Close this search box.

Delving into the Flavor of Lake Trout: A Comprehensive Guide

Lake Trout is usually found at the bottom of most people’s list of favorite eating fish. But, like most underdogs- you shouldn’t underestimate the taste of Lake Trout. Sure, the fish itself is more greasy than one might prefer. But, the potent fish flavor of the Lake Trout can still have a place on your plate. So what does Lake Trout taste like?

Lake trout taste similar to other species of trout. Their meat is typically firm yet oily, and the taste can be rich with a medium fish flavor.

A Lake Trout can have white to red-colored flesh, depending on the fish’s diet. Lake Trout is best served smoked or grilled. 

As far as fish goes, most fish’s flavor can be determined by the food that it eats. As the Lake Trout’s ecology has shifted over the years, the typical food that a Lake Trout feeds on has shifted as well. And although subtle, these changes will reflect in the fish’s flavor.

What Does Lake Trout Taste Like: Ecology

So, we have established that Lake Trout has a medium fish flavor. It is not a refined whitefish or a classic salmon taste, but a more strong fishy taste. It tastes stronger than musky or pike

Did we mention that the Lake Trout tastes fishy? Not only does Lake Trout have a fishy flavor, but it is also one of the greasiest fish you could eat. 

As we already mentioned, the taste of Lake Trout is changing. But what is causing this changing flavor profile?

Author Note: As the ecological aspects have changed over the years, Lake Trout’s flavor profile has changed too. As some invasive species wane and wean, it results in a changing diet.

For example, when alewives invade a lake, the trouts will feed on them as the alewives are considered an invasive species, which means they are in abundance. But the problem with alewives is that they are low in Thiamin. 

And why does Thiamin matter? Well, if a Lake Trout doesn’t get any thiamin, then it could be detrimental to the fish’s health. This lack in Thiamin causes the lake trout to taste, for lack of a better word, poor. The lack of Thiamin also causes Lake Trout to become pale. This lack in Thiamin promotes that potent fish taste that causes most people to shy away.

So, do you get your Lake Trout from a lake with a healthy ecosystem? Then you can be sure that it will have a better flavor than most people would expect. 

Lake Trout and Goby

Lake Trout

Another known invasive species that changed the way the Lake Trout tastes and survived is the Goby

The Goby allows the Lake Trout to obtain a higher amount of nutrients, which in turn could help to enhance the Lake Trout’s taste. The Goby helps to give the Lake Trout back its orange color and helps to give the fish a less fatty flavor as well. 

Unfortunately, most Great Lakes these days have an invasive species- or cycles of invasive species. So, if you want to find the positive in every situation, at least some invasive species are healthier than others. They could help to reverse the damage that may have been caused by other invasive species. 

Author Note: Lake Trout has long since been a trophy fish among fishermen. So, if you can find a lake with a healthy ecosystem, you could even find a trophy fish that tastes decent too. 

Lake Trout Nutrition

As for nutrition, Lake Trout has a high omega -3 fatty acid content, the same content as the sockeye salmon. Lake trout meat is high in protein and relatively healthy compared to other meats.

History of Lake Trout

Historically speaking, Lake Trout has earned a reputation as a top predator. Although they tend to spend most of their time at the bottom of lakes, they can also be surprisingly found offshore in open water. In some cases, Lake Trout can be found far from the shore.

When hunting the Lake Trout, the commercial fisherman might find that the Lake Trout is a tougher catch than white game fish. This is mainly because the Lake Trout is typically a lone wolf and prefers to venture out on its own. 

Lake Trout was revered as one-quarter of the “big four” of the Great Lakes commercial catches. This made the Lake Trout one of the most popular catches for trolling fishermen, along with the herring, the sturgeon, and the whitefish.

As with any natural resource in the commercial, for-profit clutches, the Lake Trout suffered from overfishing. This began in the 1880s when their spawning areas began declining. But aside from overfishing, the Lake Trout population also suffers from invasive species.

Lake Trout population suffered a dramatic decrease during the 1930s when the sea lamprey began to dominate the Upper Great Lakes’ waters. Lake Superior, the same lake that the record size Lake Trout came from, is currently the only natural environment in the Great Lakes that holds a sustainable Lake Trout population. 

Lake Trout: Biology

The Lake Trout can live to the ripe age of 20. Compared to other trout species, the Lake Trout takes the trophy for being the largest species of Trout.

