Great Lake Trout | Mackinaw Trout

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Great Lake Trout | Mackinaw Trout Cristivomer namaycush (Walbaum)


The namaycush trout is found in most large lakes from New Brunswick and Maine westward throughout the Great Lakes region and to Vancouver Island, thence northward to Northern Alaska, Hudson Bay and Labrador. It is known from Henry Lake in idaho and elsewhere in the headwaters of the Columbia. It is known also from the Fraser River basin, from Vancouver Island, and various places in Alaska.

In addition to the vernacular names already mentioned, this fish is known by still others in different parts of its range. In Vermont it is called "longe"; in Maine it is the "togue," while among the Canadian Indians it is the "namaycush" or "masamacush." It is the largest of all the trouts reaching a length of several feet and a weight of 60 to 125 pounds. The average weight probably does not exceed 15 or 20 pounds. In the Great Lakes it is exceeded in weight only by the lake sturgeon.

The lake trout is omnivorous in its feeding habits and possesses a ravenous appetite. It greedily devours all kinds of fishes possessing soft fins, and it is said that jack-knives, corncobs and other equally indigestible articles have been found in its stomach. The eggs and fry of the lake trout suffer from the same enemies as the young of other fishes but the mature fish are entirely too formidable for other species to prey upon. They are not often troubled with parasites. Occasionally individuals, very thin in flesh and sickly-looking, known as "racers" by fishermen are found swimming near the surface; no sufficient cause has been discovered for this condition, as they are no more afflicted with parasites than healthy fish.

The lake trout fisheries of the Great Lakes are exceeded in commercial importance only by those of the whitefish. At one time the trout was so abundant that it did not command a price at all commensurate with its edible qualities, but as the catches decreased the price went up, until in 1886 it equalled that of its more delicate rival. In that year the artificial propagation of the lake trout was begun by the Federal and certain State governments. The output of the hatcheries increased gradually until, in 1895, that of the Government hatchery at Northville alone amounted to over 11,000,000 eggs; and the species had become so abundant in the lakes in 1896 that the fishing boats ceased operations, the market being glutted. and the price obtainable not justifying the labour involved.

Head 4 1/4; depth 4; eye 4 1/2; Br. 11 or 12; D. 11; A. 11; scales 185 to 205; maxillary 2; interorbital 4. Body long; head very long, its upper surface flattened; mouth very large the maxillary extending much beyond the eye, the head and jaws proportionately lengthened and pointed; caudal fin well forked; adipose fin small; teeth very strong. General colouration dark gray, sometimes pale, sometimes almost black everywhere with rounded pale spots which are often reddish tinged; head usually vermiculate above; dorsal and caudal reticulate with darker.

Catching the Namaycush Trout

From American Game and Food Fishes. Jordan and Evermann, 1902.