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Full text of "American fishes; a popular treatise upon the game and food fishes of North America, with especial reference to habits and methods of capture"

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Assistant Secretary of //te Smithioiiian lustiliiiion ; Corresponding Member of the Zoological Society of 

London, the Deutsche Fischerei Verein, the National Fish-Culture Association of Great 

Britain, the Northern Fisheries Society of fapan, etc., etc.; late United States 

Commissioner of Fisheries, and Commissioner to the International 

Fisheries Kxliibitions in Berlin and London. 


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New- York : 


Copyrighted, 1887. 


67 PARK Place, new yqrk. 


This little book on the jisJies of America, is dedicated to 
my Brother-Ichthyologists in other lands 


Dr. ROBERT COLLETT, of Christiania ; 

Dr. FRANCIS DAY, of Cheltenham, England; 

Prof. ENRICO H. GIGLIOLI, of Florence ; 

Dr. albert C. L. G. GUNTHER. of the British Museum; 

Dr. JAMES HECTOR, of New Zealand ; 

Prof. A. A. HUBRECHT, of Utrecht ; 

Dr. FRANZ :\I. HILGENDORF, of Berlin ; 

]\Iessrs. K. ITO, and S. MATSUBARA, of Japan ; 

Dr. christian LUTKEN, of Copenhagen ; 

Dr. ANDRE-JEAN MALIMGREN, of Helsingfors ; 

Prof. PIETRO PAYESI, of Pavia; 

Dr. EMILE SAUVAGE, of Paris ; 

Prof. F. A. SMITT, of Stockholm ; 

Don FELIPE POEY, of Havana ; 



Prof. OSCAR vox GRDIM, of St. Petersburg— 

in nieuiory of niucJi pleasant intercourse in the past, especially 
dnrino; the recent FisheiHes Exhibitions in Berlin and Lon- 
don^ and with the hope that its publication may lead to a 
zuider popular appreciation, in America, of the importance 
and interest of IcJithyological Science. 

/ A je recongnieu^ sonnant sa grosse conche, Glauqtit, 

Protee, Neree, et uiille autres dieux ei monstres 
marins. Veismes aussi nombre infiny depoissons, en especes 
diverses, dancanis, volants, voltigeants, combattants, man- 
geants, respirants, belutants, chassants, dressanis escar- 
monc/ies, faisants einbuscade, coinposants trefoes, mar- 
chandants, jurants, sebuttajits. 

En till coing la pres veismes Aristoteles, tenant une 
lanterne, expzant, considerant, le tout redigeant par 

PaniagrueLj V.J xxxi. 

Quis, nisi z'idisset,pisces 
sub u>tdas nature crederet. 




Prologue XI 

The Yellow Perch..... i 

The Pike Perches n 

The Striped Bass 22 

The White Bass and the Yellow Bass 32 

The White Perch 35 

The Sea Basses 39 

The Groupers and the Jew Fish 47 

The Black Basses 54 

The Sun Fishes and their Allies 64 

S7iappers and Red Mouths 73 

The Sheepshead ^Z 

The Scuppaug and the Fair Maid 92 

The Red Drum loi 

The Squeteague no 

The King and Queen Fishes 123 

Spots, Croakers and Roncadors 129 

Sea Drum and Lake Drum 136 

Cobia, Moonfish and Flasher 1 44 

The Bluefish 157 

The Mackerel and its Allies 163 

The Spanish Mackerel and the Ceroes 184 

The Pompanoes 198 

Bonitoes and Tunnies 206 



The Harvest Fishes 2 





The Cavally and other Carangoids ...,.,. 

Sword Fish, Spear Fish and Cutlass Fish , ..... . . 

The Rose Fish and its A/ties 

Pike, Muskellunge and Pickerel. 

Tautog, Chogset and Parrot-fish 2S7 

Sculpins and Gurnards , , 307 

Halibut, Flatfish and Flounder .............. 307 

Cod, Pollock, Haddock and Hake 2)2iZ 

The Mullets 365 

The Catfish or Bull-head ., 376 

The Herrincr and its Allies •;Si 

Carp, Dace and Minnow ,, 411 

2 he Salmon 441 

The Salmon. Trouts — 454 

TJie Lake Trouts 46 2 

The Brook Trouts or Chars 469 

The Pacific Salmons 4S0 

The Graylings 4S4 

The Whitefishes and the Smelts 4SS 

Index ■ - • • 493 


Athen^us : Deipnosophia. 

6 6/^^OME, let us discourse about fish," said Athenoeus, in his " Deipno- 
Sophia," and so said Mr. A. R. Hart, coming into my study 
last January. "Write us a book about fish and fishing in America," 
he urged, and since, as it happens, I know more about fish and fishing in 
America than I do about anything else, I consented. 

This volume has been prepared for the use of the angler, the lover of 
nature, and the general reader. It is not intended for naturalists, and the 
technicalities of zoological description have therefore been avoided ; for 
the concise and precise phraseology of science, admirable though it be for 
the use of those who have been trained to employ it, is to others not only 
misleading, but it may be, repulsive. 

I have aimed to include in my discussion every North American fish 
which is likely to be of interest to the general reader, either because of 
its gameness or its economic uses. All others are excluded, because, 
from the standpoint of scientific interest, every one of the seventeen hun- 
dred and fifty species indigenous to our continent has equal claim to con- 
sideration, and to discuss, or even casually mention them all, within the 
limits of a book of ordinary size, would be next to impossible. President 
Jordan's recent pamphlet, entitled "A Catalogue of the Fishes Known 
to Inhabit the Waters North of the Tropic of Cancer, with notes on the 
Species Discovered in 1SS3 and 18S4," contains, with its indexes, 184 
pages, and this is merely a list. His " Synopsis of the Fishes of North 
America," which simply enumerates and gives brief diagnoses of the four- 
teen hundred or more species known in 1882, contains 1018 pages. The 
former of these works is published by the United States Fish Commission, 
the latter by the National Museum, and to these and to the numerous 
monographic papers published in the transactions of learned societies and 
scientific institutions in America and abroad, I would refer the student 


who desires to make a serious study of the technical portion of American 
ichthyology. My own little library of works on fish and fishing is far 
from complete, yet it includes over two thousand volumes and pamphlets, 
and my " Bibliography of American Ichthyology," which I hope to pub- 
lish within the next two years, comprises nearly ten thousand titles of 
books and papers. It is evident that it is impossible to make a book on 
American fishes which shall include more than a very small part, indeed, of 
what might be said upon the subject. I hope that the readers of this 
volume will feel that a judicious selection of topics has been made. 

Only the most important species are referred to, and in the discussion 
of them all descriptive matters are omitted save those which relate to 
color. There is an Oriental proverb to the effect that, " Though the dis- 
tance between the ear and the eye is very small, the difference between 
hearing and seeing is very great." 

Acting in the spirit of this wise saying, a figure of almost every species * 
discussed is presented, by the aid of which any one interested in fishes 
can determine the correct zoological name of the form before him, and 
by referring to the accompanying text can learn what is known about its 
geographical range, habits, methods of capture and economical uses. 
Exact bibliographical references are given in footnotes, to direct the 
reader to fuller discussions of subjects referred to when there are such in 

In the preparation of this book constant use has been made of my own 
previous writings, and especially to the quarto work on Food Fishes, 
published by the Government in 1885. Upon that work, in fact, this 
one is based, being essentially a rearrangement in condensed form. The 
text has, however, been for the most part rewritten, and much new matter 
has been added. One of my chief motives in preparing this volume has 
been the desire to see some of the results of twenty years' study of fishes 
printed in substantial and dignified form, in a book which shall not look 
out of place on a library shelf; for it has been my lot hitherto to have all 
the products of my pen published in those dismal looking bunches of papers 
known as public documents, which of necessity must be classified among 
Charles Lamb's " books which are not books." 

The author acknowledges his extended and continued indebtedness, in 

* Nearly all of the figures of American species are copied from the figures in the publications of the U. S. 
Fish Commission, and, by the kind consent of Prof. Baird, the engravings have in most instances been made 
direct from the original drawings. The remainder have been copied from standard European authorities. 


the first place to his teacher and master, Prof. Baird, and secondly, to his 
colleagues m the preparation of the quarto volume just referred to, especially 
to Dr. Jordan, Dr. Bean, Capt. Collins, Mr. Earll and Mr. Stearns. If 
in some instances the quotation marks have been omitted in connection 
with statements derived from their pen, it is simply because in the work 
of abridgment certain changes have been made in their phraseology, for 
which it seems hardly proper to hold them responsible. It is proi)er to 
say that all the biographies of the fishes of the Pacific, and the minor fresh- 
water species, are due to Jordan, and that Stearns is equally responsible 
for what is said of the fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. \\\\\\ Bean the 
writer has long sustained a partnership in all matters ichthyological • 
with Collins and Earll similar relations in matters connected with the 
study of fishery economy, and in such associations it is not always possible 
to separate interests in such a manner as to place credit where it properly 
belongs. The classification followed is the system elaborated and ad- 
vocated by Dr. Gill, undoubtedly the most erudite and philosophic of liv- 
ing systematic ichthyologists. 

Perhaps some may feel aggrieved because there are no discussions of 
rods, reels, lines, hooks and flies, and no instructions concerning camp- 
ing out, excursions, routes, guides and hotels. To such the author would 
say that he has at present neither time nor inclination to enter upon these 
subjects. Men who know them better than he have already written what 
should be written. Thaddeus Norris's "American Angler's Book" is an 
excellent guide in the selection and construction of tackle. Roosevelt's 
"Game Fishes of the North" and "Superior Fishing" are full of good 
suggestions, and Scott's "Fishing in American Waters," and even the 
works of Brown and Frank Forrester, are at times useful. Hallock's 
"Sportsman's Gazetteer" points out distant localities for sport to the 
few who are not satisfied with home attractions. 

The files of " Forest and Stream," "The American Field " and " The 
American Angler" are treasuries which cannot be exhausted, and the back 
volumes of the monthlies, " Harpers," " Lippincott's" and the " Century '' 
are full of finely illustrated essays, of interest to fishermen and anglers. 

The English "Field," "Land and Water " and "Fishing Gazette" 
are also full of interest for Americans. 

Prof. Mayer's " Sport with Gun and Rod in American Woods and 
Waters " is a charming and instructive book made up chiefly of reprinted 
magazine essays. 


The Reports and Bulletins of the United States Fish Commission must 
not be overlooked, and the reports of the State Commissions, the reports 
of the Canadian Department of Fishery, the bulletin of the French Society 
of Acclimation, the circulars of the German Fischerei-Verein, and the 
publications of the London and Berlin Fisheries Exhibitions are worthy of 

I do not think that the term " game fish " has ever been properly defined. 
It is generally supposed to apply to fishes which are active, wily and cour- 
ageous, and whose capture requires skill or cunning — those, in short, 
which afford sport to the sportsman. As a matter of fact, although most 
food fishes are not game fishes, no fish which is not of the highest rank as 
a table delicacy is rated by Americans as a game fish. The barbel, the 
dace and the roach, the pets of the father of angling, classical in the pages 
of sportsman's literature, are despised Dy new world authorities, and are 
now considered "coarse fish " even by English writers. Yet they afford 
excellent sport — sport which in England tens of thousands enjoy to every 
one who gets the chance to whip a salmon or trout line over preserved 

"Game" in law and every day usage is a term employed to describe 
wild animals — -ferce naturce, in which no man holds personal title of 
possession. Game birds are those which can only be obtained occasion- 
ally and with difficulty, and which, having been obtained, are worthy the 
notice of the epicure. Game fishes are rated in much the same manner, 
it appears to me. If not, why were the Pompano, the King-fish and the 
California Salmon and the Spanish Mackerel included among the twenty 
selected to be painted by Kilbourn for Scribner's atlas of the game fishes 
of the United States. Surely not because they afford si^ort to the sports- 
man. Some years ago I defined the term as follows : 

Game fishes are those which by reason of the courage, strength, beauty 
and the sapidity of their flesh are sought for by those who angle for sport 
with delicate fishing tackle. 

Now I should simply say that — 

A game fish is a choice fish, a fish not readily obtained by wholesale 
methods at all seasons of the year, nor constantly to be had in the mar- 
kets — a fish, furthermore, which has some degree of intelligence and cun- 
ning, and which matches its own wits against those of the angler, requir- 
ing skill, forethought and ingenuity to compass its capture. 



Many writers, especially those of America, show a disposition to deny 
the rank of '''game fishes" to all species which will not rise to a surface 
lure. This is illogical such, if it were strictly insisted upon, sheepshead 
and sea-bass would be counted out, while the shad and even the gar-pike 
must needs be allowed at least humble positions among the game fishes. 

I hope that the readers of this book will freely communicate to me any 
new facts concerning American fishes, or any criticisms of erroneous state- 
ments, for use in preparing such fuller and better editions of this book as 
it may be decided in future to publish. 

It is a great satisfaction to feel that this little volume will probably be 
the companion of men whom I know, or should like to know, in numerous 
delightful excursions to lake, brook and sea. In closing this prologue I 
feel disposed to repeat the prayer at the end of Walton's immortal pas- 
toral : ''That the blessing of St. Peter's master be upon all that hate 
contentions, and love quietnesse, and virtue, and go a-angling." 

G. B. G. 

Smithsonian Institution, 

Washington, Dec. i, iSS6, 

TN vain had God stor'd Heav'n with glistring studs, 

The plain with grain, the mountain tops with woods, 
Sever'd the Aire from Fire, the Earth from Water, 
Had he not soon peopled this large Theatre 
With living creatures : therefore he began 
(This-Daj') to quicken in the Ocean 
In standing Pools, and in the straggling Kh'crs 
(Whose folding Chanell fertill Champain severs) 
So many Fishes of so many features 
That in the Waters one may see all Creatures 
And all that in this All is to be found : 
As if the World within the Deeps were drown'd. 

One (like a Pirat) onely lives of prizes. 
That in the Deep he desperately surprises ; 
Another haunts the shore, to feed on'foam : 
Another round about the Roclcs doth roam, 
Nibbling on Weeds ; another hating theeving. 
Eats nought at all, of liquor onely living : 
For the salt humor of his element 
Servs him, alone, for perfect nourishment. 

Some love the clear streams of swift tumbling torrents. 
Which through the rocks straining their struggling currents 
Break Banks & Bridges ; and do never stop 
Till thirsty Summer comes to drink them up ; 
Some almost alwaies pudder in the mud 
Of sleepy Pools, and never brook the flood 
Of Chrystall streams, that in continuall motion 
Bend toward the bosom of their Mother Ocean. 

O watry Citizens, what Umpeer bounded 

Your liquid Livings? O ! what Monarch mounded 

With walls your City? what severest Law 

Keeps your huge armies in so certain aw. 

That you encroach not on the neighboring Borders 

Of your swim-brethren ? 

What cunning Prophet your fit time doth show? 
What Heralds trumpet summons you to go? 
What Guide conducteth. Day & Night, your Legions 
Through path-less Path in unacquainted Regions? 
Surely the same that made you first of Nought 
Who in your Nature some Ideas wrought 
Of Good and Evill ; to the end that we 
Following the Good might from the Evill flee. 

Du Bartas His First Week; or The Birth of the World, 1605 

a.j Lisa 





Pcrca fluviatilis. 

It is a true fish, such as the angler loves to put into his basket or hang on top of his 
willow twig on shady afternoons, along the banks of the streams. 

Thoreau, IValden Pond. 

'"P^HE PERCH is a member of a very ancient race. A closely related 
form has been found fossil in the tertiary deposits of CEningen, and 
its Avide distribution throughout the northern hemisphere testifies to its 
existence in its present form at a remote period. Additional evidence of 
the antiquity of the species is found in the fact that its common names 
are much the same in many European languages which di\-erged from a 
common stock, thousands of years back in history. 

The Perch is found almost everywhere in Europe, though it is said to be 
rare in the north of Scotland. It ranges to Lapland and Siberia, and 
ascends the slopes of the Alps to the height of more than 4000 feet. It 
inhabits the sea of Azov, and the brackish waters of the Caspian and 
Baltic, and is everywhere a well-known and useful species. 

In America it exists in all the waters of the Atlantic slope, from Labra- 
dor to Georgia, throughout the Great Lake region, and in tlie ui)j)er part 


of the Mississippi valley, especially in the tributaries of the Mississippi in 
Wisconsin and Minnesota, and of the Ohio, in Indiana and Ohio. It does 
not occur in the lower Mississippi basin, nor on the western slope of the 

There is no representative of the genus in the tributaries of the Pacific, 
either American or Asiatic, but the allied Pcrciclithys replaces it in tem- 
perate South America (Patagonia, Peru and Chili), while in northern 
China Siniperca fills its stead. The Stone-perch, Pope, Ruffe, Kaul- 
barsch or Gremille, of Europe, Aceilna cernua, which somewhat resembles 
the Perch, though more nearly related to the Pike-perches is, perhaps 
fortunately, not found in America. 

Authorities are not harmonious in opinion as to the specific identity 
of the American and the European Perch. Giinther, Steindachner and 
Day maintain that they are the same, while Jordan is equally positive that 
the Perca amcricana or P. flavcsccus of American writers is at Teast a dis- 
tinct sub-species. It is my own impression that the American Perch can- 
not be positively separated from that of Europe, which, as Day has shown, 
is extensively variable in form and color. 

Perch frequent quiet waters of moderate depth, pools under hollow banks, 
eddies and expansive shady reaches in the meadow brooks, creeks and 
canals, preferring the sides of the stream to swift currents, and sandy and 
pebbly rather than muddy bottoms. In mill-ponds they are likely to be 
found in the deep water just above the dam, and in the vicinity of piles 
of locks, bridges and sluice gates. They sometimes descend into the 
brackish water of estuaries, where they become large and \ery firm 
fleshed. In muddy pools they often assume a golden color, but in such 
situations are soft and rarely well flavored. 

"As a still-water pond fish," writes Abbott, " if there is a fair supply 
of spring-water, they thrive excellently ; but the largest specimens come 
either from the river or from the in-flowing creeks. Deep water of the 
temperature of ordinary spring-water, with some current, and the bed of a 
stream, at least partially covered with vegetation, best suits this fish." 
They are gregarious, and there is an Old-country saying that when the 
angler meets a school of Perch he may capture every one, if he be wary 
and noiseless. 

" Perch, Hke the Tartar clans, in troops remove, 
And urged by famine or by pleasure rove ; 
But if one prisoner, as in war, you seize, 


You'll prosper, master of the camj-) with ease ; 
For, like the wicked, unalarmed they view 
Their fellows perish, and their path pursue."* 

Day tells us that in the famous Norfolk Broads the fish assemble in shoals 
according to their si^es, the smaller and larger individuals keeping to 
themselves, and repelling the intrusion of those that materially differ from 
themselves in this respect. The writer has observed a similar natural 
association in the lakes of the Hudson and Housatonic basins. In winter 
they retreat to the deepest parts of their domain. Here they adapt 
themselves to circumstances ; if the temperature of the water approxi- 
mates the freezing point, they become torpid ; if it remains above 38° or 
40° F. , they do not suffer any inconvenience. Dr. Abbott found a large 
number of them in December and January, in a deep hole in the bed 
of a tide-water creek, about half an acre in extent and twenty feet deep ; 
they were in moderately good condition, active and in high color, with 
■empty stomachs, and refusing to feed, a habit by no means invariable, 
however, at this season. 

As spring advances they assume their ordinary mode of life. With the 
warming of the waters the eggs begin to swell in the ovaries, the colors 
brighten, particularly in the males, and the lower parts of the body in 
both sexes assume a ruddy hue. Spawning time varies in different locali- 
ties. It is of course largely dependent upon the temperature of the water, 
though the requisite standard of heat most probably changes with latitude. 
In New Jersey, according to Abbott, it comes in May, with the water at 
55° F. , and in Sweden, by Malm's observations, in May, also, at 50° F. In 
Virginia and Maryland Perch spawn in March and April ; in France and 
Austria, from March to May ; in England and Sweden, in April and May. 
When the Marsh, Marigold, or " Cowslip," Caltha palustris, blooms in the 
wet meadows, the spawning time of the Perch is near at hand. That 
Perch spaw-n twice in the year, is a popular belief in Europe. This idea 
must have originated in the fact, well known to students of fish, that many 
individuals retain their eggs long after the end of the normal spawning time. 

Among some Perches, twenty millimeters long, taken late in September, 
1866, in the Rhine, a French naturalist found three males prepared 
for breeding as well as a female wath ovaries hardly visible. 

The proportion of males to females varies curiously with locality. Out 
.of one hundred taken at Salzburg only ten were males, and Cuvier stated 

*Oppian's Halieutics 


that the proportion of males was as one to fifty. Von Siebold found one-third 
males at Munich, and Manley in England one-tenth. It would be well 
worth while for American anglers to continue these observations, as well 
as to make some new counts of the number of eggs. The only reliable 
recent enumerations appear to be those made by Buckland in 1868. He 
found 127,240 eggs in a fish of 2 pounds 11 ounces, and 155,620 in one 
of 3 pounds 2 ounces. Lacepede put the figure at 1,000,000, Bloch at 
28,000, and Abbott at 8,000. ' 

The eggs are from 2 to 2^/3 mm. in diameter, or about as large as 
poppy seeds. They are of the adhesive class, and cling together in 
beautifully interlaced bands, like pearl necklaces, five or six feet long 
and an inch or two in width. These glutinous masses adhere to twigs and 
stones in shallow water, and are devoured by birds and all kinds of 
aquatic animals. The eggs begin to expand soon after fertilization. At 
a temperature of 59°, F. Malm hatched some eggs in four days and nine 
hours; at the end of a week or ten days after the eggs were laid, Abbott 
frequently found minute Yellow Perch, associated with little Sun-fish, 
tangled in among the water plants, active as their strength permitted, and 
darting voraciously at almost invisible specks, that seemed to serve them 
for food. The little perchettcs grow very fast, and in a year or two they 
have reached maturity. Edward Jesse observed a fish three inches long 
which was full of spawn. 

Perch rarely exceed a pound or two in weight. " Une Perche de deux 
kilogrammes est un phenix tres-rare," says De la Blanchere. Some large 
ones are on record. An individual taken in Delaware Bay, by Abbott, 
weighed four and one-quarter pounds. In England three-pounders are 
thought large ; but Pennant mentions one of nine pounds, taken in the 
Serpentine in Hyde Park. Giinther puts the limit at four pounds, but 
Seeley states that in Russia, in Lake Seligher they reach eight pounds. 

The artificial propagation of the Perch w^as accomplished as early as 
1856 by Malm, a Swedish naturalist, and is said to have beeen repeated 
in this country. Many ponds have been stocked with grown fish, 
Dr. S. L. Mitchill transplanted them from Ronkonkoma Pond in Suffolk 
County to Success Pond in Queens County, N. Y. The species is very 
properly excluded from waters in which trout and carp are to be cultivated. 
It is said that poachers often revenge their grievances by stocking trout 
ponds with Perch. They have been known to deposit their eggs in 
aquarium tanks, where, with care, they will doubtless hatch their young. 


The Saxons, it is said, represented one of their gods standing with 
naked feet on the back of a Perch, as an emblem of constancy in trial and 
patience in adversity. With his bristling array of thorny fin-spines, the 
Perch is a fair type of sturdy independence, a Diogenes of the brooks and 
ponds, well described by Drayton in his " Poylyolbion :" 

" The Perch with prickling fins against the Pike prepar'd 
As nature had thereon bestow'd this stronger guard 
His daintiness to keep." 

The angler cannot be too careful in unhooking these spike-armed heroes, 
for the armature of the fins inflicts wounds painful and difficult to heal. 

They feed on worms, grubs, insects and even small fishes of their own 
species and are voracious in the extreme. "In feeding," writes Dr. 
Abbott, "Yellow Perch chase small minnows instead of waiting for a 
single fish to come near enough to seize by a single dart upon it, as the 
Pike does. They are not rapid in their movements, but seem to dart 
with open mouth at several minnows, as though trusting to catch some 
one of the number they pursue." 

They are pirates, as voracious in proportion to their size as the Black 
Bass and the Pike. 

The claims of this fish to popular favor have been strangely overlooked 
in America, owing perhaps to the fact that anglers, like other men, have 
their specialties, and that most of our writers upon this subject have had 
hobbies other than that of Perch fishing. Surely no inhabitant of our 
brooks and ponds has higher claims on the score of beauty than — 

" The Perch witli fins of Tyrian dye." 

Its graceful movements and beautiful colors, its hardiness and intelli- 
gence makes it particularly desirable for ae|uarium culture. In the 
sunlight the scales reflect delicate hues and golden glints which are 
deliciously tempered by the dusky bands upon the sides and the ruddy 
tones of the quivering fins, which have been well compared to the reds 
sometimes to be seen in the glass of very old church windows. 

Its rank as a game fish is thus estimated by J. P. Wheeldon, angling 
editor of BclP s Life: "A gloriously handsome fish, the Perch, when in 
condition affords excellent sport, and is a deserved favorite with each and 
every fisherman, be he young or old." It is mentioned as a favorite in 
the first of all treatises on angling — that printed in Antwerp in 1492, — and 
is eulogized by scores of later European authorities, as well as in the " Com- 
T)lete Angler:" 


"I pray you, sir," said Viator, "give me some observations and direc- 
tions concerning the Pearch, for they say he is both a very good and a 
bold-biting fish, and I would fain learne to fish for him." 

Although Norris and Scott and Roosevelt and Forester pass the Perch 
by with contempt, and Jordan has pronounced it "soft, coarse and 
insipid," it is not without its advocates in America. Seth Green admits 
that it is an "excellent fish for the people," and a "superior table fish," 
and that when taken on light tackle with an artificial fly it affords not a 
little sport,* and H. H. Thompson, in the American Angler for June 2, 
1883, has made an eloquent plea for this worthy little species, in which 
he is supported by such eminent anglers as D. W. Cross and A. N. Cheney. 

I venture the prediction that before many years the Perch will have as 
niany followers as the Black Bass among those who fish for pleasure in the 
waters of the Eastern United States. A fish for the people it is, we 
will grant, and it is the anglers from among the people, who have neither 
time, money nor patience for long trips and complicated tackle, who will 
prove its steadfast friends. 

As an article of food a Perch taken from clear, cool water is undoubtedly 
superior to many popular marine species. Ray tells us that it was formerly 
called Ferdrix aqicaruni — the partridge of the waters, and Ausonius thus 
sounds its praise : — 

"Nor will I pass thee over in silence, O Perch, the delicacy of the 
tables, worthy among river fish to be compared with seafish ; thou alone 
are able to contend with the Red Mullets, "f 

In Venner's "Via Recta ad A^itam Longam " printed in 1650, Ave are 
told that Perch taken in pure water are for taste and nourishment 
equal to Trout or Pickerel. "Perch," adds this writer, "is usually 
sauced with butter or vinegar, but add thereto the flavor of nutmeg, 
which to this fish is very proper, it becomes delectable to the taste and 
grateful to the stomach. The spawn of Perch is of delicate and whole- 
some nourishment, very good for the weak." 

A recent British authority writes that it is unsurpassed by any non- 
migrating species, except the eel, and that it more closely resembles the 
sole than any other fresh-water fish. 

There are in America many who prefer the Perch to the bass, and even 
to the brook trout, and among them are some independent enough to 

^American Angler, May 15, 1886. 
fThe Moselle, .\, 115. 


say so. Frank Buckland writes: "Our friend, the Perch, is one of the 
most beautiful fish which it has pleased Providence to place in our waters. 
Not only does he afford the angler excellent sport, but to the professed 
cook his arrival in time for the fiienu is most welcome, as witness water 
souche, as served at ministerial dinners, city banquets or private parties at 
Richmond and Greenwich."* 

The simplest way to catch Perch is with the boy's standard outfit: a 
"pole," a stout line, a large fioat and heavy sinker and a worm or minnow 
for bait. This is effective when the water is muddy and the Perch are 
numerous and hungry. 

For wary fish in clearer water more delicate tackle is necessary. 
The line should be fine, and a simple reel may be used; the float should 
be small and well balanced, and the shot used for sinkers only heavy 
enough to keep the float steady. The float should be adjusted so that the 
bait maybe suspended about a foot from the bottom, and a gentle motion 
upwards and downwards may advantageously be employed. 

A favorite gear for Perch in England and France is the "paternoster." 
This name was always a puzzle to me until I saw the apparatus in its 
French form, when its origin was at once intelligible. The gutta-percha 
beads and round sinkers of wood and lead suggested at once a rosary. The 
pater-noster used in England at the present day is much more simple. It 
is thus described by Francis Francis : 

" For Perch fishing the pater-noster simply consists of a line of gut 
about 4 or 5 feet long ; at the bottom of this is a leaden bullet or plummet 
to sink it to the bottom ; about 6 or 8 inches above this a hook on some 

* Hoiv to Cook Perch. — This famous dish, water souche, souchy or sokey, does not seem to have been 
naturalized in America. The following recipe from an old angler's manual seems more practicable than 
others given by later authorities: Scale and wash your Perch; put salt in your water: when it boils put in 
the fish with an onion cut in slices; put in chopped parsley enough to turn the water white; season with 
salt and pepper, and as soon as the fish is done serve it in a deep dish, pouring a little water over it, with the 
parsley and onions. Melted butter and parsley should be served in a tureen. Slices of brown bread and 
butter generally accompany this dish. The writer has tasted a water souche prepared by a famous London 
cooli, but does not remember it with rapture. The favorite American method is to fry the Perch to a crisp, 
witli salt pork rather than with butter. In summer, when the skin is slightly bitter, it may advantageously 
be removed, at other times the fish is better simply scaled. This method is hearty and best adapted to the 
needs of hungry anglers. Many will preferthe contmental method of stewing them in vinegar or lemon juice, 
or in some kind of sour sauce. In Italy they are roasted on the spit without removing the scales, and bathed 
while roasting with vinegar or lemon juice, a method not unsuitable to camp life in the woods. The follow- 
ing directions are takenfrom the " International Fishery Exhibition Cookery Book: 

Boiled Perch. — Lay the fish in boiling water, with a i^ pound ot salt to each gallon, and simmer gently for 
about ten minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with plain melted butter. (This resembles the water 

Fried Perch.— 'Qwxi^ the fish over with egg, and sprinkle bread crumbs over it. Have ready boiling lard; 
put the fish in and fry a nice brown. Serve with anchovy sauce. 

Perch Stewed with IVine. — Lay them on a stew pan with sufficient stock and sherry to cover them. Put 
in a bay leaf, garlic, parsley, two cloves and salt, and simmer till tender, then remove the fish, strain the 
liquor, add a thickening of butter and flour, pepper, nutmeg and anchovy sauce; sit it over the fire until some- 
what reduced, pour over the fish and serve. " Broiled Perch flitters " are spoken ofwith enthusiasm by early 


6 inches of gut is fastened ; a foot above this another hook is fixed on, 
and a foot above that again a third. This third hook is often a gimp- 
hook when pike and Perch are found in common, so that if a pike should 
come to the bait there maybe a fair chance of capturing him. A minnow 
being hooked through the lips on each of the other hooks, the tackle is 
dropped into an eddy where Perch is supposed to be, and the three baits 
swim round and round the main line ; so that, no matter whether the fish 
are resting at the bottom or searching for their prey in mid water, they 
may be attracted. As soon as there is a bite from a Perch the angler 
feels it at the rod point, slackens line for two seconds to let the fish get 
the minnow well into his mouth, and then strikes. Should the immediate 
neighborhood not afford a bite the tackle is cast to a distance, and after 
being allowed to rest for a minute it is drawn in a few feet, when another 
cast is made and then another draw, until the tackle is worked up on the 
boat or the bank. In the winter, after the floods, very many Perch are 
caught in this way on the Thames, from one hundred to two hundred in a 
day being not very uncommonly taken." 

Pater-nostering is said to require much skill, but this method is surely 
worthy of more general use in America. It may, perhaps, be preferable to 
hook the bait though the dorsal fin, or to use a " tail-hook " to avoid the 
risk of losing the minnow without gaining the Perch. 

The French gear is more complicated than the English, the hooks being 
attached to long bristles, which are tied to beads of wood, rubber or iron, 
kept in place upon the line by means of split shot. The use of supplementary 
floats, or "postillions," is recommended to keep the line from sinking. 
This apparatus is very heavy, and is more of the nature of a set line 
than of an angler's apparatus. 

The "ledger" is another method sometimes employed in Perch fishing, 
especially in rapidly running streams, where it is not convenient to use a 

"This," says Francis, "consists of a gut line a yard or two long, run 
through a bullet or lump of lead pierced with a round hole. On the hook 
side of the line an obstruction is fastened, so that the lead cannot slip 
down to the hook, but the line is free on the rod side of the lead, the 
lead is dropped into the water and rests on the bottom, a tight line 
between the rod top and the lead being kept. The instant a fish bites at 
the hook, the line being free in that direction, it is felt at the rod top, 
and the angler, yielding a little line to let the fish get the bait and hook 
well in his mouth, strikes, lifting the lead and hooks the fish." 

In France are employed various modifications of the ledger, some of 


them, especially \\\q piclie aux gciix in its different forms, very complicated, 
and hardly to be recommended for use in America. 

The Perch, it is said, will also rise to an artificial bait, or to a fly, 
natural or artificial, especially at the end of spring, when the Ephemeras 
are abundant and they are preying upon surface life. Some authorities 
say that a gray fly is preferable ; others that there is nothing equal to a 
red hackle. An imitation of the insect upon which they are known to be 
feeding at the time, or better still, the natural insect, will undoubtedly 
be the most eff'ective bait. In fly-fishing for Perch a strong trout rod, or 
light bass rod may be used. The leader should be of gut, and may ad- 
vantageously be rendered inconspicuous by staining a deep blue or reddish 
brown — so say the experts. 

The flavor of the Perch is said to be finest when they are full of spawn 
and milt, but directly after spawning for two or three weeks, although 
at this time they bite ravenously, their flesh is often soft and watery. 
They are active and voracious throughout the summer, but in the fall 
months are more wary and require the exercise of the angler's highest 
art. AValton observed that, though abstemious in winter, they would bite 
at the middle of the day even then, if it were warm. Many Perch are 
taken by fishing through the ice on the northern lakes. 

This, the only peculiarly American method of Perch fishing, is well 
described by Mr. A. N. Cheney, of Glen's Falls, N. Y.: 

"The Perch retire to deep water with a bottom of fine grass as cold 
Aveather approaches, and there they are found in February and March, 
which is the time for ice fishing. The tools required are an ice chisel, 
for cutting the holes, a hand-line and sinker, fixed with a 'spreader,' 
and snells, and though it does not come under the head of tools, a fire. 
The 'spreader' is a piece of brass wire about a foot long, turned with 
a pair of pliers to form an eye in the middle, to attach the line, and an 
eye in each end to fasten the snells. Spreaders may be obtained at the 
tackle shops, that have a swivel in the middle of the wire, and under- 
neath it an eye so that three snells may be used. The bait is the small 
white grub, most easily found in dead and partly rotted second-growth 
pine trees or logs, from which they have to be cut out with an ax. The 
man who catches Perch for market does not trouble himself to provide 
more than two or three grubs, for as soon as he catches one fish he has 
two baits. It seems cruel, however, to tear the eyes out of a fish that has 
scarcely ceased to quiver, and I could never bring myself to do it thus 
hastily. When the spreader is thrown through the hole cut in the ice, 
there is nothing to do but to wait for a bite. If a Perch takes one bite 


the matter is settled, and it is only necessary to bait and lower the hooks, 
for each time without fail there will be a fish brought up for each hook 

To the words of instruction and advice already written, I would add a 
sentence of warning to him who angles for Perch. Do not yield too un- 
reservedly to the fascination of the pastime. Remember the unfortunate 
angler in Bulwer's "My Novel." 

"Young man, listen ! " said Burley. "When I was about your age, I 
first came to this stream to fish. Sir, on that fatal day, about 3 P. M., I 
hooked up a fish — such a big one, it must have weighed a pound-and-a-half. 
And just when I had got it nearly ashore, the line broke, and the Perch 
twisted himself among those roots and — cacoda^mon that he was — ran off, 
hook and all. Well, that fish haunted me ; never before had I seen such 
a fish. INIinnows I had caught, also gudgeons, and occasionally a dace. 
But a fish like that — a PERCH — all his fins up, like the sails of a man-of- 
war — a monster Perch, — a whale of a Perch! — No, never till then had I 
known what leviathans lie hid within the deeps. I could not sleep till I 
had returned ; and again, sir — I caught that Perch. And this time I 
pulled him fairly out of the water. He escaped ; and how did he escape? 
Sir, he left his eye behind him on the hook. * * * I gazed at that eye, 
and the eye looked as sly and wicked as if it was laughing in my face. 
Well, sir, I had heard there is no better bait for a Perch than a Perch's eye. 
I adjusted that eye on the hook and dropped in the line gently. In two 
minutes I saw that Perch return. He approached the hook ; he recognized 
his eye, — frisked his tail, — made a plunge — and, as I live, carried off the 
eye, and I saw him digesting it by the side of that water lily. The mock- 
ing fiend ! Seven times since that day in the course of a varied and event- 
ful life, have I caught that Perch, and seven times has that Perch escaped. 

* * * Good Heavens ! If a man knew what it was to fish all one's 
life in a stream that has only one Perch, to catch that Perch nine times 
in all and to see it fall back into the water, plump. Why then, young sir, 
he Avould know what human life is to vain ambition." 

* American Afigh'r, March 14, 1885. 



Stizostediou- vitreum and S. canadcuse. 

The surest way 
To take the fish, is give her leave to play, 
And yield her line. 

QuARLES, Shcphcard' s Eclogues, 1644. 

np HE Pike-Perches have been known to the inhabitants of Continental 
Europe for many centuries, and on account of their elongated form 
and large teeth were described by Gesner and other mediaeval naturalists 
under the name Luciopcrca — a name intended to describe their general aj)- 
pearance, since their proportions resemble those of the pikes, while their 
structure resembles that of the perch, to which they are closely allied. 

Linnaeus in his ichthyological system, named the Scandinavian species 
Perca Liicioperca, and placed it in the same genus with the perch, where 
it remained until the time of Cuvier and Rafinesque. The former set aside 
this group of fishes in 1 8 1 7, under the group name of ' ' Les Sandres, ' ' but ne- 
glected to formally propose the genus named Liicioperca, until the publi- 
cation of the second edition of his "Animal Kingdom" in 1S29. In the 
meantime the Sicilian explorer, Rafinesque, had published in 1820, his 
" Ohio Ichthyology," and named the ^s\\ Stizostediou, an appellation which, 
however meaningless and cacophonous, priority requires shall always be 
borne by the Pike-Perches. American ichthyologists have already submitted 
this necessity, but those of the old world still cling to the venerable and 
euphonious Lucioperca. 

The Pike-Perches are distributed throughout the waters of the northern 
hemispheres in much the same manner as the perch, though absent from 


certain areas within the limits of its range. The British Isles, France, 
the Rhine valley and Switzerland, New England and the South Atlantic 
states, are without it, and its distribution in Asiatic Russia is more restricted 
than that of Perca. 

This form is more subject to variation than the Perch, and probably a 
more recent product of evolution, and it has become differentiated into seve- 
ral fairly well-marked types. 

The North American species may be divided into two groups : (i) the 
typical form, most closely related to those of Europe, and (2) the form 
with small eyes, slender body, pointed head, smaller second dorsal and 
with pyloric coeca set aside by Gill and Jordan in the subgenus Cynoperca. 

In the latter category is placed ^. canadense, having its spinous dorsal fin 
ornamented with two or three rows of round black spots, and without a blotch 
posteriorly, but with a dark patch at the base of each pectoral : within 
the limits of this species, Jordan recognizes three varieties or subspecies 
which intergrade to some extent, but which by old-school naturalists would 
have been regarded as valid species. The first of these is the Sauger or 
Pickering of the St. Lawrence region, .S*. canadense canadense, with 
the opercles and bones of the head considerably rougher, the number or 
opercular spines, (which are merely the free ends of the strix), increased, 
and the head more closely and extensively scaly. 

The second is the common Sand Pike, or Sauger, of the Great 
Lakes, S. canadense grisetim, t\iQ Eucioperca grisea of DeKay's " New York 
Fauna," and many other ichthyologies. This form is now plentiful in the 
Ohio River into which it is supposed to have made its way since the con- 
struction of the Ohio and Erie Canal. 

The third is the Sand Pike of the upper Missouri, S. canadense doreiun, 
which is rather slenderer than that of the Great Lakes, having a long 
slender nose and a head more flattened and snake-like. 

A certain type of coloration is characteristic of S. canadense in all its 
forms, and it has fewer rays in the second dorsal fin, there being only iS, 
more scaly cheeks, a more prominent armature of the operculum and most 
significant of all, the pyloric cceca are small and unequal in length and 
are never less than four in number, and sometimes as many as seven. In the 
other American species these number only three, and are nearly equal in 
length and about as long as the stomach. Whoever wishes to identify our 
Pike-Perches accurately must not fail to dissect them and examine this fea- 
ture of internal structure. 


The largest and most important form is Stizostedion vitreum, generally 
referred to by recent writers upon fishes as the Wall-eyed Pike. This 
well-known species is found in nearly all the water systems frequented 
by S. canadense, and in many others, its geographical range being much 
more extended. It inhabits the Great Lakes and their confluents,* and oc- 
curs in most of the little lakes of Western New York, — Cayuga, Seneca, 
Chatauqua, Oneida and many others. It ranges north to the fur countries, 
and is doubtless widely distributed through British America. It is found 
in the Susquehanna and the Juniata, in the Ohio River, and many of its 
tributaries, in Western Virginia and North Carolina, in Kentucky, in Rock 
Castle River and elsewhere in Tennessee, especially in the French Broad 
and at least as far south as Memphis, in Georgia in the Oostanaula river 
and it is said, in Arkansas. Its range to the south and southwest deserves 
careful investigation. 


Jordan recognizes two subspecies oi Stizostedion vitreiiin — the typical form 
S. vitreumvitretcm, and a smaller, heavier bodied form which is bluer in color 
and is generally known as the Blue Pike, S. vitreiun salmoneiwi. This, he 
states, is a local variety in Ohio and southward. It has been considered a 
distinct species by many naturalists since the days of Rafinesque. 

The geographical range as well as the classification of the American 
Pike-Perches, as the reader must have inferred from what has been said 
about them in these pages, need to be studied much more exhaustively before 
a satisfactory essay can be written upon them. Their habits are very im- 
perfectly understood, and it will be necessary to refer to what is known of 
their kindred in Europe, in order to give even a partial idea of their life- 

In the Old World, as in the New, there are two well marked species, 

*A specimen was taken in April, 1887, in the Connecticut river at Portland, as recorded by Professor Wil- 
liam North Rice. 


the Zander, or Schill, S. lucioperca (L),* and the Berschick, or Sekret, 
S. volgcusis, (Pallas), the former distributed through a large part of 
Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, the latter, in the south of Russia, 
especially in the Dniester and the Volga. 

The popular nomenclature of the various American forms is in a most 
perplexing state. 

In the upper lakes where the true Pike, Esox liicius is known as the 
pickerel, Stizostedion vitreiim is called the "Pike," with such local variations 
as ''Blue Pike," "Yellow Pike," "Green Pike" and "Grass Pike." 

In Ohio, Tennessee and western North Carolina, it robs jEi-f^jv: of another 
of its names, and is called " Jack." In Lake Erie, however, it is generally 
known as the "Pickerel." 

The name " Salmon,' ' is quite generally applied in rivers where no mem- 
ber of the family SabnoJiidcc is found. This is notably the fact in the 
tributaries of the Mississippi and Ohio, and in the Susquehanna : hundreds 
of cases of the capture of salmon, supposed to have developed from fry 
planted by the fish commissioners, have been reported in the newspapers dur- 
ing the past ten years, and almost always, when the matter has been inves- 
tigated, a Pike Perch has been found the innocent cause of the false report. 
" White Salmon " is a local name at the Falls of the Ohio ; "Jack Salmon ' ' 
is another bad name. " Okow," sometimes heard in the lake region is evi- 
dently a corruption of " Okun " and " Okunj," Polish and Russian names for 
the common perch, introduced by immigrants. The French Canadians on 
the lakes call it " Doree," and "Dory" is a name which has found its 
way into the books. 

" Glass eye " and " Wall-eyed Pike " are names peculiar to this species, 
and the former has been perpetuated in the specific name vitreum. The 
name "Wall-eyed Pike" is coming into favor, and has already replaced 
some of the misnomers long prevalent. On the Susquehanna, for instance, 
it is rapidly taking the place of "' Salmon." If it must be used, " Wall-eye" 
is of course to be preferred to the misleading "Wall-eyed Pike." To me 
it seems a most repulsive and undesirable name, but others find it appro- 
])riate. Listen to an ardent admirer: — "Look at this beautiful fish! as 
5:ymmetrical in form as the salmon. Not a fault in his make-up, not a 
scale disturbed, every fin perfect, tail clean cut, and his great big wall-eyes 
stand out with that life-like glare so characteristic of the fish." 

* Zander, Zant , Sander , Sannat , and ^VjWf/rtr/ in Northern Germany,/J?«rt?</, Nagemaul , Sekiel , Schill and 
Fogosch in Southern Germany, Sander and Sandcl in Austria, Sandre or Satidat in France, Sandart in 
Denmark, Goes in Sweden, Gj'orJ in Norway, Sudak in Russia, Sterkas in Lithuania, Scndacz in Poland, 
..!)".v//c) and Fogas in Hungary. 


The phrase "Wall-eyed" is good old English to be sure, but it brings 
to mind the invective of Lucius reviling the Goth in Titus Andronicus : 

"Say, wall-eyed slave, whither wouldst thou convey 
This growing image of thy fiend-hke face." * 

If " Wall-eye " is to be the name of ^. griseum it is evident that " San- 
ger " must be that of the other species, for it is not claimed by any other 
fish, and is probably of Indian origin, which is a recommendation. S. 
canadensex?, also called in various localities "Pickering," "Pickerel," 
"Horse-fish," "Gray-pike" and "Ground-pike." 

The Pike-Perches resemble the yellow perch in their habits, but though 
equally vivacious are usually less sprightly and pugnacious, especially when 
inhabiting quiet waters. The Swedes have a proverb — ' ' As stupid as a Pike- 
Perch " — not particularly applicable to our American species. 

Their greater size debars their occupancy of the creeks and pools in which 
perch so often congregate, and it is said that they are rarely found on bot- 
toms of clay or mud. In lakes they retire to waters of considerable depth, 
but in running streams are partial to rapids, and whirling pools among the 
rocks. In Lake Pepin, according to Dr. Estes, they seek out the purest 
Avater, and their favorite feeding grounds are at the ends of projecting 
points where the bottom has been washed clear by the waves, and at the 
mouths of streams where the current breaks into the still waters of the lake. 
They delight to run up the larger streams until they encounter an impassa- 
ble fall or dam, and in rivers where there are no falls they frequent deep roll- 
ing foot-pools, or deep dark holes, where the current is strong under old logs 
or drift piles. At the foot of Lake Pepin, just at the point where the still 
Avater of the lake begins to flow into the river, they are found in great num- 
bers, associated with the black-bass and the striped lake-bass. At the 
junction of the Chippewa with the Mississippi is another great feeding 
grounds where the Pike-Perches are especially abundant under the great 
rafts of lumber and accumulation of logs which are always there in summer. 
Concerning their association, Dr. Estes writes : "In these waters the Wall- 
eye f is seldom found associated with any other fish than the sand-pike." | 
It is true, however, that in swift-rolling waters, especially under falls we find 
him in company with the black-bass, but I believe that the force of the 
fall and the tumbling waters in a measure destroy the i)ugilistic nature of 
the bass, or he would not suffer the wall-eye to remain in his company. In 

* Titus Andronicus, Act v, Scene i. 

\S. vitreuvi. \S. canaeieiisc boreutn : this form was named Luciojierca pepimis by Dr. Esles. 



other locations the bass easily drives the wall-eye from his feeding 
grounds. ' ' 


They feed upon every kind of small fish, and do not even spare their own 
offspring. In the sea-going rivers of Germany they prey largely upon the 
smelt, and in our own waters upon the various small cyprinoids. Insects, 
larvae, crawfish and worms are also devoured in great numbers, and even 
frogs and snakes. 

Their eggs are from i to 1^4 millimeters in diameter, and light golden 
yellow in color, and are adhesive like those of the sea-herring, clinging 
to stones, roots and the stalks of water plants where they are deposited at 
a depth of from three to ten feet. They begin to spawn when less than 
a pound in weight, and each female deposits from two to three hundred 
thousand ova. This great fertility is serviceable, for no fresh water species is 
more subject to the fatalities incident to the spawning season. After storms 
the shores of lakes are said to be often bordered by windrows of the stranded 
ova of the Pike-Perch. Dr. Estes well describes the destructive inroads oi 
sturgeon, cat-fish and suckers upon the spawning beds in Lake Pepin. He 
estimates that not one-fourth of the eggs remain to be hatched. 

AVenzel Horack, who has studied the habits of the Zander in Southern 
Bohemia, finds that the time of spawning is so intimately connected with 
the temperature of the water and the air that it sometimes begins in March, 
though it usually occurs in April and May; the season of oviposition con- 
tinues through the summer and into October. In the north of Germany 
the Zander spawns in May and June ; in southern Germany earlier, begin- 
ing in April. Eckstrom states that in Sweden they spawn only at night. 

The fullest description of the breeding of the American species is that by 


Dr. Estes : "They spawn," he writes, "from the first to the fifteenth of 
April, in Lake Pepin sometimes earlier. One season the spawning was all 
done by the third of April, and every fish had left the beds. Just as soon 
as the lake is well closed over with ice, they leave the deep water and re- 
sort to the sand-bars where they remain until the spawning time in the 
spring. It seems a fact that they select and take possession of the spawn- 
ing beds fully three months before they are needed for use. I have care- 
fully obsen^ed this habit for more than twenty-five years, and each year's 
observation is confirmatory. In the first place, we do not take them on 
these bars in summer, and again two-thirds of all that are taken from the be- 
ginning of winter to spring are females, proving conclusively that they thus 
early select these bars as spawning grounds. I have often visited them as 
early as May, but failed to find the fish, while, from the closing of the lakes 
to March, they are often found in great numbers. 

" The beds are made on sandy bars, in water from four to eight feet deep. 
The bottom must be clean, well-washed sand, free from gravel, rocks, mud 
or grass. The eggs are mixed with the sand but not covered over, and 
consequently many of them fall an easy prey to the numerous fishes which 
are on the hunt for them." * 

Little is known of their rate of growth. Heckel and Kner state that the 
Zander grows rapidly with abundant food, especially if it remains in the 
mar.shy districts, attaining in the first year a weight of a pound-and-a-half, 
in the second two pounds-and-a-half, and in the third, from five to six 
pounds. In the lower waters of the Danube, however, its weight in the 
first year is only three-quarters of a pound, and in the second, two pounds. 
They also say that the Zander lives only from eight to ten years. Dr. 
Estes tells us that in Lake Pepin the yearling fish are only about two inches 
long, a story which seems much more credible than that told by the 
Austrian naturalists just quoted. The Wall-eye does not often exceed ten 
pounds in weight, though giants of thirty-six inches or more, weighing from 
twenty to thirty pounds, are on record, f The Sanger is smaller, rarely ex- 
ceeding eighteen inches in length. Zanders sokl in the German markets 
range from one to four i)ounds in weight ; the Pike-Perch which come to 
Washington and New York are usually not larger. 

The Pike-Perch was one of the first species experimented upon by Ameri- 
can fish culturists. In May, 1857, it is said, Mr. Carl Muller of New York 

^■American Angler Sept. 8, 1883, and St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 1882. 

f" Dr. Buel tuok one in the Kentucky River which weighed nearlj- fifty pounds." — Genio C. Scott. 


and Mr. Henry Brown of New Haven, artificially fecundated twenty million 
eggs, which they transferred from Lake Ontario to Lake Saltonstall in Con- 
necticut. There is no evidence that the eggs ever were hatched.* Seth 
Green has experimented in the same direction. He states that the eggs 
may be hatched either in the box which bears his own name, or in the 
Holton box, and that they require thirty-one days for development in 
water at a temperature of 34°, though in warmer water they will mature in 
ten days.f Max Von dem Borne gives the details of some further experi- 
ments made in Pomerania, prior to 1S81.J 

It seems probable that whenever it shall be determined to disseminate 
this fish more widely through American waters, the object may be accom- 
plished, as has been so often done Avith the black-bass, by transplanting in- 
dividuals of considerable size. The Zander was successfully acclimated in 
England by the Duke of Bedford in 1878. Twenty-eight individuals, 
averaging about two pounds in weight, were taken across from Germany 
by Herr Dallmer, a Prussian fishery officer. 

Elaborate instructions for the transplanting of this fish, and its care in 
captivity, are given by my friend Max Von dem Borne, in his "Fischzucht." 

Wherever the Pike-Perch is known it is very highly prized. \\\ the 
Great Lake regions S. vitrcum ranks next in value to the white fish and lake 
trout, though S. canadense is not so well esteemed. At Sandusky, Toledo 
and Cleveland, where all market-fishes are classified in the two categories 
"hard-fish" and "soft-fish," the two species are assorted into distinct 
classes, the Sauger being placed in the inferior, or " soft " group. 

The flesh is hard, white, flaky and easy of digestion, and has a distinc- 
tive flavor of its own, which renders it especially available for boiling, 
though often stuffed and baked. Its capabilities are equal to those of 
fresh-caught cod or turbot. The Pike-Perch, as it comes to our tables, 
through the mediation of the fish-mongers, is by no means so palatable as the 
Zander, when served in the restaurants of Berlin, Dresden or Munich — plain- 
boiled with a simple sauce of drawn butter. This is not the fault of the 
fish so much as of the fish-markets. In Germany they are sold alive, and 
it is a most satisfactory experience to see the clean, plump fishes, eels, carp 
and Zander, swimming about in the great wooden tubs, of which there are 
scores in the great stone-paved squares every market morning. 

•■'Report U. S. Commissioner of Patents, 1859, P- 227. 
^ Fish Hatching- and Fish Catching, 1S79, p. 173. 
XFischzucht, p. 149. 


I have an impression that the delicacy of the Zander in Germany is greatly 
due to the fact that the fish are bled, when taken from their tubs to be de- 
livered to the purchaser. In Sweden the fishermen are said to pierce 
their tails, to allow the blood to escape and thus blanch the flesh. 

In the south of Russia one of the Pike-Perches, the Berschick, is exceed- 
ingly abundant. In former years it was held in low esteem and used in the 
manufacture of oil, but of late, Astrakhan has been sending annually to 
Turkey and Greece about eighty millions of pounds of this fish, salted and 
two or three million pounds of a kind of caviar, called tchasiikozn, made 
for the most part from its roe. 

Travellers in Austria and Russia tell of the great piles of salted Pike- 
Perch, stacked up like cord wood along the banks of lakes and rivers. 

In angling for Pike-Perch, a bass-rod, reel and float are generally used by 
American anglers. In quiet waters live minnows are preferable for bait, but 
in rapid currents slices of fish are quite as good, especially if these are 
trimmed so as to spin nicely. Bischoff, a Bavarian authority, recommends 
the use of long thin strips, fastened to the hook at one end so as to wriggle 
like snakes. European anglers generally prefer live bait, with the pater- 
noster or even with the simple float-line. 

In fishing in rapids the bait should be allowed to run down with the cur- 
rent, guiding it as far as may be in and out among the largest rocks. 
Genio Scott found this method effective at the Little Falls of the Mohawk 

It should always be remembered tliat the Pike-Perch rarely leaves the 
bottom, and the line should always be baited with reference to this fact. 

The artificial fly is sometimes used. A correspondent of the A??iencan 
Afjgler* wrote sometime ago to that journal that he had fished the streams 
and lakes of southern Wisconsin for twelve years, and had found no fish 
which afforded him better sport than the Pike-Perch. It will take the fly as 
readily as the brook-trout or the black-bass, and while it will not fight as long 
as the bass, it furnishes the fly-fisher with a fair amusement, and as a table 
fish is infinately its superior. With a light rod, weighing from five to nine 
ounces, a four foot leader, and a bass-fly, this fish may be readily taken. 
The angler should whip the white foaming water below a dam, on some 
frosty morning, using a dark fly, or cast upon the same water toward even- 
ing with a light fly. He will learn that there are new possibilities for him 
in the way of sport with a rod. 

^American Angler, Oct. 7, 1882. 


There is probably no better Pike-Perch fishing in the world than that 
which may be had in the vicinity of Lake City, Minn., in Lake Pepin and 
the adjacent waters. The name of Dr. D. C. Estes is as closely identified 
with the Pike-Perch as that of Norris with the grayling, of Henshall with 
the black-bass, or of Cholmondeley-Pennell with the pike. His essay pub- 
lished in the fourth volume of the American Angler,^ from which extracts 
have been made, is the only careful study of the American species and is 
well worth the attention of naturalists as well as of anglers. 

The tackle Avhich he recommends for boat or raft fishing consists of a 
three-jointed bamboo rod, about twelve feet long, a click reel placed in 
front of the hand and on top of the rod, thirty or forty yards of braided 
silk or linen line, and a Sproat-bend hook. No. 3-0, tied to a single length 
of twisted double gut or to gimp. 

For wading the bars he uses a much longer rod, often a whole bamboo, 
so pliable that long casts may be made into deep water. More than two- 
thirds of the fish caught in the main body of Lake Pepin are taken within 
four rods of the shore, off the ends of the sandy points, in water from five 
to ten feet deep. 

The Pike-Perches are never taken in large numbers for use in commerce, 
except during the spawning season, or immediately before it, and like the 
perch, they are in the finest condition when fuU-roed. In Balaton Lake 
and elsewhere in Hungary, there are extensive fisheries with bag-nets under 
the ice, and they are caught chiefly in winter in our own lake region. I 
have never seen a description of the manner in which the Berschick, S. vol- 
gensis, is captured in Astrakhan, but the statistics indicate that it is car- 
ried on during the spawning season, since three or four per cent, of the 
weight of the fish exported is in the form of salted ova. 

A good type of winter fishing through the ice is that practiced on Lake 
Pepin. Holes are cut through the ice over the bars from three to ten rods 
from the shore. The hook is baited with a live minnow. A very simple 
device is used to signal a bite. A piece of lath about two feet long, with 
a hole in it a little nearer one end than the other ; through this hole in the 
lath is run loosely a cross-bar which is laid across this hole on the ice. To 
the short end of the lath the line is attached. The moment the bait is 
seized by a fish below, the end of the lath flies upright, and so remains as 
long as the fish pulls. The fisherman seeing it, hastens to rescue his fish. 

^American Angler IV, 1S83, pp. 145, 161, 177, 191. 


When there are from fifty to one hundred lines out, and the fish are biting 
freely, it is exciting sport to fly from one quivering signal to another, for 
it is often that four or six are in the air at one time. The number of fish 
thus taken every winter is very great, amply supplying local demands, and 
the fish are much larger than those caught in summer. 

"As an angler and naturalist," continues Dr. Estes, "it was many 
years before I becam.e reconciled to catching the wall-eyed pike from off 
their spawning beds in the winter and spring. Three considerations finally 
forced reconciliation, (i) There existed in the lake a great number of 
these fishes, (2) comparatively few could be taken in summer by the ap- 
proved method of angling, (3) unless taken through the ice a great amount 
of cheap and wholesome fish-food could not be utilized. 

" Notwithstanding these arguments I cannot but feel condemned formy 
conclusions, when I see hundreds of these fishes daily, every one filled with 
spawn enough to stock an inland sea. 

"One other method is resorted to. This is the Indian plan of spearing 
through the ice from under a teepe or daily shanty. A decoy minnow is 
kept in motion until the fish is enticed into sight, when the cruel and 
deadly spear descends and fastens its barbed truss firmly in the flesh. The 
method is worthy alone of the Indians who inx'ented it.*" 

Closely allied to the Pike-Perches is the log-perch, Pcrcina caprodes, 
also known as the " Rock-fish," and " Hog-fish." It is the largest of a 
large group of little perch-like fishes called "Darters" or Ethcostoma- 
tidce. "These fishes" writes Jordan, " may be described as little perch, re- 
duced in size and compacted, thus fitted for a life in rocky brooks, where the 
water is too shallow, swift and sterile to support larger fish. All the Darters 
are brilliantly colored, and all have a way of lying quiescent on the bottoms, 
resting on their large fins, and then suddenly darting away for a short dis- 
tance when disturbed. They are carnivorous, feeding chiefly on insects 
and crustaceans. Only one of them, Pcrcina caprodes, is large enough 
to take the hook. This one is often found on the urchin's string, but it 
cannot be said to have any economic value. The others are too small for 
the urchin even, and although, according to Rafinesque, ' they are good 
to eat fried,' few people think it worth while to cook them. Darters are 
found in all fresh waters of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, 
but all the species are peculiar to America." 

* St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan., 1881. 



Roccus lineatiis. 

The stately Bass, old Neptune's fleeting Post 
That tides it out and in from sea to coast. 

Wood, New England's Prospect: 2634. 

"O Y the Greeks, it was so highly esteemed that Archetratus termed it, or 
■^one of the two other closely allied species taken near Miletus, " the off- 
spring of the gods:" So writes Giinther, concerning the Bass of Europe, 
the Aafipa^ and the Lupus of classical literature, which ascended the Ti- 
ber, and entered the Acherusian marshes, and gladdened the palates of 
the gourmets of Rome and Athens. 

The European Bass, Roccus labrax'^ is found from the Mediterranean, 
to Tromsoe in Norway ; the American species ranges from the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. The two species are similar in form, 
but very unlike in color; ours being conspicuously striped, while that of 
Europe is silvery grey. The American form is the largest, most active, 
and on account of its greater abundance, by far the more important. 

In the North it is called the ''Striped Bass," in the South the "Rock 
Fish," or the "Rock." The neutral territory where both these names are 
in use appears to be New Jersey. The fisherman of the Delaware use the 
latter name, those of the sea-coast the former. Large sea-going individ- 
uals are sometimes known in New England by the names "Squid-hound" 

*Bass, Sea-Perch, ]Vkiie Salmon, Sabnon Dace and Sewin, in England, Gape-mouth in Scotland, 
J?r«(??;«^ in Wales, ( This means hedgehog. Compare with the Breton Dreinee.) .5rt?- and i>ijr.y in France, Yatt 
and Dreinee in Brittany, See-Barscli in Germany, Haz'-Bars and Bars in Denmark, Spinnla, Spigota, Bran- 
zine, Varola, Baciola, Kagits and Labrace in Italy, Lul'cn in Croatia, (compare Latin Z«/«.r.) 


and "Green-head." In old books it is sometimes called the "Streaked- 

The generic name, Roccus, a barbarous derivative from the common 
name of the fish, originated with Professor Mitchill, who described the 
species in his "Fishes of New York," in 1S14. 

There is still some uncertainty regarding the southern limits of the dis- 
tribution of this species. In the St. John's River, Florida, they are very 
unusual. Though familiar with the fisheries of that region since 1873, I 
have known of the capture of only two individuals. Mr. 'Stearns has ob- 
tained one or two specimens in the vicinity of Pensacola, and gives an ac- 
count of the degree of their abundance in the Gulf of Mexico. He writes: 
" They are occasionally caught on the northern shores of the Gulf, and 
are evidently more common about the mouths of the Mississippi River 
than elsewhere, since they are taken in this region only in seines, and in 
shallow water their abundance cannot be correctly determined. The 
earliest account I have been able to obtain of the capture of the Striped 
Bass in Pensacola Bay is that of Capt. John Washington, of Mystic, 
Connecticut, who states that in 1850, while seine-fishing from the smack 
'Francis Parkes,' he surrounded with his seine a large school offish, which 
were quite unmanageable; a few of them were saved, and proved to be 
large Striped Bass, weighing from fifteen to forty pounds. At long inter- 
vals since, solitary individuals have been taken at various points on the 
coast. At New Orleans it is found in the market quite often. An eighteen- 
pound specimen was sold there in March, 1880." 

