Lake Whitefish

Lake Whitefish
Credit: Gordon Court

Name

  • Common name: Lake Whitefish
  • Scientific name: Coregonus clupeaformis
  • Order: Salmoniformes
  • Subfamily: Coregoninae
  • Indigenous names for this species may be available through the Yukon Native Language Centre

Also known as

Humpback, Humpies

Viewing opportunities

  • Found throughout the Yukon, watch for fins breaking the water as whitefish patrol the shallow mud and sand flats throughout the summer.
  • In rivers and streams, you’ll find whitefish at the mouths of tributaries and below rapids.

Description

  • Brown or olive green on the upper part of the body, with silver-white sides and under parts.
  • Deeply forked tail fin, other fins black tipped.
  • Adults can have a small head and fleshy bump on their shoulders, giving them the nickname “humpback.”
  • Large, dark-edged scales.

Fast facts

  • Length: 25 to 45 cm
  • Weight: 0.3 to 2.2 kg
  • Habitat: Freshwater

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S5
  • Global: G5

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.

Behaviour

While Lake Whitefish can be found throughout the Yukon’s lakes and rivers, they prefer cool water and tend to move deeper as surface waters warm in summer. They spawn in autumn and early winter in the shallow water of lakes and rivers, on gravel or sandy bottoms. They spawn at night so little is known about their spawning behaviour. Northern populations grow much slower but live longer than southern populations.

Diet

Aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and small fish.

Distribution

Lake Whitefish distribution map

Whitefish and people

  • Whitefish have always been an important part of Yukon First Nations diets.
  • Recreational anglers are discovering that Lake Whitefish are an exciting and tasty catch; fishing for Lake Whitefish is increasing in popularity.

Reports