Least Cisco

Least Cisco.


  • Common name: Least Cisco
  • Scientific name: Coregonus sardinella
  • Order: Salmoniformes
  • Subfamily: Coregoninae

Also known as

Cisco, Lake Herring


  • Elongated, slender body; slight lateral compression.
  • Blueish olive back fading to silvery sides and white belly.
  • No teeth except small cluster near tongue.
  • Large scales and large eyes.
  • Lower jaw projects beyond tip of upper jaw.

Fast facts

  • Length: 10 to 20 cm
  • Weight: 50 to 200 g
  • Habitat: Freshwater and anadromous

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S4 (Apparently Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.


The Least Cisco occupies the fresh and brackish water of lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters. It resembles a saltwater herring, earning it the common nickname “Lake Herring." It spawns in fall and early winter in shallow, turbid water over gravel. A jumbo form is found in some Yukon lakes, reaching 40 cm.


Aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and small fish.


Least Cisco distribution map.

Least Cisco and people

  • In the past, large numbers of Least Cisco in the Southern Lakes area were caught for use as animal feed by fur farmers.
  • Currently, Least Cisco are commonly caught for use as bait by anglers seeking Lake Trout.