Atlantic Herring

Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus) Family Clupeidae, Herrings

Common names: brit, labrador herring, sardine, sea herring

Description: Atlantic herring are deep blue or blue green above with silver sides and underbody. They are laterally compressed, making them much deeper than they are wide, with only a slightly saw toothed belly midline. Their lower jaw protrudes beyond their upper lip when their large mouth is closed, creating a moderately pointed snout. Unlike their relatives (the American shad, Atlantic menhaden, blueback herring and alewife), the Atlantic herring’s dorsal fin starts at about the middle of its back. These fish have a deeply forked tall fin and large scales that easily come free when touched. Atlantic herring can grow to about 17 inches in length and weigh up to 1/2 pound.

Where found: inshore and offshore

Similar Gulf of Maine species: Atlantic menhaden, blueback herring, alewife, American shad

Remarks: Atlantic herring are a schooling, zooplankton eating fish which are heavily preyed upon by a variety of marine mammals, sea birds and fish. Many of the most popular gamefish are dependent upon herring as a food source.

Records: MSSAR (Maine State Saltwater Angler Records)
IGFA All – ­Tackle World Record

Fish Illustrations by: Roz Davis Designs, Damariscotta, ME (207) 563­2286

Drawings provided courtesy of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Recreational Fisheries program and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

BACK TO: Maine Saltwater Fish Species List