Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

Blueback Herring in Tennessee

(This page was last updated 01/13/2013)

Help us limit the spread of this exotic (non-native) species!

Blueback herring are members of the herring/shad (Clupeidae) family and are very similar in appearance to alewife. The lower jaw of both species extends past the upper and they are more elongated and streamlined than are gizzard or threadfin shad. Both species also lack the dorsal fin thread common to gizzards and threadfins. Although it is reported that a blueback's eye is smaller on >6" specimens, the only sure way to tell the difference between them and alewife is to dissect the body cavity. The lining of the visceral cavity of a blueback will be dark while an alewife's is pale.

The first wild, east Tennessee blueback collected by the TWRA was taken from the Cove Creek Embayment of Norris Reservoir in 2007. Several more specimens have been collected from Norris since that time. The TWRA also captured several bluebacks while gill netting the upper Little Tennessee River Arm of Tellico Reservoir in January 2013. We hope to limit the spread of this exotic/invasive species since they could potentially upset the balance of fish communities.

Bluebacks have been suspected of causing problems with the largemouth bass fisheries in Lake Burton and Nottely Reservoir in Georgia and with the walleye fishery in Hiwassee Reservoir of North Carolina. The method of introduction into these systems is thought to have been via anglers using live bait.

As stated in the fishing regulations, "It is unlawful to possess or transport the following animals; blueback herring...."

How blueback effect walleye - Hiwassee Reservoir, NC pdf (470k)

How blueback effect largemouth bass - Lake Burton, GA pdf (316k)

Herring Key