The Alewife and the blueback herring are almost identical, except that the Alewife has larger eyes.

The Alewife is green-gray in color on the upper side of its body, with silver below. There is usually one small dark spot located on the upper side of the body, just beyond the gill flap.

They are smaller in size than American or hickory shad.

Although similar in length to a Blueback Herring, the Alewives body is more compressed and less elongated giving it a wider girth than a Blueback Herring.

Alewife Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr.
Season CLOSED - no harvest permitted
Size Limit CLOSED - no harvest permitted
Daily Limit / Person CLOSED - no harvest permitted
Delaware Range Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, Delaware River and tributaries, Nanticoke River and tributaries
Abundance in Delaware Waters Population has declined - Protected
General Habitat and Food Preferences The Alewife spends most of its life at sea, but swims up freshwater rivers to spawn in the spring.

They primarily feed on plankton, also eating small shrimp, and other small crustaceans.
Did You Know? The Alewife and the Blueback Herring are collectively termed "River Herring".

Alewives are considered to be an important forage base for large predators, such as Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, and Bluefish.

Scales of Alewives were used in the manufacture of artificial pearls during the first world war.
Common Lures and Baits There is a statewide moratorium on the harvest of Alewives (River Herring). Like all prohibited species, they must be immediately released.
Typical Sizes Caught Alewives can reach lengths of 14 inches.
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Alewives are a protected species and are not currently eligible for a Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament or Live Release award.
Delaware State Record Alewives are a protected species and are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.