Although the lake herring has been an important contributor to the commercial fish production of Green Bay, little has been known about it. This study is based on field observations and data from about 6,500 lake herring collected over the period 1948 to 1952. Relatively nonselective commercial pound nets were a primary source of material for the study of age and growth. Commercial and experimental gill nets were used to obtain data on gear selectivity and vertical distribution. Scales were employed to investigate age and growth. Age group IV normally dominated commercial catches during the first half of the calendar year and age group III the last half. At these ages the fish averaged about 10.5 inches in length. The season's growth started in May, was most rapid in July, and terminated near the end of October. The sexes grew at the same rate. Selectivity of fishing gear was found to influence the estimation of growth. Geographical and annual differences in growth are shown. Factors that might contribute to discrepancies in calculated growth are evaluated. Possible real and apparent causes of growth compensation are given. The relation between length and weight is shown to vary with sex, season, year, and method of capture. Females were relatively more plentiful in commercial catches in February than in May through December. The percentage of females decreased with increase in age in pound-net catches but increased with age in gill-net samples. Within a year class the percentage of females decreased with increase in age. Most Green Bay lake herring mature during their second or third year of life. They are pelagic spawners with most intensive spawning over shallow areas. Spawning takes place between mid-November and mid-December, and eggs hatch in April and May. Lake herring ovaries contained from 3,500 to 11,200 eggs (averaged 6,375). Progress of spawning by age, sex, and length is given. Lake herring were distributed at all depths in Green Bay in early May, were concentrated within 30 feet of the surface in late May, moved to deeper water in June, and were restricted to depths greater than 30 feet in July when temperatures in shallower water became unfavorably high (greater than 18A?C.). In October, lake herring were again at all depths but were most abundant near the surface.
Additional publication details
Life history of lake herring of Green Bay, Lake Michigan