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Alosa pseudoharengus


Description: The alewife is silvery in color and has a series of scutes (modified scales that are spiny and keeled) along their belly; the dorsal area of alewife is bronze in color. The alewife has a strongly compressed, deep body have a large eye. The color of their peritoneum or the lining of the abdominal cavity is pale with dusky spots. The Alewife and blueback herring are so difficult to distinguish from each other, in most instances, they are collectively termed "river herring". They have a Moderately compressed, belly with a distinct keel of scutes. Lower jaw rising steeply within mouth; minute teeth present at front of jaws (disappearing with age). Lower gill rakers increasing with age. A dark spot on shoulder.

Similar Fish: The Blueback Herring - Alewife are members of the Herring, shad, sardine and menhaden family

Where Found: Various studies have determined that river herring are capable of migrating long distance (over 1200 miles) in ocean waters of the Atlantic seaboard, and that patterns of river herring migration may be similar to those of American shad.

Size: The alewife grows to a length of about 15 inches, but adults average only about 10 to 11 inches long and about 8 to 9 ounces in weight

Maximum Reported Age: 8 years

Tactics to catch: It is caught (during its migration) using large hand-held "dip" nets to scoop the fish out of shallow, constricted areas on its migratory streams and rivers. Although some fish were captured using hook and line, most were harvested using pound nets, although, gill nets, haul seines, and fyke nets have also been employed.

Climate (water temperature range): Alewife's prefer water temperatures around 60 degrees and may be killed by water temperatures above 84 and below 37 degrees. Alewife's are suited to lakes that remain cool or that thermally stratify and maintain cool middepths with sufficient oxygen. They feed primarily on zooplankton - small, often microscopic animals.

Spawning habits: In its native habitat, the alewife is an anadromous species, spending its adult life in saltwater and spawning in fresh or brackish rivers and streams. Eggs are broadcast and no parental care is provided. Alewife spawn in a diversity of habitats that includes large rivers, small streams, ponds, and large lakes over a wide range of substrates such as gravel, sand, detritus, and submerged vegetation. Alewife ) lay down spawning marks on their scales so that the number of times an individual fish has spawned in its lifetime is recorded on it's scale.

Table food? It is also used for human consumption, Utilized fresh, dried or salted, smoked and frozen; eaten fried.

Feeding habits: Feed on shrimps and small fishes; the young on diatoms, copepods and ostracods while in rivers.

Remarks: The herring are found inAtlantic coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Nova Scotia to North Carolina and in streams and rivers; they also are found in Lake Seneca and Cayuga; they were introduced into Lake Ontario, now landlocked there and in Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior. Check your current state for regulations and size limits.



Fish Base

Whitehead, P.J.P..1985. (Ref.188)

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