Coregonus Clupeaformis



Coral Reefs, Sand, Inshore, Nearshore

2 - 15 pounds

12" - 39"

Lake Whitefish

Also Known As: Otsego bass, Sault whitefish, gizzard fish, common whitefish, eastern whitefish, whitefish from the Great Lakes

Lake Whitefish (Coregonus Clupeaformis) Fish Description

The lake whitefish is a North American freshwater whitefish that lives in all of the Great Lakes in the United States and is present in most of Canada. It is often called a "humpback" fish because of its small head in comparison to the length of its body. It is a member of the salmonid family and is closely related to salmon and trout. Other names this species is known as are Otsego bass, Sault whitefish, gizzard fish, common whitefish, eastern whitefish, and whitefish from the Great Lakes.

Similar to round whitefish, it is a moderately-deep bodied fish with a greenish-brown back and silver-white underbelly. Its snout hangs over its mouth and there are 2 flaps of skin in the center of its nostrils. When the lake whitefish age, their heads look even smaller because a fleshy bulge at the shoulders will appear.

Lake whitefish have high commercial value but because of their small mouths, can be challenging to catch. Their thin, highly delicate mouth restricts their diet to insects, freshwater shrimp, small fish, and fish larvae and you will find them feeding on or around lake-bottoms.


Interesting facts about the Lake Whitefish

  • The lake whitefish have fed the people of the Great Lakes since the Native American era. The Ojibwe word for Great Lakes whitefish is Atikamig.
  • In 2006, researchers found breeding lake whitefish and fertilized eggs in the Detroit River which were the first recorded evidence in the area since 1916.


Lake Whitefish Size 

The lake whitefish is a medium to large fish with an average length of about 12-26 inches and a weight of 2-4 lbs. The commercial catch usually measures 17-22 inches in length and weighs 1.5-4 pounds. The largest lake whitefish on record was over 42 pounds and was taken in 1918 from Lake Superior.


Lake Whitefish  Habitat & Distribution