Plants and Animals

Coregonus artedi Lake herring or Cisco

Key Characteristics

This salmon is elongate and nearly round in cross section. Its lower jaw projects slightly beyond the upper jaw and the upper jaw reaches to the front of the pupil. The number of gill rakes is generally the most reliable method for correct identification: 38-53 in Lake Superior, 40-43 in Lake Huron, and from 38-64 in inland lakes.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: GNR - Not ranked
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona 4 2009
Alger 12 2020
Allegan 4 2017
Alpena 4 1993
Antrim 4 2018
Baraga 5 2002
Barry 5 2013
Benzie 2 2006
Berrien 1 1995
Branch 1 1986
Cass 5 2014
Charlevoix 3 2016
Cheboygan 4 2017
Chippewa 17 2018
Crawford 1 2020
Dickinson 1 2008
Emmet 2 2016
Gogebic 6 2017
Grand Traverse 4 2019
Hillsdale 5 2018
Houghton 11 2010
Huron 3 1990
Iosco 3 1998
Iron 2 2012
Jackson 2 2009
Kalamazoo 2 2012
Kalkaska 4 2019
Kent 2 2013
Keweenaw 16 2001
Leelanau 4 2016
Livingston 3 2002
Luce 3 2014
Mackinac 11 2018
Manistee 2 1994
Marquette 11 2009
Montmorency 2 2018
Newaygo 1 1984
Oakland 9 2020
Ontonagon 5 2017
Ottawa 1 1997
Presque Isle 5 2017
Roscommon 1 2020
Schoolcraft 4 2010
St. Joseph 2 2011
Van Buren 2 1995
Washtenaw 6 2009

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Lake herring are found in deep inland lakes as well as the Great Lakes at depths ranging from 18 to 53 meters. They can be found in shallower depths (9-12 m) when spawning over rocky substrates.

Specific Habitat Needs

Deep water needed in: Great lake, pelagic, midwater.

Natural Community Types

  • Great lake, pelagic, midwater
  • Inland lake, pelagic, midwater
  • River (5th-6th order), pool
  • River (5th-6th order), run

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Exotic species, such as the alewife and sea lamprey, are major threats to lake herring. Eutrophication is the greatest threat to inland lake populations of lake herring. Local pollution also affects this species. Hence, exotic species and nutrient management are important to this species. In addition, the loss of food resources such as Diporeia, is an issue for this species.

Active Period

Migration from first week of April to first week of June

Spawning from fourth week of September to first week of December

Survey Methods

Sampling at this time should be directed to shallow areas.

Gill nets

Survey Period: From first week of November to fourth week of October


Survey Period: From first week of November to fourth week of October


Survey References

  • Murphy, B.R. and D.W. Willis, eds. 1996. Fisheries Techniques, 2nd ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda. 732pp.

Technical References

  • Bailey, R.M., W.C. Latta, and G.R. Smith. 2004. An Atlas of Michigan Fishes. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 192, Ann Arbor. 215p.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Page, L. M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432pp.
  • Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184, Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa. 966pp.
  • Smith, C.L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany. 522pp.
  • Smith, P.W. 1961. The amphibians and reptiles of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Carbondale. Bulletin No. 28. 298 pp.

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