Lake Trout - Salvelinus namaycush
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
This species is a glacial relic in Montana known from native (never-stocked) populations occurring in Waterton Lake, Glenns Lake, Cosley Lake, and St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park and Lower St. Mary Lake on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, as well as a couple of small populations in the upper Missouri River basin. Otherwise, all other populations in the state are introduced.
The Lake Trout is a char of the same genus as Bull Trout and Brook Trout. Lake Trout are native in the St. Mary and Missouri River drainages and have been introduced to a few other scattered mountain lakes, Flathead Lake, and Fort Peck Reservoir. Lake Trout are a major game fish in much of Canada and were at one time a staple of the Great Lakes fishery. In Montana, the Lake Trout of Flathead Lake have achieved trophy status, growing to 42 pounds. Lake Trout inhabit very deep, cold lakes, living in water up to 200 feet deep. They spawn in the fall on the rocky substrate of the shoreline. They scatter or broadcast their spawn, a rarity in the trout group. Small Lake Trout feed on plankton and aquatic invertebrates but fish over 2 to 3 pounds eat a fish diet. Lake Trout are a highly-prized food fish in Canada and are catching on as a game fish in Montana with the advent of downriggers, electronic fish finders, and other specialized techniques.
May have pale wavy lines on back. Fins may have traces of orange.
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1546
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Deep, cold lakes and reservoirs (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks). Deep cold water lakes and reservoir with some rocky bottom and on abundance of forage fish. Spawns over rocky shoal areas in lakes in depths from 10 to 120 feet.
Young feed on plankton and aquatic invertebrates. Diet is largely fish after reaching 2-3 lbs. in weight.
Broadcasts spawn Oct-Nov. Eggs hatch in following March or April when water temps. Reach 34-38 degrees F. Fry soon move into deep water. No parental care.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Owens, R.W., and R.A. Bergstedt. 1994. Response of slimy sculpins to predation by juvenile lake trout in southern Lake Ontario. Transactions - American Fisheries Society. 123(1): 28-36.
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