In Hallock's "Sportsman's Gazetteer" the following statement occurs : 
"It is constantly seen in rivers of fresh water at great distances from the 
ocean, even as far up the Mississippi as Saint Louis, and it is common in 
White River, Arkansas, and in all the rivers of the Southern States." 
While there can be no question that straggling individuals of this species 
have been taken in the Gulf of Mexico, it seems ]:irobable that both INIr. 
Stearns and Mr. Hallock have been mistaken by the resemblance of this 
species to the Brassy Bass, Roccus intcrniptus, which abounds throughout 
the Lower Mississippi Valley. 

Canadian authorities inform us that, though the Bass still occur along 
the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia shores of the Gulf, they are much less 
abundant and of smaller size than formerly. They have been known to 
ascend the Saint Lawrence as far as Quebec, and Mr. Roosevelt has seen a 


specimen, a female fish, which was taken in the Niagara River, near 
Lewiston. The Bass is most abundant in the bays and inlets about Cape 
Hatteras, in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay region, and in the pro- 
tected waters of Long Island and Southern New England. In winter it 
occurs in considerable numbers in the Altamaha River, and is not unusual 
in the markets of Charleston, South Carolina. 

The species was introduced into California some years ago, and Jor- 
dan reported, in 1880, that several specimens had been captured along the 

It is particularly abundant in the great estuaries and the open stretches 
of large rivers. It ascends the Potomac to the Great Falls, twelve miles 
above Washington, the Hudson to Albany, the Connecticut to Hartford, 
and the Saint Lawrence to Quebec. Before the erection of the dam in the 
Susquehanna individuals were taken as high up as Luzerne. It is very 
curious that Giinther should state that the European species of Bass are 
"almost exclusively inhabitants of the sea, entering brackish but never 
fresh waters, whilst the American species seem to affect principally fresh 
waters." It is true that America has species of Roccus exclusively fluvia- 
tile in distribution, but not true that the European form does not ascend 
rivers. Badham, who is a sufficiently accurate commentator on the classi- 
cal authorities, remarks: "Though born, and in a great measure, bred at 
sea, it was only those taken in fresh waters which fetched fancy prices, for 
most rivers were thought to impart flavor and to improve the condition of his 
solids; but as tawny Thames has a pre-eminence among rivers for the 
quality of its Perches, so had tawny Tiber for the quality of its Basses. 
Many went so far as to ignore the existence of this fish from any other 

The young fish may advantageously be confined in " stews" or artificial 
enclosures. This was done successfully by Arnold on the Island of Guern- 
sey, and the experiments of Clift at Mystic, Connecticut, were, I am told, 
reasonably satisfactory. 

No one species among the many which they encountered, seems to have 
astonished the early colonists of America by its abundance and choice 
qualities so much as did the Bass. Capt. John Smith in his "New Eng- 
land's Trials," wrote: 

" The Basse is an excellent Fish, both fresh & sake, one hundred whereof 
salted (at market) have yielded 5 pounds. They are so large, the head of 
one will give a good eater a dinner, & for daintinesse of diet they excell the 


Marybones of Beefe. There are such multitudes that I have seene stopped 
in the river close adjoining to my house with a sande at one tide so many as 
Avill loade a ship of 100 tonnes. I myselfe, at the turning of the tyde have 
seene such multitudes passe out of a pounde that it seemed to me that one 
mighte go over their backs drishod." 

Skeptical historians of to-day say that John Smith was a liar. I don't 
believe it, and I quote in his support from the words of a "reverend Di- 
vine," his contemporary : 

"There is a Fish called a Basse, a most sweet & wholesome Fish as ever 
I did eat, it is altogether as good as our fresh Sammon, & the season of 
their comming was begun when we came first to New England in June and 
so continued about three months space. Of this Fish our Fishers take 
many hundreds together, which I have seene lying on the shore to my ad- 
miration ; yea, their Netts ordinarily take more than they are able to hall 
to Land." 

It is by no means strange that the Virginians believed it possible to es- 
tablish commercial fisheries which should rival those of Newfoundland. 
Indeed the bass fishery has, for two hundred and fifty years, been a very 
important resource of the coast states from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, 
and to the present day the annual captures in certain localities are enor- 
mous. The following are extracts from an old note book : 

In December, 1874, three fishing-gangs near Bridgehampton, N. Y.,took 
over 18,000 pounds in less than a week. Captain Charles Ludlow securing at 
one set of his seine 1,672 Bass, or about three and one half tons.* Shortly af- 
ter this a New London fisherman brought in 419 Bass, 185 of which had been 
caught Avith a hook in three hours. Near Norfolk, Va. , 1,500 have been 
taken at a single set of the seine; a itw years ago 600 were thus taken 
which averaged 80 pounds each. The most successful fishery is on the 
plantation of Dr. W. R. Capehart, in Bertie County, N. C. At the ap- 
proach of spawning time, and during the continuence of the shad and 
herring fishery, the bass congregate near the head of Albemarle Sound, 
where they are taken in great numbers. Dr. Capehart writes: "We us- 
ually catch from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds of Striped Bass in a season of 
fifty days, — in March, April, and early May. Occasionally we make an 
immense catch. In 1858, I took about 30,000 pounds in one haul. Many 
of these weighed 75 to 85 pounds. On the 6th of j\Iay, 1876, we made a 
haul of 820 Bass, weighing 37,000 pounds; 365 of this lot weighed 65 
pounds, average, a great many 85 pounds, and a few 90 pounds. In the 

*In the first half of June, 1S79, one fisherman near Fire Island, New York, caught and sent to New York 
the following quantities of Bass: Pounds. Pounds. 

June 2 I, -•.52 I June 8 1.298 

June .i. 1,137 June 9 1,255 

June J 913 June 14 1,258 

June 6 1,5-1 I June iS 1,560 

Total 10, 1*54 


next haul we caught 13,000 pounds more, or 50,000 pounds altogether 
within six hours. This was at the Black Walnut Point fishery. At my 
Avoca Beach fishery a haul was made in 1844, which was supposed to 
amount to 100,000 pounds, but this was not accurately counted. Many 
of the individual fish weighed 95 pounds." A Hessian officer, stationed at 
New York during the Revolutionary war, recorded that great quantities 
were at that time sold in the markets. In the year ending March, 1879, 
over 800,000 pounds of bass were sold in New York, the greatest number 
being recorded for Novemoer. 

The Baltimore Gazette, in May, 1834 had this item: "Some fishermen 
at Carpenters Point took a single haul, upwards of 800 rock fish of the 
largest size we ever saw. Some of them weighed upwards of 100 pounds, 
and the most of them averaged from 50 to 100 pounds." 

The annual consumption of this fish in the United States is estimated at 
not less than 200,000 pounds. 

I have found no very reliable evidence to show that the species is de- 
creasing in numbers. They are not taken by unfair means, nor captured 
by wholesale upon the spawning beds or in narrow waters. The citizens 
of New York a century and a quarter ago were apparently more concerned 
about it than at present, for in 1758 they passed a law prohibiting their 
sale during the winter months, on account of the "great decrease of that 
kind offish." An offender was to be fined forty shillings and forfeit his fish, 
and if he were a negro, mulatto or Indian slave, to be punished at the 
whipping post, unless his fine were paid by his master or mistress. 

The European Bass is probably quite as abundant on the west coast of 
Spain and Portugal as anywhere within its range. 

Like other representatives of the perch family not exclusively marine 
in habit, the Striped Bass are resident in our waters throughout the year. 
They appear to avoid a temperature higher than 65° or 70°, and are not 
sensitive to cold, but their movements are not related to the changes of 
the seasons, and there is no evidence that they seek to avoid the approach 
of winter by southward migration like bluefish and Spanish mackerel, or 
by moving out into the temperate strata of mid-ocean, like shad, salmon, 
menhaden, and mackerel. Nor is it probable that they voluntarily enter 
upon a state of torpidity in winter, as some writers have supposed. Sev- 
eral authorities state that they go into fresh water streams in winter for shel- 
ter, and De Kay's opinion was that, entering bays and ponds, they embed 
themselves in the mud. We know, however, that hibernation of this kind 
is rarely voluntary; as a rule, fish retreat, with a falling temperature, into 


the deepest waters, and never become torpid until they are benumbed by 
the cold, when they sink to the bottom, and possibly rest on a bed of mud. 
It is easy, however, to understand that individuals may occasionally be 
penned up in this way. Mr. Genio C. Scott is responsible for the state- 
ment that the ponds formed by the back water of the Seconnet River, in 
Rhode Island, were one winter so full of Striped Bass that they were dis- 
covered by their dorsal fins projecting from the ice wdiere they had been 
frozen by too close packing. Most of our Bass doubtless avoid such igno- 
minious captivity as this by retreating to the deeper parts of the sea, or 
the rivers, where they remain in a state of partial activity, at least, and 
have occasional opportunity for feeding. Since 1875 there have come to 
my notice instances of their capture in Long Island and Block Island 
Sounds, and in the Merrimac River in December, in Martha's Vineyard 
Sound and the lower part of Hudson River in January. Chesapeake Bay 
and the Potomac yield considerable quantities all winter. In the rivers of 
New Brunswick quantities of them are speared through holes in the ice, as 
they lie close to the bottom. 

The Bass are most voracious feeders. When in the rivers they prey upon 
small fishes, which are always a favorite, and at this time their exclusive 
diet. C. C. Abbott, once saw a Bass, a foot in length, devour a dozen 
silver-finned minnows in four minutes. "A Rock-fish," writes he. " will 
frequently corner up a small school of minnows, and then pick them up as 
rapidly and easily as a fowl will pick up grains of corn, and while devour- 
ing them will keep them in a small place, close together, all the time." 
They also frequent the surf along the ocean beaches, and near rocky 
shores at high tide, hunting for crabs, shrimps, squids, and other inverte- 
brate animals. 

Oppian and /Elian tell astounding stories about European Bass, and how 
they choked themselves to death with their prey. 

"The Lupus's foible," writes Badham, " is an inordinate greediness 
which, w^hen choice fish can be obtained, renders all his cunning of no 
avail ; and his death is often brought about by means of a very insignifi- 
cant enemy." 

They spawn in the late spring and early in the summer, some of them 
in the rivers, others probably at sea, although this has not been definitely 
ascertained. The European Bass are said to deposit their spawn near the 
mouths of rivers, in the summer months. From North Carolina to New 


Jersey the spawning time appears to be in May; in New Brunswick in 
June. Dr. Blanding, many years ago, estimated the number of eggs at 
2,248,000. Seth Green puts the figures at 500,000. 

The experiments of Major Ferguson on Albemarle Sound, in May, 1879, 
resulted in the artificial fecundation and hatching of many thousands of 
the eggs. These were smaller than shad eggs, but after fecundation they in- 
creased considerably in size, and assumed a light green color. They 
hatched in about twenty-four hours. About 400,000 young fish were libe- 
rated in Salmon Creek. Mr. Holton made similar experiments at Weldon, 
N. C, in May, 1873. He observed that the eggs did not come to maturity 
until the fourth or fifth day. This difference in the time of hatching was 
possibly due to the cooler temperature of the w^ater in the Roanoke river. 

In the North Carolina waters they spawn in early May; in the Potomac 
also in May. Dr. C. C. Abbott for five successive years found in the Dela- 
ware River young an inch long in the second week of June. Professor 
Leith Adams observed bass spawning in the St. Johns River, N. B. about 
the middle of June. 

Their rate of growth is not certainly known. Dr. Abbott's inch-long 
fry of June measured four and one-half inches by the middle of October. 
Great quantities of young fish, from five to nine inches long, are taken in 
the Potomac in February and March. I believe them to be the young of 
the previous year. 

Capt. Gavitt, of Westerly, Rhode Island, has caught Bass in June that 
weighed from one-half to one pound, put them into a pond and taken them 
out in the following October, when they weighed six pounds. The aver- 
age size of this fish probably does not exceed twenty pounds. In the Poto- 
mac, Hudson, and Connecticut rivers the largest seldom exceed thirty or 
forty pounds, though in the Potomac fifty-pound fish are not unusual. The 
Fish Commission has for several years had a standing offer of a reward 
for a sixty-pound fish from the Potomac, but none has been forthcoming 
as yet. Dr. Henshall states that he once saw a Striped Bass weighed in 
the Baltimore fish market, which Avent several pounds over one hundred. 
In i860 one was taken at Cuttyhunk, which weighed 104 pounds. The 
largest on record was one weighing one hundred and twelve pounds, taken 
at Orleans, Massachusetts, in the Town Cove. Such a fish must have 
measured at least six feet in length. A fairly proportioned Bass thirty-six 
inches long should weigh at least eighteen pounds. 



In Great Britain a Bass of ten or twelve pounds is considered a fine 
example, but there are instances on record of individuals weighing 22 
and 28 pounds, and those in Southern Europe do not appear to grow much 

Few of our food-fish are more generally popular. The small ones, 
weighing less than a pound are fried, and are excellent pan-fish. Those 
from one to three pounds, are recommended for broiling, and from five to 
eight pound-fish are considered the best to boil. The very large ones are 
cut in transverse sections for boiling, and never lack purchasers. De 
Voe says that Bass are in the best condition in September, October and No- 


In Great Britain the Bass is not highly esteemed, but in France, Spain, 
Italy and Greece, is considered one of the finest of fishes. 

"He is a gallant fish and a bold biter," said Frank Forester; and 
Genio Scott puts him first among the game-fishes of coast and estuary. 
The Striped Bass is deservedly a favorite with the angler, whether he fishes 
with shrimp or clam bait in the brackish creeks, entices with the artificial 
fly at the Little or Great Falls of the Potomac, trolls in the swift tideways, 
tolls with menhaden bait from the stages at Basque and Cuttyhunk, still- 
baits in the bays, or ''heaves and hauls" in the wild surf of the outer 
shores. The last mentioned method is perhaps the most peculiar, and de- 
serves a few words of description. In Scott's " Fishing in American 
"Waters," and in Roosevelt and Green's "Fish Hatching and Fish Catch- 
ing," may be found descriptions of the various kinds of tackle used in 
Bass-fishing, and graphic, breezy stories of adventurous days passed in this 
pursuit. Mr. Scott does not hesitate to claim for his favorite the first 


place on the list of American game-fishes. After devoting several chap- 
ters to other methods of capture, he continues : " Casting menhaden bait 
for Striped Bass, from the rocky shores of the bays, estuaries, and islands 
along the Atlantic coasts constitute the highest branch of American ang- 
ling. It is, indeed, questionable — when considering all the elements which 
contribute to the sum total of sport in angling — whether this method of 
Striped Bass fishing is not superior to fly-fishing for salmon, and if so, it 
outranks any angling in the world. The method is eminently American, 
and characteristic of the modern angler by its energy of style, and the ex- 
ercise and activity necessary to success. " The rods used in this kind of fish- 
ing must not exceed nine feet in length, and are very light, often less than 
a pound in weight, the lines of linen or hemp, two to three hundred yards 
long, must be of the utmost strength and elasticity, the reels must represent 
the perfection of the tackle-maker's skill, triple-multipliers, with jewel- 
mounted wheels and delicately adjusted balance-cranks. The unsuspecting 
Basses are lured in by the use of a toll bait of chopped menhaden, which is 
cast upon the water until an oily surface or slick is produced which ex- 
tends half a mile or more from the shore. This attracts the fish, which swim 
toward the angler, stopping now and then to seize the floating bits offish. 
"When they come within reach of the fisherman's line a strong hook, deli- 
cately baited with a bit of menhaden, pork, or parchment, is quickly 
off"ered them. "With a dexterity which practice alone can assume," writes 
Mr. Hallock, " the experienced anglers carefully sway the rod until the 
squid describes its slowly moving circle around the head, and then, by a 
quick, inexplicable movement, cause it to dart like an arrow, straight out 
far over the sea, and the reel whizzes and whirls until it seems to flash fire, 
and you wait long and patiently for the cessation of the hum, which indicates 
that the squid has dropped full one hundred feet, perhaps one hundred 
and fifty feet away. The pleasure and excitement of capture are intense, 
and often the struggle lasts for an hour when the fish is large." 

On Pasque and Cuttyhunk, two of the Elizabeth Islands, lying be- 
tween Buzzard's Bay and Martha's Vineyard Sound, are several club-houses, 
sustained by wealthy gentlemen from New York who resort to this region 
in summer to enjoy this amusement. Long stages project from the rocks 
into the sound and bay, and from these the anglers cast their squids and 
play their fish, attended by their " baiters," who do their full share of labor 
in finding bait, baiting hooks, and gaffing the fish. Ill-natured rumor 



whispers that for every pound of Bass brought to shore by these hard-work- 
ing club-men, hundreds of pounds of menhaden are cast into the sea. 

An obliging correspondent furnishes the following description of one of 
these clubs : " The Island of Cuttyhunk is about sixteen miles from New 
Bedford, at the extreme southwesterly boundary of Buzzard's Bay, whose 
foaming billows wash its northern shore, while the ocean itself beats upon 
the south. The Cuttyhunk Club own about three hundred acres of land, and 
have the exclusive right to fish on the shores and in the ponds of the island. 
When the club was first formed they stocked one of the ponds on the island 
with black bass, and these have multiplied so plentifully that they are now 
caught in large numbers. No fishing was allowed for three years from the 
time the pond was stocked. Perch and trout are also plenty in ponds on the 
island. Twenty-six fishing stands have been built at Cuttyhunk, and they 
extend completely round the island. These stands are built upon prominent 
rocks, and are supported above the breakers by iron rods. Foot bridges, 
supported in the same way, are built from the shore to the stands. The 
stands are all named or numbered, and are drawn for every night by the mem- 
bers of the club. A member drawing a stand can fish from it the next day, 
or it can be used by any one else by his permission. The stands bear such 
names as ' Nashawena Point,' ' Canepitset,' ' Old Water Line,' ' Cove Point, 
'Little Bass,' 'Big Bass,' and 'Gull Rocks.' The stands are all removed 
after the season is over, to be put up again the next year. ' Central Park' 
seats have this season been placed on the bluffs round the island at con- 
venient points, from which to watch the fishing at each stand, so that mem- 
bers who are not lucky enough to secure favorite stands can sit with ease 
and enjoy the sport of their fellow-members. The favorite fishing is for 
Striped Bass, and, during the best of the season, the sport is commenced 
as early as three o'clock in the morning. A record is kept at the club 
house of the daily catch, by whom caught, where taken, on what station, 
the number of fish, weight, and date. Some members of the Cuttyhunk 
Club also belong to the West Island Club, which controls only five acres 
of land. The West Island Club is limited to thirty members, with an ad- 
mission fee of $1,000." 

Professor Leith Adams has drawn a vivid pen-picture of Indian Bass-fish- 
ing in New Brunswick. 

"The Indians (on the St. John's River) pursue them at spawning 
time. The scene on a beautiful summer afternoon is extremely ex- 
citing. There a few canoes containing remnants of the Melicita 
tribe may be seen dropping quietly down the river, each with an Indian 
in the prow, spear in hand, and another at the stern paddling gently; then 
a sudden splash close by calls for his utmost exertions, and like an arrow 
the birch-bark skiff is shot towards the spot, when the man in front, rest- 
ing on his knees, with much force and dexterity sends his three-jjronged 
harpoon straight on the fish." 



Subtle. Has he bit ? Has he bit ? 

Face. And swallowed too, my Subtle. I have given him line, and now he plays i' faith. 

Subtle. And shall we twitch him ? 

Face. Through both the gills. 

Een. Jonson, The Alcheiiiisi, 1611, Act. ii, Pc. i. 

'T^HE White Bass, or Striped Lake Bass, Roccus chrysops, is often con- 
. founded with the Striped Bass, which it closely resembles. It may 

easily be distinguished by the presence of thirteen, instead of eleven, soft 
rays in the anal fin, as well as by the greater size of its scales, of which 
there are about fifty-five rows, instead of sixty or more. 

It is most abundant in the Great Lake region, although it has a wide 
distribution in the Ohio and upper tributaries of the Mississippi, and is 
found in many streams farther south. It frequents chiefly the lakes and 
ponds and the deeper parts of the rivers. It feeds upon minnows and the 
like, usually taking the hook readily, and is considered gamy by the 
angler. As a food-fish it ranks high, being little inferior to the black- 
bass. Its usual weight is from one to three pounds. The White Bass is 
said to be an excellent fish for cultivation in artificial ponds. Like most 
of its relatives, this species spawn in late spring. 

"It is often taken in the Ohio River," writes Jordan, " and frequents 
chiefly deep or still waters, seldom ascending small streams. 


This is doubtless the Silver Bass of Canada i^Ic Silver Bass du Canade), 
the details of whose introduction into France, and successful propagation 
by M. Carbonnier, from 1877 to 1879, are recorded by that experimenter 
in the Bulletin of the Society of Acclimation for i88t.* 

The species at one time attained to commercial importance in the Lake 
Region, but has now greatly decreased in numbers. It is especially ad- 
mired by the anglers of Lake Pepin. 

Another species which closely resembles the Striped Bass is the Morone 
interriipta, generally known as the Yellow Bass, but sometimes called 


Bar-fish in the South. It is found throughout the lower course of the 
Mississippi,^ ascending the tributaries which are deep and sluggish, but 
not running past rapids or into the upper courses of the rivers. Jordan 
states that its range extends up the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash or 
beyond, though it does not seem to be common anywhere except in the 
Lower Mississippi. It probably enters salt water, but of this we have no 
certain information. It is taken in considerable numbers in the regions 
where found, and is graded with the White Bass, which it much resembles 
in size and color. Little is known in regard to its habits. The criterion 
by which it maybe distinguished from the White Bass is the low membrane 
connecting the two dorsal fins. Its color is yellow, not silvery, and the 
black stripes are very prominent. 

♦Bulletin Mensuel dela Societe d' Acclimation, viii. No. i, p. lo. 



In Louisiana this species is called " Bar-fish " probably on account of 
its stripes. "The appellation," says Hallock, "is equally appropriate as 
applied to its habit of congregating in great numbers upon the shoals of 
clear water branches and bayous which empty into the Mississippi. The 
minnows and shiners seem to seek the bars at night. In early morning 
the water is alive with Bar-fish and trout (black-bass) in pursuit of the 
minnows until it fairly boils. This is the time of day to go fishing." 


Morone americana. 

Nor let the Muse, in her award of fame. 
Illustrious Perch, unnoticed pass thy claim. 
Prince of the prickly cohort, bred in lakes. 
To feast our boards, what sapid boneless flakes 
Thy solid flesh supplies ! though overfed. 
No dantier fish in ocean's pastures bred 

Swims thy compeer. 

AusoNius, The Moselle. 

'T^HE apostrophe of Ausonius was prophetic, for his words apply much 
more exactly to the species of Aforojie now under discussion than to 
the Perca which the poet had in mind. 

This fish, closely related to the Yellow Bass, occurs in brackish water 
in the mouths of rivers, and even, in many instances, in fresh-water ponds, 
where it had become land-locked, and all along the coast from Georgetown, 
S. C, to Nova Scotia. Dr. Yarrow states that it abounds in the Tar and 
Neuse Rivers, N. C. In the Chesapeake and tributary streams it is ex- 
ceedingly abundant. It also abounds in the lakes and streams of the St. John 
River, New Brunswick, and in the vicinity of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It 
has been claimed by certain observers in Florida that White Perch were 
formerly abundant in that region, and the marketmen of New Orleans 
state that they were common in Lake Pontchartrain until the Bonnet 
Carre Crevasse changed the water from salt to fresh. Mr. Stearns and 
Prof. Jordan having investigated the subject, are of the opinion that these 
theorists are mistaken. 


The habits of this fish have been but little observed ; in fact, it has 
been the custom of nearly all writers on game fishes to speak lightly of it. 
It found an earnest advocate in Mr. Thaddeus Norris, who, after protest- 
ing strenuously against the statement of various writers that it is rarely 
brought to market for food ; that it is only fit for chowder ; that it is not 
of sufficient importance to merit particular notice, and so on, goes on to 
state, what is undoubtedly true, that in season the White Perch is the pan- 
fish, excelled by none in the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk 
and Richmond markets ; and he might have added, had he been writing 
at the present time, of the New York market also, for there is, probably, 
no fish of its size which is more universally popular throughout the Eastern 
States than the White Perch. 

In a single paragraph, Mr. Norris, who, making no professions of 
scientific skill, has been one of our best observers of fishes, has given 
almost the only reliable information which has ever been collected regard- 
ing this species. " Its most natural habitat is in fresh tidal rivers, where 
it is found on flat clay and muddy bottoms, and in shallow water. It is 
frequently found far above the terminus of the tide, and is often more 
abundant in fresh than in brackish water in the season of the year when 
sought for by anglers. This fish, when found in salt water creeks, is 
darker in color, but there is no specific difference. The White Perch is a 
congener of the magnificent rock-fish, and is frequently found feeding in the 
same place and in his company. Its average length is eight or nine inches ; 
it is not often more than twelve, though in rare instances it is found four- 
teen inches long. White Perch hibernate in the deep waters of our bays, 
and ascend the fresh tidal rivers soon after the ice and snow-water have 
run off. They feed greedily on the spawn of other fish, particularly that 
of the shad ; on insects, crabs, minnows and on the migratory schools of 
young eels which are found in the months of April and May in great 
numbers at any rapid or dam obstructing the upward flow of the tide. 
Perch usually spawn in May, and then resort to deeper waters to recuperate, 
and all summer long are found by the angler, ever swimming around the 
deep-sunk pier or the timbers of the rickety old bridge, snapping at 
shrimps or chasing the minnows ; at flood-tide high up amongst the water- 
lilies, and never refusing a bait, if of the right sort and properly presented. ' ' 

Dr. C. C. Abbott has added some important observations. He found 
female fish heavy with apparently ripe ova as late as June lo. The largest 


specimens of White Perch taken in the Delaware weighed, respectively, 
one pound nine ounces, one pound thirteen ounces, and two pounds one 
ounce. These were caught in a shad net in May, 1865, at the fishery 
opposite Trenton. The average adult fish may be said to measure eight 
inches and weigh from seven to nine ounces. He continues : '' I believe, 
for reasons to be given, that the growth of the young is very rapid, and 
that the August Perch are young, hatched late in the preceding May and 
April ; in June these August Perch measuring about two-and-a-half to 
three inches in length. ... I should judge that spawning occurred 
between May 10 and June 10, usually nearer the former than the latter 
date. This is based on the fact of having gathered very young fish, the 
age of which \ guessed ixom. the general condition and amount of develop- 
ment of the specimens. After the middle of June the White Perch are 
found in localities widely different ; even waters with a dense growth of 
lily and river weed are found to contain them in apparent health and 
vigor — spots where the Rock fish could not live a day. Still later in the 
summer, as the young Perch become quite strong and of some size, the 
river, although in and above tide-water, fairly teems with them. At this 
season they go in schools, sometimes of large size. I have known of 
twelve, fifteen and twenty dozen August Perch being taken with a line in 
as short a time as from three to five hours. Fishing in this way a line 
with half a dozen hooks is used, and worms, sturgeon spawn or live min- 
nows are used as bait. These schools of small Perch I supposed to be 
broods of the preceding May, and that they kept together until late in 
November. They pass down to the salt water and there separate. Larger 
adult fish are not as restless as these smaller ones, and are found in deeper 
water, and usually in the tide-waters. In their feeding habits the White 
Perch agree very closely with the rock-fish. In all their habits, in fact, 
the two fish are much alike, and in the Delaware they are always asso- 
ciated, the most noticeable difference in their habits being the ability of 
the Perch to remain and thrive in warmer waters than the rock-fish is ever 
found frequenting." 

Harris, in his "Game Fish of Pennsylvania," writes: "When taken 
with a skittered minnow or bright fly on a light rod, we do not hesitate to 
class as a game fish the White Perch. Large individuals are caught on 
the edges of the splatterdocks and in the eddies around the piers of the 
bridges spanning the numerous creeks that flow into the Delaware, the 
bait being a live minnow. At night, in the incoming tide, large Perch 


are caught in great numbers with the worm, in the waters below and above 
Philadelphia. The angler sits in the stern of" the boat and fishes with a 
short rod and line. Perch caught by the above methods run large and 
are gamy, and those caught on rod and reel at Pennsgrove, Salem and 
other places further down the bay give great sport on light-running tackle. 
I see nothing to commend in the method of fishing for Perch as practiced 
by the " bow-line " fishers for the fingerlings which swarm in great schools 
upon the bars of the river above and below the tide-waters of the Dela- 
ware. It takes a basketful to make a breakfast for a small family. I 
have seen and counted a catch of 1,300 small Perch made with worm bait 
by three lines in two hours' fishing at Titusville, N. J., nine miles above 

It seems very strange that no attempt should have been made to intro- 
duce the White Perch into Europe. It would thrive admirably in the 
estuaries and sluggish streams, and would be far more Avorthy of the atten- 
tions of the British angler than various species of so-called " coarse fish" 
which he now pursues. It would be a great boon to the easy going 
British angler of the Waltonian type, to whom the pleasure of the rural 
scenery and quiet outing is of more moment than the strength and vo- 
racity of the fishes which chance to encounter his lures. 




So gaat het hier : dat's Werelts overvloed, 
(Waar mee de Mensch word koninglijk gevoed 
Door guile gunst des milden gevers) doet 
Hem vaak vergeeten. 

Steenbrassem, Steur en Dartien en Knor-haan. 
'E.nZee-Baars die geen vorst sal laten slaan 
En Kabellau : en Salm, die (wel gebraan). 
Is vet, en voedig. 
Jakob Steendam, t' Lou/vait Nieiu Nederland, i66i. 

44'T^HE SEA BASS is another gentleman among his finny comrades," 
wrote Frank Forester. He belongs to the family ,6'(?/'r^«/^(^, the 
members of which are similar in form and habits to the Perches, from 
which they are distinguished by certain anatomical characters, scarcely 
tangible to persons not expert in ichthyology. This family contains a 
very large number of species, some of which are to be found in all the tropi- 
cal and temperate seas. On our Atlantic coast there are over twenty 
kinds, while in California, there are four, at least, which are of economic 

The Sea Bass is also known south of Cape Hatteras as the " Blackfish," 
and is the most important species on our coast. In the Middle States the 
Sea Bass is called "Black Will," "Black Harry," and " Hannahills ;" 
about Newport and New Bedford, "Bluefish," and at New Bedford also, 
"Rock Bass." Curiously enough, the Southern name, " Blackfish," is 
in use at Oak Bluffs, on Martha's Vineyard, and, it is said, also in New Jer- 


sey. In Gill's " Catalogue of the Fishes of the East Coast," and in Storer's 
"Fishes of Massachusetts," I find the statement that it is known as the 
" Black Bass." If this was true at any time, the usage has since undergone 
a very considerable change. The species should be carefully distinguished 
from the Blackfish of Long Island Sound, which is the tautog, a member 
of a very different family. 

Under the name Sea Bass, are included two species, so similar in gene- 
ral appearance that it is scarcely necessary to discriminate between them, — 
so similar, indeed, that for a score of years after the differences had been 
pointed out by Holbrook, the Carolina ichthyologist, naturalists refused to 
believe in their existence.* 

The habits of the two are so similar that they will be treated as one 
throughout this essay. 

The combined range of the two species embraces the Cape Ann, Massa- 
chusetts, and the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. It has not yet been 
determined where the dividing line in their distribution should be drawn. 
It is probable, however, that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of Hat- 
teras, since the atrariiis type prevails about Charleston, where indeed Dr. 
Garden obtained the specimens which he sent to Linnseus to name and de- 
scribe. There is doubtless a neutral ground occupied by both species, and 
the determination of its limits would be a capital subject for some enterpris- 
ing angler to investigate. 

The extreme southern limit of the Sea Bass appears to be the sandy 
coast of Texas, where Jordan ascertained that it is rarely if ever seen. 
Silas Stearns informs us that it is rather abundant in certain rocky locali- 
ties along the Gulf coast of Florida. In Pensacola Bay it is seen about 
the piles of stone ballast that lie in shoal water, and also at sea on the 
fishing grounds n£ar the entrance. It also occurs in St. Andrew's, St. 
Joseph's, and Apalachicola Bay ; and to the southward, where there is more 
or less rocky bottom, showing either in reefs or in channel-beds, it is found 
in abundance. In the vicinity of St. Mark's, Cedar Keys, and St. Mar- 
tin's Reef are other prolific Bass reefs. 

It has only recently been found to occur north of Cape Cod. Previous 
to 1878, there were on record only four instances of its occurence east of 
Nantucket, but in the summer of 1878 several were taken in the Milk Is- 
land weir, off Gloucester. This weir, which lies on the Avest side of Milk 

* 5. furvus, the northern form, has the air bladder simple, and the pectoral as long as the ventral fin ; 5. 
atrarius, the southern form has the air bladder sacculated, and the pectoral longer than the ventral. 





~ IK 

<t> • 
I ^ 

•C -: 
O J* 

e s 


Island, almost under the shadow of the twin lightdiouses of Thatcher's Is- 
land, waylaid many southern species never before known to enter Massa- 
chusetts Bay, among them the kingfish and the Spanish mackerel. At 
some future time the Sea Bass may become abundant in these more north- 
erly waters. Like the scuppaug, the Spanish mackerel, and the bluefish, 
it was at one time almost unknown to New England. In the " Catalogue 
of the Fishes of Connecticut," published in 1842 by Linsley, the species is 
described as a great novelty. However strange to the people of Connecti- 
cut at this time, it is said by Storer to have been so abundant, between 
1850 and i860, that fifty or sixty vessels were accustomed to obtain full 
fares in summer about the Vineyard Sound. This statement is probably 
somewhat of an exaggeration. 

The " Zee-Baars " mentioned in the verse of Steendam's poem, ''In 
Praise of New Netherland," which stands at the head of this chapter may 
or may not have been Centropristis. Mr. Murphy, in his translation, gives 
the exact equivalent of the Dutch words. : — 

"The bream, and sturgeon, drumfish and gurnard 
The Sea-Bass which a prince would not discard 
The cod and salmon cooked with due regard, 
Most palatable." 

Schoepf, writing of the fishes of New York in 1787, stated that the 
" Blackfish " was rarely brought to New York, and the species does not 
appear to have been at all prominent among the New England food fishes 
of the last century. A diligent search through the works of the early 
writers fails to bring to light any definite allusions. It would be interest- 
ing to know whether there has actually been an increase in their abund- 
ance, or whether the apparent increase has been, as with the Spanish 
mackerel, due to the introduction of new modes of fishing, or the discovery 
of new fishing grounds. 

The favorite haunts of the Sea-Bass are among the rocky ledges and 
" spots of ground " which are so abundant in the bays and sounds, and 
are scattered at intervals along the outer Atlantic coast. Among the 
boulders and ledges, full of cracks and crevices, which mark the position 
of these localities, there grow, in the greatest profusion, invertebrates of 
every order. A haul of the dredge over a good fishing ground often 
brings up tens of thousands of minute animals. A hundred species have 
often been recorded from a single dredging by the Fish Commission. 
Upon such feeding grounds the Sea-Bass congregate in great herds, rooting 


and delving among the holes, in search of delicacies. The best Bass grounds 
in the North are usually covered by water twenty to fifty feet deep, while 
off Charleston they are from sixty to one hundred and twenty feet below 
the surface. 

Throughout the whole region of its distribution the species usually occurs 
near the shore, and also in spots of medium depth, where suitable feeding- 
grounds occur. In the Gulf of Me.\ico they are often found in very shoal 
water ; indeed, all along the Southern coast the young fish are found close 
in to the shore, and I have seen a great many taken with hook and line 
from the sea-wall at St. Augustine. The temperature of the water affected 
by this species and by the red snapper corresponds very closely, and in 
most instances is probably not less than 50°, though on the coast of Con- 
necticut and New York it may be slightly lower. 

The Sea-Bass is a bottom-feeding and a bottom-loving fish, and, it may 
be said, rarely comes to the surface. This rule has exceptions, however, 
for Mr. Charles Hallock writes : "Although the Sea-Bass is a bottom fish, 
yet once on an outward-bound voyage to the southward of the Gulf Stream 
we made fast to a ship's lower mast, found drifting on the surface, which 
was covered with clams and barnacles and surrounded with Sea-Bass. We 
caught all that we wanted and cut loose. They weighed from five to 
twelve pounds each, and were all male fish." Whether or not those 
occurring in northern waters migrate southward in winter, or merely go 
into deeper water, is not yet ascertained. According to Capt. Edwards 
and Capt. Spindle, they make their appearance in the Vineyard Sound 
from the ist to the 20th of May up to the loth of June. Capt. Spindle 
states that no stragglers are ever seen in April. Capt. Edwards declares, 
on the other hand, that they are found in that region in the winter, and I 
find in my note-book a statement that they have been taken in the Vine- 
yard Sound in the winter by Thomas Hinkley and others. A careful 
study of their habits would form an important contribution to zoology. 

They are somewhat sluggish in their habits. The temperature of the 
body is low, being very nearly that of the surrounding water, and their 
digestion is slow. Although very eager feeders at times, they seem much 
less fat than bluefish of the same size, and their growth is less rapid. They 
seldom leave the bottom, and there is as yet no evidence that cold weather 
drives them far from their summer haunts. They retreat, in all probability, 
into water of greater depth, where they pass the winter in a somewhat 


torpid state. Like the taiitog, they appear to have a habit of lying under 
loose stones and in cavities among the rocks. I have observed this habit 
in the tanks of the New York Aquarium, my attention liaving been called 
to their movements by Mr. Fred. Mather. In the South they are feeding 
all the year. I have seen them taken in February on the Snapper Banks 
at the mouth of the St. Johns, at St. Augustine, and along the wharves 
of Charleston. 

The food of this species, as of its associates upon the same grounds, 
consists of crabs, shrimps, squids and small fish. It is stated that the 
intestines of mackerel and the stomachs of menhaden are considered the 
best bait about Wood's Holl, Mass., while further south, shrimps and 
pieces of the flesh of fishes, such as small sharks, are frequently used. 
They are voracious feeders and readily attracted ; their mouths are tough 
and leathery, so that when once hooked they are not easily lost. 

Scott states that their feeding time is during the lull of the waters 
between the turn of the tides, when they are easily taken by the angler. 
In the North the Sea-Bass occupies the feeding grounds in company with 
the scuppaug or porgy, the flounder and the tautog, while in the South its 
associates are the red snapper and the various species of grunt, and on the 
inshore grounds, among the rocks, it occurs in company with the sheeps- 
head and the king-fish. 

The breeding time is believed to occur in July and August. Mr. Dyer, 
of Naushon, states that the Sea-Bass, when they come into the pounds in 
the spring, are full of spawn, ready to shoot. Young fish, one or two 
inches long, are abundant among the eel-grass along the shores of Southern 
New England. In the Gulf of Mexico, according to Stearns, they spawn 
in early summer, and the young are caught in July and August. 

The average size of the fish in New England is about one-and-one-half 
pounds. A Sea-Bass nine inches long weighs about five ounces ; ten inches 
long, six to ten ounces ; eleven inches long, nine to twelve ounces ; twelve 
inches long, ten to sixteen ounces ; while the length of a three-pound fish 
varies from eighteen to twenty inches. They occasionally attain the weight 
of four or five pounds, but this is unusual. In the South they are, as a rule, 
much smaller than in the North. This is especially the case in the Ckilf 
of Mexico. In these waters, and along the southern part of the South 
Atlantic coast, they rarely exceed a pound in weight. Large male fish 
are remarkable on account of the presence of a large hump upon the 


top of the head. This is particularly prominent during the breeding 
season, and at this time the colors of the whole body are much brighter. 
The colored plate of this species, drawn by Mr. Kilburn for Scribner's 
"Game Fishes of the United States," represents a large male at the 
breeding season, the only picture of this kind which has ever yet been 

The Sea-Bass is of interest to fish culturists as being the first marine fish 
upon which the experiment of artificial propagation was tried in this 
country. This was in June, 1874, when Mr. Mather fertilized a number 
of eggs at the station of the United States Fish Commission at Noank, 
Conn. These eggs were placed in shad boxes and were watched for several 
days, as they passed through the early stages of segmentation. A storm 
interfered with the completion of the experiment, and it has never been 

The Sea- Bass is without many rivals as a chowder fish, and for boiling. 
Its flesh is firm, flaky, and very sweet. The hardness of the flesh makes 
it desirable for packing in ice, and prevents rapid deterioration in hot 
weather. The head is so large that half the weight of the fish is lost in 
the process of dressing for the table. 

There are excellent fishing grounds on the Savannah Bank and others 
near Charleston, at the mouth of the Chesapeake and the Delaware Bays, 
off the coast of New Jersey and the entrance to New York harbor and in 
Long Island Sound, and Buzzard's Bay. The latter are frequented in 
summer by ten or twelve Connecticut smacks, which purvey for the New 
York market. The fish are carried in the wells of the smacks to Noank 
or New London, where they are kept alive in floating cars until needed 
for shipment. It is one of the chief recommendations of this fish that it 
is so hardy and tenacious of life that it can be kept any length of time in 
confinement. Thousands of them may be seen, swimming in perfect 
health in the cars, crowded together until their sides are in contact, and 
thus they are often kept for weeks. Before they are placed in the wells 
the fisherman has recourse to the expedient of thrusting an awl into the 
side of the fish so as to puncture the air-bladder. Otherwise they would 
float on the surface, on account of the expansion of air in the bladder after 
the removal of the pressure of the weight of water under which they are 
accustomed to live. Several of the Noank smacks are usually employed 
from November to April in fishing for Sea-Bass on the Southern coast. 
These supply the Charleston market. 



In summer several steamers make daily trips from New York to the 
fishing banks off Sandy Hook and Long Branch. They are patronized by 
thousands of amateur fisherman, who seldom fail to bring back trophies of 
Sea-Bass and scuppaug. 

In the summer of 1832, Captain Lyman Bebe of the fishing smack Mary, 
of New York, discovered a notable fishing bank about twenty miles to the 
eastward of Sandy Hook. 1832 was the year of the " great cholera," and 
its progress was the one topic of conversation, and Captain Bebe named 
his new-found fishing ground the " Cholera Banks." 

Another famous reef, known as the " Fishing Banks," extends from off 
the Highlands of Navesink, past Long Branch, to a point about opposite 
Squan Beach. Both of these are favorite resorts for New Yorkers, who 
visit them on the small excursion steamers. 

An artist, visiting the Cholera Banks thus records his experience : 

" Starting so early in the morning that his eyes are still heavy with 
unexpended sleep, he soon finds himself on the steamer in company with 
a hundred more fellow passengers, some of whom are heavy-eyed and in- 
clined to grumble about the hour of starting, while others are cheerful, 
and full of excitement at the prospect of the day's sport. Down the bay, 
through the Narrows, across the lower bay, and out to sea, steams the little 
craft on which they are embarked. Past the red light-ship, and twenty 
miles due east from Sandy Hook, she runs, and then begins the search for 
the Banks. The pilot takes ranges by several of the big hotels, of which 
so many have been erected during recent years along the south shore of 
Long Island ; a man in the bows takes soundings; and if the day be clear, 
the steamer is soon brought to anchor directly above the reef, and a hun- 
dred eager lines are dropped overboard. 

" Once at anchor the fun and trouble begin together. It is fun to catch 
fish ; but seasickness is among the saddest of human experiences, and 
many of those who have bravely endured the pitching to which the steamer 
has been treated ever since she left Sandy Hook succumb at once to the 
motion that succeeds it as soon as she comes to anchor, and rises and falls 
with regular, ceaseless monotony on the long swells. 

"Apart from these and ridiculing their wretchedness, stand the profession- 
als and toughened amateurs, smoking short pipes, hauling in fish, making 
cruel jokes upon the condition of the novices, and thoroughly enjoying them- 
selves. They bait their hooks with hard-shell clams, skillfully toss their 
leaden sinkers far out from the steamer's side, let run fourteen fathoms of 
line, and haul in Sea Bass, black-fish, flukes, rock cod, weak fish, porgies, 
or whatever else comes to hand. Once in a while a line goes whizzing 
through the water with a wild rush, there is a protracted struggle, and an 
ugly customer in the form of a shark either breaks the line and escapes, or 
is hauled on board amid much rejoicing. 


The first catch of the day is always watched for with the greatest interest, 
for upon it depends the ownership of a number of small pools that have 
been made up among the passengers. Other points to be scored are the 
largest catches of the day in numbers and weight, and the catching of the 
heaviest single fish. 

Late in the afternoon the anchor is lifted, lines are drawn in, and the 
steamer is headed toward home. Then comes a time of great interest. 
The fish are cleaned, sorted, weighed, examined with care, passed around 
for inspection, and commented upon. Special lots are laid aside for home 
consumption and for distribution among friends ; and frequently those who 
have made the large catches, and have more than they know how to dis- 
pose of otherwise, raffle them off or present them to the crew of the 

This species is captured in great quantities in the pounds and traps of 
Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. Its distribution is wide, many 
of its haunts are unfrequented by fishermen, and it is probable that its im- 
portance as a food fish will increase in years to come. In 1880, over 350,000 
pounds were sold in New York city. 

There is a small species, Serranus trifurcus, resembling the Sea-Bass 
which has been found only in the vicinity of Charleston, S. C, and Pen- 
sacola, Fla., where it is called the "Rock Black-fish." It occasionally 
finds its way to the Charleston markets. 

The Squirrel fish, Serra/ius fascuu/an's, is a beautifully colored species, 
usually to be seen in the markets of Charleston, north of which locality it 
has not been found. The following paragraph from Holbrook's "Ich- 
thyology of South Carolina," contains all that has been observed regard- 
ing its habits : " Little can be said of the habits of this fish. It, however, 
appears in our waters in May and June, and remains until November. It 
is occasionally taken with the hook on the black-fish grounds, but is never 
abundant. Southward it ranges at least to Brazil." 

* Harper's Weekly, Nov. i, 1884. (With illustrations.) 



Hugest of all are fish in sea 

For they were formed by heaven's great King 

Before all other earthly thing. 

The Voyage of St. Brandon (Mediaeval) 

' I "'HE various species of Grouper are already of importance, and will be 
still more highly appreciated by the anglers of future generations. 
They are members of the genus Epinephehis, and other closely related 
genera. The Red Grouper, Epinephehis morio, is a large species, some- 
times attaining the weight of forty or fifty pounds. There is no certain 
record of its having been captured north of Florida, where it is called the 
"Brown Snapper" or "Red-bellied Snapper." DeKay, writing in 1842, 
stated that it was not unusual in the New York market in June and July, 
where it was called by the fishermen ' Groper,' or ' Red Crroper '; that it 
is a Southern species and is brought from the reefs of Florida, but that he 
had been informed by West Indian fishermen that it is occasionally, but 
rarely, taken off the coast of New York : he added that Dr. Holbrook in- 
formed him that it was brought into the Charleston markets from Florida 
in the months of January, February, and March. 

Holbrook wrote : " The Grouper is so seldom seen on our coast that 
nothing can at this time be said of its habits ; but in confinement, as it is 
brought to us from Key West, it appears very voracious and bold, taking 


food even from the hand when offered, and always injuring such other 
species offish as may be its fellow-captives." 

It is often taken in the Gulf of Mexico and about the Florida Keys, 
and it is said also to be abundant along the whole coast of East Florida, 
and is often taken on the St. John's bar. Mr. S. C. Clarke writes that 
it occurs in the vicinity of New Smyrna, Fla., where it spawns in bays 
and inlets in the months of May and June, as does also the Black Grouper. 
The only reliable study of its habits which has been made we owe to Mr. 
Silas Stearns, whose biographical sketch of this species may here be quoted 
in full: 

" The Red Grouper is extremely abundant in the Gulf of Mexico in com- 
pany with the red snapper. It is most abundant on the South Florida 
coast, and is found throughout the year on the ' grounds ' at sea, and in sum- 
mer in some of the bays. It probably spawns in both places, and in June 
and July. The young are often caught in Pensacola Bay. In June, 1880, 
I obtained a young one about one inch in length. The Grouper is more 
of a bottom fish than the red snapper, for it swims much more slowly and 
very seldom rises to the surface. It is very voracious, consuming, as is 
shown by an examination of the contents of its stomach, enormous quan- 
tities of crustaceans and small fish. Large horny crabs, in almost perfect 
condition, are often found inside of it. Its movements are rather slow, 
and when hooked it is hauled up more like a dead-weight than like a live 
fish. In South Florida it is extensively eaten when procurable, and at Key 
West it is particularly important, since a large fleet of smacks is constantly 
employed in carrying fares of Grouper to Cuba. In West Florida, where 
red snappers are more abundant. Groupers are not in demand and have but 
a small market value. After being taken from the water, the Grouper is 
remarkably tenacious of life, and will live several hours, even thotigh ex- 
posed to considerable heat. This is one reason why the Key West fleet . 
prefer Groupers for transportation to Cuba, since they are obliged to go a 
long way to market and through warm water, and no other fish of the kind 
would bear crowding and chafing in the wells of the smacks. The Grouper 
attains the weight of forty pounds, and is an excellent food fish." 

In Cuba, this fish is called by the Spanish name " Cherna." The name 
"Grouper" is a corruption of Garoupa, a name given by the Portu- 
guese to similar species. In DeKay's time, as has been remarked, this 
fish was not unusual in the New York market, where it sold for from six to 


twelve cents a pound, though its flesh was considered tough, and not very 
highly esteemed. Gill, writing of the same market in 1856, said : " This 
species is sometimes sent to our market from Key West and the reefs of 
Florida in May and the summer months. I have never seen more than two 
or three exposed for sale at a single time ; it appears to be considerably 
esteemed, and is sold at from twelve to fifteen cents a pound." 

Genio Scott writes: "The Grouper is an excellent dinner-fish, and 
when boiled and served with drawn butter and shrimp or lobster sauce is 
said to fully equal the turbot." 

The Black Grouper, Epinephelus nigritits, is called in Florida and Texas 
the "Jew-fish," and at Pensacola, known by the name "Warsaw," evi- 
dently corruption of the Spanish name Guasa. It was first brought to 
notice by Holbrook, who had received one specimen from the vicinity of 
Charleston; north of that point it had not yet been observed, though it 
appears to be abundant along the coast of East Florida and in the Gulf of 
Mexico. Mr. S. C. Clarke has observed it in the Indian River region, 
and communicated the following notes to Professor Baird : 

"The Black Grouper is resident all the year, though not abundant. 
The greatest size attained is about fifteen pounds. They pass the winter 
in the salt-Avater rivers, living in holes in the rocks and under roots and 
snags and about piles. They are solitary in their habits. They feed on 
small fish, particularly mullet, and on crustaceans, and breed in the salt 
rivers in May and June. Their spawn is very small, and pale yellow. 
They are taken with hook and line by the use of mullet and crab bait, and 
are seldom seen except when thus captured. They are much esteemed as 

In an essay on "Florida Game Fishes," published in The American 
Angler, the same writer says : — " From a deep hole in the Halifax River, 
two of us took in one morning, seven groupers, from four to eight pounds 
in weight, and lost three larger ones which broke our lines. That hole 
had not been fished for years, and although I have often fished it since, I 
have never taken another from it." 

Mr. Stearns remarks that it is a common fish at sea along the Gulf coast, 
living chiefly on the same spots with snappers and Groupers. At some 
places it is found in abundance in the bays, and lives on the bottom, feed- 
ing upon small fishes, crabs, etc. On the fishing grounds when fish are 
being caught rapidly it is not of unusual occurrence. 



A very large Jew-fish will follow and finally swallow a hooked firh, 
usually a red snapper, with hooks, lead, line and all. If the line does not 
then break the fish may be hauled in with gaffs. The Jew-fish attains an 
enormous size, and specimens weighing from eighty to one hundred 
pounds have been caught. The smaller fish are quite choice, but large 
ones are too coarse and tough to be salable. 

There is another fish which is also called "Jew-fish," or "Warsaw," 
and "Black Grouper," of which only enormously large specimens have 
been obtained, and which is entered upon our catalogues under the name 
Promicrops guasa. It is a fair question whether this great fish be not the 
adult of the common Black Grouper or some closely allied species, the ap- 
pearance of which has become somewhat changed with age. A large 
specimen, weighing about three hundred pounds, was taken near the St. 
John's bar in March or April, 1874, by James Arnold. It was shipped by 
Mr. Hudson, a fish dealer in Savannah, to Mr. Blackford, Avho presented 
it to the Smithsonian Institution. A fine cast of this specimen graces the 
Fisheries Hall of the National Museum. Professor Poev, bv whom the 
species was named, states that in Cuba it attains to the weight of 
six hundred pounds. An old Connecticut fisherman, who was for many 
years engaged in the Savannah market fishery, states that the Havana 
smacks often catch Jew-fish. They are so voracious that when put into the 
well with the Groupers they would do much damage. The fishermen have 
found it necessary therefore to sew their jaws together before placing 
them with other fish. 

The Spotted Hind of the Gulf of Mexico, Epinephchis Driiminoiid-Hayi, 
has been found only in the Gulf of Mexico and at the Bermudas. It 
was observed at the Bermudas in 185 1 by Col. H. M. Drummond-Hay, 
of the British army. It is there called "John Paw." Specimens were 
sent to the National Museum in 1S76 and 1877, by Mr. Blackford 
and Mr. Stearns. It is one of the many important species which have 
been brought to notice by the labors of the United States Fish Commission. 
Although it is an excellent food-fish, it is, even now, not well appreciated. 

Mr. Stearns records the following facts concerning its habits: "The 
Spotted Hind is common in company with the Grouper and Jew-fish, and 
is most abundant in South Florida about the reefs. Off Pensacola it lives 
in the deep fishing grounds, in seventeen, nineteen and twenty-two 
fathoms. It swims close to the bottom, and is of sluggish movements. I 



have not known of its occurrence in the bays, and believe that it spawns 
at sea. Specimens weighing fifty pounds have been caught, but that is 
fully four times the average size. It is seen daily in the Key West market 
and sells readily, but at Pensacola, Mobile and New Orleans it is hardly 
marketable. Its color varies very considerably with the different colored 
bottoms on which it lives." 

The Coney of Key West, Epinephelus apua, the " Hind" of Bermuda, is 
an important food-fish which occurs throughout the West Indies. Speci- 
mens have been sent by Mr. Stearns, who remarks that it is common in 
South Florida among the reefs, and is often seen in the Key West market, 
where it is readily sold. 

The Bermuda Grouper, Epinephelus striatus, one of the most important 
food-fishes of those islands, is sure to be found in the vicinity of Key 
West, and will probably prove to be one of the important fishes of our 
own southern coasts. About Key West and in the Gulf there are several 
species of the sub-genus Mycteroperca, which may be grouped together 
under the name " Rock-fish," the name by which all fishes of this genus 
are also known in Bermuda. They are large fishes of excellent food 
quality, similar in habits to the others of the family which have already 
been discussed. The material at present on hand is not sufficient to ad- 
mit of satisfactory identification of all the species. The " Black Grouper" 
of Pensacola, which has been variously named Mycteroperca h'unnea, M. 
microlepis, and Af. stomias, is said by Mr. Stearns to be common in com- 
pany with the Red Grouper, although not so abundant. It spawns in 
June and July, at sea and in the inlets. As a food-fish it is considered 
superior to the Red Grouper, although it is not more readily sold. It at- 
tains a weight of fifty pounds. Professor Jordan is of the opinion that 
the form recently described by Goode and Bean as M. stomias, the " Gag " 
of Key West, is the adult of that previously characterized by them under 
the name AT. microlepis. 

The Rock-fish of Key West, which has not yet been identified, is said 
by Mr. Stearns to be very common, and is sold almost every day in the 
market. The average weight is four or five pounds, the maximum twenty- 
five to thirty. There appear to be at Key West, as well as at the Bermu- 
das, various forms known as "Rock-fish." 

An allied species, Mycteroperca falcata, is called at Pensacola by the name 
" Scamp." It is common off the Florida coast, living near the bottom in 


company with the other species of Groupers. It is found on the coast all 
the year round, and is caught with the hook and line. It seldom exceeds 
the weight of twenty pounds, and the average size is much smaller. It is 
considered an excellent table fish. The Spanish fishermen of Key West 
call it "Baccalao" (Cod fish.) 

S. C. Clarke refers to a fish which he calls the " Mangrove Snapper or 
Red Grouper," to which he attributes gamey qualities far in excess of 
those mentioned by Stearns. It is probable that he has in mind this 
grouper and not a snapper. 

Several of these fishes, whose relations have not yet been determined, 
have been taken abong the Atlantic coast, particularly at the mouth of the 
Chesapeake and at Wood's Holl, Massachusetts. 

There are several other species belonging to this family which have been 
observed, none of which, however, are of any economic importance. 

The Pacific Jew-fish, Stereolepis gigas, is one of the principal serranoid 
fishes of the Pacific coast. It is also sometimes called the "Black Sea 
Bass." It reaches a weight of five hundred pounds, being the largest 
food-fish on the coast. It ranges from the Farallones to below San Do- 
mingo, and is generally abundant in deep water about the islands, but 
from its great size is seldom taken. It feeds upon smaller fishes, and is 
voracious. It is often taken by swallowing a white-fish when the latter is 
on the hook. Its flesh is of excellent quality, and those small enough to 
be available always brings a very high price in the market. 

The Cabrilla, Scrra?ius clathratus, is called at Monterey, where it is 
not common, the "Kelp Salmon"; further south it is known to the 
Americans usually as "Black Bass," and to the Italians and Spaniards as 
" Cabrilla," a name applied to other species of Serranus in the Mediter- 
ranean. The Chinese call it " Lockee Cod " (Rock Cod). It reaches a 
length of eighteen inches and a weight of about five pounds. It ranges 
from San Francisco to Cerros Island, being very abundant about the Santa 
Barbara Islands, where it is taken in large numbers. It lives in water of 
no great depth, chiefly about the rocks. It feeds on squid, Crustacea, and 
small fishes. It is an excellent food-fish, similar in quality to the related 
Atlantic species. 

The Johnny Cabrilla, Serranus fiebulifer, receives the name " Rock 
Bass" and " Cabrilla" with the other species. The distinctive Spanish 
name of " Johnny (Juan) Verde " is also in frequent use, especially at San 



Pedro. It reaches a length of twelve to twenty inches and a weight of 
about five pounds. It has been taken at Monterey, but is common only 
from San Pedro southward to Magdalena Bay. So far as known to us, it 
agrees in habits and value with the preceeding. 




The Spotted Cabrilla, Serranus maculofasciatus, receives the same 
names, "■ Rock Bass " and " Cabrilla," as others. It agrees with the pre- 
ceeding in value, distribution, and habits, so far as is known, but is rather 
smaller in size. It is an excellent food-fish, and from its great abundance 
about San Diego it may become of considerable economic importance. 
Its range extends southward to Mazatlan, it being one of the very few 
California fishes which extend their range to the south of the Tropic of 


"'-"-lYnnV^-" " 



Fishing, if I, a fisher, may protest 

Of pleasure is the sweetest, of sports the hest 

Of exercises the most excellent ; 

Of recreation the most innocent, 

But now the sport is marde, andwott ye why. 

Fishes decrease and fishers multiply. De Piscations , 1598. 

TTNTIL recently, we supposed that there were many kinds of Black 
Basses. Different communities christened them to their own liking, 
and naturalists, misled by the numerous popular names, described, as dis- 
tinct, forms which, had they been seen side by side, they would have con- 
sidered the same. Twenty-two separately named species are on record. 
In 1873, Prof. Gill, after studying specimens gathered from all parts 
of the United States by the Smithsonian Institution, came to the decision 
that there were only two species, the Large-mouthed and the Small-mouthed 
bass. This was easy work for so accomplished an ichthyologist as Gill, 
but the difficulty was to determine the ownership of the many names 
already established in the literature of ichthyology. After five years of 
uncertainty, and several changes, thirteen of these have been allotted to 
the Small-mouth, and the remainder of nine to its cousin with the long jaw. 
The oldest name for the Large-mouth is Microptei-tis salmoides, and for the 
Small -mouth, as Henshall has proved, Micropterus Dolomiei : it is hoped 
that this decision, which is grounded upon a firm foundation of priority, 
maybe permitted to stand unchanged. Gill's paper, in which he defines 
the differences between the two species, was published in 1873 in the Pro- 
ceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 



This volume is, however, not easily accessible, and the important 
differences are therefore repeated in this place. In the Large-mouth the 
upper jaw extends far behind the eye; in the other to a ])oint below it. 
The Large-mouth has from sixty-five to seventy rows between the gill- 
opening and the base of the tail, instead of seventy-two or more, while on 
the cheek there are about ten oblique rows instead of seventeen, also seven- 
and-a-half to eight instead of eleven rows between the lateral line and 
the dorsal. There are other distinctions, such as the absence, in the Large- 
mouth, of scales on the bases of the dorsal and anal fins, the smaller num- 
ber of rays in the pectoral fins (there being thirteen or fourteen instead of 
sixteen or seventeen), and the lesser height of the spinous dorsal. (In the 
Large-mouth the first dorsal spin is one-half; in the Small-mouth, one- 
third of the height of the third dorsal spin). 

/ /"-. 



Numerous as have been the zoological names, they are outnumbered by 
the popular names still in use in different localities. Charlevoix, a Jesuit 
missionary, who explored Canada in 1 7 2 1 , mentions a fish called ' ' Achigan , ' ' 
which is thought to have been the Large-mouth. An earlier allusion to 
this species, which in the Southern States is still called "Trout," occurs 
in the Avritings of Rene de Laudonniere, who described the incidents of 
the first Huguenot expedition to Florida in 1652, under the command of 
Jean Ribault. The Large-mouth is known in the Great Lake Region, 
especially in Northern New York, as the "Oswego Bass." This name 
should not be confounded with " Otsego Bass," a local name for the com- 
mon whitefish. In Kentucky, and possibly in Florida, it is called 
"Jumper;" in Indiana, "Moss Bass ;" in the Southern States generally, 
" Trout," though on the Tar River of North Carolina, it is called " Chub," 
and on the Neuse, " Welshman." 


The Small -mouth shares with the Large-mouth in the Southern States the 
names "Jumper," " Pearch " and "Trout," and in Alabama, according 
to Prof. Jordan, it is called the "Mountain Trout. "Bronze-backer" is 
one of its pet names among the anglers. 

"Marsh Bass," "River Bass," " Rock Bass," " Slough Bass," "White 
Bass," "Green Bass," "Spotted Bass," "Green Perch," "Yellow 
Perch," "Black Perch" and "Speckled Hen " are other names applied 
to one or both species. A comedy of errors this hath surely been, and 
the colloquy between the Duke and the Dromios comes pat to the pen : 

"Duke. One of these men is genius to the other ; 
And so of these. Which is the natural man, 
And which the spirit ? Who deciphers them ? 

Dromio of Syracuse. I, sir, am Dromio ; command him away. 
Dro7)iio of Ephesus. I, sir, am Dromio ; pray let me stay."* 

Both species are very widely distributed over the Atlantic slope of the 
continent east of the Rocky Mountains, and their range is probably much 
wider than is now supposed, for many of our northern and western waters 
are still unexplored. The Large-mouth and Small-mouth dwell together in 
the Great Lakes, and in the upper parts of the St. Lawrence and Missis- 
sippi basins. The Small-mouth is found north to latitude 47° and west to 
Wisconsin, while southward it ranges to latitude 33°, where Prof. Jordan 
found it in the headwaters of the Chattahoochee and Ocmulgee Rivers, 
this being the only instance of its presence in a stream emptying east 
of the Alleghanies, into which it is not known to have been introduced by 
man. The Large-mouth ranges further to the west and north, occurring 
in the Red River of the North, perhaps as far as Manitoba, in latitude 50°. 
It abounds in all the rivers of the Southern States, from the James to the 
St. John, and in the lower reaches of the streams and bayous connected 
with the Gulf of Mexico, around to Texas, in latitude 27°. 

