Fall marks the annual Kokanee run and also, some of the most epic Bull Trout action all season! As the spawning Bulls drop back down river, they are met by hordes of spawning Kokanee Salmon, the perfect bite-sized snack to regain their strength after the rigours of passing on the torch to the next generation. Bullies gorge themselves and fish can double their weight in just a few short weeks, preparing them for the long winter.
Because Bull Trout don’t spawn every year, the non-spawning fish will get in on the action sooner than the ones that are spawning that year. These fish pile on the weight very quickly as they gorge on Kokanee salmon. They are typically bright silver with shades of green, blue, and violet. These fish will be the spawners the next year, having stockpiled extra weight and stored fat to last them through the rigours of migrating to the spawning grounds and the spawning act.
The spawners in contrast will still be sporting some of their colour, although it starts to fade once spawning has finished. These fish will typically not spawn the following year and will take the year to regain their weight and heal any injuries they endured during spawning.
Dropback Spawning Bull
Chrome Non-Spawning Bull
I wanted to do a special piece of art that illustrated this annual event and thus, the River Wolf shirt was born. Bull Trout are truly incredible apex predators and their ferocity is very shark-like when they turn on the feed!
For those who’ve experienced fishing a remote, mountain cutty river, it provides hours of great dry fly action in some of the most picturesque landscapes on the continent. Eager to take a fly, cutties are a ton of fun on light fly gear and great for novice and experienced anglers.
This piece was done life-size at 600dpi using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop.
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Bull Trout, the apex predator in any mountain stream. Stories from anglers of giant bull trout slashing at their hooked cutty are of the plenty. Their size, their aggression, and their attitude make them one of the most gnarly of the trout family, and are unfortunately forgotten in the art culture of fly fishing.
Here’s a Bull Trout piece I did solely on the WACOM tablet thru Photoshop.
At the top of the world, in the seemingly desolate Arctic, there’s a river that gleams from the barren tundra landscape. An aquamarine blue stretch of water is home to the world’s largest char in the world. These super-sized char are actually a strain of Salvelinus malma or commonly known on the West Coast as Dolly Varden. These fish are anadromous and exit the river every spring to go feed in the ocean. Late summer, the char start piling back into their home waters to spawn and spend the winter months. Unlike the Pacific Salmonids, char are able to spawn for multiple years and have been sampled and aged to live upwards of 45 years. The Tree River char have also been tracked to travel as far as Greenland to feed, before returning back to the same river to over-winter. Unlike other Arctic fishes, char lack a natural anti-freeze in their blood that enables them to withstand the winter in the salt. Because of this, the char must return to the river every winter or they will freeze to death.
Late summer the Tree is dotted with bright red char that resemble Ferrari’s. The Tree River char are known as the largest char in the world and the current world record was caught and released there.
The contrast of a fluorescent red char in the aquamarine blue waters of the Tree River are a sight one can’t explain. A worthy adversary, the char is a master at heading for white water and spooling its opponent. Mixed Media – watercolour pencils and digital editing Original Artwork by Nick Laferriere