INDIANA – During winter, cooling water temperatures signal the migration of cisco, a cold-water species native to Indiana’s inland glacial lakes.
Cisco (Coregonus artedi) is the only native fish from the salmon family found in Indiana waters outside of Lake Michigan. It is a coldwater species that inhabits waters as far north as Canada and as far south as the upper Midwestern United States. Cisco are small and slender, silver-colored fish. They feed primarily on zooplankton, a diverse group of microscopic animals that live in aquatic environments. In Indiana, cisco grow to 7 inches by age 2, 12 inches by age 4, 15 inches by age 6, and they have been known to reach 19 inches at around 10 years of age.
These slender, silver-colored fish spend most of the year 75 feet below the surface but during December migrate to their traditional spawning areas, the shallow waters of Crooked Lake in Noble County.
For the second consecutive year, Indiana DNR fisheries biologists collected cisco on Crooked Lake in partnership with researchers from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
This is part of a collaborative project to compare the cisco’s tolerance of its habitat’s temperature to that of more northern populations elsewhere in the Midwest. This project will provide a better understanding of possible differences in temperature tolerances between populations, information that will help managers select appropriate source populations for future restoration efforts.