DNA test confirms big Lake Superior fish was splake, not record brookie

But new rules, categories have spurred 9 new record fish in Minnesota since March.


DULUTH — Upon further review, a fish that fooled experienced anglers and biologists alike into thinking it may be a new Minnesota state record brook trout was indeed a splake, a human-invented hybrid between a lake trout and brook trout, according to DNA test results. Mike Ince of Aitkin caught the 6.93-pound fish on June 7 on Lake Superior along the North Shore near Duluth, and anglers on board believed the coloration and fight of the fish made it seem like a natural brookie.

The fish also had a very square or straight-back tail fin, hinting toward brook trout. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff who inspected the fish said they weren't sure. “It definitely had the square tail of a brookie, but it also had the real silver color of a laker.


To be honest, I’m just not sure,” Cory Goldsworthy, DNR Lake Superior fisheries biologist, said at the time. To make matters more confusing, the fin clip pattern seemed to suggest it was a brook trout released in Wisconsin. ADVERTISEMENT To settle the matter, Goldsworthy sent a sample of the fish to the University of Minnesota, where a DNA test ended the mystery.

The fish was a splake. That means the state record for a kept brook trout will stand at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. The state record splake is 13 pounds, 5 ounces.

While the brook trout record was not broken, anglers have been busy setting new records in Minnesota, thanks to an expanded list of fish species eligible for new catch-and-release records and t.