Author Topic: Understanding Whitefish Behavior to Better Target Their Predators  (Read 4374 times)

Offline gorf37

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Hi All,

I rarely target whitefish directly in winter, preferring to sight-fish them with a fly rod when I do target them.  I am, however, an avid pursuer of lake trout and burbot, and to a lesser extent pike.

In many lakes where I live, lake whitefish and round whitefish are one of the only bait fish for the apex predators.  That being the case, I want to understand their winter movements to better pattern their predators.

What resources can you point me to regarding whitefish movements under the ice?  What knowledge and experience can you share?  I assure you, whitefish will not be harmed, only those who would harm them! 

What I know, or think I know:

-   Spawn around first ice on shoals Ė pike will chase them into shallow water.  Some big trout that Iíve caught early season in shallow water match-up with this.
-   Feed on crustaceans and insects predominantly, so will tend to work areas adjacent to littoral zones.  As far as I can tell, whitefish like to feed along the bottom of the drop-off where there is a good littoral zone on the shelf.
-   When summer fishing, I see them on the shoal on the lake side of a weed bed (as opposed to the shore-side) am I wrong about their use of the bottom edge of the drop-off?
-   Will congregate where there is an inflow bringing a steady supply of nutrients to support their prey.
-   Iím left wondering: how deep of water will they prefer?  My impression is that if there are two flats below 40-50ft (transition from littoral to benthic) theyíll choose the shallower, if all else is the same.
-   My impression is that they donít suspend.  Not that they wonít swim up to take a bait, but that they donít cruise halfway up the column.
-   Iíve observed that burbot usually first appear at the bottom edge of the drop off, but can be caught on the shelf in the middle of the night.  Are they following whitefish in to the vegetation in the dark?

I realize no Ďruleí can apply to every lake, but every bit of info helps!

Thanks for reading!  - Gorf

Offline Idahogator

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Howdy gorf,  your neighbors may chime in but, it's a big planet.

So, if you fill in your 'location' you may be surprised at the increase in responses.        ;)2

Offline gorf37

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Good call Idaho, I'm now officially a Yukonner.  Although I prefer my usual web forum location: "Under Your Bed"

Offline Water Wolf

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Hi gorf37,
It looks like you have a good handle of the whitefish behavior. :)

One thing I will add, I have used an underwater camera in the areas that the burbot spawn and noticed that whitefish ciscos / tullibee and sometimes suckers are present in those areas and are going around picking things up off the bottom. These things for the most part, are burbot eggs. From time to time one or several burbot would come in and chase the the egg eater out of the area. Pike (some really big) also show up in these area to eat all the other fish species, so if you find the burbot spawing spots in your area you should find the whitefish and your target predators. :tipup:

I can't say if lake trout are in these areas as I have never tried lakes that had lake trout, burbot and whitefish altogether  :-\



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