LAKE HERRING (CISCO) (Coregonus artedi)

See also: Yellow Perch, Lake Trout, Northern Pike and Burbot.

The MNRF has recently re-opened the Lake Herring fishery (in 2015) after being closed for 13 years as the population was in a steady decline due to over harvest, invasive species and decreasing water quality. Due to an increase in water quality conditions and closing the season to allow the populations to recover, there has been a positive trend in lake herring numbers, thus the reason the season was re-opened. The Lake Herring population has played an important role providing a major food source for several species of sport fish, as well as a significant recreational fishery.

Biology: Lake Herring are a pelagic feeding fish that spend most of their time in the mid water zone of cold water lakes. They tend to swim in large schools and migrate to shallower waters in the late fall to spawn. Spawning occurs when temperatures drop below 40 F and usually takes place in 3 to 10 feet of water over any type of bottom substrate. Eggs hatch early the following spring.

Its diet is predominantly zooplankton and insect larvae but they will also feed on fish eggs/larvae and small fishes. Lake Herring are preyed upon by a wide variety of predatory species, and have a particularly important place in the diet of lake trout.

Ontario Angling Record: The largest Lake Herring was taken on May 22, 1991 from Corrine Lake. The fish weighed 4.33lbs and was 23.5" long with a girth of 12.7". The fish was caught on a jig and worm.

Lake Simcoe Size Range: Lake Herring are generally around 1lbs.

Recommended Equipment: Ultra light action ice rod, 500-1000 size spinning reel spooled with 2 to 6 pound braid/mono/flouro.

Recommended Baits: Baits similar to Yellow perch will catch Lake Herring. Small minnow type baits work well, spoons, small jigs and small emerald shiners work.

Depth Range: Lake Herring can be found in depths from 10 feet to over 100 feet and can be found swimming on bottom or anywhere in the water column, even right under the ice. They generally move in large schools and it isn't uncommon for a fish finder to "light up" with lots of Herring when a school moves in.

Current Lake Simcoe Regulations: Lake Herring season is open from Jan. 1 to Mar. 15 and from the 2nd Sat. in May to September 30.

Sport License daily limit is 2 lake herring.

Conservation License daily limit is 1 lake herring.

Lake Herring are commonly mistaken for Lake Whitefish. The key distinguishing characteristic – a Lake Whitefish has a pronounced under slung mouth (bottom feeder type mouth) whereas a Lake Herring does not.

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