• Lake whitefish are olive-green to blue on the back, with silvery sides.
  • They have a small mouth below a rounded snout, and a deeply forked tail.

Natural History


  • Whitefish are mostly found in larger lakes in Alberta, where they prefer deep, cool water.


  • Mainly bottom feeders, lake whitefish eat crustaceans, snails, insects and other small aquatic organisms.

Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Lake whitefish spawn from September through January in water two to four metres (6.5 to 13 feet) in depth.
  • A large spawning migration enters the Athabasca Delta in late summer, moving upstream in the Athabasca River. The longest single movement of a tagged whitefish ever recorded was 388 kilometres (240 miles), from Fort McMurray to the north shore of Lake Athabasca.

Conservation and Management


Lake whitefish are classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


Lake whitefish are the main fish harvested by the aboriginal food fishery and the commercial fishing industry in Alberta.

Anglers target whitefish primarily during the winter ice fishery.

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

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