The New International Encyclopædia/Whitefish

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WHITEFISH. One of the many important fishes of the genus Coregonus, of the salmon family, of which about fifteen species inhabit the lakes and streams of Northern Europe, Asia, and America. They have an elongated, compressed body, with a conical head, projecting snout, and a small, toothless mouth. The scales are larger than in the other salmon, the caudal fin is deeply forked, and the dorsal fin is followed by an adipose dorsal. They are bluish olivaceous above, silvery on sides and below. The most familiar species is the common whitefish (Coregonus clupeiformis), which exists throughout the Great Lakes and adjacent waters, and is the most important fresh-water fish in America. The annual catch of whitefish in Canada and the United States is about 30,000,000 pounds, representing a value of $1,500,000. Whitefish reach a size of twenty pounds in rare cases, the average weight being about four pounds. They remain in deep water for the most part, but during the spawning season, which is in autumn, and at certain other times, for purposes which are not yet clear, they migrate to shallower water in great shoals. They live mainly on small crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and larvæ. A single fish will yield from 25,000 to 75,000 eggs, which are extensively propagated artificially by the United States Fish Commission.

The Rocky Mountain whitefish, or ‘mountain herring’ (Coregonus Williamsoni), is an excellent species numerous in clear streams from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast; it is a favorite of anglers, as it will take a fly. The broad whitefish or ‘muksun’ (Coregonus Kennicotti) is the best known of several Arctic species. The ‘humpback’ (Coregonus Nelsoni) is Alaskan. The ‘Sault’ whitefish (Coregonus Labradoricus) is a fine species numerous in all clear lakes and streams from Lake Winnipeg to Labrador and southward into the Adirondack and White Mountains, where it is known as the ‘whiting of Lake Winnipiseogee.’ The lakes from New England northeastward to Alaska contain a valuable species of dark color (Coregonus quadrilateralis) called ‘roundfish,’ ‘shadwaiter,’ ‘Menominee whitefish,’ ‘pilot-fish,’ etc. The ciscoes (q.v.) constitute another and closely related group (the genus Argyrosomus), containing several useful species, as the cisco, blackfin, tullibee, and others (qq.v.). The inconnu is another ‘whitefish,’ of the genus Stenodus.

Consult Jordan and Evermann, Fishes of North and Middle America (Washington, 1896). See Salmon; and Plate of Whitefish, etc.


NIE 1905 Whitefish - whitefish, smelts, etc.jpg

1. EUROPEAN ARGENTINE (Argentina silus). 5. CAPELIN (Mallotus villosus).
2. SURF SMELT (Mesopus pretiosus). 6. BLACKFIN (Argyrosomus nigripinnis).
3. CANDLE-FISH or OOLACHAN (Thaleichthys Pacificus). 7. CISCO or LAKE HERRING (Argyrosomus Artedi).
4. COMMON WHITEFISH (Coregonus clupeiformis). 8. AMERICAN SMELT (Osmerus mordax.
9. ROCKY MOUNTAIN WHITEFISH (Coregonus Williamsoni).