In New England, late spring is the season for the Alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) to migrate to freshwater to spawn (anadromous.) Alewives are a species of herring found in North America and can be up to 1.5 feet long, but more typically are around 10 inches. They are also known as gaspereau (Canada), kiack (Nova Scotia), LY (southeastern US), sawbelly (landlocked), and mooneye (landlocked.) They exist natively along coasts and migrate up freshwater as far in as the Great Lakes. They have also been introduced in states such as Colorado. The name is a conjunction of “ale” and “wife”, referring to corpulent women who served ale in pubs. How that relates to the fish, I do not know. These images are from New England a couple weeks ago. Many previously erected dams have been removed to allow the alewives to again reach freshwater ponds to spawn. In other areas, fish ladders were built many years ago to serve the same purpose. The fish ladders also serve as convenient locations for harvesting the fish. Typical New England uses are as spring lobster bait (other baits are not as available in the spring) and for smoking for human consumption. The alewife is listed as both an invasive in areas where it was introduced (and has adverse effects) and as a species of concern in native areas. They are of concern due to loss of habitat due to dams or other impediments to their migration, fishing, and predation by increased numbers of white bass.

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