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Fish Species in Canada

When we see bodies of waters like oceans, seas, lakes, regardless if it is salt or fresh water, we often think of fish. We often ask ourselves, how many fish species are in the world given these large bodies of water? Are there existing fish species aside from the ones we’re already familiar with? If we’re looking for different types of fish, those that lack true bones or the bony fish, the best place to go is Canada.

Canada is well known due to its longest coastline at 244,000 Km, which represents approximately 25% of the coastline in the world. With 755,000 square Km of fresh water, Canada covers 16% of the world’s area of fresh water.

Being one of the world's biggest commercial fishing industries, it is no wonder that fishing in Canada is the number one source of livelihood in approximately 1,500 communities in the region, providing more than 130,000 jobs to Canadians.

With fishing as one of Canada’s top priorities, it is but necessary to enumerate or list down the different fish species that makes Canada as one of the biggest fishing industries in the world. Thus, making fishing in Canada as some sort of a hobby to Canadians and at the same time a source of living.

Fish Species in Canadian Waters

There are approximately 20,000 fish species in the world and Canada has its own share of fewer than 200 species in its fresh waters, being surrounded by the Arctic, Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, and home to the Great Lakes, which clears the country clean of fish whenever they advance during the ice ages.

Listed below are the Top 20 most caught fish species in Canadian waters.

From the Herring Family

  • Blueback Herring
    The Blueback Herring is a saltwater fish that can live is fresh water. The Blueback Herring can be found in Nova Scotia to Northern Florida. It spawns on fresh water by depositing eggs to hard objects like rocks and woods. Both the Blueback Herring and the Alewife are flat-sided fish with round bellies and forked tails with bronze backs and spiny scales across their bellies. Since Blueback Herring eat fish and eggs, they have caused problems in Lake Burton in Georgia and Lake Hiwassee in North Carolina. With this, the Natural Resources department work to limit their spread in fresh water lakes.

  • Alewife
    The Alewife is a relatively small and anadromous and landlocked species. The landlock is also called a sawbelly. The Alewife is best known due to its invasion of the Great Lakes, which led to its proliferation in lakes Huron and Michigan. There were seasons that the Alewife exhibits die offs by being washed up on the shorelines of the Great Lakes.

  • American Shad
    The American Shad is a species of the anadromous fish family Clupeiodae but is not closely related to the other Northern American Shads. The American Shad is considered to be the largest member of the Herring family, with the males weighing around 1 to 3 pounds while the female weighs 3 to 8 pounds. The American Shad, both male and female tends to run on the East Coast of the United States.
From the Salmon Family

  • Pink Salmon
    The Pink Salmon is the smallest and the most abundant of the Pacific Salmon. The Pink Salmon is steel blue to blue-green in color when found in its marine habitats. The Pink Salmon has a life cycle of two years. It is known to be a cold-water fish with a temperature range of 5O to 26OC. The Pink Salmon is usually found in the Pacific and Arctic coastal waters from the Sacramento rivers in California to the Mackenzie rivers in Canada.

  • Coho Salmon
    The Coho Salmon, which is usually found on the West Coast, was introduced to the Great Lakes and anywhere in the Pacific. It belongs to the anadromous species of fish and was also known as the Silver Salmon. The Coho Salmon, during the spawning phase, develops a hooked jaw and teeth aside from having bright sides and dark bellies. The Coho Salmon lives in salt water for one or two years before returning to spawn.

  • Chinook Salmon
    The Chinook Salmon has been variously known as the King Salmon, Columbia River salmon, black salmon, winter salmon, etc. The Chinook Salmon has also been known to exterminate undesirable species such as smelt in the lakes of the east. The Chinook Salmon can usually found in San Francisco Bay in California to the north of the Bering strait in Alaska.

