Taste and Nutrition
Ciscoes have roughly the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) as sockeye salmon. They can be used fresh, smoked and frozen; they can be steamed, fried, broiled and baked. Making ciscoes into fish cakes is a North Shore Scandinavian tradition.
How They Are Harvested
Ciscoes are harvested from Lake Superior with gill nets by both tribal and state-licensed commercial fishermen. Most of the ciscoes harvested during the non-spawning season are sold locally to restaurants, retail stores or directly to consumers. In October and November, when the bulk of the harvest occurs, supply exceeds local demand, so many ciscoes are sent out-of-state to be made into gefilte fish and the roe is made into caviar. Ciscoes can not be harvested in Lake Michigan and occur in very low numbers.
State health agencies have found that it is safe to eat Lake Superior cisco (lake herring) once a week.
Visit these links to find out more information about fish advisories in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes:
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Eating Your Catch
2014 Ohio Sport Fish Health and Consumption Advisory