Blueback Herring

The Blueback Herring and the Alewife are almost identical, distinguished only by the Alewife having larger eyes.

The Blueback Herring has a bluish 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.

Blueback Herring 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 Delaware River, Nanticoke River and freshwater tributaries of both systems
Abundance in Delaware Waters Population has declined - Protected
General Habitat and Food Preferences The Blueback Herring spends most of its life at sea, but swims up freshwater rivers to spawn in the spring. Some Blueback Herring are present in the fresh water sections of Delaware river all year long.

They primarily feed on plankton, as well as shrimp, other small crustaceans, small fishes, and fish eggs.
Did You Know? The Blueback Herring and the Alewife are collectively termed "River Herring".

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

Native Americans and early European settlers used River Herring as fertilizer for corn crops.
Common Lures and Baits There is a statewide moratorium on the harvest of Blueback Herring (River Herring). Like all prohibited species, they must be immediately released.
Typical Sizes Caught Blueback Herring can reach lengths of 13 inches.
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Blueback Herring are a protected species and are not currently eligible for a Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament or Live Release award.
Delaware State Record Blueback Herring are a protected species and are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.