Monsters of the Finger Lakes - The Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush)
by Mel Russo

Lake trout are common inhabitants of the deeper waters of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. In the spring, especially on hazy or cloudy days, they may be found in the shallower, cleaner waters of either lake.

Lake trout breed in the fall over the hard bottoms of the lakes in water from 3 to 100 feet deep. One mature 20 pounder may lay up to 15,000 eggs at one time.

These trout like to feed in waters at a temperature of about 48F. The lakers are native inhabitants of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes although most of their present population is the result of a successful, continuous stocking program.

Seneca Lake sports the most famous reputation for the species producing record catches both in size and in numbers. In addition, Cayuga Lake has a very productive, lesser known lake trout fishery that is also known to produce some serious lunkers.

The lake trout (S. namaycush) is closely related to the brook trout (S. fontinalis), a native inhabitant of our streams and lakes. The brook trout can tolerate much warmer waters than its lake trout cousin. An artificially bred hybrid of the two, the splake, is fertile and combines the good size qualities of the lakers with the warm water tolerance of the brookies.

The presence of these salmonids in Finger Lakes waters is an indication of high quality water.

Prepared by the Cayuga Lake Defense Fund (CLDF).
For more information, Call: 275-9054 or 272-7914 or email

CLDF 1998