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Lake sturgeon
Longnose gar
Atlantic salmon
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Brown trout
Rainbow trout
Brook trout
Aurora trout
Lake trout
Lake whitefish
Cisco or lake herring
White sucker
Channel catfish
Brown bullhead
Northern pike
Yellow perch
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Largemouth bass
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Black crappie

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Ontario Trout Fishing

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Old Fishing Lures

Cisco - Lake Herring


Coregonus artedii Le Sueur Profiles and gill rakers of the shallow water cisco and the whitefish are illustrated below

ln the cisco, the bones in front of the snout are angular; in the whitefish, the snout distinctly overhangs the lower jaw, giving the snout a blunt profile. ln the cisco, the gill rakers are longer and usually more than 31. The whitefish gill rakers are fewer than 32. These projections are located on the gill arches.

The shallow water, C. arredii are often referred to as herring because of the superficial resemblance to the marine herring (Clupea spp.). To avoid confusion, it is better to call the members of the genus, Clupea, herring.

The shallow water cisco is usually dark blue above and silvery below. With the possible exception of the pelvics, the outer edges of the fins are slightly pigmented.

The whitefish family displays considerable variation in body proportions, not only in two isolated populations in two different bodies of water, but in a population of an individual lake. Coregomzs arredii is probably the most variable of the genus; it may be slim and elongate or deep and laterally compressed. It is not clear what environmental or other factors operate to produce the variety of forms that occur in separate lakes, but they have probably arisen by isolation.

The ciscoes are characteristic of the larger and deeper lakes of the northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia, and the distribution corresponds roughly with glaciated areas. C. artedii is one of several ciscoes occurring in the Great Lakes and it is the only one occurring in Lake Erie. Because of the shallow ness of Lake Erie, it is probably closer in environmental conditions to the inland lakes than the others.


Although the shallow water cisco is widely distributed in the deep, inland lakes of Ontario, north to Hudson Bay, knowledge of the actual species involved is limited.

The species may be represented by several local races that resemble the typical form, C. artedii more or less closely. To avoid confusion, it is better to call the members of the genus, Coregonus, freshwater herring or cisco, possessing the profiles and gill rakers illustrated in the diagram above.

C. artedii inhabits the clear cold waters of most deep lakes. ln Ontario, it occurs in all the Great Lakes and in numerous inland lakes.  It enters brackish water off the mouths of rivers which How into Hudson Bay. The cisco needs an abundant source of oxygen which is usually present in deep, infertile lakes, as opposed to a deficiency of oxygen in some deep, fertile lakes in late summer.

The shallow water cisco is pelagic, moving about in schools in the open water, and migrating to deep, cool water during the summer months. 

In late spring and early summer, ciscoes begin forsaking the shallow water and migrate into deep water. This movement takes them out of the warmer and lighter surface waters (the epilimnion) into a stratum of water (the thermocline) where there is a phenomenal drop in temperature per unit of depth. A temperature decline of one degree per metre of depth marks the upper limit of the thermocline, and a temperature of less than one degree per metre, with increasing depth, marks the lower limit of the thermocline.

The rate of temperature decline within the thermocline varies with different lakes, different seasons and with the progress of the summer.

The ciscoes continue their movements below the thermo cline into a deep and cool area of water (the hypolimnion) where further declines in temperature are much more gradual. The ciscoes remain in the hypolimnion for some time, distributing throughout its extent. During late August and September, the ciscoes return to shallow water. lt is believed that this movement is correlated with the increase of carbon dioxide and the decrease of oxygen in the bottom water, and the cooling of the shallow water.

Spawning takes place on flat stones in about 8 to 10 feet of water. 

A ciscoes food sources vary with the season.  they are predominantly plankton eaters but also ingest aqautic insects and minnows.



Ontario Fishing Magazine