Bathythermal distributions, sexual maturity, and growth of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) strains stocked in Lake Ontario were determined for fish collected with trawls and gill nets in 1978-93. The purpose was to augment the basis for deciding which strains to continue stocking in an effort to reestablish a self-sustaining population. The Clearwater Lake (CWL) strain was found in shallower, warmer water than all other strains; the Seneca Lake (SEN) strain was usually shallower than the Jenny Lake (JEN) and Lake Superior (SUP) strains at ages 1 and 2 but was usually deeper at age 3 and older. Depth distribution of the 'Ontario strain'--from gametes of several strains that survived to maturity in Lake Ontario-- was similar to that of the SEN and SUP strains. About half the males matured at age 4 and half the females at age 5; males < 500 mm and females < 600 mm long were rarely mature. Least-sqaures mean lengths and weights of the CWL strain were greater than those of all other strains through age 4. At age 7 and older, CWL and JEN fish were generally smaller than all other strains. Means lengths and weights of males and females of the same age and strain frequently differed at age 4 and older. Growth in weight at age 4 and older was not associated with biomass indices of prey fishes. Differences in growth rates among strains were associated with bathythermal distribution which is a heritable trait. Weight-length regressions differed by year, sex, and stage of maturity but were rarely different among strains. Competition for space appeared to affect condition of large lake trout. Growth rates and maturity schedules provide little basis for recommending stocking one strain in preference to another. Depth ranges of strains overlapped widely, but lake trout occupied only about one-fourth of available bottom habitat. Stocking several strains should be continued to maximize use of sustainable habitat.
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Bathythermal distribution, maturity, and growth of lake trout strains stocked in U.S. waters of Lake Ontario, 1978-1993