The Arctic Charr
What's in a Name?
The Arctic Charr (Salvelinus alpinus) is one of five fish species that are classified as charr. Charr species are difficult for many anglers to differentiate from trout and even salmon. In fact, many charr are considered other species by most seasoned anglers.
What helps with this confusion is that the five species are so greatly different in coloration that many are considered to be species or subspecies. In fact, several Charr have common names with the name trout in them further confusing matters such as brook trout, bull trout and the very popular lake trout.
To further add to this confusion is that the same species is often referred to as two separate species: the anadromous form and the nonanadromous forms.
This is just a confusion over terminology. The anadromous form being a charr that migrates to the sea and the nonanadromous being a charr that is landlocked, living in freshwater year round for life. Or simply put, anadromous means seagoing.
The ocean going (anadromous) Arctic Charr is larger than its landlocked (nonanadromous) charr, which is expected. This is largely a fact of there being more food in the ocean than there being in lakes and rivers watersheds.
The Arctic Charr is found everywhere that the sea-run charr exists but also occurs in smaller numbers much farther to the south.
Adding to the aforementioned confusion is the naming convention of the Charr species. The Arctic Charr is known by over 15 different names. The ocean going Arctic Char is most often called the char, red charr or arctic charr.
The Inuit have many names for the Arctic charr: iqalugaq, iqaluk, ilkalupik, ivisaaruq, kisuajuq, majuqtuq, nutiliarjuk, situajuq, situliqtuq, tisuajuq.
And, being a fish found in Europe and asia, it is also called fjeldørred, omble chevalier, saibling, eqaluk, bleikja, iwana, arktisk roye, goletz and röding.
The landlocked Arctic Charr is known by blueback charr, blueback trout, Sunapee trout, golden trout (Sunapee), Quebec red.
The Arctic Charr has a mild flavor and cooks up quickly, having a good taste and texture. It is generally accepted that its taste is a mix between salmon and trout. It is also a great source of omega-3, making t a good healthy choice.
As far as cooking, it is just as flexible as Salmon. The Arctic Char can be grilled, steamed, broiled, poached or blackened.
The Arctic Char prefers insects, mollusks and small fish. Ninespine sticklebacks are important forage in some places.
The charr often does not eat in the winter, when its metabolic rate slows in tune with a cooling environment, entering a semi sleeping state.
During this time, it lives on the fat it has accumulated during the summer. As such, growth is limited during the cold months and greatest when at sea.