The lake whitefish is a member of the salmon family and has the following characteristics: a small head with a blunt snout over hanging the lower jaw; old fish may develop a hump behind the head; the back is a pale greenish brown (Great Lakes) and sometimes dark brown to black (inland lakes). Average-sized whitefish in the commercial catch measure 40 to 50 cm in length and weigh 0.9 to 1.8 kg.
The lake whitefish inhabits large rivers and cold freshwater lakes across Canada. The northern limit of range in Canada for this species is near Victoria Island in Nunavut.
In Ontario, they occur in the Great Lakes and most watersheds except for southwestern Ontario where suitable lakes are lacking. There are at least 2,150 Ontario waters that contain lake whitefish, including all of the Great Lakes.
The lake whitefish is a cool-water species that moves from shallow to deep water as warming occurs and back to shallow water in the cooler months.
Lake whitefish are known for their value as a food fish. They have sustained a valuable commercial fishery on the Great Lakes for more than a century and are important commercial and subsistence food item for aboriginal people, particularly in northwestern Ontario. They are also sought by recreational anglers, particularly during the winter and spring, as well as by dip-netters during the fall. Probably the best known recreational fishery for lake whitefish is on Lake Simcoe.
Conservation status in Ontario
Information only found for the distinct Lake Simcoe population: data deficient, according to COSEWIC.
Lake whitefish is one of the most economically valuable freshwater species of the Prairie Provinces and Northwest Territories.