Splake Fish: What You Need To Know

splake fish

The splake trout, or splake fish as it’s sometimes called, is an interspecific hybrid that results from mating between the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and the lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush). Like the parents of this hybrid, splake are born in freshwater and can spend their entire lives there or migrate to saltwater at some point in their lives.

They range from 8 to 18 inches (20-46 cm) long when born but grow much larger than either parent fish species as they get older.

A splake fish is one of the most unique species of fish available to anglers across the country. While not as common as its cousin, the rainbow trout, splake trout can be found in freshwater lakes and rivers across North America and should definitely be considered by anglers looking to add something special to their fishing experience. But what are splake fish? And how can you identify them if you see them?

What is a splake fish?

splake fish

Slakes, also known as splakes (Salvelinus namaycush x Salvelinus fontinalis), are hybrids of a male brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) crossed with a female lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush).

The name itself is the result of combining speckled trout (a name for brook trout) with lake trout, and may have been used as early as the 1880s for such a fish. Some attempts to cross male lake trout and female brook trout (so-called “brookinaws”) have also been made, but they are not as successful.

Hence, the intrageneric hybrid is called a char or charr since it is of the genus Salvelinus. This fish is called wendigo in some locales. In spite of the fact that the hybrids are genetically stable and can, theoretically, reproduce, splake reproduction is extremely rare outside of hatcheries for behavioral reasons.

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In many lakes across the United States, splakes are used for sport fishing since they generally do not reproduce. Due to the extremely poor spawning success rate, fisheries managers are able to control populations numbers.

Splake fish origin and descriptions

splake fish

The splake trout is a hybrid between lake and brook trout and became recognized as a subspecies of trout in 1971. It was first discovered in an all-male species in a lake in western New York, where it got its name from locals who were intrigued by its unique appearance.

Splake can be found in many lakes throughout North America but are rarely stocked because they are not considered native to any area. They are also not considered to be particularly invasive fish; however, they do compete with other fish for food resources if they become too abundant.

Species profile

Splake trout are a hybrid species of brook trout and lake trout created in Michigan in 1966 when scientists crossed-bred fish to create a super-trout that could thrive in local lakes. That, in turn, caused them to grow faster, develop more fat stores and produce larger eggs. Over time, their genomes changed to become what we now know as splake fish.

Splake fish scientific name

The scientific name of the splake fish is Salvelinus namaycush X Salvelinus fontinalis.

Common names

Splake (from speckled trout and lake trout), Wendigo, speckled trout.

Habitat

The splake fish natural habitat is the northern lakes, rivers, and streams of Canada and Minnesota. When they are stocked in other lakes, they do not usually survive because they prefer cold freshwater. These fish swim deeper in their natural habitat than other trout species, making them excellent fighters during fishing trips. Splake trout can be kept in freshwater tanks that contain floating plants to provide shade and shelter from predators.

Size

The splake fish ranges in size from 20 to 46 cm (8-18 inches) long and may weigh over 10 pounds (4.5 kg).

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Splake identification

splake fish

There are many coloration patterns similar between brook trout and splake trout, making it nearly impossible for the untrained eye to differentiate the two species. Speckled trout (splake fish) have a forked tail, inherited from their lake trout parents, whereas brook trout tend to have “square” tails.

Splake fishing: How to catch splake fish

These species of fish are often caught with light spinning, baitcasting, and fly tackle since they are usually scrappy fighters. You can catch this fish using live bait or artificial bait like spoons and plugs. It feeds primarily on small fish, insects, and fish eggs. A good food fish, the splake is highly regarded by anglers because of its rapid growth rate and its nature as a game fish. Fly fishing, Still fishing, Bait fishing, and Spin fishing are the methods used to catch this fish.

Where to catch the Splake fish

A program for selective breeding of this hybrid has been underway in Ontario, Canada, for some time. It has found success in the Great Lakes region and other parts of North America. Below is a list of specific places where you can find this fish:

Outside of bends, dams, falls, eddies, rivers, streams, small pointed waves, and so on.

Splake fish lifespan

These hybrid trout species can live for up to 20 years with good care.

Splake fish facts

splake fish

Are splake fish good to eat?

Yes, splakes are considered a delicious food fish. And there’s really no better way to enjoy them than by smoking or pan-frying. Cooking splake is similar to cooking trout; they can be prepared whole or in fillets. The meat of splake fillets should not be cooked past medium-rare as it will dry out.

What is the best time to fish for splake?

As with all fish, weather plays a factor. It is recommended to hit the water early. The bite tends to pick up by 6 a.m. and usually remains strong until 11:00 a.m. With splake fish, it is best to cast using spinners or spoons like Strike King lures, as bait such as worms tends not to be appealing for these fish because of their position on top of pools in deep water.

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Where can I fish for splake in Ontario?

As far as where to find these fish in Ontario, there are at least a few locations that come highly recommended. The first is Lake Nipissing, which is part of what’s known as the big three for splake fishing. The other two lakes are Lake Temagami and Abitibi Lake. These three lakes each have their own unique qualities when it comes to splake fishing, but they all offer some incredible opportunities for anglers looking to reel in some splake trout.

The other lakes are Dobie Lake and Tiger Lake.