To the waters of New England and the eastern part of the Middle States 
they are not native. The Small-mouths found their way into the Hudson 
in 1825 or soon after, through the newly-opened Erie Canal, and they 
have since been introduced by man into hundreds of eastern lakes and 
rivers. Many circumstances suggest the idea that in early days, before 

* For fuller information upon this and other matters connected with the species the reader is referred to Dr. 
J. A. Henshall's elaborate and exhaustive illustrated treatise, entitled " Book of the Black Bass," published 
in 1881 by Robert Clarke & Co., Cincinnati. " Fly fishing for Black Bass," a serial publication by W. S. 
Norris, in The American Aiz^lcr , is an exceedingly well-written sketch in the American style. 


the various drainage systems were connected by canals, the distribution 
limits of the two species were much more sharply defined, the Large-mouth 
inhabiting, perhaps, the upper part of the basin of the Great Lakes and 
St. Lawrence and the rivers of the southern seaboard, wliile the Small- 
mouth was found chiefly in the northern part of the Mississippi basin. 
This theory can never be demonstrated, however, for the early ichthy- 
ologists had not adopted the accurate methods of study now in use, and 
their descriptions of the fish they saw are scarcely good enough to guess 
by. The mingling of the two forms might have been accomplished in an 
incredibly short time. A few young Bass will multiply so rapidly as to 
stock a large lake in five years. The Potomac and its tributaries swarmed 
with them ten years after their first introduction. 

A very suggestive incident occurred at the Brookline Reservoir, near 
Boston. Nine Bass were introducetl in July, 1862. Four or five years 
after, in examining the water-pipes leading thence to Long Pond, Bass in 
considerable numbers and of large size were found ; and what is still 
more strange, they had, either as young fish, or in the egg state, gone 
through the screen at the mouth of the pipe and found their way into the 
pond itself, having accomplished an underground journey of fifteen miles 
through a brick aqueduct nowhere more than six feet in diameter. 

Gill states that the two forms of Alicroptenis have long inhabited the waters 
of the cismontane slope of the United States, except those of the New Eng- 
land States and the Atlantic seaboard of the Middle States. Only one, 
however, the Small-mouth, appears to have been an original inhabitant of 
the hydrographic basin of the Ohio River. 

The Bass do not seem to depend closely on temperature. Having no 
opportunity of avoiding the cold, they sink to the deepest part of their 
Avatery domain at the approach of winter, and if the chill penetrates to 
their retreat, their vitality is diminished, their blood flows more slowly, they 
feel no need of food, and forthwith enter into a state of hybernation. 
]\Ir. Fred. ]\Lither kept one in his aquarium nearly all of one winter. It 
ate nothing, and seldom moved any members except its eyes. In deep 
lakes, however, they can sink below the reach of surface chills, and here 
they are sometimes caught with a hook through the ice. In the South 
their activity never ceases. Any one who has seen Black Bass feeding 
must have been impressed with their immense power of movement. They 
soon become masters of the waters in which they are placed. Sun-fish, 


perch, trout, young salmon and even the ravenous pickerel, are devoured. 
They feed at the surface on moths, flies and frogs; they turn over stones 
in search of crawfish and insect larvae. Rats and snakes have been seen 
in their stomachs. A correspondent of Forest and Stream relates that 
once, while fishing in the Chicago River, one of the small frogs used 
for bait escaped and perched on a portion of an old wreck above the 
water. A Black Bass came along, and, lifting his head from the water, 
picked off the frog, and descended to the depths below. The angler finds 
them at the proper seasons equally eager for fly-hook, trolling-spoon, or 
still-bait, and always ready for a struggle which puts his rod and line to a 
severe test. Their leaps are almost as powerful as those of the salmon. 
The negro fishermen of Florida often surround a body of Large-mouths 
with a seine, but as the lines are hauled in and the arc grows smaller the 
dark forms of the " Trout " begin to appear, springing over the corkdine 
and returning, with a splash and a jet of spray, to liberty. I have seen 
them rise five or six feet above the water. They are said to be taken best 
at night, or when the river is high and the water muddy. Otherwise they 
leap over the seine. Expert seiners coil their nets in such a manner as to 
prevent the escape of part of the school. The Small-mouths are said, 
generally, to prefer deep or swift, cool waters, while the Large-mouths live 
in muddy, black pools, or in the shelter of old stumps and ledges. In 
Florida they lurk among the lily-pads and aquatic plants in shallow, dark 
streams, where they feed on a grub called the "bonnet-worm," which 
burrows in the flower-buds of the " bonnets ' ' or yellow water-lilies, Nuphar 

The account given by Laudonniere of the abundance of this fish in 
Florida nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago, is well worth quoting : 

" Having passed," he writes, " most part of the day with these Indians 
(at Cape Francois), the captain imbarked himselfe to pass over to the 
other side of the river, whereat the king seemed to be very sorrie ; never- 
theless, being not able to stop us, he commanded that with all diligence 
they should take fish for us, which they did with all speede. For, being 
entered into their weares, or inclosures made of reeds and framed in the 
fashion of a dalyzintto or maze, they loaded us with trouts, great mullets, 
]daise, turbuts and marvellous store of other sorts of fishes altogether 
different from ours." 

The spawning season occurs on the approach of warm weather. Its date 
does not vary much with latitude. In Florida, in Virginia and in Wis- 
consin they build their nests in ]\Iay and June. The oldest fish, we are 


told, sometimes anticipate the ordinary season, while many late spawners 
are occupied with family cares until the last of July, and some young fish 
are not ready until October and November. After the spawning is over 
the Bass are "in season." They take the hook eagerly from July till 
November. In the winter they are lank and black, though in season till 
the ice comes. 

Concerning their spawning habits, Mr. Hallock, of the Blooming Grove 
Association, wrote in 1875 : " Four years ago, one hundred and thirteen 
Black Bass from Lake Erie were placed in Lake Giles, and their progeny 
has increased so fast as to insure good sport to the angler at any time. 
The late spawners are now (early July) in the gravel beds, in the shallow 
waters along shore, protecting either their spawn or their newly-hatched 
fry, as the case may be. It is interesting to note the pertinacity with 
which they guard their precious charges, and the vigor with which they 
drive away depredators and intruders of all kinds. They will frequently 
allow a boat to pass over them, scarcely six inches above their backs, and 
obstinately keep their ground. Sun-fish and such are compelled to keep 
their distance. There are hundreds of these bowl-shaped excavations, 
eighteen inches or so in diameter, all along the sandy shallow shores of 
this lake, which is very clear, and in the center some seventy feet deep, 
fed by bottom springs." 

The eggs are much smaller than those of a trout, and, being heavier 
than the water, rest on the bottom within the limits of the nest. The 
only estimate of their number with which I am familiar is that made by 
Mr. E. L. Sturtevant, who found about 17,000 in a Large-mouth weighing 
two and one-half pounds. 

The length of time required by the eggs in coming to maturity is esti- 
mated at from eight to ten days, the hatching being somewhat accelerated 
in warm weather. The young fish, when first hatched, are about three - 
eighths of an inch long. They are very active, and at once begin to 
feed. One observer describes them as darting rapidly about, looking like 
black motes in the water; Avhile another has seen them lying motionless 
near the bottom, the school appearing like a floating vail of gauze. For 
a few days they may be seen playing about the nest, but they soon dis- 
perse, to find lurking places among the grass and pebbles near the margin 
of the water, and to begin their corsair career by preying uj^on the larvoe 
of insects and the minute crustaceans which abound in such localities. 


They have another reason for seeking a shelter in the shallow water, for 
their parents are surely guilty of inconsistent conduct. They are said to 
care tenderly for their callow brood, and even teach them how to eat ; 
but this must be a mistake : for although it cannot be denied that they 
patiently mount guard over their nestful of eggs, they are often seen 
devouring their new-born offspring, who thrive in the very teeth of their 
piratical relatives. 

The rate of growth of the young has been studied in artificial ponds. 
In Granby, Conn., four-pound fish were taken in 1874, the progeny of 
two hundred and fifty fish placed in the pond in 1868. The eggs require 
two or three weeks to hatch. In September the young are about two 
inches long; when well fed they grow to four inches the first season. At 
two years of age they weigh about a pound, few caught in the North 
weighing more than four pounds. Leaving the &gg in June, they grow to 
two or three inches before cold weather begins — trim, sprightly little 
darters, with black bands across the bases of their tails. Another twelve- 
month finds them in the garb of maturity, eight or nine inches long, and 
with their organs swelling in preparation for the act of spawning, which 
they are said to undertake at the age of two years, and when less than a 
foot long. The ordinary size of the adult fish is two and one-half to 
three pounds, though they are sometimes taken in the North weighing 
six or seven pounds. In Florida the Large-mouths grow larger. A seven 
or eight-pounder is not unusual in the St. John's; and I Avas told that in 
March, 1875, a fish weighing nineteen and one-half pounds was caught 
in the lake at Gainesville, Fla. 

Fish culturists have made many efforts to hatch the eggs of the Black 
Bass, and have never succeeded. One reason for their failure, perhaps, 
lies in the fact that, while in the shad and salmon the eggs fall from the 
ovaries into an abdominal cavity, whence they are easily expressed, in 
the Bass and other spiny-rayed fishes they are retained until the parent 
fish are ready to deposit them. This failure is the less to be regretted 
since the young Bass may easily transported from place to place in barrels 
of cool water, and, when once introduced, they soon multiply, if protected, 
to any desired number. 

Black Bass are very tenacious of life. A Germantown correspondent 
mentions some taken at 10 o'clock a. m., sold and wrapped in paper, 
left in a warm room till 5 p. m., when they were found to be alive and 


The first experiment in their transportation seems to have been that 
mentioned by x\. M. Valentine, who states that a pond near Janesville, 
Wis., was stocked with Black Bass about 1847. In 1S50 Mr. S. T. Tis- 
dale carried twenty-seven Large-mouths from Saratoga Lake, N. Y., to 
Flax Pond, in Agawam, Mass. The manner in which the Potomac was 
stocked with Small-mouths is also well known. It was in 1853, soon after 
the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was finished, that Gen. Shriver, of 
Wheeling, carried a number of young fish from the Ohio to Cumberland, 
Md., in the water-tank of a locomotive engine. These he placed in the 
basin of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, whence they soon penetrated to 
all parts of the Potomac basin, and as far down the river as Mount Ver- 
non. The custom of stocking streams soon became popular, and through 
private enterprise and the labors of State Fish Commissioners nearly 
every available body of water in New England and the Middle States has 
been filled with these fish. This movement has not met with unmixed 
approval, for by the ill-advised enthusiasm of some of its advocates a 
number of trout streams have been destroyed, and complaints are heard 
that the fisheries of certain rivers have been injured by them. The 
results have been on the whole very beneficial. The Bass never will 
become the food of the millions. The New York market receives proba- 
bly less than 10,000 pounds of them annually, and they are nowhere very 
numerous. Yet hundreds of bodies of waste water are now stocked with 
them in sufficient numbers to afford pleasant sport and considerable 
quantities of excellent food. 

The flesh of the Bass is hard, white and flaky, and not particularly re- 
markable for its flavor. When sufficiently large, it is perhaps better that 
it should be broiled, and served with white sauce. The smaller Bass may 
be treated as pan-fish. They are not well suited for broiling, except in 
the hands of the most judicious of cooks. 

The Black Bass is one of the most universally popular of American 
fishes. Even those who know the joys of trout and salmon angling do- 
not disdain it. For one man who can go forth in search of salmon, and 
twenty to whom trout are not impossible, there are a thousand who can 
visit the Bass in his limpid home. There are many methods of angling 
for Bass. Those who use rod and reel are perhaps not unreasonable when 
they profess to pity their uncultured brethren who prefer the ignominious 
method of trolling with hand-line and spoon-bait. 


I shall not attempt to discuss the merits of various kinds of tackle. The 
dealers in angling apparatus can usually give advice both timely and 
suitable to the locality. Those who wish to enter into the extreme refine- 
ments of the art of Bass fishing must read the writings of Dr. Henshall, 
and then learn for themselves by long years of observation and experi- 
ment, for to no one is book-knowledge less valuable than to him whose 
desire it is to catch a fish. 

Bass may be caught by the use of artificial flies or artificial minnows, 
Avith live bait, consisting of minnows, chubs, young perch and many other 
small fishes, frogs, helgramites, crawfish, shrimps, grasshoppers, crickets or 
Avorms, or by the use of spoon-bait or trolling spoon. 

In bait fishing a light rod, about eight-and-one-half feet long is used 
with a multiplying reel to insure the delivery of the bait at long distances. 
In fly-fishing a more flexible rod, eleven feet long, with a click-reel, is 
preferred. Strong lines, preferably of braided raw silk, are used, and 
too much care cannot be given to the strength of leaders and snells, and 
to the perfection of the hooks. Of the various forms of the latter, Hen- 
shall puts the " Sproat bend " first and the " O'Shaughnessy " second, 
iising Nos. 4, 5 and 6 for bait fishing and Nos. 2 and 3 for fly-fishing. 

In trolling from a boat at least 300 feet of line should be used. Troll- 
ing with the rod " skittering " and " bobbing " are other modes of local 

The Small-mouth is the angler's favorite in the North, being the more 
agile and pugnacious ; but in Florida, the paradise of the Big-mouths, 
few complaints are heard as to the character of the sport which they 
afl'ord. "J. W.," writing to \.\\t American Angler, June 31, 1862, re- 
ported as follows the weights of sixteen taken in the Homosassa River, 
Hemard Co., Fla., in one-and-a-half hour's fishing: 7j-.(, 6}^, 5^, 51^, 
5, 41^, 4, 41^, 4>4, 4, 3, 2^, 2, \]4^ ; total, 68 pounds. 

The introduction of the Black Bass into England by the Marquis of 
Exeter has caused great consternation among British anglers, who fear 
that its rapacity may lead to the destruction of trout and salmon. It 
has many friends and advocates, however, not the least powerful of whom 
is Mr. R. B. Marston, editor of the Fishing Gazette. It is, I believe, 
intended only to place it in streams inhabited by " coarse fish," and the 
waters of England would surely be the better for the destruction of a 
goodly percentage of their breams, roaches and barbels. 


I have already often cjuoted the opinions of that wisest of anglers, 
Charles Hallock, and I cannot otherwise than repeat in this place his 
prophecy concerning the future estate of the Black Bass. 

" No doubt the Bass is the appointed successor of the trout ; not througn 
heritage, nor selection, nor by interloping, but by foreordination. Truly, 
it is sad to contemplate, in the not distant future, the extinction of a 
beautiful race of creatures, whose attributes have been sung by all the 
poets ; but we regard the inevitable with the same calm philosophy with 
which the astronomer watches the burning out of a world, knowing that 
it will be succeeded by a new creation. 

"As we mark the soft vari-tinted flush of the trout disappear in the even- 
tide, behold the sparkle of the coming Bass as he leaps into the morning 
of his glory ! We hardly know which to admire the most — the velvet 
livery and the charming graces of the departing courtier, or the flash of 
the armor-plates on the advancing warrior. The Bass will unquestionably 
prove himself a worthy substitute for his predecessor, and a candidate for 
a full legacy of honors. 

" No doubt, when every one of the older States shall become as densely 
settled as Great Britain itself, and all the rural aspects of the crowded 
domain resemble the suburban surroundings of our Boston ; when every 
feature of the pastoral landscape shall wear the finished appearance of 
European lands ; and every verdant field be closely cropped by lawn- 
mowers and guarded by hedges ; and every purling stream which meanders 
through it has its water-bailiff, we shall still have speckled trout from 
which the radiant spots have faded, and tasteless fish, to catch at a dollar 
per pound (as we already have on Long Island), and all the appurtenances 
and appointments of a genuine English trouting privilege and a genuine 
English ' outing.' 

" In those future days, not long hence to come, some venerable piscator, 
in whose memory still lingers the joy of fishing, the brawling stream which 
tumbled over the rocks in the tangled wildwood, and moistened the arbutus 
and the bunchberries which garnished its banks, will totter forth to the 
velvety edge of some peacefully-flowing stream, and having seated himself 
on a convenient point in a revolving easy chair, placed there by his care- 
ful attendant, cast right and left for the semblance of sport long dead. 

" Hosts of liver-fed fish rush to the signal for their early morning meal, 
and from the center of the boil which follows the fall of the handfuls 
thrown in, my piscator of the ancient days will hook a two-pound Trout, 
and play him hither and yon, from surface to bottom, without disturbing 
the pampered gourmands which are gorging themselves upon the disgusting 
viands; and when he has leisurely brought him to hand at last, and the 
gillie has scooped him with his landing-net, he will feel in his capacious 
pocket for his last trade dollar, and giving his friend the tip, shuffle back' 
to his house, and lay aside his rod forever." 

,. / ^ / 



Slowly upward, wavering, gleaming 
Rose the Ugudwash, the Sun-fish 
Seized the line of Hiawatha, 
Swung with all his weight upon it. 
* * * 

But when Hiawatha saw him 
Slowly rising through the water. 

Lifting up his disk refulgent, 
Loud he shouted in derision 
' Esa ! esa ! shame upon you. 
You are Ugudwash, the Sun-fish ; 
You are not the fish I wanted ; 
You are not the King of Fishes.' 

Longfellow, Hiawatha' s Fishing;. 

^ I "'HE " Pumpkin seed " and the perch are the first trophies of the boy 
angler. Many are the memories of truant days dreamed away by 
pond or brook side, with twine pole and pin-hook, and of the slow 
homeward trudge, doubtful what his reception will be at home ; pole 
gone, line broken, hooks lost, the only remnant of the morning's glory a 
score of lean, sun-dried perches and Sunnies, and, mayhap, a few eels and 
bull-heads, ignominiously strung through the gills upon a willow withe, 
and trailing, sometimes dropping from weary hands, in the roadside dust. 
Then in later youth came the excursion to some distant pond ; thf 


early start, long before sunrise, the cane rods trailing over the tail-board 
of the wagon, the long drive between fresh forests and dewy meadows, 
the interested faces at the wayside windows. Then at the pond the cast- 
ing of the seine for minnow-bait, the embarcation in the boat, the careful 
adjustment of sinker and float, and the long, delightful, lazy day, floating 
over jungles of eel-grass and meadows of lily i^ads ; now pulling in by the 
score the shiners. Pumpkin seeds and perches ; now passing hour after 
hour without a bite. 

Just as the nightingale and the lark, though eminent among the lesser 
song-birds of Europe would, if native to America, be eclipsed by the 
feathered musicians of our groves and meadows, the perch and Sun-fish 
yield to the superior claims of a dozen or more game fishes. The Sun- 
fish and the perch must not be snubbed, however, for they are prime 
favorites with tens of thousands of anglers who cannot leave home in 
quest of sport. They will thrive and multiply, almost beyond belief, in 
ponds and streams too small for bass, and too warm for trout and land- 
locked salmon ; and I prophesy that they will yet be introduced in all 
suitable waters throughout the continent, which they do not now inhabit. 

The Sun-fish, Lepomis gibbosiis, is the common "Pumpkin-seed," or 
"Sunny" of the brooks of New York and New England. It is every- 
where abundant in the Great Lake region and in the coastwise streams 
from Maine to Georgia. It is never found in the Mississippi Valley 
except in its northernmost part, its distribution corresponding precisely 
to that of the perch. Its breeding habits are thus described by Dr. 
Kirtland : 

" This fish prefers still and clear waters. In the spring of the year the 
female prepares herself a circular nest by removing all reeds or other dead 
aquatic plants from a chosen spot of a foot or more in diameter, so as to 
leave bare the clean gravel or sand ; this she excavates to the depth of 
three or four inches, and then deposits her spawn, which she watches with 
the greatest vigilance ; and it is curious to see how carefully she guards 
this nest against all intruders ; in every fish, even those of her own species, 
she sees only an enemy, and is restless and uneasy until she has driven it 
away from her nursery. We often find groups of these nests placed near 
each other along the margin of the pond or river that the fish inhabits, 
but always in very shallow water ; hence, they are liable to be left dry in 
times of great drought. These curious nests are most frequently encircled 
by aquatic plants, forming a curtain around them, but a large space is 
invariably left open for the admission of light." 



So far as known, the breeding habits of the other species of Sun-fishes 
agree witli those of Lepomis gibbosus. 

It reaches, in the lakes, a weight of about one-and-a-half pounds, and 
as usually taken is of not over a pound weight. Its flesh is of good 
quality, similar to that of other Sun-fish of the same size, and is graded as 
superior to that of the perch, but inferior to the black bass and white 
bass. It takes the hook freely, and to the small boy is the perfection of 
a game fish, while even the experienced angler does not despise it. 

W. C. Harris, in his " Game Fishes of Pennsylvania," remarks: "I 
confess to a fondness for catching the ' pumpkin-seed ' upon the lightest 
of light fly rods with leader and line of a spider-web consistency. I have 
caught them, averaging a half pound in weight, by the dozen, with black 
and brown hackles, and when they reach that size they are so sprightly in 
their play, when hooked on trout tackle, that we cannot deny them a niche 
m the gallery of game fishes. ' ' 



The long-eared Sun-fish, Lcpoiuis auritiis, like its relatives, receives the 
general name of " Sun-fish," " Brim " {Bream), and " Pearch " [Ferch). 
In Pennsylvania it is called " Sun Perch " and " Red Headed Bream," 
elsewhere it is the " Red Breast," " Red Bellied Bream " and the "Red 
Bellied Perch." 

It is found in all coastwise streams from Maine to Louisiana, but does 


not penetrate far into the interior. It seldom reaches a weight of much 
over a pound, but from its abundance becomes in the rivers of the South 
a food-fish of some importance. Like the others, it feeds on worms, 
Crustacea and small fishes, and spawns in early summer. 

The Blue Sun^fish, Lepomis pallidus, is also known as the " Blue Bream " 
and "Copper-nosed Bream," and in Kentucky sometimes as the '-^DST^ 
lardee." This is the most widely distributed of our Sun-fishes, ranging 
from New Jersey and the Great Lakes to Florida and Mexico. It reaches 
a weight of one-and-one-half to two pounds, and, in some regions, is an 
important market fish. Its habits adapt it especially for cultivation 
in ponds. 

Many other species of similar size abound in the fresh waters of the 
Mississippi Valley, and are known as "Sun-fish," "Bream " and " Perch." 
L. cyajiellus and L. inegalotis are universally abundant both North and 
South ; the others are chiefly Southern. All take the hook readily, and 
are good pan-fish, but from their small size they have no economic im- 
portance, and are valued chiefly by urchins and negroes. 

The Warmouth, ClKznobryttus gulosns, is well-known throughout the 
South. The names "Perch," "Sun-fish," "Goggle-eye" and "Red- 
eye " it shares with others of its relatives. It is found in all the lowland 
streams from A^irginia to Texas, and in all the Southern States, and is gener- 
ally abundant. In habits, food, size and value it agrees closely with the 
Rock Bass. 

The Black Warmouth, Cluenobryttus antistius, a species also called " War- 
mouth," "Big-mouth," "Sun-fish" and "Goggle-eye," abounds in the 
tributaries of the LTpper Mississippi, and is often taken in Lake Michigan. 
In Illinois it is an important food-fish. In size, habits and value it is 
.sufficiently similar to the Rock Bass. 

The Sacramento Perch, Archoplites interrupttts, known only by the name 
of " Perch," a name applied in the San Francisco markets to many very 
different fishes. It has been thus far found only in the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin Rivers and tributaries. It is aliundant in the lower parts of 
these rivers, large numbers being shipped to the market in San Francisco. 
It is there bought and consumed mainly by the Chinese, who value it 
highly, paying for it more than for any other fish which they consume. 
Although it is an excellent pan-fish, very similar to the black bass, we 
have never seen any of them bought by Americans. It reaches a weight 



of little more than one pound. 

Nothin.^ distinctive is known of its 



The Rock '^■2^%%, Amhloplitcs rupcstn's,\s also known as the "Goggle- 
eye" and "Red-eye." All these names are in general use, the first 
being most common in the Lake region, the last further south. It is 
everywhere abundant in lakes, ponds and larger streams throughout the 
Great Lake region and the Mississippi Valley. It prefers clear waters, 
and is not often found in muddy bayous, it is a hardy and gamey fish, 
and takes the hook readily, and it is a good pan-fish, though not large, its 
weight seldom exceeding one-and-a-half pounds. Like other Sun-fishes, 
they spawn in early summer, and about the same time as Black Bass ; 
and keejD much about sunken logs and roots. 

The Mud Bass, Acantharchus poniotis, is found only in the coastwise 
streams of the lowlands from New Tersev to North Carolina. Its habits 
are similar to those of the Warmouth, but it is similar in size, and has 
little value as a food-fish. 

Centra rcliits inacroptcnts has no name more distinctive than " Sun-fish " 
or "Perch." It is found throughout the lowland streams of the South 
from North Carolina to Florida, Southern Illinois and Texas, preferring 
generally rather deep, clear waters. It is rarely seen in upland streams. 
It is a fish of good quality, but small, rarely weighing more than half a 
pound. Little is known of its habits. 

The Strawberry Bass, Pomoxys sparoidcs. is a beautiful fish known by a 



many names. In Lake Erie, and in (Jhio generally, it is the " Straw- 
terry Bass," " Strawberry Perch " or " Grass Bass.' ' The names " Bitter 
Head" and "Lamplighter" are also ascribed to it by Mr. Klippart, and 
"Bank Lick Bass" by Dr. Kirtland, and it is also called "Bar-fish," 
"Razor Back," "Chinquapin Perch," "Silver Bass" and "Big Fin 
Bass." In Lake Michigan the name "Bar-fish" is in general use, 
giving place in Illinois to the name " Calico Bass." The latter is among 
the most appropriate of these designations, having allusion to its varie- 
gated color. In the South, like Ambloplitcs rupesh-is, it becomes a 
' ' GoErele-eve " or " Goggle-eyed Perch. ' ' The Strawberry Bass is found in 
abundance in all the lakes and ponds of the Great Lake region and the 
Upper Mississippi. It is also diffused throughout the Mississippi A^alley, 
and appears in the streams of the Carolinas and Georgia east of the 
mountains. Its preference is for quiet, clear waters, with a bottom covered 
with grass ; and in the muddy sloughs and bayous, where the Crappie is 
abundant, it is rarely seen. It is an excellent pan-fish, reaching some- 
times a weight of two or three pounds, although usually weighing not 
more than a pound. It is, like its relatives, gamey; but it is not so vora- 
cious as most of them. The following notes on its habits and value are 
from the pen of Prof. Kirtland : 


• .■s-rTSi!^H'?'''' 

:^^^ -SJ 



V X'^^,_ 


"The Grass Bass has not hitherto been deemed worthy of considera- 
tion by fish culturists; yet, from a long and intimate acquaintance with 


its merits, I hesitate not to pronounce it the fish for the million. It is a 
native of our Western rivers and lakes, where it usually resorts to deep 
and sluggish waters; yet in several instances, where it has found its way 
into cold and rapid streams, and even small-sized brooks, by means of the 
constructing of canals or by the hand of man, it has adapted itself to the 
change, and in two or three years stocked to overflowing these new loca- 
tions. As a pan-fish, for the table, it is surpassed by few other fresh- 
water species. For endurance and rapidity of increase it is unequaled. 
* * * The Grass Bass is perfectly adapted to stocking ponds. It 
will thrive without care in very small' ponds of sufficient depth. * * * 
It will in nowise interfere with the cultivation of any number of species, 
large or small, in the same waters. It will live harmoniously with all 
others, and while its structure and disposition restrain it from attacking 
any other but very small fry, its formidable armature of spinous rays in 
the dorsal and abdominal fins Avill guard it against attacks of even the 

voracious pike." 


Closely related to the Strawberry Bass is the Crappie, Povioxys annularis. 
It is the form almost universally called Crappie in the Mississippi Valley. 
Dr. Henshall has proposed that it shall be called the "Southern Crappie," 
reserving the name "Northern Crappie " for the Pomoxys sparoides.* It 
is not such an easy matter to change the popular names of fishes, however 
flexible may be the terminology of the ichthyologist. Strawberry Bass 

* American Angler , III, 167 


and Calico Bass seem to be very appropriate designation for Pomoxys 
sparot'dcs, and has the additional advantage of being already generally in 
use in a larger district. 

Pomoxys annularis is also known by such names as "Bachelor" in the 
Ohio Valley, " New Light " and "Campbellitc" in Kentucky, Illinois 
and Indiana, names given to it by the irreverent during the great Camp- 
bellite movement in the AVest nearly half a century ago. It is also called 
" Sac-a-lait " and "Chinquapin Perch" in the Lower Mississippi, and 
has other names of local application as " Tin Mouth," " Bridge Perch,' ' 
" Goggle Eye," " Speckled Perch," "John Demon " and "Shad." 

It is also often confounded with the preceding species, and some of the 
names of the two are interchangeable. This species is not often seen in 
the Great Lake region, but throughout the Lower Mississippi and its 
tributaries it is very abundant. Its young swarm in all the muddy bayous 
along the rivers, and great numbers of them are destroyed in the fall when 
these bodies of water dry up. With the exception of its predilection for 
muddy waters, I know little in its habits distinctive from those of the 
Strawberry Bass. Like the latter, it is said to be an excellent fish for ponds. 
Both take the hook, feed upon small fishes and crustaceans, and spawn 
in spring. They grow to be about tw^elve inches long and to the weight 
of a pound. Exceptionally large individuals have been known to weigh 
three pounds. 

Among the Louisiana anglers, especially about Lake Pontchartrain, the 
Crappie is a prime favorite, for it will take a minnow bait as promptly as a 
black bass. It is not very pugnacious, however, and will not fight as 
long as the bass, and is also more easily frightened, requiring greater 
caution on the part of the angler. 

A correspondent of the Angler^ describes the fishing in Cedar Lake, 
Indiana. Angling is carried on from little flat-bottomed skiff's and from 
sail boats, with bait of minnows, worms or pieces of fish. In five hours 
two men caught fifty-seven bass and eighty-two Crappies. Trolling is a 
favorite mode of fishing among the people who live near the lake, who, 
using two lines with spoon-baits or " whirl," and fishing from a sail boat, 
frequently take two hundred or more Crappies in a day, besides occasional 
pickerel, perch and bass. Two men fishing for pleasure, took in June, 
1882, in the course of three days, a thousand Crappies, weighing from four 

* "Jap " in American Angler, ii, S7. 


to twenty-four ounces each. Another correspondent of the same journal 
writes as follows concerning Crappie fishing near St. Louis.* 

" Our ' Croppie,' the greatest pan-fish of the West, is highly esteemed 
by us for the table. Wc have seen a monster Croppie this spring, weigh- 
ing over three pounds, taken at Murdock Club Lake, near St. Louis, on 
the Illinois side. We consider one of one-and-a-half to two pounds a 
large one. They are taken about logs and tree tops, on the water's edge, 
in our rivers and sloughs. They are greedy fellows, but as soon as hooked, 
step right into the boat without a struggle for liberty. 

"A gentleman of this place, a member of one of our old French families, 
who turned the scale at about three hundred pounds, was noted for his 
success in Croppie fishing. He would have his large flat towed to a tree ; 
when, tied to a limb, he would settle himself for the day, on a pillow, placed 
in a large split-bottom chair. Hauling his live box and minnow pail 
alongside, he would bait two hooks attached to a strong line, using a weak 
snell, so that in case the hook should foul, he could break it loose. He 
used a float and short, stout bamboo rod and, shaking the bushes a little, 
' to stir up the fish,' would select an opening and carefully drop in the 
minnow, two feet below the surface, pass the end of the rods through 
rings in the side of the boat, light his pipe, and wait for something to 
happen. It was not long, and after the fun began, it was the same 
monotonous lifting out of fish, and dropping them into the live-box all 
the day long, and Avas continued on the next, until he had brought to 
creel over three hundred. 

" I have always associated in my mind the Croppie, and the love of ease 
and quiet of our old French inhabitants. Nothing could more truly 
represent contentment and ease than the picture of this simple-minded 
old gentleman, on his annual Croppie fish at King's Lake." 

* " St. Louis " in American Angler, \, 312. 



The island's edges are a-wing 

With trees that overbranch 
The sea, with song-birds welcoming 

The curlews to green change. 
And doves from half-closed lids espy 
The red and purple fish go by. 

Mks. Browning, A/i Is/and. 

' I ^HE Snappers and the Grunts belong to Gill's family, Pristipomatidce. 
Jordan puts them with the SparidcB, or Sea-Breams, while Giinther in- 
cludes them in his much more comprehensive perch family. They are 
among the most wholesome and abundant of the food-fishes of tropical 
waters. There are numerous species in the West Indian fauna, but only a 
small number are sufficiently abundant on the coast of the United States 
to merit discussion in this book. 

The Snappers and Grunts are among the most highly colored of the 
tropical fishes — the tanagers and grosbeaks of the coral reefs. 

The Red Snapper, Lutjamts Blackfordii, although it has been for many 
years a favorite food-fish of the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Florida, has 
but recently become known in Northern markets. About 1874 individuals 
of this species were occasionally seen in New York and Washington, and 
they began shortly after to come into notice in the cities of the Mississippi 
Valley. It was not even described and named until 1S7S, when a study 


of the notes and measurements obtained in Florida confirmed my sus- 
picion, which had been growing for years, that the species was new to 
science. The name Lutjaniis Blackfordii was chosen in compliment to 
Mr. Eugene G. Blackford, Commissioner of Fisheries of New York, whose 
enthusiastic labors have greatly aided all students of American ichthyol- 
ogy, and who has added several species of fishes to the fauna of the United 
States. The genus Lutjamis was founded in 1787 by Bloch, who derived 
its designation from Ikan lutjang, an Asiatic name for a kindred species of 
the group. Its color is bright crimson, and it is the most conspicuous fish 
ever to be seen in our markets. 

Seven years ago the geographical range of this species was supposed to 
be limited at the north by Savannah Bank, but during the summer of 1880 
several specimens were taken along the coast of the INIiddle States ; one, 
nine-and-a-half pounds in weight, off Point Monmouth, New Jersey, Oc- 
tober 5 ; another, about August 10, near Block Island. This northern ex- 
tension of its range is quite unexpected, and the fact that even stragglers 
find their way into the northern waters suggests great possibilities for the 
future in the way of their artificial propagation and introduction along the 
coast of the United States. In the South it is found on the same grounds 
with the sea-bass, a species which is abundant as far north as Cape 
Cod, and it is hard to understand why the banks which are favorite 
haunts of this fish should not also be shared by the Red Snapper. In the 
Gulf of Mexico the Red Snapper is exceedingly abundant in suitable lo- 
calities from Key West to the Rio Grande. 

" About the Florida reefs." writes Silas Stearns, " and as far north as 
Temple Bay, where there are reefs and rocks, they live in holes and gullies 
where all kinds of marine animals and fish are most abundant, and some- 
times, as I have noticed, off Charlotte Harbor numbers of them will con- 
gregate about a solitary ledge jDrotruding over a level bottom of white sand. 
Throughout this southern district the fishing spots are small, but very 
numerous ; and away from the reefs, where the bottom is chiefly sand, it is 
only necessary to find rocks or rocky bottom to find Red Snappers. Since 
it is impracticable to make use of bearings by which to find the fishing 
grounds, the fishermen sail about, throwing the lead continually until it 
indicates the proper bottom. Along the coast from Temple Bay to Texas 
the bottom declines very gradually to the hundred-fathom curve, forming 
vast, almost level plains of sand. In these barren wastes there are gullies 


of variable size, having rocky bottoms and teeming with animal and vege- 
table life. These gullies occur at a depth of from twehe to forty-five 
fathoms, the water in them being several fathoms deeper than the sur- 
rounding bottom, and more rocky, and in the deepest parts richer in ani- 
mal life. Red Snappers are exceedingly abundant in these places, which 
are the so-called 'snapper banks.' From Temple Bay to Cedar Keys the 
gullies are numerous in sixteen, eighteen, and twenty fathoms ; from Cedar 
Keys to Saint Mark's, in fifteen and sixteen fathoms; off Saint Mark's 
and Dog Island there are a few in five and ten fathoms. PYom Cape San 
Bias to the mouths of the Mississippi River occur the best fishing grounds 
in the Gulf, so far as is now known ; gullies ten and fifteen fathoms in 
depth are especially abundant fifty miles west from the cape. West of the 
Mississippi, and on the Texas coast, there are a few which are in twelve 
and fifteen fathoms. These grounds are found by the use of the sounding- 
lead, which shows every position by the sudden increase in the depth of 
the water. Red Snappers live in such places all the year, except, per- 
haps, in some of the five and ten fathom ones, which are nearly deserted 
in winter. Off Pensacola there seems to be quite a movement inshore in 
fall. In South Florida they are usually associated with the groupers, 
which occur in the proportion of about three to one, while in West Florida 
the case is reversed ; not more than one fish in ten of those caught is a 
grouper. ' ' 

Red Snappers are also known to be abundant on the Savannah Bank 
and on the Saint John's Bank, off Eastern Georgia and Florida. 

The Red Snappers are strictly carnivorous, feeding upon small fish, 
crabs, and prawns. The temperature of the water in which they live 
probably rarely falls below 50°. They have no enemies except sharks and 
two or three enormous spiny-rayed fishes such as the jew-fish or warsaw 
[Guasa). The only reliable observations upon their breeding habits have 
been made by Mr. Stearns, who states that they spawn in May and June 
in the bays and at sea. In June, July, and August they are found in some 
of the bays of the Northern Gulf, about wrecks and rock-piles, in consid- 
erable numbers, and none are taken but the larger adults and the young from 
one to eight inches long. The spawning season probably extends over a 
period of several months, Mr. Stearns having found well-developed ovaries 
in them from April to July. Nothing is known of their rate of growth. 
They attain to the size of forty pounds. In East Florida, howe\-er, the aver- 


age is much less. Mr. Stearns remarks that in the Gulf of Mexico they 
very seldom exceed thirty pounds weight, though he has seen several of 
that size, while the average is eight or nine pounds, and in a large lot may 
usually be found individuals weighing from two-and-one-half to twenty 

Red Snappers from Florida are frequently quoted in the New York mar- 
ket returns. In 1879 about 12.000 pounds were there sold. They are also 
shipped to Boston, Washington and Baltimore in winter, the supply in 
these cities being derived chiefly from Pensacola. Mobile and New Or- 
leans consume considerable quanities, and from these ports they are 
shipped up the Mississippi River to the princijjal cities of the West, 
where the fish is growing to be a staple of much importance. In Saint 
Louis and New Orleans it is one of the most highly esteemed food-fishes. 

Snappers should always be boiled or cooked in a chowder. Thus treated 
they are equal to the striped bass, sea bass or turbot, in flavor and texture. 
The Court-Bouillon of the New Orleans cooks is made of Snappers, and is 
very delicious.* 

Snapper-fishing is usually carried on with a bottom bait of skip-jack, 
bluefish, or young shark. The Snappers will sometimes bite at a white 
rag. Norris, the only sporting authority who has written about them with 
a clear understanding as to what species he was dealing with, states that 
they bite readily at a silver or pearl squid. I am inclined to believe that 
this is a mistake. Their habits are closely similar to those of the sea 
bass and the sheepshead, and they seldom rise to the surface. 

A trip to the Snapper banks is a favorite summer recreation for the gen- 
tlemen of Jacksonville. A tug is chartered for the day, and usually re- 
turns to the city with flags flying, whistles triumphantly sounding, and 
gorgeous festoons of red fish hanging over the bows. 

My friend. Dr. C. J. Kenworthy, has kindly given me the following 
memoranda concerning such a trip : 

" Eighteen of us left Jacksonville at two o'clock in the morning, reaching 
Mayport before daylight. Before the sun rose we were twelve miles from 
the shore, and near the banks. The second cast of the lead furnished 

*■ Court-Bouillon. "This preparation gives boiled fish a better flavor than cooking in clear water does. 
Many cooks use wine in it, but there is no necessity for it. Four quarts of water, one onion, one slice of car- 
rot, two cloves, two table-spoonfuls of salt, one teaspoonfal of pepper, one table-spoonful of vinegar, the juice 
of half a lemon and a bouquet of sweet herbs are used. Tie the onion, carrot, cloves and herbs in a piece of 
muslin, and put in the water with the other ingredients. Cover, and boil slowly for one hour. Then put in 
the fish and cook as directed for plain boiling." — JMiss Parloa. 


unmistakable evidence of rocks, and over-board went the lines. They 
scarcely touched bottom before the cry ' Snapper!' ' Snapper !' was heard, 
and a crimson beauty graced our deck. 

"All were soon engaged, foreward, aft, starboard, and port. To feel the 
bite of a twenty-five pound Snapper at a depth of twelve fathoms causes a 
sensation never to be forgotten. As the line is pulled in and the fish is 
first seen at a depth of several fathoms, he looks like silver and not larger 
than one's hand. As he comes nearer his tints deepen, as he struggles at 
the surface to escape, all his rich, brilliant colors are displayed, and when 
he reaches the deck every one exclaims, 'What a beauty!' For a few 
minutes the shouts resound from all sides, but a change soon occurs. 
Each man labors as if the number to be captured depended upon his in- 
dividual exertions, and no breath or time could be spared to cry ' Snap- 
per !' or indulge in fisherman's chaff. In less than two hours the whistle 
sounds ' Up lines ' for we must cross the bar at a particular stage of the 
tide. The fish are biting rapidly, but our tired arms and blistered fingers 
induce us all quietly to obey the warning. 

"On the home-trip our captures are counted; — not sea bass, porgies, and 
small fry, but fish worth counting, — and it is found that the party has cap- 
tured one grouper weighing thirty-five pounds, two of eighteen pounds, 
and two hundred and eight snappers averaging twenty-five pounds each, — 
the entire catch weighing two and one half tons." 

One April day, some years ago, the writer and a party of friends were 
passengers on the little steamer which plied between Jacksonville and the 
mouth of the St. Johns. After leaving Mayport on the return trip, we 
were hailed by a party of men from a large sail-boat laying-to in the mid- 
dle of the river. We threw "them a line, and they gave us a deck-load of 
stout fishes, — shapely, bright-eyed, and crimson. We learned that the 
boat had left Mayport on the previous afternoon, carrying six men, who 
had, in three hours, taken ninety Red Snappers, weighing in the aggregate 
over a ton, besides quantities of sea bass. Their brilliant hues were a 
great surprise to those of our party who were acquainted only with the 
neutral colors of the common northern market fishes, or perhaps had 
even seen the dull red color of the Snappers hanging in the markets. The 
ladies were eager to possess some of the " lovely scales," but soon learned 
one of the first lessons of ichthyology, that scales are always white, what- 
ever may be the color of the fish which wear them. 

The writer also learned a lesson in ichthyology, on the same occasion, 
The opportunity to examine so many specimens of this fish, gave him the 
clew to the fact that it was an undescribed species and led to its descrip- 
tions by Goode and Bean under the name Lutjanus Blackfordii. 


The genus Lutjaniis is found everywhere in tropical waters, and 
fish resembling the Red Snapper occur everywhere throughout the West 
Indies. There is one which is abundant on the Bahama Banks and in 
South Florida. This is Z. campcchianus, Poey, perhaps also accompanied 
by I. torridus, Cope. Two other brilliant red species occur with L. Black- 
fordii in the Gulf of Mexico — the Pensacola Snapper, L. Steaj-nsii, and 
the Mangrove Snapper, Rhomboplitcs aurorubens. On the Bermuda reefs 
occurs a small but brilliant species, still undescribed, which I propose call- 
ing I. atitolycus. 

The Pensacola Snapper might fairly be compared with L. Black- 
fordii, although its color is somewhat less vivid. Concerning this spe- 
cies, Mr. Stearns, whose name it bears, writes: "It is abundant on the 
Gulf coast, and lives in the bays all the year. In summer it is to be found 
about stone-heaps, wharves, and old wrecks, where it obtains crustaceous 
food in abundance. In Avinter it returns to the deeper places in search of 
food, and to escape from the cold surface-water. During a cold snap in 
1876 a great many of these fish were benumbed and floated at the surface, 
until the sun appeared and warmed them, when they revived and sought 
the bottom. They spawn in May and June. They are very cunning, and 
will not readily take the hook. Those commonly seen in the bays are 
quite small, averaging ten inches in length, while those taken with the 
Red Snappers at sea are from twenty to twenty-four inches long. It is an 
excellent food-fish, generally thought to be superior in flavor to the Red 
Snapper. ' ' This fish has as yet been found only on the Gulf coasts of the 
United States, where it is known as the "Mangrove Snapper." Since 
this name is used on the Atlantic coast for another species, and has been 
so used since the time of Catesby, it seems desirable to designate Lutjanus 
.S'/'<?(3:r;z«y by another name, and "Pensacola Snapper" has been suggested. 

The Mangrove Snapper, Rhomboplitcs aurorubens, of Charleston, called 
at Pensacola the "Bastard Snapper," is a much more slender and ele- 
gantly formed fish than either of the Snappers already described. Its 
color is less vivid, being somewhat more russet, and is enlivened by the 
presence of narrow, oblique lines, with gold and yellow upon the sides. 
It is a swift-swimming fish, probably less given to bottom feeding, and 
more partial to a diet of living fish. It has been found at Jamaica, and 
as far north as Charleston, S. C. 

" In the Pensacola region," writes Stearns, "it is well-known, but not 


a common species." Single in(Ii\iduals are occasionally brought in iVom 
the sea with the Red Snappers and groupers. It is caught at all depths, 
from ten to thirty-five fathoms, and seldom exceeds eighteen inclies in 
length. As a food-fish it is equal to the Red Snapper. 

The Gray Snapper, Lutjamts caxis, is similar in form to the others, 
but not red in color. It is called the " Gray Snapper " in South Florida, 
and the '' Black Snapper " at Pensacola : is abundant about the Bermudas, 
and has been found on the east coast of Florida, in tropical South 
America, in ^Vestern Africa, and about the Bermudas, where it attains the 
enormous size of sixty to eighty pounds, and is known as the " Gray Snap- 
per," and also, on account of its sly, cunning habits, the "Sea Lawyer." 

Mr. Stearns writes : " It is most abundant in South Florida, living in 
deep channels, on rocky bottoms, about old wrecks, stone-heaps, and 
wharves ; it is considered the most cunning fish on the coast, and ex- 
tremely difficult to catch. The young may be seen about the wharves, 
and the breeding grounds are probably near by. Those usually observed 
are from ten to twelve inches in length, but I think I have seen specimens 
which would measure two feet." 

The Red-mouths or Grunts, small fishes belonging to the genus Diaba- 
sis, are found in the inshore waters of the Southern Atlantic and Gulf States. 
They are closely related to the Snappers, which they resemble in form, 
and have remote affinity, with the perch, the bass, and the porgy and 
sheepshead. Their colors are usually striking, and without exception, 
they are distinguished by the brilliant red color of the inside of the 
mouth and throat, from which thev have sometimes been called Red- 
mouths, or Flannel-mouths. From their habit of uttering a loud, rather 
melodious sound when taken from the water they have acquired the name 
of " Grunts " and "Pig-fish." In some localities they are called also 
"Squirrel-fish," in allusion to the same habit. They are, for the most 
part, bottom feeders, preying chiefly upon crustaceans and small fish. In 
fact, they are, in most respects, miniature counterparts of the Red Snap- 
per. In many localities they are in high favor as food-fish. They have 
not yet been very carefully studied, but so far as they are now understood 
the following species are known to occur in sufficient numbers to prove of 
commercial importance. 

The Black Grunt, Diahasis Plumieri, has a brownish bod\', lighter upon 
the sides, and has the sides of the head ornamented with numerous hori- 



zontal stripes of bright blue, while the posterior half of the lower lip is red. 
It occurs as far north as Charleston, and Dr. Yarrow claims to have seen 
it at Beaufort, North Carolina, though there is some question whether this 
species was not mistaken for another. Holbrook records that it has been 
observed on the Atlantic borders of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 
I noticed several small individuals in the markets of Saint Augustine in 
March, 1877. Stearns mentions the Black Grunt as abundant at Key 
West among the reefs, and as frequently seen in the markets. It is there 
known as the " Ronco Grande," D. allnts being called the "Margate 
Fish," and D. chromis the "Sailor's Choice." 

The Red-Mouth Grunt, Diabasis aiiroUneatus, is probably the " Flannel - 
mouthed Porgy," familiar to Florida fishermen, and often taken on 
the St. Johns bar. It has recently been found to be common in 
Charleston in summer. This species was mentioned in Catesby's great 
work, published in 1643, under the name of " Margate-fish." When 
alive its color is bright silvery, but it soon becomes, when taken from the 
water, of a dull amber-brown, with a slight brazen tint along the back 
and sides, though the belly remains white. The upper jaw, within, is white ; 
the palate is salmon-colored \ the lower jaw and mouth below are also 
white in their interior third ; the posterior two-thirds, both within and 
without, are red, and the mouth below; the tongue and fauces are of a 
similar color. This fish occurs in Northern Brazil and throughout the 
West Indias, and specimens are recorded from Jamaica, Trinidad, and 
the Bahamas ; it is found in the Bermudas and on our coast at least as far 
north as Charleston. Stearns writes: " It is quite common on the Gulf 
coast of Florida from Pensacola to Key West. It is caught with hook and 
line, and is eaten as a pan-fish. I took an extremely large specimen 
from the snapper ground between Cedar Keys and St. Marks in fifteen 
fathoms of water. It is not found in the vicinity of Pensacola." Hol- 
brook writes: "The Red-mouthed Grunt is occasionally taken in our 
waters at all seasons of the year, but is never abundant, as seldom more 
than a dozen or two are met with m the market at one time. It is not 
highly esteemed for food, since its flesh lacks l)oth firmness and flavor." 

Uhler and Lugger say that it occurs occasionally in the lower part of 
the Chesapeake Bay, where it is not considered to possess great economi- 
cal value. The occurrence of this species so far north needs confirmation. 

The Norfolk Hog-fish, Pomodasys fitlvomaculatus, belonging to a 



closely related genus is the ''' Hog-fish." or " Cirunt," of tlie Chesapeake, 
and called also " Pig-fish " or " Grunt " in the dulf of Mexico, and '' Pork- 
fish " and "Whiting" at Key West, and known in South Carolina and 
the St. John's River, Fla., as well as in Bermuda under the name of 
"Sailor's Choice. Its colors are as follows: Above, pale brown: 
belly, silvery; sides marked with numerous orange-colored or yellow 
spots; those above the lateral line disposed in irregular oblique lines, 
those below it in horizontal rows. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins with 
similar spots ; sides of the head pale bluish with a silvery tint and marked 
with yellow spots ; lower jaw, orange at the angle of the mouth ; internal 
surface of the gill membrane bright orange." 



This species was first described by Mitchill from a specimen taken in 
the bay of New York. The National Museum has many specimens from 
various parts of the Southern coast and the Gulf of Mexico. "In New 
York," wrote DeKay in 1842, "this is a rare fish, but occasionally ap- 
pearing, as I am informed, in our harbor in considerable numbers. It is 
a very savory food." Prof. Baird did not find it on the coast of New 
Jersey in 1S54. It occurs in the salt water of the lower part of the Chesa- 
peake Bay, and is much esteemed for food, being perhaps the most popu- 
lar pan-fish of the Lower Chesapeake. 

At Beaufort, N. C, where it is also called "' Hog-fish," according to 
Jordan, it is extremely common everywhere in the harbor. Holbrook 
wrote about i860: "The 'Sailor's Choice' makes its appearance in our 


waters about the month of April and continues with us until November, 
when the largest are taken. I have found in the stomach of this animal 
only the remains of small fish, and yet it takes hook readily when baited 
with shrimps and clams. It is found along the coast from Georgia to Vir- 
ginia, where it is called "Hog-fish," and is held in great estimation by 
epicures. ' ' 

''On the Gulf coast," writes Stearns, ''it is common everywhere and 
throughout the year it lives in shallow water among the grass, feeding 
upon small crustaceous animals. It spawns in April and May, and is 
a choice food-fish. The average length is about ten inches." Stearns 
also refers to three species known respectively as the " White," " Yellow " 
and "Black" Grunt, which are found at Key West and upon the neigh- 
boring reef in great abundance. Restates that " they are taken with 
hook and line, and are brought daily into market. Before the poisoned 
Avater visited that neighborhood the Grunt was the most important as well 
as the favorite food-fish in the market, but since then they have been 
scarce, and other fish, to a great extent, have taken their place." 

On the coast of California, especially southward, occur two species of 
this family; one, known by the name " Sargo," Pristiponia David- 
soiii, is found from San Pedro southward to Cerros Island, chiefly about 
the islands, and is nowhere common. It feeds on crustaceans, and is a 
a good pan-fish, but is too scarce to have much economic value. It 
reaches a length of about fifteen inches. Still another, Xenistius califor- 
?iie7ists Steindachner, occurs from San Diego to Cape San Lucas. It is 
too scarce to be of any importance for food. 




The pleasantest angling is to see the fish 
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream 
And greedily devour the treacherous bait. 

Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act iii, Scene I . 

'"P^HE members of the family Sparidae, the " Sea-Breams " as they are 
often called, are especially characterized by their heavy, rather com- 
pressed bodies, their large heads, and strong jaws and teeth. In addition 
to one or more series of teeth in the front of the jaws, either conical or in- 
cisorial in shape, adapted for tearing their food from its lodging places, 
they always have a set of heavy, flat, grinding-teeth in the back of the 
mouth, which are often in double or triple rows on each side and are closely 
set, like the stones in a mosaic. Their use is to crush hard shells of mol- 
lusks and of barnacles, and other crustaceans. They are sedentary in 
their habits, living close to the bottom and browsing among the rocks 
and piles. Their colors are usually inconspicuous and their motions slug- 
gish. Representatives of this family are found throughout the world in 
temperate and tropical waters everywhere, and were numerous in the seas 
and lagoons of the Tertiary and Cretaceous periods. 

The most important representatives of the family in America, are the 


Sheepshead and the Scuppaug or Porgy. There are several others inhabit- 
ing oi;r southern coast, of which the Sailor's Choice, lagodoii rlwmboidcSy 
and the Bream, or Bastard Snapper, Spams aculeatus, are the best known, 
but these are of little importance to either fisherman or economist. On 
the Pacific side are others, which will doubtless be better known in the 
future than they are at the present time. 

The Sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus, is one of the choicest fishes 
of our waters. It derives its name from the resemblance of its profile and 
teeth to those of a sheep, and also from its browsing habits. Unlike most 
of those fishes which are widely distributed along our seaboard, it has only 
one name, and by this it is known from Cape Cod to the Mexican bor- 
der. The negroes of the South, however, frequently drop the sibilant 
sound from the middle of the word and call it " Sheephead." 

Several other species are called by the same name, but there is little 
danger of confusion except in the case of the so-called "Sheepshead" of 
the Great Lakes, which is similar to the well-known " Drum ;" this fish is 
occasionally sold to the unwary on the recommendation of its good name. 

This fish has never been known to pass to the north of the sandy arm of 
Cape Cod, and its northern range is at present somewhat more limited than 
it was eighty years ago. In the records of Wareham, Massachusetts, they 
are mentioned as having been somewhat abundant in 1803, and in Narra- 
gansett Bay there is a tradition that they began to disappear in 1793, when 
the Scuppaug commenced to increase in abundance. In 187 1, E. E. Taylor, 
of Newport, testified before the U. S. Commissioner of Fisheries, that his 
father caught Sheepshead in abundance forty-five or fifty years previous. 
In 1870 and 1S71 the species was coming into notice in this region, though 
neither at that time nor since has it become common. On the south 
shore of Long Island it is quite abundant, and in New York harbor and 
its various approaches, at times, may be taken in considerable numbers. 
On the coast of New Jersey it is also abundant, and between Cape ,May 
and Montauk Point the species is said to attain its greatest perfection as a 
food-fish. Lugger states that it frequents the oyster localities of all parts 
of Chesapeake Bay, but is now more common among the southeastern 
counties of Virginia, where it comes in considerable numbers to feed upon 
the animals which live on the oyster bars. It is found about wrecks of old 
vessels, on which barnacles and mollusks live. About Beaufort, N. C', it 
is also abundant, and also along the entire coast of the South Atlantic and 


Gulf States, where it frequently ascends, especially in Florida, high up the 
fresh-water rivers. In the Gulf, according to Stearns, it is abundant on 
the coast from Southern Florida to Mexico. 

The Sheepshead is a bottom-loving species, quiet in its habits, and little 
given to wandering. North of Charleston it is absent from the inshore 
waters during the winter season, but it is probable that its migrations do 
not carry it far. Holbrook records that it has been taken in Port 
Royal Sound as early as January, while in Charleston it makes its appear- 
ance in April and continues until November. Dr. Mitchill, whose obser- 
vations on this species in the vicinity of New York, made sixty years ago, 
are perhaps as satisfactory as any which have been made, remarked that its 
term of continuance was from the beginning of June to the middle of Sep- 
tember. He had, however, known it to stay later, for one of the most 
numerous collections of Sheepshead he ever saw was on the 4th of Octo- 
ber, 1814 ; he had observed it as late as the 17th of October. 

In Florida the Sheepshead is found along the shores throughout the 
entire year, and also in the Gulf of Mexico. 

It is curious to see how much at variance were the statements of early 
observers concerning its habit of entering fresh-water streams. Mitchill 
states explicitly: "He confines himself strictly to the salt water, 
never having been seen in the fresh rivers." Holbrook, speaking of the 
vicinity of Charleston, says: "It enters shallow inlets and mouths of 
rivers, but never leaves the salt for fresh water." In the St. John's and 
other rivers of Florida the Sheepshead becomes almost a fresh-water spe- 
cies, and the young, especially, are constantly taken in seines in company 
with bass, perch and suckers, far above the limits of perceptibly brackish 
water. It is not yet possible to infer with any certainty what the tempera- 
ture \imits of this species may be, but it would seem probable that they 
never willingly encounter water colder than 60°, except perhaps in fall, 
when they are reluctant to leave their feeding grounds. 

The statement just made, however, requires a certain qualification. No 
one knows whether the Sheepshead of our Northern waters go south in win- 
ter or whether they simply become torpid and remain through the season 
in deep holes near their summer haunts, their presence unsuspected. Per- 
haps it would be wiser to say that they are not actually engaged in feeding 
when the temperature is lower than 60°, and that their winter habits are 
entirelv unknown. Where the water is warmer than 60° throughout the 


year, they are constantly active. The Sheepshead feeds ahnost exclusivel}r 
upon hard-shelled animals, mollusks and barnacles, and particularly on 
young oysters as they grow, attached to stones and sticks of wood. With 
its strong cutting and grinding teeth and powerful jaws it easily rips off 
thick bunches of shells, which are quickly triturated by the mill-stone 
like jaws. The anglers of the South take advantage of their knowledge 
of its habits. 

The Hon. William Elliot, in his " Carolina Sports by Land and Water," 
describes the peculiar methods employed in Port Royal Sound, South 
Carolina : 

'' They are exceedingly choice in their feeding, taking no other bait but 
shell-fish. Their favorite food is the young oyster, which, under the form 
of barnacles, they crush with their strong teeth. Of course they frequent 
those shores that abound with fallen trees. On the Florida coast they are 
taken in great quantities among the mangrove trees, whose roots growing 
in the salt water, are covered with barnacles. Formerly they were taken 
in considerable numbers among our various inlets. Wherever there were 
steep bluffs, from which large trees had fallen in the water, there they 
might confidently be sought. But as these lands have been cleared for the 
culture of sea-island cptton, the trees have disappeared, and with them the 
fish ; and it has been found necessary to renew their feeding grounds by 
artificial means. Logs of pine or oak are cut and framed into a sort of hut 
without a roof. It is floored and built up five or six feet high, then 
floated to the place desired, and sunk in eight feet of water by casting 
stones or live-oak timber within. As soon as the barnacles are formed, 
which will happen in a few weeks, the fish will begin to resort to the 
ground. It is sometimes requisite to do more before you can succeed in 
your wishes. The greatest enemies of this fish are the sharks and por- 
poises, which pursue them incessantly and destroy them, unless they can 
find secure hiding-places to which to retreat. Two of these pens, near each 
other, will furnish this protection ; and when that course is not adopted, 
piles driven near each other, quite surrounding the pen, will have the same 
effect. Your work complete, build a light staging by driving clown four 
upright posts at a distance of fifteen feet from the pen, and then take your 
station on it, provided with a light, flexible, and strong cane reed, of 
twenty feet length, with fourteen feet of line attached, a strong hook and 
a light lead. Instead of dropping your line directly down and poising it 
occasionally from bottom, I prefer to throw the line out beyond the per- 
pendicular and let the head lie on the bottom. The Sheepshead is a shy 
fish, and takes the bait more confidently if it lies on the bottom. When 
he bites you perceive your rod dipping for the water ; give a short, quick 
jerk, and then play him at your leisure. If the fish is large, and your jerk 


too violent, the rod will snap at the fulcrum — the grasp of your left hand. 
It has happened that, at one of these artificial grounds, I have taken six- 
teen Sheepshead at one fishing. What was unusual was that they were 
taken in February, when no one thinks of fishing for these or any other 
sea-fish within the inlets. I ascertained, from the continued experiments 
of several years, that they could always be taken at this season, and, fre- 
quently, January also. The difficulty is to find bait, for neither shrimps 
nor crabs are then in season. In the case referred to the difficulty was 
thus removed : The lines were rigged with two hooks ; upon one was 
placed an oyster taken fresh from the shell, on the other an oyster boiled. 
The scent of the first attracted the fish, but so little tenacity was found in 
it that, before the fish had taken hold of the hook, the oyster was detached ; 
but when, encouraged by the taste of the first, the fish advanced to the sec- 
ond, that having acquired toughness from boiling, would adhere until the 
hook was fairly taken into the fish's mouth. They clearly prefer the un- 
cooked to the cooked oyster, but the latter was more to the fisherman's 
purpose. Their fondness for this food suggested the expedient of break- 
ing up the live oysters in the shell and scattering them in the vicinity of 
the ground ; also that of letting down the broken oysters in a wicker bas- 
ket. Each plan is found effectual in attracting the fish. 

"The bluffs, in their primitive state, in which trees enough are found 
fallen to give the fish both food and protection against their enemies, are 
only to be met Avith now among the Hunting Islands, where the barrenness 
of the land had secured them against cultivation. On two occasions I 
have enjoyed excellent sport at such places. On one I took twenty-three 
to my own rod ; on another, twenty-four, and desisted from fatigue and 
satiety. They are never taken in such numbers when fishing from a boat 
with a drop-line on the rocks. It is very rare that as many as twenty are 
taken in one boat." 

In New Jersey, Sheepshead pens are made by forming enclosures of long 
stakes driven into the sandy bottom of bays and inlets. 

In the North, the Sheepshead is equally a great favorite, and the in- 
structions to anglers written nearly a hundred years ago by Mitchill is bet- 
ter than any by more recent writers. 

