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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

That's what squeezing trout is all about

September 18, 2009
By Jim Junttila

"Your lake trout column last week had me salivating for salvelinus," said Dolly Vardenen. "But you can't discuss lakers without including brookies and splake in the conversation," she added.

She's right, of course, and quite the char herself, just like lake trout, brook trout and their best-of-both progeny, splake.

"That would be Salvelinus namaycush x fontinalis," said retired MDNR fisheries biologist, Tom Rozich, using scientific names to describe the hot reproductive action between brook (speckled) trout and lake trout to make splake.

I agree with Dolly and Tom; if both your parents are char, then you're char too, whether you were made in the wild or in a hatchery.

Trouble is, lake trout hardly ever hybridize in the wild with brookies/coasters of their own volition. But, thank God, the MDNR makes splake by the million in hatcheries. That's what squeezing trout is all about.

Although reproductively sterile, splake have become a hot sportfishery in Copper Harbor. If you're interested, I have a theory that they don't just date other splake, but swim around, enjoying the company of browns, lake trout and salmon, anything they can get their fins on, to use the metaphor.

Whether they actually spawn or not, God only knows, to use the metaphor again. At least they're well-intentioned, practicing recreational spawn as opposed to reproductive. It's a wild kingdom out there in the waters of the Keweenaw; Who knew, lust among the lake trout and splake trout?

Lake trout have a lotta nicknames; Mackinaw, char, togue, touladi and a few Wikipedia never heard of. Lake Superior phenotypes I've heard of are paper bellies, mooneyes, siscowets, humpers, porkers, reefers and redfins, It all pretty much boils down to leans or fats.

If you like the big, brawling native redfins, you'll find them spawning on near-shore reefs around the Keweenaw from now to deer camp.

Lake trout and splake trout don't just live and love in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. We've gotta lotta inland lake trout lakes, too. The DNR has planted quite a few Yooper lakes; Lake Roland in Houghton County, Beatons Lake in Gogebic County, Lakes Chicagoan, Golden, Long, Ottawa and Smoky in Iron County, and Lakes Angeline, Arfelin, Michigamme, Perch, Sporley and Teal in Marquette County.

But don't take my word for it, go to michigandnr. com/fishstock and check the stocking data for yourself.

"Downstate land-locked lake trout lakes are Crystal, Big Blue, Higgins, Duck, Green, Elk, Torch and Walloon," said Rozich. "Lake Manistee has a transient population from Lake Michigan."

Lake trout have been successfully introduced in deep, cold western lakes where they call them Mackinaw or simply "Macks." I've fished them in Lake Pend Oreille in the northern Idaho panhandle, eastern Washington's Lake Chelan, Lake Tahoe in California, and Montana's Flathead Lake. They've got some real monsters out there. Canada is fulla trophy lake trout lakes, too.

The mother of all lake trout lakes, Lake Superior lakers are perhaps the slowest-growing fish, typical of cold, oligotrophic (nutrition-poor) lakes, although they seem to grow 'em bigger at Isle Royale, Stannard Rock, Superior Shoals and Canadian waters. Lake trout in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron eat better and run larger, as do browns, steelhead, kings and coho.

"Some days you can be out there bobbinen and trollinen til the cows come home and not catch a fish," said WW&W Fishing Correspondent Ed Wetalainen. "That's when it pays to think shallow, and give flat-linin, long-linin, and planer boardinen a try. The worst you can do is come up with a king salmon or two."

"Sure, you can catch fish downrigginen, dipsy-divinen and geppulininen, but you don't always have to go deep. Have you ever gone scumlinin with a Suomalainen?"

You know the expression, "to each their own?" Lake trout like to eat their own.

Lakers will pass up a herring or chub for a rainbow smelt, their favorite food.

It's a fish-eat-fish world out there, but when they run outa kids, smelt populations decline, and the forage base gets down to mysis shrimp, they aren't so fussy.

Ask RJ, Rapala or Reef Runner.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 @jjunttila@chartermi.net.

 
 

 

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