so on.., as well as some small alpine lakes of the Swiss Alps in Europe. Learn more about fly fishing Lake Trout in this article.

The Brook Trout's native range also covers the Great Lakes Region and Eastern Canada extending south along the high elevation streams of Appalachia. 

Blueback Trout of North America

Sunapee/Blueback Trout

Dolly Varden of North America

Dolly Varden

Arctic Char of North America

Arctic Char

Brook Trout of North America

Brook Trout

Bull Trout of North America

Bull Trout

Lake Trout of North America

Lake Trout

Char Species of Europe

Though Arctic Char are the only Char Species native to Europe, many distinct morphs and subspecies can be found in smaller lakes strewn throughout the alpine lakes of the  Alps, deep Loughs and Lochs of Ireland, and small streams of Scandinavia. Most of these subspecies, such as Lake Char, Salvelinus alpinus umbla, live in the dark depths of these lakes where they are very seldom seen by anglers. Fisherman can encounter these fish during their spawning migrations which often moves them into shallow waters. 

Lake Char of Europe

Lake Char

Char Species of Asia

The 10 species of Char found in Asia are mostly found within the Tundra lakes and streams of Siberia and the Russian Far East along the Pacific. The Dolly Varden and White Spotted Char, or Kundzha, have the southernmost ranges which extend into the higher elevation streams of Japan. Our article on Targeted Angling dives further into the White Spotted Char.

The Yellowmouth Char, Stone Char, Taranetz Char are isolated within single river drainages to the Pacific Ocean in the Russian Far East. These Char are well documented in long time Russian Fisheries Biologist Mikhail Skopets' book Fly Fishing Russia along with other Arctic Char subspecies.

The final three species are incredibly fascinating fish which can only be found in Lake El'gygytgyn. A lake I would rather not try to pronounce that was left by a crater impact several million years ago. These char are thought to be descendants of the earliest Salmonid species which have been isolated longer than any of their relatives. The three species, Longfin Char, Smallmouth Char, and larger Boganid Char are quite distinct. The Longfin and Smallmouth Char occupy the vast depths of the lake while the predatory Boganid char moves vertically in the lake to take advantage of the best food resources.

Char Species of Lake  El'gygytgyn

Longfin Char (Top) Smallmouth Char (Bottom)

Boganid Char of Asia

Boganid Char

Char Species of Asia

(Top) Dolly Varden, Yellowmouth Char, White Spotted Char (Bottom)

Salmon Species of the World

Rather than split the 7 salmon species of the world by continent, it is much easier to divided these ocean faring Salmonids by Atlantic species and Pacific Salmon Species. Salmon have been stocked around the world in places such as Patagonia, New Zealand and within the Great Lakes. Over the past few decades, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Pink Salmon have been introduced to the Great Lakes Region. Atlantic Salmon have also been reintroduced to this once native part of their range with some success beginning to show.

Atlantic Salmon 

Only one salmon species exist in the Atlantic Ocean and fittingly it is the Atlantic Salmon. Living as far south in North America as Maine, its historic limits stretched as far south as Massachusetts. They occupy the waters of the Northern Atlantic, Baltic Sea and Arctic drainages of Northern Russia. Their southern extent use to extend across the Iberian Peninsula and in the Mediterranean Sea along the Northern coast of Africa.

Pacific Salmon

The 6 Species of Pacific Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Pink Salmon, and Cherry Salmon range from Northern Japan to Central California. All but one can be found along the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada. The other is the Cherry Salmon of Japan. It is a smaller salmon, most similar to the Sockeye. Inland varieties are referred to as Cherry trout, or yamame, while sea run individuals are referred to as Masou in Japan. 

Pink and Chum Salmon have the largest range extending from Hokkaido to Oregon/Washington state. These species see much less angling pressure than their cousins, the Chinook (King) and Coho (Silver) salmon which are not to grow much bigger and for their fighting prowess. 

