Distribution in the area:
Bark Lake, Diamond Lake, Kamaniskeg
Lake whitefish are delicious,
important commercially in the Great Lakes, and sought
by sport fishermen, especially during fall and winter.
Besides having palatable flesh, the liver and eggs (sometimes
sold as caviar) are also fine eating.
17"-22" average length
formerly to 20 lbs or more
now typically 1½-4 lbs, seldom more than 15 lbs
Generally white with a light
olive green shading along the backpale greenish-brown
to light or dark brown back
silver on the sides
silvery white below
fins clear or lightly pigmented
tail has a dark edge
deep-bodied with a slight arch
large scales. Older fish often develop a fleshy bump
at the shoulders which makes the small head look even
adipose fin is present
tail deeply forked
blunt snout overhanging lower jaw
Up to 10 years
formerly as much as 30 years
Identifiable as a member of
the Trout/Salmon family (Salmonidae) by its body shape
and adipose fin.
Distinguished from the closely-related Cisco by:
an overhanging snout (retrose condition)
few (usually 23-33), short gill rakers
Both features are adaptations to feeding on larger bottom
Prefers cold, deep water lakes,
often the same waters as one of its primary predators,
the Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush). Occasionally
reported from rivers.
Typically bottom dwellers.
Mainly a bottom feeder of benthic
Diet includes crustaceans snails aquatic and terrestrial
insects other small aquatic organisms occasionally fish
Burbot (Lota lota)
Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush)
Northern Pike (Esox lucius)
Walleye, (Stizostedion vitreum)
Minnesota Record: 12lbs 4oz,
from Leech Lake (Cass County)
Largest individual on record was 41½ lbs, from
Lake Superior, 1918.
Not generally considered a game
fish, though highly regarded on the table.
Long prized for the quality and fine flavor of their
meat since the days of the early explorers.
Caught commercially with gillnets set in open water
during summer and below the ice in winter. Sold fresh
and frozen in the round, headed and dressed, and as
fillets. Roe is marketed as "golden caviar".
September through January in shallow waters at depths
of less than 25', usually over a sand or gravel substrate
Female lays some 16,100 eggs per pound of fish, losing
roughly 11% of her body weight. Eggs are shed randomly
and abandoned, hatching in April or May of the following
spring, depending on water temperature. Nests are not
built, nor is parental care provided.
Young generally move from the shallows to deeper water
by early summer.
Sexual maturity reached by age 6 or 7.