Lake trout are known as the biggest, baddest fish in Manitoba’s waters. These deep water moguls roam the depths and do as they please.
Manitoba’s Northern Region is coined as the land of the giants due to the enormity of the lakers that our waters possess. I have had the privilege to fish for lake trout all across Manitoba and very quickly learned how unique these fish really are. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colours and truly are one of a kind. Here are 5 fun facts that you might not know about lake trout:
Lake Trout Aren’t Actually Trout
The first of the lake trout facts may come as the biggest shock to people. It definitely was a surprise to me when I first found out. Lake trout aren’t actually trout; they’re char. This may be difficult to understand as they are called lake trout but in this case, it’s just a name. Lake trout are part of the Salvelinus genus which is composed of salmonid fish that are actually called char. The fin shape, orange hue in the fins, and white edge along the fins are all common characteristics of char.
Unusual Spawning Behaviour
Lake trout have an extremely unique spawning method. In the fall, lake trout head to the shallower water when water temperatures reach between 48°F and 57°F. They then spawn over rock rubble and females drop their eggs onto the rocks and allow them to fall into the crevices between the boulders. This is to protect the eggs from lurking predators. However, this is where lake trout breeding becomes unique. Both the male and female leave the breeding grounds upon dropping the eggs. Unlike all other salmonine species, no parental care is provided. During the spawning period, this is in my opinion, the most fun time of year to fish for lake trout. There is nothing quite like casting for 40’’+ lake trout in just a couple feet of water. It’s incredible. Then, come approximately March or April, the eggs hatch and begin their long journey to becoming a fully mature lake trout.
Lake Trout and the Thermocline
Lake trout typically spend most of their time in deep water. This is one of the primary reasons why they can be extremely elusive to anglers. However, do you really know why they like to be deep? The answer, in most bodies of water is that the lake trout are following the thermocline which is a temperature gradient in the water. If you’ve ever been on a big deep lake and you see a mess of interference on your sonar, chances are you could be looking at the thermocline. Lake trout typically like to hangout just under the thermocline where there is colder, more oxygenated water, and most forage such as ciscos. Therefore, especially in summer, if you’re looking for lake trout in a deep lake, look for the thermocline on your sonar and you might get lucky.
Lake Trout Live Very Long Lives
Despite being known for eating incredibly large meals, especially during ice fishing when you can catch them on dead bait over a foot long, lake trout are generally slow-growing. In fact, it takes them 6-7 years or longer to even reach maturity. However, although they grow relatively slowly, they grow for a long, long time. The lifespan of lake trout often exceeds 25 years. In some cases can live as long as 60 years old. I find this amazing to think about when you’re holding a Master Angler size lake trout. For me personally, when I’ve caught my biggest handful of lake trout, I know that those fish are older than me and I find that simply amazing.
Lake Trout Hybrids
The final of the lake trout facts is a unique characteristic, where they will sometimes breed with a close relative that we also have here in Manitoba which is the brook trout. When this breeding happens, the hybrid of the offspring is the splake, which you can also find in Manitoba. However, although lake trout and brook trout can create splake, most hybrid offspring cannot reproduce themselves. I have never caught a splake before but it’s definitely on my bucket list just so that I can say I’ve caught the offspring of a laker and a brookie.