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Ichthyoplankton was collected at 17 nearshore (bottom depth greater than or equal to 5 m but less than or equal to 10 m) sites in western Lake Huron during 1973-75 with a 0.5-m net of 351-micron mesh towed at 99 m/min. Larvae of rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) dominated late spring and early summer catches and larvae of alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) the midsummer catches. Larval yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were caught in early summer but were rarely the dominant species. The time of spawning and hatching, and thus occurrence of larvae, differed between areas but was less variable for alewives than for yellow perch. The appearance of larvae in Saginaw Bay was followed successively by their appearance in southern, central, and northern Lake Huron. Rainbow smelt were most abundant in northern Lake Huron and yellow perch and alewives in inner Saginaw Bay. Densities of either rainbow smelt or alewives occasionally exceeded 1/mA?, whereas those of yellow perch never exceeded 0.1/mA?. Abundance of alewives was usually highest 1 to 3 m beneath the surface and that of rainbow smelt 2 to at least 6 m beneath the surface. Important nursery areas of rainbow smelt were in bays and off irregular coastlines and those of yellow perch were in bays. All nearshore waters seemed equally important as nursery areas of alewives.
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Distribution and abundance of larval fish in the nearshore waters of western Lake Huron