  • Brown Trout
    The Brown Trout is largely a fresh water fish. The young Brown Trout feeds on insects and invertebrates, but the larger Brown Trouts are active predators of other fish baits, and that includes the young Brown Trouts. In terms of habitat, the Brown Trout was widely introduced as sport on regions such as North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.
From the Smelts Family

  • Rainbow Smelt
    The Rainbow smelt is located along the eastern coast of North America. In terms of body appearance, the Rainbow Smelt is slender and cylindrical. The Rainbow Smelt spend the summers along the coast.
From the Minnows and Carps Family

  • Goldfish
    The Goldfish was one of the earliest fish to be commonly kept as an aquarium fish. As a small member of the carp family, the Goldfish is a domesticated version of the carp ion East Asia. It was first found in China and was later introduced to Europe in the late 17th century.

  • Carp
    The Carp has long been a very important fish food for humans, and as a result, the carp has been introduced to various locations. Carp spawns in shallow and marshy areas and can be found thrashing in shallow waters with a portion of its body submerged in water.

  • Fathead Minnow
    The Fathead Minnow has been introduced in various areas as a bait bucket release. Known as a rosy-red minnow, the Fathead Minnow is a very common feeder fish primarily sold in the United States. The Fathead Minnow is basically dull-olive gray in appearance and has a lighter belly.

  • Creek Chub
    The Creek Chub is a common minnow in Virginia. Creek Chubs can grow up to 12 inches but they are much usually much smaller. Creek Chubs are usually found on medium-sized streams, but they sometimes reside in big lakes too. Creek Chubs also has a life cycle of eight years.
From the Catfish Family

  • Yellow Bullhead
    The Yellow Bullhead is species of the Catfish Bullhead and is typically yellow and mottled depending on the habitat. The yellow bullhead is a scavenger that typically feeds at night on a variety of plants. Spawning begins in May and June with both male and female Yellow Bullhead participating in nest building, usually under a log or stone.

  • Channel Catfish
    The Channel Catfish is the largest number of catfish found in Canada. The average weight of a Channel Catfish is 1-2 kg. but can reach up to a maximum of 27kg. The Channel Catfish are usually found throughout the United States and thrives in small rivers, large rivers, lakes and ponds.
From the Temperate Bass Family

  • White Perch
    The White Perch is notable for being a food and game fish in North America. The White Perch has a recorded dimension of 49.5cm in length and weighing 2.2 kg. Though the White Perch is a game fish, it is also commercially fished in Chesapeake Bay. The name “White Perch” is sometimes applied to the white crappie.

  • Striped Bass
    The Striped Bass has a streamlined longitudinal dark stripes running behind the gills to the end of the tail. The Striped Bass has a maximum length of 6.6 ft a maximum weight of 57 kg. The Striped Bass has a life span of 30 years.

  • White Bass
    The White Bass is the state fish of Oklahoma. The White Bass specie can be found in lakes and large rivers in the United States. The appearance of the White Bass is somewhat similar to that of the White Perch, though it is much larger.
From the Sunfish Family

  • Rock Bass
    The Rock Bass are generally found on rocky and vegetated habitats of lakes and streams. The Rock Bass was introduced in Central Ontario. The average Rock Bass measures 6-10 inches in length, and very seldom that they would weigh over a pound.

  • Longear Sunfish
    The Longear Sunfish is a native of eastern North America stretching from the Great Lakes down to Mexico. The Longear Sunfish can measure up to a maximum of 24cm and 790 g. The Longear Sunfish specie prefers vegetated, shallow waters in lakes, ponds, and streams.

  • Black Crappie
    The Black Crappie measures 18-25 cm in length and can be found on warm and vegetated lakes, ponds and streams. Black crappie prefers little current and access to deeper water during winter and summer. Black Crappies are very active in colonizing new lakes and can be found scattered throughout southern Ontario including the margins of the Great Lakes.
The different fish species mentioned above are just some of the almost 200 species found in Canada. Most are not that familiar or are not household names as we could say, but this article could give vast information on the existence of other fish species not only to the local residents but also to the people around the world. Fishing in Canada? Let’s go, there’s a lot more to catch.
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