Whitefish Information

Whitefish Information

Species Identification

Whitefish is a large species of fish that contains several subspecies, both fresh and saltwater, and are a part of the Salmonidae family. The freshwater variety are the most popular among anglers, especially the lake whitefish, which this section will deal with primarily.


Appearance

Lake whitefish are silvery dark brown overall, with darker shades along the back and a more silvery hue towards its underbelly.The mouth is small and delicate, much smaller than its trout or salmon cousins. Large scales, deeply forked tail, and its body is laterally compressed as compared to the more cylindrical look found in other species of whitefish.

Maximum Size

Upwards of over 13 pounds, but generally grow no bigger than a few pounds, especially on smaller lakes.

Geographic Range

ice fishing
Bob Izumi holds up a whitefish.
Izumi Outdoors Inc.

Found throughout Alaska and most of Canada and parts of northern United States, from Minnesota and the Great Lakes basin to New England.


Habitat

Prefer cool, deeper water, though are also found in shallower lakes as you move north.

Life Span

Up to 25 years on bigger lakes.

Food

Whitefish are bottom feeders, and due to their small mouths, prefer tiny aquatic insects, crustaceans, and snails.


Spawning

Whitefish spawn in fall to early winter, from September to January depending on water temperature and location.

Predators

Burbots, northern pike, and lake trout.

Information credit: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

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