Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides)

Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides)

A member of the Hiodontidae family of mooneye, the goldeye is one of Canada’s most celebrated freshwater fish, from an epicurean viewpoint. Although often called a herring or a shad, it is neither. The goldeye provides good sport for light-tackle anglers, but it is not pursued in many parts of its range.


The goldeye is a small fish whose compressed body is deep in proportion to its length and is covered with large, loose scales. Dark blue to blue green over the back, it is silvery on the sides, tapering to white on the belly. It has a small head and a short, bluntly rounded snout with a small terminal mouth containing many sharp teeth on the jaws and the tongue.

The color of its eyes and the position of its anal fin distinguish it from the mooneye. The irises of the large eyes are gold and reflect light. The goldeye’s dorsal fin begins opposite or behind its anal fin (the mooneye’s begins before the anal fin). The goldeye can be distinguished from the gizzard shad by the absence of a dorsal fin ray projection.


Adults average from 10 ounces to slightly more than a pound in weight and seldom exceed 2 pounds in most waters. They can grow to 5 pounds. The Manitoba record is a 5.06-pound fish from the Nelson River. They reportedly can live for 14 years.

Spawning behavior

In the spring, mature goldeye move into pools in rivers or backwater lakes of rivers, to spawn when the water temperature is between 50° and 56°F.

Food and feeding habits

Goldeye feed on a variety of organisms, from microscopic plankton to insects and fish. They do most of their foraging on or near the surface and predominantly on insects, although they will eat minnows and small frogs.

Other Names

Winnipeg goldeye, western goldeye, shad mooneye, toothed herring, yellow herring; French: la queche, laquaiche aux yeux d’or.


Endemic to North America, goldeye are found in both Canadian and American waters. They occur from western Ontario to the Mackenzie River at Aklavik in the north, from below the Great Lakes south throughout the Ohio and Mississippi River drainages on the east, and from western Alberta throughout eastern Montana and Wyoming to Oklahoma on the west. Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba has historically been the largest commercial producer of these fish.


Throughout their geographical range, goldeye are most often found in warm, silty sections of large rivers and in the backwaters of shallow lakes connected to them.