Last summer, a potential charter client called and said he wants to do a charter,… “but does not want to fish for lake trout.” When I asked him why, he said because he doesn’t, and won’t, eat them. I questioned him further and found that he had trout from Lake Michigan and they were very oily and didn’t taste very good. I went on to explain that the trout we catch in the Keweenaw are very lean and excellent to eat.
Another woman that I took out said she probably won’t eat the fish we catch and when I asked why she said the same thing… that she doesn’t like oily or fishy tasting fish, she only likes walleye, crappie and ocean fish – like halibut. After explaining and sending her and her husband off (after a successful day on the water) with several bags of trout fillets, she said she’d try it and report back to me. Several days later, she called and said they had two meals of the tasty lake trout and had nothing but praise for the lean lake trout meals!
There is a myth out there in many people’s minds that lake trout are not good to eat… that they are too oily, or fishy tasting and the only way to make good table fare is to smoke them and some people just don’t like the smoke taste either. Those beliefs may be true of some lake trout caught in certain waters and depths, but it’s not true for all lake trout and I am writing to dispel that hogwash.
There are basically 2 different species of lake trout (See: lake trout facts) in Lake Superior that we fish for in the Stannard Rock Lighthouse area and in Bete Grise (just north of Keweenaw Bay.) One is the Siscowet, which is about 60 to 70% fat content and they live in the deep (250 feet and deeper) parts of the lake. The meat of these “lakers” is an off-white color, because of its high fat content and isn’t as good to eat, unless smoked.
The other species, lean lake trout, have only 10 to 15% body fat and sometimes, depending on their feed, can have a very pink to orange color meat. Don’t be fooled by the meat color, though, because it can be a lighter color and still be a lean. For example, the lean lake trout that has been mainly eating fresh water shrimp, will be pink to orange color. Some will almost be as orange as Chinook or coho salmon flesh.
So where does the belief come from that lake trout aren’t good to eat? I suppose it’s from those that have eaten (or talked to someone who has) a Siscowet – fat lake trout, and thus had a bad experience. Perhaps the lake trout caught in the lower great lakes have a different taste too, whether fat or lean, because the waters aren’t as cold and clean as Lake Superior. Any fish can taste bad if the waters that it lives in is polluted. Even a speckled trout, which is among the best tasting fish, can be bad if caught from a stagnant pond.
So, don’t judge a lake trout by here-say or a bad experience, eat the fish that we catch at Sand Point Charters and you’ll eat it again and again. By the way, there are heath benefits to eating fish like lake trout that are high in omega 3 fats, but that’s another story in itself.