If someone asks to take you fishing for splake in the spring, your first response might be, “fishing for what?!” A “splake” is a trout hybrid between the cross of a brook trout and a lake trout. The “-lake” second part of the name makes sense, but while researching spring splake fishing, it seems the first “sp-“ part comes from early locals mistakenly referring to brook trout as “speckled trout.” Perhaps “brake” would be a better name?
The next question then is where does one go fishing for splake in the spring? A USGS map shows that this is a cold water fish species so it has been stocked in some of the Great Lakes, as well as some states such as Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Maine, however, seems to have a lot of splake lakes. In fact, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, there are “approximately 53 waters managed primarily” for splake fishing.
Why are these hybrids cultured and stocked? Spring splake fishing is reported to be relatively easy and thus provides a good fishing opportunity not only in open water but even through the ice, particularly in areas where other trout species stocking efforts have failed. Splake exhibit the typical “hybrid vigor” which means that these fish grow faster than pure strains of genetics of their parent species. In one study conducted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, splake also lived longer than stocked brook trout and fed on perch species that can be in competition with brook trout. As if those reasons weren’t enough, a splake also may grow to weigh over 20 pounds.
It may be difficult to distinguish between a splake and brook trout so look carefully. Splake seem to have more of a forked tail than a brook trout. But have the right fishing license and catch one, you may decide that fishing for splake in the spring, just may be your thing.