Lake trout are a species of fish native to North America. They are a solitary freshwater fish commonly found in the lakes and rivers of Canada and the northern United States. Lake trout have risen in popularity and are highly sought after for sport and consumption.
The name trout is used to describe several types of fish in the family Salmonidae. Lake trout are a type of char, often spelled charr, a subgrouping of trout. They are sometimes referred to as mackinaw, the salmon trout, gray trout, and lake char. Their forked tail and the absence of pink spots differentiate them from other char species.
This freshwater fish is the largest of the char subgroup and the largest trout species in North America. An average adult lake trout is 20 to 30 inches (45-70 cm) long and weighs anywhere between 9 to 15 lbs (4-7 kg). Lake trout have reached sizes considerably larger than this, up to 65 pounds (30 kg).
The diet of the lake trout varies with geography and the available food supply. The diet of an adult can consist of smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects. If sculpins, grayling, or whitefish are available it will also feed on them. The young largely feed on insects and plankton.
Lake trout species grow slowly and can live up to 25 years, with maturation likewise occurring at a slow rate. Lake trout that consume a diet mostly of other fish generally mature to a larger size than lake trout that feed on plankton. At seven years old the lake trout becomes sexually active. The males clear a spawning area of debris, and the females lay their eggs on the rocky lake bottom. The eggs are laid in the summer to early winter when the lake trout leaves the deeper waters for the shallows. They hatch when spring has begun.
The lake trout's range extends from the Great Lakes and a few other freshwater lakes in the northern United States through most of Canada and into southern Alaska. It prefers lakes that are large, deep, and oxygen rich. It only leaves the deeper water in the summer when it lays its eggs.
As a result of its popularity, the lake trout has been exported from North America to other continents. They have been successfully introduced into Europe, South America, and parts of Asia. Fishing methods include the standard pole and reel and fly fishing, the latter being more successful.