Round Whitefish

General Informatiom:

Round whitefish inhabit all the Great Lakes but Lake Erie. Those in shallow waters near the islands and shores of northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are known locally as "menominees."

Round whitefish feed at or near the bottom, mainly on small aquatic organisms. This diet includes eggs of lake trout and other fish, which does not endear menominees to fishermen. But these fish are themselves prey for adult lake trout and other large predators, so they are nonetheless valued residents of the northern Lake Michigan-Huron region.

Few individuals today approach the four- to six-pound weight of the round whitefish caught in the 1800s. Its population levels, it is believed, have also declined. However, commercial harvest records do not provide reliable estimates of their numbers -- small catches of round whitefish are often lumped with those of other fish, particularly lake whitefish and so may not be accurate. On the other hand, low catches of round whitefish may simply reflect the fact that its market price is too low and commercial fishermen are going after more rewarding fish. Those who have eaten round whitefish praise their dinner-plate quality, however.

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