Like the brook trout, the lake trout is a native of New York State waters. This silvery or dark grey fish inhabits deep, cold, well-oxygenated lakes. In New York State, it is found mostly in the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes.
Lake trout are long-lived, with some adults reaching more than 20 years old in certain waters. These older fish can reach large sizes. Great Lake's lake trout often reach weights of 15 pounds or more. The current New York State record lake trout weighed more than 39 pounds.
Lake trout have different spawning habits than other New York State trout. Instead of building nests, they scatter their eggs over rocky shoals. In addition, lake trout spawn in lakes, not streams. Lake trout eggs have been found at depths of up to 200 feet in some of the Finger Lakes.
Fishing for lake trout can be quite specialized. In the spring, they can be caught by casting or trolling near the lake surface just after ice-out. Most of the year, they must be pursued in deep water using downriggers or wire line.
Through the 1800s and early 1900s, the lake trout helped support an important Great Lakes commercial fishery. Populations collapsed, however, due to the combined effects of overfishing and sea lamprey predation. Commercial fishing for lake trout is no longer permitted, and the effects of sea lamprey predation have been reduced. It is hoped that the lake trout stocking programs currently under way in the Great Lakes will lead to restoration of self-sustaining lake trout populations.
More information can be found at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.