Menominee, Prosopium cylindraceum
Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Two dorsal fins including one adipose fin, small mouth, long cylindrical body.
The menominee, or round whitefish, although unfamiliar to many anglers, is native to all the Great Lakes except Lake Erie. Few anglers have caught and eaten menominee, but those who do find them excellent eating. They are primarily a commercial species, similar to lake whitefish but somewhat smaller. A shy fish, it is rarely seen except when it ventures into shallow (6-48 foot deep) waters in April and May and again in October and November. The remainder of the year, it appears to range out to depths as great as 150 feet.
Spawning occurs over gravel shoals in the fall of the year, usually November in the Great Lakes region. Neither the male nor female eats during pre-spawning periods. The males arrive at the spawning grounds first, and when the females arrive, they swim off in pairs rather than form a spawning school. Neither parent guards the fertilized eggs which hatch the following April. Young menominee grow quickly: adults reach a maximum size of about 22 inches in length and five pounds in weight. Their life-span probably doesn't exceed 12 or 13 years.
Menominee are bottom feeders: they live on small clams, snails, insect larvae (especially mayfly) and fish eggs. They especially love lake trout eggs.
Although not usually a major food for lake trout, lakers do prey to some extent on Menominees. Round whitefish eggs provide many a meal for burbot, bullheads, yellow perch and whitesuckers. Atlantic salmon consider young Menominee a delicacy.
Menominee graphic courtesy of Joseph R. Tomelleri and copyrighted.