Catches of clupeid fish were recorded twice a week from February 2007 to May 2008 in the northern end of Lake Tanganyika, and allocated to species (Stolothrissa tanganicae and Limnothrissa miodon) according to representative catch samples from ten artisanal lift-net fishing units. In each sample, clupeids were measured and weighed for length frequency analysis. Age was estimated from length growth curves based on otolith weight. Copepod zooplankton was sampled twice a month from February 2007 to January 2008. Peaks of copepod zooplankton were recorded in the rainy season, and there was overall a tight positive correlation between monthly rainfall and copepod biomass. The clupeids appeared in the catch at 30–50 mm length when they were two–three (S. tanganicae) or three–four months old (L. miodon). For S. tanganicae, three catch peaks were due to cohorts born when copepod food was abundant, but one catch peak was due to a cohort which originated in the dry season when copepods were scarce. Likewise, two of the L. miodon cohorts giving rise to high catches likely originated from the rainy season when food was abundant, but two cohorts apparently originated from the dry season with low food conditions. The success of several cohorts of both clupeids therefore seems to be linked to rainfall and abundance of copepods, but sometimes strong cohorts could arise even under poor food conditions. Both species were recruited in the catch far before the age of maturity, making them vulnerable to overfishing.

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