Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where has Herring been all our lives?

Grand Marais MN (Cloudy High 69 Low 56)

We were surprised to see Herring on the fresh fish menu in some of the restaurants in Grand Marais. We tried it and loved it so we decided to do a little more research.

The Lake Superior Herring really isn't herring at all but a member of the Salmon, Lake Trout, Whitefish family. It has been mistakenly called Herring since immigrants caught this shiny fish and thought it resembled the Ocean Herring.

Available grilled or fried this flaky white fish is delicious and not oily like the ocean herring. Other names have been tried to minimize the association with the oily ocean herring like Cisco, Blue Fin, Tulibee (if caught on lakes other than the Great Lakes), or even Lake Herring but none has stuck.

We were in Wisconsin and Michigan last summer all along Lake Superior and never saw Herring as a fresh fish. In fact we had never heard of it at all but we had to give it a try since it was fresh and man we are glad we did. Turns out we are lucky to get Herring at all.

Back in the 1940's Herring in the Great Lakes was almost fished to extinction due to its high demand. Plus the introduction of invasive species, especially the Rainbow Smelt, contributed to its decline. When the Smelt population crashed in the 1980's the Herring rebounded. Commercial fishing was allowed beginning in 2006 and the population has remained strong.

If you are ever along the North Shore of Lake Superior you might overhear, "are the Herring in yet?". If fresh Herring from the Lake Superior (or any of the Great Lakes) is available then give it a try.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


  1. We will! But it is unlikely to find its way to California.

  2. Our homebase is just an hour away Lake Erie. We have not ever tasted Herring. We better get in gear!