" This noble fish visits the neighborhood of Long Island annually, 
emerging from the depths of the ocean. He feeds in the recesses and 
inlets upon the clams and mussels, which are abundant and on which he 
loves to feed. He confines himself strictly to the salt water, never having 
been seen in the fresh rivers. His term of continuance is only during 
the warmest season ; that is, from the beginning of June to the middle of 
September. He then disappears to the unknown depths of the Atlantic, 
and is seen no more until the ensuing summer. The Sheepshead swims in 
shoals, and is sometimes surrounded in great numbers by the seine ; several 


hundreds have often been taken at a single haul with the long sweeping 
nets in use near Rayner Town, Babylon and Fire Island. They even tell 
of a thousand brought to land at a draught. He also bites at the hook, 
and several are not unfrequently thus caught in succession. The outfitting 
of a Sheepshead party is always an occasion of considerable excitement 
and high expectation, as I have often experienced. Whenever a Sheeps- 
head is brought on board the boat more joy is manifested than by the 
possession of any other kind offish. The sportsmen view the exercises so 
much above common fishing that the capture of the Sheepshead is the 
most desirable combination of luck and skill ; and the feats of hooking 
and landing him safely in the boat furnish abundant materials for the most 
pleasing and hyperbolical stories. The Sheepshead is a very stout fish. 
and the hooks and lines are strong in proportion ; yet he frequently breaks 
them and makes his escape. Sheepshead have been caught with such fish- 
ing-tackle fastened to their jaws. When the line or hook gives way, the 
accident makes a serious impression on the company. As the possession 
of the Sheepshead is a grand prize, so his escape is felt as a distressing loss. 
I know an ancient fisherman who used to record in a book the time, 
place, and circumstances of every Sheepshead he had caught. This fish is 
sometimes speared by torchlight in the wide and shallow bays of Queens 
County and Suffolk." 

Dr. Mitchill concludes his naive remarks by the mournful words: " It 
is to be regretted that the Sheepshead too often corrupt for want of ice." 

Schoepf, writing of the same region forty years before, states that dur- 
ing the period of the Revolutionary war the Sheepshead was very abun- 
dant in the summer months and was a very highly prized species. In 
1773 the New York Chamber of Commerce offered a prize of twenty 
pounds sterling to the crew of the vessel which should bring to the city 
markets, " the greatest quantity of live Sheepshead, from the ist of May, 
1773, to the ist of May, i77'4." Some unknown writer contributed to 
Brown's " American Angler," in 1846, the following memorandum : 

" These noble fish have become quite scarce in our harbor. The writer 
has taken them repeatedly near Governor's Island, opposite the Battery, 
but this was in days long since gone by. Still, they are still taken, occa- 
sionally, at Caving Point and at the Signal poles, at the Narrows, also at 
Pelham Bridge and Little Hell Gate." 

Scott gives the following advice to Sheepshead anglers : 

" If a resident of New York, you will find Canarsie on the Old Mill, 
near East New York, the most convenient place from which to take a sail- 
boat ; a boat is generally at hand at either place. Sail down the channel 
above the inlet toward Near Rockawav. about a mile below Remson's Ho- 


tel ; feel by sounding for a mussel-bed (they are numerous for a mile along 
shore), about two hundred yards from which, when found, cast anchor far 
enough away so that, when the boat toles round from the tide toward the 
feeding-ground, the cast required for dropping your anchor will be about 
fifty feet. The water should be about seven feet deep at low tide, and it 
rises there from four to six feet. The best time is during the jjeriod be- 
tween high and low tides when the water is slack, and until it runs at the 
rate of five miles an hour, or one hour after it begins to run ; for when the 
tide runs out it is then considered that Sheepshead seek some still-water 
ground and Avait for a moderate motion of the waters. At the right times 
of tide the location of the mussel-beds is plainly indicated by a fleet of fif- 
teen to twentv sail-boats or hand-line fishermen. Manv of them are far- 
mers, who, residing near the shore of Jamaica Bay, employ the interreg- 
num between hay and grass, uniting their profits, and earning from $3 to 
$10 a day, by fishing for Sheepshead. 

'' There are many places along our shores better than Jamaica Bay. 
The Hand-line Committee makes it pay at Fire Island, and there are 
many superior feeding places in the South Bay ; about the wreck of the 
' Black Warrior,' near the Narrows, is celebrated for its great numbers of 
them ; in truth, our whole coast south of Long Island is rendered inviting 
by this delicious fish." 

The favorite resorts of northern Sheepshead anglers are among the rocks 
about Jamaica Bay, South Bay, and Fire Island, and in various parts of 
New York Bay, as well as in similar localities on the coast of New Jersey. 

The Sheepshead of the North is generally considered much finer in 
flavor, as well as larger than its southern brethren, but I can speak from 
experience of the delicious quailities of these fish taken in the St. John's 
River, Fla., at the upper limit of brackish water, and am inclined to 
doubt the vaunted superiority of those of New York. 

In Florida, and as far north as Port Royal, S. C, the Sheepshead is a 
winter resident. Mr. Elliott tells of his success in fishing for these species 
in January and February, despite the scarcity of bait. At Charleston the 
fish is scarce in winter. At the mouth of the Chesapeake it appears in early 
April, in New Jersey in May, and at about the same time in the vicinity 
of New York. In mid-summer it is seen in southern New England. It 
leaves Ncav Jersey about September, and Virginia in October. Its pre- 
ferred temperature is, probably, not below 60° or 65° F. Frank H. Al- 
len in the Attierica/i Angler, (i, 55) states that at Indian River Inlet, Fla., 
three men at one tide took one hundrezl and sixty Sheepshead, using 
roasted oysters for bait. He states that Sheepshead may, as a rule, be 


taken wherever the mangrove roots extend out into the water, but in shal- 
lows they are frightened away. 

Little is known of its reproduction. When they first appear on our 
northern coast we are assured by several writers, they are always thin and 
unfit for food ; it would seem from this that if their spaAvning season 
must then have just come to an end. No one, has made any careful obser- 
vations upon this point north of Florida however. 

:Mr. S. C. Clarke has observed that about New Smyrna, in the Indian 
River region of Florida, they spawn at the mouths of rivers and inlets in 
March and April, the sexes mixing together in schools. The eggs are de- 
posited in shallow water near the shore, and are about the size of mustard 
seed, and dark. At the spawning season the fish play near the surface and 
become thin and unfit for food. The young fish are abundant in shallow 
water among the rocks." 

Silas Stearns writes from Pensacola : 

" The Sheepshead spawns in April and May, in the bays. On June i8, 
1878, and in June, 1879, I caught young Sheepshead, measuring a quarter 
of an inch, in Pensacola Bay. It lives about wharves, rock-piles, old 
wrecks, oyster-reefs, and, in South Florida, about the roots of the man- 
grove tree, feeding upon the barnacles that grow in such places. It is 
caught with hook and line, in fall and winter, at which seasons it is in its 
best condition. Its average weight is three or four pounds, and its maxi- 
mum twenty pounds." 

Those taken about New York sometimes weigh from twelve to fifteen 
pounds, though the average size is not more than six. All authorities 
agree that the Sheepshead is one of the very finest food-fishes in 
our waters, many persons prefering it to the salmon, while others com- 
pare it to the English turbot, Avhich, in the writer's judgment, it excels 
in flavor.* 

•■= How TO IjOIL Fish. — The art of boiling fish is so little understood, that it is deemed proper to insert the 
following instructions, derived from the writings of Georgiana Hill of London. The method of boiling 
usually practiced is simply to place the fish in salt water, which should be cold if the fish is large, and 
hot for small-sized fish ; in the latter case, two or three minutes in the boiling water will be sufficient, and 
a sheepshead or bassoffniror five pounds will not require more than about ten minutes from the time the 
water begins to boil. Whenever practicable, use a strainer whereon to place the fish in the sauce-pan. 

Some kinds offish may be first skinned, but carp should retain its skin. 

When only salt is added to the water, the fish is said to be a i'l-aii cie scl. When sea- water is used, the 
fish is understood to be dressed a V Hollatulaisc. When white wine or vinegar and spices and shred 
onions, are employed to flavor the water, the fish becomes «« coiif't bouillon, and should the fish be simmered 
in a small quantity of water, to which is added a savoury seasoning of herbs, it is known as being a la bontie 
can ; in this case it is generally served in the liquor in which it was dressed ; done in equal quantities of red 
wine and water, strongly impregnated with aromatic herbs the fish is described asbeing«;< Wtv<, and is almost 



The Pin-fish, Diplodus Holbrookii, which is abundant at Charleston and 
about Beaufort, N. C, was first scientifically described by Dr. Bean from 
specimens obtained in Charleston market, in March, 1878. Jordan found 
it abundant everywhere near the shores of Beaufort, N. C, in which region 
it reaches but a small size, and is not used for food. It is confounded by 
the fishermen with the Sailor's Choice, Lagodon rhomhoides. 

invariably served cold; only the best kinds offish, such as striped-bass, sea-bass, sheepshead, moonfish, 
red snapper, squeteague, salmon &c., are treated in the last way. 

Salmon, and all dark-fleshed fish require much more boiling than the white-fleshed kinds. 

When possible, some vinegar should be rubbed on the outside of fish before it is boiled, by which means 
the skin is prevented from cracking, but the introduction of much flavoring in the liquor in which it is 
dressed is principally necessary when the fish has been some time out of the water, and is consequently de- 
ficient in natural flavor. ,,^, ,. -l^i i .-i 

It is considered preferable to serve boiled fish upon a napkin, rather than have a sauce poured over it in the 
dish ; and with salmon it is thought better taste to have a plain white sauce, instead of anything less simple; 
cucumber or melon in slices may be served apart ^ ,,,,,,., , ,. , 

No positive rules can be given as to the length of time fish should be boiled, as everything depends upon the 
size and kind of fish you have to dress. , , ., 

Salmon, usually, should be allowed at least ten minutes to each pound, while two or three minutes per 
pound will be amp'le for haddock, cod, &c.: a mackerel needs about a quarter of an hour to do it properly; 
herrings, and many other sorts of fish, scarcely half so long. 

/. A. 





Bait the hook well ; this fish will bite. 

Shakespeare, Much Ado ABo7it Kothing, Act ii, Scene iii. 

OCUPPAUG, the name of this fish, is an abbreviation of J//j'//(r?///«z/(5'^, 
an appellation used by the Narragansett Indians, which has unfor- 
tunately been corrupted to form two others, neither of which is euphon- 
ious or significant. In New England it is generally called "Scup," 
while about New York the second syllable of the abbreviated Indian 
name has been lengthened into " Paugy " or "Porgy." The latter 
name is particularly objectionable because it belongs to an Eng- 
lish fish, and its proper etymology as a fish -name is very diff'erent. 
Another Indian word, " poghaden," a corruj^t form of the Abnaki name 
for the menhaden, or moss-bunker, has been changed to " pogy " and 
"porgy," thus leading to much confusion. " Scuppaug " is an excellent 
name for the fish, and its claims for general adoption will be recognized 
by all who wish to preserve the memory of the aboriginal languages of 



Tautog, chogset, squeteague, mummichog, mattawacca, menhaden, 
siscowet, tullibee, quinnat, oulachan, oquassa and namaycush are among 
the best of them ; their number is few, and they need careful guardianship. 

Until very recently only one species of the genus Stenoiomtis was known 
to occur in our waters. Dr. Bean has, however, shown that there are two 
on the Atlantic coast of the United States, in addition to the unimportant 
species, S. caprimis, recently described from the Gulf of INIcxico. 

The " Scup " of the North, Stenotoinus cJirysops, is by far the most im- 
portant, though the Southern species, S. aculeatzis, has considerable com- 
mercial value. The former, which is distinguished by its larger teeth 
and more abrupt profile, is abundant between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras; 
the latter has its metropolis en the Carolina coast, but has been found 
sparingly as far north as Wood's Holl, Mass. 




On the Virginia coast the Southern Scup is known as the " Fair Maid." 
The name ''Porgy " is in use about Charleston, S. C, but is not dis- 
tinctive, being applied to several allied forms. Their range is much more 
limited to the south and extends farther to the north than that of the 
Sheepshead. Holbrook wrote in iS6o : " The Porgy is found along our 
coasts at all seasons of the year, though most abundant in Tune and July." 
He further states that its southern limit on the Atlantic border is Cape 
Florida, a statement probably not susceptible of proof. 



The Northern Scup rarely passes the boundary of Cape Cod ; in 1878, 
however, thirty-seven were taken at the Milk Island weir off Thatcher's 
Island, Cape Ann, Mass., and they appear to be increasing in abundance. 

This species does not appear to be indigenous north of Cape Cod. 
Storer states that in the year 1831 or 1832 a smack-load of Scuppaugs 
arrived in Boston. A portion of them were purchased by subscription 
among the fishermen in the market and thrown into the harbor, and that 
in 1834 or 1835 Capt. Downes carried a smack-load from A^ineyard Sound 
and threw them overboard in Plymouth Harbor. From i860 to 1867 
small numbers appeared north of Cape Cod, and were yearly captured at 
Wellfleet and Sandwich. 

Judging from the rare occurrence of the species thus introduced, it can 
hardly be considered to have become naturalized ; the few which have 
been taken were doubtless summer stragglers, although in 1S7S over one 
hundred were taken at Capt. Webb's weir on Milk Island. 

The life history of the Scuppaug has been thoroughly worked out by 
Prof. Baird, and from his paper published in the first volume of the report 
of the U. S. Fish Commission, the following life-history is compiled : 

"■ It makes its appearance, at least in considerable quantity, en the 
coast of New England about the middle of May, although the advance- 
guard of very large fish arrive sometimes as early as the middle of April; 
and it is most abundant toward the ist of June, and arrives in successive 
detachments or ' runs ' difi'ering in size, the smallest fish coming last. The 
first run on the southern coast of New England, as stated, takes place 
about the beginning of May, and consists of large breeding fish, weighing 
from two to four pounds, and measuring up to eighteen inches or more in 
length. The spawn is quite well developed at that time, and is said to be 
at first red, but gradually to become light yellow as it matures. The 
particular time and place, however, of laying the eggs is not yet known, 
although it is probable that this occurs early in June, since the schools are 
said to break up about the middle of that month, and the fish to scatter. 
It is thought probable that the spawning takes place in the eel-grass 
which covers the shoal water of Narragansett Bay and Vineyard Sound. 

"According to the fishermen generally, the Scup on first coming into 
the shores do not take the hook readily, being apparently too much occu- 
pied in the business of reproduction, and two weeks usually elapse before 
they can be caught in this way. They present themselves in large schools 
of immense extent, and moving very slowly, at about the rate of three 
miles an hour. From the testimony presented before the committe of 
investigation of the Rhode Island legislature, they appear to come from 
the south and west, as when they enter Narragansett Bay they strike the 


western shore and move up along its edge. They are said, however, to 
drift slowly backward and forward with the tide, especially at the entrance 
of this bay. At this time they are very sluggish, and are said sometimes 
to appear as if l)lin(l, and can freipiently be taken with the hand, or a 
very short scoop-net. 

"According to Capt. Edwards, of Wood's Holl, in proceeding to their 
breeding-grounds, on the coast of New England, they are taken at Mon- 
tauk Point three weeks earlier than at Wood's Holl, and a week earlier at 
Wood's Holl than at Hyannis, still farther east. 

" The Scup feed upon a great variety of marine animals, such as worms, 
small crustaceans, mollusks, &:c., and take the hook very freely during the 
greater part of their stay; in fact, the smaller ones become veritable 
nuisances to the fishermen, from the readiness with which they pounce 
upon the baited hook whenever thrown overboard. 

"The flesh of the Scup is very much prized by most persons, as it is 
firm and flaky, and usually sweet, although occasionally a bitter flavor 
detracts from its palatability. Since the settlement of the coast by the 
whites, it has been by far the most important food-fish of Fisher's Island 
and Vineyard Sound, Narragansett Bay and of Buzzard's Bay ; and the 
rapid diminution in number has caused the greatest solicitude. 

"Of their abundance on the south coast of New England in former 
times, almost incredible accounts are given. They swarmed to such a 
degree that their capture ceased to be a matter of sport. The line when 
thrown overboard could be immediately withdrawn with the assurance of 
having a fish on each one of two hooks. Any number of fishermen from 
boats could take five hundred to one thousand pounds a day without the 
slightest difficulty, the limits of the catch being simply the ability to find 
a sale. 

" In flavor the flesh of this fish is surpassed by very few others on the 
coast, although its superabundance caused it to be imdervalued. The 
period of greatest development in number of this fish coincided with that 
of the absence of the bluefish, and since the return of the latter to the 
coast of New England the Scup has become scarce, although still a very 
important object of pursuit. 

" The Scup is a fish that grows with rapidity, and at two years is almost 
of sufficient size to be marketable. Throughout the summer young fish of 
the spring spawning are to be seen floating around in the eel-grass and 
over the sandy bottoms, having attained a length of from two and a half 
to three and a quarter inches by the ist of October. When these fish 
reappear the next season, thus completing one year of e.\istence, they 
measure about six inches, six to eight or nine weighing a pound ; and by 
the I St of September attain an average length of eight inches, including 
the tail, and a breadth of three inches. In the third year of existence, or 
at the age of two years, they have increased considerably, though not so 
rapidly as was once supposed, measuring, on their reappearance, about 


ten inches, with an average weight of one-half pound. After this they 
grow more quickly. One hundred and ninety-nine, presumed to be three 
years' fish, weighed on the 6th of September, averaged one and a half 
pounds each, and measured about twelve inches in length by four and a 
half inches in width, some individuals being larger and some smaller. 
The female fish of the second year not unfrequently contains mature eggs. 
It is in the fifth year, or after the lapse of four years from birth, that the 
Scup presents its finest development ; specimens believed to be of this age 
measured fourteen or fifteen inches by five to six inches or more, with a 
weight of two-and-a-half to three pounds. They, however, still continue 
to grow, specimens being not unfrequently met with eighteen inches long, 
and weighing four pounds and even more. The dimensions may belong to 
fish of six or more years of age ; more probably, however, of five years. 

"As a general rule, in their movement along the coast the Scup are not 
found in water shallower than a few fathoms ; and it sometimes happens, 
in the course of heavy storms, that in consequence of the discoloration of 
the water near the shore the fish move farther out to sea, and on such 
occasions measurably escape falling into the traps. 

"The Scup is \ery largely a bottom feeder, and depends very much 
upon mollusks or shell-fish tor subsistence. I have been informed by the 
fishermen that they may frequently be seen feeding upon small bivalves of 
different species, rooting them out of the sand or mud. The stomachs of 
about two hundred one and one-half pound Scup were examined at one 
time in the beginning of September. These almost exclusively contained 
shells of various genera, with some worms and a few amphipods. Its 
especial food appears to be small shells, crabs, shrimps and possibly small 
fish. The abundance of such food on the south coast of New England 
must be prodigious to support the swarms that even now are found there. 
It is in regard to this species that a close time appears desirable, so that 
access to the spawning-grounds and freedom from disturbance may be 
enjoyed by a sufficient number to maintain the species. 

"Like all other small fish, they are devoured by their more rapacious 
fellows, and very largely by bluefish, notwithstanding a general impres- 
sion to the contrary. The extent to which this takes place will be con- 
sidered under the head of the bluefish. Halibut, cod, sharks and other 
ground- feeders likewise use them up in great numbers. 

"As already remarked, the breeding fish do not appear to feed on their 
first arrival, being then too much occupied in carrying out the reproduc- 
tive function. As, however, they can be taken with the hook about the 
ist of June, we may infer that this is about the time they begin to feed 
for themselves. The younger fish probably feed as soon as they reach the 
shores. No remains of fish have hitherto been found in the stomachs of 
Scups, and we may conclude that they are not piscivorous. 

" The Scup remain along the northern coast until about the middle of 
October, when the larger ones, at least, begin to leave the shores and 


move out into deeper Avater. Mr. Vinal Edwards has, however, takeiT. 
younger fish at Wood's Holl as late as the loth of December, and Capt.. 
John Rogers, of Noank, states that, in fishing for cod on Nantucket 
Shoals late in November, their stomachs are occasionally filled with small 
Scup, which drops out of their mouths when hauled on deck, found to be 
to the extent of five or six at a time. It is c^uite possible that they, as well 
as other fish, seek in winter that portion of the Gulf Stream that corre- 
sponds in temperature to that of their summer abode ; and as the mean 
summer temperature of the waters of Southern Massachusetts and Rhode 
Island amounts to about 63° F., they must go nearly to the lati- 
tude of Norfolk, Va., before they can find that same temperature in the 
winter season." 

This species has a certain interest derived from its connection with an 
early and important incident in the history of the market fisheries, for we 
are told that the smack "Amherst," launched July 23, 1763, was the first 
fishing boat provided with a well for the transportation of living fish ; and 
that she was intended for the " porgy " fishery. In the New York Gazette 
of January 30, 1764, were printed some lines beginning thus : 

" Since on our banks the porgys found 
A smack they've built to try the ground," etc., etc., 

The "porgy" soon became too common for profit or pleasure, and the 
fishing was abandoned.* 

Immense numbers of Scup are caught in the pounds and traps in Rhode 
Island and Massachusetts, and for several weeks in each year the market 
is usually glutted, a barrelful being frequently sold for twenty-five to fifty 
cents, or a small fraction of a cent a pound. It is extremely doubtful 
whether any part of the more northern coast of North America can fur- 
nish, within three miles of the shore, as large a weigh.t of fish in mackerel, 
herring and cod as has been furnished by the Scup, sea-bass and tautog 
alone in the waters of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Mr. William 
Davol, of Rhode Island, with his "gang," caught 2,400 barrels of Scup, 
valued at $1,200, at Seconnet, in May, i860. Fish were purchased by 
Messrs. Reynolds, Young & Co., of Fall River, and shipped to Philadelphia. 

In the summer of 18S0 over 2,500,000 pounds were sokl in New York 
city alone, and the product of the New England fishery amounted to at 
least double the quantity. As many as 10,000 barrels have been taken at 
once in a single pound in Narragansett Bay. The Scup is not especially 

* De Voe, Market Assistant, p. 1S2. 



in favor as a food-fish, although when very fresh it is entitled to a middle 
rank. Large ones should be broiled with rich sauce, small ones treated as 
pan-fish. The flesh is somewhat dry, and without distinctive flavor. 

I was greatly surprised to find this species exposed for sale in the markets 
of Paris and Rouen in 1SS3, and meeting with a ready sale. A large 
quantity had been sent in ice from New York to France. 

The European analogue of our American Scup or Porgy is the Spants 
auratus, the Braize or Becker, sometimes Bream, of the fishermen. This 
fish frequents the European coast in summer, and is said to have 
much the same habits as our American species. They are eaten only by 
the poorer classes. 




The Sailor's Choice, Lagodoii rhomboides, is found in very great 
abundance from Cape Hatteras south, and around the Gulf coast ; 
also occasionally north of Cape Hatteras ; it is known in the lower part 
of the Chesapeake Bay, and two or three stragglers have recently been 
taken at Wood's Holl, Massachusetts. It is not uncommon in the Ber- 
mudas. It may readily be recognized by the longitudinal stripes of 
iridescent color upon the sides, and by the peculiar character of the teeth, 
each having a prominent notch on either edge. 

The ''Sailor's Choice," as it is called in the St. John's River, at 



Brunswick, Ga., and about Kc\^ West, bears several other names, being 
known about Cape Hatteras as the " Robin " and " Pin-fish," at Charles- 
ton as the "Salt-water Bream," at Brunswick, Ga., as the "Squirrel- 
fish" and "Sailor's Choice," in the St. John's River as the "Sailor's 
Choice" and " Porgy," in the Indian River region as the "Sailor's 
Choice," "Scup," and "Yellow-tail," at Cedar Keys as the " Porgy " 
and " Shiner," and at Pensacola as the " Chopa Spina." 

South of Cape Hatteras this fish is exceedingly abundant, and is usually 
found in company with the sheepshead, which it much resembles in habits. 
Its jaws, however, are not so strong as those of the sheepshead, by reason 
of which it is debarred from feeding upon the stronger shelled mollusks 
and crustaceans, which constitute the principal diet of the latter. 

On the Atlantic coast the largest individuals rarely exceed ten inches in 
length, the ordinary size in Eastern Florida being six or eight inches, 
Avith the weight of five or six ounces. 

The Sailor's Choice is one of the most deliciously flavored fishes of our 
coast, being preferred to the young sheepshead by many of those who are 
familiar with its good qualities. Lugger states that it enters the drains of 
the ocean coast of Maryland, and is occasionally caught in the lower part 
of the Chesapeake Bay. According to Jordan they are excessively abund- 
ant everywhere in the harbor of Beaufort, N. C, where they are taken by 
the thousand by boys with hook and line from the wharves, but are seldom 
used for food, and are found equally numerous through the Gulf States 

At Charleston, according to Holbrook, this fish is taken at all seasons 
of the year, though most plentiful in May and June. No reference is 
made by this author to its value as an article of food. At Brunswick, 
Ga., the Sailor's Choice is highly esteemed ; in the St. John's it is very 
abundant, and is taken in company with the sheepshead far up the river. 
It is easily captured with hooks baited with shrimp, and is considered to 
be a very superior pan-fish, its flesh resembling that of the scuppaug, 
though much sweeter and harder. 

In the Indian River region, according to Mr. S. C. Clarke, this fish is 
resident all the year, and is very abundant. The weight of the largest 
observed by him was one pound. The average weight is about five ounces. 
They are found in the deep Avater, or salt water, feeding upon minnows, 
small crabs, and shrimps. The spawn is pale blue, and of the size of 


mustard seed. Young fish are seen in great abundance. They are takerr 
by hook with mullet or clam bait, and also in cast-nets and seines. One 
hundred are often taken by a fisherman in a day. They are highly prized 
for food, and are occasionally salted. They are sometimes sent in ice to 
Savannah and Charleston. "On the Gulf coast," writes Mr. Stearns, 
"they are very abundant, living and breeding in the bays and bayous. 
They spawn in winter or early spring, and the young of different sizes 
may be seen in May and Ji-ine. The adult fish live in deep water, while 
the young remain near shore. Many are caught by hook and line, and 
with the seine." 

A fish known as the " Sheepshead Porgy " is said by Stearns to be 
common in the Gulf of Mexico and about the Florida Reefs. It is caught 
with hook and line, and is sold in the markets of Key West. There are 
other species, known by the name " Porgy," which are found in this re- 
gion, such as Calamus bajonado, common also at Charleston, where it is. 
called the "White-boned Porgy," the "Jolt-head Porgy," of Key West, 
C. megacephalus, C. arctifroiis, the " Shad Porgy " of " Grass Porgy " of 
Key A\^est, and C viacrops. 

California has two important species belonging to this family, concern- 
ing which Professor Jordan has communicated the following information : 

The Blue-fish, Girella nigricans, inappropriately so called, reaches a 
length of about fourteen inches, and a weight of three or four pounds. It 
ranges from Monterey southward, and is very abundant about the Santa Bar- 
bara Islands. The young of this species are common inhabitants of the 
rock-pools. The Bluefish is entirely herbivorous. It is a food-fish of good 
quality, but the flesh softens sooner after death than is usually the case with 
related fishes. It is very tenacious of life. 

The Half-moon, Scorpis calif or nicnsis, more commonly known by its 
Spanish name, Mcdialuna, reaches a length of more than a foot, and a 
weight of three or four pounds. It ranges from Point Conception south- 
ward, chiefly about the Santa Barbara Islands, where it is exceedingly abun- 
dant, and, in the winter, forms the greater part of the catch at San Pedro. 
It feeds chiefly upon crustaceans, but is, to some extent, herbivorous. It 
takes the hook readily, is an excellent food-fish, and, in the Los Angeles- 
market, is second only to the barracuda in importance. 



Long as a salmon, if not so stout. 

And springy and swift as a mountain trout, 

Innes Randolph, The Drum-fish. 

' I ^HE family Scia^nidce is distributed along the coasts of temperate and 
tropical countries, the world over, though most abundant in the Western 
Atlantic, the Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in the Mediter- 
ranean Sea. In general form many of the members of this family are not 
unlike the salmon, and are sometimes mistaken for it. They are, how- 
ever, true spiny-rayed fish, and they may be distinguished from all others 
by the presence of the comparatively short, spiny, dorsal fin, and a very 
long, soft-rayed fin upon the posterior portion of the back. 

Many of them are ground-loving species, are provided with barbels by 
which they feel their way over the bottom, and with strong, pavement- 
like teeth for crushing shell-fish and strong shelled crustaceans. To this 
group belong the fresh-water Drum, the King-fish, and others. 

Another group, typified by the Squeteagues, are without the barbels and 
possess long, sharp teeth, being rapid swimmers, and voracious surface 

Many of the species are most abundant about the mouths of rivers, and 
there are several species, such as the fresh- water Drum, Haploidonotus 
,g7-tinniens, of the Mississippi Valley, which are found only in fresh water. 
Nearly all have the power of uttering loud sounds. This, as lias been 
demonstrated by M. Dufosse, is accomplished through a peculiar structure 
■of the air-bladder. 


Scaena ocellata is greatly in need of a good English name. Other 
forms more widely distributed or better known seem to have substantial 
claims of priority upon all its appellations. In the Chesapeake and south 
to below Cape Hatteras it is known as the "Drum;" but, Pogonias 
cJiro)iiis, is called by the same name from Provincetown to Texas, and is 
the possessor of a much more musical organ. Some of the old writers 
coined names for it like "Beardless Drum" and "Branded Drum," 
referring to the brand-like spots upon the tail ; but these are of no value 
for common use. In the Carolinas, Florida and the Gulf we meet with 
the names " Bass," and its variations, " Red Bass," " Sea Bass," " Reef" 
Bass," " Spotted Bass " and "Channel Bass." Many persons suppose 
" Channel Bass" to be a characteristic name, but this is a mistake, for 
the term is applied properly only to large individuals which are taken 
alone or in pairs in the channels of streams and sounds ; wherever this 
name is used, the smaller fish of the species are called simply " Bass " or 
" School Bass ;" even if the word " bass " could be so qualified as to be 
applicable to the species, there is an insuperable objection to its use for 
any fish of this family. 

" Spot " sometimes corrupted to " Spud " is another name erroneously 
applied to this fish, and which is the property of a much smaller species of 
the same family, otherwise known as "Lafayette" or "Cape May 

Finally, we have the " Red Fish " and " Red Horse " of Florida and 
the Gulf States, the " Poisson Rouge" of the Louisiana Creoles, and 
" Pez Colorado " of the Mexicans. This is perhaps best for general use, 
if modified to "Southern Red-fish or "Red Drum." The chief 
objection is that the fish is not always red ; in the young there is not a 
suggestion of this color, while in the adult it is more a tint, an evanescent, 
metallic reflection of claret from the scales, which is often absent, and at 
all events soon disappears after life is gone. The number of spots on the 
tail is variable ; usually there is one or two, but sometimes as many as 
eight or ten, and their arrangement is a matter of chance, while occasion- 
ally they are absent. A facetious friend suggests that "Bass Drum" 
would not be inappropriate, because of all the drum family it is " hardest 
to beat." 

The Southern Red-fish is among the important species upon the coast 
of the United States from the Chesapeake to the Mexican boundary. 



Abundant as it is in the Carolinas, in Florida and in the Gulf of INIexico, 
the limits of its range appear to be very sharply defined, there being little 
tendency on the part of individuals to stray away from their wonted pas- 
tures. Although the species has long been commonly found in the Chesa- 
peake, I am unable to find any record of its capture north of Cape Charles 
previous to 1880, though since that date the species has been rather 
abundant along the coast of New Jersey. Mitchill and DeKay refer to 
it in their books on fishes of New York, but their descriptions were based 
upon market specimens, probably brought from more southern localities, 
and Prof. Baird obtained none in his exploration of the New Jersey coast in 
1854, nor can it be found in Webster's collections from the Atlantic side 
of the Virginia Peninsula. Its range to the south seems to terminate with 
equal abruptness. Stearns states that from Tampa Bay and northward to 
the Mississippi River it is one of the most common edible fishes, while 
west of the Mississippi River it is more abundant than any other sea-fish, 
evidently increasing in numbers as the Texas coast is approximated. On 
the Texas coast it is more abundant than all other food-fishes together. 
West of the mouth of the Rio Grande the species has not been recorded, 
chiefly, no doubt, for the reason that no explorations have been made 
along the shores of Mexico. The fish fauna of the Caribbean coast of 
Panama has, however, been carefully studied, and the si)ecies not found. 
It seems probable that its southern range is limited by the peninsula of 
Yucatan. It is a noteworthy fact that it does not wander more ; for every 
other species, I think, without exception, which is abundant north of 
Cape Hatteras, is occasionally met with in Buzzard's and Narragansett 

Its movements and breeding habits are not well understood. " In the 
spring," Stearns writes, "they are seen in large numbers in the Gulf, 
swimming in shoal water near the coast. This is usually in March and 
April, though the weather and the temperature of the water seem to in- 
fluence the time of their arrival. Arriving at the entrance of a bay, their 
migratory movement ceases, and for days and weeks they may be seen in 
shoal water near the inlet swimming lazily about in search of food, or 
lying quite still in deep holes between shoals, where there is comparatively 
little current and few enemies can reach them. Some seasons immense 
numbers of Red-fish gather about the inlets before any are noticed inside 
or coming in, while in other seasons there is but slight accumulation, the 


schools working in as fast as they arrive. By the ist of June the ' run' 
is over, and the fish are believed to have all come in. When once inside, 
the schools break up into small squads, which proceed to the weedy bot- 
toms of the bayous and to the heads of the bays. About the river mouths, 
where the water is brackish, and even in fresh water, they are found 
through the summer. While at sea their color is light, and they are so 
thin in flesh that they are far from desirable as food. In the bays they 
become very fat and their colors are much darker. In September spawn 
is found in them in a half developed state. In October and November 
they again form in schools and are observed moving out of the inlets to 
the sea. They do not leave the coast immediately, but follow the beach 
for some days. At this time they contain spawn which I should think to 
be three-fourths developed. Many reliable fishermen here have observed 
that the Red Fish go to sea with spawn in them." 

S. C. Clarke has observed their habits in the Indian River region, and 
says: " They enter the rivers and creeks from the sea. The young fish 
are here all the time. The adults leave the shore in a body when done 
spawning. They are first seen off the coast in January and February, 
and remain in the rivers until late in the spring. The males and females 
swim together, frequenting localities on shoals and sand-banks, where the 
water is from one to four feet deep and warm. After spawning they scat- 
ter. They begin to breed in August and September in the shallow bays 
and inlets, at which time both sexes are poor and unfit for food. The 
spawn is small, brown, about as large as No. 5 shot, and floats. The 
young are found abundantly in the creeks and bays. 

I have been told by fishermen on the St. John's that in November, 
when schooling begins, the fish are full-roed, but that in December the 
eggs have all been spent. 

I have never found the young in the north less than ten inches long, 
but, in Pensacola Bay, Jordan and Stearns secured numerous young in the 
seine in April, the smallest measuring two and a half inches. Jordan 
supposes that they spawn in water of no great depth. They swim in 
scattered schools at times, probably in tlie spawning season, and they may 
occasionally spring above the surface while feeding. At this time the fish 
are taken in large gill-nets, which are set around them by the fishermen. 
The food consists chiefly of the crustaceans and small fish with which 
Southern waters are filled. It undoubtedly gathers much food from the 


bottom, although it connot l)e so nmcli of a grubber as many other mem- 
bers of the same family, better provided for this kind of foraging by the 
tactile organs under the chin, and a set of grinding teeth with which to 
liberate the shells of muscles and barnacles. An accurate observer de- 
scribes them as swimming along close to the bottom, with head down and 
body obliquely upward, wriggling through the water, rooting up the weeds 
and grass, among which are found (juantities of shrimps and crabs. One 
observer found ten or twelve eels of a foot in length in the stomach of a 
Redfish. Their enemies are sharks, porpoises and saw-fish. 

The Redfish attains a weight of forty pounds, and a length of four or 
five feet. In the markets of New York and Washington small ones are 
often seen. The average size of those exposed for sale is perhaps ten 

The chief demand in the South is for local consumption, though a few 
thousand pounds are sent every year to New York and other cities of the 

S. C. Clarke, in his " Game Fishes of Florida," expresses this opinion : 
'■• Take it all in all, it is the favorite game-fish of the South — a hard, 
honest fighter, which makes long runs in open water, seldom skulking or 
hiding in holes, and never giving up the battle until fairly beaten." 

In discussing this species as a game-fish, I cannot do better than refer 
to the experiences of H. S. Williams in the Indian River region : 

"I have seen them," writes Mr Williams, "swimming in shallow water 
by the hundreds, sometimes ten and twenty, moving with almost the 
regularity of solid columns of infantry ; all apparently of the same size. 
The Red Fish are in season at all times, but best from the ist of April 
until January i. In size they run up to forty, and even fifty, pounds. 
They readily take mullet bait, and when securely hooked furnish fine sport, 
for the Red Fish is emphatically a game fish. I shall ne\er forget my 
first experience in this line, a day or two before the full of the moon in 
November. I concluded to try a new hook just sent me by a distant 
friend. Just at dusk I went down to the river, and baiting my hook with 
a half mullet, I walked out on a shelving coquina rock, and swinging the 
hook around my head a few times sent it out into the river to the full 
length of the line ; then filling and lighting my i)ipe I took a seat and 
quietly awaited results. The moon, nearly full, was half an hour or more 
high, not a cloud obscuring its brightness, and it made a highway of silver 
across the broad river, now calm and smooth as glass. Scarcely a breath 
of air stirred the leaves of the huge live-oaks above my head, and every- 
thing was so still that I cotild distinctly hear the fish in shallow water a 


.iiile awav as the small-fry dashed and jumped in their frantic endeavors to 
escape from the ravenous jaws of their pursurers ; in fact, everything Avas 
so still that I remember to have heard the sound of a cow-bell, two miles 
away, as its low, mellow tones were borne over the broad expanse of water. 
I had occasionally taken a whiff or two at my pipe and watched the fleecy 
clouds of smoke float slowly upward and dissolve into space, before some- 
thing sent an electric message to my finger from the other end of the line. 
It was a faint message, scarcely felt, but distinct enough to tell me what 
was there. A moment's pause and then it was repeated ; this time it was 
emphatic, for the fish picked up the bait in its mouth as daintily as a 
neatly-gloved lady would pick up an orange, and then let it fall again. 
Aha ! my boy. You are an old hand at the business, and know by past 
experience that sometimes even the most tempting morsels are dangerous. 
A moment more it is picked up again, and yet again, and it is carried a 
couple of yards or so before it is dropped ; and then back again ; then 
further off. Our fish is playing with the bait as a coquette with hearts. 
The very moment a novice would think that he was going to take it, 'tis 
dropped and he is gone again. No, not gone, only swimming around in 
circles, keeping one eye on the prize and keeping away all such intruders 
as sharks and cat-fish. 

" Now for it. The bait is picked up, seized with a vim, as though he 
meant business, and away he starts with it. Here the inexperienced 
would jerk the line and perhaps lose the fish, or at least have the whole 
formula to go over again. But wait ; the successful sportsman must 
practice patience. Again the bait is dropped, but not for long. In a 
moment it is seized, and this time there is not feint about it. He darts 
off, the line is drawn tight, then a sudden jerk and a wild plunge tell that 
the game is safely hooked. And now commences the struggle for life. 
Away he goes up the stream for fifty yards or more, straining every ner\e 
to get free ; then down, then back again, while the line is pulled just hard 
enough to draw him in a little nearer the shore ; then up and down, each 
time a still shorter distance. At each effort I feel his powers give way, 
and then as he makes a turn we pull his heatl toward the shore and keep 
it there. Now is the critical period : now, if at all, the line will part or 
the hook break. I haul the line in rapidly, hand over hand, keeping it 
taut, for the least slack or a failure to grasp the line firmly would perhaps 
lose the game. Swerving to and fro, I draw him rapidly in, and with 
such force does he come that far up the shelving rocks we land our prize, 
a thirty pound Bass, a magnificent fellow, his scales glistening like bur- 
nished silver in the moonlight." 

At Mayport, Fla., in summer, " heaving and hauling in the surf" is 
practiced for the capture of this fish, just as it is for bluefish and striped 
bass in New England. Chumming in the Cuttyhunk and Newport style 
Avould doubtless be very effective. 


Dr. C. J. Kenworthy, in the American Angler, gives an excellent 
description of the methods of fishing in Florida. 

"■ This fish resembles in its habits its congener the striped bass of 
Northern waters. It is an excellent biter, and makes a noble fight for 
liberty. As a table fish, up to say ten pounds, it is an excellent one, but 
large specimens are rather coarse. The back of the fish is of a beautiful 
bronzed hue, shading off to a silvery lustre on the sides and belly. It has 
usually one or more black spots at the junction of the tail with the body, 
but these sometimes extend upwards for one third of the length of the fish. 
In a specimen I recently captured the spots numbered seventeen on one 
side and twenty-three on the other. It is a salt water fish, but is occa- 
sionally captured in fresh water; at times a long distance from the ocean, 
as in Crescent Lake and Lake George. In its habits it appears to differ 
in different localities. In the St. John's River it frequents the deeper 
portion of the stream, with rock, shell or hard sandy bottom, but on the 
southwest coast it is generally captured in shoal water, on sand bars, edges 
of grassy flats and near points at inlets. In the northeasterly portion of 
the State the large fish put in an appearance in June and July, but the 
main run enter the St. John's River in August and September, leaving for 
the sea in November. They visit the bays, estuaries, and rivers of the south- 
west coast in the fall and winter, and, from the best information I can 
obtain, school in June, and probably retire to the ocean. 

In the Halifax River, and the tributaries of the Indian River and on the 
southwest coast, they greedily take a spinner or fly, but in the St. John's 
River these baits have proven a failure. In Lake George and Crescent 
Lake large fish have been captured with a spinner. At the mouth of the 
St. John's River small specimens take shrimp, and the large fish, cut mullet 
bait, or the half of a hard-back crab. At the mouth of the river large fish 
prefer mullet to crab. But what is somewhat remarkable, in the autumn 
after a severe northeast gale they ascend the river to Jacksonville, twenty- 
five miles from its mouth, and will not look at cut mullet bait, and fisher- 
men are forced to tempt them with hard-back crabs. 

These fish vary in size in different streams. In the St. John's River 
near its mouth, the summer and autumn run of fish range from eighteen to 
sixty pounds. The smallest specimen thus far captured by the writer 
weighed nineteen pounds. The usual average will be found to be about 
thirty-five pounds. My friend Mr. B., who is familiar with the fishing on 
the Halifax River, informed me that the largest specimen that he heard of 
being captured in that stream weighed thirty-five pounds ; and from the 
best information we have been able to secure, they seldom exceed this 
weight on the Indian River. We have captured many Bass on the south- 
west coast, but none to exceed thirty pounds in weight. Some years since 
one was caught on the Homosassa River with spinner and hand line 
weighing thirty-four pounds. Several years since a visitor at Homosassa 


offered a prize of a camping axe for the largest fish captured during the 
season. In the company of Charles Hallock I visited the locality, and 
having a day to spare I entered the lists. Provided with a mullet for 
bait, I visited Ship Rock, and with rod and reel soon brought to gaff a 
Channel Bass weighing twenty-four and one-half pounds. This proved to 
be the largest fish of the season, and a few months later I received by 
express a nicely finished camping axe with silver plate and appropriate 
inscription. At one occasion at Homosassa I trolled with rod, reel and 
spinner, and landed fourteen Bass ranging from nine to nineteen pounds. 
From my own experience and such data as I have been able to collect, 
Channel Bass visiting the St. John's River excel in size those of other 
streams of the State. 

During the summer months at the mouth of the St. John's River, fisher- 
men wade in the surf, use a stout hand line, a heavy sinker, and mullet for 
bait, throw their lines beyond the breakers and capture great numbers of 
Bass ranging from thirty to sixty pounds. I have not heard of any one 
using the rod and reel in surf fishing, but am satisfied that if tested it 
would afford exciting sport. During the latter part of August, September 
and October superior Bass fishing can be secured at the shells opposite 
the old lighthouse at Mill Point and Shell Bank. Owing to the rapidity 
of the current, and the size of the fish, stout cable line or braided cotton 
lines with large hooks are used. At slack water, or if the anchor is raised 
when a large fish is hooked, a stiff bass rod, with a large reel and Cutty- 
hunk line will be found sufficient to bring these noble fish to gaff". Midway 
between Jacksonville and the mouth of the river is a deep back channel 
where there is but little tide, where large Bass congregate, and where a rod 
and reel can be successfully used. At almost any time during August, 
September or October the fishermen may capture during a day's fishing 
from three to fifteen of these fish, and at times their numbers seem to be 
endless. ' ' 

From the same excellent journal I quote the opinions of a New Jersey 
drum-fisherman : 

'' I fish for the Red Drum here from a skiff anchored at sea in four fathoms 
of water, a mile and a-half from the beach, and use the plaited cotton cod 
line and the Virginia drum hook, letter "A," No. 4. Use menhaden 
bait ; anchor the skiff and chum as for striped bass. I believe a hook 
suspended so as to hang a foot above the sinker is most successful, though 
I take them also from the bottom. They are indiscriminate feeders, 
smashing clams and catching menhaden with equal avidity, but I think 
the oil of the menhaden attracts them from a distance, and the latter is 
therefore the best bait. I have taken them upon all sorts of cut 
bait — Lafayettes, weak-fish, etc. 

Brigantine Beach just now is level as a table, the surf breaking on it for 
several hundred yards. This is its normal condition, and it cannot now 


be fished with comfort or success, as you cannot reach the fisli witli your 
line after the tide begins to rise. 

Oftentimes the current cuts out a deep "slough," or sluice, uilhin 
reach of high water mark. In this the fish are apt to congregate. It 
forms -a space of smooth water between the outer and inner breakers, 
through which the current flows, carrying in clams, crabs and sand-flies, 
and in which the fish can lie and feed quietly. In these I take the black 
drum, and in the autumn of 1880 I took three Red Drum in one day on 
Brigantine while fishing for the other species. 

In the surf the Drum nudges like the sheepshead when he first takes the 
bait : in the deep water he bites like a shark of the large species slowly 
and ]iea\ily, but can be distinguished from the shark when he is hooked 
by his habit of shaking his head in the effort to throw the hook out." 

The European representative of our Sciccna is the Sciccna aquila, called 
" Maigre " by the French on account of the whiteness and bloodlessness 
of its flesh. This fish has been found from Sweden to the Cape of Good 
Hope and Australia, but is most abundant in the Mediterranean, and is 
comparatively rare in northern Europe. The Dutch fishermen believe 
that they can discern the image of the Virgin in each scale. It is said 
that in Languedoc it is called the " Royal Fish " (Peis-re) a name which 
calls to mind the American " King-fish," applied to a closely related 
form. The ear-stones or otoliths, which are very similar to those of our 
species, were formerly considered a sovereign remedy for cclic, and in the 
middle ages were set in amulets, to serve as prophylactics. 

The jMaigre, the "Scirena" of the classical opsophagists, the "Onitra" of 
Venice, the " Fegars " of Genoa, the " Figou " of Nice, is still highly es- 
teemed, as it was in the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, by the inhabi- 
tants of southern Europe. The head and shoulders are prized for broiling, 
as in centuries long gone by when this part of the fish was a favorite trib- 
ute from the Roman fishermen to the civic magistrates. 



Weekvis, en Schol, en Carper, Bot,en Snoek, 
Ja gy en hebt geen poel, geen water-hoek, 
Oft krielter vol von Visschen ; die (te soek) 
Ticht zinj te vinden. 

Jacob Steendam, 't Louf van Niezu Nederland, i56i. 

You've weak-fish, carp and turbot, pike and plaice ; 
There's not a pool, or tiny water-trace 
Where swam not myriads of the finny race 
Easily taken. 

Praise of Ne%u Netherland, translated by Hon. H. C. Muphhy. 

'T^HE genus Cynosciou, is represented on our Atlantic coast by three 
species. Cynoscion regale, the Weakfish, or Squeteague, is found 
from Cape Ann to the mouth of the St. John's River, Fla., and possibly 
to the Gulf of Mexico. Cynoscion carolinense, the Spotted Squeteague, 
or Southern Sea Trout, ranges from the Chesapeake to the Gulf of Mexico 
and Lake Pontchartrain. The Silvery Squeteague, Cynoscion nothum, is a 
fish of somewhat unusual occurrence, observed at Charleston and in East 
and West Florida. There was still another, described by Holbrook under 
the name Cynoscion thalassininn, which has not been seen by other natur- 
alists, and which is probably not a valid species. 

Like all of our important fishes, which have no European representative, 
the Squeteague are known by a great variety of names. About Cape Cod 
they are called ''Drummers;" about Buzzard's Bay and in the vicinity 


the largest are known as "Yellow fins;" in New York and in New Jersey. 
"Weak-fish;" from Southern New Jersey to Yirginia, " Bluefish." The 
name " Squeteague " is of Indian origin, and "Squit," " Succoteague," 
"Squitee" and " Chickwit " are doubtless variations of this name in 
different ancient and modern dialects. In the Southern Atlantic States 
it is called "Grey Trout," " Sun Trout " and " Shad Trout," and with 
the other members of the genus is spoken of under the name " Sea Trout ' ' 
and " Salt-water Trout," though, of course, distinct from the " trout " of 
the fresh waters of the South, which is a Black Bass. The name 
" Squeteague," since it is the aboriginal Indian term, seems most char- 
acteristic, and is well worthy of being permanently retained. 

" Weakfish " appears to be a legacy from the Dutch colonists of Man- 
hattan, as may be inferred from the use of the word in the poem quoted 
at the head of this essay. It means a soft fish, but whether, like Moss- 
bunker, this name was transferred from some species known to them in 
Holland, I have not been able to learn. Some old authorities use the 
name "Wheatfish," and Brown in the "Angler's Guide," accounts for this 
by the theory that in former days the fish made its appearance in harvest 
time. It is, in all likelihood, however, a corruption of the Dutch name. 
This etymology resembles those suggested for " Weakfish." " because he 
does not pull very much after he is hooked," or, as others allege, "be- 
cause the laboring men who are fed upon him are weak by reason of the 
deficient nourishment in that kind of food." 

The Squeteague is found on the Atlantic coast from. Cape Cod to 
Eastern Florida, where I observed it, sparingly, in 1878. Its extreme 
southern distribution has not yet been indicated. Some writers have 
claimed that it occurs at New Orleans, but Mr. Stearns did not succeed in 
finding it in the Gulf, and Prof. Jordan writes that it is certainly not found 
in the Gulf of Mexico, unless as a stray. 

The Squeteague is abundant throughout the above range, except in the 
regions where its productiveness is interfered with by the bluefish. In 
Massachusetts Bay, according to Dr. Storer, it is very rare, but scatter- 
ing individuals have been found as far north as the Bay of Fundy. The 
early annals of New England make frequent mention of this fish and of 
its variations in number with that of the bluefish. I'hus, according to 
Dr. Storer, it was very abundant m the Vineyard Sound in the early part 
of the present century, but gradually became more scarce, until about 


1870, when it was no longer to be met with, and for several years it was 
entirely unknown in these waters : so much so, indeed, that fishermen of 
many years' experience were totally unacquainted with its characteristics. 
In 1867 or 1 868, however, scattering individuals were taken on the south 
coast of Massachusetts, and in 1S70 they were quite abundant and have 
since held their own. But they are nowhere at any season so abundant as 
in summer along the stretch of shore from Norfolk to Nantucket. They 
arrive with the bluefish in late May and early June, are most abundant in 
August, and depart in advance of the bluefish at the very beginning of 
autumn. They swim in large schools at the surface, pursuing the men- 
haden and scup, on which they savagely feed. I have frequently seen a 
thousand or more taken in one night in one of the weirs on Martha's 
Vineyard Sound. 

The most remarkable draft on record is that referred to in July, 1881, by 
Mr. Barnet Phillips in the New York Times : 

"A great catch of Weakfish was made yesterday about two miles off 
Rockaway Beach, by the steam smacks " E. T. DeBlois," Capt. J. A. 
Keene ; "Leonard Brightman," Capt. Elijah Powers, and "J- W. Haw- 
kins," Capt. J. W. Hawkins. These smacks are engaged in the men- 
haden or " mossbunker " fishery for the oil-rendering and fish-scrap works 
on Barren Island, and were cruising off Rockaway yesterday in search of 
schools. About noon a vast school of what the fishermen supposed at first 
to be menhaden was discovered stretching along the coast for miles. To 
borrow their language, ' The water was red with the fish, but they didn't 
break the surface as menhaden always do.' The boats were lowered, the 
seines spread, and then it was discovered that the school was of Weakfish 
and not menhaden. ' I have been in the business for twenty years,' said 
the mate of the ' Brightman,' ' and I never saw anything like it before.' 
The fish varied in length from one and a half to three feet, and in Aveight 
from three to seven pounds. The ' DeBlois ' took over 200 barrels, the 
'Hawkins' 150 barrels, and the 'Brightman' 350 barrels. The entire 
catch was estimated at something over 200,000 pounds, which, at the 
ordinary market price for Weakfish — seven cents a pound — would amount 
to $14,000. But, of course, the market price could not be maintained 
in the presence of such a catch as this." 

The Squeteague comes on the coast of New England in summer in pur- 
suit of food. Its wanderings do not often carry it north of Monomoy. 
"In the days of my boyhood," said Capt. Atwood, when before the 
Rhode Island Legislature in 1S71, "my neighbors often spoke of a fish 
called the ' drummer,' Avhich is the same variety that you call the Sque- 



teague, which were so plentiful that ihey could be taken by the boat-load. 
But in 1816, when I first went into a fishing boat, they had disappeared, 
and I did not see a single specimen for many years. Since that time, 
however, they have commenced returning in considerable numbers." The 
pioneer of this return came to Provincetown June 23, 1847. Capt. At- 
wood's prediction of their abundant return has not yet been verified. 
Their movements further south have been no less eccentric ; and this 
species illustrates in a very forcible manner the a.xiom of the ichthyologist, 
that the movements of the oceanic fishes are the effect of laws, as yet but 
little understood, upon which the feeble efforts of man have no appreci- 
able effect. Col. Theodore Lyman has written: "This fish is highly in- 
teresting as one of those which has appeared and disappeared alternately 
on our coast. In 1S03 it was abundant in Rhode Island, and veryplenty 
at Provincetown as late as 1820. In 1832 it deserted Vineyard Sound (and 
the northern part of the Cape even before that), .* * * and now 
(1872) for five or six years it has grown abundant, apparently increasing 
as the bluefish decreased, until this season when the weirs have taken 
hundreds at a haul." Capt. Atwood tells me that in 1S45 he noticed 
them in New York, when the weekly supply would not have exceeded one 
thousand pounds, while thirty years later he found thenfi coming in by the 
ton. Mr. David T. Church wrote in 1871: " Scup have disappeared 
from Narragansett Bay, but Squeteague have taken their place, and where 
ten years ago there were millions of scup, now there are almost none, but 
millions of Squeteague. Hundreds of acres could be seen any clear day 
between Point Judith and Providence." 

There has been a curious relation between the periodical variations in 
the abundance of bluefish and Squeteague, the latter having been most 
numerous when bluefish were least so, but no one fully understands its 
cause. The habits of the two species are very similar ; their times of 
coming and going, and probably their favorite water temperature, nearly 
identical. They feed in the same manner and upon the same animals, 
and the bluefish being the swiftest swimmer and the most voracious feeder, 
its presence in large numbers possibly interferes with the food supply of 
the Squeteague. It is not impossible that, though both species much pre- 
fer menhaden, the bluefish may frequently vary its diet by feeding on its 
weaker comrade. 

Some inexplicable cause had a similar influence upon the bluefish, 



which became scarce in turn ; thus the Squeteague was enabled to recover 
its grounci, and to resume its place in the food economy of the coast. To 
what extent the disappearance or reappearance of the Squeteague is act- 
ually connected with that of the bluefish it is impossible at present to state. 
It is quite likely that other causes, at least, are concerned, with which we 
are now unacquainted. 

The striped bass is also an associate of the Squeteague, which, though 
essentially a coast and salt-water fish, occasionally runs into tidal waters, 
and on the coast of New Jersey is thought to prefer the vicinity of streams 
where there is a mixture of fresh and salt water. " He never goes into 
fresh streams or ponds," wrote S. L. Mitchill, "but within the limits of 
salt water is taken in almost all the places where the rock-fish is caught. 
The Weakfish is so much the companion of the bass that I once gave him 
the specific name of Comes." Prof. Baird has recorded that in Southern 
New Jersey, where, at times, in consequence of drought there is less water 
brought into Egg Harbor than usual, they are known to move to a con- 
siderable distance up towards the head-waters, and to leave in a great 
measure their ordinary grounds more seaward. 

We have intimations, in the writings of the early historians of New 
England, of the disappearance and returns of the Weak-fish, like those 
referred to in the present century. 

It is said that when they appear off the coast of New Jersey, about the 
middle of June, they are found to be filled with spawn, and tliat the early 
fish in Narragansett Bay have not spawned. This statement requires con- 
firmation. Thousands of individuals have been examined by the Fish 
Commission naturalists at different times in the summer, and it is but rare 
that traces of spawn have been found. The precise period of spawning 
along the coast and the localities where the eggs are laid, as well as the 
habits of the fish during that period, are but little known, and are well 
worthy of careful investigation. 

At Beasley's Point the young fish of the year have in August attained 
a length of about four inches, and differ from the adults in lacking entirely 
the characteristic spots, these being replaced by broad, vertical bands, 
which, together with their more compressed form, render their appear- 
ance very unlike that of the adult. 

The young are rarely seen in New England. Dr. Bean obtained a 
single individual three and one half inches long in Herring River, 


AVaquoit, Mass., August 9, 1S75, the only instance of such a capture in 
the course of many years' careful exploratioii of that region. Young fish, 
four inches long, are common in Southern New Jersey in August. The 
growth of the species is quite rapid, the weight of four pounds apparently 
being attained in about three years. The largest I remember to have 
seen weighed about ten pounds, though this is not an unusual size. 

The Squeteague, as well as the bluefish, varies in size with the locality. 
While on the coast of New Jersey they do not average much over one 
pound, they are stated to occasionally attain the weight of from six to ten 
pounds, and have even been known to weigh thirty. 

The Squeteague in the South is a resident fish, although said by Hol- 
brook to be most abundant and largest in the autumnal months, when, in 
his opinion, they come from the north. It is not satisfactorily ascertained, 
however, whether these fish, leaving the northern coast during winter 
time, migrate southward or more towards the warm waters of the Gulf 
Stream. They return to the coast of the Middle or Northern States 
early in the spring, the first being taken in May, and are most abundant 
from June to September. 

Although its flesh is soft, it is delicately flavored, and is one of the 
favorite food-fishes of the South Atlantic and Gulf States, its chief rivals 
being the pompano, the whiting, the sheepshead and the red snapper. 
In the North the Squeteague is in moderate demand, particularly at the 
close of the shad season. 

Among anglers, according to the late Genio C. Scott, this fish is con- 
sidered as second in interest among those of the coasts and estuaries. In 
the opinion of this eminent authority, the striped bass holds the highest 

Prof. Baird has written: "The sport of catching the Squeteague is 
very great, and is highly enjoyed by many fishermen, on account of the 
great number that can be taken in a very short time. They swim near 
the surface and require a line but little leaded. They take almost any kind 
of bait, especially clams, soft crabs or pieces of fish. They take the hook 
with a snap, rarely condescending to nibble, and constant vigilance is neces- 
sary, as well as extreme care in hauling them out of the water, on account 
of the extreme tenderness of the mouth. During the flood tide they keep 
in the channel-ways of the bays, and at the ebb they generally settle in 
some deep hole, where they remain until the flood entices them out again. 


In tlie night they are much in the habit of running up the creeks in the 
salt meadows, where they are sometimes taken in great numbers by inter- 
posing between them and the sea, just before the period of high water. 
This experiment is not a very satisfactory one on the coast of New Jersey, 
in consequence of the abundance of crabs. The smaller fish become 
gilled in the net meshes, thus inviting the attacks of the crabs, which cut 
the nets to pieces, often ruining them in a single night." 

When taken, the Squeteague makes a peculiar croaking, audible at a 
considerable distance ; and it is said that this is not imfrequently heard 
from a boat when passing over a school of them in the water beneath. 

The Sea Trout, or Deep-water Trout, of Charleston, described by Hol- 
brook under the name Otolithus thalassiniis, is without much question 
identical with the Northern Squeteague, although that author states that 
it differs from this fish entirely in its habits, since it is only found in the 
ocean and deep water, and never approaches the bays and inlets along the 
coast, while it is a larger animal. 

The few specimens which Holbrook saw were taken off Charleston Bar, 
about twenty miles from land and in about fifteen or twenty fathoms of 
water. The very peculiarities which he mentions are characteristic of 
the adult Squeteague. 

The Spotted Squeteague, Cynoscioii maculatiuii, is a species associated 
with the Squeteague in the waters off the coast of New Jersey and on the 
eastern shore of Virginia. It belongs to the same genus, but somewhat 
different, being characterized by the presence of well-defined dark spots. 
It becomes more abundant as we proceed southward, until off the coasts of 
North Carolina and Georgia, where it is one of the most abundant food- 
fishes. Owing to its shape and the presence of well-marked spots on the 
sides it is usually known on the southern coast as the "Salmon" or 
"Spotted Trout," and there are not wanting sportsmen in the Southern 
States who maintain with dogmatic earnestness the existence of a true 
Salmon Trout in the waters of their coast. The early colonists of the 
Carolinas knew full well that the trout was a spotted fish, and that it was 
a most desirable fish withal ; their warm streams had no genuine trout, 
and they could not carry in their untrained minds the image of the trout 
of England, so very different from Cynoscioii. A much better name for it 
would be "Spotted Squeteague." It is difficult, however, to bring 
about a change in a name which has been in use for several generations. 



unci it is probable that the name " Sea Trout " will always be used. Genio 
Scott proposed the name "Spotted Silver-sides," which is not particularly 
-appropriate, and which no one but himself has ever used. 


The history of American fishes contains very little respecting the habits 
of this species, although it is so important an element of food to the 
inhabitants of the Southern coast. We have, however, been favored by 
Dr. H. C. Yarrow w'ith notes made at Fort Macon, N. C, in which many 
of the deficiencies in our information are supplied. According to his 
account, the Spotted Trout is not found in that locality during the winter, 
or only in small numbers, making its first appearance in February on its 
way from the south, and attaining its greatest abundance about the middle 
of April. 

Little is known of its rate of growth, although, according to some ob- 
servers, this increase amounts to about six inches per annum; so that a 
fish of average size, or eighteen inches, may be considered as three years 
old. There is no perceptible difference in the sexes as to rate of growth 
or general appearance, excepting in the fuller belly of the female. 

Dr. Yarrow states that they come from the south in the spring and pass 
through the inlets on the flood tide, the date of their first appearance 
varying with that of the opening of spring. They remain in the vicinity 
of the inlets and sounds on the coast of North Carolina until about May, 
Avhen they gradually proceed northward, extending their journey as far as 
the shores of Long Island, where a few only are taken, although, perhaps, 
their number may be considerable. They reappear on the coast of North 
Carolina in September, and thence proceed south, following the same 
•course as that by which they came, but leaving on the ebb instead of the 


flood tide. They are found in the winter as far south as St. Augustine, 
and possibly below this point, although we have no positive assurance of 
this fact. 

At present they are thought to be more abundant than any other fish on 
the Carolina coast, with the exception of the mullet, having increased in 
numbers largely (at least twofold) within the last fifteen years, possibly 
in consequence of the intermission of capture during the war. The 
average length is about eighteen inches, with a weight of two pounds, 
although they are i.ot unfrequently found three feet in length and ten 
pounds' weight. They are often found outside of the beach in great 
numbers in January, coming in to the shore when the water is warm, 
about February, as stated. School follows school at intervals of about 
four or five days, when they seem to go northward and to be absent from 
the Southern coast for several months. On their return in September, 
after a short stay, they gradually leave the coast until they finally disappear 
for the season. Their return season by season is very regular and definite, 
being relied upon with much confidence. The successive " runs " do not 
seem to be classified in any particular way, large and small fish of both 
sexes coming in together. The colder the weather the less tendency they 
appear to exhibit to come towards the shore. 

At their first appearance in the spring the spawn is not appreciable, nor, 
according to Dr. Yarrow, do they have any development of the ovaries 
during their stay on that coast ; and he is under the impression that they 
breed during their autumnal and winter stay farther south. This, how- 
ever, is scarcely probable, it being more likely that their spawning ground 
is more to the north, perhaps off the coast of Virginia. 

Their presence is generally made known by the schools of porpoises 
Avhich follow and feed upon them. Swimming low in the water, they 
make no ripple on the surface, as is the case with mullets. The time of 
their capture is usually on the young flood, as in their movements along 
the shore they come in on the rising tide and depart on the ebb. 

Like their representatives in the north, these fishes are fond of penetrat- 
ing, for a short distance at least, into the mouths of rivers, remaining, 
however, only about a week ; this, according to Dr. Yarrow, is their 
habit on the coast of North Carolina, before leaving for the North. 

A singular phenomenon illustrating the delicate organization of this, 
and the related species, is described by Mr. N. E. Armstrong, of On- 


slow, Co., N. C. " When we have extremely cold and cloudy weather, and I 
believe also windy weather for three or four days, the Trout at the mouth of 
New River are benumbed, and on the first sunny day rise to the surface, 
and after a day or two die and sink to the bottom or are washed ashore. 
As soon as they rise, there are generally hundreds of men ready with nets, 
dip nets, gigs, and in some instances, nothing but their hands and boats, 
to jMck them. up. They are sometimes washed ashore in long heaps, two 
and three feet deep, for a considerable distance. When these ' numbs ' 
occur, it is generally known through this and the adjoining counties, and 
carts and wagons come for the fish by hundreds — sometimes from a dis- 
tance of fifty or sixty miles. The New River is a wide and very shallow 
bay for the distance of twenty miles from its mouth. There was a ' numb ' 
in January, 1877, and another in the winter of 1879, about the same time, 
but they do not occur frequently." 

They prefer sandy and grassy bottoms, and are particularly fond of shal- 
low water, four or five feet deep, especially in still waters and eddies. 
Their favorite food is small mullet and other diminutive fish, as well as 
still more largely shrimps and small crustaceans ; while, on the other hand, 
they are eaten voraciously by Weak-fish, blue-fish, drum and porpoises. 

In market fishing, nets are generally employed, though some fish are 
occasionally speared. They are taken in seines, usually having a mesh of 
about one and one-half inches, made of No. 8 cotton twine, about one 
hundred yards long and ten feet deep. When the fish first begin to make 
their appearance the fishermen establish themselves in their boats, just out- 
side the surf, and watch along the crest of the breakers. When the fish 
are seen the net is paid out from the stern of the boat, one man leaping 
overboard with a rope attached to one end of the net, while a man in the 
boat pulls rapidly around the school so as to inclose it. The net is then 
drawn carefully to the shore. The average catch of two men for a day 
may be set at about three hundred pounds, although a much greater 
amount than this could be taken if desirable. 

They are used when fresh, and sent up into the small towns in the in- 
terior in large numbers. The flesh is of an excellent quality, much supe- 
rior to that of the Weak-fish, being firm, white, and flaky, and will keep 
well for three or four days, unless the weather be too warm. It is some- 
times salted down for home use by the inhabitants along the coast, and 
much esteemed. Dr. Yarrow estimates that about two hundred barrels 


were salted during the season of I S7 1 by the fishermen, in his vicinity. 

The fish bring about $3 per hundred at wholesale, and $5 at retail, this 
being equal to the average for the last ten years. 

Silas Stearns writes : 

" The Spotted Trout is abundant from Key AVest to Mexico. In the 
Pensacola region it is present all the year, although most abundant in 
summer. It prefers to remain in shoal waters on grassy bottom, where it 
finds small fish and shrimps in abundance for food. It breeds in inside 
waters in July and August. Quantities of the fry are seen in August and 
September. They do not often form in schools in the bays, but in some 
places are so plentiful that it is not unusual to catch five or eight barrels 
at one drag of a seine. One man fishing with hook and line sometimes 
catches one hundred in less than a day." The Trout is an excellent food- 
fish, and of considerable importance to the fish trade. The demand for it 
would be much greater if it was not so hard to preserve in this climate." 

S. C. Clarke writes that it is more of a game fish than the Squeteague, 
active, vigorous and voracious, and capturable with similar fishing gear. 
He recommends a bamboo rod of eight or nine feet, a multiplying reel 
with drag, and 100 to 150 yards of fifteen thread flax line, with hook of 
the Cuttyhunk pattern, and ounce sinkers of hollow lead. 

The Silver Squeteague, Cynoscion notliuin, called at Charleston the " Bas- 
tard Trout," while resembling in shape the two species already described, 
is easily distinguished from them, being of a uniform silvery hue, the back 
being slightly darker than the rest of the body. 

One or two individuals have been taken in Chesapeake Bay, but it has 
rarely been observed north of South Carolina, whence Holbrook obtained 
the specimens from which the original description was made. I have ob- 
tained one or two individuals ffom the mouth of the St. John's River, 
Avhere they are not distinguished by the fishermen from the ' ' Shad Trout, ' ' or 
Northern Squeteague. In the Gulf of Mexico, according to Stearns, it is 
common in company with the Spotted Squeteague, and, as far as has been 
observed, its habits are similar. It is, however, according to Jordan, less 
abundant, and is not to be found at all seasons. It *is most abundant in 
September and October, but no spawning fish or young have been seen. 
The " White Trout," as it is called in Pensacola, is caught with hook and 
line in company with the Spotted Trout. 

On our Pacific coast there are several species of Cynoscion. The most 



important of these are undoubtedly Cynoscion nobilc and C. parvipiiine. 
Jordan thus describes their habits : 

^'- Cynoscion nobile is everywhere known as the Sea-bass and the Sea- 
trout, sometimes as 'White Sea-bass,' to distinguish it from the Black 
Sea-bass or Jew-fish. The young, while yet banded, are -known as ' Sea 
Trout,' and generally considered a distinct species, and both are frequently 
called ' Corvina ' and 'Caravina.' 


" It reaches a length of four to six feet and a weight of fifty to seventy- 
five pounds, perhaps more. Those usually seen in market average about 

" It ranges from Cape Mendocino southward to below San Diego, being 
especially abundant from Santa Barbara to Monterey in spring and summer. 
It is not often seen in winter. Only adults are taken in spring, and it 
prol;)ably comes to the shore from deeper water for the purpose of spawning. 
It goes in small schools, and its movements are irregular. Its food consists 
of crustaceans and fishes. It spawns in June or July. It is one of the 
most important food-fishes of the coast. Its flesh is excellent, firm and 
Avell flavored, and its great size renders it a very valuable species. In 
the firmness of its flesh it differs strikingly from most of the other species 
of the genus. 

" Cynoscion parvipinne, is usually known as the ' Corvina ' or ' Caravina.' 
It is also occasionally called Bluefish. It reaches a length of about two feet, 
and a weight of eight pounds. It is found from San Pedro southward to 
the Gulf of California, rarely straying to the north. In San Diego Bay it 
is abundant. It feeds on crustaceans, and especially on small fishes, as 



anchovies and sardines, and is very voracious. It spawns in July or 
August. Its flesh is tender, being very similar to that of the weak- fish 
( C. regale). It softens soon, but, when fresh, is of a fine, delicate quality, 
and scarcely surpassed by any fish on the coast. Several other species 
of this genus occur southward along the Me.\ican coast, where they are 
among the most important of the food-fishes." 


A . '■ •il''.,l,lil--J"'''fe^— ''^' 




These be the hills, (quoth he) the surges hie, 
On which faire Cynthia her heards doth feed ; 
Her heards be thousand fishes with their frie, 
Which in the bosome of the billowes breed. 
Of them the shepheard, which hath charge in chief. 
Is Triton, blowing loud his wreathed horn 
At sound whereof, they all, for their relief. 
Wend too and fro at evening and at morne. 

Spenser. Co/i'u Ciouis Co/iw Hc»iie Agat7i. 1591. 

' I "'HE King-fish, Menticirrus nebulosus, also known as the "Hake" 
on the coast of New Jersey and Delaware, and as the " Tom-cod " on 
the coast of Connecticut, the "Barb" about Barnegat, the " Black Mullet " 
in the Chesapeake, the " Sea Mink " in North Carolina, and sometimes 
also in the South as the " Whiting," ranges from Cape Ann south at least 
as far as the mouth of the St. John's River, Fla., although in the southern 
part of its range it is frequently confused with the AVhiting. It has been 
obtained by Jordan and Stearns at Pensacola ; though it is rare in the 
Gulf. Its great gaminess, its beauty of color and form, and its excellent 
flavor, Mr. Cheney assures us, caused the loyal citizens of New York in 
colonial days to call this species the "King-fish" and in former times, 
when it was abundant in New York bay, the King-fish and the small 
striped bass were the crowning glory of the old time fishing. 
It is discussed as follows by Professor Baird : 

"This species, well worthy of the name which has been given it, and 


the estimation in which it is held by New Yorlv epicures, as it is certainly 
savory when taken fresh from the water, leaves nothing to be desired in 
the way of a fish diet. It is quite abundant off the Middle States, but is 
rare much to the eastward. A few specimens are occasionally taken in 
Buzzard's Bay and Vineyard Sound, and Dr. Storer mentions four as hav- 
ing been captured in Massachusetts Bay. It is almost as capricious in its 
occurrence in the more northern waters as the Lafayette, sometimes being 
scarcely met with for several successive summers, and then suddenly reap- 
pearing, as if migrating from more southern waters. At Beesley's Point, 
N. J., where I have had most opportunity of studying its habits, it 
appears quite early in the spring with the squeteague, and is found a good 
deal in company with it, like that fish seeming to prefer a slight mixture 
of fresh water, as shown by its keeping in the mouths of rivers and run- 
ning farther up during the dry season. It takes bait readily and affords 
excellent sport to the fishermen, although not caught in anything like the 
same number in a given time as the squeteague, thirty or forty at a single 
tide being considered an excellent catch for one boat. 

" Nothing has been recorded in regard to the precise time of their 
spawning or the places where they lay their eggs. The young are met 
with at Beesley's Point in immense numbers on the sandy bottom as well 
as in the surf. The smallest were about an inch long. I have taken the 
young also in considerable number in Vineyard Sound at a time when the 
old fish were scarcely known. They occasionally run to a considerable 
distance up the rivers, as I have caught young fish of this species at Sing 
Sing, on the Hudson, where the water is scarcely brackish. The King- 
fish run much in schools, and keep on or near a hard, sandy bottom, pre- 
ferring the edge of channels and the vicinity of sand bars ; and they con- 
gregate about oyster-beds, especially when the oysters are being taken up, 
and may be seen under the boats, fighting for the worms and crustaceans 
dislodged in the operation. They bite readily at hard or soft clams, or 
even pieces of fish, and are taken most successfully on the young flood. 
Like the squeteague, they will occasionly run up the salt creeks at night, 
and may be captured in gill-nets as the water recedes. This, however, is 
not so common a habit with them as it is with its associate. 

" The price of this fish varies at different seasons of the year, but it is 
always well maintained, and it is generally valued at nearly as high a fig- 
ure as the Spanish mackerel. The European analogue of this species, Um- 


brina cirrhosa, is somewhat similar in general appearance, and its flesh is 
highly esteemed. This feeds on small fishes, moUusks, and, according to 
Yarrow, on sea-weed, sometimes attaining a weight of forty pounds. This 
magnitude I have not seen approximated by our species, although it is pos- 
sible that it may occasionally reach a large size. Of its distribution 
southward I can find no satisfactory account." 

In 1879 numerous small individuals of this species appeared in the har- 
bor of Provincetown, Mass.; they seemed however, to be out of their 
proper habitat, and many were chilled by the coldness of the water and 
cast up on the beach. In 1880 and 1881, the species is said to have been 
particularly abundant on the coast of New Jersey, and to have afforded 
much sport to anglers of that vicinity, many of whom had not been famil- 
iar with it in previous years. 

Mr. A. N. Cheneygives the following instructions for King-fish angling: 

"A light rod and multiplying reel, a strong and very light line, a 
swivel sinker and two rather small hooks are what is required in the way 
of tackle ; much the same rig as is used in weakfishing. The bait is either 
shedder crab or sand-worm. The King-fish is thoroughly game ; he seizes 
the bait eagerly and then goes to the bottom, following up this movement 
with long runs from right to left ; it is really remarkable what a determined 
resistance the little King-fish will make. In size he varies from one to six 
pounds, the average being two or three pounds. The time to fish for 
them is when the tide is running in. Kingfish can be caught along the 
south side of Long Island, off the Jersey coast at Atlantic City, Long 
Branch and Barnegat Inlet, and further south they are very common." 

The Whitings, favorite food-fishes of the Southern coast, embrace the 
two species, Alcnticirrus alburnus and M. Uttoralis, both closely allied 
in general character to the King-fish of more northern waters. They are 
said to occur abundantly from Cape Fear River, N. C, to the Rio Grande, 
in Texas. Uhler and Lugger claim that they inhabit the salt water of 
the Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries, but it is not probable that they are 
at all abundant. On the coast of South Carolina, according to Dr. Hol- 
brook, the Whiting remains all the year round, and although few are 
taken in December and January, yet they are sufficient to prove themselves 
constant residents. Near Charleston in the spring and summer months 
they are very abundant ; they enter the mouths of bays and rivers, and 
are captured in great numbers. They take the hook readily ; their favor- 


ite bait is the drum, and being strong, lively and active in habit, they 
afford great sport to the fishermen. They prefer deep and running waters, 
and seldom approach so near the shore as to be taken in seines. Their 
ordinary food seems to consist of various species of small shell-fish. 


Speaking of the " Surf Whiting," of Charleston, Holbrook remarks: 
" This species makes its appearance on the coast of Carolina in the month 
of April, and continues with us during the entire summer, though very few 
are taken in July or August. It is only found in shallow water where the 
bottom is hard and sandy, often forming, when the tide is out, an exten- 
sive beach. Its favorite resort is in the neighborhood of the shore where 
the surf can roll over it from the ocean and bring with it doubtless the 
animals on which it feeds. In such localities many are captured with the 
seine and are sold in the market under the name ' Surf Whiting,' in con- 
tradistinction to the other species which is called the ' Deep-water Whiting. ' 
Its food seems to be similar to that of the Deep-water Whiting, judging 
from the contents of its stomach, and yet it is seldom taken with the hook. 
Hitherto I have only seen this fish in the immediate neighborhood of 
Charleston. This fish is very commonly supposed to be the adult male of 
the common Whiting, approaching the shoal water to deposit its spawn. 
I believed it, from common report, to be such, until frequent dissections 
proved to me that there are both males and females among them. The 
flesh of this species is good, but by no means so finely flavored as that of 
the Deep-water Whiting." 

At Mayport, Fla., the Whiting is abundant, and also at the mouth of 
the St. John's. The largest observed by me measured ten inches, and in 
the first week of April was within two or three weeks of spawning. A few 


are taken in the St. John's as high up as Arlington. They are abundant 
in the Indian River. About New Smyrna, Fla. , according to Mr. S. C. 
Clarke, it is called "Whiting," "Kingfish," "Barb" and " Bull-head 
Whiting." They occur in the winter and spring, though seldom in sum- 
mer. The largest reached the weight of one and a half pounds. They 
average three-quarters of a pound, the female being usually the larger. 
They appear about the last of November, and spend the winter in 
bays and still rivers. They bite in strong currents, not in slack water. 
They prefer deep channels and sandy bottoms. They are found in the 
deepest water and prefer cold water. Their food consists of crabs, shrimps, 
and small crustaceans, and they feed at the bottom. Half-grown to full- 
grown fish contain spawn. They spawn in the sea in May. They are 
taken with a hook by the use of mullet or clam bait at half-tide. 
They bite best in a strong current in winter and spring and fifteen or twenty 
may be taken in one tide. In the Gulf of Mexico, according to Stearns, 
they are abundant from Key West to the Rio Grande, and are known as 
the "Whiting," though at Pensacola the name "Ground Mullet " is in 
use. He writes : 

"There are two varieties, which, if they have no specific differences, 
have at least, different habits. One variety lives exclusively in very shoal 
water along the sandy beaches, appearing to take pleasure from the action 
of the surf, and swimming in small schools. The other inhabits deeper 
waters ; is found singly, and is of much darker coloring. The former sel- 
dom leaves the sea- water, while the latter are often found in brackish and 
fresh water. I have found ripe spawn in the surf variety in April, and be- 
lieve they deposit it on the sea-beach. Large specimens of the dark variety 
were taken in September, 1879, in the Apalachicola River, where the 
water is fresh. The Whiting is an excellent food-fish." 

The two varieties thus referred to by Stearns have been identified by 
Jordan as the two species M. alburmis and AI. littoralis, the latter being 
the surf-loving species first mentioned. 

The Whiting is a delicious pan-fish, sweet and hard, though soon losing 
its delicate flavor. In Charleston it is regarded as a great dainty. Ac- 
cording to Colonel Lyman, when Charleston was closely blockaded and 
fishing was a hazardous occupation, the commandant of the garrison, who 
was a bon invant, gave $100 in Confederate money for a string of Whiting. 

Some of the early writers called this fish the "Bermuda Wliiting," for 


what reason it is difficult to understand, for the Whiting of Bermuda at the 
present day is a fish very unlike that of our Southern coast. 

The " Surf Whiting," according to Jordan, is not rare at Charleston, 
and in the Gulf of Mexico is as common as the other species, but is chiefly 
found in the surf, and hence is less frequently brought into the markets. 

Speaking of the game qualities of the two species, S. C. Clarke writes 
that they bite much like the trout, seizing the bait with a rush — that they 
are strong and active, and make a good fight for their size. He recom- 
mends a trout bait rod, fine line, reel, and two small hooks. For bait he 
uses cut mullet and fishes on or near the bottom of a sandy strong-tided 
channel, at half tide. 

The Bagre, MenticirrKS iindulatus, is an allied form, member of our 
Pacific family. It reaches a length of twenty inches, and a weight of four 
or five pounds. It is found close to shore from Point Conception south- 
ward to Cerros Island, and is generally abundant. It feeds on Crustacea, 
spawns in July, and is a food-fish of fair quality. In appearance and in 
value it approaches closely to the Surf Whiting of the Atlantic, M. lit- 

The Queen-fish, Seriphus politus, is also known as "King-fish" in 
California. It reaches, says Jordan, a length of eight inches, and a weight 
of half a pound. It ranges from Tomales Bay southward, and is abundant 
in summer, when it is found in great numbers in the surf along sandy 
shores. Enormous numbers of them are sometimes taken in seines, 
especially at Santa Barbara and Soquel. It is not often brought into the 
San Francisco market. It feeds on small fishes and crustaceans. It 
spawns in summer. It is a food-fish of excellent quality, but is too small to 
possess much economic value. 

»ijT-<-r^»r-,»i^.^^ ^ 




Man's life is warm, glad, sad, 'twixt loves and graves. 
Boundless in hope, honoured with pangs austere. 
Heaven gazing ; and his angel wings he craves ; 
The fish is swift, small-needing, vague yet clear, 
A cold, sweet, silver life, wrapt in round waves. 
Quickened with touches of transporting fear. 

Leigh Hunt, The Fisli, The I^hin and the Spirit. 

'TpHE Spot, or Lafayette, Liostotnus xajithwus, is found along our 
coast from New York to the Gulf of Mexico, and is known in New 
York and elsewhere as the "Spot," on the coast of New Jersey as the 
" Goody " and sometimes as the '•' Cape May Goody," in the Chesapeake 
region also as the " Spot " and the " Roach," at Charleston, S. C, as the 
"Chub," in the St. John's River, Fla.. as the " Masooka " — this name 
being probably a corruption of a Portuguese name, "Bezuga" — and at 
Pensacola as the " Spot " and " Chopa blanca." The name "Lafayette " 
is used for this fish in New York even to the present day. This name was 
given it by the New York fishermen in consequence of its reappearance in 
large numbers in that region having been coincident with the arrival of 
Lafayette in this country in 1S34. It had been known before that time, 
but only in scattering numbers. 

Although they sometimes enter the large rivers of the South, such as 


the St. John's, which they ascend as far as Jacksonville, Giinther is by 
no means justified in his statement that this is "a fresh-water fish inhabit- 
ing the rivers of North America." 

Like the other bottom-feeding members of this family, their food con- 
sists chiefly of the smaller mollusks and crustaceans. Little is known 
about their breeding habits in the North. Mr. S. C. Clarke states that at 
New Smyrna, Fla., they breed in the bays and inlets in November and 
December, while Stearns remarks that they spawn in the lower bays and 
inlets about Pensacola late in the fall, while the young of all sizes are very 
abundant in the spring. 

Concerning this species Prof. Baird writes : 

" Of the smaller pan-fish of our coast, in excellence of flavor none is 
considered superior to that known as the ' Lafayette.' Its precise eastern 
range is not well ascertained, although it is occasionally taken in great 
numbers off Long Island and the coast of New Jersey. It is most plenti- 
ful off the coast of Virginia. 

"According to Dr. Holbrook, it is not much esteemed for food at 
Charleston, owing to a want of flavor. In the case of this species, as in 
many others, it is probable that the colder waters of the North impart a 
superior flavor and excellence to the flesh. This is well known to be the 
case with the sheepshead, as well as many other species. 

"At Beesley's Point, N. J., where I have had an opportunity of 
studying its habits, it makes its appearance in large numbers in August, 
the first school being composed of small fish, large ones following them. 
A short time later they ascend the creeks in great numbers and are taken 
there in company with the white perch. Their usual size in New Jersey 
is about six inches, although occasionally measuring ten inches. They do 
not make their appearance in the New York markets in any abundance 
until towards the ist of September, and remain until the end of October, 
when they disappear. I did not succeed in finding any very young fish, 
and am unable to state whether they actually spawn on the New Jersey 
coast, or whether the supply found there and further north consists of a 
' run ' from the more southern waters of fish migrating northward, perhaps 
to escape the increased heat of the southern coast." 

Mr. L. O. Van Doren in the American Angler, gives an account of its 
merits as a game and food fish. 

"It swarms on the eastern coast during the hot months of July and August, 
and is caught even in September. 


" In the Harlem and East Rivers and in Long Island Sound, where I 
have caught them, they run very small indeed, and it requires great 
patience and small hooks to take them in. They kee]) up a constant 
nibbling, and the angler is so busy pulling his line up every minute or two 
that he wishes he had not fallen in with the silvery pests. 

"Like the bergall the Spot bites at the hook with a sly tentative 
nibble and immediately darts away, as is proved by their being frequently 
hooked in the back, sides or tail. But there is this difference between 
cunners and Lafayettes • the latter are good to eat and the former are 
worthless. I know^ of no daintier morsel than a big, fresh Lafayette, 
nicely fried and served hot. They are the most tasteful of all the salt water 
pan-fish with the exception of the Stonington eel. 

" Few would care to go out especially for Spots, but if you do ha\e a lot 
of fine, sharp hooks, put four on your line above a light sinker, bait \vith 
small pieces of clam or saddworm, and fish on the first of the flood or at 
dead high water in about fourteen feet. It is great fun to take them with 
a very light rod. They can be caught in great numbers at Rockaway, 
Cape May, Atlantic City, in fact, everywhere on the coast." 

The Spot is abundant at Mayport, Fla., in spring and summer. In the 
Gulf of Mexico, according to Stearns, it is present in the bays all the 
year, living in shoal water, feeding upon the bottom upon the small inver- 
tebrate animals, and taken with hook and line and seine. It is extremely 
abundant, and is considered a good food fish.* 

There is a rare species, allied to the Spot, recorded from Charleston, 
S. C, and St. George's Island, Tex., known by naturalists under the name 
Stelliferus lanccolatiis. It is found in deep water, and is not sufficiently 
abundant to have acquired a common name. 

The Yellow Tail, Bairdiella chrysura, known as " Silver Perch " on the 

* How TO Fry Fan-fish — " To fry is to boil in fat, therefore the fat must boil, and it must cover whatever 
you wish to fry. When fat boils it is quite still, leaves off moving or bubbling, and a thin blue smoke or 
vapor rises from it. Fat can be kept for a long time to fry in ; it should be strained after using, and it can 
be clarified often, provided it is not allowed to burn." — (Edith Cl;»rke.) 

After being cleaned and wiped perfectly dry, fish for frying should be rubbed over with flour, or dippeil 
once or twice into egg and bread crumbs, or passed through a regularly-made batter. Fry it in plenty of 
very hot oil or friture; drain it thoroughly from grease; sprinkle fine salt upon it, and serve it upon a 
damask napkin folded in a dish tastefully garnished ; serve a sauce apart. Chopped onions are generally 
fried and served with fresh herrings. If a sufficient quantity of fat be employed, a good thick fish will not 
need more than ten minutes's frying; smelts and such-like small fish are done in five minutes, or even less. 
Finely-shred herbs may be sprinkled over some sorts of fish, such as eels or mackerel, previously to frying 
them, but soles, or in short flatfish generally, should be only done with bread crumbs and egg, so as to send 
them to table looking of a clear golden yellow." — iGeokgiana Hill.) 

To fry fish in the Virginia style : — " Choose middle-sized fish ; clean them, scale and wash them : then 
with a very sharp penknife score them on the sides, but not very deep nor very close ; dredge tliem with 
flour ; then fry them in oiled butter. When they are well done and brown serve them up garnished with fried 
parsley, and send up with them plain melted butter. This give; the fish its true flavor, and many, for that 
reason, prefer it to any other way of dressing." — (Mrs. Smith.) 

To fry fish in the angler's style : — " Never put your fish in the pan till the fat is boiling hot . Always cut 
your pork small, and don't try it out or otherwise cook it too fast, as it will lose much uf its sweetness. Score 
the fish and roll them in flour before laying them in the sparkling fat. In using lard, a table-spoonful of salt 
to a pound is a fair average."— (.Genio C. Scott.) 



coast of New Jersey, is quite an important food fish in the Southern States. 
But little has been written regarding it, and its excellent qualities are not 
yet thoroughly appreciated. In fact, it has been confused with other 
species by both Holbrook and Gunther. This fish has not been observed 
north of New York, where it was recorded by Mitchill and DeKay, the 
latter of whom stated that it was not uncommon in the summer season. 

Prof. Baird found the young very abundant about Beesley's Point 
in 1854, though the adults were unknown to the fishermen. Uhler and 
Lugger, who, following the mistaken nomenclature of Holbrook, confused 
this with a species of Liostomus, say it is common in the Chesapeake and 
Lower Potomac. It is also abundant about Beaufort, N. C, and in the 
vicinity of Charleston. 


According to many observers, Yellow-tails are highly esteemed for 
food at St. Simon's Island, New Brunswick, Ga., and in the Lovver 
St. John's River. They probably never ascend the river much above 
Jacksonville, though in 1877 great quantities were taken, in the month of 
April, at the mouth of the Arlington River. In 1S78 the water was so 
fresh at this point that none could be taken there, though I saw them at 
Yellow Bluffs in water not perceptibly brackish to the taste. A large 
majority of those observed at iNIayport on April 7, 1S75, ^^'^^^ ^^^^ grown, 
and taken at the point of spawning. Others taken by fishermen at May- 



port, April, 15, 187S, had the spawn running free frum them. The largest 
adult did not exceed eight inches in length. 

On the Florida coast of the Gulf of Mexico, according to Stearns, they 
are very common. They were found by Jordan to be very abundant 
along the shores of Louisiana and Texas. At Pensacola they are known 
by the name "Mademoiselle." They are present throughout the year, 
but most plenty from i\Iay until November, and are found in company with 
the trout and the Spot on the grassy shoals of the bays where they feed 
and spawn. The time for spawning is in June and July. They feed 
chiefly upon small fishes and shrimps. They do not school, but swim 
singly or in pairs. Their extreme length does not exceed ten or eleven 
inches, the average being about eight. They are regarded as excellent 


The Croaker, Micropogon undulatus, ranges from New York at least to 
the Gulf of Mexico, although rarely seen north of Delaware. It occurs 
also in some of the West Indian islands and south of Brazil. Its name 
refers to the peculiar grunting sound which it utters, but in the Chesa- 
peake this name has been corrupted into " Crocus." In Texas it is called 

At Beaufort, N. C, according to Jordan, it is very abundant, and, next 
to the mullet and the Spot, is the most common food-fish of the region. 
Ilolbrook states that the Croaker makes its appearance off Charleston in 
the month of May, but becomes common in shallow water in June and 
July, and is most abundant and attains its largest size in October and 


November. It is not much esteemed as food, and is only used as a pan- 

It is abundant and highly esteemed at Brunswick, Ga., and everywhere 
in Eastern Florida, in company with the Spot, ascending the St. John's as 
far as Jacksonville. 

Stearns writes: " In the Gulf of Mexico it is very common. Is found 
everywhere in the bays and bayous throughout the year. Lives mostly in 
shoal water or grassy bottoms. Feeds upon crustaceous animals. Breeds 
in the bays in November and December. The young are seen in the 
spring, having grown to a size of two or three inches in length. Is caught 
with hook and line and seine. It sells with other pan-fish for a low price. 
It is an excellent food-fish ; average length ten inches. At Sarasota Bay. 
December 8, 1879, 1 caught two specimens of spawning croakers that were 
each fully eighteen inches long — the largest that I have ever seen." 

An allied species is Larimus fasciatus, which is called "Chub" in 

Prof. Jordan supplies the following notes upon allied species native to 
the Pacific waters : 

Corvina satiirna, is known wherever found as the " Red Roncador," less 
commonly as " Black Roncador" or " Croaker." It reaches a length of 
sixteen inches and a weight of three or four pounds. It is found from 
Point Conception southward in moderate abundance. It feeds largely on 
crustaceans and spawns in July. It is a food-fish of good quality. 

Roncador Stearnsi, is generally known as the "Roncador" or the 
snorer, from the Spanish roncar, to snore. It makes a very distinct grunt- 
ing noise, probably with its air-bladder, on being taken from the water. 
It reaches a length of over two feet, and a weight of six to eight pounds. 
It is found from Santa Barbara southward, usually in abundance. It feeds 
on Crustacea and spawns in July. It is a food-fish of excellent quality. It 
is named in honor of that eminent naturalist. Prof. R. E. C. Stearns, so 
long identified with the scientific interests of the Pacific coast. 

Genyoncimis lineatus, is known about San Francisco as the Little Bass. 
Southward it is called the Little Roncador. The name " Cognard," said 
by Dr. Ayers to be given to it in San Francisco, is unknown to us. It 
reaches a weight of little over a pound, and a length of a foot ; it is found 
from Tomales to San Diego, being most abundant from Santa Barbara to 
San Francisco. It often comes into the markets in large numbers ; it 


feeds chiefly on Crustacea and spawns in July. It is a food-fish of good 
quality when fresh, but its flesh becomes soft in the market sooner than 
that of most species. Many are dried by the Chinese. 

Umbrma roncador, generally known as the " Yellow-tailed "or " Yel- 
low-finned Roncador. " It reaches a length of more than a foot, and a 
weight of two or three pounds. It is found from Santa Barbara southward, 
and is generally abundant, especially in summer. It feeds on Crustacea 
-and spawns in July. It is a food-fish of good quality. Many are split 
and salted. 

THE SEA DRUM. (Young.) 


His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye. 

Shakespeare, Rape of Lucrece. 

"^TEXT to the sword-fish, tunny, jew-fish, and halibut, the Drum is 
perhaps the Largest of the food-fishes of our coast. It is most abun- 
dant in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Southern Atlantic States, though 
nearly every summer a few specimens appear on the south coast of New 
England. In one or two instances individuals have been observed as far 
north as Provincetown, Mass. In the Gulf it is common everywhere, 
even to the southern boundarv of Texas : how much further south it eoes 
there is at present no means of determining. Ichthyologists formerly sup- 
posed that there were two species, one of which, of small size and con- 
spicuously banded with brown and white, was called the " Banded Drum," 
P. fasciatus, or "Little Drum." This is now well-known to be the 
young of the P. cliromis. It seems curious that the changes of color in 
relation to age, although known to Cuvier forty years ago, should have 
Deen overlooked by American naturalists, and that the s\iec\<i?, P. fasciaiits 
should have stood as valid until 1873. 

The name " Drum," as everyone knows, alludes to the loud drumming 


noise which is heard, especially in the breeding season, and is doubtless 
the signal by which the fish call to their mates. This habit of drumming 
is shared by many fishes of this family, but appears to be most highly de- 
veloped in the Drum, and in a European species known as the INIaigre, 
ScicBim aqiiila. M. Dufosse has investigated, very thoroughly, the physio- 
logical causes of these sounds, which appear to depend largely upon the 
action of the air-bladder. 

The northern limit of the species appears to be d>:^fined by Cape Cod. 
In 1873, Mr. J'^nies H. Blake captured one at Provincetown. Another, 
of twenty-five pounds' weight, was secured by Vinal Edwards for the Fish 
Commission from Rogers's pound, Quisset, Mass., July, 1874; another 
large individual, of sixty pounds' w^eight, was taken near Noank. Conn., 
July 10, 1874, the third instance of its capture known to the fishermen of 
that vicinity. 

Schoepf, writing about the year 1786, says that they were at that time 
very rare about New York, though he had occasionally seen them at the 
city market, where they met with sale, though their flesh was none of the 

The Drums captured north of Sandy Hook have been, so far as I can 
learn, large adult fish. Prof. Baird found the young fish of this species very 
abundant in August in the small bays along the shores of Beesley's Point, 
N. J., though few were seen in the rivers. Its southern limit is some- 
where in the Gulf of Mexico, but has not been accurately ascertained. 

The young are very dissimilar to the adult fish, though the fishermen in 
Florida and elsewhere recognize the actual relations. In this respect they 
are more discriminating than the ichthyologist Holbrook, who described 
them as distinct species. The adult is known as the " Black Drum," the 
young as the " Striped Drum." In addition to the marked differences in 
color, the young has a much more shapely body than the adult, much 
higher in proportion to its length. The full-grown fish sometimes weigh 
eighty pounds, though the average is perhaps not more than one-quarter 
as large. They are sluggish swimmers, and are especially adapted to life 
on the bottom, where their long, sensitive barbels aid them in their search 
for buried treasures of food. They feed upon all bottom-dwelling inver- 
tebrates. Their teeth are extremely heavy and pavement-like ; their jaws 
are provided with very powerful muscles, by means of which they can crush 
with great ease the shells of the most strongly protected invertebrates. 


It is claimed by oyster-planters that the Drum is very destructive to the 
oyster-beds. Mr. Stearns writes : " Oysters are their favorite food on the 
Gulf coast, and they destroyed a great many at Apalachicola, St. Andrews, 
IMobile, and Galveston Bays. The Mobile oyster-planters attribute the 
bulk of their losses to Drums. At Pensacola I have known a boat-load of 
oysters, fifty barrels, that were thrown overboard to be preserved, to be 
entirely consumed in eight or ten days by them, leaving but a heap of 
broken shells." 

While it is probable that the Drum feeds upon oysters as well as upon 
crabs or shrimps, it is probable that the extent of their destructiveness has 
been somewhat exaggerated ; for instance, it was claimed a few years ago 
that oysters in New York Bay to the value of hundreds of thousands of 
dollars were destroyed by Drums. This seems quite unlikely, since the 
Drum is by no means a common fish so far north as New York. 

Concerning its relation to the oyster-culturist, I cannot do better than 
to quote the words of Mr. Ernest Ingersoll : 

" Knowing the carnivorous propensity of the fish, one can easily imagine 
how an inroad of such a host must affect an oyster-ground. They do not 
seem to make any trouble, however, north of New York City, and rarely 
along the south side of Long Island. At Staten Island and Keyport they 
come in every few years and devastate thousands of dollars worth of 
property. Such a memorable visitation happened about 1850, in Ji-dv. 
The following summer the planters in Prince's Bay, fearing a repetition of 
the onslaught, anchored shingles and pieces of waste tin on their beds, 
scattering them at short intervals, in the hope that their dancing, glitter- 
ing surfaces might act as ' scare-crows ' to frighten the fish away. Whether 
as an effect of this, or because of a general absence, no more Drums ap- 
peared. In New York Bay, off Caven Point, where the old ' Black Tom 
Reef is now converted into an island, one planter of Keyport lost his 
whole summer's work — material and labor — in a single September week, 
through an attack by Drums. A City Island planter reported to me a loss 
of ^10,000 in one season a few years ago ; but the East River is about the 
northern limit of the Drums, at least as a nuisance to oyster-culture, so far 
as I can learn. The vexation of it is, too, that the Drum does not seem 
to eat half of what he destroys ; but, on the contrary, a great school of 
them will go over a bed, wantonly crushing hundreds of oysters and drop- 
ping them untasted, but in fragments, on the bottom." 

The size of the schools in which they go is shown by the following 
records from contemporary newspapers : " On Monday last, John Earle 
and sons caught, at one draught, in Bristol Ferry, 719 Drum-fish, weigh- 



ing upwards of fifty pounds each." Niles' Weekly Register, July, 1S33, 
also says : '' Some days ago a haul was made in Great Egg Harbor Bay, 
near Beesley's Point, Cape May, at which 218 Drum-fish was caught, their 
entire weight being from 8,000 to 9,000 pounds. This is said to be the 
largest haul of that description offish ever made in that bay." 

Another still larger, noticed as a great haul of Drum-fish ; " On Wed- 
nesday, June 5, 1S04," says the postmaster of Oyster Ponds, 1/Ong Is- 
land, " one seine drew on shore at this place at a single haul 12,250 fish, 
the average weight of which was found to be thirty-three pounds, making 
in the aggregate 202 tons 250 pounds. This undoubtedly is the greatest 
haul of this kind ever known in this country. A hundred witnesses are 
ready to attest the truth of the above statement. They are used for ma- 
nure." (The fish, I suppose, and not the Avitnesses, remarked Ingersoll.) 

jSIr. S. C. Clarke has made some interesting communications regarding 
their breeding habits. The male he informs us, is the larger, and is more 
brightly colored, particularly at the breeding season. The male drums 
very loud, the female in a softer tone. Fish under twenty pounds in 
weight do not breed. About the Halifax Inlet, Southern Florida, they 
spawn in March in the salt-water rivers. The ova sink to the bottom. 
They are as large as B-shot, dark brown in color, and are often seen to 
run from the parent fish when it is captured. In a large fish the roe some- 
times weighs six or seven pounds. In the northern part of the Gulf of 
Mexico, according to Silas Stearns, they spawn in April and May in inside 

My own observations upon the Drum have been made chiefly in Florida. 
Specimens of ten and fifteen inches are abundant in the Lower St. John, 
and are frequently taken at Jacksonville, even as high up the river as Doc- 
tor's Lake. Large ones are seldom known to pass the bar at Mayport. 

They are sometimes caught in seines in great numbers and retained liv- 
ing in the seines until disposed of. Drum-fishing with hook and line is 
one of the most exciting exploits of the sportsmen of this region. In the 
Nassau River, large Drum which are sold at Fernandina, are taken with 
hook and line in the spring. 

The young are often taken in seines at the St. John's River and sold in 
the Jacksonville market, and are excellent pan-fish, as my own experience 
testifies. Their flesh is coarse, but tender, and it is thought to compare 
favorably with any of the salt-water fishes of the region. The large ones 


are often eaten, but are not so much sought after; perhaps the cause of this 
is that they are liable to be infested by parasitic worms. A Drum of sixty 
pounds, taken at Wood's Holl, Massachusetts, 1864, was completely rid- 
dled by nematode worms, neatly encysted among the layers of muscle. 
Some of them were two feet long, with heads larger than large buck-shot. 

In the Indian River, according to Mr. Clarke, Drum are taken with 
hooks and crab bait, and with cast-nets. In summer they are caught in 
the open ocean ; in the winter, in the bays and inlets. Four or five a day 
is considered good fishing luck. Tides do not affect the fishing. Their 
flesh is not greatly esteemed. They are sometimes salted, but are chiefly 
used for compost. " In the Gulf of Mexico," says Stearns, " the Drum is 
often caught in seines and gill-nets, but is very rarely eaten, as the flesh is 
dry and tasteless." 

I have often eaten the young fish in Florida. When very fresh, the 
flavor is sweet and agreeable, though the flesh is very soft. 

In the Carolinas, according to a statement of a correspondent, the roes 
are considered very delicious, and it is customary for the residents of the 
coast to salt and dry them and send them "up country" to their friends 
as a very acceptable present. 

North of Maryland the fish is of little economical importance. In the 
Chesapeake region, according to Uhler and Lugger, its flesh is much es- 
teemed, and its roe is a great delicacy ; considerable numbers are brought 
to the Baltimore markets in spring and fall. 

The scales of the Drum are extensively used in the manufacture of the 
sprays of flowers and other articles of fancy work which are sold, especially 
in Florida, under the name of " fish scale jewelry." They are large and 
silvery, and so hard that it is necessary to remove them from the fish with 
an axe or hatchet. 

The Drum was known to the Dutch colonists of New York as early as 
the middle of the seventeenth century, as is shown by references in Steen- 
dam's poem "In Praise of New Netherland," already referred to. Its 
name was " Dartien," while the bass was " Twalft," and the shad 
" Elft " — facts which give endorsement to the old tradition that the early 
colonists of New Netherland knew only ten kinds of fish and that when 
the shad came they called it the eleventh kind {E/ft) the bass the twelfth 
{Twalft) and the Drum the thirteenth {Darticn or Dcrtiencii). It is inter- 
esting to speculate as to which were the ten they first knew. The 


following list is probably not far from right, and is useful from its 
suggestions as to the origin of some of the names now in use : 



Perch, (white and yellow) 

2 . 










Stcnbrassem and 


Bream and Sucker. 


Mas bank. 

Mossbunker or Menhaden 


Schol and Bot. 

Flatfish and Flounder. 









Gurnard or Sea Robin and 

The IVcekvis (Weakfish or Squeteague), the Roch (Rock-fish), the Sonne 
7'is (Sun-fish), Swart vis (Black-fish or Tautog), were probably later dis- 
coveries, and if the New Netherlanders had been less imaginative, might 
have been called numbers fourteen to seventeen. The principal difficulty 
with this myth is that Alosa has long been known in Holland as the 
"Elft." Perhaps the double meaning of its name was what suggested 
an arithmetical nomenclature for the others. 

Another historical incident is connected with Eogonias. The legend 
of Pascagoula and its mysterious music, deemed supernatural by the Indians 
is still current. " It may often be heard there on summer evenings," says 
a recent writer. "The listener being on the beach, or, yet more favor- 
ably, in a boat floating on the river, a low, plaintive sound is heard rising 
and falling like that of an y-Eolian harp, and seeming to issue from the 
water. The sounds, which are sweet and i)laintive, but monotonous, 
cease as soon as there is any noise or disturbance of the water." 

Bienville, the French explorer, heard the music of Pascagoula, when he 
made his voyage in 1699 to the mouths of the Mississippi, and his experi- 
ences are recorded in his narrative. 

Mr. A. W. Roberts gives in the American Angler the following inter- 
esting notes upon observations of the Drum in confinement: 

" \Vhen curator of the New York Aquarium, several small specimens of 
the so-called " Banded Drum" were brought to the establishment by the 
regular collectors. At first they were placed in the medium-sized tanks, 
wdiere they increased in size so ra])idly that in course of time it was found 
necessary to remove them to more roomy quarters, where they remaired 



up to the time of the closing up of the establishment, having been in con- 
finement over three years, and by which time they had become the 
blackest of black drum ; all the bands that were so conspicuous in their 
younger stage having disappeared entirely, although, for the last two 
years, the shark tank, (some seventy feet in length), in which they had 
been kept, was always flooded with strong sunlight in the morning and 
strong daylight during the afternoon, not to mention a flood of gaslight 
during the evening. The bottom of this tank consisted of clean and 
white shingle, so that a great deal of reflected light was the result, and yet 
these " banded drum " seemed to become blacker and blacker black drum 
every month. Mussels and scollops, in the shell, were their particular 
delight, and they always had plenty as long as I was their keeper. The 
bull-nosed clam was too much for their pharyngeal teeth, consequently I 
had them partially opened before feeding them out. 

" During the spring months the males constantly pursued the females, and, 
on such occasions, both the males and females gave out a series of very 
musical and liquid drumjlike sounds, \«hich could be distinctly heard 
in any part of the aquarium. Often, when dredging at night-time at 
Princess Bay, Staten Island, I have heard the constant drumming of the 
drum at different points about my boat ; they were evidently having a big 
oyster supper." 



The fresh-water Drum, Haploidonotiis grtinnicns , is always known in the 
Great Lakes by the name " Sheepshead." In the Ohio River it is usually 
called " White Perch " or " Gray Perch," often simply " Perch." In 
the lakes of Northern Indiana it is called '' Crocus," evidently a corrup- 
tion of "Croaker." In the Southern States the name "Drum" pre- 
dominates \ that of " Thunder-pumper," also used for the bittern. Botciu- 


rus lentiginosHS, is heard along the Mississippi River. Southwestward, in 
Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, it is always known as the '■' Gaspergou."* 

These names, " Croaker," " Drum," "• Thunder-i^umper," etc., refer to 
the croaking or grunting noise made by this species in common with most 
Scicenoids. This noise is thought to be made in the air-bladder by fore-, 
ing the air from one compartment to another. Another name used in the 
southwest is "Jewel-head." 

"This species," writes Jordan, "is very abundant in all large bodies 
of water throughout the Western States, from the Great Lakes to the 
Rio Grande. It seldom enters small streams. It feeds largely upon crus- 
taceans and mollusks, but sometimes swallows other fishes. It is rather a 
bottom fish than otherwise. Its value as a food-fish depends on the water 
and food, and, unlike most fishes, its quality seems to improve to the 
southward. Although from its size and abundance it becomes an import- 
ant market fish, it cannot at best be considered one of high quality. Its 
flesh is tough and coarse in fiber, and often of a disagreeable shark-like 
odor, particularly in the Great Lakes, where it is never eaten. The flesh 
of partly grown specimens is better than that of the adult. It reaches a 
length of four feet and a weight of forty to sixty pounds. Those usually 
seen in market are much smaller. Nothing is known concerning its 
breeding habits. 

The ear bones or otholiths of the Lake Drum are large and have a tex- 
ture like ivory. They are often carried as amulets by the negroes of the 
South, and are also prized by boys in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the West, 
■who call them "lucky stones," perhaps in allusion to the fact that they 
are marked by a figure which resembles the letter L. The name " Jewel- 
head " refers, of course, to these bones, and Jordan's generic name Eiity- 
chelithus, proposed for a form of the Lake Drum, supposed to inhabit Lake 
Huron, is a translation of the words "lucky stone." The Lake Huron 
form is in all probability identical with that of the other lakes, and it is 
hoped that the Indian name " Maleshaganay " may be preserved in con- 
nection with these lacustrine sciaenoids. 

*Mr. Norman Walker, in a recent paper on "Outdoor Life in Louisiana," published in Outing, informs 
us that " gaspergou " is an Indian word, meaning " fish," and is applied by Louisianians to anything fishy 
from the sheepshead to the mudsucker. 



You strange, astonished -looking, angle-faced, 

Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea. 

Gulping salt-water everlastingly. 

Cold-blooded, though with red your blood be graced. 

And mute, though dwellers in the roaring waste. 

What is't you do ? what life lead ? eh, dull goggles ? 

How do ye vary your dull days and nights? 

How pass your Sundays ? Are ye still but joggles. 

In ceaseless wash ? Still nought, but gapes, and bites. 

And drinks, and stares, diversified with boggles. 

Leigh Hunt, The Ulan to the Fish. 

'T'HE Cobia or crab-eater, Elacate canada, known in the Chesapeake 
-*■ Bay as the " Bonito " or the "Coal-fish," as the "Sergeant-fish" 
in Southern and Eastern Florida, and in parts of Florida as the " Ling " 
or "Snooks," is considered one of the most important food-fishes of 
Maryland and Virginia, though it is but little known elsewhere. Like the 
Bluefish, it is cosmopolitan in its distribution, having been recorded in the 
seas of China and Japan, in Southeastern Hindostan, in the Malay Archi- 
pelago, on the coast of Brazil, in the West Indies and the Bermudas, 
where it is called the " Cubby-yew," and along our own shores from the 
Gulf of Mexico to Cape Cod. DeKay speaks of the capture of a single 
individual in Boston Harbor. The species was originally described by 
Linneeus from a specimen sent to him from South Carolina by Dr. Garden. 
The name " Sergeant-fish" refers to its peculiar coloration, several stripes 
of brown and grey being visible on the sides of the body. The name 
" Crab-eater" appears to have been ascribed to the fish by Dr. Mitchill. 
What is known of its habits may be very shortly told. Holbrook remarked : 
" The Crab-eater is a solitary fish ; it prefers deep and clear water and is 


only taken singly with a hook. Tt lives on the coast of Carolina late ir. 
May, and is occasionally captured until September, when it is no longer 
seen in our waters. It is exceedingly voracious, and destroys many 
smaller fish, which make its ordinary food, though it does not reject 
crustaceous animals." 

Mitchill dissected a specimen caught in New York Bay obtained by 
him in the city market in June, 1815. He found its stomach dis- 
tended with food of various sorts, including twenty spotted sand-crabs 
and several young flounders. DeKay tells us that the specimen from 
which his description was taken was captured in a seine in the harbor of 
Boston and placed in a car with other fish. It was soon discovered that 
it had destroyed and eaten every fish in the car. These fish were chiefly 
sculpins and porgies. Mr. S. C. Clarke, speaking of the fish fauna of 
Florida, remarks: "This fish I have never seen except in the Indian 
River, where it is a common species, lying under the mangrove bushes in 
wait for prey like a pike, which it much resembles in form and in the long 
under jaw full of sharp teeth." The size is from two to three feet. It 
attains the length of five feet and the weight of fifteen or twenty pounds. 

The Cobia breeds in the Chesapeake Bay, where in 1880 Mr. R. E. 
Earll succeeded in artificially fertilizing the eggs. Dr. Mitchill speaks of 
its availability as a food-fish in the highest terms. 

It is occasionally taken by trolling lines in the Gulf, and seems to be 
re""arded with favor by the anglers who have made its acquaintance. Mr. 
W. C. Prime, whose charming book, " I Go a Fishing," has become one 
of the classics of AVallonian literature, writes : 

" In shape he may be roughly likened to the great northern pike, with 
a similar head, flattened on the forehead. He is dark green on the back, 
growing lighter on the sides, but the distinguishing characteristic is a 
broad, dark collar over the neck, from which two black stripes or stra])s, 
parting on the shoulders, extend, one on each side, to the tail. He looks 
as if harnessed Avith a pair of traces, and his behavior on a fly-rod is that 
of a wild horse. The first one that I struck, in the brackish water of 
Hillsborough River at Tampa, gave me a hitherto unknown sensation. 
The tremendous rush was not unfamiliar, but when the fierce fellow took 
the top of the water and went along lashing it with his tail, swift as a 
bullet, then descended, and with a short, sharp, electric shock left the 
line to come home free, I was for an instant confounded. It Avas all over 
in ten seconds. Nearly every fish that 1 struck after this behaved in the 



same way, and after I had gotten ' the hang of them ' I took a great 



The Moon-fish, Oicetodiptcrus fabcr, is one of the rarer species on our 
coast, and has recently come so much into favor in New York that among 
connoisseurs it is one of the most highly esteemed food-fishes. It is also 
greatly valued by residents of Washington who know it, being abundant 
in the markets of that city in summer. In the northern parts of the Gulf of 
Mexico it is called the "Spade-fish"; from Florida to Charleston the 
"Angel-fish," a name which, according to Schoepf, appears to have been 
current during the last century at Beaufort, N. C, where it is called the 
" Porgee " or '^ Porgy," and at New York, where it is stated to be found 
in summer. " Three-tail Sheepshead " and "Three-tailed Porgee" are 
names which are said to have been formerly in use among the New York 


The range of this species along our coast is very wide. It lias been 
found in Guatemala, and perhaps farther south, and the British Museum 
has specimens from Texas, Santo Domingo, and Jamaica. It is said to be 
somewhat abundant on the coast of vSouth Carolina, and not uncommon at 
the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. They are occasionally taken about 
Xew York, and several indixiduals have been obtained by the Fish Com- 
mission at Woods Holl. It is occasionally taken in Southern California, 
about San Diego. It attains the length of eighteen inches and the weight 
of several pounds. The large adult specimens have a peculiar globular bone 
in the head, unlike anything which has lieen found in any other fish. 
Two species have been recognized by American ichthyologists. It seems 
probable that these represent different ages of the same fish. The only 
study of its habits in existence is the following, which is quoted from Mr. 
Stearns' excellent journal of observations. 

" The Spade-Fish, ClicBtodipiei-us fabcr, is common on the West Florida, 
Alabama, and Louisiana coasts. I have not observed it in South Florida. 
It is found throughout the summer and fall in the bays, about wharves, 
rock-piles, and old wrecks, where crustaceous animals are abundant. In 
October and November large schools are seen along the sea-beaches, evi- 
dently leaving the coast for warmer waters, at which time many are caught 
by seine fishermen. It sjvawns in early summer, and the young are seen 
until October. I have seen specimens of S])ade-fish fifteen inches long ; 
but the average size is not more than eight inches. It is an excellent 
pan-fish, selling readily in market." 

This species is known to the fishermen of the St. John's and Indian 
Rivers, Fla., under the name " Angel-fish." Holbrook states that it ap- 
pears on the shores of South Carolina in May and June, and is then taken 
in considerable numbers with the sei'"'.e. Jordan states that it is common 
at Beaufort, X. C, where it is used as a food-fish. Lugger remarks that 
it is not uncommon in the salt-water region near the entrance to Chesa- 
peake Bay, but is seldom, if ever, brought to the Baltimore markets. 
DeKay remarks that in the waters of New York it only appears jDeriodi- 
cally, and occasionally in great numbers during the summer months. 
About 1822 they were caught here in seines in great numbers, and exposed 
in the markets for sale. I am not aware that any such incursion has since 
been observed. On the coast of California, where, according to Jordan, 
It is occasionally taken about San Diego in the kelp, it is too rare to be of 
commercial im])ortance. 



The "Flasher" or "Triple-tail" of New York, lohotcs swt'inamensis^ 
known in South Carolina as the " Black Perch," and to the fishermen of St. 
John's River as the "Grouper," is spoken of by various authors as the 
" Black Triple-tail," and in 1S56, according to Gill, was called in New 
York market the " Flasher." It is remarkable on account of its extraordi- 
narily wide range, having been found in China, the Malay Archipelago, at 
Sunda and Molucca, in the Bay of Bengal, and in the Mediterranean 
about Sicily, at Ceylon, in the West Indies about Cuba and Jamaica, on 
the coast of South America, and in Surinam, whence the first specimen was 
derived, and from which locality the species takes its scientific name, and 
along the coast of the United States from St. John's River to Woods Holl, 
Mass. The Triple-tail is a short, thick, heavily built fish. The dorsal 
and anal fins project backwards towards the base of the caudal so promi- 
nently as to give origin to the common name. When alive it is a very 
beautiful species, silvery and grey in color, but after death it soon becomes 
dingy — so dingy, in fact, that many of the common names are prefixed by 
the adjective "black." I saw four specimens at Jacksonville, Fla., on 
the 5th of April, 1875. The largest weighed about ten pounds and 
measured nearly two feet in length. The species is abundant about 
Charleston, where, according to Holbrook, it appears in June and remains 
until September. It feeds upon small fishes and mussels, and is said to 
take the hook readily when baited with clams or with shrimps. It is 



occasionallv taken in the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay, and Prof. 
Baird obtained specimens about three inches long in August among the 
€el-grass on Tuckahoe River, in New Jersey. Stragglers have been taken 
at New York, and even as far north as Wood's Hall, Mass. They are 
occasionally brought to the New York market, where they are highly 
esteemed. Gill, writing in 1S56, said: "I saw a single specimen of this 
species in Fulton market last year, which remained exposed on the stall 
from August 30 to September 6. It did not seem to be known. It was 
about fifteen inches in length, and one dollar was demanded for it." 
DeYoe saw one in Catherine market, in August, 1864, taken in a net on 
the Long Island coast, near Flatlands. He speaks of its excellence as a 
fish for boiling, comparing it to the Sheepshead. By the fishermen of St. 
John's River, Fla., it is considered one of the finest food-fishes, and its 
large silver scales command a high price at the fancy shops, where they are 
sold to be used in the manufacture of scale works. 


The Ravallia or Snook, Cciitropomus iindecimalis, is a fish which has only 
recently been added to the fauna of the United States. 

It occurs only along the Gulf coast, where it is known by the Spanish 
name, " Robalo," with such variations as " Ravaljo," '' Ravallie " and 
''Ravallia." It ranges from Florida to Rio Janeiro, and occurs in the 
Pacific from the Gulf of California at least to Callao. The " Robalo " 
of Chili is quite another fish, the Pinguipcs chilensis, of Cuvier. A closely 
allied species, Centropomus robaleto, is the " Constantine " or " Robaleto " 
of the ISIazatlan fishermen. 

The Centi'opomits is a perch-like fish, and is not unlike Stizostediuiii in 
appearance and structure. Its liabits are very like those of its fresh- 


water ally, and it may appropriately be considered the pike-perch of the 
sea coast. It occurs in the sea and also in brackish estuaries. The 
Robalo attains the length of about three feet, and is exceedingly strong, 
active and voracious, feeding upon all kinds of small fishes. It is un- 
doubtedly a good fish for the sportsman, though the " Ravallia " or 
" Snook " usually referred to in the chronicles of angling is Elacate. 

President Jordan gives it an unqualified endorsement: "A vigorous 
gamy fish it must certainly be, from its build and food, though I never 
took it on the hook. I have eaten them baked, and I know them to be 
good, and the Creole Spanish hold them in high esteem. In structure 
they much resemble the striped bass, and Robalo is the Spanish name for 
the European bass. Probably the objection is simple prejudice. I once 
heard a darky, who had never before seen a Robalo, say of a twentv- 
pounder, that ' he would rather eat the devil than such a looking fish.' Ic 
is much valued on the Mexican coast and is occasionally taken about Gal- 
veston in summer. It becomes much more abundant southward along the 
Texas coast, and is one of the staple food-fishes about Brazos Santiago." 

There is reason for caution in speaking about this fish by its common 
names, since we are assured by Dr. Henshall that the name " Ravallia " 
is very commonly applied to the Cobia, and that the name "Snooks" is- 
the one in common use for CcntfopODius on the west coast of Florida. This 
is of course a corruption of Suoek, the Dutch name for the Pike {Esox 
Indus), and was used in Dampier's list of fishes ]jrinted in the seventeenth 



And, as he darts, the waters bhie 

Are streaked with gleams of many a hue 

Green, orange, purple and gold. Matthew G. Lewis. 

Call them Sir, by whatever name we please ; whether blue-fish, of Massachusetts Bay ; snapper, of New 
Bedford; horse-mackerel, on the shores of Rhode Island; or tailor, in Delaware Bay, they are the same 
Tcmnodoti saltator still, and deal out destruction and death to other species in all the localities they visit. 

Speech of Hon. N. E. Atwood, of the Cape District, 1870. 

'T^HIS fish, which on the coast of New England and the IVIiddle States 
is called the Bluefish, is also known in Rhode Island as the " Horse 
Mackerel "; south of Cape Hatteras as the '' Skipjack ;" in North Carolina, 
Virginia, and Maryland it is sometimes known as the ' ' Green-fish. ' ' Young 
Bluefish are in some parts of New England called " Snapping Mackerel " 
or "Snappers;" about New Bedford "Blue Snappers;" to distinguish 
them from the Sea Bass they are sometimes spoken of as the " Bluefish." 
About New York they are c:.iled '^Skip Mackerel," and higher up the 
Hudson River " White-fish." In the Gulf of Mexico the name "Blue- 
fish " is in general use. 

Pomatomus saltatrix is widely distributed — in the Malay Archipelago, 
Australia, at the Cape of Good Hope, at Natal and about Madagascar ; 
in the ISIediterranean, where it is a well-known and highly-prized food- 
fish in the markets of Algiers, though rare on the Italian side. It 
has been seen at Malta, at Alexandria, along the coast of Syria, and about 
the Canaries. It has never been seen on the Atlantic coast of Europe, 
and, strangely enough, never in the waters of the Bermudas or any of the 
AVestern Islands. On our coast it ranges from Central Brazil and the 


Guianas through the Gulf of Mexico and north to Nova Scotia, though 
never seen in the Bay of Fundy. From Cape Florida to Penobscot Bay, 
Bluefish are abundant at all seasons when the temperature of the -water is 
propitious. It is not yet known what limits of temperature are the most 
favorable to their welfare, but it would appear, from the study of the dates 
of their appearance during a period of years in connection with the ocean 
temperature, that they prefer to avoid water which is much colder than 
40°. It is possible that the presence of their favorite food, the menhaden, 
has as much influence u^Don their movements as water temperature. Certain 
it is, that few Bluefish are found on our Middle and Southern coast when 
the menhaden are absent ; on the other hand, the Bluefish do not venture 
in great numbers into the Gulf of Maine at the time when menhaden are 
schooling and are at their greatest abundance. Their favorite summer 
haunts are in the partially protected waters of the Middle States from 
May to October, with an average temperature of 60° to 75°. The men- 
haden, or certain schools of them, affect a cooler climate and thrive in the 
waters of Western and Central Maine in the months when the harbor 
temperatures are little above 50° and 55°, and that of the ocean consid- 
erably lower. 

Since Prof. Baird wrote in 1871, there has been no great change in 
the abundance of Bluefish. They are quite sufficient in number to supply 
the demand for them and to make great inroads upon the other fishes, 
some of which, like the menhaden and mackerel, would perhaps, if undis- 
turbed by the Bluefish, be more valuable than they are at present. They 
have now been with us for fifty years. Their numbers are subject to 
periodical variations, of the causes of Avhich we are ignorant. It is to be 
regretted that there are no records of it in the South Atlantic States. If 
such existed, we might, perhaps, learn from them that the Bluefish 
remained in those waters while absent from the northern coasts. Only 
one statement is to be found which covers this period, although Lawson, 
in his " History of North Carolina," published in 1709, and Catesby, in 
his " Natural History of the Carolinas," published in 1743, refer to its 
presence. In "Bartram's Travels," published in 1791. the "Skipjack" is 
mentioned as one of the most abundant fish at the mouth of the St. John's 
River. When Bluefish again became abundant their presence was first 
noticed at the South, and they seem to have made their inroads from that 
direction. The Bluefish was unknown to Schoepf, if we may judge from 


his work on the "Fishes of New York," published in 17S7. Dr. 
Mitchill recorded their frecjuent capture about New York in 1814, though 
before iSio they are said to have been unknown there. In 1825 the)'' 
were very abundant and in 1841 immense numbers were cajjturcd in the 
Yineyard Sound, while about Nantucket they were on the increase from 
1820 to 1830. It is certain that they had not reappeared in 1822 in Nar- 
ragansett Bay, for in " Dwight's Travels," it is stated that, though 
formerly abundant, they had not been seen in that region since the time 
of the Revolution. 

The first one which was noticed north of Cape Cod was captured in 
October 1837, though we have no record of their appearance about Cape 
Ann before 1847. 

The Bluefish is a carnivorous animal of the most pronounced type, feed- 
ing solely upon other fish. Prof. Baird remarks : 

" There is no parallel in point of destructiveness to the Bluefish among 
the marine species on our coast, whatever may be the case among some of 
the carnivorous fish of the South American Avaters. The Bluefish has been 
well likened to an animated chopping-machine, the business of which is 
to cut to pieces and otherwise destroy as many fish as possible in a given 
space of time. All writers are unanimous in regard to the destructiveness 
of the Bluefish. Going in large schools, in pursuit of fish not much 
inferior to themselves in size, they move along like a pack of hungry 
w'olves, destroying everything before them. Their trail is marked by 
fragments of fish and by the stain of blood in the sea, as, where the fish is 
too large to be swallowed entire, the hinder portion will be bitten off and 
the anterior part allowed to float away or sink. It is even maintained, 
with great earnestness, that such is the gluttony of the fish, that when the 
stomach becomes full the contents are disgorged and then again filled. It 
is certain that it kills many more fish than it requires for its own support. 

"The youngest fish, equally with the older, perform tliis fimction of 
destruction, and although they occasionally devour crabs, worms, etc., the 
bulk of their sustenance throughout the greater part of the year is derived 
from other fish. Nothing is more common than to find a small Bluefish 
of six or eight inches in length under a school of minnows making con- 
tinual dashes and captures among them. The stomachs of the Bluefish of 
all sizes, with rare exceptions, are found loaded with the other fish, some- 
times to the number of thirty or forty, either entire or in fragments. 


"As already referred to, it must also be borne in mind that it is not 
merely the small fry that are thus devoured, and which it is expected will 
fall a prey to other animals, but that the food of the Bluefish consists very 
largely of individuals which have already passed a large percentage of the 
chances against their attaining maturity, many of them, indeed, having 
arrived at the period of spawning. To make the case more clear, let us 
realize for a moment the number of Bluefish that exist on out coast in the 
summer season. As far as I can ascertain by the statistics obtained at the 
fishing stations on the New England coast, as also from the records of the 
New York markets, kindly furnished by Middleton (Jv: Carman, of the 
Fulton Market, the capture of Bluefish, from New Jersey to Monomoy, 
during the season, amounts to not less than one million individuals, 
averaging five or six pounds each. Those, however, who have seen the 
Bluefish in his native waters, and realized the immense number there exist- 
in.g, will be (juite willing to admit that probably not one fish in a thousand 
is ever taken by man. If, therefore, we have an actual capture of one 
million, we may allow one thousand millions as occurring in the extent 
of our coasts referred to, even neglecting the smaller ones, which, perhaps, 
should also be taken into the account. 

" An allowance of ten fish per day to each Bluefish is not excessive, 
according to the testimony elicited from the fishermen and substantiated 
by the stomachs of those examined ; this gives ten thousand millions of 
fish destroyed per day. And as the period of the stay of the Bluefish on 
the New England coast is at least one hundred and twenty days, we have 
in round numbers twelve hundred million millions offish devoured in the 
course of a season. Again, if each Bluefish, averaging five pounds, 
devours or destroys even half its own weight of other fish per day (and I 
am not sure that the estimate of some witnesses of twice this weight is not 
more nearly correct), we will have, during the same period, a daily loss of 
twenty-five hundred million pounds, equal to three hundred thousand mil- 
lions for the season. 

" This estimate applies to three or four year old fish, of at least three to 
five pounds in weight. We must, however, allow for those of smaller size, 
and a hundred-fold or more in number, all engaged simultaneously in tlie 
butchery referred to. 

"We can scarcely conceive of a number so vast ; and however much we 
may diminish, within reason, the estimate of the number of Bluefish and 


the average of their captures, there still remains an appalling aggregate 
of destruction, ^^■hile the smallest Bluefish feed upon the diminutive fry, 
those of which we have taken account capture fish of large size, many of 
them, if not capable of reproduction, being within at least one or two 
years of that period. 

"It is estimated by very good authority that of the spawn deposited ])y 
any fish at a given time not more than thirty per cent, are hatched, and 
that less than ten i)er cent, attain an age when they are able to take care 
of themselves. As their age increases, the chances of reaching maturity 
l)ecome greater and greater. It is among the small residuum of this class 
that the agency of the Bluefish is exercised, and whatever reasonable 
reduction may be made in our estimate, we cannot doubt that they exert 
a material influence. 

" The rate of growth of the Bluefish is also an evidence of the immense 
amount of food they must consume. The young fish which first appear 
along the shores of Vineyard Sound, about the middle of August, are about 
five inches in length. By the beginning of September, however, they 
have reached six or seven inches, and on their reappearance in the second 
year they measure al)out twelve or fifteen inches. After this they increase 
in a still more rapid ratio. A fish which passes eastward from ^'ineyard 
Sound in the spring, weighing five pounds, is represented, according to 
the general impression, by the ten to fifteen pound fish of the autumn. If 
this be the fact, the fish of three or four pounds which pass along the 
coast of North Carolina in March return to it in October weighing ten to 
fifteen pounds. 

"As already explained, the relationship of these fish to the other 
inhabitants of the sea is that of an unmitigated butcher ; and it is able to 
contend successfully with any other species not superior to itself in size. 
It is not known whether an entire school ever unite in an attack upon a 
particular object of prey, as is said to be the case with the ferocious fishes 
of the South American rivers ; should they do so, no animal, however 
large, could withstand their onslaught. 

" They appear to eat anything that swims of suitable size — fish of all 
kinds, but perhaps more especially the menhaden, which they seem to fol- 
low along the coast, and which they attack with such ferocity as to drive 
them on the shore, where they are sometimes piled up in windrows to the 
depth of a foot or more. 


" The amount of food they destroy, even if the whole of it be not 
actually consumed, is almost incredible. Mr. Westgate and others esti- 
mate it at twice the weight of the fish in a day, and this is perhaps quite 
reasonable. Capt. Spindle goes so far as to say that it will destroy a 
thousand fish in a day. This gentleman is also of the opinion that thev 
do much more harm to the fishes of the coast than is caused by the 
pounds. They will generally swallow a fish of a very large size in propor- 
tion to their own, sometimes taking it down bodily; at others, only the 
posterior half. The peculiar armor of certain fish prevents their being 
taken entire ; and it is not uncommon to find the head of a sculpin or 
other fish, whose body has evidently been cut off by the Bluefish. In the 
summer time the young are quite apt to establish themselves singly in a 
favorite locality, and, indeed, to accompany the fry of other fishes usually 
playing below them, and every now and then darting upward and captur- 
ing an unlucky individual, while the rest dash away in every direction. 
In this manner they attend upon the young mullet, atherinas, etc. They are 
very fond of squid, which may very frequently be detected in their 
stomachs. In August 1S70, about Fire Island, Mr. S. I. Smith found 
their stomachs filled with marine worms, a species of Hcteronereis, which, 
though usually burrowing in the mud, at that season swims freely toward 
the surface in connection with the operation of reproduction. This, like 
the squid, is a favorite bait for the Bluefish ; and they appear to care for 
little else when these are to be had. This fact probably explains the 
reason why, at certain seasons, no matter how abundant the fish may be, 
they cannot be taken with the drail or squid boat." 

The Bluefish are believed to have had a very important influence upon 
the abundance of other species on some part of the coast. This has been 
noticed especially on the north side of Cape Cod. South of Cape Cod 
the small fish occur in such enormous abundance that even the voracity of 
millions of Bluefish could hardly produce any eff"ect upon them. Capt. 
Atwood has recorded his belief that the advent of the Bluefish drove away 
the plaice or large flounder from those waters, not so much by their direct 
attacks upon them as by destroying the stjuid upon which the latter for- 
merly subsisted. He is also of the opinion that the mackerel, once, for 
a time, were affected by them. The mackerel have since returned to 
those waters in their wonted numbers, but the Bluefish are not now suffi- 
ciently plenty north of Cape Cod to interfere with them. The flight of the 


mackerel was not an unmitigated evil, however, since, as Capt. Atwood 
pointed out, the number of lobsters for a time was very considerably 
increased. The mackerel fed uj^on their eggs, and when they were 
driven away by the Bluefish the lobsters had a better chance to multiply. 

The Bluefish sometimes make their way up tlie rivers to a considerable 
distance, the adults, however, apparently never entering the perfectly 
fresh water. They are found in the Potomac as far north as Acquia Creek, 
and also far up the Hudson ; indeed, the young of the year are taken as 
high as Sing Sing on the Hudson and in other tidal rivers, where the water 
is entirely fresh. 

Summing up all the evidence in regard to the periodical appear- 
ance of the Bluefish, we find notice of its occurrence in 1672, or even 
1659, and up to 1764. How long it existed in the waters prior to that 
date cannot now be determined. The oral testimony of Mr. Parker refers 
to its occurrence at Wood's Holl in 1780 or 1790 ; and it is mentioned 
by Mr. Smith as being at Newport in 1800, and at Edgartown, Mass., 
about the same time, by Capt. Pease. Mitchill testifies to its occurrence 
in New York, of very small size, in 1810 ; and it is recorded as existing 
again in Nantucket in 1S20, and about Woods Holl and Buzzard's Bay 
in 1830 to 1 83 1, and a little later at Hyannis. In 1830 it had become 
abundant about Nantucket, and in the fall of 1S37 it was first noticed in 
Massachusetts Bay, and then year by year it became more and more 
numerous, until now it is very abundant. Several accounts agree in refer- 
ence to the very large size (even to forty or fifty pounds) of those taken 
in the last century. 

Further research into ancient records may tend to throw more light on 
the early history of the Bluefish, and even materially to change the con- 
clusions already reached. It will be observed that the references to its 
occurrence, from 1780 to 1800, are on the testimony of aged persons who 
have heard their fathers speak of it, although I find no j^rinted records 
anywhere in reference to it between 1764 and 1810. The rate of progres- 
sion to the north of Cape Cod I have at present no means of indicating, 
although they probably gradually ranged further and further north, and 
very possibly occurred much further east than we have any mention of at 

During the present century the maximum of abundance of these fish off 
the middle coast of the United States appears to have been reached from 


i8ro to 1S60. The testimony elicited from various observers, as well as 
from printed records, indicates a decrease since that period much greater 
in some localities than others. About New York they are said to have 
been vmusually plenty in the summer of 1S71, but farther east the diminu- 
tion which had been observed in previous years appeared to continue. 

Diligent research by numerous inquirers during a period of sixteen years 
has added little to what Prof. Baird has stated and it may be regarded 
as almost certain that Bluefish do not spawn in our inshore waters. The 
only important contribution to our knowledge on this subject is found in 
the notes of Mr. Silas Stearns, who believes that he has abundant evidence 
of their spawning in the Gulf of Mexico. His remarks are quoted in full 
below. The Hon. Robert B. Roosevelt records that he observed the Blue- 
fish fry less than an inch in length in the inlet of Far Rockaway, N. Y., 
on the loth of July : 

Little is known of their reproduction. Dr. Yarrow does not give any 
facts in regard to this subject, at Fort Macon, except that spawn was seen 
to run out of a small female caught July 14. Dr. Holbrook is also silent on 
this head. Mr. Genio C. Scott says the spawning beds are visited by the 
parent in June, and consists of quiet nooks or bays. Mr. R. B. Roose- 
velt states that very diminutive young occur in immense numbers along 
the coast at the end of September or beginning of October ("Game Fish 
of America," 1862, 1859.) Prof. Baird found the young fish at Bees- 
ley's Point, N. J., in July, 1854, two or three inches in length, and 
more compressed than the adult ; but farther east, on Vineyard Sound, 
although diligent search was conducted, between the middle of June and 
the ist of October, with most efficient apparatus in the way of fine-meshed 
nets, I met with nothing excepting fish that made their appearance all at 
once along the edge of the bay and harbor. 

According to Capt. Edwards, of Woods Holl, a very accurate obser- 
ver, they have no spawn in them when in Vineyard Sound. This state- 
ment is corroborated by Capt. Hinckley ; and Capt. Hallett, of Hyannis, 
"does not know where they spawn." The only positive evidence on this 
subject is that of Capt. Pease, who states it as the general impression about 
Edgartown that they spawn about the last of July or the ist of August. 
He has seen them when he thought they were spawning on the sand, hav- 
ing caught them a short time before, full of spawn, and finding them after- 
ward for a time thin and weak. He thinks their spawning ground is on 


the white sandy bottom to the eastward of Martha's Vineyard, toward 
Muskeeget. While not discrediting the statement of Mr. Pease, it seems 
a little remarkable that so few persons on the eastern coast have noticed 
the spawning in summer of the Bluefish ; and, altliough there mav be excep- 
tions to the fact, it is not impossible that the spawning ground is in \-erv 
early spring, or even in winter, off New Jersey and Long Island, or farther 
south. It is not impossible that, at a suitable period after spawning, the 
young, in obedience to their migratory instinct, may move nortliward 
along the coast, growing rapidly as they proceed. This explains the 
almost sudden appearance offish of five inches about Wood's Holl. 

We have the statement of Dr. Yarrow that vast schools of small Blue- 
fish were met with in Beaufort harbor during the last week in December, 
187 1. These were in company with small schools of young menhaden 
and yellow-tailed shad, and were apparently working their way toward 
the sea by the route of the inlet. When observed, tliey were coming from 
the southward through the sound, moving very slowly, at times nearly 
leaving it, and then returning. The largest were about four inches in 
length, and others were much smaller ; and as many as twenty schools 
were observed from the wharf at Fort Macon, each of them occupying an 
area of from sixty to eighty feet square, and apparently from four to six 
f^et in depth. I would not be much surprised if these fish should prove 
to have been spawned late in the year off the southern coast. 

The size of the Bluefish varies with the season and locality, those 
spending the summer on the southern coast, according to good authoritv, 
rarely exceeding two or three pounds in weight, and being generally con- 
siderably less. The largest summer specimens are those found farther to 
the eastward, where they are not unfrequently met with weighing from ten 
to fifteen pounds, although this latter weight is quite unusual. Mr. Snow, 
of Nantucket, mentions having seen one of twenty-two pounds, and 
others give as their maximum from fourteen to twenty. The average size 
of the schools in Vineyard Sound, during the early season, is from five to 
seven pounds. The schools, howexer, that make their appearance in 
October embrace many individuals of from ten to fifteen jwunds. It is, 
therefore, not improbable that the difference between the first-mentioned 
average and the last represents the increase by their summer feeding. As 
already remarked, Bluefish in the last century sometimes attained a weight 
of forty or fifty pounds in Vineyard Sound ; according to Zaccheus Macy, 
thirty of them would fill a barrel. 


Eorcst and Stream, June 25, 1S74, stated that L. Hathaway, Esq., a 
veteran fisherman, while fishing from the bridge at Cohasset Narrows, 
Mass., with rod and reel, captured a Bluefish weighing twenty-five pounds. 
The largest previously caught weighed seventeen pounds. 

On getting back to the Carolina coast in the early part of November, ac- 
cording to Dr. Yarrow's statement, they are from three to five feet in length 
and weigh from ten to twenty pounds. What becomes of these large fish, 
that so few of them are seen in the early spring, it is impossible to say. 
If it be really true that they are much scarcer than in the fall, we may 
infer that their increased size makes them a more ready prey to the larger fish 
and cetaceans, or that they have accomplished their ordinary period of 
life ; possibly that they have broken up into smaller parties, less conspicu- 
ous to observation, or that they have materially changed their locality. 
The average length of the fish that appear in the spring off the coast of 
Virginia and the southern part of New Jersey, according to Dr. Coues, 
Dr. Yarrow and Prof. Baird, is about one foot, being probably about one 
year old. As a general rule, those of the smaller size keep close to 
the shore and can always be met with, while the larger ones go in schools 
and remain farther outside. 

Prof. Baird obtained no very young fish at Woods HoU in 1871, the 
smallest found making their appearance quite suddenly along the coast, 
especially in the little bays, about the middle of August, and then 
measuring about five by one and one-fifth inches. By the end of Septem- 
ber, however, these had reached a length of seven or eight inches, and at 
the age of about a year they probably constitute the twelve or fourteen 
inch fish referred to as occurring along the southern coast. The fish of 
the third year, or those two years old, are possibly the three-pound fish, 
while the five to seven pound fish may be considered a year older still. 
Accurate observations are wanting, however, to determine these facts ; 
as also whether they require two years, or three or more, to attain suffi- 
cient maturity for breeding. As far as I know, there is no appreciable 
difference between the sexes in their rate of growth or weight, excepting 
that the female is likely to be a little deeper in the body. 

A Bluefish weighing one pound measures about fourteen inches ; two 
pounds, seventeen inches ; three pounds, twenty-one inches ; four pounds, 
twenty-four inches ; five pounds, twenty-six inches ; six pounds, twenty- 
six to twentv-seven inches, and eight pounds, twenty-nine inches. 


The Bluefish is one of our most important of sea-fishes, and sur- 
passed in public estimation only by the Spanish mackerel and the pom- 
pano. It may be said to furnish a large part of the supply to the Middle 
and Northern States. It is a standard fish in New York, Boston and other 
seaports, and is carried in great numbers into the interior. Its flesh is 
very sweet and savory, but it does not keep very well. In the Vineyard 
Sound the fishermen are in the habit of crimping their fish, or killing 
them, by cutting their throats in such a manner that they bleed freely. 
Everyone who has opportunities for observing admits that fish thus treated 
are far superior to any others. Great quantities of Bluefish are frozen in 
New York for winter consumption. They are still considered unfit for 
food on our Southern coast, and even in the markets of Washington, 
D. C. I have frequently been stopped by fish-dealers who asked me to 
assure their customers that Bluefish were eatable. They are growing in 
favor everywhere, however, just as they did in Boston. Capt. Atwood 
tells me that in 1865 but very few were sold in Boston, and that the 
demand has been increasing ever since. When he first went to Boston 
with a load of Bluefish he got two cents a pound for them ; the second 
year they were scarcer, and he got two and one-half cents, and the 
year afterward three cents. 

Within a few years the reputation of the Bluefish among anglers has 
decidedly improved. Norris wrote in 1865, that the Bluefish was seldom 
angled for, and that it was not esteemed as food : in 1S79, Hallock de- 
clares that the Bluefish and the Striped Bass are the game fish, par excel- 
lence, of the brine, just as the salmon and black bass are of fresh Avater. 
The favorite mode of capture is by trolling or squidding, a process already 
described. This amusement is participated in every summer by thousands 
of unskilled, but none the less enthusiastic, amateur fisherman, who in their 
sail-boats, trail the tide-rips from Cape May to Cape Cod. Many pro- 
fessional fishermen also follow this pursuit, especially in the Vineyard 
Sound, about Nantucket and along the south shore of Cape Cod, a region 
famous for its swift cat-boats and fat Bluefish. 

Another mode which is growing in favor is that of heaving and hauling 
in the surf, which has been already described in writing of the Striped 
Bass. No rod is used, but the angler, standing on the beach or in the 
breakers, whirls his heavy jig about his head and casts it far into the sea, 
and having hooked his fish puts his shoulder to the line, and walks up the 


beach, dragging his prize after him to the shore. This is practiced every- 
where on exposed sand beaches, such as are found at Montauk, Monomoy, 
Newport, and Barnegat. 

Other anglers prefer to use a light rod and an artificial minnow from a 
stationary skiff near where Bluefish are breaking, or to fish with shrimp 
bait from the wharves in quiet bays where the young "snappers," six 
to ten inches in length, abound. I have seen this kind of fishing at 
various points, from the mouth of the Florida St. Johns to Nantucket. 

The Bluefish has also an important rank among the commercial species. 
The Avholesale dealers of New York city handle nearly 4,000,000 pounds 
annually. The yearly consumption of Bluefish probably does not fall 
much below 8,000,000 pounds, valued at $500,000. The markets are 
supplied, for the most part, from three sources. Large quantities are taken 
in the weirs, forty or more in number, planted on the northern and 
southern shores of Cape Cod, in Buzzard's Bay, Martha's Vineyard, Nar- 
ragansett Bay, Peconic Bay, and at Block Island. The yield of these is 
estimated at 1,300,000 pounds. Gill-nets on the southern New England 
coast are supposed to take about 3,000,000. Enormous quantities are also 
obtained by line fishermen about Hyannis, Edgartown, Nantucket, and 
Eastham, and on the shores of Long Island and New Jersey. 

On the 19th of August, 1874, I saw 12,000 taken from the long pound 
on the west shore of Block Island. 

The line-fishery is probably not less productive than gill-netting. In 
1875, we were cruising about Martha's Vineyard in the Fish Commission 
yacht "MoUie." Off Cape Pogue we noticed at least thirty cat-boats 
drailing for Bluefish. These boats were about twenty feet in length, 
square-sterned and well housed over. Each carried three lines, one at the 
stern and two at the end of long rods projecting over each quarter. When 
we anchored at dusk in Edgartown harbor, these boats were coming in, 
dropping alongside of a New York market boat, which lay at the wharf. 
The bright lantern under the deck awning, the black forms of the fisher- 
men, the busy changing of the little sails, the eager voices of bargaining, 
gave an impression of brisk trade. The same scene is repeated day after 
day, from July to October, in scores of New England seaport towns. 



A reef of level rock runs out to sea. 
And you may lie on it and look sheer down 
Just where the ' Grace of Sunderland ' was lost. 
And see the elastic banners of the dulse 
Rock softly, and the orange star-fish creep 
Across the laver, and the Mackerel shoot 
Over and under it, like silver boats 
Turning at will, and plying under water. 

Jean Lngelow, Brothers and a Sermon. 

^'"T'HE common Mackerel, Scomber scoiiibrus, is an inhabitant of the 
North Atlantic Ocean. On our coast its southern limit is in the 
neighborhood of Cape Hatteras in early spring. The fishing schooners of 
New England find schools of them in this region at some distance from 
the shore, but there is no record of their having been taken in any num- 
bers in shoal water south of Long Island. A. W. Simpson states that the 
species has been observed in the sounds about Cape Hatteras in August, 
September and October. R. E. Earll finds evidence that stragglers 
occasionally enter the Chesapeake. Along the coasts of the Middle States 
and of New England Mackerel abound throughout the summer months, 
and are also found in great numbers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where 
in past years fishermen of the United States congregated in great numbers 
to participate in their capture. They are also found on the coast of 
Labrador, though there is no evidence that they ordinarily frequent the 
Avaters north of the Straits of Belle Isle. 

They appear also at times to have been abundant on the northeastern 
coast of Newfoundland, though their appearance there is quite irregular. 
Ivlackerel do not occur in Hudson's Bay nor on the coast of Greenland. 


It seems probable that the natural northern limit of the species in the 
Western Atlantic is not far from the Straits of Belle Isle. Prof. Packard, 
who visited this region in 1866, recorded that a few Mackerel were taken 
in August in Salmon Bay and Red Bay, but that the Straits of Belle Isle 
is evidently the northern limits of the genus, while Fortin, one of the 
best Canadian authorities on fisheries, in his annual report for 1S64, 
stated that in summer they appear in some places, such as Little Mecattina, 
on the adjoining coast, latitude 50^4° north, and even sometimes enter 
the Straits of Belle Isle. 

The Mackerel, then, would appear to be a shore-loving fish, not ad- 
dicted to wide wanderings in the ocean, and with range limited in the 
Western Atlantic between latitudes 35° and 56° ; in the Eastern Atlantic 
between 36° and 71°. 

The migrations of the Mackerel, the causes of their appearance and 
disappearance at certain seasons at different points along the coast, the 
causes of their relative abundance and scarcity in different years, have 
previously been discussed by numerous writers. The subject has received 
special attention on account of the disputes between our own and the 
Canadian Government concerning the value to our fishermen of the right 
to participate in the mackerel fisheries in the Provincial waters. 

Notwithstanding the great amount of paper which has been covered 
with theories to explain the various mooted questions, it cannot be said 
that the habits of the Mackerel are understood at all better than those of 
other fishes which have not attracted so much attention. The most volu- 
minous writer upon this subject has been Prof. Henry Youle Hind, who 
devotes many pages of his book, " The Effect of the Fishery Clauses of 
the Treaty of Washington on the Fisheries and Fishermen of British 
North America," to the attempt to prove that the INIackerel which have 
been at certain seasons in the past so abundant in the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence and on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia remain there throughout 
the year, hibernating in deep waters not very remote from the shore. I 
have attempted to show the weakness of his arguments in an essay pub- 
lished in the Fifth Annual Report of the United States Commissioner of 
Fisheries for the year 1877, pp. 50-70. It is by no means demonstrated 
that certain schools of Mackerel do not remain throughout the year in 
waters adjacent to the coast of Canada, but the weight of evidence at 
present seems to rest with those who believe that the Mackerel are givea 


to extensi\e migrations north and south ak^ng our coasts. These migra- 
tions are believed to be carried on in connection with another kind of 
migration which I have called ''bathic migration," and which consists in 
a movement, at the approach of cold weather, into the deeper waters of 
the ocean. The menhaden and many other fishes have these two kinds 
of migrations, littoral and bathic. The sea-herring, on the other hand, 
has extensive littoral migrations and probably very slight movements of a 
l^athic nature. In some the latter is most extended, in others the former. 
Anadromous fishes, like the shad and the alewife, very probably strike 
•directly out to sea without ranging to any great degree northward or south- 
^vard, while others, of which the Mackerel is a fair type, undoubtedly 
make great coastwise migrations, though their bathic migrations may, 
without any great inconsistency, be as great as those which range less. 

Upon this point I cannot do better than to quote from a manuscript 
letter from Prof. Baird to the Hon. Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State, 
■dated Ji^ily 21, 1873. Having expressed certain views concerning the 
well-known phenomenon of the migration of the herring and shad, he 
■continues : 

" The fish of the Mackerel family form a marked exception to this rule. 
^Vhile the alewife and shad generally swim low in the water, their pres- 
ence not being indicated at the surface, the Mackerel swim near the sur- 
face, sometimes far out to sea, and their movements can be readily followed. 
The North American species consist of fish which as certainly, for the 
most part at least, have a migration along our coast northward in spring 
and southward in autumn, as do the throngs of pleasure-seekers, and their 
habit of schooling on the surface of the water enables us to determine 
this fact with great precision. Whatever may be the theories of others on 
the subject, the American mackerel-fisher knows perfectly well that in the 
spring he may find the schools of Mackerel off Cape Henry, and that he 
can follow them northward day by day as they move in countless myriads 
on to the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia." 

The movements of the mackerel schools, like those of the menhaden, 
appear to be regulated solely by the temperature of the ocean. 

In my essay upon menhaden, which has just been referred to, I have 
attempted to show, in a preliminary way, the relations of the movements 
of the menhaden schools to the temperature of the water at different 
•stations along the coast in accordance with certain crude observations, 
which at present constitute the only material available as a basis of such 


generalizations. I liave there claimed that menhaden make their appear- 
ance near the shore in the spring as soon as the temperature of the water 
in the harbors has reached a weekly average of 50°, and that they dis- 
appear in the fall soon after the waters have again cooled down to the 
same average temperature. 

The Mackerel are partial to much colder waters. They range ten to 
fifteen degrees farther to the north, and their southern limit is propor- 
tionally high. They appear earlier in the spring and disappear later in 
the fall, and their presence is nearly synchronous with the time when the 
Avater temperatures of the harbor have reached a weekly average of 45°. 
It has been remarked that the presence of the menhaden depends upon 
a weekly average of the harbor temperature of 50° or more. These harbor 
temperatures are several degrees — it is not known exactly how many — 
higher than those of the open ocean at the same latitude, and there can 
be no question that the menhaden thrives in water as cold as 45°. 
Mackerel will remain active and contented in a temperature of 40°, or 
even less. The normal time of the departure of Mackerel from the coast 
is, therefore, a month or two later than that of the menhaden. 

There are well recorded instances of the capture of menhaden in Massa- 
chusetts Bay as late as December, and there are also many instances where 
Mackerel have been taken not only on the New England coast, but also 
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in midwinter. 

Basing their arguments upon such occurrences as these, Canadian 
writers have attempted to prove that large bodies of Mackerel hibernate 
along their shores in the winter months. It is still believed by many 
fishermen that the Mackerel, at the approach of cold weather, go down 
into the mud and there remain in a state of torpidity until the approach 
of warm weather in spring. All that can be said regarding this theory is 
that, although we do not know enough about the subject to pronounce 
this impossible, American ichthyologists think they know enough to be of 
the opinion that it is very decidedly improbable. 

The appearance of the mackerel schools at the appearance of summer in 
ordinary years has been noticed somewhere in the neighborhood of the 
following dates : At sea, off Cape Hatteras, March 20 to April 25 ; off 
Norfolk, Va. , March 2 to April 30; off the Capes of Delaware, April 15 
to May I ; off Barnegat and Sandy Hook, May 5 to May 25, and at the 
same date along the whole southern coast of New England, and as far 


east as Southern Nova Scotia, while in the Gulf of St. Lawrence they 
appear late in INIay, and in abundance early in June. 

There appears to be a marked difference between the movements of 
Mackerel and the menhaden, for while the menhaden are much more 
gradual in their approach to the shore, and much more dependent upon 
a small rise of temperature, the Mackerel make their appearance almost 
simultaneously in all the waters from New Jersey to Nova Scotia at about 
the same time. Stragglers, of course, appear much earlier than the dates 
just mentioned; a few Mackerel were observed at Waquoit, jNIass., as 
early as April 19, 1S71. 

In the fall the Mackerel disappear as suddenly as they came in the 
spring, but they have only in one instance been observed off the Carolina 
coast, except during the spring run. This is very probably because no 
fishing vessels ever visit this region later than June. 

The very vagueness of the statements just made is sufficient to show 
how little is aclually known about the movements of these fish. The 
subject must be studied long and carefully before it can be understood, 
and the intercots of the American fishermen demand that it should be 
thus studied 

The Mackerel belongs to what may technically be termed pelagic or 
wandering fish, as their movements, something like those of the herring, 
are apparently more or less capricious, though probably governed by some 
definite law, which has not yet been worked out. It moves in large schools 
or bands, more or less isolated from each other, which sometimes swim 
near the surface and give distinct evidence of their presence, and at others 
sink down into the depths of the ocean and are entirely withdrawn from 
observation. The army offish, however, moves along with a very broad 
front, a portion coming so close to the shore as to be taken in the weirs 
and traps along the coast of the Middle States, especially in Vineyard 
Sound and on Cape Cod ; while at the same time other schools are met 
with from twenty to fifty miles, or even more, out to sea. It is, however, 
still a question whether the fish that skirt the coast of the United States 
enter the Bay of St. Lawrence, or whether the latter belong to another 
series, coming directly from the deep seas off the Newfoundland and 
Nova Scotia coast. Until lately the former has been the generally 
accepted theory, in view of the alleged fact that the fishermen of the 
Nova Scotia coast always take the fish coming from the west in the spring 
and from the east in the fall. 


Capt. Hanson B. Joyce, of Swan's Island, Me., one of the most expert 
and observing mackerel fishermen of New England, thinks that the move- 
ments of the spring schools of ISIackerel are very much influenced by the 
direction and force of the prevailing winds while the fish are performing 
their northerly migration. He has generally found, he says, that when 
there has been a continuance of strong northerly winds about the last of 
May and early in June, the season at which the ISIackerel are passing the 
shoals of Nantucket and George's Bank, the schools have taken a southerly 
track, passing to the southward of George's Shoals and continuing on in 
an easterly direction to the coast of Nova Scotia, and thence to the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence. 

When southerly winds or calms prevail at that season the Mackerel are 
carried into the waters of the Gulf of Maine, and in consequence are much 
plentier off the New England coast than in the St. Lawrence Gulf. 

On this theory Capt. Joyce bases his actions in cruising for Mackerel, 
always fishing oft'' the New England shores when southerly winds have 
predominated in the spring, and going to the St. Lawrence if northerly 
■winds have been exceptionally strong and continues about the last of 

The movements of the fish, as already stated, season by season, are 
quite uncertain, sometimes being very abundant in one direction and 
sometimes in another, and occasionally, indeed, they may disappear 
alinost entirely for several years, subsequently reappearing after a con- 
siderable absence. In some years the fish are very abundant on the coast 
of the United States, and at others rare ; the same condition applying to 
the fish of the Bay of St. Lawrence. It is not certain, of course, that this 
indicates an entire absence of the fish from the locality referred to, but 
they may, possibly, for some reason, remain in the depth of the sea, or 
some change in the character of the animal life in it, which constitutes 
the food of the fish, may produce the changes referred to. A notable 
instance of a somewhat permanent change in the migration of the Mack- 
erel is found in the entire failure since 1S76 of the mackerel fishery in 
the Bay of Fundy, which, a few years ago, enabled a merchant of East- 
port to employ successfully as many as a dozen vessels, especially in Bigby 
and St. Mary's Bay, but which is now abandoned. There are indeed 
faint suggestions, in the early history of the country, of their total absence 
from the whole coast for several years, as was also the case with the 


The wonderful abundance of Mackerel in the Western Atlantic has 
always been a subject of remark. Francis Higginson, in his " Journal of 
his Voyage to New England, 1629," speaks of seeing " many schools of 
Mackerel, infinite multitudes on every side of our ship," off Cape Ann on 
the 26th of June ; and Richard Mather, in his journal, 1635, states 
that the seamen took abundance of Mackerel off Menhiggin (Monhegan). 
In Gov. Winthrop's journal, speaking of the year 1639, he remarks : " There 
was such a store of exceeding large and fat Mackerel upon our coast this 
season as was a great benefit to all our Plantations, since 'one Boat with 
three men would take in a week ten hogsheads, which were sold at Con- 
necticut for ^3 i2s. od. per hogshead." 

Their abundance has varied greatly from 3' ear to year, and at times their 
numbers have been so few that grave apprehensions have been felt lest 
they should soon depart altogether. 

As early as 1670, laws were passed by the colony of Massachusetts for- 
bidding the use of certain instruments of capture, and similar ordinances 
have been passed from time to time ever since. The first resource of our 
State governments has always been, in seasons of scarcity, to attempt to 
restore fish to their former abundance by protective legislation. It seems 
to us at the present day absurb that the Massachusetts people should have 
supposed that the use of shore-seines was exterminating the Mackerel on 
the coast of Massachusetts, but it is a fair question whether their appre- 
hensions were not as well grounded as those of legislators of the present 
century who have endeavored to apply a similar remedy for a similar evil. 
In the author's writings upon " The Mackerel Fishery" published else- 
where, is shown a diagram, which, by means of curves, exhibits the catch 
of Mackerel in New England for a period of seventy-five years. 

From a study of this it seems quite evident that the periods of their 
abundance and scarcity have alternated with each other without reference 
to overfishing or any other causes which we are prepared to understand. 
In the year 383,5483^ barrels of Mackerel Avere caught by the citizens of 
Massachusetts. In 1881 the number of barrels salted was 269,495 ; to 
this, however, should be added 125,000 barrels caught and marketed 
fresh by the Massachusetts fleet, making an aggregate of 394,495 barrels. 

The stories which are told by experienced fishermen of the immense 
numbers of Mackerel sometimes seen are almost incredible. Capt. King 
Harding, of Swampscott, Mass., described to me a school which he saw 


in the South Channel in 1848 : "It was a windrow of fish," said he ; "it 
was about half a mile wide and at least twenty miles long, for vessels not 
in sight of each other saw it at about the same time. All the vessels out 
saw this school the same day." He saw a school off Block Island, 1877, 
which he estimated to contain one million barrels. He could see only 
one edge of it at a time. 

Upon the abundance of Mackerel depends the welfare of many thousands 
of the citizens of Massachusetts and Maine. The success of the mackerel 
fishery is much more uncertain than that of the cod fishery, for instance, 
for the supply of cod is quite uniform from year to year. The prospects 
of each season are eagerly discussed from week to week in thousands of 
little circles along the coast, and are chronicled by the local press. The 
story of each successful trip is passed from mouth to mouth, and is a 
matter of general congratulation in each fishing community. A review of 
the results of the American mackerel fishery, and of the movements of the 
fish in each part of the season, would be an important contribution to the 
literature of the American fisheries. 

The food of the Mackerel consists, for the most part, of small species 
of crustaceans, which abound everywhere in the sea, and which they 
appear to follow in their migrations. They also feed upon the spawn of 
other fishes and upon the spawn of lobsters, and prey greedily upon young 
fish of all kinds. In the stomach of a "Tinker" Mackerel, taken in 
Fisher's Island Sound, November 7, 1877, Dr. Bean found the remains 
of six kinds of fishes — of the anchovy, sand-lants, the smelt, the hake, the 
barracuda and the silver-sides, besides numerous shrimps and other crusta- 
ceans. Capt. Atwood states that when large enough they devour greedily 
large numbers of young herring several months old. Specimens taken 
July 18, 1871, twenty miles south of Noman's Land, contained numerous 
specimens of the big-eyed shrimps, Thysaiiopoda, larval crabs in the zoea 
and megalops stages, the young of hermit crabs, the young lady crabs, 
Platyoiiicliiis ocellatiis, the young of two undetermined Macrura, numer- 
ous Copepoda and numerous specimens of Spirialis Gonldii, a species of 
Pteropod. They also feed upon the centers of floating jelly-fishes (dis- 
cophores). In Gaspe the fishermen call jelly-fishes " mackerel bait." 

The greed with Avhich Mackerel feed upon the chum, or ground men- 
haden bait, which is thrown out to them by the fishing vessels, shows that 
they are not at all dainty in their diet, and will swallow without hesitation 
any kind of floating organic matter. 


Large INIackerel often eat smaller ones. Capt. Collins has frequently 
found young Mackerel three or four inches long in the stomachs of those 
full grown. This is generally noticeable only in the fall, and the young 
fish are probably those which have been hatched in the spring. 

In the fall of 1874 the writer made a trip upon a gill-net schooner to 
the grounds off Portland, Me., some distance to sea, for the purpose of 
studying the food of the Mackerel, and found their stomachs full of a 
species of TJiysanopoda and of a large copepod crustacean. The greater 
part of the food of Mackerel consists, however, of minute crustaceans. 
Owing to the infinite abundance of these in the sea, Mackerel probably 
have very little difficulty in finding food at almost' any portion of the 
ocean visited by them, whether on the edge of the Gulf Stream or near 
the shore. 

In an interview with Capt. King Harding, of Swampscott, one of the 
most experienced mackerel catchers on our coast, I obtained the follow- 
ing amusing observations : " He described one kind of crustacean Mack- 
erel food which looked like spiders, wdiich were red, and crawled over his 
hand when he took them up. They look like spiders ; the Mackerel are 
especially fond of them. At Boone Island, Me., in July, 1850, the water 
all around the island was red for one hundred yards from the shore ; these 
crawled up the rock-weed on the shore until it was red. He took the 
sprays of rock-weed in his hands and pulled them slowly to him, and the 
Mackerel, one and a half pound fish, would follow in quite to the rocks. 
He killed three with his oar, and tried to catch some in a basket by troll- 
ing them over it, but they were too quick for him. He asked his old 
skipper, Capt. Gorham Babson, what they were, and was told that they 
Avere "Boone Island bedbugs." And, said he, '^Young man, when you 
see this kind of bait, no matter if you don't see any fish, never leave ; the 
fish will be there in a few days." 

Then there is another kind, called "snappers." These are white, and 
dart rapidly about in the water ; they are doubtless small crustaceans. 
He says that sometimes they swim at the surface, where the Mackerel fol- 
low them. A few days before he had been standing on the stern of his 
vessel, and though he could see nothing under the water ho knew the 
snappers were there about two feet below the surface, for he could see a 
school of Mackerel swimming along, opening their mouths and taking in 
their food, and then letting the water out through their gills. 


"When the Mackerel are trolled up from twelve or fifteen fathoms below 
the surface their stomachs are often full of bait ; so it is certain that these 
little animals swim at all depths. 

Another kind of food is red, and is hot to the hands. This is called 
*' Cayenne ;" and it spoils the fish. 

Years ago, according to Capt. Harding, Mackerel did not school as 
they do now. 

When you see pollock jumping near the shore, it is a pretty good sign 
that there is plenty of mackerel food. 

Th^ presence of abundance of mackerel food is indicated by the great 
schools of sea-birds, particularly by the flocks of phalaropes, or sea-geese, 
as the fishermen call them, which congregate together, floating upon the 
water, and when seen in summer give a sure sign of the presence of 
Mackerel also. 

The various invertebrate animals preyed upon by Mackerel are known 
to the fishermen by such names as "shrimp," "red-seed" and 
" Cayenne." 

The winged pteropods very probably form an important part of the 
mackerel food, as they sink and rise with changes of the temperature of 
the zone or sheet of water in which they are feeding. 

Although little is actually known concerning the spawning habits of the 
Mackerel compared with those of fish which, like the shad and the salmon, 
have been artificially propagated, it is perhaps safe to say that the subject 
is understood in a general way. The testimony of reliable observers 
among the fishermen of our coast and the coast of the British Provinces 
indicates that the spawning takes place in rather deep water along the 
shore from the eastern end of Long Island to Eastport, Me., along the 
coast of Nova Scotia, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The spawning 
season occurs in May in Southern New England, in May and June in 
Massachusetts Bay, and in Jinie in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the 
Bradley Banks and about the Magdalenes early in the month, and accord- 
ing to Hind, on the northeast coast of Newfoundland toward the end of 
the month. 

We are indebted to Capt. N. E. Atwood for the most complete series 
of observations upon the spawning of the Mackerel which has ever been 
made, and what he has seen he shall be allowed to tell in his own 
words : 


" I have many seasons been engaged in fishing for Mackerel in our bay 
with gill-nets. I watched the Mackerel more particularly in regard to 
their time for spawning. In 1856, owing to the fact that a measure had 
passed the Massachusetts legislature authorizing the appointment of three 
commissioners to make investigations with regard to the artificial propaga- 
tion of the fish, and that I expected to be named one of the commissioners, 
I went to the upper part of Massachusetts Bay, where it is about twenty 
miles broad, and I found these spawning Mackerel there near the bottom. 
This year the Mackerel came in about the middle of May ; {^\v at first. 
On the 20th I Avent out for the first time with my drifting-nets all night in 
the bay ; I caught 2,250 Mackerel; on the following I caught 3,520. 
When I first began to catch them I observed that the spawn had come to 
its full size, though it was not free to run from them, not being yet fully 
matured. On or about the ist of June we found that some of them were 
depositing spawn, and as I took them from the nets the spawn ran freely. 
On the 5th of June I took the mature eggs as they came from the fish and 
put them in alcohol, marking the date, as I considered this time the 
middle of the spawning season. (By the loth of June the fish had all 
deposited their spawn, and they then proceeded to the grounds where they 
expected to meet with better food in order to fatten and recruit. The 
spawning takes place at a depth of from five to fifteen fathoms.) Thirty 
days after I went out in the bay and found any quantity of schools of little 
INIackerel which were, I should think, about two inches long, though their 
length might have been a little less. I took a number of specimens and 
put them in alcohol, marking the date. Twenty-five days later I pro- 
cured another lot of them which had grown to double that size. I don't 
mean to imply that they were twice as long, but twice as heavy. I put 
them also in alcohol, marking the date. The first time I subsequently 
went to Boston I called on Prof. Agassiz and gave him the specimens. 
Ke said that he had never before been able to ascertain these facts so 
clearly and so well, and that he was very much pleased with them. I 
watched the growth of these young Mackerel all along, and I saw them 
grow considerably from month to month, so much so that the same fall, 
in the latter part of October, I caught some of them with a very small 
mesh net and found they had grown to a length of six and a half or seven 
inches. I kept a small quantity of them, split, salted and packed them, 
in accordance with the Massachusetts inspection law, as No. 4's, and since 
Mackerel were then scarce and very high in price, I sold them for as much 
as $6 a barrel." 

" Much yet remains to be learned in regard to the spawning season of 
the American Mackerel," writes Prof. Baird, " and little more is known 
of this except in regard to the European variety. It. is, however, well 
established by the researches of Sars that this fish, like the cod, and many 


of the flat fish, etc., spawns in the open sea, some times at a great dis- 
tance from the Land, at others closer inshore." Sars found them on the 
outer banks of the coast of Norway ; and Mr. Matthias Dunn, of Mevagis- 
sey, England, communicates to laud ami Water his observations of 
Mackerel found, with ripe spawn, six miles from the coast. 

The fish taken in the weirs and pounds on Vineyard Sound and about 
Cape Cod in the early spring are filled with ripe spawn ; and that the 
operation of spawning takes place on the American coast is shown by the 
immense schools of small fish that are taken throughout the summer, of 
various sizes, from a few inches up, and from Buzzard's Bay to Portland 
and Penobscot Bay. No species of young fish is, at times, more abundant 
throughout the summer season than the Mackerel. 

The egg of the Mackerel is exceedingly minute, not larger than that of 
the alewife or gaspereau. It appears to be free from an adhesive envelope, 
such as pertains to the ^gg of the herring, and in consequence of which it 
agglutinates together, and adheres to gravel, the rocks or the seaweed at 
the bottom. As with the egg of the cod, that of the Mackerel is provided 
with an oil globule, which makes it float nearly at the level of the surface. 

I am indebted to Mr. Frederick W. True for an enumeration of the eggs 
in two Mackerel taken at Wood's Holl, Mass., in May, 1S73 ; one of 
these contained 363,107, the other 393,887. 

The only previous record of the number of eggs yielded by Mackerel is 
that made by Thomas Harmer, in 1764, and published in the " Philoso- 
phical Transactions" of London, Vol. 57, p. 285. He found in one 
large Mackerel, weighing one and a quarter pounds, 454,991 eggs ; in a 
second, of much the same weight, 430,846, and in a third, weighing about 
one pound two ounces, 546,681. 

The growth of the Mackerel has been studied by Capt. Atwood, 
and the same authority has, perhaps, more satisfactorily than any other, 
interpreted the facts from which may be deduced the conclusions as to 
their growth year by year. 

Referring to the small fish, six and a half or seven in length, which he 
believed to be the young of the year, caught by him in October, 1S56, he 
says: ''Fish of this size are sometimes called 'Spikes,' out I do not 
know their proper name. The next year I think they are the 'Blinks,' 
being one year old; the following year they are the 'Tinkers,' two 
years old, and the year after they return to us as the second size, three 


years old. It is probable that the fish reaches its full maturity in four 
years." He continues : " The first Mackerel that come in are very large 
and spawners, but these do not bite at the hook; and you don't catch 
them with the seine, because they don't show themselves. You would not 
know of their presence if you did not set nets for them. When they are 
taken in nets set anywhere along the coast, at Provincetown, etc., a good 
many people imagine that they are the remnant of the Mackerel which 
were there the year before, and which have been imbedded in the mud ; 
and when they taste these fish they fancy that they taste mud. When the 
next school arrives there appear Mackerel of different sizes, which take 
the hook. They are carried to Boston market and are sold fresh in their 
season. They are not sold by weight, but are culled, and are denominated 
as follows: Large ones, second size, 'Tinkers,' and 'Blinks.' When 
the large ones are worth twelve cents, the others may sell, second size, 
eight cents ; Tinkers, four cents, and Blinks, one and a half cents. These 
prices may fluctuate when there occurs a large proportion of one or more 
of the above-named kinds at the same time. Any man who is well ac- 
quainted with them will make the same culling, as there seems to be a 
line of demarcation between the different kinds which stands out 

" Admitting this to be the fact, those that come as Blinks are from the 
spawn of the year before, while those which are called ' Tinkers ' are 
from the Blinks of the year previous, being the two-year-old fish ; and 
those that are called second size are from the Tinkers of the year before ; 
when they grow up and mix with the bigger ones, I don't know how they 
live, or much about them. This is my opinion about these matters. You 
Avill find that fishermen will tell you they think that Mackerel are six or 
seven years in getting their growth." 

Mackerel, when full grown, are from seventeen to eighteen inches in 
length; sometimes they attain a larger size. In August, 1880, a school 
of Mackerel was taken in the vicinity of Plymouth ; they weighed from 
three to three and a half pounds each, and were from nineteen to nineteen 
and a half inches long. They were regarded as extraordinary large, and 
a barrel of them were sent to the Fishery Exhibition at Berlin as an illus- 
tration of the perfection to which the Mackerel attains in this country. 
Although the size mentioned is unusual at present, in past years many 
thousands of barrels have been taken nearly, if not quite, as large. The 


size varies from year to year, sometimes very few barrels which can be 
rated as No. I's being found in our waters. A No. i Mackerel, accord- 
ing to the Massachusetts inspection laws, measures thirteen inches from 
the tip of the snout to the crotch or fork of the caudal fin. The average 
length from year to year for the whole coast is probably not far from 
twelve inches in length, and a weight of twelve to sixteen ounces. 

The gannet is one of the most destructive enemies of the Mackerel. 
These birds are often seen so heavily weighted with these fish that they 
are unable to rise on the approach of the vessel until they have disgorged 
from two to four good-sized Mackerel. This is so common an occurrence 
that there are but few fishermen who have not witnessed it. 

Porpoises and whales may also be included in the list of enemies of the 
Mackerel. It is by no means an unusual sight on the fishing grounds to 
see hundreds of the former rushing and leading among schools of Mack- 
erel, scattering them in every direction. 

The shark known to fishermen as the '' mackerel shark " is one of the 
principal enemies of the Mackerel. I have often seen them chasing 
Mackerel, and, when jigging was practiced, it was a common occurrence 
for sharks to drive off a school from alongside of a vessel. 

Dogfish often hover around the outside of large schools of Mackerel, 
and doubtless feed on them. Great difficulty is sometimes experienced in 
saving fish that have been inclosed in a purse-seine, owing to the immense 
numbers of dogfish that gather around and, in their efforts to eat the 
Mackerel, which they see through the meshes, bite off the twine, making 
large holes in the seine through which the inclosed fish escape. 

Among the other principal enemies of the Mackerel are the bluefish, 
and the cod. The appearance of a school of bluefish in waters crowded 
with Mackerel is an almost sure signal for their disappearance. 

The young Mackerel are eaten by squids also. Prof. Verrill has recorded 
the following account of the maneuvers of the squid known to zoologists 
by the name OmmastrcpJics illecebrosus : 

"Messrs. S. I. Smith and Oscar Harger observed it at Provincetown, 
Mass., among the wharves, in large numbers, July 28, engaged in captur- 
ing and devouring the young Mackerel, which were swimming about in 
' schools,' and at that time were about four or five inches long. In attack- 
ing the Mackerel they would suddenly dart backward among the fish with 
the velocity of an arrow and suddenly turn obliquely to the right or left 


and seize a fish, which was ahiiost instantly killed by a bite in the back 
of the neck with the sharp beaks. The bite was always made in the same 
place, cutting out a triangular piece of flesh, and was deep enough to pene- 
trate to the spinal cord. The attacks were not always successful, and 
were sometimes repeated a dozen times before one of these active and 
wary fishes could be caught. Sometimes after making several unsuccessful 
attempts one of the squids would suddenly drop to the bottom, and, resting 
upon the sand, would change its color to that of the sand so perfectly as 
to be almost invisible. In this way it would wait until the fishes came 
back, and when they were swimming close to or over the ambuscade, the 
squid, by a sudden dart, would be pretty sure to secure a fish. Ordinarily 
when swimming they were thickly spotted with red and brown, but when 
darting among the Mackerel they appeared translucent and pale. The 
Mackerel, however, seemed to have learned that the shallow water is the 
safest for them and would hug the shore as closely as possible, so that in 
pursuing them many of the squids became stranded and perished by hun- 
dreds, for when they once touch the shore they begin to pump water from 
their siphons with great energy, and this usually forces them farther and 
farther up the beach. At such times they often discharge their ink in 
large quantities. The attacks on the young Mackerel were observed mostly 
at or near high water, for at other times the Mackerel were seldom seen, 
though the squids were seen swimming about at all hours ; and these 
attacks were observed both in the day and evening." 

The dog-fish is doubtless a dangerous foe to the Mackerel weakened by 
the act of spawning and remaining near the bottom. An old fisherman 
has described to me with great animation how greedily the dogfish devour 
the Mackerel which have become gilled in the nets, how they follow them 
to the surface and linger about the vessel while the process of cleaning is 
going on, drinking the blood of the fish as it flows from the scuppers. 

The Chub Mackerel, Scomber colias, or, as it is called, the "Thimble- 
eye," "Big-eyed Mackerel," or "Bull Mackerel," closely resembles in 
general appearance the common Mackerel, from Avhich it is distinguished 
chiefly by the presence of an air-bladder, and also by the occurrence of a 
row of indistinct circular spots upon the sides below the lateral line. This 
is the fish which is called " Spanish Mackerel " in England, and the name 
was brought to us by the early English fishermen of New England. It 
has been found at Pensacola and Charleston, as well as in New England. 
There is another fish closely related if not identical with S. colias, which 
Prof. Jordan found to be abundant in California, which corresponds to 
the S. pneumatophortcs of the Mediterranean, and has been described from 



the Pacific as S. dicgo. Prof. Jordan considers it to be the S. grex of vari- 
ous authors, but writes that he is not yet prepared to accept as final the 
judgment of Steindachner and VaiHant that it is the young of S. colias. 
The lower half of its sides is silvery and without any gray spots, such as 
are conspicuous in S. colias. Jordan has specimens of the unspotted form 
much larger than his smallest specimens of the true S. colias. 


The history of the Chub Mackerel on our coast is a peculiar one. At 
the beginning of the present century it was exceedingly abundant all along 
the coast of New England and New York. Mitchill remarked that 
it " comes occasionally in prodigious numbers to the coast of New York 
in autumn. This was memorably the case in 17S1 and 1813, when the 
bays, creeks and coves were literally alive with them, and the markets 
full of them." 

DeKay states that in early November, 1S2S, they were very abundant, 
and many persons were poisoned by eating them. 

Capt. Epes W. Merchant, of Gloucester, a veteran fishing skipper, who 
has been familiar with the fisheries of Massachusetts Bay for the past 
seventy years, told me that the Thimble-eye were so abundant from 1S14 
to 1820 that with three men and a boy and a small vessel he could catch 
ten barrels of them, or about three thousand fish, in a day. 

From these testimonies it would appear that between 1840 and 1S50 
the species, formerly so abundant, had disappeared along the whole coast 
line. In an essay by the writer, written in the spring of 1879, this sen- 
tence occurs: "For ten years past the Smithsonian Institution, with its 
collectors stationed at various points from Halifax to Galveston, has tried 
in vain to secure one of them, and it is probable that no museum in the 
world possesses a species of this fish, once so common." 


In the summer of 1S79, however, during the stay of the Fish Commis- 
sion at Provincetown, a considerable school of these fish came into the 
harbor and were taken in company with the Tinker Mackerel. None 
were observed there in 1880, however, and it remains to be seen whether 
they have returned to be again counted among the permanent members of 
the fauna. This fish, during the period of its abundance on our coast, 
was considered an excellent article of food, and was by many preferred to 
the common Mackerel. On account of its small size, however, it was not 
so much sought after by the fishermen. 

Concerning the Mackerel of the Pacific coast, which Prof. Jordan con- 
siders to be identical with the Scojnber pneiiniatophortis of the Eastern 
Atlantic, this authority writes : 

"The Tinker Mackerel, S. pneumatopliorus, is known as 'Mackerel,' 
'Easter Mackerel,' 'Tinker Mackerel' and 'Little Mackerel.' It reaches 
a length of about fourteen inches. It ranges northward to Monterey Bay, 
appearing in the fall in irregular and often large schools, usually disap- 
pearing in November. Some years few or none are seen. It is a good 
food-fish, but little attention is paid to it, on account of its small size and 
irregular occurrence." 

The Mackerel is the principal rival of the cod in the claim for highest 
rank among the food-fishes of North America. Many thousands of men 
and many hundreds of vessels are employed in their capture, and their 
migrations in which they are followed by fleets of swift schooners, are the 
subject of annual discussion in the halls of Congress, and the disputes of 
the sailor-fishermen of Canada and New England have long been made the 
subject of treaty and international convention. 

The statistics and methods of the commercial fisheries have been fully 
discussed in a volume entitled "Materials for a History of the Mackerel 
Fishery," prepared by Messrs. Goode, Collins, Earll and Clarke and printed 
by the U. S. Fish Commission in 18S3, and will be but briefly alluded to 
here. It seems proper, however, to refer to the history of the various modes 
of capture employed by our fishermen. 

The method chiefly practiced by the colonists of New England was that 
of drag-seining, and we find as early as 1626 a record of the establish- 
ment, by Isaac Allerton, of a fishing station at Hull, where mackerel were 
seined by moon-light. There can be little doubt that the practice of 
fishing with baited hooks were also early introduced, and that in the 


seventeenth and eighteenth centuries groups of boats might have been 
seen, as at the present day, chistered together in the harbors, or near the 
outer shores, their crews busily engaged in hauling in the tinkers, and, 
occasionally, larger mackerel, which during the summer season found their 
way into those protected waters. It is not known when the custom of 
drailing for mackerel was first introduced, but it was, beyond question, the 
common method at the close of the last and the beginning of the pr.esent 
century, as it is in the present day in England, under such names as 
'•whiffing," "railing," "drailing" or " plummeting." 

Captain Atwood writes: "In my boyhood, when I caught my first 
mackerel, nobody thought of jigging them. We then took them in the 
s«ame way as bluefish are caught. My first experience in mackerel fishing 
took place when I was a little boy, about 1815. I went out with two old 
men. One of them fished in the stern of the boat, and when it did not 
sail fast enough the other and myself — I was eight years old at the 
time — had to row, in order, by the more rapid motion of the boat, to 
induce the fish to bite. They would not bite unless the line was towed. 
Two great long poles were run out, one just forward, in such a manner 
that our vessel had the appearance of a long-armed spider. The poles 
were straight, and one line was fastened at one part, and another line on 
the end of the pole, in order to have them separated." 

" The present mode of catching mackerel by drifting and tolling with 
bait did not come into general use until 181 2. The gear for catching, 
previous to that, was a white hempen bob-line, as it was called, and the 
style of fishing was called ' bobbing ' mackerel. These lines were some 
seven fathoms in length, with a leaden sinker two inches long and shaped 
like a pea-pod. At one end was a ganging about a foot long, for the 
hook. Every few minutes off would go the hook, and extra hooks were 
always in readiness to replace those lost. This mode continued until the 
year 1S16, when Abraham Lurvey, of Pigeon Cove, discovered a method 
of running lead around the hooks, and which were afterward called jigs. 
This he kept secret for many months. The hooks then in use were nearly 
as large as the haddock hooks of to-day. Tlie small lines and fly-lines 
did not come into use until about 1823. About this time the gaff was 
introduced, and was abandoned after being used some ten years.* 

*The mackerel gaff was used to some extent, by the hook and line fishermen, as late as 1865, and possiblj^ 
even since that time. 


The mackerel fishery at the time of its highest developement, from 1820 
to 1870, -was carried on ahnost exclusively by the use of little hooks with 
heavily weighted shanks, known as "mackerel jigs." For many years 
there were from six-hundred to nine-hundred vessels, chiefly from Cape 
Cod and northward, engaged in this fishery; and in the year 1831 the 
total amount of mackerel salted in Maine, New Hampshire and INIassachu- 
settes was 450,000 barrels. 

The jig has now been almost entirely superseded by the purse-seine, and 
this radical change in the method of catching mackerel has caused the 
desertion, by the mackerel fleet, of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the 
practical futility — to benefit our fishermen — of the fishery clauses of the 
Treaty of Washington. All attempts, with very few exceptions, to use 
the purse-seine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been failures. 

The purse-seine has come into general use since 1S50, and with its in- 
troduction the methods of the mackerel fishery have been totally 
revolutionized. The most extensive changes, however, have taken place 
since 1870, for it is only during the last ten years that the use of the 
purse-seine has been at all universal. As late as 1873 and 1874 a few ves- 
sels have fished with the old apparatus in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and 
also a few on the coast of New England. Such changes in the manner of 
fishing for mackerel have brought about also a change in the fishing 
grounds. Vessels fishing in the old style were most successful in the Gulf 
of St Lawrence, but the purse-seine can be used to very much better 
advantage along our own shores between Cape Hatteras and the Bay of 

Considerable quantities of Mackerel are sometimes caught in gill-nets 
at various points along the New England coast from Vineyard Sound to 
Eastport. For the most part, however, they are taken west of Mount 
Desert. This fishery is carried on in two ways : The gill-nets may be 
anchored and left out over night, as is the custom about Provincetown, 
or they may be set from a boat or vessel. The latter method is called 
"dragging;" the vessels are called "draggers," or " drag-boats," and 
the fishermen "'mackerel draggers." The Mackerel gill-nets are 20 to 30 
fathoms long, 2yi fathoms deep, with a mesh varying from 2 i/C to 3 inches. 
In Provincetown harbor they are set in the following manner : 

Active and beautiful, strong, hungry and courageous, the Mackerel 
possesses all the attributes of a game fish, and were it not so abundant it 


would be one of the angler's prime favorites. Some of the sportsmen 
ignore the Mackerel, but Hallock and Scott are broad-minded enough to 
speak a word in its favor. Hallock says that it affords most excellent 
sport to the rod and reel. " Bass tackle of the lightest description, with 
wire gimp snood, is required ; caplin, porgy and clams are used for bait, 
and no float is necessary, and when the fish are biting sharply, the bait 
will be taken the instant it touches the water." 
Scott is even more decided in his approval. 

"Hook-fishing for Mackerel," remarks he in his Fishing in American 
Waters, is very exhilarating sport. A brisk breeze, sky mellowed by fleecy 
clouds, gulls swooping and screaming, everything in excitement. Under 
such circumstances and surroundings, it is not strange if the troller, whiffer 
or still-baiter should inflate his lungs and feast his soul until the waning 
sun warns him to desist and retire. Excellent sport is sometimes to be 
had by rowing or sculling a boat into a thick shoal and trolling for them 
with feathered squid, or twirling spoon or casting to them a white artifi- 
cial fly." 

And then — when the Mackerel is caught — trout, bass and sheepshead 
cannot vanquish him in a gastromonic tournament. In Holland, to be 
sure, the J^Iackerel is not prized, and is accused of tasting like rancid 
fish-oil, and in England, even they are usually lean and dry, like the 
wretched skeletons which are brought into market in April and May by 
the southern fleet, which goes forth in the early spring from Massachusetts 
to intercept the schools as they approach the coasts of Carolina and A"ir- 
ginia. They are not worthy of the name of Mackerel. Scomber is not 
properly in season until the spawning season is over, the schools begin to 
feed at the surface in the Gulf of Maine and the " North Bay." 

Just from the water, fat enough to broil in its own drippings, or slightly 
corned in strong brine, caught at night and eaten in the morning, a 
Mackerel or a bluefish is unsurpassable. A well-cured autumn Mackerel 
is perhaps the finest of all salted fish, but in these days of wholesale 
capture by the purse-seine, hasty dressing and careless handling, it is very 
difficult to obtain a sweet and sound salt Mackerel. Salt Mackerel may 
be boiled as well as broiled, and a fresh Mackerel may be cooked in the 
same manner. Americans will usually prefer to do without the sauce of 
fennel and gooseberry which transatlantic cooks recommend. Fresh and 
salt, fat and lean, new or stale, Mackerel are consumed by Americans in 


immense quantities, as the statistics show, and whatever their state, always 
find ready sale. 

The mackerel fishery is peculiarly American, and its history is full of 
romance. No finer vessels float than the American mackerel schooners — 
yachts of great speed and unsurpassed for seaworthiness. The modern 
instruments of capture are marvels of inventive skill, and require the 
highest degree of energy and intelligence on the part of the fishermen. 
The crews of the mackerel schooners are still for the most part Americans 
of the old colonial stock, although the cod and halibut fisheries are to a 
great extent given up to foreigners. It is particularly appropriate that 
the mackerel fishermen of New England should have found a bard in one 
who is above all others the poet of old New England. Whittier's " Song 
of the Fishermen " celebrates the days in the early part of the century 
when our fleet went yearly to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coast of 
Labrador : 

Where in mist the rock is hiding-, 

And the sharp reef kirks below, 
And the white squall smites in summer, 

And the autumn tempests blow ; 
Where through gray and rolling vapor, 

From evening into morn, 
A thousand boats (were) hailing, 

Horn answering unto horn. 

