Lake trout

General information about lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), a cold-water fish species in Alberta.



  • Because lake trout are long-lived and can reach 20 to 25 years of age, the larger ones can exceed 10 kilograms (22 pounds) in weight.


  • Lake trout are the least colourful of trout. They are grey fish with irregular white spots.
  • During the fall spawning season, the fins near the tail become a pale orange.
  • Caudal fin is forked.

Natural History


  • Lake trout are native to many of Alberta's deep cold lakes.
  • Lake trout feed near the surface of a lake when the water is cold (spring and fall).
  • During the summer, the cold denser water sinks to the bottom of the lake and the trout follow it down.


  • Young lake trout feed on freshwater shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates.
  • Larger lake trout eat other species of fish, mostly whitefish and cisco (tullibee)

Reproduction and Growth

Growth Process

  • Lake trout grow very slowly, and often don't mature until they are 8 to 10 years of age.

Conservation and Management


Lake trout are classified as Sensitive in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:


  • Species somewhat limited by the small number of deep, cold lakes in Alberta.
  • Because of this late age of spawning, heavy fishing pressure can seriously deplete lake trout populations. As the main threat to populations is over-harvest, angling is now regulated.

Current management

Fish Sustainability Index

Alberta's lake trout populations have been assessed under the Fish Sustainability Index, see:


Lake trout are cold-water game fish subject to current Alberta sportfishing regulations. For details, see the My Wild Alberta website at: