Subspecies, Hybrids & Others


Landlocked Arctic Char
Salvelinus alpinus oquassa
This subspecies represents a disjunct population of Arctic Char separated by the retreating of the Champlain Sea approximately 12,000 years ago. The specimen seen above is unfortunately not a wild fish; it was caught in a stocked lake at the outfitter "Pourvoirie Baroux" in the Laurentians region of Quebec. My search for a wild individual is an ongoing one. In terms of fishing, I expected them to behave similarly to Speckled Trout as they are found in similar environments. In practice, this was not at all the case; they seemed to hunt similar to the fashion in which Landlocked Salmon hunt. The ones we caught were cruising the surface at high speeds searching for prey. I have also heard that they prefer colder water than Speckled Trout, meaning they are found deeper throughout much of the open-water season.

Other Names: Quebec Red Trout, Sunapee Trout, Blueback Trout

Coastal Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)
Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus
I caught my first Steelhead in the spring of 2018, and broke the 30" mark straight away! It was an epic fight on my fly rod, although I suppose any decent-sized fish is. Steelhead are essentially the anadromous form of a regular Rainbow Trout; they migrate from the ocean into freshwater to spawn. In my specific case, they migrated from Lake Ontario.

Coppernose Bluegill
Lepomis macrochirus purpurascens
Coppernose Bluegill are a subspecies of the ever-common Bluegill found in southern Florida. Unfortunately, I never got a good picture of the "copper nose", but other features such as the lighter gill margin and red fins can be seen in the pictured fish. They really are cool to see in real life.

Southern Brown Bullhead
Ameiurus nebulosis marmoratus
As with some of the other genetic variations of species, I'm missing a decent picture of the specimen I personally captured. This particular image was given to me by Andrew Theus, who caught the Bullhead in Georgia. I asked for his permission to use it as it really displays the beautiful mottling pattern this southern subspecies can have. According to my sources, any Brown Bullhead found south of a line drawn between Virginia and North Dakota is considered to be of the "marmoratus" variety; mine was caught in North Carolina.


Salvelinus fontinalis x Salvelinus namaycush
Splake are a hybrid of Speckled Trout and Lake Trout; they are commonly stocked in Canada for sport fishing purposes. This one was caught at the outfitter "Pourvoirie Wabanaki" in the Mauricie region of Quebec. In my experience, they behave much as one would expect given the parent species. They seemed to have a temperature preference halfway between both species, not quite as shallow as Speckled Trout, but not nearly as deep as Lake Trout. As we were fishing later in the season, most of the fish we caught were in the evening hours of the day, when the fish would come up to feed.

Sander canadensis x Sander vitreus

This hybrid is a product of natural reproduction between Sauger and Walleye; they can occur in most places where both are present. It shows characteristics of both species, namely, the black markings of Sauger and the white-tipped fins of Walleye. It is important to note that the specimen above is not a confirmed hybrid; it simply has the corresponding characteristics. I seem to catch this hybrid more often in areas with high concentrations of Sauger as opposed to higher concentrations of Walleye.

Pumpkinseed x Bluegill
Lepomis gibbosus x Lepomis macrochirus

The different species of sunfish hybridize all the time, it is one of the groups of hybrids most often seen by fishermen. I find it really cool how you can see characteristics from both parent species displayed on the fish. This one was caught in the Rideau Lakes, along with a bunch of other big Pumpkinseed and Bluegill. Interestingly, the american government often stocks sunfish hybrids in their lakes because they are easier to manage and grow bigger.

Northern Sunfish x Bluegill
Lepomis peltastes x Lepomis macrochirus

This is one of the cooler fish I've caught in my opinion, crazy colours on it! I was surprised that Northern Sunfish hybrids were common considering their smaller size. It is also possible that there is some Pumpkinseed in this fish as well, the Lepomis genus are shameless haha. This is another Ontario capture.

Nile Tilapia x Mozambique Tilapia
Oreochromis niloticus x Oreochromis mossambicus
I caught tons of Tilapia on freelined bread balls during a resort vacation to the Dominican Republic. They all seemed to be Nile Tilapia, Mozambique Tilapia, or some intergrade of the two. The one pictured is one of the ones I've never been able to fully ID. Tilapia are known to hybridize as much as Sunfish, so it's not surprising that many were hybrids.

Northern Redbelly Dace x Finescale Dace
Chrosomus eos x Chrosomus neogaeus
These two species are known to hybridize frequently, and the individual above is likely a product of this occurring. Although it is impossible to know for sure if this is indeed a hybrid without DNA testing, some physical characteristics make this seem to be the case. It has the small mouth of Northern Redbelly Dace but lacks the second mid-dorsal stripe. Furthermore, both species were present at the location this specimen was captured.

Other Anomalies:
Palomino Trout
Oncorhyncus mykiss
Although commonly referred to as a Golden Trout, this fish is simply the result of selective mutation of Rainbow Trout. In fact, Golden Trout are a naturally occurring subspecies of Rainbow Trout found in rare lakes in the western United States and Canada. As expected, they seem to behave almost exactly as Rainbow Trout would but are perhaps slightly warier. I assume this is because their obnoxious colouration makes them extremely vulnerable to predation; they literally look like swimming carrots! This one was caught at the outfitter "Auberge la Barrière" in the Lanaudière region of Quebec.

Blue Walleye

The blue Walleye we catch today are not the same Blue Walleye (Sander vitreus glaucus) that used to be found in the Great Lakes. The latter is now considered extinct, leading to much confusion with the blue-coloured Walleye that still exist. The ones caught today simply have a genetic variation that gives them a blue tinge; they are not a separate subspecies. The colour seems to become especially apparent after the fish has been dead for a while, leaving their blue slime coating on cleaning tools and surfaces. This interesting colour variation seems to happen most often in northern reservoirs such as Réservoir Gouin and Réservoir Dozois.

"Almost" Albino Brown Bullhead

Found this juvenile Brown Bullhead with blood red eyes while fishing one night on the southern Richelieu River. It seems to have some pigmentation on some of its barbels, so it's not totally albino, but the eyes certainly lack pigmentation!

"Cherokee" Bass

Unfortunately, this is not recognized as an official species or subspecies yet, but there is some preliminary work being done suggesting it might eventually become one. This likely won't be for many years though. Until then, it is officially just a cool version of a Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) native to a part of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.

Wild Form
Captive Form

Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are an interesting species in that they have been introduced to North America by people who kept them as pets. The photos above show how the fish reverts back to its natural colours after having spent a few generations in the wild. They are often found in large quantities in small systems but seem to do poorly with larger predators as their bright colours give them away. They are a prime example of why pets should never be released into the wild.

Lined Topminnow
The Lined Topminnow (Fundulus lineolatus) is a perfect example of sexual dimorphism and how it can make you believe you've caught two separate species until disappointment sets in. I still think it's pretty cool to have caught both the female and male forms of this species, both beautiful in their own right. These ones were caught in a pond near Columbia in South Carolina.

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