There we'll drop our lines, and gather 

Old Ocean's treasures in, 
Where'er the mottled mackerel 

Turns up a steel-dark fin, 
The sea's our field of harvest, 

Its scaly tribes our grain ; 
We'll reap the teeming waters 

As at home they reap the plain ! 

Hurrah ! — Hurrah ! — the west-wind 

Comes freshening down the bay. 
The rising sails are filling, — 

Give way, my lads, give way ! 
Leave the coward landsman cHnging 

To the dull earth, like a weed, — 
The stars of Heaven shall guide us, 

The breath of Heaven shall speed ! 




Sooner shall cats disport in water clear 

And speckled mackrels graze the meadows clear 

Than I forget my shepherds wonted love. 

Gay. Pastorals, 1714. 

Next morn they rose and set up every sail. 
The wind was fair, but blew a mackrel gale. 

Dkyden. The Hind and the Panther. 16S7. 

npHE Spanish Mackerel is surely one of the most graceful of fishes. It 
appeals as scarcely any other can to our love of beauty, when we look 
upon it, as shown in Kilbourn's well-known painting, darting like an 
arrow just shot from the Low, its burnished sides, silver flecked with 
gold, thrown into bold relief by the cool green background of the rippled 
sea; the transparent greys, opalescent whites and glossy blacks of its 
trembling fins, enhance the metallic splendor of its body, until it seems to 
rival the most brilliant of tropical birds. KiIl)ourn made copies of his 
large painting on the pearly linings of sea-shells, and produced some 
wonderful effects by allowing the natural lustre of the mother-of-pearl, to 
show through his transparent pigments and simulate the brilliancy of tlie 
life-inspired hues of the quivering, darting sea-sprite, whose charms even 
his potent brush could not properly depict. 

It is a lover of the sun, a fish of tropical nature, which comes to us 
only in midsummer, and which disappears with the approach of cold, to 
some region not yet explored by ichthyologists. It is doubtless very 
familiar in winter to the inhabitants of some region adjacent to the waters 
of the Caribbean or the tropical Atlantic, but until this place shall have 
been discovered it is more satisfactory to suppose that with the blue- fi.^h 


and the mackerel it inhabits that hj-pothetical winter resort, to which we 
send the migratory fishes whose habits we do not miderstand — the mid- 
dle strata of the ocean, the floating beds of Sargassum, which drift hither and 
thither under the alternate promptings of the Gulf-stream currents and the 
winter winds. 

Si-\ty-two years ago, Mitchill, in his "New York Fauna" said all that 
was known of this fish in two short sentences : — " A fine and beautiful fish. 
Comes in July." Seven years ago, when the writer was called upon to 
prepare its biography for his " Game Fishes of the United States," he was 
compelled to admit that later naturalists had added very little to this 
tersely expressed story. The admirable studies of Earll and Stearns have 
since been made, and the habits of the Spanish Mackerel are now fairly 
well understood. 

It is a member of the Mackerel family and of the genus Scomba'o?noriis, 
established in 1S02 by Lacepede, and subsequently re-named by Cuvier, 
Cybiinn. European naturalists still cling to Cuvier' s name for the genus, 
which is composed of twelve or more species inhabiting the warmer por- 
tions of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The species under discussion 
was described by Mitchill under the name Scomber maculatus. For nearly 
half a century it stood upon our books as Cybium viaailatum, but our pro- 
gressive American school of ichthyologists now insist that for the sake of 
a consistent nomenclature, we must catalogue this lovely species under the 
unlovely name Scoviberomorus viaculatus. 

The Spanish Mackerel is not the only representative of the genus Scom- 
beromorvs which occurs in American waters. There are two closely allied 
forms in the Atlantic, which are gigantic in comparison. In the Gulf 
States they are called King-fish and are highly esteemed by lovers of good 
sport and delicate food. Both of these forms have been occasionally ob- 
served as far north as Cape Cod, and it is quite possible that their abun- 
dance along our eastern coast is greater than is at present suspected. The 
three species are very similar in form, and their distinctive characters are 
of such a kind that they might readily be overlooked by ordinary observ- 
ers. It is my own opinion that they are sold in large numbers with the 
Spanish Mackerel, and under the prestige of its name. The fish-mongers, 
the only persons likely to notice the differences, would, for obvious reasons, 
not be likely to call attention to them. 

The distinctive characters, though not obtrusive, are strong and con- 



stant and he \\\\o chooses to do so may soon learn to discriminate between 
the Spanish Mackerel and its allies. 

The Spotted Cero, or King Cero, Scombcroinorus rcgalis, has seventeen 
dorsal spines, and upon the front of the first dorsal, which is white, is a 
spot of deep blue, which is prolonged far back upon the upper edge of the 
f;n. The sides are marked with broken longitudinal bands of gold, inter- 
lined with brown and golden spots. 

It differs from S. maculatus , which also has seventeen dorsal spines, in 
the form of its teeth and in its coloration. In the Spanish Mackerel the 
teeth are somewhat conical and very pointed, the first dorsal has a black 
blotch, and the spots upon the sides are golden brown nearly circular and 

not arranged in V)and like series. 


The King Cero is a magnificent fish which grows to be five or six feet in 
length and attains a weight of twenty to thirty pounds. It is abundant in 
the West Indies, and has been recorded from Cuba, Santo Domingo, Ja- 
maica, Barbadoes, Key West, and Brazil. Tlie Silver Cero, Scomberomo- 
rus caballa, has fourteen spines in its full dorsal fins, which is immaculate 
in color. The young fish have the sides of the body marked with indis- 
tinct spots, circular in form, and tawny in color, which disappear with age ; 
the lateral line is very sinuous upon the posterior portion of the body. 

It is a AVest Indian species, which has already been observed at Santo 
Domingo, Jamaica, Cuba, Martinique, Porto Rico, and Brazil, and a few 
specimens have been captured as far north as Wood's Holl, Mass. Prof. 
Jordan states that they are caught with trolling hooks on nearly every 
summer trip of the steamer from Savannah to New York. This is a mag- 
nificent fish, which often attains the weight of twenty-five pounds. Its 
habits are doubtless like those of the Spanish Mackerel. The name Cero 
is commonly accepted in the United States ; it is a corruption of the 


Spanish sierra, which is in fact the name applied to the species by the 
Spanish people of Mexico. 

King-fish, according to Silas Stearns, are very abundant in the southern 
part of the Gulf of Mexico, and are common in some localities along the 
coast of our Gulf States. They live at sea and are caught by the use of 
trolling-lines. At Key West, large quantities are sold in the markets. 
Two men in a small sail-boat sometimes catch a hundred or more in a dav. 

The Pacific species, Scomberomorus concolor, has been called the " Mon- 
terey Mackerel." It attains a length of about thirty inches and a weight 
of about five or eight pounds. It has only been seen in the Monterey Bay, 
where from five to forty individuals are taken each autumn, most of them 
at Soquel. They appear in September and disappear in November. 
Nothing is known of their distribution or habits. They always command 
the high price of from thirty to fifty cents per pound. The flesh is similar 
to that of the Spanish Mackerel, which it closely resembles. The male is 
silvery blue, without spots, but the female has a double row of alternately 
roundish blotches upon each side. 

The Spanish Mackerel is a species smaller and more delicately formed 
than the others which occur in the Atlantic. Its normal range, as now 
understood, is from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Mexico. It is possible, in- 
deed probable, as has already been suggested, that it occurs in the waters 
of South America, though the statement that Agassiz recorded it from 
Brazil is based upon an erroneous reading of his statement in his book on 
the fishes collected by Spix. Poey had it from Cuba. Solitary individu- 
als have been taken north of Cape Cod, one at Provincetown in August, 
1847, one at Lynn in July, 1841, and one at Monhegan in Maine. I am 
disposed to question the official statement of the Canadian fisheries de- 
partment that one was taken at New London, in September, 1880, which, 
if true, would extend the range of the species several hundred miles. The 
author of this report justly remarks : " It is rare to find this fish in so high 
a latitude."* The identification should be verified. 

Though abundant in the north-eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico, 
few individuals have as yet been observed off the east coast of Florida. 

The species also occurs along the Pacific coast of Mexico, and in great 
abundance in the Gulf of California. 

* Supplement No. 2 to the Eleventh Annual Report of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries for the year 
1880, p. 229. 


Spanish Mackerel visit the shores of our Atlantic states, on a mission of 
feeding and breeding. 

In early spring they appear in "schools off our southern coast, appearing 
in the waters of West Florida early in March, or even in the latter part of 
February, reaching Pensacola about the beginning of April. Off the 
Carolinas, their coming is a little later, for they do not reach Charleston 
before the end of March, and really enter the sounds of Pamlico and 
Albemarle until a month later. By the 20th of May, they are rounding 
the capes of Virginia, and the schools rapidly increase in number in the 
inland sea of the Chesapeake, until the middle of June, and their abund- 
ance continues through the summer and early autumn. In July and 
August they are most abundant off the coasts of New York and Southern 
New England, where they remain in considerable numbers through the 
early part of September — ^just as they did in the days of Mitchill, and, so 
far as we can know, in the seventeenth century when Josselyn described 
the fishes of New England. 

With the approach of the autumnal equinox, their southward migrations 
begin. The first of October finds them absent from the region north of 
New Jersey, and by November they have deserted the waters of the United 
States, unless perchance, a few may still remain among the reefs and 
sand-beds of the Florida Keys. 

They are lovers of warm waters, even more so than the blue-fish, for 
they precede in the fall migration the schools of menhaden, while the 
blue -fish follow them. Their breeding season in the Chesapeake occurs 
when the temperature of the water ranges from 78° to 84°, and it is 
believed that they do not willingly enter water colder than 60° 

Their habits are much like those of the blue-fish, with which thev are 
jaid to associate. They are much more active in their movements, and 
sport and dance between sky and Avater almost like swallows skimming 
over a lake. No oceanic fishes which I have seen are so admirably built 
for springing. Their tails are muscular, shapely, provided with oar-like 
fins, formed like the crescent moon. Their bodies are conical, arrow-like, 
smooth as burnished metal, and their speed must be as matchless as that of 
the dolphins. When the blue-fish leaps, it is with more deliberation and 
noise, falling back into the water with a splash, while the sharp head of 
the Spanish Mackerel cuts the water like the stem of a yacht. Mr. Earll 
tells me that the Chesapeake fishermen can indentify the species by its 
movements as far as the eve can see. 


In Genio C. Scott's "Fishing in American Waters" is an interesting 
little picture of a school of Spanish Mackerel feeding, which is worthy of 

Both Earll and Stearns agree in the statement that this is a fish which 
lives almost entirely at the surface. On a calm bright day in summer, the 
surface of the Chesapeake or the Gulf of Mexico is sometimes broken up 
for miles by the movements of large schools of these fishes, while the air 
is enlivened by the screaming flocks of terns, which follow them, to gather 
up the fragments of their feasts. Similar scenes may occasionally be wit- 
nessed off the coast of New Jersey and the Carolinas, but further to the 
southward their abundance is less. 

The schools are frequently observed at a long distance from the shore, 
especially when they are first approaching in the spring. Mr. Earll has 
also called attention to the fact that they avoid brackish waters, and thus 
accounts for their abundance on the eastern side of the Chesapeake, and 
their comparative absence near the opposite shores where the salinity of 
the waters is lessened by the inflow of the Potomac, Rappahannock, the 
York and the James. During the spawning season they frequent the 
warmest and shoalest waters to which they can gain access. 

The diet of the Spanish Mackerel is like that of the blue-fish, entirely 
carnivorous, and there is no reason to doubt that the menhaden or moss- 
bunker is its principal quaving. Mackerel, mullet, silversides and all our 
other schooling species contribute also a share to its support. 

The breeding habits of this fish were never understood until the spring 
of 1S80, when, to the astonishment of everyone, it was found by Mr. Earll 
that their spawning grounds are in the Chesapeake Bay and at other 
localities on the middle Atlantic coast, while Mr. Silas Stearns, almost 
simultaneously discovered a breeding place in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. 
Earll. to whom science is indebted for a most thorough and comprehensive 
study of the reproductive habits of this fish, has published a full account 
of his observations, and of his experiments in practical fish-culture in one 
of the annual reports of the U. S. Fish Commission,* to which the reader 
is referred for detailed statements, since it is not the purpose of this book 
to enter into prolonged discussions of such a character. 

Mr. Earll found evidence that the species spawns not only in the Sandy 

*R. E. Earll. The Spanish Mackerel. Report U. S. Comm. Fisheries, 1880. (1883) pp. 395-426. 


Hook and Chesapeake regions, but also on the southern shore of Long 
Island, and in the sounds of the Carolinas. 

In the Carolinas, he tells us, the spawning season begins in April, in the 
Chesapeake region from the first to the middle of ]m-\e, in the Sand}- 
Hook region and about Long Island, from the latter part of August to the 
first of September. In the Gulf, according to Stearns, the season is in 
July. The season continues in any given locality from six to ten weeks, 
and the spawners, contrary to what occurs in shad, salmon and white-fish, 
require several weeks rather than a few days only to deposit their indi- 
vidual building of eggs. A one pound Spanish Mackerel will yield about 
300,000 eggs, a six pounder scarcely less than 1,500,000; the species 
being much more prolific than salmon, shad or white-fish, though less so 
than the members of the cod family. The eggs are minute, from J, to ..\ 
of an inch in diameter, and over a million can be held within the walls of 
a quart measure. Their specific gravity is such that they will sink in 
fresh water and float in the sea. 

When first hatched. Mackerel is very small, and the length of the em- 
bryo scarcely exceeds one-tenth of an inch, while its diameter, even with 
the comparatively large yelk-sac, is so small as to allow it to pass through 
wire-cloth having thirty-two wires to the inch. For several hours it 
remains quiet at the surface in an almost helpless condition, small oil 
globule in the yelk-sac causing it to lie belly uppermost. Later the sac 
is absorbed, and the little fish manifests greater activity, and bv vigorous 
and spasmodic efforts swim to the depth of an inch or so below the surface. 
In a few hours it finds no difficulty in swimming at various depths, and 
begins to lie upon the bottom of the vessel, darting off with surprising 
rapidity when disturbed. 

The rate of growth has not been studied. Earll supposed that the 
yearling fish are not more than six inches long, and those of two years, to 
be the young fish of a half-pound weight, observed by Genio C. Scott in 
the Long Island region. It is scarcely probable that the species attains 
full size in less than four years. The annual growth of so 'voracious a 
species is doubtless considerable after the first two years. The species 
sometimes attains the weight of eight or nine pounds, though it rarel}- 
exceeds three or four pounds. A specimen taken off Block Island, July S, 
1874, the first of the season, measured twenty-six and one-fourth inches 
and weighed three pounds and five ounces. It is said to be the largest 


ever taken in this section, and was a female with the ovary spent. In the 
Gulf States, according to Mr. Stearns, the Spanish Mackerel are in great 
demand, though but few are caught in the Gulf of Mexico, on account of 
the absence of proper nets. 

'' In the Chesapeake region the catch has increased rapidly from year 
to year, until in 1879 it amounted to fully 1,000,000 pounds, and in 1S80 
the quantity was increased to 1,609,663 pounds. The average daily catch 
for the pound-nets about Cherrystone, Va., is fully 500 fish ; while as 
many as 4,000 have been taken at a single 'lift,' and hauls of 2,500 are 
not uncommon during the height of the season. At Sandy Hook the 
catch is quite large; in 1S79, 3,500 pounds were taken at one haul in a 
pound-net at Seabright, and the average stock for the pound-nets in that 
locality often exceeds ^1,000 for Mackerel alone, while the catch of other 
species is proportionally large. 

The species is common in New Orleans and Mobile markets. Although 
those taken on the coast of New Jersey and farther to the eastward are 
considered much more delicately flavored than the Chesapeake fish, and 
command a higher price in the market. The Spanish Mackerel served at 
the best restaurants in New Orleans are delicious in the extreme, and fully 
equal to the best to be found in New York. It is pre-eminently suited for 
broiling and grilling, and is rarely prepared in any other manner.* 

In the Chesapeake and about Cape Hatteras, they are extensively salted, 
and in the Gulf of Mexico pickled king-fish is regarded as a delicacy of 
the first degree of excellence. 

The Spanish Mackerel ought surely to rank with the "■ game-fishes," but 
unfortunately does not come fairly within the designation. It is occa- 

* How TO Bkoil Fish. — "Take the fish you intend to broil, see that it is properly cleaned, and clt'icr 
Tub it with vinegar, or simply dry it and dredge it with flour, then dip it into olive oil, or egg and bread- 
crumb it, or roll it well in chopped herbs, then place it upon a heated gridiron well rubbed over with fat. 
Mackerel may be stuffed, but their heads should be taken off. When the fish is thick, score it here and there, 
or split down the back. Broiled fish, according to its kind, may be either masked with a sauce, or served 
upon a puree of sorrel, tomatoes, or haricots, or upon an oil or caper sauce. Soaking fish in a marinade pre- 
\ iously to broiling it is a considerable improvement, as it eats shorter and better flavoured ; the French steep 
It in olive oil, made savoury with spices, &c. 

"For the more delicate kinds offish the gridiron may be stewed with bunches of aromatic herbs flresh), 
the fish well oiled being laid thereon ; do it very slowly, and only turn it once while being cooked. Fish first 
crimped ia boiling water and then broiled is e.\cellent. No fi.ved rules can be given as to the time required to 
broil fish, so much depending upon the state of the fire and the size and sort of the fish. Smoked salmon 
should be merely made hot through." — !,Georgian.\ Hill.) 

"Wipe the fish clenn and dry, after taking out the gill and insides. Open the back, and put in a little pep- 
per, salt, and oil ; broil it over a clear fire, turn it over on both sides, and also on the back. When the flesh 
can be detached from the bone, which will be in about 15 minutes, it is done. Chop a little parsley into the 
butter, with pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Serve before the butter is quite melted, with a iiuiityc d' hotel 
sauce." — (Fisheries Exhibition Cook Book.) 



sionally taken on trolling tackle in use in blue-fishing, but is never so far 
as I am aware, a definite object of pursuit. 

Genio C. Scott wrote, in 1875 : " My experience in trolling for Spanish 
Mackerel off the inlets of Fire Island has convinced me that the fish is as 
numerous as the blue-fish, and more so than the striped bass, at certain 
seasons, and is found a. little farther seaward than either of those fishes." 

"Every year the shoals of Spanish Mackerel become more and more 
numerous, and more are taken, but never in sufficient nembers to reduce 
the average price below sixty cents per pound. The shoals which I saw 
when last trolling for them would have formed an area nearly five miles 
square, and still the most successful boat did not take more than a dozen 
in three days. They will not bite freely at any artificial lure, and though 
numbers came near leaping on the deck of our yacht, they treated our 
lures with an indifference Avhich savored of perverseness." 

Trolling seems to be more productive in the Gulf of IMexico than far- 
ther north. 

Mr. Thaddeus Norris states that in the Gulf of Mexico, they are some- 
times taken by hook and line, with shrimp-bait at the end of the long 
p'ers where the steamers land in Mobile to New Orleans. 


The early chronicles of the colonies seem to contain no references to 
the Spanish Mackerel under its present name, but it seems certain that this 
fish was the speckled hound-fish, spoken of in that renowned work, " New 
England Rarities, Discovered in Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents and Plants 
of that country, etc., by John Josselyn, Gent," published in 1672. 
Josselyn wrote of " Blew-fish or hound-fish, two kinds, speckled hound- 
fish, called horse-fish." The blue-hound-fish can be nothing else than the 
common blue-fish of our coast, {^Pomatomus saltatrix), and no species in 
the western Atlantic, other than our Spanish Mackerel, sufiiciently resem- 
bles the blue-fish to warrant the use of so similar a name. ]\Iitchill referred 



to the species in 1S15, in a manner which seems to indicate that it was 
not of rare occurrence, but from his day to 1870, it seems to have attracted 
but little attention. 

Even Mitchill's published description does not seem to have satisfied, 
contemporary ichthyologists of the existence of such a fish, for some of 
them did not hesitate to express the opinion that Dr. Mitchill had been 
deceived by accidental differences of color at different seasons of the year, 
and that there were not so many varieties of Mackerel as he imagined.* 

In an essay on the fishes of New York market, published in 1854, Prof. 
Gill referred to the Spanish Mackerel as a species of slight importance. 

The quantity taken with hook and line is quite insignificant ; they are 
caught almost entirely in traps and weirs, and these contrivances were not 
employed in Narragansett Bay before 1845, and did not come into 
general use elsewhere on the coast until many years later. Many experi- 
enced fishermen are, however, of the opinion that they have been rapidly 
increasing of late, and this is strikingly confirmed by the marketmen. 

DeKay in his " New York Fauna," 1842, mentioned that he had seen 
this fish in New York market, in August and September, but that it was 
not common. 

Prof. Baird, who was one of the first to speak of the abundance of this 
species and to testify to its excellent qualities, wrote in 1854: "But two 
specimens were taken during my stay at Beesley's Point, and the species is 
scarcely known to the fishermen. It was more abundant at Greenport, 
L. I.; in the Peconic Bay, towards Riverhead, four hundred were caught 
at one haul of the seine. The fish bring a high price in the New York 
market, where it has been but recently sold at from fifty cents to one dol- 
lar a pound, the prices varying with the season. It has been more abund- 
ant off our coast than ever before, and in the lower part of the Potomac 
numbers have been taken." 

The Gloucester "Telegraph" of August 17, 1870, stated that the New- 
port epicures were in ecstasies over the fact that Spanish Mackerel, the 
most delicious fish caught in the sea, were taken there in seines, and 
remarked that it was only by southerly winds that they were tempted so 
far north. 

Mr. J. M. K. Southwick states that the first Spaniih Mackerel taken in 

* Smith, J. V. C: Natural Histor>- of th.c Fishes of Massachusetts, 28,3, . 295. 


the vicinity of Newport were found in the summer of 1857. No one knew 
what they were. 

Mr. Earll writes as follows concerning the history of its increase : 

"About Sandy Hook prior to 1850, almost nothing was known of the 
fish, as shown by the fact that about this time Mr. Robert Lloyd, a fisher- 
man at Seabright, was engaged in trolling for bluefish, having a contract 
with one of the hotels to take his entire catch. He secured a number of 
Spanish Mackerel (these being the first he had ever seen), which were 
carried with the bluefish to the hotel ; but the proprietor knew nothing of 
their value, and buying them. 

" From this date they were taken more frequently, and soon were highly 
]:)rized. They were caught wholly by trolling, the average catch being 
from ten to twenty fish to a boat daily. They continued to increase in 
number, or at least were more generally noticed by the fishermen, until 
1866, Avhen they were quite plentiful, becoming most abundant between 
1870 and 1875. During that period it is said that they were often nearly 
as plenty as the bluefish, though comparatively few were taken, owing to 
the lack of suitable apparatus. It was not until the introduction of 
properly arranged gill-nets and pound-nets that the fishermen succeeded 
in securing considerable quantities. 

"It is claimed that their numbers have, since 1875, gradually decreased 
on the inshore grounds, though they are said to be as numerous as for- 
merly, eight to ten miles from land, where they remain beyond the reach 
of gill-nets and pound-nets. 

"Many of the fishermen of Chesapeake Bay never saw the species 
before 1875, though there are authentic records showing that individuals 
were occasionally taken in the haul-seines along the Eastern shores as 
early as i860, and hauls of one and two hundred are reported by Dr. J. T. 
Wilkins in 1866.* It is very easy to explain the ignorance of the fisher- 
men as to the abundance of the species in that region, for, until recently, 
the fisheries of the Chesapeake appear to have been of small commercial 
importance, having been prosecuted only during the spring and fall by 
means of gill-nets and haul-seines. During the summer months, when the 
Mackerel are most plenty, no fishing of importance was done. Pound- 
nets were introduced into the Chesapeake region in 1875, and it was 
through their use that the fishermen came to know of the abundance of 
the species in these waters. 

"On the North Carolina coast most of the fishermen, and, indeed, a 
majority of the dealers, are still unacquainted with either the name or the 
value of the Mackerel, and when, in 1879, several thousand pounds of 
them were brought to Wilmington, the dealers refused to buy them, sup- 

*Prof. Baird, as we have seen, referred to extensive captures of this species in the lower Potomac and 
Chesapeake in 1854, and called attention to the fact that they were to be had salted in the Washington city 
fish market. 


posing them to be a species of horse-mackerel i^Orcyniis), which they 
understood had no value as a food-fish. Since no purchasers could be 
found for them, they were finally thrown away. Farther south few have 
been taken, owing to the lack of suitable apparatus, as well as to the fact 
that the fishermen seldom fish beyond the inlets. The smack fishermen of 
Charleston catch a few on troll-lines during the pleasant weather of the 
spring and early summer, but they fish only occasionally in this way. 

"Though the fishing is at present limited to certain localities, there is 
no reason to believe that the fish are absent from other places ; on the 
contrary, it seems probable that, should proper apparatus be employed, 
the species could be taken at almost any point along the outer shore 
where the menhaden are abundant." 

C. R. Moore, of Johnsontown, Va., wrote in 1874: "Spanish Mack- 
erel come in September and October and stay until frost. They are most 
numerous about the mouth of the York River, where a large number are 
caught in seines and salted. They bring about ^40 a barrel." 

There is no reason to believe that the present fishery will affect the 
future abundance of the species; for the catch is necessarily insignificant 
when the immense number of individuals in our waters is taken into 
account. There is no doubt that there have been important fluctuations 
in abundance in the past, and natural causes are certain, cause a like 
variation in the future. 

It is particularly important therefore, that the experiments which the 
U. S. Fish Commission has already made upon the artificial propagation 
of this species shall be as soon as possible brought to some practical 

The Spanish Mackerel of New England was a fish with spotted sides. 
The people of New England found a spotted mackerel and called it by 
the old familiar name ; the people of the Middle States did likewise with 
a different kind of spotted mackerel. In like manner the names herring, 
alewife, shad, salmon, trout, perch, chub, and bass are applied to several 
different kinds of fish in different parts of the United States. There is 
only one clew to the manner in which the Spanish Mackerel of England 
was named. Rondeletius, who wrote in 1554, a book on marine fishes, 
" Libri de Piscibus Marinis," speaks of this fish as occasionally occurring 
on the coast of France, but particularly abundant in Spain. 

How did our Spanish Mackerel get its name ? English colonists, the 
world over, have always given to the native animals of the new continent, 
the names of those with which they were familiar in their ancestral home. 


The only other spotted fish which has been known to frequent our coast 
is the " chub mackerel " or " thimble eye," a species closely allied to the 
common mackerel, but smaller, and distinguished by having larger eyes 
and less distinct dorsal markings, as well as by other characters. This 
was the " Spanish Mackerel " of New England fifty years ago. Its name 
must have come to it from the "Spanish Mackerel" of England, the 
Scomber colias, described by Gmelin, with which, indeed, some authori- 
ties believe it to be identical, and which also is very similar to the 
common mackerel. Scomber scombrus, though smaller, with fewer stripes 
upon its back, and with circular spots of grey or brown upon the white 
sides, which in the common mackerel are pearly and immaculate. The 
question of the identity of the Spanish Mackerel of New England, with 
that of Old England, is not likely to be decided at present, for the former 
has entirely deserted our waters, though at one time extremely abundant. 

The origin of the name "Mackerel" is in itself a curious subject of 
inquiry. Certain authorities derive it from the Old French maquereau, 
signifying a pander or go-between, from a popular tradition in France, 
that the Mackerel in spring follows the female shads which are called 
vierges, and leads them to their mates. Skeat and other modern ety- 
mologists reject this idea, and decide that the name comes from the Latin 
macus or maca, signifying a spot or stain. 

Still another theory is advocated by Dr. C. D. Badham, in his "Prose 

" The word Mackerel is one of very old standing in our own vocabulary, 
and has most probably a northern origin ; but whether this be so or not, 
both the usually assigned Greek and Latin etymologies are equally inad- 
missible ; the Greek, which, either from the excellence of the flesh, its 
own personal happiness, or that which it confers on so many Mackerel- 
eaters, would conjure Mackerel from tiakaotoz, is obviously untrue, and 
particulary z^^happy ; nor is Mackerel 'quasi macularius,' /. e. V\\q spotted, 
in lieu of what it is, a striped ^?,\\, a less unfortunate attempt to fish out a 
meaning from the Latin. If we are to adopt any etymology where all are 
doubtful, Aldrovandi's ' magarellos seu nacarellos e corporis nacritudine,' 
seems the most plausible ; the shot, lustrous surface of the belly and sides 
is certainly nacreous ; while we are distinctly taught in our Church cate- 
chism that in regard to a name, an M or N are indifferent, and in fact the 
change of one of these liquids into the other never offers any real difficulty 
in etymology. Touching the nomenclature of that particular kind called 
sometimes Spanish, sometimes Horse-Mackerel, though the latter adjunct 


often expresses no more than size or coarseness — as in qualifying the 
words laugh, mushroom, chesnut, or radish, — it is quite possible in this 
case that it may merely be the translation of cavallo, which in that lan- 
guage not only means horse, but Mackerel as well. Concerning the 
opprobrious employm.ent of this word to designate a certain class of \il- 
lains, called in Latin Iciioucs, ard ruffiani in Italian, ]\I. Lacepede, after 
Belon, gives the following interpretation — ' C'est a raison de la rencontre 
des maquereaux avec les petits aloses ou pucelles vers le temps ou celles-ci 
vont frayer avec les males, qu'on a donne ce vilain nom (maquererau), 
qu'il porte en France et dans quelques autres pays.' " 

V. .^s. 



' Lightly and brightly they glide and go 
The hungry and keen on the top are leaping 
The lazy and fat on the depths are sleeping." 

William Mackworth Praed, The Red Fisherman. 

* I "'HE Pompano, with its pleasing contours, its banner-like fins, and its 
scales glistening with the brilliancy of polished silver and gold, is 
one of the loveliest of our summer visitors. It is not an angler'sfish, nor is 
it a food-fish of importance from the commercial stand-point, yet it is con- 
fessedly the king of table-fishes, commanding almost fabulous prices in the 
markets of our great cities, and esteemed more highly than salmon or bass, 
moon-fish or Spanish mackerel. It figures in angling literature as "the 
wood-cock of the seas " — wherefore, the writer is unable to say. 

The genus Trachynotus, to which our Pompanoes belong, is widely dis- 
tributed through the warmer parts of the Atlantic and Indo-Atlantic 
regions. Three species are peculiar to Asiatic waters, three have been 
found only on our own Pacific coast, one is limited to the waters of 
western Africa, one to those of the Caribbean, while of the four which are 
abundant on the Atlantic coast of North America, one ranges the wide 
world over, occurring in warm waters everywhere, one is found on the 
California coast, and one in Africa. The genus is entirely unknown in 
the waters of Europe. The species of the Pacific coast, Trachynotus 


rhodopus, T. fasciafiis and G. Kciincdyi, are chiefly interesting to 
naturalists, and will not be discussed at length. The Pompanoes of our 
Atlantic waters, belonging as they do to a small, strongly specialized 
genus, are separated from each other by characters not likely to be noticed 
by casual observers. It is probable that the most unusual of them is more 
abundant than is now supposed, and that a more careful study of the fauna 
of the South Atlantic and Gulf States will show that they are frequent 
visitors. I have myself seen the Carolina and the Round Pompano sold 
under the same name in Charleston market, just as T have seen the young 
of four species of the herring family sold together indiscriminately in Ful- 
ton market. New York. 

The four species, though similar in general appearance, may easily be 
distinguished by differences in proportions and in the number of fin-rays. 

The commonest and by far the most important form, the Carolina 
Pompano, Trachynotus caroliiiiis, has the height of the body contained 
two to two and two-thirds times in the total length ; the length of the head 
five to five and one-third times ; one of the caudal lobes four times. It 
has twenty-four to twenty-five rays in the second dorsal, while the anterior 
rays of the dorsal and anal fins, if laid backward, reach to the middle of 
the fin. 

It occurs in both the Atlantic and Pacific waters of the United States. 
On our eastern coast it ranges north to Cape Cod, south to Jamaica, east 
to the Bermudas, and west in the Gulf of Mexico, at least as far as the 
moutli of the Mississippi River. In the Pacific it is rare, and as yet known 
only from the Gulf of California, where it has recently been observed by 
Mr. C. H. Gilbert. 

Like the Spanish mackerel, the squeteague, and the bluefish, it is a sum- 
mer visitor, appearing in southern Massachusetts in June and July, 
departing in September. It is emphatically a warm water species. Although 
it is at present impossible to ascertain the lower limit of its temperature 
range, it is probable that this corresponds very nearly to that indicated l)y 
a harbor temperature of 60° to 65° Fahr. 

The Pompano has never been known to pass the boundary defined by 
the low, sandy barrier of Cape Cod and its submarine extension, the 
Georges Bank. Like the shoals of Hatteras, the broad, slightly submerged 
sands of this region, with their swirling tides and fluctuations of tempera- 
ture, forbid the passage of many specier. abundant either to the North or 


South. Both of our common Pompanoes were described by Linnceus from 
South Carolina, but had never been observed north of Cape Hatteras 
until the summer of 1854, when Prof. Baird, at that time carrying on the 
first of the ichthyological investigations which have since made his name 
famous all the world over, discovered it near Great Egg Harbor. In his 
Report on the Fishes of New Jersey, he states that he had seen them taken 
by thousands in the sandy coves of the outer beach, near Beesley's Point. 
These, however, were all rather small, scarcely exceeding a quarter to half 
a pound in weight. In 1863 he obtained both species in Southern 
Massachusetts, where in subsequent years they have frequently been 

" My first acquaintance with the Pompano in New England," writes 
Prof. Baird, "was in 1863, during a residence at Wood's Holl, where I 
not unfrequently caught young ones of a few inches in length. I was more 
fortunate in the summer of 1871, which I also spent at Wood's Holl ; then 
the Pompano was taken occasionally, especially in Capt. Spindle's pound, 
and I received at different times as many as twenty or thirty, weighing 
about one and one-half or two pounds each. Quite a number were caught 
in Buzzard's Bay and Vineyard Sound in 1872." 

It is a fair question whether the Pompano has recently found its way 
into northern waters, or whether its presence was unknown because nobody 
had found the way to capture it. When Mitchill wrote on the fishes of 
New York in 1842 he had access to a single specimen which had been 
taken off Sandy Hook about the year 1820. 

I quote in full the observations of Mr. Stearns : 

"The common Pompano is abundant on the Gulf coast from the 
INIississippi River to Key West, and, so far as I can learn, is rare beyond 
this western limit until the Yucatan coast is reached, where it is common. 
It is considered the choicest fish of the Gulf of Mexico, and has great 
commercial demand, which is fully supplied but a few weeks in the year, 
namely, when it arrives in spring. The Pompano is a migratory fish in 
the Pensacola region, but I think its habits on the South Florida coast are 
such that it cannot properly be so classed. 

" At Pensacola it comes in to the coast in spring and goes away from it 
in fall, while in South Florida it is found throughout the year. In the 
former section it appears on the coast in March in schools varying in num- 
bers of individuals from fifty to three or four thousand, which continue to 
' run ' until the latter part of May, when it is su])posed that they are all 
inside. Their movement is from the eastward, and they swim as near to 


the shore as the state of the water will permit, very seldom at the surface 
so as to ripi)le or break the water, although sometimes while playing in 
shoal water they will jump into the air. 

" Before any schools enter the bays certain ones will remain for days, 
or even weeks, in a neighborhood, coming to the beach during the flood 
tide to feed on the shell-fish that abound there and returning again to 
deeper water on the ebb-tide. The holes or gullies in the sand along the 
beach are their favorite feeding grounds on these occasions. Sharks and 
porpoises pursue the Pompano incessantly, doubtless destroying many. 
The largest numbers come in April, and sometimes during that month the 
first schools are seen entering the inlets, others following almost every 
day, until about June i, when the spring run is said to be over. Every 
year they appear in this way at Pensacola and adjoining bays, although 
there are many more some years than others. As the abundance is judged 
by the quantity caught I think that the difference may lie more in the 
number of fishing days (pleasant ones) than in the real numbers of fish 
present. The sizes of Pompano that make up these schools are large or 
adult fish averaging twelve or fourteen inches in length, and small fish 
(probably one year old) averaging eight inches in length. The largest 
Pompano that I have seen measured nineteen and a half inches in length, 
and weighed six and a quarter pounds, the extremely large fish called 
Pompano of two or three times that size probably being another species. 
After entering the bays the schools of Pompano break up and the fish 
scatter to all parts where the water is salt and there are good feeding 
grounds. Except single individuals that are taken now and then, nothing 
is seen of Pompano until late in the fall, when they are bound seaward. 
In regard to its spawning habits nothing very definite has been learned. 
It has spawn half develo])ed when it arrives and has none when it leaves 
the bays. Large quantities of the fry are seen in the bays all summer, 
which is some proof of its spawning inside. In June, 1878, I caught 
specimens of the fry varying in size from three-quarters of an inch to three 
inches in length. Very many schools of these sizes were also observed in 
July and August of the same and following years of 18 79-' 80. 

" The schools of fry go to sea in August and September. The older or 
adult fish leave the coast in September and October in small schools, that 
are only seen and caught at the inlets where they happen to cross shoals 
or follow the beach. These Pompano of the fall are very fat and in every 
way superior to those caught in the spring. As before mentioned, the 
Pompano is found on the South Florida coast all the year. The sea-beach, 
from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor seems to be its favorite feeding- 
ground owing to the quantity of shell-fish that occur there. It does not 
form in large schools as in the Pensacola region, and therefore is not taken 
in such large quantities by seine fishermen. 

"Smacks from Mobile and Pensacola sometimes go to Tami)a Bay for 
them. I have been told that Pompano are caught at Key West in con- 



siderable quantities by hook and line, and I have known of a few being 
taken in that manner at Pensacola. It feeds entirely upon small shell- 
fish, which are crushed between the bones of its pharyngeal arch." 

The Round Pompano, T. rho7Jiboides, has the height of the body con- 
tained two to two and one-third times in the total length; the length of 
the head five to five and one-fourth times ; one of the caudal lobes three 
and a-half to four times. In the second dorsal are from eighteen to 
twenty-one rays, in the second anal from sixteen to nineteen, while in the 
Carolina Pompano there are twenty-one to twenty-two. 

In the south it is sometimes called the " Shore Pompano," and is known 
in the Bermudas by the name " Alewife." 


The Round Pompano is cosmopolitan in its distribution, occurring in 
the North and South Atlantic, and in various parts of the Indian Ocean. 
The young have been obtained in the harbor of Vineyard Haven, Mass., 
and at Beaufort, S. C. It is probable that the species is far more abund- 
ant in our waters than we now suppose it to be. 

The only well authenticated instance of the capture of the Pompano 
with hook and line are those recorded by S. C. Clarke. During ten win- 
ters of Florida angling he writes : "I have only once seen this fish taken 
tvith the hook. My fish was taken on a rod with clam-bait, while fishing 
for sheepshead in April, 1875, in the Hillsboro River, near New Smyrna." 
B. C. Pacetti, a veteran fishermen, assured Mr. Clarke that during forty 
years' experience, he had only known of two similar instances. 

The African Pompino, T. gorcensis, originally described from the 


Island of Gorea, on the west coast of Africa, resembles in general form 
the Round Pompano, though somewhat more elongate, while the head is 
larger, being contained four and a half times in the total length. The 
anterior rays of the dorsal and anal extend beyond the middle of the fm, 
if laid backward. In the number of the fin rays it corresponds most 
closely with the Round Pompano. I first became familiar with the species 
through examining a small specimen in the collection of my friend, J. 
Matthew Jones, Esq., of " The Hermitage," Smith's Parish, Bermuda, in 
1876, has since been repeatedly observed on our own coast. It is the 
largest of the Pompanoes. Dr. J. W. Velie obtained two large specimens 
in West Florida, and in 1S79, Mr. Blackford sent to the National Museum 
a giant of the same species, taken at Jupiter Inlet, about two feet 
long, and weighing twenty-three pounds. It has since become evident that 
the species figured by Girard in the ichthyology of the United States and 
Mexican boundary, under the name Doliodon carolinus, is really Trachy- 
nohis goreensis, and that its occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico is not 

In the Gulf of Mexico it is not unusual, being known at Key West as 
the " Permit." 

Stearns informs us that this fish is rather common along the lower end 
of the the Florida Peninsula, and is often taken in seines at Cedar Keys, 
and at the mullet fisheries of Sarasota and Charlotte Harbor, as well as 
about Key West. 

The Banner Pompano, T. glaucus, has a somewhat elongate body and a 
small head. It is much thinner than either of the other species. Its sil- 
very sides are marked with four blackish vertical streaks ; the best 
distinguishing mark is in the length of the first rays of the dorsal and 
anal, which extend back nearly to the tip of the caudal fin. 

It is a member of the West Indian fauna, and is represented in the 
National Museum by specimens from Pensacola, Key West, the Bahamas 
and the Bermudas. Stearns remarks that it is obtained frequently at Pen- 
sacola with the other species, but is never very common, is seen only in 
the spring, and is not valued as a food-fish. Professor Jordan tells me that 
it is not rare along the Carolina and Gulf coasts, and that at Pensacola, 
wherever it is known as the ' Gall-topsail Pompano,' it is held in low 
esteem. The allied species, Trachynotiis fasciatus, has lately been noticed 
by Jordan and Gilbert on the Pacific side of the Isthmus of Panama. 


Linnaeus classed the Pompano with the stickleback on account of the 
sharp spines on its dorsal fin. The young,like that of the swordfish, have 
along the posterior edges of the opercular bones, rows of strong spike-like 
spines, Avhich entirely disappear with advancing age. 

The spawning grounds and breeding times of these fishes are not well 
known. Mr. Samuel C. Clarke states that the common Pompano spawns 
in March, in the open sea, near the inlet to Indian River, Fla. Mr. 
Stearns' statement concerning the occurrence of the young about Pensa- 
cola has already been quoted. It is supposed that those visiting our 
northern coast breed in winter, at a distance from the shore, the eggs, like 
those of the mackerel, being lighter than the water and floating at or near 
the surface. The Pompanoes may, however, be truly migratory fishes, 
seeking the waters near the equator in winter, to follow a long coastwise 
migration, north and south in summer. They are rapid, powerful 

Their food consists of mollusks, the softer kinds of crustaceans, and 
probably the young of other fishes. S. C. Clarke states that they have 
been known to bite at a clam bait. Scott remarks : " It is mullet- 
mouthed ; never takes a bait except by mistake." Their teeth are very 
small and are apt to disappear with age. 

They are caught in set nets and Spanish cast-nets. Great quantities are 
secured in the Gulf of Mexico and in Mobile Bay. A few are taken every 
year in the traps on the New Jersey coast. The local demand for them is 
so great that they are not usually sent far away from the place where they 
are taken. In New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, or New York, 
they readily command the price of$i to ^1.50 a pound. The entire 
quantity sold annually in New York probably does not exceed three 
thousand pounds. 

Pompano means "grape leaf," and in Western Europe is appropriated 
by a very different fish. This name was applied to our fish by the Spanish 
colonists of America. The Cubans call the Pompano "Palometa." In 
South Carolina it is known as the " Crevalle " or " Cavally," a corruption 
of Caballa, (horse). La Roche, in his "Voyage to Canada," jDublished 
in 1542, wrote of " salmons, mullets, sturgeons, surmullets, bass, carps, 
pimpcj-neaux, and other fresh water fish." This is the earliest use of this 
name for an American fish ; the writer cannot have been acquainted with 
what we now call Pompano, but it is impossible to understand his meaning. 


In August, 1874, a party of the Fish Commission hauled a hundred 
fathom seine on the beach at Watch Hill, R. I., and much to our surprise 
a number of young Carolina Pompanoes were landed. They were less 
than two inches long, and were exceedingly graceful in their movements. 
They were kept alive for some weeks in aquaria. At a short distance 
they looked like silver dollars swimming about on their edges. 

Twelve months later we were still more successful, obtaining the young 
of both species in Holmes' Hole. The small Round Pompanoes, an inch 
or two in length, were very beautiful, their burnished sides shaded with 
tawny golden tints. 

In 1876, I became familiar with three species in the Bermudas, the most 
common of which was the Round Pompano. In the winter of 1875 a 
school of six or seven hundred were seined on the south shore of the islands. 
A large one was confined in the aquarium at " Wistow Lodge," the resi- 
dence of Hon. C. M. Allen. This aquarium is unique, being a circular 
basin, embowered in tropical vegetation, and aerated by a powerful 
fountain of sea water, forced up by a tide-Avheel. In this limpid pool 
were many gorgeously-colored species, the angel-fish, the parrot-fish, the 
rainbow-fish, the Spanish-lady, the surgeon, the porcupine, and the ser- 
geant-major. Among them, as they softly floated, moving like soaring 
birds, flashed in and out the Pompano, with black-tipped, streaming fins, 
only plainly visible when momentarily at rest in some secluded corner of 
the basin. It was the only fish I have ever seen which appeared to possess 
the power of becoming phosphorescent at will. At night we could trace 
its nervous movements by occasional gleams of light, as the fish, turning 
one side toward us, touched with the other the floor of the basin. 



Vext with the puny foe, the Tunnies leap, 
Flounce on the stream, and toss the mantling deep. 
Ride o'er the foamy seas, with torture rave. 
Bound into air, and dash the smoking wave. 

Oppian, Translated by Jones. 

npHE Bonito, Sarda tjiediterraneci , is one of those fishes which appea r to 
live chiefly in the open ocean, wandering hither and thither in 
large schools, preying upon other pelagic fishes, and approaching land 
only when attracted by abundance of acceptable food. Several of the 
smaller species of the group of Tunnies, to which it belongs, are known 
to sailors by the same name. The common "Bonito ' ' of England, Orcynus 
pela7nys, two or three specimens of which have been detected in our waters 
since 1876, is what is here called the ''Striped Bonito," but the fish 
which most frequently and in greatest numbers approaches our shores is 
the one which is named at the head of this section. Almost nothing is 
known of its habits, and it is even impossible to define its geographical 
range with any degree of certainty, its distribution being very unlike that 
of any other fish with which we are acquainted. It maybe said, howevcx 
that it is found only in the Atlantic basin. On our coast it occurs in 
summer between Cape May and Cape Sable, though rarely north of Cape 
Ann ; occasionally off Cape Hatteras and the mouth of the Chesapeake 
and in the Gulf of Mexico. Specimens have been taken about the Can- 
aries and Madeira, at the Cape of Good Hope and in the Mediterranean. 
It has not been observed on the coast of Europe north of Gibraltar, nor 
at the Bermudas. 


The Bonito does not appear to have been abundant in former years ; it 
attracted Imt little attention in our waters before i860, although it was 
alluded to in 181 5 by Mitchill, in 1842 by DeKay, and in 1856 by Gill ; 
none of these authors, however, regarded it as a common form, or cited 
any considerable number of instances of its presence. 

A note from Prof. J. Hammond Trumbull states: "This fish used to 
be quite common, in some years, in the Stonington market. I have a 
note of a considerable number in market July 22, 1842, their first appear- 
ance for the season." 

Storer remarked in 1846: "This species, called by the fishermen in 
Boston market the 'Skipjack,' and by those at the extremity of Cape 
Cod the ' Bonito,' is very rarely met with in Massachusetts Bay. It is 
occasionally taken at Provincetown, and even at Lynn. At some seasons 
it is frequently caught at Martha's Vineyard with trailing bait." 

One of these fishes is a marvel of beauty and strength. Every line in 
its contour is suggestive of swift motion. The head is shaped like a 
minie bullet, the jaws fit together so tightly that a knife-edge could 
scarcely pass between, the eyes are hard, smooth, their surfaces on a per- 
fect level with the adjoining surfaces. The shoulders are heavy and 
strong, the contours of the powerful masses of muscle gently and evenly 
merging into the straighter lines in which the contour of the body slopes 
back to the tail. The dorsal fin is placed in a groove into which it is 
received, like the blade of a clasp knife in its handle. The pectoral and 
ventral fins also fit into depressions in the sides of the fish. Above and 
below, on the posterior third of the body, are placed the little finlets, each 
a little rudder with independent motions of its own, by which the course 
of the fish may be readily steered. The tail itself is a crescent-shaped 
oar, without flesh, almost without scales, composed of bundles of rays 
flexible, yet almost as hard as ivory. A single sweep of this powerful oar 
doubtless suffices to propel the Bonito a hundred yards, for the polished 
surfaces of its body can offer little resistance to the Avater. I have seen 
a common dolphin swimming round and round a steamship, advancing at 
the rate of twelve knots an hour, the effort being hardly perceptible. The 
wild duck is said to fly seventy miles in an hour. Who can calculate the 
speed of the Bonito? It might be done by the aid of the electrical con- 
trivances by which is calculated the initial velocity of a projectile. The 
Bonitoes in our sounds to-day may have been passing Cape Colony, or 
the Land of Fire, day before yesterday. 


\\\ 1875, the earliest Bonito was taken in the Robinson's Hole weir July 
7, and two more came along July 24. They were not abundant until 
August, when many more were taken in Vineyard Sound by Oak Bluffs 
boats, trolling. The fishermen then believed that they were gradually 
increasing in numbers and importance and taking the place of the sque- 
teague which was disappearing. August 7 the weir at Cedar Tree Neck had 
taken nothing but Bonitoes, while those farther west at Menemsha Bight 
had taken only squeteague. 

The Bonito is not so great a favorite with the angler as it deserves to be. 
It is caught in the vicinity of Block Island with trolling-hooks. He 
bites sharply, like a bluefish. The best bait is an ordinary bluefish 
hook with a petticoat of red and white flannel, though the fish will also 
take any bluefish lure. 

In 1877 four smacks were constantly running between Block Island 
and New York, carrying each from 4,000 to 8,000 Bonitoes a week, or 
perhaps 20,000 pounds. The yield of Block Island alone that summer 
was probably not less than 2,000,000 pounds. In one haul of the purse- 
seine by the schooner "Lilian," of Noank, 1,500 were taken; and in 
August, 1874, 1,200 in one pound-net. 

On the eastern shore of Virginia, Bonito are caught by harpooning, says 
Mr. C. R. Moore, and also with the hook. They are most numerous 
about the mouth of the York River. They come in June and leave in 
September. It is quite possible, however, that the Bonito referred to by 
INIr. Moore is quite another fish — the Cobia, Elacate atlantica. 

When tested side by side with the bluefish, at the same table, the 
Bonito seems not much inferior, though the flesh is somewhat softer and 
more perishable. 

The Bonito may be ranked among the many excellent food-fishes of our 
coast, and, in any country not so abundantly supplied with finely-flavored 
kinds, it would be considered of the highest value. Their vitality is so 
great and their supply of blood so abundant that unless bled immediately 
after capture their flesh, especially in warm weather, is apt to deteriorate. 
Great quantities of them are taken to New York, and there, as well as in 
Rhode Island and Connecticut, they are sold exclusively under the name 
of " Spanish Mackerel," at prices ranging from thirty-five to fifty cents a 
pound. This was the common practice in 1S74, and has continued since. 
The statement made by Scott in 1875, that on account of their rarity 


the}' were preferred to the bluefish and striped bass, would not now be true ; 
his prediction that they wouhl in time become as abundant as the blue- 
fish seems, however, during some years to have been almost verified. The 
dealers, by the change of name in the market above referred to, are able 
to obtain a high price for a fish which, under its own name, would be 
looked upon with suspicion. An absurd report that the Bonito was poison- 
ous was current in 1S74, probably owing to the fact that similar fish taken 
in warm climates are sometimes deleterious. 

In 1875 the ordinary price in New York was one cent apiece, though 
in the wholesale markets they commanded the same price as bluefish, and 
many were sold, as has been stated, at the high rates of Spanish Mackerel. 
The market was so glutted that many of the vessels could not dispose of 
their cargoes. 

According to Stearns, our Bonito occurs also in the Gulf of Mexico, 
vv'here it is everywhere abundant, and is found in the bays on the Florida 
coast. It usually moves, according to the same authority, at the surface 
of the water in small schools. At sea it is found throughout the year, and 
along the shore only in the summer. Small schools are sometimes taken 
in drag-seines in shallow water. Its market value at Pensacola is not 
great, although it has become an article of food. 

A writer in the Providence Journal ^\Ay, 1871? remarked : " Last night 
I had a fish on my table which they said was a kind of Spanish Mackerel; 
the moment I tasted it I said it was a Bonito, having eaten it thirty years 
since, on my first voyage to India, and the taste had never been forgotten. 
It is the salmon of the sea. Mark its solidity of flesh, its great weight, 
its purity of taste, entire absence of the slightly decayed taste all fish has 
during warm weather. It is as nourishing as beef, and Bonito is the 
worthy ri\al of the Spanish mackerel and the sheepshead." 

They seem first to have attracted the attention of New England authori- 
ties about 1865. Genio C. Scott, writing in 1875, remarks: "His first 
arrival along our beaches and in our bays Avas about eight years ago, and 
his shoals have increased remarkably fast ever since his advent. As a 
table luxury it ranks, with epicures, below the striped bass and bluefish, 
but because of its comparative rarity it commands a price rather above 
either. The numbers of this fish annually taken about the approaches to 
our harbors with the troll and in nets has increased so much that it bids 
fair to become nearly as numerous as the bluefish." 



Each summer the schools now range the ocean between Cape Cod and 
Cape Hatteras, and about Block Island and the eastern end of Long 
Island fabulous quantities are often captured. 

The habits of the Bonito are similar to those of the bluefish, though it 
is, if possible, even more active and more an embodiment of perpetual and 
insatiable hunger. They come at the same time, they leave the coast 
simultaneously, they prey in company upon menhaden and mackerel, and 
together they are often caught in the fisherman's gill-net or are detained 
in the labyrinths of the pound-net. The two kinds of fish do not, it is 
supposed, mingle, but the regiments rush to battle side by side. 

Sometimes two lines in one boat will fasten at the same time a bluefish 
and a Bonito. The Bonito, like the bluefish, appear to be attracted to 
our waters by the great schools of mackerel and menhaden, upon which 
they feed. 

Schools of Bonitoes cause more commotion than those of bluefish ; they 
spring out of the water, and are visible at long distances. They are 
attended by the same schools of screaming gulls and terns, and leave in 
their track similar " slicks " of oil and blood. 

The Bonito is an alien m our seas. It comes here only for food, and 
in winter disappears entirely. It does not, like the bluefish, follow the 
trend of the coast to the south, to pass the cold months off the shoals of 
Hatteras. No very young individuals of this kind have ever been obtained 
in the western Atlantic, although young bluefish, from two to eight inches 
long, may be caught in summer by tens of thousands on any sand beach 
south of INIonomoy. Genio C. Scott records the capture of one in 
Jamaica Bay in 1874 weighing less than a pound, and which he believes 
to have been hatched the previous year. The Fish Commission also has 
one of the same size taken off Southern New England. Charles Potter, 
of Norwalk, Conn., states that small specimens, six inches in length, were 
from 1870 to 1874 frequently taken late in the fall in the weirs at Fisher's 

A fish weighing ten pounds measures twenty-eight to twenty-nine 
inches; eight pounds, twenty-seven to twenty-eight inches ; seven pounds, 
twenty-six to twenty-seven inches ; six pounds, twenty-five to twenty-six 
inches ; four pounds, twenty-two to twenty-three inches. There have not 
yet been found in the adults any traces of mature spawn, though one taken 
off Norwalk July 23, 1874, had the eggs well formed though not nearly 


mature. The breeding grounds of the Bonito, like those of the swordfish, 
are doubtless in some remote quarter of the globe. The swordfish spawns 
in the Mediterranean, if nowhere else. The species is cosmopolitan, and 
occurs in nearly every quarter of tlie globe, though perhaps nowhere in 
greater abundance than along our own shores. 

On the California coast occurs a closely related species, the Pacific 
Bonito, Sarda chilensis, which is thus described by Prof. Jordan : 

" This fish is everywhere known as the Bonito. The names 'Spanish 
Mackerel,' ' Skipjack ' and 'Tuna' are also sometimes applied to it. It 
reaches an average weight of about twelve pounds, but the body is con- 
siderably longer and more slender than that of an Albicore of the same 
weight. It ranges from San Francisco southward to Chili, being abund- 
ant in Monterey Bay and about the Santa Barbara Islands in the summer 
and fall. It approaches to within half a mile of the shore, where, in 
company with the barracuda, it is taken in great numbers l)y trolling. 
It spawns in August or September. Its arrival is in early summer and its 
departure in the fall, at which season the young are said to be found 
abundantly in the kelp. It feeds chiefly on anchovies and squids. As 
a food-fish it is not held in high esteem, the fish being coarse. Great 
numbers are salted and dried, and are in that state considered far inferior 
to the barracuda and yellow-tail." 

The Striped Bonito, Orcymis pelamys, already mentioned, is dis- 
tinguished from other species by the presence of four dark lines, which 
begin at the pectoral fin and run along the side of the belly to the tail, 
the sides of the common Bonito being of a silvery white. This species, 
is occasionally taken on the European coast, but has rarely been known 
to enter the Mediterranean. It is found in the Pacific on the coast 
of China and Japan, and is the species most commonly known to mariners 
as the Bonito, or Albicore, of the activity and voracity of Avhich, as 
observed from the decks of vessels at sea, so many descriptions have been 
written. The first individual on our coast was that seen by Mr. Barnet 
Phillips in 1S76. Another was taken by Mr. J. H. Blake at ProNince- 
town in July, 1S77. Others have since been observed at AVoods Holl and 
in the New York markets. The capture of the Striped Bonito is a 
favorite subject with Japanese artists. I have seen many drawings and 
prints in Japanese books, in which the characteristic form and markings 
of this fish are faithfully delineated. The Japanese appear to catch it in 
great quantities, with rod, line, and hook. 


One of the American men-of-war of Revolutionary times was named 
" Bonetta," after the fishes of this group. 

In addition to the Striped Bonito, which is, properly, a Tunny, we 
have in American waters two other small Tunnies — the Long-finned 
Tunny, Orcynus alalonga, and the Silver-spotted Tunny, Orcynus argen- 
tivittatus — which have since 1877 been added to the fauna of the United 

The former of these two occurs in considerable abundance on the coast 
of California, and is there also known as the Albicore. Concerning it 
Prof. Jordan writes : " This fish reaches a weight of about twelve pounds, 
and is much shorter and deeper than the Bonito of the Pacific. It is 
found from San Francisco southward, but is abundant only in the chan- 
nels about the Santa Barbara Islands. It seldom comes within six miles 
of the shore, and it is taken by trolling. It spawns about the middle of 
August, its arrival on the coast being determined by the spawning season. 
It usually is present in June and July and disappears in the fall. It feeds 
chiefly on anchovies and squids, and various deep-water fishes [Mcrhicms, 
Sudis, Myctophiini) are found in its stomach. As a food-fish it is even 
less valued than the Bonito, rarely selling for more than twenty to twenty- 
five cents. It is abundant, but of little economic importance, being 
usually fished for by sportsmen." 

The Albicore, Orcynus alliteratus, known in the Gulf of Mexico, where 
it is confounded by the fishermen with other similar species, as the 
" Bonito," and in the Mediterranean by the names " Tonnina " (Trieste), 
" Carcane " (Venice), and " Tauna " (Nice), has a geographical range 
very similar to that of the Bonito, except that it is found in the Pacific on 
the east coast of Japan, and in the Malay Archipelago. It has also been 
recorded from Cuba, Brazil and the Bermudas. This active species, which 
attains the weight of from thirty to forty pounds, first made its appearance 
in our waters in 1871, when several large schools were observed by the 
Fish Commission in Buzzard's Bay and the Vineyard Sound. Nearly 
every year since they have been seen in greater or less numbers ; but, as 
they are of little value for food, no effort has been made to capture them, 
nor are they often brought to the markets. This species, known at the 
Bermudas as the "Mackerel," is frequently seen in the markets at 
Hamilton and St. Georges. 

In the Mediterranean its flesh is considered to be very excellent. My 


own experiments with it are hardly confirmatory of this statement, but in 
Southern Europe all the fishes of this family are very highly esteemed, and 
that it is not appreciated with us is perhaps due to the fact that we do not 
know how to cook them. I find the following note by Prof. Baird : 
"Flesh, when cooked, dark brown all around the backbone, elsewhere 
quite dark, precisely like horse-mackerel. Flesh very firm, compact and 

Stearns records its frequent occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico, where he 
has observed individual specimens at Pensacola and Key West. 

The habits of this fish have not been specially studied, but there is no 
reason to doubt that they correspond closely with those of others of the 
same family. 

The Frigate Mackerel, Aiixis thazard, is a species which has lately made 
its appearance in our waters, none having been observed before iSSo, 
when they came in almost countless numbers. It is yet to be determined 
whether it is to be a permanent accession to our fauna. The United 
States Fish Commission obtained numerous specimens, twenty-eight bar- 
rels having been taken in a mackerel seine ten miles east of Block Island 
on August 3, 1S80, by the schooner "American Eagle," Capt. Joshua 
Chase, of Provincetown, Mass. 

The Frigate Mackerel resembles, in some particulars, the common 
Mackerel ; in others, the Bonito, the genus Aiixis being intermediate in 
its character between the Scomber and the related genera Pelamys and 
Orcynus. It has the two dorsal fins remote from each other as in Scomber, 
and the general form of the body is slender, like that of the Mackerel. 
The body is, hoAvever, somewhat stouter, and, instead of being covered 
with small scales of uniform size, has a corselet of larger scales under and 
behind the pectoral fins. Instead of the two small keels upon each side 
of the tail, which are so noticeable in the Mackerel, it has the single, 
more prominent keel of the Bonito and the Tunny. Its color is greyish- 
blue, something like that of the pollock, the belly being lighter than the 
back. Under the posterior part of the body, above the lateral line, are a 
few cloudings or maculations resembling those of the Mackerel. The 
occurrence of a large school of this beautiful species in our waters is very 
noteworthy, for the fish now for the first time observed are very possibly 
the precursors of numerous schools yet to follow. 

The Frigate Mackerel has been observed in the West Indies, and other 


parts of the tropical Atlantic, as well as on the coast of Europe. In Great 
Britain it is called the " Plain Bonito." It is not unusual in the Bermu- 
das, where it is called the " Frigate Mackerel," a name not inappropriate 
for adoption in this country, since its general appearance is more like 
that of the Mackerel than the bonito, while in swiftness and strength it is 
more like the larger members of this family. It is the " Timberello " of 
the Adriatic fisher-folk. 

In the Mediterranean there is a regular fishery for this species, which 
is prosecuted from May until September, and they are also taken in great 
numbers in the Tunny nets. 

Since the first appearance of this fish many new observations of its 
abundance have been received. These fish appeared to have come in 
immense schools into the waters between Montauk Point and George's 
Bank; and from Mr. Clarke's statements it appears that they have been 
observed in small numbers by fishermen in previous years. Several vessels 
have come into Newport recently reporting their presence in immense 
numbers in the vicinity of Block Island. It will interest the " ichthyo- 
phagists " to know that several persons in Newport have tested the fish, 
and pronounce it inferior to the bonito. Part of the flesh, that on the 
posterior part of the body, is white, but behind the gills it is black and 
rank, while the meat near the backbone is said to be of disagreeable, sour 

It is hard to predict what its influence will be upon other fishes already 
occupying our waters. Its mouth is small and its teeth feeble, so that it 
is hardly likely to become a ravager, like the bonito and the bluefish. 
There is little probability, on the other hand, that its advent will be of 
any special importance from an economical point of view, for its oil does 
not seem to be very abundant, and it will hardly pay at present to capture 
it solely for the purpose of using its flesh in the manufacture of fertilizers. 

