A member of the Salmonidae family, the round whiteﬁsh seldom exceeds 2 pounds and is sought to a limited degree by anglers.
IdentificationThe round whitefish is mostly silvery and has a dark brown to almost bronze coloring, with a greenish tint on the back. It has black-edged scales, particularly on the back. The lower ﬁns are an amber color, becoming slightly more orange during spawning, and the adipose ﬁn is usually brown spotted. Young ﬁsh have two or more rows of black spots on the sides that may merge with a row of black spots on the back.
The round whitefish has a small head, a fairly pointed snout, and a single flap of skin between its nostrils. It also has a forked caudal fin, 74 to 108 scales down the lateral line, and 14 to 21 gill rakers. The round and the lake whitefish can be easily distinguished from each other because the round whitefish has a very cylindrical body, whereas the body of the lake whiteﬁsh is laterally compressed.
SizeUsually about 8 to 12 inches long and weighing 1⁄2 pound or less, the round whiteﬁsh can grow to more than 20 inches long and weigh several pounds. The all-tackle world record is a 6-pounder taken in Manitoba in 1984.
Spawning behaviorSpawning takes place during the fall in lakes, in tributary mouths, and occasionally in rivers over gravelly shallow areas. Fish spawn in pairs; their eggs hatch in the early spring.
FoodRound whiteﬁsh feed on benthic invertebrates and occasionally on fish and fish eggs.
Other Namesmenominee, round fish, frost fish, pilot fish, grayback; French: ménomini rond.
DistributionThe round whiteﬁsh occurs in arctic drainages and is a wide-ranging species in the northern portions of North America. It has disjunct populations, one of which is found through the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes basin (with the exception of Lake Erie), north to the Arctic Ocean east of Hudson Bay.
The other is found throughout the northern Canadian provinces and Alaska west of Hudson Bay. It also occurs in limited areas directly south of Hudson Bay and in East Twin Lake in Connecticut.