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Similarities And Differences Among New York's Herring

Similiarities and differences among New York's herring species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Fishing Information Comments
American Shad 14-29" long

Long upper jaw - tip extends beyond eye; lower & upper jaw meet when mouth closes

Silvery iridescent with 4-6 black spots on sides

Body cavity lining is silver with occasional small black spots
Anadromous; spends most of life in the ocean, returns to freshwater to spawn

Habitat in ocean not known

Found along Atlantic coast from Quebec to Florida
Spawns May - early June

Moves into estuaries and spawns in main river above the salt front

Eggs sink slightly, yet can move with the current

Males mature at 3-5 years old, females 5-7
Eats small creatures floating in the water such as shrimp, zooplankton, insects and small fish Popular sportfish in the Hudson and Delaware Rivers

Best fishing is in late April and Man

Cast or troll darts or spinners of small jigs

Fly fishing is also successful
Extremely important commercial food fish along the Atlantic coast; valued for its meat and roe (eggs)

Latin name sapidissima means "most delicious"
Alewife (ocean run) 10-14" long

Deep body

large eye

Short upper jaw - does not extend beyond middle of eye; lower jaw juts out slightly when mouth is closed

Silvery iridescent with one black spot on sides

Body cavity is silver
Anadromous; spends most of life in ocean returns to freshwater to spawn

Habitat in ocean not known

Found along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina
Spawns April-May

Moves into estuaries to spawn along shore above the salt front

Eggs sink slightly, yet can move with the current

Males mature at 2-3 years old, females at 3-4
Feeds on zooplankton and insect larvae Small size makes it popular for pickling

Caught with scap nets along shore and in streams in April and May
Important commercial food fish; valued for its meat

Sometimes called "graybacks" or "yellowbacks" or "golden shad" because of their color

Often confused with the Atlantic herring
Blueback Herring 10-14" long

Slender body

Small eye

Short upper jaw-does not extend beyond middle of eye; lower jaw juts out slightly when mouth is closed

Silvery iridescent with one large black spot on side

Body cavity lining is black
Anadromous: spends most of life in ocean, returns to freshwater to spawn

Habitat is ocean is unknown

Found along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida
Spawns May - early June Moves into estuaries and tributaries to spawn above the salt front (travels farther inland than other herring)

Prefers to release eggs in moving water; eggs are sticky and attach to sticks and leaves
Feeds on zooplankton, insect larvae and larval fish Small size make it popular for pickling

Caught with scap nets along shore and in streams in April and May
Important commercial food fish; valued for its meat
Hickory Shad 12-15" long

Slender body

Long upper jaw - extends beyond middle of eye; lower jaw juts out when mouth is closed

Silvery iridescent with one large black spot on sides

Body cavity lining is silver
Anadromous: spends most of life in the ocean, returns to freshwater to spawn

Habitat in ocean is unknown

Found along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida; common in New England and the Chesapeake, but not in between
Little is know about the spawning habitats

Thought to spawn May-early June

Eggs float and easily move with the current
Feeds on small invertebrates such as squid, crabs and small fish Caught only occasionally Uncommon in New York State waters