Although the average weight comes in between 7 and 12 pounds, the largest Lake Trout ever caught weighed in at 47 pounds. That record-breaking Lake Trout was caught way back in 1946 at Lake Superior. So, if you fancy yourself a record-breaker, it’s high time that a new monster-sized Lake Trout is caught. Why not check out the best lures for Lake Trout fishing and give it a go?

What Eats Lake Trout?

Lake Trout Up Close

Now that you know the answer to “what does Lake Trout taste like”, let’s discuss what else eats Lake Trout. Predators to Lake Trout include the Sea Lamprey. In the Great lakes, where the most popular Lake Trout fishing spots are, the Sea Lamprey itself is not threatened by any natural species.

Therefore, a chemical known as TFM is used as an effective way to manage the Sea Lamprey populations. The TFM treatment helps keep the Sea Lampreys in check- to ensure the creepy eel looking fish doesn’t take over the waters. 

Eating Lake Trout

Consuming Lake Trout in large amounts is not advised, and that a person should not exceed eating Lake Trout once per month. 

Here are two great recipes for preparing Lake Trout.

Marinated and Grilled Lake Trout

Most people prefer smoked Trout. If you are not a fan of smoked fish, why not try this recipe for marinated and grilled Lake Trout fillets. 

The following recipe is for four fillets, so it will either serve four people or two people with a healthy appetite.

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 x fillets
  • â…“ soy sauce
  • â…“ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ lemon juice (fresh is best!) 
  • One minced clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Ready? Let’s go!

Here’s what you’ll need to do.


Have you got a small bowl? Great. Go get it. 

Put your oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, sauce, and garlic in the bowl and blend them together. Layer the fillets side by side in a shallow baking dish where you then pour the mixture you should make over the fish.

But don’t use it all! Keep some of the marinade for later, approximately a third of a cup. Cover the dish with the marinating fish and allow it to sit for at least 45 minutes. Keep the dish cool by placing it in the fridge.

Top Tip: For best results, flip the fish about halfway so that you can distribute the marinade throughout the fish’s flesh. 

Once the fish fillets are done marinating, drain them and set them aside. You can throw the drained marinade away. 

You should have already fired up your grill by now and be ready to go- just make sure that the grill is greased well so that the fillets don’t stick. You can set the grill so that it is approximately four inches above the heat. 


If your grill is ready for your fillets, place them on top and use the remaining marinade that you set aside to baste the fish. You can cook the filets for around 7 minutes on each side. Remember to baste the side you are about to place on the grill. 

Once both sides of the fillets are cooked, you can use herb butter to give them some extra flavor. Just remember that Lake Trout are already typically greasy fish, so don’t be too heavy-handed with oils and butter when cooking or serving. 

While you could stick to the simplicities of salt and pepper, there’s no harm in dabbling in the seasoning cupboard. Using the correct herbs and spices can take your fish from palatable to delicious. 

Best Seasoning for Lake Trout

Full lake trout on shiney ice

Are you a little low on inspiration? Take a look at the following tips for seasoning your fish. 

  • Butter

Is butter a herb? No. Is it a seasoning? Definitely not, but it is an excellent addition to your fish. Although Lake Trout is already a typically greasy fish, use butter in small quantities. Butter has a rich taste that goes well with almost every fishy dish. 

  • Lemon

Trout is a tough fish to prepare. Not because the meat is tough, but because the taste can be too potent for some people. Using lemon can help break down Trout’s protein and help balance the salty flavor.  

There are few ingredients as synonymous with fish as the lemon. The citrus fruit is so commonly used in fish recipes because the lemon is able to break down amines found in fish that are on the brink of going off.

But remember, you don’t want to be eating fish that is on the edge of freshness. Instead, use your lemon to improve the taste of a freshly caught trout. 

  • Dill

Finally, our first herb.

While dill may not be the most common herb found in the pantry or garden, for that matter, there are few herbs that work as well with fish then the dill herb. Dill’s flavor is sharp yet sweet and can be used to improve almost every fishy dish. 

  • Garlic

No list for fish would be complete without adding garlic to it. We all know what garlic smells and tastes like. Fresh, it is robust and potent. Roasted, it is slightly sweeter. Either way, garlic is an excellent addition to a recipe for fish. 


We hope you enjoyed this article on what does lake trout taste like! If you want to learn more about catching lake trout, check out our guide on the best lake trout lures, or head on over to Tackle Village where they have additional guides on lake trout. 

Happy Hunting!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts