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There are two different types of herring that migrate into the Hudson River each Spring,
though they are often difficult to distinguish from each other. Some people residing
along the Hudson, Delaware and Roanoke rivers put them both into one category,
referring to them simply as "river herring". Herring, like American Shad and the
Striper, are
anadromous. They are born in brackish water, live most of the year in salt
water, then return to fresh water each Spring in order to spawn.

Alewife Herring (Alosa pseudoharengus) has a range from Labrador to South
Carolina and is the first to enter fresh water tributaries off the Atlantic to spawn. It has
a lifespan of 10 years and grows to a length of 14 inches.

Blueback Herring(Alosa aestivalis) has a range from Nova Scotia to Florida and
prefers water that is 8-10 degrees F warmer to spawn, coming a bit later each Spring.
It has a lifespan of 7-8 years and grows to a length of 13 inches.

Females of both types are mature @ 4 years and produce 60,000 - 300,000 eggs.
Herring are a very important food fish for many of the larger fish and other marine
inhabitants of the Atlantic Coast.
The differences in appearance of the two is in the depth of the body (Alewife's being
deeper), the diameter of the eye (Alewife's being bigger), and the color of the internal
cavity (
peritoneum)Blueback's being black and Alewife's being gray.
Hudson R. Herring stocks

Hudson R. Shad stocks

Declining Herring stocks

Save the Esopus
Alwives vs. Bluebacks
Herring in Peril
***Check your local fishing regulations in regard to harvesting bait fish to ensure that it is permitted in
the area in which you fish. Many states have placed a moratorium on fishing for herring as a bait fish
due to their diminishing numbers in those areas. Here in New York, harvesting bait fish (including
herring) is permitted,(with permit for larger sized nets) but it must remain in the same body of water
from which it was harvested. In other words, harvested bait fish cannot be transported via motor
vehicle to a different location. Harvested bait fish can only be transported if it is to be used for
consumption, has been salted and certified, or transported by boat or foot.
**See Ziffy's Video Links to left on how to make and use a scap net and livewell
to catch and hold herring!
Herring are one of the best baits to use for catching stripers . . . if not the best bait!
Herring can be lured close enough to catch with a hoop or scap net by using a skirted
spinner or a wobble-tail look-alike. By throwing the lure into deeper water, allowing it
to drop, then slowly reeling it in, herring will eventually follow it thinking that the lure is
on its way to some kind of spawning orgy. Bring the lure over a net that is held low in
the water, then lift the net to snare the prize. The wider the hoop of the net, the greater
the chances of success. **Large nets (any dip or scoop net over 14" around or any scap
over 16 sq.
ft.)require a permit in the Hudson River in the state of N.Y.
Using nets for herring in embayments and creeks leading off of the main river are
forbidden. (Check regulations)
We here at striperchum.com use a short rod for this purpose (even an old broken one at
half-length) because short rods are more manageable when the herring are at your feet
and you are trying to net them without getting the rod tip caught up. See suggested
lures for herring below.
Herring can also be caught by jigging, using a Sabiki rig. Herring feed on small
zooplankton, and tiny insects floating in the water. They basically swim with open mouths
through water that looks to contain shiny, glittering particles. They sift the tiniest living
crustaceans and insects from the water like gill rakers. They will hit a bare gold #6 hook if
it is glittering! So, sunny days produce better than cloudy ones.
Sibiki rigs often come packed with six(6) hooks. Only five(5) hooks per line are permissible
in N.Y. state, so cut one off if it has six. Some Sabiki rigs come with tiny red or green beads
adhered to the hook. We find that the green color produces better than the red under most
conditions and a #6 or #8 hook does the trick.
It is advisable to carry a pair of pliers in the boat when jigging, making the removal of a
herring from the ultra-sharp hooks easier.
We here at striperchum.com suggest attaching a metal nut (which can be found laying
around the garage - instead of buying weights) to the bottom of the Sabiki rig to bring it as
close to the bottom as possible, then bounce it lightly just off bottom where herring are
known to congregate. (Expect to snag bottom now and again) This is why we also suggest
that you attach the nut with a very thin rubber band. If the rig gets snagged, you can
usually jiggle it free due to the expanding and retracting ability of the band. If it is
snagged permanently, pull on the line with steady pressure and the band will usually
break, salvaging the Sabiki rig, with the band & nut being the only gear lost.)
There is another herring residing along the Atlantic coast known as the Hickory Shad (Alosa
This herring type is not known to frequent the Hudson River, but can be caught
in tributaries off of the Long Island Sound on chartreuse twister tails. Linesiders love
Hickory Shad also, when feeding in the summer months along the coast. Hickory shad grow
bigger than the Alewife and Blueback. It is grayish green on top fading to a silvery color on
the sides with a dark spot on the shoulder, often followed by several less distinct dark
spots. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw making it distinguishable from the
American Shad. The Hickory shad itself has become quite a sought after gamefish in
various parts of the U.S.

Menhaden or Bunker, also known as the Pogy(Brevoortia tyrannus) is the shortest in the
herring tribe. It is also the most short-lived. It's head is almost a third of its length and it is
of wide body, which makes it easily distinguishable from other herring types. It is very
oily, making it offensive to humans, but a delicacy to hungry stripers. It is an integral part
of the food chain between zooplankton and larger fishes, with bluefish, Spanish mackerel,
tuna, and sharks also feeding on them. Herons, egrets, ospreys and eagles also dine on

Menhaden, unlike the other members of the herring family, spawn in salt water rather than
brackish. They do seek out less saline water during their first year of life however (like the
Chesapeake Bay).
Click here
NY Herring Regulations