Atlantic Menhaden

Species Information

Scientific Name:Brevoortia tyrannus
Environment:Inshore, Nearshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:54-70°F (12-21°C)
Technique:Bottom Fishing
Lure Type:Bottom Rig
World Record:
Other Names:atlantic menhaden

The Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) is a North American species of fish in the herring family, Clupeidae. Atlantic menhaden are found in the North Atlantic coastal and estuarine waters from Nova Scotia south to northern Florida. They are commonly found in all salinities of the Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic water. They swim in large schools that stratify by size and age along the coast. For the most part menhadens can be found at a depth of up to -20m.

Brevoortia tyrannus can be described as a silvery in color. However, the sides of it differ from the silver color and range closer to a brassy color. Menhadens have dark bluish green backs. They are usually characterized by a small, irregularly placed scales on their backs, above their anal fins. They are also characterized by a black spot that is usually behind their gill openings. Following this larger black spot are approximately six lines of smaller spots. They have inner and outer finrays and a pelvic fin with rounded hind margins.

Atlantic menhaden are filter feeders, meaning that they collect food by filtering water through modifications of the branchial apparatus (gill arches and gill rakers). Atlantic menhaden's diet depends on the size of their gill rakers, which change as menhaden age. When the rakers are smaller, which generally correspond to when they are under the age of 1, Atlantic menhaden feed primarily on phytoplankton. As they age and their gill rakers grow larger, menhaden shift their diet to primarily consume zooplankton.

Atlantic menhaden can spawn year round in inshore waters off the Atlantic coast, with the highest spawning rates near North Carolina in the late fall. The eggs hatch in the open ocean and the larvae drift to sheltered estuaries via ocean currents. The young spend a year developing in these estuaries before returning to the open ocean. At this early stage, they are commonly known as "peanut bunker". Atlantic menhaden usually do not become sexually mature until the end of their second year, after which they reproduce until death. A young, sexually mature female can produce roughly 38,000 eggs, while a fully mature female can produce upwards of 362,000.

Eggs are buoyant and hatch within 2 to 3 days depending on the temperature. The larvae will spend 1 to 3 months in waters over the continental shelf. Larval fish will enter the Bay in late winter and early summer. The larval fish will move into lower salinity waters in estuarine tributaries while juvenile and immature fish remain in the Bay until the fall. Atlantic menhaden can live up to 10 to 12 years.

Atlantic menhaden make great bait and are preyed upon by fish such as red drum, striped bass, weakfish, flounder, and bluefish.

Menhadens are considered highly commercial fish for the United States. They are used in the production of such things as: oil, fertilizer and fishmeal. They can also be found marketed for consumption, either fresh, smoked, salted, or canned. This species was realized recently to have a very significant value as an alternative for whale oil. They are also used for lubricants and as fuel for lamps. Since these fish have begun to be used as an alternative oil, they are being used for making soaps and paints. Virginia, North Carolina and the Gulf are major ports for the menhaden. There are more menhaden brought onto US land each year than any other fish. Their input ranges from 300,000 to 400,000 metric tons per year.

Latest Atlantic Menhaden Fishing Reports and Spots

Targeting King Mackerel in the Northeast Region with Capt. Russell Tharin - 5/10/2014 7:50:08 PM

Kingfish are one of the most targeted species by offshore anglers in the Northeast Region because they can be really abundant and are a lot of (View)


Atlantic menhaden - NW Atlantic - 5/3/2013 9:34:32 PM

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Historic Menhaden Battle Nearing Conclusion in Virginia? Hatch Magazine Fly Fishing etc. - 2/1/2013 11:50:08 PM

fter the ASMFC (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) passed a historic vote in December quantifying the first ever limits on the commerc (View)


Commission Votes to Reduce Menhaden Harvest by 20 Percent - 12/20/2012 12:15:25 AM

  Enlarge Commission Votes to Reduce Menhaden Harvest by 20 Percent The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on Friday approved an amendm (View)


Preparing For Tarpon Season 2022 - 5/24/2022 10:49:05 AM

Tarpon season in South Carolina is just around the corner. As the water temperature increases huge schools of Atlantic menhaden will begin to ar (View)


Pogie - 7/15/2017 4:31:51 AM

Pogies off Plum Island This morning the Pogie show opened again. The fish were flipping about in quite a large school off the beachfront. These (View)


Targeting Sharks In The Northeast Region With Capt. Tommy Derringer - 1/29/2015 1:01:28 PM

If you’re looking to catch a shark August is one of the better times of the year to target them in my region. To begin with the ocean is flat m (View)


Catching Sharks In The Central East Region With Capt. Jim Ross - 8/8/2015 2:16:43 PM

August is a great time to target sharks in the Central East Region because the ocean is calm and the baitfish are schooling along the beaches w (View)


More Menhaden Than Expected - 2/5/2015 2:36:13 AM

By PAMELA D’ANGELO Atlantic Menhaden the tiny fish that two years ago created big trouble between Chesapeake Bay environmentalists and commercia (View)


Kayak Canoe and Paddleboard Fishing in the East Central Region with Capt. Jim Ross - 7/15/2014 8:20:12 PM

There’s a lot of anglers that use self-propelled watercraft in my region and just a wide-open option of places to launch and fish. The Mosquito (View)