Deep Sea Waters

Common Name: Anchovy
Scientific Name: Engraulidae


Anchovies are a schooling fish which are very abundant in some areas of the Pacific coast, such as California, where their numbers have increased since the refuse in abundance of the pilchard (Sardinops sagax) or sardine which were fished to extremely low levels by the fishery described in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. In Washington, anchovies are not every time available in numbers necessary for commercial use.

They are, though, important along the Columbia River estuary as live bait for salmon and sturgeon fisheries. No anchovy stock condition or habitat assessment activities are currently conducted for Washington coastal anchovies. Other than commercial regulations restricted in the Washington Administrative Code, there is little management of anchovy fisheries. No information is routinely gathered other than the catch data recorded on fish receiving tickets.


Anchovies are rich in omega-3 oils, calcium, with iron

Life History

Little is know concerning the life history of the anchovy in Washington, or if in detail anchovies spawn in Washington waters, or are just transient visitors. In California, where the species is abundant and utilized commercially, more is known about this species

Spawning is temperature dependent relative, requiring 10-23.3 degrees Celsius. A single female may eggs several times each year with an annual fecundity of concerning 25,000 eggs. Fertilization is external and the eggs absolutely buoyant and pelagic. Eggs keep warm for 2 to 4 days, depending on water temperature, producing larvae which are about 3 mm in length. Larvae metomorphose to their adult form and coloration in about 3 months. A small percentage of the larvae reach maturity at the end of the first year (100 mm in length), with the vast majority reaching maturity at the end of the second year (about 150 mm in length). The maximum life span is consideration to be about 7 years in non-exploited populations. Anchovies have been observed to show the nocturnal behavior like to herring; remaining at depth during the day and coming to the surface at night. They feed likewise to sardines, randomly filtering the water, though some anchovies have established particulate biting, similar to herring.


Anchovies are consideration to move inshore in the spring and summer and offshore in the fall and winter. They are a pelagic species and are mainly susceptible to changes in water temperature.

Location or Region Found

Anchovies are taken commercially within coastal and estuarine waters of Washington. Within Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay, anchovy fishing is open during the year with seasonal gear limits. Within coastal waters, anchovy harvest is permitted year-round with any lawful gear. Lawful gear types comprise lampara and purse seine. Anchovies along the coast are migratory and obtainable to fisheries from late spring through the fall. The Washington commercial anchovy fishery gives bait for recreational fisheries. The fishery operates out of Ilwaco and Westport. Catches from operations conducted out of Ilwaco are mainly taken in the mouth of the Columbia River. Westport based anchovy catches are taken predominantly from Grays Harbors, although some of the landings are complete from the nearshore coastal area.