Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)



The alewife is a member of the herring family. Originally a saltwater species, it can survive and reproduce in landlocked freshwater environments. It has been stocked (intentionally and accidentally) into many reservoirs across the U.S. Average size is 3-6 inches, but up to 14 inches. In lakes where alewives and striper coexist, they are a preferred food for striper of all sizes.


Common in Norris, Cherokee, Boone. Some in Watts Bar. This population is growing quickly.


One of the more difficult baits to acquire, they do not gather in tight schools. In the summer, they will congregate at the thermocline which is usually 35-40 feet below the surface. Other than rare random encounters while netting other species of bait, the only surefire method is to lure them at night. Alewives are attracted to light at night in deep water. Lure them in, turn off the light, and throw your cast net. Turning the light off disorients them and makes them easier targets.  Also try jigging a small sabiki rig amongst the school.  This is effective on the larger alewives.


Alewives are somewhat fragile. Typical ratio of bait to water would be 2 alewives per gallon of water for 3-5" baits and 1 bait per gallon for the big 7-10 inchers.


Back to Bait Page