The alewife is a small but important member of the herring family. They grow up to 7 inches, but average 4-5 inches.
In lakes and reservoirs, alewives usually occupying open waters. In some areas, alewives are vulnerable to die-offs during long periods of cold weather.
Alewives are popular for catching trout, walleye, striped bass, blue catfish, and other freshwater fish. They are sometimes caught with cast nets or seines for use as live baits.
Alewives also occur in rivers and saltwater estuaries and are often found together with blueback herring. In these environments, the two species are known collectively as river herring.