How hunting down the prolific cisco can help you catch more giant walleye, lake trout, pike, bass and muskies this fall
Whether you call them ciscoes, lake herring or tullibees, they’re all the same. But for argument’s sake, let’s just settle on ciscoes. The important thing to know is these plentiful forage fish are your gateway to more and bigger fish.
In fact, these soft, fatty, protein-packed mouthfuls are so sought-after by bigger fish that they’ve developed body shapes, habitat niches and predator avoidance mechanisms to put them in places where they’re less likely to be eaten.
That means there are hundreds of thousands—millions in some big lakes and reservoirs—of these mouth-watering noshes concentrated in specific areas, trying to avoid whopping walleye, monster muskies, knee-knocking northerns, bumper-board bass and roly-poly lake trout. And if one of those predators happens to mistake your bait for a cisco, well, so much the better.
“The presence of ciscoes and other coregonines (members of the whitefish and cisco sub-family) can totally change the growth trajectory, age of sexual maturity and lifespan of lake trout populations,” says Christian Therrien, a cisco scientist and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. He goes by the handle @ciscokidoutdoors on Instagram. “The fact that a prey fish alone can totally change the lake dynamics and life history of predators absolutely captures my imagination.”
Wait a minute, is the Cisco Kid saying ciscoes can change the life history and habits of lake trout and other predatory fish, just by their mere presence? He is indeed. So, how do we go about finding these bountiful baitfish and exploiting this unique window of opportunity?