Stomachs were examined from 1,492 lake trout and 83 siscowets collected from Lake Superior. Data are given on the food of lake trout of legal size (17 inches or longer) by year, season, and depth of water, and on the relation between food and size among smaller lake trout.
Fish contributed 96.7 to 99.9 per cent of the total volume of food in the annual samples. Ciscoes (Coregonus spp.) were most common (52.2 to 87.5 per cent of the volume) in 1950 to 1953 and American smelt ranked first (65.6 per cent of the volume) in 1963. Cottids were in 8.9 to 12.3 per cent of the stomachs in 1950 to 1953 but in only 4.3 per cent in 1963. Insects ranked second to fish in occurrence (9.6 per cent for the combined samples) and crustaceans followed at 3.9 per cent.
The greatest seasonal changes in the food of lake trout were among fish caught at 35 fathoms and shallower. The occurrence of Coregonus increased from 34.6 per cent in February-March to 71.1 per cent in October-December. Smelt were in 76.9 per cent of the stomachs in February-March but in only 2.2 per cent in October-December. Cottids, Mysis relicta, and insects were most common in the July-September collections.
Lake trout taken at depths greater than 35 fathoms had eaten a higher percentage of Cottidae and Coregonus than had those captured in shallower water. Smelt, ninespine sticklebacks, Mysis, and insects were more frequent in stomachs of lake trout from less than 35 fathoms.
Crustaceans comprised more than 70 per cent of the total volume of food for 4.0- to 7.9-inch lake trout but their importance decreased as the lake trout grew larger. Pontoporeia affinis was the most common in the stomachs of 4.0- to 6.9-inch lake trout and Mysis held first rank at 7.0 to 12.9 inches. Ostracods were important only to 4.0- to 4.9-inch lake trout. As the lake trout became larger, the importance of fish grew from 4.4-per cent occurrence at 5.0 to 5.9 inches to 93.9 per cent at 16.0 to 16.9 inches. Smelt were most commonly eaten by undersize (less than 17 inches) lake trout.