Lake Herring

General Informatiom:

These small, slender-bodied relatives of the lake whitefish school at depths that vary with seasonal temperatures. They feed on plankton, insects and fish eggs. Herring once lived in Lake Michigan in almost unbelievable abundance. In fact, as a forage fish, they were to lake trout and other aquatic predators what the rabbit has always been to land predators. In the last century, herring provided some of the largest catches from the Great Lakes and, when salted down or smoked for preservation, provisioned much of the developing country.

In the 20th century, these indigenous Great Lakes fish succumbed to pollution and fishing pressures -- not to mention competition from alewives and smelt. However, with the alewife and smelt in decline in the 1980s, herring populations are once more thriving near the Apostle Islands and other regions of western Lake Superior, where Minnesota is stocking them. Solid populations also inhabit the St. Marys River and northern Lake Huron. Limited numbers have also reappeared in Lake Michigan's lower Green Bay.

Copyright, 1998, by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
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