Common name(s): Splake, Wendigo, truite moulac (The name "splake" comes from combining the common name for brook trout of "speckled" trout
with the word "lake" from lake trout)
Scientific name: Salvelinus fontinalis x S. namaycush. Salvelinus, an old name for char, from the same root as the German, Saibling, (little salmon),
fontinalis x S. namaycush, a natural hybrid of the Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and the Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush).
Description: The only sure way to distinguish a Splake from a Brook Trout or Lake Trout
is to open up the fish and count the pyloric caeca, finger-like projections in the stomach cavity:
Brook Trout numbers vary from 23 to 55; Lake Trout 93 to 208; Splake 65 to 85. Tails of Splake can be almost
square or slightly forked.
Splake are bred by crossing the eggs of lake trout with the milt of brook trout.
The offspring are intermediate in appearance between both parents. Notably, splake
have a (slightly) forked tail remindful of lake trout and halo-like spots common to
brook trout. Splake stocking often takes place in lakes that will not support either of the parental
species. Trophy size splake are often in lakes with large surface area, varied shoreline
habitat, deep water, and abundant forage.
- Weight: 2lbs - 4 lbs average up to 7 lbs. (record fish are 20 lbs +)
- Coloring: Descriptions are relative because splake can assume some, all, or a combination of physical
characteristics of the two parental species. In fact, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries
and Wildlife takes the step of removing a fin from their hatchery splake so they can be
positively identified in the wild.
Spawning: Unlike most hybrids, splake are capable of reproducing. However, though they have
reproduced in hatcheries, and have successfully back-crossed (splake breeding with one of the parent
species) in hatcheries, there are no documented cases of splake actually reproducing in either
fashion in the wild.
Even though splake are presumed sterile in the wild, they still make a spawning run.
Spawning takes place in the fall, usually in October, when they migrate to shallow, rocky reefs
that are often near the lake's tributaries.
Splake are a hybrid produced by crossing female lake trout and male brook trout in fish hatcheries.
Splake usually have the reddish-orange ventral fins, yellow spotting near the tail, and short,
wavy lines on the back and sides found on brook trout. Body coloration is pale gray, like the
lake trout. Splake have elongate bodies that taper towards each end, and in both body shape and
size they are intermediate between lake trout and brook trout. There is usually a slight fork in
the caudal (tail) fin, which is also intermediate between the lake trout and brook trout tail.
Splake thrive in the same cold-water environments as their parental species (68 F or less).
Splake are usually stocked in cool water lakes where either lake or brook trout have not been able to survive, and quite often splake have been successful.
Like the lake trout, splake are found in deep water during the summer to avoid high water
temperatures and feed on open-water prey. They prefer deep edges of reefs and points, which
allows the security and comfort of deep water and the ability to move shallow when needed.
They are found in shallow waters during early spring, just after ice out, when surface
temperatures are cooler.
Splake are excellent fighters and considered a good eatting fish. Their food is basically
insects, amphipods and small fishes such as minnows and small perch.
Splake are readily taken by ice fishermen, and in general they are more catchable in winter
than either lake trout or brook trout. However, they spook more easily than lake or brook
trout and require the angler to have a deliberate, quiet approach.
Many of the same techniques and strategies used on lake and brook trout are effective
when fishing for splake. Light- to medium-action spinning tackle is commonly used for casting
or trolling with spoons, jigs and spinners along deep-water reefs and points. The same areas
can be fished with live baits like minnows and worms.