The splake, scientific name Salvelinus namaycush X Salvelinus fontinalis, is a hybrid trout that results from the crossing of speckled trout, or brook trout, and lake trout. The name is derived as a blending of the words “speckled” and “lake.” The crossing of the breeds produces a much hardier trout, with better survivability and the fish is currently stocked in lakes across North America as a sport fish. Because the splake grow so big, they are prized by anglers and make a great eating fish. The trout is stable genetically and can reproduce, although it is not known to do so outside of the hatchery environment. The fish is also known as a wendigo. The splake has been produced culturally since the 1890s. Because the splake is hybrid fish, it has no subspecies.
Splake is typically about 10 to 18 inches long and weight up to 10 pounds. Their coloration is very similar to that of a brook trout and are often mistaken for them. Splake have creamy-colored spots running along their sides with a few red spots primarily concentrated on the lower part of the fish. Unlike brook trout, however, their red spots do not have the signature bluish halo. Another primary difference is that splake have a slight fork in the tail, which is inherited from the lake trout parentage. Brook trout typically have square tails, with no fork. Splake usually grow bigger than brook trout as well, which can be a quick way to determine the difference.
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Although splake can reproduce, this has not been known to occur outside the hatchery environment. They are stocked across North America in cold freshwater as a sport fish, primarily. Overall, the splake is more hardy than the brook trout, they grow faster and reach maturity sooner and survive to an older age. They are also able to feed on species that can out-compete brook trout. For these reasons, splake is often stocked where brook trout fail. Because they don’t reproduce in the wild, it is also easy for wildlife management departments to control the population, and adjust accordingly.
Splake does not occur naturally. A benefit to this is that the energy that would otherwise be used for reproduction is instead used for bigger growth. The population is entirely controlled by the hatcheries that direct splake reproduction and stocking.
Splake are carnivorous and eat other fish, including other trout. Because splake are hatchery raised, they may initially be fed a “starter diet” before moving on to aquatic invertebrates. Once stocked into the habitat, they feed openly on the other fish. Because they are stocked, however, the population can be controlled so that they don’t become invasive and deplete the habitat. Sport fisherman was looking to catch splake use pieces of fish such as chub for bait.
Splake is created by mating a male brook trout with a female lake trout. Splake can become sexually mature and even lay eggs, however, the eggs must be fertilized by hand in a hatchery. There is no documentation of splake ever reproducing in the wild, however they do appear to go through the motions of spawning, although offspring are not produced.