Golden shiner

Golden shiner


lateral line strongly curved below center line; anal fin is long, with 11-13 rays, and is distinctly falcate shaped; no scales covering the belly ridge


Golden shiner Distribution

widely scattered in small streams and lakes


variety of plant and animal materials

State Record

not recorded

Expert Tip

excellent bait fish, used either alive or dead


The golden shiner is found widely scattered in many streams and lakes throughout the state and is ranked as common to abundant. Plantings of brood fish into man-made lakes has increased their range in the southern part of Iowa.

The golden shiner is a large, slab-sided minnow with 3 easily distinguishable characters. Foremost, the lateral line is strongly curved below the center line. Second, the anal fin is long, containing 11-13 rays, and is distinctly falcate shaped. Last, there are no scales covering the belly ridge between the pelvic fins and anus. The mouth is small, terminal and oblique, and the jaw does not extend to the eye or have a barbel. Strongly hooked pharyngeal teeth, on slender arches, are arranged in a 5-5 pattern. The dorsal fin, which is inserted behind the pelvic fin, contains 8 rays, while the pelvic fins have 9 rays, and the pectoral fins contain 15 to 17 rays. A complete lateral line has 45 to 52 scales. Body color is dark green above with olive sides, brassy belly, and a distinctive golden sheen. Young golden shiners are dramatically different from adults, being silvery, not as slab-sided, and have a distinct lateral stripe from eye to caudal fin.

This shiner prefers quiet water in rivers, where it is found in pools, sloughs, protected areas, and lakes. They easily adapt to muddy water but prefer relatively clear, vegetated areas. Golden shiners spawn from May through July by scattering the adhesive eggs over submerged vegetation or filamentous algae. Females release up to 4,000 eggs. Young fish grow to a length of 4 inches during their first year, and adults reach up to 12 inches after 3 years of life. Adult shiners consume a variety of plant and animal materials, but the young feed primarily on plankton. Because they are filter feeders, plankton makes up a significant portion of the diet, but aquatic insects, mollusks and aquatic vegetation are also consumed.

Golden shiners are an excellent bait fish, used either alive or dead. They are used extensively in fisheries resource management programs as forage fish. Larger specimens are occasionally caught by anglers on worms or lures while fishing for panfish.

Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Clear Lake Cerro Gordo south edge of Clear Lake 3684.00
West Swan Lake S.W.M.A. Emmet 3m SE Gruver 379.00
West Lake (Osceola) Clarke 2 miles west of Osceola 320.00
Lake Anita Cass 1/2 miles south of Anita 159.00
Lake Ahquabi Warren 5 miles southwest of Indianola 114.00
Union Grove Lake Tama 4 miles South of Gladbrook 100.00
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00
McKinley Lake Union 50.00
Meadow Lake Adair 6 miles northeast of Greenfield 34.00
Pioneer Park Pond Page 10m N Clarinda 7.00
Ambroson Pit (north) Winnebago 3 1/2 miles north of Forest City 4.28