The Sockeye Salmon, known for its fire engine red aesthetic, can be found along the Pacific Northwest but has also been stocked in freshwater lakes across the United States where they are known as Kokanee. As kokanee they provide and interesting dynamic to their new fisheries where they can be an excellent food source for large predators. 

Coho Salmon of North America

Coho Salmon

Atlantic Salmon of North America

Atlantic Salmon

Sockeye Salmon of North America

Sockeye Salmon

Pink Salmon of North America

Pink Salmon

Chum Salmon of North America

Chum Salmon

Cherry Salmon of Asia

Cherry Salmon

Chinook Salmon of North America

Chinook Salmon

Lenok of the World

Blunt Snouted Lenok

The blunt snouted or blunt nose lenok has the largest range of the lenok species. Referred to as the Manchurian Trout, it occupies the rivers and streams of Mongolia, Russia, and China. It's ventrally oriented mouth is perfect for feeding on insect though larger lenok have been known to eat other fish and even mice. 

Blunt nose lenok of Asia

Blunt Snouted Lenok

Sharp Snouted Lenok

Found in the smaller headwater streams of Russia and Mongolia, the sharp snouted or sharp nosed lenok is recognized from its relative lenoks from its more pointed nose. Coloring remains similar to its cousins which closely resemble the marking of brown trout with its body sharp closer mirroring grayling species.

Sharp snouted lenok of Asia

Sharp Snouted Lenok

Taimen Species of the World

5 species of Taimen can be found throughout Asia and Southern Europe. Taimen are the apex predators of the rivers they inhabit. Growing to 4'-'5' long these are some of the oldest living members of the Salmonid family. Anglers travel all over the world to target these trophy sized fish. 

European Taimen

The European Taimen is also know as the Danube Salmon or Huchen. It is native to the upper tributaries of the Danube River in South Central Europe. Once in serious trouble, populations have bounced back considerably thanks to stream conservation, added protections, and better angling practices. These fish patrol their home rivers feeding on smaller brown trout, grayling, and ant other small fishes they can get their mouths on. Learn more about the Huchen from our journey to Montenegro in Fly Fishing for River Predators.

Danube Salmon of Europe

European Taimen

Sakhalin Taimen

The Sakhalin Taimen is referred to as the Ito (Monster) in its home waters in Hokkaido, Japan. It can also be found in streams along the Kuril Islands and Eastern Russia in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Ito spends most of its time in coastal estuaries and a few inland lakes of Hokkaido where it feeds for most of the year. In the early spring, it returns to its birth streams much like its salmon cousins in order to spawn. This taimen is still listed on the threatened and endangered list as populations have yet to recover from their decline over the past few decades.  Conservation efforts are on going in Hokkaido where improvements are beginning to be seen.

Sakhalin Taimen of Asia

Sakhalin Taimen

Siberian Taimen

The Siberian Taimen draws more anglers from around the world than any of the other Taimen species. Found in Mongolia and Eastern Russia, Taimen can eat everything from grayling, lenok, marmots, and even full grown chum and pink salmon. Though much a=of the territory they inhabit is extremely rule, pressure from poachers and anglers had been an issue in recent decades. Habitat loss has also been a problem but the growing tourism industry around this fish has incentivized locals to better protect this fish and the rivers they inhabit. 

Siberian Taimen of Asia

Siberian Taimen

Sichuan and Korean Taimen

The Sichuan and Korean Taimen have been on the brink of extinction for many years. Data on the Korean Taimen which occupies the rivers and tributaries that lie on the border of China and North Korea has been close to nonexistent. The Sichuan Taimen has been recorded in a small handful of streams in central China. This fish suffers from overfishing but more impactful has been the rapid expansion of hydroelectric dams that have eliminated much of the native rivers occupied by the Sichuan Taimen. 

Sichuan Taimen of Asia

Sichuan Taimen

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