While most people call any small fish a minnow, scientists save that term for a certain family of fish, some of which grow to quite a large size. Over thirty species of minnows are found in the Hudson and its watershed. Shiner is a name commonly applied to fish in the minnow family. Of the shiners we might catch in the tidal river, two are especially common and distinctive.
The spottail shiner is silvery and usually has a black spot at the base of its tail. This small fish, usually less than four inches long, schools over sandy or gravelly bottoms with little vegetation. In its scientific name, Notropis hudsonius, you’ll find a reference to the river in which this fish was first found and described scientifically.
Golden shiners take on a bright yellow color, often with some orange in the lower fins, as they get older and bigger (up to about ten inches). The body is deep and the lateral line deeply curved. They are most commonly found in shallow water among weeds.
Anglers may occasionally encounter a rudd, a non-native fish that looks much like the golden shiner but has distinctly red fins.