Lake Trout (Mackinaw)

The Lake Trout is not as brightly colored as other trout. It is dark gray or gray-green towards the top with a light gray or white belly with cream or light yellow spots over the body, head and tail. It also has a deeply forked caudal fin. Males develop a dark lateral line on their sides during spawning season.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Salvelinus namaycush
CLASSIFICATION
Fish
LIFE SPAN
12-41 Years
SIZE
4-44 ” | 3-30 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Unprotected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Lake Trout, also known as Mackinaw, are native to the northern portion of North America including much of Canada and the Great Lakes region. They are currently found in Lake Tahoe, Liberty and Echo Lakes in the Ruby Mountains of Elko County. Generally found in deep, cold, stratified lakes with the majority of their time spent near the bottom.

Threats

  • Commercial Fishing
  • Larger Fish

Natural History

The younger Lake Trout will feed on zooplankton and small invertebrates, but their feeding patterns will change to become primarily piscivores as they grow over 2 pounds. Spawning takes place in the fall in silt-free, rocky areas with a depth from just a few feet to 200 feet. With no redd (nest) prepared, the eggs settle between rocks and crevices for the 4 to 5 week incubation period without any protection from the parents. In the lakes of the Great Basin, Lake Trout are usually found at 100 feet or deeper. At Lake Tahoe, there have been reported sightings at depths of 1400 feet.

Fun Facts

Highly prized as a sport fish because if its size and trophy value, the Lake Trout, is less of a fight than you might expect, once its hooked. Unfortunately, hooking one can be a long and tedious task.