Splake are a hybrid produced by crossing female lake trout and male brook trout in fish hatcheries. Splake usually have the reddish-orange ventral fins, yellow spotting near the tail, and short, wavy lines on the back and sides found on brook trout. Body coloration is pale gray, like the lake trout. Splake have elongate bodies that taper towards each end, and in both body shape and size they are intermediate between lake trout and brook trout. There is usually a slight fork in the caudal (tail) fin, which is also intermediate between the lake trout and brook trout tail.
Descriptions are relative because splake can assume some, all, or a combination of physical characteristics of the two parental species. In fact, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife takes the step of removing a fin from their hatchery splake so they can be positively identified in the wild.
Splake are carnivorous predators, feeding on other fish including smelt, white perch, yellow perch, and sculpin, as well as insects and crayfish. Most feeding occurs during the day as splake chase open-water schools of baitfish. In coldwater periods, when food is more scarce, they will move shallow to consume freshly hatched baitfish and rock-dwelling crustaceans.
Splake have been introduced in midsize lakes throughout southern Canada and the northern United States. They are also found in scattered populations in the Great Lakes.
Splake thrive in the same cold-water environments as their parental species (68 F or less). Splake are usually stocked in lakes instead of rivers, though they can survive in moving water if the right conditions are present. They are mostly stocked in cool water lakes where either lake or brook trout have not been able to survive, and quite often splake have been successful.
Like the lake trout, splake are found in deep water during the summer to avoid high water temperatures and feed on open-water prey. They prefer deep edges of reefs and points, which allows the security and comfort of deep water and the ability to move shallow when needed. They are found in shallow waters during early spring, just after ice out, when surface temperatures are cooler.
- The name splake comes from combining the common name for brook trout of speckled trout with the word lake from lake trout.
- The all-tackle world record is a 20-pound, 11-ounce splake caught in Georgian Bay, Ontario in 1982.