The lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) is the most economically valuable freshwater species of the Great Lakes. Its exceptionally fine flavor has been extolled since the days of the early explorers.
A deep-bodied fish, it is characterized by a small head with a blunt snout overhanging the lower jaw. Older fish often develop a fleshy bump at the shoulders, which makes the small head look even smaller. In general, its coloration is greenish brown over the back, shading to silver on the sides and silvery white below.
Average-sized whitefish in the commercial catch measure 17 to 22 inches in length and weigh 2 to 4 lbs. The largest individual on record was a 41 lb. heavyweight taken from Lake Superior in 1918.
Commercial fishing, for the most part, is carried out by means of trapnets and gillnets set during the open water season. While not noted as a game fish, in recent years the lake whitefish has been the object of an active sport fishery in many parts of its range. Anglers catch it on a small hook usually baited with a fish egg.