Many species living in deeper lentic ecosystems exhibit daily movements that cycle through the water column, generally referred to as diel vertical migration (DVM). In this study, we applied bioenergetics modelling to evaluate growth as a hypothesis to explain DVM by bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in a thermally stratified reservoir (Ross Lake, WA, USA) during the peak of thermal stratification in July and August. Bioenergetics model parameters were derived from observed vertical distributions of temperature, prey and bull trout. Field sampling confirmed that bull trout prey almost exclusively on recently introduced redside shiner (Richardsonius balteatus). Model predictions revealed that deeper (>25 m) DVMs commonly exhibited by bull trout during peak thermal stratification cannot be explained by maximising growth. Survival, another common explanation for DVM, may have influenced bull trout depth use, but observations suggest there may be additional drivers of DVM. We propose these deeper summertime excursions may be partly explained by an alternative hypothesis: the importance of colder water for gametogenesis. In Ross Lake, reliance of bull trout on warm water prey (redside shiner) for consumption and growth poses a potential trade-off with the need for colder water for gametogenesis.