Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • slightly deep-bodied fish, oval in cross-section
  • greenish-brown back
  • silvery sides
  • silvery-white belly
  • snout overhangs mouth
  • 2 flaps of skin between the nostrils
  • deeply forked tail


  • length: 30-65 centimetres (12-26 inches)
  • weight: 0.9-1.8 kilograms (2-4 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 6.7 kilograms (14.8 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it is found

Range of the [lake-whitefish] in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • the Great Lakes
  • deep, cold inland lakes throughout Ontario
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • prefer the deep sections of deep lakes and shallow sections of Far North lakes
  • move into rivers and streams to feed in the early spring--often found in deeper pools behind spawning beds
  • find deeper waters during the summer
  • move to shoals of large lakes and rivers during the late fall and early winter

Find a fishing spot with Fish ON-Line

Angling tips

  • easiest to catch in winter and spring
  • they feed only during the day in late fall and early winter
  • catch with a fly on the surface when mayflies are plentiful

Common baits

  • teardrop jigs baited with wax worms
  • small minnows (live or salted)
  • small jigging lures