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Arctic Char vs Salmon

On paper, you might notice that Salmon and Char are both relatively similar, as they are both large and predatory salmonids that will fight with everything that they have and that taste amazing. However, this is about all that they have in common, and they are actually very different. 

Caught Artic Char on a rock (Arctic Char Vs Salmon)
Arctic Char

When it comes to fishing, it is important to be aware of everything that there is to know about the fish that you are trying to catch to ensure that you are successful. You need to know the best way to catch it, how it will react, and more. 

In this article, we are going to look at all of the differences between the Arctic Char and Salmon, so you can understand exactly what makes them different types of fish. We are going to look at both of these species as fish and as food, and by the end of this article, all of your questions will be answered. 

Arctic Char Vs Salmon

Something that is important to be aware of is the fact that there are lots of different types of Salmon. This is why you can’t really talk about Salmon as just one type of fish, as there are so many different varieties available.

Instead, we are going to focus on how they differ from Arctic Char. These differences mostly come down to where they live and what they look like, and we will explain more on this below.


Both Char and Salmon share very similar habitats, and they both migrate between freshwater and saltwater in northern areas like North America, Russia, and Europe. One of the biggest differences between these two types of fish is that Arctic Char are Arctic.

school of arctic char
school of arctic char

This means that they will live much further north than Salmon, often well into the Arctic Circle, where the majority of Salmon species would not be able to survive.

Some of the best places to fish for Salmon are Alaska, the west coast of Canada, and the Great Lakes.

This is due to the fact that all of these areas are home to Pacific Salmon species, like Chinook. Unfortunately, Atlantic Salmon are endangered in the wild, but you can find them in Quebec, Iceland and Scandinavia. 

Salmon under water

If you want to target Char, you can go to almost any area that is cold enough, including Northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska, Norway, Sweden, and Russia, which are all great locations for finding this fish.


A fisherman caught a large salmon on a boat

If you didn’t already know, Arctic Char are incredibly beautiful fish, and when they are in the sea, they have a bright and silvery hue that will light up in the sun and shine in the water. As they start to migrate upstream in order to spawn, their backs will darken and their bellies will turn to a deep red or bright orange color. 

The only issue is that the same will happen to Salmon, which can make it difficult to tell the difference between them both. Salmon will be silver in color for the majority of the year, and they will change into a variety of wonderful colors when it comes time to spawn.

Thankfully, there are some ways that you can tell them apart. 

One of the main ways to identify a Char is through its spots and stripes, as all species of Char will have light spots on their sides. These spots will usually be white or pink, but they sometimes turn bright red when they are spawning. 

Underwater image of arctic char
Underwater image of arctic char

On the other hand, Salmon will have darker spots if they have any at all. Something else that you can look out for is the creamy white edging on the fins of a Char, as this is something that Salmon do not have. 

Eating Arctic Char Vs Salmon

Now that you know where you can find these fish and how you can tell them apart, you might be wondering more about the differences that are present when it comes to eating them.

salmon trolling with flashers

Both of these fish are great to eat, but they are very different when it comes to taste and other characteristics.


Arctic Char is a delicious, mild fish that would be positioned somewhere between Trout and Salmon, but it is more like Trout. It is a relatively fatty fish, and this is something that makes it easy to cook, as it won’t go dry or tough unless you really over cook it.

Tasty fresh red fish arctic char baked on a grill.
Tasty fresh red fish arctic char baked on a grill.

Char also has a highly delicate skin that will turn beautifully crisp once you have cooked it.

On the other hand, Salmon can vary depending on the type that you have gotten your hands on. It does not contain as much fat as Char, but it does contain a good amount of protein, and it is rich in omega-3, which makes it a good healthy option as well as a delicacy.


The biggest benefit of Char when compared with Salmon is its lower price point. Char is much cheaper than Salmon when you are looking at quality options, and it will cost a lot less.


Char takes the lead once again in this category. Both of these fish are usually raised in a fish farm. However, due to the fact that Char can live in freshwater long-term, it is much easier and more sustainable to farm. 

Removing Bones from Salmon Fillet

Although, not all Salmon is farmed, and it is thought that wild-caught Salmon could be even more sustainable than fish farming for Char.

However, it is only available at specific times of the year and it is much more expensive, which means that it isn’t always the best option for everyone. It is worth keeping in mind that the most sustainable way  to eat fish is to go out and catch it yourself.

Salmon and Char Similarities

Both Salmon and Char are similar in many different ways, as they are both  predatory cold-water fish that taste great. Salmon are typically the most popular option out of the two, but Char is slowly becoming more popular, and is definitely worth trying out.

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