The New International Encyclopædia/Alewife
ALE′WIFE (either aloofe, the Indian name of the fish, or from its resemblance to a corpulent woman who keeps an alehouse). A small clupeoid fish (Pomolobus pseudoharengus), 8 to 10 inches long, closely related to the herring and the shad, and resembling the latter in form and color. It is very abundant on the eastern coast of the United States, where it enters Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, the Hudson, and other streams to spawn. Their time of arrival depends upon the temperature, but usually is during the first week of April in the Hudson, somewhat in advance of other fishes. “Their eggs are adhesive, like those of the herring, and stick to the bottom in shoal water, or to anything they may touch, from 60,000 to 100,000 being laid by each female fish at once, almost all of which are devoured by countless enemies before they can hatch.” They have also become land-locked in several lakes of western New York. Though inferior to the shad in quality, they are taken in vast quantities (62,000,000 pounds reported in 1896), and are, next to the shad, the most important American anadromous food-fish. This fish is called gaspereau by French Canadian fishermen, and branch-herring and sawbelly are other local names. See Plate of Herring and Shad.