A Glacial Relic
More than 10,000 years ago receding melt waters from the last ice age scoured and shaped the landscape of the Haliburton Highlands. Stranded in a few of the Highland lakes was a unique lake trout strain that evolved with special characteristics.
In the mid 1980′s Fisheries scientists discovered that these native lake trout were genetically distinct from all other lake trout stocks in the province. Local anglers long suspected that these fish were different because of their smaller, torpedo-shaped body, strong fighting ability and their delicious salmon-coloured flesh.
Our native lake trout, known as “Haliburton Gold” is found in only a handful of lake in Haliburton County. They have been designated as a heritage species.
Raising Haliburton’s Gold
To meet the high angling pressures Haliburton Highlands was historically stocked by the Ministry of Natural Resources with lake trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, etc., which originate in other parts of Ontario. Traditionally the lake trout populations used for MNR stocking purposes were of a Great Lakes strain, however, research revealed that the Haliburton lakes have a population of the Haliburton strain of lake trout that is genetically unique; The Haliburton Gold.
The Haliburton Lake Trout is a glacial relict-one of the oldest and purest strains of the lake trout in the world. It differs from other lake trout in that it is somewhat smaller but is a very hardy fish adapted to local climates.
It has been suggested that this strain of lake trout may in fact spawn at a younger age therefore reproducing at a younger age, therefore providing more year classes into the fishery than the typical MNR lake trout strains. For stocking and research purposes, these special features made it an ideal fish for restoring and rehabilitating lake trout populations. As a heritage species it’s vital to protect its genetic integrity of local stocks.
Declining Local Lake Trout Populations
Factors that have been identified as contributing to the decline of local lake trout populations:
Degradation of spawning and nursery habitat
Fluctuating water levels during spawning periods
Deterioration of water quality