WCS Canada

Lake Trout

Fast Facts

Scientific Name: Salvelinus namaycush

  • Lake trout is the largest of the trout (a.k.a. char) species.
  • A quarter of the world's lake trout lakes are in Ontario, but even here only 1% of Ontario lakes have lake trout.
  • Lake trout are long-lived, some reaching 60+ years, and slow to mature, making them susceptible to overharvest.

The lake trout is a member of the salmon family, and is endemic to northern North America. In Canada, it is found from the Maritime provinces and Labrador across to northern British Columbia and throughout the North. Lake trout require cold water, and are usually found in large, deep cold-water lakes. Adult lake trout feed on a broad range of foods, including insect larvae, small crustaceans, clams, snails, leeches, other fish including smaller lake trout, mice, shrews, and even occasionally birds. 

Lake trout is highly prized both as a game fish, a commercial species, and as a subsistence food. Much of our knowledge of lake trout in Ontario's Far North lies with local residents, sport fishers, and remote tourism operators rather than with official bodies. As a result, this species is rarely given sufficient consideration in land use or resource planning initiatives in this region, even though it is a key component of the freshwater ecosystems. 

In spite of the known impacts of industrial and resource development on fish, there is very little information available on status and populations of freshwater fish in northern Ontario environments that can be used to make better land-use decisions.  WCS is leading ongoing research projects in this province focused on evaluating the impacts of increased access (roads and hydro lines) for lake trout and other northern fish populations.  


Testing Climate Change Effects on Fish

WCS staff are testing lake trout from various populations in Ontario to collect information on temperature tolerance and the effects of changing temperatures on lake trout metabolism. Interestingly, results are showing very little difference in temperature tolerance between populations.

Key Staff

Constance O'Connor
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cheryl Chetkiewicz
Associate Conservation Scientist
All Lake Trout Staff >>

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WCS Canada - Thunder Bay
10 Cumberland Street North, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7A 4K9
(807) 285-9125