Latest NEWS Video
Cisco or lake herring
Parts of a Fish
Ontario Trout Fishing
Got a cool picture of a Lake Whitefish you
want to share??
Email it to us and we will add it!! Please
let us know who to credit the photo to.
Coregomrs clupeaformis Coregonrzs is a
name for the Euroopean whitefish; clupeaforrnis means
herring-shaped. The body of the lake whitefish is deep and
laterally compressed and the back is more or less elevated. In
general, the colour is silvery, or white-lustrous with an
olive-brown back. The head is small and short. The bones at the
front of the upper jaw (the premaxillaries) are wider than long,
and their position gives the front of the snout a rounded and
somewhat blunt profile. In other words, the snout distinctly
overhangs the lower jaw. In the ciscoes (lake herring), the
bones in the front of the upper jaw (the premaxillaries) are
longer than wide, giving the front of the snout an angular
In general, the lake whitefish ranges from northern Quebec to
the Maritimes, through the Great Lakes northwestward to Alaska,
and in inland lakes to Hudson Bay. It is widely distributed in
Clear, cold waters of the Great Lakes, proper, and deep inland
lakes are characteristic habitats of the lake whitefish. They
spawn in fresh water and are confined throughout life to lakes
and streams. Whitefish living in streams flowing into Hudson Bay
regularly descend to brackish water where they spend
considerable time, but return to fresh water at spawning time.
Races or types of fish may be produced by the
character of the habitat in which they live, for example, water
depth. The form and colour of whitefish vary from lake to lake.
In spring or in early summer, the lake whitefish may inhabit
shoal water but, as the season advances and the shoal waters
warm up, they move into deeper water. In October and November
when the shoal waters become cool again, they move inshore
and spawn over reefs and shoals composed of honeycomb rocks.
About mid-April, the fry hatch, rise to the
surface over the spawning grounds, remain for a few days, and
then make their way or are carried by the currents inshore,.
Sexual maturity may be reached in three to six
years. The spawning run usually consists of greater numbers of
older age groups. Spawning temperatures range from 40°F. to
50°F. The earlier temperatures reach these levels, the earlier
During the spawning season most whitefish have
a breeding dress of nuptial tubercles on the head and rows of
elliptical pearl organs on the sides. Recorded spawning dates
for lake whitefish in certain lakes in Ontario are given in
Table ll. The duration of the spawning season is a week or l0
days although some fish may remain on the spawning grounds for a
considerable period after the main run starts for the open lake.
Spawning occurs after sunset; eggs are deposited in small
batches over a period of several days. Because of this, a
greater chance of survival of the eggs may result. The
proportion of fertilized eggs varies with conditions but, under
favourable conditions, the proportion may be high. The eggs
hatch in April or May. Table 12 gives the number of eggs
produced by an individual fish, and the average weight of the
iish in pounds taken from the lakes specified.
Food and Growth
The earliest food of the whitefish consisted almost
entirely of the smallest entomostracans occurring in the lake.
In its later stages, it may be classified as a bottom feeder,
its food consisting of small mollusks, aquatic insect larvae
(mayflies and caddisflies) chironomid nymphs, plankton
crustaceans, and terrestrial insects. The food items in the diet
vary considerably in different lakes, the whitefish showing
little selectivity, accepting the most abundant bottom fauna
available. The variation in the diet may be reflected in the
external appearance and in the quality of the fish. Whitefish
eat little during their spawning season but they do eat in the
winter. The burbot and the sucker are important competitors of
the whitefish for certain items in their diet.