The present study investigates the changes in dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition and its influences on trace metal dispersion from the Shuya River (SR) in the Petrozavodsk Bay of Lake Onega during ice covered and ice-free periods. Humic substances (HS) found in the SR dominated the composition of DOM through the river-bay-lake continuum in both periods. When the bay was ice-covered, both the aromaticity and the size of HS varied in the water column according to a horizontal stratification and decreased in the bay, while under ice-free conditions, they decreased along the river-lake gradient, suggesting in both cases a decrease in the proportion of HS with high aromatic character. These findings were associated with an overall decrease in the proportion of HS components that have the highest molecular masses. The quantification of metal bound to HS revealed that these characteristics were associated with a decrease in the binding capacity of the HS for Fe and Al but not Cu while dispersing in the bay to the lake. Pb was found to bind on HS, but its behavior in the bay could not be related to the HS dispersion nor to the changes in HS properties.