It is very important that any observation made upon this species in 
years to come should be reported to the United States Fish Commission. 
The length of those I have seen ranges from twelve to sixteen inches, and 
their weight from three-quarters of a pound to a pound and a half or more. 
Those sent to New York market were part of the lot taken by the schooner 
" American Eagle " and brought into Newport, whence they were shipped 
by Mr. Thompson, a fish dealer of that place. It would require from 
eightv to one hundred of them to fill a barrel ; so the estimate of Capt. 



Riggs, that there are a thousand barrels in one of the schools, shows how 
exceedingly abundant they must be. 

Capt. N. E. Atwood, of Provincetown, Mass., the veteran fisherman- 
ichthyologist, has examined the specimens, and is satisfied that they 
belong to the same species with a fish which he found abundant in the 
Azores in 1840, when, led by the reports of Cape Cod whalers, he went to 
these islands in search of the Mackerel, the mackerel fishing being poor at 
home. No Mackerel were found except the Frigate Mackerel. Reports 
in 1887, concerning this occurrence of Mackerel in the Eastern Atlantic 
are very probably inspired by the presence of this fish. 

The Horse Mackerel, so-called, Orcymis thynnus, is the most important 
of the Tunnies, the '' Ton " or '' Tuna" of the Mediterranean, and the 
" Tunny " of English-speaking people. 

The distribution of this fish corresponds more closely with that of the 
ordinary species of the Atlantic, since it occurs not only in the Mediter- 
ranean and the Western Atlantic north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but 
also on the coast of Europe to the Loffoden Islands, latitude 69°. 

Of this fish, as found in American waters, our naturalists have not much 
to say, the species, although abundant at certain seasons of the year off 
particular parts of the coast, being not a very familiar one to our writers. 
They seem to be rather a northern fish, and are said by Storer to make 
their first appearance on our shores about Provincetown early in June, 
remaining until October. Of late years they seem to be increasing in 
abundance northward, becoming more and more common during the 
summer season at Newfoundland. 

In 1878 Capt. Henry Webb, of Milk Island, near Gloucester, harpooned 
and killed thirty of these monsters, weighing in the aggregate at least 
thirty thousand pounds. They had entered his pound in pursuit of small 
fish, cutting without difficulty through the netting. One had his stomach 
full of small mackerel. 

According to Capt. Atwood, on their first appearance in Massachusetts 
Bay they are very poor, but by the beginning of September become quite 
fat and are very much hunted for the oil, the head and belly especially 
furnishing sometimes as many as twenty gallons. They are harpooned 
on the surface of the water, much like the Sword-fish. 

The early traditions of this fish in Massachusetts Bay speak of them as 
being sometimes so tame as to take food from the hand ; but they have 


long since given up this engaging habit. This species attains a very great 
size. One specimen, taken in 1838 off Cape Ann, measured, according to 
Dr. Storer, fifteen feet in length, and weighed one thousand pounds, while 
still larger individuals than this are known to have been captured. 

Their food while in our waters consists, it is said, mainly of menhaden, 
of which they destroy a vast number. Their inclosure in the fishermen's 
nets is not much desired, as they are apt to become entangled in them 
raid to do much injury in their efforts to escape. They are pursued by the 
killer whales, before which they flee in great terror. A graphic descrip- 
tion of this pursuit is given below in the words of Capt. Atwood. 

Strange to say, although highly prized in the Old World from the time 
of the ancient Romans to the present day, they are seldom, if ever, used 
for food in the United States, where their flesh is not esteemed, being 
rarely, if ever eaten, although much used for mackerel bait. It is, how- 
ever, more in favor in the Provinces. Although occurring in large numbers 
and of remarkable size, no effort is made toward their capture ; and though 
not unfrequently taken in Aveirs and pounds along the coast, they are always 
allowed to rot on the shore. Occasionally a portion of the flesh may be 
used as food for chickens, but seldom, if ever, for human consumption. 

In the Mediterranean the Tunny is taken in large nets, known as 
"madragues," similar in many respects to the so-called " traps" of Secon- 
net River in Rhode Island. The fish are used partly fresh and partly salted, 
and they are put up in oil to a considerable extent and largely consumed 
in all the Latin countries of Europe. Considerable quantities are salted 
and canned, and canned Tunny of European manufacture is imported to 
New York in small quantities. The flesh is dark and not usually attrac- 
tive, although wholesome. They appear to attain a greater size in 
America than in Europe, one of five hundred pounds in the Mediterra- 
nean being considered rather a monster, while in America their weight is 
not unfrequently given at from twelve to fifteen hundred pounds. 

Nothing definite is known in regard to their mode of reproduction. 
The eggs are said to be deposited early in June, and the young at hatch- 
ing, according to Yarrell, weigh an ounce and a half, reaching a weight 
of four ounces by August, and thirty ounces by October. 

INIr. Matthew Jones, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, writes: "The Tunny is 
very common on the eastern coast of Nova Scotia in summer, and is 
known to fishermen and others as the 'Albicore.' The Rev. J. Ambrose 


informs me that it regularly visits St. Margaret's Bay every summer, 
several specimens being taken and rendered down for oil. They were 
particularly abundant in 1876. They are not seen in the Basin of 

According to Dr. Fortin the Horse Mackerel is quite abundant in the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence, especially in the Days of Chaleur and of Gaspe, and 
also in the Straits of Belle Isle and Blancs Sablon Bay. It is taken in 
increasing numbers in the gulf, partly by spearing and partly by baiting. 
For this latter purpose strong steel hooks are used tied to solid lines and 
baited with herring. This fishing is prosecuted more particularly in the 
Bay of Chaleur and off Caraquette, where in 1863 over one hundred were 
captured. The fishing is quite exciting, although tiresome and requiring 
a good deal of skill, as in the efforts of the fishes to escape they pull with 
such violence as to endanger the lives of the fishermen by dragging them 

Capt. At wood contributes the following note on Horse Mackerel in 
Cape Cod Bay : 

"They don't come till the weather gets warm. We don't see them at 
first when we begin setting mackerel nets, but about June they are liable 
to appear, and we find holes in the nets. Sometimes in September they 
gill them for the sake of their oil. My brother had forty-seven holes 
through one eighty-yard nei in one night. When they strike a net they 
go right through it, and when they go through it the hole immediately 
becomes round. It looks as if you could put a half bushel through it. 
I said in my Lowell Institute lectures that a shark in going through a net 
would roll himself up m it, but the Horse Mackerel get right through, 
and the hole they cut could be mended in five minutes. The fishermen 
don't dread them much because they do the nets so little injury. They 
remain with us through the summer and early autumn, when they are 
killed for the oil. When they are here they feed upon any small fish, and 
Avhen menhaden were here I have seen them drive the harbor full of them. 
I have seen the Horse Mackerel swallow dogfish whole weighing eight 
pounds. As fast as we got out the livers of the dogfish they would catch 
them and eat them. There was a great deal of Avhiting here at that time. 
They have almost totally disappeared. The Horse Mackerel seems to be 
the enemy of all kinds of fish. There is nothing to trouble the Horse 

* Canadian Fishery Report for 1862-63. 


Mackerel until the killer comes, and then they know it, I tell you. Then 
the Horse Mackerel will run ! Some fishermen say that they have seen a 
killer poke his head out of the water with a Horse Mackerel in his mouth. 
1 have known a Horse Mackerel to yield twenty-three gallons of oil. The 
average size is about eight feet in length." 

This is a book devoted to American Fishes, but the Tunny, though an 
American fish, is not the foundation of an American fishery. In time we 
shall no doubt have a tunny fishery of our own, and as a step toward the 
consummation of that result, I quote a description of madrague fishing in 
Sicily, from the ever-delightful pen of Dr. Badham : 

"It was early in the morning of a lovely August day — never since we 
had been in Sicily had the water looked more blue, nor the cactus-crowned 
heights of JNIonte Pelegrino more inviting — that we put off in a boat from 
the Bay off Palermo, and ordered our barcaroles to pull for the tonnaro, 
or place where the madrague lay, about a mile from shore ; to seaward all 
was smooth ; not a ripple broke the oleaginous expanse stretched before 
us, mapped with floating corks, and indicating, as accurately as on a 
ground-plan, the whole extent and figure of the mighty decoy — a town in- 
deed in size ; having pulled from one end to the other of the long 
faubourg, to the first submarine barrier, and then glided over it, we rowed 
with increased speed between battlements of cork and motionless buoys, 
and soon came to the spot, towards which some boats a little in advance 
of our own had been driving a shoal of thunnies, like a flock of timid 
sheep. ' Ecco la camera della morte ; siamo giunti ! ' exclaimed both 
rowers at once, shipping their oars, and staring down into the depths to 
see what might be there : we did the same ; but not discovering anything, 
the men resumed the oars, and in a few seconds laid us alongside an an- 
chored barge, — one or two, which were placed as guards over each end 
of the 'chamber of death.' The first served as the point d appui for the 
nets, which were being worked up from the near side of the opposite 
vessel. A crowd of fishermen were busy tugging away at what seemed to 
our impatience an endless cordage ; by the shortening of which, however, 
as the boat duly received it, layer after layer, coil upon coil, and fold 
upon fold, they were slowly bringing up the reticuled wall from the 
bottom. Whilst waiting the result we had time to notice the fine propor- 
tions of the men, who, leaning over the sides of the boat, or standing on 
its benches, exhibited their athletic and agile forms picturesquely grouped 
and engaged in all those varieties of muscular action which each man's 
share in the labors severally demanded. A fine figure is, according to 
Oppian, a prime qualification in a fisherman ; 

First be the fisher's limbs compact and sound, 
With solid flesh and well-braced sinews bound : 


Let due porportion every part commend, 

Nor leamiess shrink too much, nor fat distend.* 

And more perfect figures than theirs poetry could not describe, nor the 
classic chisel of Greece portray ; every man was an Academy model ; to 
perfect symmetry of limb were added dark flashing eyes, jet black hair, 
beard, and moustache ; irreproachable noses, ivory teeth, and the rich- 
colored complexion of the South. What a contrast to a body of 
sandy-haired, freckled, hard-featured, stockingless Highlanders, landing 
from a Scotch steamboat, and challenging, by their self-satisfied air, atten- 
tion to an ungainly gait and knock-kneed deformity of person ! 

Presently a simultaneous shout proclaimed, 'La pipa ! la pipa!' — our 
own boatmen, after repeating the cry, informed us that a sword-fish, or 
pipa, as the Palermo sailors designate it, had been seen to enter the decoy 
with the thunny, and must now be in the net, as the flooring had been 
drawn up several fathoms, the pipa presently swam towards the surface, to 
see what was the matter, and some well-practised eyes having caught a 
first glimpse of him, the crews testified their delight by three loud vocifera- 
tions. Frightened by the noise and the confused scene above, the long 
form of the fish might soon be distinguished, shooting now here, now 
there, athwart the hempen court ; he rose at last, in much agitation, to 
the top, but instantly dived down again, scattering the spray far and wide 
with a lash of his powerful tail. This plunge only carried him among the 
trembling thunnies, pelamyds, and alalongas, which covered the bottom 
of the net ; then up he came again, to find every eye looking fishy, and 
every hand ready to deal the fatal blow. Like a startled horse in a high- 
fenced paddock, the sword-fish now careered round and round the 
enclosure, vainly seeking an exit by which to bolt, but finding none, he 
backed a moment, then, swifter than thought, rushed on the net, ran his 
long weapon through, and made a large hole in the meshes ; but becoming 
hopelessly entangled, his fate was sealed, and death followed fast ; one 
lusty arm throws a heavy harpoon, and misses ; another with more steady 
aim, and a lighter missile, hits and wounds the fish, who, staggered at the 
blow, flounders from side to side, while the clear blue waves are stained 
all round with his blood ; in a few seconds a dozen barbed poles lie deep 
in the poor pipa's flank, and after throwing up a whirlpool of discolored 
water, as the blows of the fishermen rain faster and faster upon their 
victim, the crimson of the flood deepens, and in less than a minute from 
the first wound the gashed carcass of the great scomber is poised up safely 
into the boat, with a triumphant shout. ' Five scudi, my lads, for our 
share!' exclaims one of the excited mariners, as they lay him at last at 
the bottom : and ' Bless the Virgin and St. Anthony,' says another, 'there 
is not much damage done this time to the net.' ' Now, signor, we shall 
presently see the thunny,' cried out our barcaroles; and accordingly, as 

*Oppian,J. Jones's translation. 



the sieve-like flooring of the ' camera della morte ' was drawn within a 
few feet of the surface, a mixed multitude of large fish, chiefly of the 
scomber family, all in violent agitation at what they saw and heard (for 
the men were now gaily singing at the ropes), dashed and splashed about, 
till the whole enclosure was covered with foam. The work of slaughter 
soon commenced, and these great creatures, despatched by blows, were 
hauled without difficulty on board the barge.* The chamber being now 
empty, was let down again for new victims, while we followed the cargo 
just shipped to the land-place ; thence, preceded by two drummers, off we 
went in a procession to the Mercato Reale, where we found many great 
2yeless thunny (the produce of a still earlier haul) already piled np in 
bloody heaps on the flags, f Besides these, there were alalongas, whose long 
pectorals had been draggled in the mire, with many other large and curi- 
ous fish, and the formidably aj-med heads of two or three sword-fish, fixed 
on end in the upper part of the woodwork of the same stalls, where their 
huge bodies were exposed for sale below, cut up into bloodless white 
masses, like so many coarse fillets of veal ; while whole hampers of labridae 
attracted the least attentive eye by their lovely variegated and ever-vary- 
ing tints. 

* Sometimes, we are told, when a very colossal thunny is caught, one of the crew mounts his back, and will 
ride him, as Arion did the dolphin, several times round the inner enclosure, patting and taming him before he 
is stabbed like his smaller companions. 

fThe eyes, being a perquisite of the crew, are torn out the first thing, to make oil for their lamps : the gills 
also and the roes, which are eaten fresh, are commonly ripped out ind deposited in baskets by tnemselves. 
These various mutilations of the thunny render its appearance in tnv^ markets at all times unsightly and unin- 
viting. In some cases, however, the fish are transferred in the first instance into an inner shed or shamble, 
where a whole troop of them is speedily cut to pieces, and the sections (each of which has a name and a 
market price of its own) are then exposed for sale. The young thunnies do not appear in public at all till 
they have been first carefully boiled in sea-water, and become tlion marine. 





After the battle, the peace is dear. 

After the toil, the rest ; 
After the storm, when the skies are clear. 

Fair is the ocean's breast. 

Out in the gold sunshine 

Throw we the net and line ; 

The silvery chase to-day 

Calls us to work away, 
So throw the line, throw — Yo, heave ho ! 

Fishers must work when the treacherous sea 

Smiles with a face of light. 
Though the deep bed, where their fortunes be. 

May be their grave ere night. 

Out in the gold sunshine 

Throw we the net and line ; 

The silvery lines to-day 

Flash in the silvery spray. 
So throw the line, throw — Yo, heave ho ! 

Herman MerivAle, The Fisherman' s Song:. 

'nPHE Rudder-Fish family, Stroinateidce, is represented on the coast by- 
three species, two of which are important food-fishes, and in our Pa- 
cific waters by one species, the so-called ''California Pompano." The 
family is a small one, and is widely distributed throughout warm seas. 

The ''Butter-fish" of Massachusetts and New York, Stromateiis triacan- 
tliiis, sometimes known in New Jersey as the "Harvest-fish," in Maine as 
the " Dollar-fish," about Cape Cod as the " Sheepshead," and " Skip- 
iack," in Connecticut as the "Pumpkin-seed," and at Norfolk as the 
" Star-fish," is common between Cape Cod and Cape Henry. It has been 
observed south to South Carolina and north to Maine. It has been found 
in some abundance along the north side of Cape Cod in nets with bass 
and mackerel. It is a summer visitor, appearing in our waters in company 


with the mackerel and disappearing about the same time. It appears to 
breed in the sounds and in the open ocean in June and July, and the 
young are found in great abundance in July, August, and September, 
swimming about in company with certain species of jelly-fishes. During 
these months several large species of jelly-fish, or sun-squalls, are found 
abundantly floating about in waters near the shore, and each one of these 
is almost invariably accompanied by ten or twelve, or more, young 
Butter-fishes, which seem to seek shelter under their disks, and which, 
perhaps, may obtain a supply of food from among the numerous soft- 
bodied invertebrates which are constantly becoming attached to the 
floating streamers of their protecters. The young fish, thus protected, 
range from two to two and a half inches in length. I have seen fifteen, 
and more, sheltered under an individual of Cyanea arctica not more than 
three inches in diameter. This refuge is not always safe for the little 
fishes, for they sometimes are destroyed by the tentacles of their protector, 
Avhich are provided, as every one knows, with powerful lasso cells. The 
little fish seem to rise at the approach of danger and seek refuge among 
the lobes of the actinostome. They are thus protected from the 
attacks of many kinds of larger fishes which prey upon them, though they 
themselves often fall victims to the stinging power of the jelly-fish and are 
devoured. The habit of thus seeking shelter is very much like that of the 
rudder-fish. The Butter-fish attains an average size of seven or eight 
inches in length, and is very often taken in the pounds. The fishermen 
of Noank, Conn., tells me that a barrelful of them is often taken in one 
haul of a pound-net. They are much valued for food at New Bedford. 
When sent to New York they command a good price, and the poundmen 
at Lobsterville sometimes eat them and- consider them better than scup. 
Their flavor is excellent, resembling that of the mackerel, though less 
oily ; they are very palatable when nicely boiled. At many places, for 
instance, Noank, and Wood's Holl, they are thrown away. Storer stated 
that they were extensively used as manure in certain parts of ]\Iassacliu- 
setts. No observations have been made upon their food, though, since 
their mouths are nearly toothless, it seems probable that they subsist, for 
the most part, upon minute vertebrates. These fishes are remarkable on 
account of their brilliant, iridescent colors, which, in freshly caught 
individuals, are as beautiful as those of a dolphin. 

The Harvest-fish, Stroinatcus alepidotiis, has not been observed north of 


New York. Mitchill referred to it in his work on the fishes of New York, 
published in 181 5, saying that it derived its common name, " Harvest- 
fish," from the fact that it usually appeared during harvest time. DeKay, 
too, mentions having had several specimens in his possession. It is 
somewhat abundant at the mouth of the Chesapeake, and along the 
Southern coast. In the Gulf of Mexico it is rather rare ; occasionally it is 
taken in seines at Pensacola. Dr. Giinther, in his ''Catalogue of the 
Fishes of the British Museum," makes the astonishing statement that he 
has seen specimens from Lake Champlain. The species ranges south to 
Bahia, Brazil. It is not commercially valuable except at Norfolk, A-^a., 
where it is consumed for food in large quantities, its market name being 

The California Pompano, Stromateus shnillimus , is thus described by 
Prof. Jordan : 

" This species, known here as the Pompano, reaches a length of eight 
inches, and a weight of rather less than half a pound. It occurs along 
the entire coast of California and Oregon, being most abundant about 
Santa Barbara and Soquel, and is not known from farther south than San 
Diego. It appears in schools chiefly in the summer and fall ; occasion- 
ally, also, during the winter, its times of arrival and departure being quite 
variable. It is said that it was an extremely rare visitant till about 1870, 
and that its abundance since then has steadily increased, it being now 
often found in greater quantities than can be readily sold. It feeds on 
worms, small Crustacea, &c. Nothing special is known of its breeding 
habits. As a food-fish it is held in the highest repute, the price of indi- 
vidual fish ranging from two to four for a ' quarter. ' Its flesh is fat, rich, 
and excellent." 

The Black Rudder-fish, Lirus perciformis, is also called by the fishermen 
"Log-fish" and "Barrel-fish." It has been noticed at various points 
along our coast from New Jersey to Nova Scotia, where schools of them 
were several times observed off Halifax in 1877. It has hitherto been 
considered very rare north of Cape Cod. I cannot doubt that it will be 
hereafter found at least as far south as Cape Hatteras, and probably along 
the whole length of our Atlantic coast. The habits of this fish are peculiar 
in the extreme. They are almost always found in the vicinity of floating 
barrels and spars, sometimes inside of the barrels ; hence the fishermen 
often call them " Barrel-fish," though the most usual name is " Rudder- 



fish." They are occasionally taken in lobster-pots. When cruising in 
Fish Commission yacht "Mollie," off Noman's Land, July 13, 1875, we 
observed numerous specimens swimming under floating spars and planks. 
Sometimes as many as from fifty to seventy-five were obseryed under a 
single spar, a cloud of shadowy black forms being plainly visible from the 
deck. We Avent out to them in a row-boat and succeeded in taking 
thirteen of them in the course of a day. After the first thrusts of the dip- 
net they grew shy and sought refuge under the boat, under which they 
would sink far below our reach. A lull of a few moments would bring 
them back to the log under which they had clustered until disturbed again. 
When the boat was rowed away they followed in a close-swimming school 
until Ave gained full speed, when they suddenly turned, as if by one im- 
pulse, and swam back to the log or spar. Once they followed us about 
two hundred yards from the spar, and then leaving us retreated to their 
old shelter, reaching it some time before we could turn the boat and row 
back to it. I had before this supposed them to be quite unusual, but on 
that one day we must have seen, at the lowest computation, tAvo hundred 
or tAvo hundred and fifty. They doubtless have been given the name of 
Rudder-fish by the sailors who have seen them SAvimming about the sterns 
of becalmed vessels. 






When the Fish Commission steamer has been dredging off Halifax, I 
have several times noticed schools of them hovering around her sides. 
They doubtless gather around the logs for the purpose of feeding upon the 
hydroids and minute crustaceans, and perhaps mollusca Avhich accumulate 


around them. Their stomachs were found to contain amphipod crusta- 
ceans, hydroids, and young squids. They are doubtless to some degree 
protected by the spars under which they congregate, in the same manner 
as their kindred, the Butter-fish, which swim under the disk of the 
jelly-fish. Their colors undergo considerable change from time to time, 
possibly at the will of the fish. 

The Rudder-fish attains the length of ten or twelve inches, and is 
excellent eating. DeKay states that the fishermen of New York, in 1842, 
called this species the "Snip-nosed Mullet," but this name does not 
appear to have become permanent. 

The Rudder-fish occasionally follows ships across the Atlantic. A sin- 
gle individual was taken at Penzance, in Cornwall, in October, 1879, and 
is now in the collection of Sir John St. Aubyn, at "Michaels Mount." 



Swift speed crevalle over that waterj' plain. 

Swift over Indian River's broad expanse. 
Swift where the ripples boil with finny hosts, 

Bright glittering they glarice ; 
And when the angler's spoon is over them cast, 

How fierce, how vigorous the fight for life ! 
Now in the deeps they plunge, now leap in air 

Till end's the unequal strife. 

Isaac McLellan. 

'■ I "'HE members of the family Caraiigidcc, which is closely allied to the 
mackerel family, are distinguished chiefly by the form of the mouth, 
and by the fact that they have uniformly but twenty-four vertebrae, ten 
abdominal and fourteen caudal, while the mackerel have uniformly more, 
both abdominal and caudal. They are carnivorous fishes, abounding 
everywhere in temperate and tropical seas. On our own eastern coast 
there are at least twenty-five species, all of them eatable, but none of them 
of much importance except Pompanoes. On the California coast there are 
two or three species of this family, of small commercial importance. 

Caranx hippos, the Cavally of the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern 
Florida — the " Horse Crevalle " of South Carolina — occurs abundantly 
on our Southern coast, and has been recorded by Prof. Poey from Cuba 
and by Cope from St. Christopher and St. Croix. It is generally dis- 
tributed throughout the West Indies, and is found along the Pacific coast 
the Gulf of California to Panama. The si)ecies was ori2:inallv described 


from specimens sent from South Carolina by Garden to Linnceus. The 
name of this fish is usually written and printed " Crevalle," ])ut the form 
in common use among the fishermen of the South, " Cavally," is nearer to 
the Spanish and Portuguese names, Cavallia and Caballa, meaning 
^' horse." The name as used in South Carolina is a curious reduplication, 
being a combination of the English and Spanish names fca* 'Miorse." It 
should be carefully remembered that in South Carolina the name Crevalle 
is most generally applied to quite another fish, the Pompano. 

I'he Cavally, as it seems most appropriate to call Caranx hippos, though 
in individual cases occurring as far north as Cape Cod, and even, in one 
instance, at Lynn, Mass., is not commonly known in the United States 
north of Florida. Storer remarks : " This fish is so seldom seen in the 
waters of South Carolina that we are unacquainted with its habits." I 
observed a specimen in the Jacksonville market in April, 1S74. Con- 
cerning the Cavally of Southern Florida, which is either this or a closely 
allied species, Mr. H. S. Williams writes : 

" In the Indian River this is one of the best of the larger varieties. Its 
season is from the ist of May to November. It ranges in weight from 
three to twenty pounds, being larger and more numerous to the southward 
toward the Mosquito Inlet. The south end of Merritt's Island and the 
inlets opposite old Fort Capron seem to be a sort of headquarters for the 
Cavalli. When in pursuit of prey they are very ravenous and move with 
the rapidity of lightning. They readily take a troll either with bait or 
rag. The favorite mode of capturing them, as well as all other large fish 
that feed in shallow water or near the shore, is with a rifle. The high, 
rocky shores aff"ord an excellent opportunity for this sport, though the 
rapid movements of the fish render them very difficult target." S. C. 
Clarke says : '' It will take a spoon or other troll, and would no doubt 
rise to a fly. When hooked it makes long and vigorous runs, and fights 
to the last." 

Mr. Stearns writes: "The Crevalle is common on the Gulf coast. In 
AA'est Florida it appears in May and remains until late in the fall, and is 
equally abundant in the bays and at sea. In the bays it is noticeable 
from the manner in which it preys upon fish smaller than itself, the Gulf 
menhaden and mullet being the most common victims. On arrival it 
contains spawn which it probably deposits in the salt-water bayous, for in 
the fall schools of young are seen coming out of those places on their way 



to the sea. These young are then of about one pound weight, appearing 
to the casual observer like pompano, and I am told that they equal it for- 
edible purposes. They are caught accidently by seines and trolling-lines. 
Large ones are not considered choice food, the flesh being dark and 
almost tasteless. The average weight is twelve pounds ; occasionally they- 
attain the size of twenty pounds." 

Prof. Jordan found this species abundant in Lake Pontchartrain. 

Caranx cnnnenophthalinus, called in the Bermudas, where it is of some 
importance as a food-fish, the " Goggler," or " Goggle-eyed Jack," and 
in Cuba the " Cicharra," occurs in the West Indies and along the Atlan- 
tic coast of the United States north to Vineyard Sound. It is also found 
at Panama and in the Gulf of California, and in the Indian Ocean, the 
Red Sea, and off the coast of Guinea, while, as has been remarked, it is 
abundant in the Bermudas. Its large, protruding eyes are very noticeable 
features, and the Bermuda name seems appropriate for adoption, since the 
fish has with us never received a distinctive name. In form it somewhat 
resembles the species last discussed, with which it is probably often, 
confused. Stearns speaks of a fish, common at Key West, which is known, 
as the " Horse-eyed Jack," and this may prove to be the same species. 


Caranx pisquetus, known about Pensacola as the " Jurel." " Cojinua,"' 
and " Hard-tail"; along the Florida coast as "Jack-fish" and "Skip- 
jack"; in the Bermudas as the "Jack" or "Buffalo Jack"; in South 
Carolina as the "Horse Crevalle"; at Fort Macon as the "Horse 
Mackerel "; about New York and on the coast of New Jersey as the " Yel- 
low Mackerel," is found in the Western Atlantic from Brazil, Cuba, and 


Hayti to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where specimens were secured by the 
United States Fish Commission in 1877. It is one of the commonest 
summer visitants of the West Indian fauna along the whole coast of 
Southern New England and the Middle States, being especially abundant 
in the Gulf of Mexico, and one of the commonest fishes in the Bermudas. 
This fish is occasionally brought to the New York market, but is of no 
special importance as an article of food north of the Gulf of Mexico. 
Concerning its habits in those waters, Mr. Stearns has contributed a very 
interesting series of notes. They are especially instructive, since nothing 
lias previously been known of its life-history. 

" It is extremely abundant everywhere on the Gulf coast of Floritla, Ala- 
bama, and Mississippi. At Pensacola it is one of the important fishes of 
trade, and is highly prized for food. It is one of the class of migrator}'- 
fishes of this coast, like the pompano, mullet, Spanish mackerel, and red- 
fish, having certain seasons for appearing and disappearing on the coast, 
and also has habits during these seasons that are peculiar to themselves or 
their class. It appears on the coast in Ajjril, in large schools that swim 
in shoal water near the beach during pleasant weather, when there is little 
or no surf, in eight or ten feet of water, and in stormy weather some little 
distance from the breakers. Their movement is from the eastward to the 
■westward. As they seldom swim at the surface, their movements can be 
watched only when in shoal water. The schools ' running ' in April and 
first of May are usually smaller than those of a few weeks later, but the 
individuals of the first are somewhat larger. The mass, or largest ' run,' 
comes in May, and it is on the arrival of these that schools are first seen 
coming in the inlets. 

"A noticeable peculiarity of the Hard-tail compared with some other 
common migratory fishes is that the first schools do not stay about the 
mouths of an inlet and along the beach weeks before coming inside as 
those of the latter do, but continue their westward movement, without 
seeming to stop to feed or play, until the time has come for a general 
movement towards the bays. In this way they must be distributed along 
the coast, with no unequal accumulation at any one i)oint. A\'hen once 
inside, the numerous schools break up into smaller ones of a dozen or two 
fish, which are found in all parts of the bay during the summer. On their 
arrival the larger fish contain spawn, and become quite dull, in July and 
August ; after this none are seen but the young fish of about ten 


inches in length, until there is a general movement towards the sea. It is 
believed that the adult fish spawn in the bays, but the only evidence to 
support that belief is that they come inside with spawn, go away with it, 
and that very young fish are found there. In October and November 
small Hard-tails are caught in Santa Rosa Sound, measuring five and six 
inches in length. 

"The smallest of the spring run are nine or ten inches long. Adult fish 
measure twelve, fourteen, and fifteen inches in length, very rarely more 
than the last. During the months of October and November, Hard-tails 
leave the bays, formed in small schools and swimming below the surface 
in deep water. The only time that they can then be seen is when they 
cross the ' bars ' at the inlet or sandy shoals in the bay. A few stragglers 
remain in Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound all Avinter, which are 
taken now and then with hook and line. I have found them in abundance 
in winter on the South Florida coast, where, owing to less variable con- 
ditions of the water, their habits are decidedly different. The Hard-tail 
is a most voracious fish, waging active war upon the schools of small fish. 
Its movements are rapid, and sometimes in its eagerness it will jump high 
out of the water. It has its enemies also, for I have seen whole schools 
driven ashore by the sharks and porpoises ; a great many are destroyed in 
this way. Hard-tails are caught for the market in seines." 

The occurrence of the Cuba Jurel, Caraiix latus, on our coast was first 
announced by a drawing made by Mr. J. H. Richard of a fish taken in 
South Carolina. Upon this drawing Holbrook founded his species, C 
Richardii. Caraux latus occurs abundantly throughout the West Indies 
and along the Gulf coast of the United States, and it is by no means im- 
possil)le that stragglers should have found their way to Charleston. 
According to Prof. Poey, this fish has been prohibited from sale in Cuba 
from time immemorial, and with good reason, since many disastrous cases 
of sickness have followed its use as food. This species occurs, according- 
to Jordan, from the Gulf of California to Panama, and also in the East 

The Round Robin, Decaptcrus Iinictatus, called at Pensacola, the 
" Cigar-fish," occurs in the Bermudas, where it is an important food -fish ;. 
it occurs also in the West Indies and along the coast of the United States 
north as far as Woods Holl. 

A closely related species, Decaptcrus macarel/ns, is found also in the 


West Indies and along the eastern coast of the United States. According 
to Stearns, individuals of this species are rather rare in the northern part 
of the Gulf, but more common along the South Florida coast. They live 
in shallow water and in harbors, usually moving about in small schools. 
At Key West they are caught in seines, and are eaten. 

The Scads, known in England as the "Horse-Mackerels," appear to 
occur in all temperate and tropical waters. The distribution is given by 
Gunther as follows : " From the coasts of the temperate parts of Europe, 
along the coasts of Africa, round the Cape of Good Hope into the East 
Indian seas, to the coasts of New Zealand and West America." As has 
been shown by Liitken, Steindachner, and Jordan and Gilbert, three dis- 
tinct species are confounded by Gunther under the name Trachurus 

In Europe our scad ranges north to the Trondhjem Fjord, latitude 65°, 
and is said to occur as far south as Portugal. On the coast of Holland it 
is known as the " iNIarse Banker," or " Hors." It is interesting to 
American ichthyologists, since the similarity of its habits to those of the 
menhaden, so important in our waters, caused the latter fish to be called 
among the early Dutch colonists of New York by the same name. Euro- 
pean writers describe the Scads as occurring upon those coasts in schools 
of immense numbers, and it would seem that although their manner of 
swimming resembles that of the menhaden, in their other habits they more 
closely resemble our bluefish. They are considered to be food-fishes of 
fair quality, and attain the length of about twelve inches. They are sup- 
posed to spawn about the same time as the mackerel. Only three 
specimens of this species have ever been taken in the United States, one 
by the Fish Commission in Southern New England in 1878, and subse- 
quently two others by Jordan and Stearns, at Pensacola. In California, 
according to Jordan, the allied species T. pictiiraiits occurs and is known 
as the " Horse- Mackerel." He remarks : "It reaches a length of about 
a foot and a weight of less than a pound. It ranges from IMonterey 
southward to Chili, appearing in California in the summer, remaining in 
the spawning season, and disappearing before December. It arrives at 
Santa Barbara in July, and at Monterey in August. In late summer it is 
exceedingly abundant. It forms part of the food of larger fishes, and 
great numbers are salted for bait. As a food-fish it is held in low esteem, 
but whether this is due entirely to its small size we do not know. It is 
identical with the well-known Mediterranean species." 


The Horse-fish, Selene setipinnis, known in North Carolina as the 
" INIoonfish " or "Sunfish," and in Cuba by the name " Jorobado," was 
called by DeKay " Blunt-nosed Shiner," and since this name, sometimes 
varied to " Pugnosed Shiner," is in common use in the New York market 
and in Narragansett Bay, while the other names are shared by other species, 
similar and dissimilar, it seems the most suitable for general adoption. 
The fish is found everywhere throughout the West Indies, as well as in 
Northern Brazil and in the Gulf of Guinea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf 
of California, and southward along the coast to Panama, but has not been 
found in Europe. In Eastern Florida it is not very unusual, being fre- 
quently taken in the Lower St. John's, and sometimes driven up as far as 
Jacksonville by easterly storms. Here and in the Indian River it is known 
as the " Moonfish." It is a frequent summer visitor all along the coast as 
far north as Woods Holl, Mass., where it has a peculiar name, the people 
there calling it the "Hump-backed Butterfish." The species attains the 
length of ten or twelve inches, and is esteemed an excellent article of 
food. Considerable numbers are brought yearly to New York, but else- 
where it rarely appears in the markets. Young from three inches in 
length upwards are found, but we have no definite knowledge as to its 
breeding habits. 

The Silver Moon-fish, Selene argentca, is almost certain to be confused 
by fishermen with the one last described, which it resembles, and is often 
spoken of under the same names. It occurs abundantly on our coast as far 
north as Woods Holl, and is found in the West Indies, in Brazil, and in 
the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the Pacific, from the Gulf of California 
to Panama. 

The young of the Silver Moon-fish is abundant in our waters, and has 
been frequently taken in Massachusetts Bay, and, in one or two instances, 
as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their bodies are so thin that they 
can be dried in the sun without the use of any preservatives, without loss 
of form and color. They are, consequently, of no importance for food. 
In the Chesapeake this fish is often called by the names " Horse-head," 
and " Look-down." 

The Amber-fish, Seriola carolincnsis, is quite common off the West 
Florida coast, occurring in from ten to thirty fathoms of water on or near 
the ' snapper banks ' throughout the year. It is an active species, 
swimming just below the surface, and preying ui)on schools of small fish. 



It is a good food-fish, but is rather shy of a baited hook, and but few are 
taken. It attains a size of forty inches in length and fifteen pounds 

r/ - 



weight. It is also, according to Jordan, rather common on the Carolina 
coast, where it is known as the "Jack-fish." 

The "Rock Salmon" of Pensacola, Scriola falcata, is recorded by 
Stearns as occasionally occurring near Pensacola in comj^jany with the 
preceeding species, which it resembles in habits. It is caught with hook 
and line and is eaten ; in his opinion, it attains a larger size than the 
Amber-fish. There is a third species of Amber-fish of which the National 
Museum has received a single specimen from South Florida. It is closely 
related to the fish described by Cuvier under the name Scriola Lalaiidii. 
The same species is some sent to the New Orleans market, where an ex- 
ample was seen by Prof. Jordan. 

Another closelv allied species, Seriola dorsalis, occurs on the coast of 
California, where, according to Jordan, it is known under the names 
"Yellow-tail," "White Salmon," and "Cavasina." 

Of the " Yellow-tail," Prof. Jordan says : "It reaches a length of four 
to five feet, and a weight of thirty to forty pounds, and individuals of less 
than fifteen pounds weight are rarely seen. It ranges from Cape San 
Lucas northward to the Santa Barbara and Coronados Islands, where it is 
found in great abundance in the spawning season, arriving in July, and 
departing in early fall. It spawns about August i8. It is caught chiefly 
bv trolling. It feeds on squid and such fish as the anchovy and sardine. 
As a fresh fish it ranks high, although large individuals are sometimes 
coarse and tough. When salted and dried it is inferior to none on the 
coast, ranking with the white-fish and barracuda." 


The Banded Rudder-flsh, Scriola zonata, has been observed as far north 
as Salem and Beverly, Mass. Several specimens have been taken north of 
Cape Cod during the past forty years. It is a small fish, rarely exceeding 
six or eight inches in length, conspicuous by reason of its brilliant and 
beautiful colors, and good to eat, though rarely saved by the fishermen 
who accidently capture it. It is called in Southern New England the 
"Rudder-fish" on account of its resemblance to the Rudder-fish of the 
ocean, Naucrates ductor. 

Seriola fasciata, called in Cuba the " Medregal " and in Bermuda the 
"Bonita," has been observed in South Florida and along the coasts of 
the Carolinas. It is apparently exceedingly rare in the waters of the 
United States. In Bermuda it attains a length of two feet or more, and 
is highly esteemed as a food-fish. 

The Leather-jacket, Oligoplitcs saurus, which is found throughout the 
West Indies and south as far as Bahia, and on the Pacific coast of Mexico 
and Central America, has since 1875 been severel times observed between 
Florida and Newport, R. I. It is known to fishermen as the " Skipjack," 
sharing this name with a number of other scombroid fishes, which leap 
from the water as they pursue their prey. It is one of the most beautiful 
and graceful fishes in out waters, but at present is of no economic import- 
ance, its flesh being hard and dry. 

" The Runner, Elagatis pinimlatvs, known at Key West as " Skipjack " 
or "Runner," and at Pensacola as "Yellow-tail" or "Shoemaker," is, 
according to Stearns, abundant on the western and southern coasts of 
Florida. At Pensacola it spawns in spring ; the young fish are seen in 
July and August. It is found in the bays and along the sea-beaches, seem- 
ing to prefer clear salt-water, swift currents, and sandy bottoms. It 
usually moves in small schools of a dozen or two individuals. It feeds 
upon small fishes and crustaceans. When pursued by larger fish it jumps 
repeatedly from the water, very much in the same manner as the flying 
fish, only its flights are much shorter and oftener repeated. This habit has 
given it the names of 'Skipjack ' and ' Runner ' at Key West, where it 
may be seen at almost any time. It is sometimes eaten at Key West, and 
at Havana is quite an important fish in the markets, being also exposed 
for sale at stands on the streets, cooked and ready for use. 

The dolphins, Coryphcenida, are found usually in mid-ocean, where they 
feed upon other pelagic fishes, such as the flying-fish. They are strong. 



rapid swimmers, and are widely distributed throughout all temperate and 
tropical waters. The name Dolphin is unfortunately applied, this being 




the peculiar property of a group of small cetaceans. They are often 

caught by sailors at sea, and are considered most excellent food. It is an 

almost universal custom before eating them to test the flesh by putting a 

])iece of siher into the ^-essel in which they have been cooked, it being a 

common belief that if the flesh is poisonous the silver will turn dark. 

Narratives of ocean voyages abound in descriptions of the beautiful colors 

of the Dolphin and the brilliant changes of hue exhibited by the dying 

fish, but none so eloquent as that in ^^lontgomery's " Pelican Island." 

■' A shoal of dolphins, tumbling in wild glee, 
Glowed with such orient tints, they might have been 
The rainbow's ofiTspring, where it met the ocean." 

There are in the Atlantic two species of Dolphins, though the num- 
ber was, until lately, supposed to be very much greater. But one of these, 
CorxpJuTiia liippiints, is definitely known from our shores. 

The young, less than two feet in length, are beautifully marked with 
numerous small circular spots, and have, until lately, been considered by 
many writers to belong to a distinct genus and species. Dolphins are 
abundant also, it is said, in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Pilot-fish, Naucrates diictor, though of little or no economic im- 
portance, deserves passing mention, since it is so frequently referred to in 
literature. It is occasionally taken on our coast. Capt. Atwood 
mentions a specimen which was taken in a mackerel net in Provincetown 
Harbor, in October, 1858. A whale-ship had come in a few days before, 
and he sujjposes that the Pilot-fish had followed it into the harbor. 



The Pilot-fish, N. diictor, is a truly pelagic fish, known in all tropical 
and temperate seas. Its name is derived from its hal)it of keeping com- 
pan}^ with ships and large fish, especially sharks. It is the Pompilus of 
the ancients, who describe it as pointing out the way to dubious or 
embarrassed sailors, and as announcing the vicinity of land by its sudden 
disappearance. It was therefore regarded as a sacred fish. The connec- 


tion between the shark and the Pilot-fish has received various interpreta- 
tions, some observers having, perhaps, added more sentiment than is 
warranted by the actual facts. It was stated that the shark never seized 
the Pilot-fish ; that the latter was of great use to its big companion in 
conducting it and showing it the way to food. Dr. Meyer, in his " Reise 
um die Erde," states : " The Pilot swims constantly in front of the shark ; 
we ourselves have seen three instances in which the shark was led bv the 
Pilot. When the shark nearecl the ship the Pilot swam close to the snout, 
or near one of the pectoral fins of the animal. Sometimes he darted 
rapidly forwards or sidewards, as if looking for something, and constantly 
Avent back again to the shark. ^Mien we threw overboard a piece of bacon 
fastened on a great hook, the shark was about twenty paces from the shij). 
"With the quickness of lightning the Pilot came up, smelt at the dainty, 
and instantly swam back again to the shark, swimming manv times round 
his snout and splashing as if to give him exact information as to the 
bacon. The shark now began to put himself in motion, the Pilot showing 
him the way, and in a moment he was fast upon the hook.* Upon a later 
occasion we observed two Pilots in sedulous attendance on a blue shark, 
which we caught in the Chinese Sea. It seems probable that the Pilot 
feeds on the shark's excrements, keeps his company for that purpose, and 

* In this instance one may entertain reasonable doubts as to the usefulness of the Pilot to the shark. 


directs his operations solely from this selfish view." I believe that Dr. 
Meyer's opinion, as expressed in his last words, is perfectly correct. The 
Pilot obtains a great part of his food directly from the shark, in feeding 
on the parasite crustaceans with which sharks and other large fish are 
infested, and on the smaller pieces of flesh which are left unnoticed by 
the shark when it tears its prey. The Pilot, also, being a small fish, 
obtains greater security when in company of a shark, which would keep at 
a distance all other fishes of prey that would be likely to prove dangerous 
to the Pilot. Therefore, in accompanying the shark, the Pilot is led by 
the same instinct which makes it follow a ship. 

With regard to the statement that the Pilot itself is never attacked by 
the shark, all observers agree as to its truth ; but this may be accounted 
for in the same way as the impunity of the swallow from the hawk, the 
Pilot-fish being to nimble for the unwieldy shark. 

I quote at length the remarks of my friend, Dr. Francis Day: 

" This fish has long been celebrated as the companion and guide of 
sharks, as it was formerly said to be of whales, and also the friend, or at 
least close attendant, on ships while sailing over the ocean. Although 
some consider the pilot-fish to be the friend of the shark, others have 
thought such open to suspicion, while Cuvier has even suggested down- 
right enmity or rather treachery in its actions. M. Geoffrey tells how two 
of these fishes were observed to lead a shark up to a baited hook which by 
their importunities they induced him to gorge. Or as Cuvier pithily puts 
it, that this tale if true should occasion them to be termed "deceivers" 
rather than "pilots." Capt. Richards once observed upon a blue shark 
attended by four pilot-fishes following his vessel in the Mediterranean ; 
a bait was displayed, but the little pilot-fishes pertinaciously came to the 
front and with their snouts thrust the bait hook away. All at last swam 
away together, but suddenly the shark changed its mind, turned and rushed 
forwards with all speed at the bait, leaving his faithful attendants far be- 
hind, and which only arrived as the body of their companion was being 
hauled up on board, to which one is said to have clung, until it was half 
above water, when it fell off leaving it doubtful if it was not a sucking 
fish. Why the shark does not prey on its companions is a mvstery. 
Lacepede thought their agility saved them, and that their flesh is not 
worthy the eating. 

" In the Naturalists' Note-book (1869, p. 255), a writer (J. D. S. W.) 
mentions ' we frecjuently threw pieces of flesh into the water to them. 
The pilot-fish first came up and smelt the meat, and then Avent away and 
led the shark to it, who always swallowed the whole and left none for his 
little companions. On a dark night you can see the entire shape of the 



shark in the water below, shining all over with phosphorescence. Now 
this phosphorescence is considered by most naturalists to be due to the 
presence of animalcules, and if so, it may reasonably be presumed that the 
pilot-fishes live on these animalcules, for they are frequently seen clinging 
to the sides of the shark." 

The Pilot-fish does not always leave the vessels on their approach to 
land. In summer, when the temperature of the sea-water is several 
degrees above the average, Pilots will follow ships to the south coast of 
England into the harbor, where they are generally speedily caught. 
Pilot-fish attain a length of twelve inches only. When very young their 
appearance differs so much from the mature fish that they have been 
described as a distinct genus, Naiiclcnis. This fry is exceedingly common 
in the open ocean, and constantly obtained in the tow-net: therefore the 
Pilot-fish retains its pelagic habits also during the spawning season, and 
some of the spawn found by voyagers floating on the surface is, without 
doubt, derived from this species.* 

The Pilot-fish has been observed in one or two instances about New 
York, and also has been recorded from South Carolina. It is, however, 
rare in the Western Atlantic, and our museums have very itw specimens. 

*Gunther : Study of Fishes, p. 414. 



Toward the sea turning my troubled eye 
I saw the fish, (if fish I may it cleepej 
That makes the sea before his face to flye 
And with his flaggie finnes doth seeme to sweepe 
The foamie waves out of the dreadful deep. 
The huge Leviathan, dame Nature's wonder, 
Making his sport, that manie makes to weepe ; 
A Sword-fish small, him from the rest did sunder. 
That, in his throat him prickingly softly under. 
His wide abysse him forced forth to spewe, 
That all the sea did roare like heavens thunder. 
And all the waves were stained with filthie hewe. 
Hereby I learned have not to despise 
Whatever thing seems small in common eyes. 

Edmund Spensek, The Visions of the World, 1591. 

'npHE Sword-fish, Xiphias gladius, ranges along the Atlantic coast of 
America from Jamaica, latitude i8° N., Cuba, and the Bermudas, to 
Cape Breton, latitude 47° N. It has not been seen at Greenland, Iceland, 
or Spitzbergen, but occurs, according to Collett, at the North Cape, latitude 
71°. It is abundant along the coasts of Western Europe, entering the 
Baltic and the Mediterranean. I can find no record of the species on the 
west coast of Africa, south of the Cape Verdes, though Liitken, who may 
have access to facts unknown to me, states that they occur clear down to 
the Cape of Good Hope, South Atlantic in mid-ocean, to the west coast 
of South America and to Southern California, latitude 34°, New Zealand, 
and in the Indian Ocean, off Mauritius. 

The names of the Sword-fish all have reference to that prominent feature, 
the prolonged snout. The "Sword-fish" of our own tongue, the 
^' Zwaard-Jis'' of the Hollander, the Italian " Sofia " and " Pcscc-spada,'* 


the Spaniards '■'■ Espada,'" and ^'^ Espadartc,'" varied by '■'■ Pcz de spada'''' 
in Cuba; and the French '' Espadon,'" '' Dard'' and " Epee de Mcr,'' 
are simply variations of one theme, repetitions of the " Gladius'' of an- 
cient Italy, and '■'■ Xiphiiis,'''' the name by which Aristotle the father of 
zoology, called the same fish twenty-three hundred years ago. The French 
'■'■ Enipercur,'''' and the '■'■ Impcrador,'''' and "Ocean King-fish" of the 
Spanish and French West Indies, carry out the same idea, for the Roman 
emperor was always represented holding a drawn sword in his hand. The 
Portuguese names are "■ Agiilha,'^ '■'■ Agulhao,'''' meaning "needle" or 
" needle-fish." 

This species has been particularly fortunate in escaping the numerous 
redescriptions to which almost all widely distributed forms have been sub- 
jected. By the writers of antiquity, it was spoken of under its Aristotelian 
name, and in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae, at the very inception 
of binomial nomenclature, Linnaeus called it Xiphias gladiiis. By this 
name it has been known ever since, and only one additional name is 
included in its synonymy, Xiphias Roiideletii oi ' 

The sword-fish has been so long and so well known that its right to its 
peculiar name has seldom been infringed upon. The various species of 
Tetrapturus have sometimes shared its title, and this is not to be wondered 
at, since they closely resemble Xiphias giadiiis, and the appellative has 
frequently been applied to the family Xiphiida^ — the Sword-fish family — 
which includes them all. 

The name " Bill-fish," usually applied to the Tetrapturus albidus, a fish 
of the Sword-fish family often taken on our coast, must be pronounced 
objectionable, since it is in many districts used for the various species of 
Belonidce, the "gar-fishes" or "green-bones" [B clone triuicata and 
others), which are members of the same faunas. " Spear-fish " is a much 
better name. 

The "Sail-fish," Histiophorus amcricamis, is called by sailors in the 
south the " Boohoo " or " Woohoo." This is evidently a corrupted form 
of "Guebucu," a name, apparently of Indian origin, given to the same 
fish in Brazil. It is possible that the Tetrapturus is also called " Boohoo," 
since the two genera are not sufficiently unlike to impress sailors with 
their differences. Bleeker states that in Sumatra the Malays call the re- 
lated species, H. gladius, by the name " Joohoo " [Juhu), a curious 
coincidence. The names may have been carried from the Malay Archi- 
pelago, to South America, or vice versa, by mariners. 


In Cuba, the Spear-fishes are called " Agiija " and " Aguja de Palada "; 
the Sail-fish, '^ Aguja Prieta'' ox '' Aguja Voladora'' ; Tctrapturus albidus 
especially is known as the '' Agiija Blancaj'' T. albidus as the ^' Aguja de 

In the West Indies and Florida the scabbard-fish or silvery hair-tail,. 
TricJiiurus IcpUirus, a form allied to the Xiphias, though not resembling 
it closely in external appearance, is often called "Sword-fish." The 
body of this fish is shaped like the blade of a saber, and its skin has a 
bright metallic lustre like that of polished steel ; hence the name. 

Sword-fish are most abundant on the shoals near the shore and on the 
banks during the months of July and August ; that they make their 
appearance on the frequented cruising grounds between Montauk Point 
and the eastern part of George's Banks some time between the 25th of 
May and the 20th of June, and that they remain until the approach of 
cold weather in October and November. The dates of the capture of the 
first fish on the cruising ground referred to are recorded for three years, 
and are reasonably reliable; in 1875, June 20; 1877, June 10; 1878, 
June 14. 

South of the cruising ground the dates of arrival and departure are 
doubtless further apart 5 the season being shorter north and east. There 
are no means of obtaining information, since the men engaged in this 
fishery are the only ones likely to remember the dates when the fish are 

The Sword-fish comes into our waters in pursuit of its food. At least 
this is the most probable explanation of their movements, since the duties 
of reproduction appear to be performed elsewhere. Like the tunny, the 
blue-fish, the bonito, and the squeteague, they pursue and prey upon the 
schools of menhaden and mackerel which are so abundant in the summer 
months. " When you see Sword-fish, you may know that mackerel are 
about," said an old fisherman to me. " Where you see the fin-back 
whale following food, there you may find Sword-fish," said another. 
The Sword-fish also feeds upon squid, which are at times abundant on our 

To what extent this fish is amenable to the influences of temperature is 
an unsolved problem. We are met at the outset by the fact that they are 
frequently taken on trawl-lines which are set at the depth of one hundred 
fathoms or more, on the off-shore banks. We know that the temperature 


of the water in those localities and at that depth is sure to be less than 
40° Fahr. How is this fact to be reconciled with the known habits of the 
fish, that it prefers the warmest weather of summer and swims at the sur- 
face in water of temperature ranging from 55° to 70°, sinking when cool 
winds blow below? The case seemed clear enough until the inconvenient 
discovery was made, that Sword-fish are taken on bottom trawl-lines. In 
other respects their habits agree closely with those of the mackerel tribe, 
all the members of which seem sensitive to slight changes in temperature, 
and which, as a rule, prefer temperature in the neighborhood of 50° or 

The appearance of the fish at the surface depends apparently upon tem- 
perature. They are seen only upon quiet summer days, in the morning 
before ten or eleven o'clock, and in the afternoon about four o'clock. 
Old fishermen say that they rise when the mackerel rise, and when the 
mackerel go down they go down also. 

Regarding the winter abode of the Sword-fish, conjecture is useless. I 
have already discussed this question at length with reference to the men- 
haden and mackerel. With the Sword-fish the conditions are very 
different. The former are known to spawn in our waters, and the schools 
of young ones follow the old ones in toward the shores. The latter do not 
spawn in our waters. We cannot well believe that they hibernate, nor is 
the hypothesis of a sojourn in the middle strata of mid-ocean exactly 
tenable. Perhaps they migrate to some distant region, where they spawn. 
But then the spawning time of this species in the Mediterranean, as is 
related in a subsequent paragraph, appears to occur in the summer months, 
at the very time when Sword-fish are most abundant in our own waters, 
apparently feeling no responsibility for the perpetuation of their species. 

The Sword-fish when swimming at the surface, usually allows its dorsal 
fin and the upper lobe of its caudal fin to be visible, projecting out of the 
water several inches. It is this habit which enables the fisherman to 
detect the presence of the fish. It swims slowly along, and the fishing 
schooner with a light breeze finds no difficulty in overtaking it. When 
excited its motions are very rapid and nervous. Sword-fish are sometimes 
seen to leap entirely out of the water. Early writers attributed this habit 
to the tormenting presence of parasites, but this theory seems hardly 
necessary, knowing what we do of its violent exertions at other times. 
The pointed head, the fins of the back and abdomen snugly fitting into 


grooves, the absence of ventrals, the long, lithe, muscular body, sloping 
slowly to the tail, fit it for the most rapid and forcible movement through 
the water. Prof. Richard Owen, testifying in an England court in regard 
to its power, said : 

" It strikes with the accumulated force of fifteen double-handed ham- 
mers. Its velocity is equal to that of a swivel-shot, and is as dangerous 
in its effects as a heavy artillery projectile." 

Many very curious instances are on record of the encounters of this fish 
with other fishes, or of their attacks upon ships. What can be the 
inducement for it to attack objects so much larger than itself it is hard to 
surmise. We are all familiar with the couplet from Oppian : 

Nature her bounty to his mouth confined, 

Gave him a sword, but left unarmed his mind. 

It surely seems as if a temporary insanity sometimes takes possession of 
the fish. It is not strange that, when harpooned, it should retaliate by 
attacking its assailant. An old sword-fish fisherman told Mr. Blackford 
that his vessel had been struck twenty times. There are, however, many 
instances of entirely unprovoked assault on vessels at sea. Many of these 
are recounted in a later portion of this memoir. Their movements when 
feeding are discussed below, as well as their alleged peculiarities of move- 
ment during the breeding season. 

It is the universal testimony of our fishermen that two are never seen 
swimming close together. Capt. Ashby says that they are always distant 
from each other at least thirty or forty feet. 

The pugnacity of the Sword-fish has become a by-word. Without any 
special effort on my part numerous instances of their attacks upon 
vessels have in the last ten years found their way into the pigeon-hole 
labeled "Sword-fish." 

^elian says (b. xxxii, c. 6) that the Sword-fish has a sharp-pointed 
snout, with which it is able to pierce the sides of a ship and send it to the 
bottom, instances of which have been known near a place in Mauritania 
known as Cotte, not far from the river Lixus, on the African side of the 
Mediterranean. He describes the sword as like the beak of the ship 
known as the trireme, which was rowed with three banks of oars. 

The "London Daily News" of December 11, 1868, contained the 
following paragraph, which emanated, I suspect, from the pen of Prof. 
R. A. Proctor: 


" Last Wednesday the court of common pleas — rather a strange place, 
by-the-by, for inquiring into the natural history of fishes— was engaged 
for several hours in trying to determine under what circumstances a 
Sword-fish might be able to escape scot-free after thrusting his snout into 
the side of a ship. The gallant ship ' Dreadnought,' thoroughly repaired 
and classed A-i at Lloyd's, had been insured for £3,000 against all risks 
of the seas. She sailed on March 10, 1864, from Colombo, for London. 
Three days later the crew, while fishing, hooked a Sword-fish. Xiphias, 
how^ever, broke the line, and a few moments after leaped half out of the 
water, with the object, it should seem, of taking a look at his persecutor, 
the ' Dreadnought.' Probably he satisfied himself that the enemy was 
some abnormally large cetacean, which it was his natural duty to attack 
forthwith. Be this as it may, the attack w\as made, and at four o'clock 
the next morning the captain was awakened with the unwelcome intelli- 
gence that the ship had sprung a leak. She was taken back to Colombo, 
and thence to Cochin, where she hove down. Near the keel was found a 
round hole, an inch in diameter, running completely through the copper 
sheathing and planking. 

"As attacks by Sword-fish are included among sea-risks, the insurance 
company was willing to pay the damages claimed by the owners of the 
ship if only it could be proved that the hole had really been made by a 
Sword-fish. No instance had ever been recorded in which a- Sword-fish 
had been able to withdraw his sword after attacking a ship. A defense 
was founded on the possibility that the hole had been made in some other 
way. Prof. Owen and Mr. Frank Buckland gave their evidence, but 
neither of them could state quite positively whether a Sword-fish which 
had passed its beak through three inches of stout planking could withdraw 
without the loss of its sword. Mr. Buckland said that fish have no power 
of ' backing,' and expressed his belief that he could hold a Sword-fish by 
the beak ; but then he admitted that the fish had considerable lateral 
power, and might so -'wriggle its sword out of the hold.' And so the in- 
surance company will have to pay nearly £600 because an ill-tempered fish 
objected to be hooked, and took its revenge by running full tilt against 
copper sheathing and oak planking." 

The food of the Sword-fish is of a very mixed nature. 

Dr. Fleming found the remains of Sepias in its stomach, and also small 
fishes. Oppian stated that it eagerly devours the Hippuris (probably 
Coryphizna) . A specimen taken off Seaconnet, July 22, 1875, had in its 
stomach the remains of small fish, perhaps Stromateus triacantlius, and 
jaws of a squid, perhaps Loligo Pcalii. Their food in the Western Atlan- 
tic consists for the most part of the common schooling species of fishes. 
They feed on menhaden, mackerel, bonitoes, bluefish, and other species 


which swim in close schools. Their habits of feeding have often been 
described to me by old fishermen. They are said to rise beneath the 
school of small fish, striking to the right and left with their swords until 
they have killed a number, which they then proceed to devour. Menha- 
den have been seen floating at the surface which have been cut nearly in 
twain by a blow^ of a sword. Mr. John H. Thompson remarks that he 
has seen them apparently throw the fish in the air, catching them on the 

Capt. Benjamin Ashby says that they feed on mackerel, herring, whiting, 
and menhaden. He has found half a bucketful of small fish of these kinds 
in the stomach of one Sword-fish. He has seen them in the act of feed- 
ing. They rise perpendicular out of the water until the sword and 
two-thirds of the remainder of the body are exposed to view. He has 
.seen a school of herring crowding together at the surface on George's 
Banks as closely as they could be packed. A Sword-fish came up through 
the dense mass and fell flat on its side, striking many fish with the sides 
of its sword. He has at one time picked up as much as a bushel of her- 
rings thus killed by a Sword-fish on George's Banks. 

But little is known regarding their time and place of breeding. They 
are said to deposit their eggs in large quantities on the coasts of Sicily, 
and European writers give their spawning time as occurring the latter part 
of spring and the beginning of summer. In the Mediterranean they occur 
of all sizes from four hundred pounds down, and the young are so plenti- 
ful as to become a common article of food. M. Raymond, who brought 
to Cuvier a specimen of Histiophorus four inches long, taken in 
January, 1829, in the Atlantic, between the Cape of Good Hope and 
France, reported that there were good numbers of young Sail-fish in the 
place where this was taken. 

Meunier, quoting Spallanzani, states that the Sword-fish does not 
approach the coast of Sicily except in the season of reproduction ; the 
males are then seen pursuing the females. It is a good time to capture 
them, for when the female has been taken the male lingers near and is 
easily approached. The fish are abundant in the Straits of Messina from 
the middle of April to the middle of September ; early in the season they 
hug the Calabrian shore, approaching from the north; after the end of 
June they are most abundant on the Sicilian shore, approaching from the 

rp O 


From other circumstances, it seems certain that there are spawning 
grounds in the sea near Sicily and Genoa, for from November to the ist 
of March young ones are taken in the Straits of Messina, ranging in weight 
from half a pound to twelve pounds. 

In the Mediterranean, as has been already stated, the very young fish 
are found from November to March, and here from July to the middle of 
September the male fish are seen pursuing the female over the shoals, and 
at this time the males are easily taken. Old sword-fish fishermen, Capt. 
Ashby and Capt. Kirby, assure me that on our coast, out of thousands of 
Bpecimens they have taken, they ha^■e never seen one containing eggs. I 
have myself dissected several males, none of which were near breeding 
time. In the European waters they are said often to be seen swimming in 
pairs, male and female. Many sentimental stories were current, especially 
among the old writers, concerning the conjugal affection and unselfish 
devotion of the Sword-fish, but these seem to have originated in the 
imaginative brain of the naturalist rather than in his perceptive faculties. 
It is said that when the female fish is taken the male seems devoid of fear, 
approaches the boat, and allows himself easily to be taken • but, if this be 
true, it appears to be the case only in the height of the breeding season, 
and easily understood. I cannot learn that two Sword-fish have ever been 
seen associated together in our waters, though I ha^-e made frequent and 
diligent inquiry. 

There is no inherent improbability, however, in this story regarding the 
Sword-fish in Europe, for the same thing is stated by Prof. Poey as the 
result upon the habits of Tctrapfurns. 

The only individual of which we have the exact measurements was taken 
off Seaconnet, R. I., July 23, 1874. This was seven feet, seven inches 
long, weighing 113 pounds. Another, taken off Noman's Land, July 20, 
1875, and cast in plaster for the collection of the National Museum, 
weighed 120 pounds, and measured about seven feet. Another, taken off 
Portland, August 15, 1878, was 3,999 millimeters long, and weighed 
about 600 pounds. Many of these fish doubtless attain the weight of 400 
and 500 pounds, and some, perhaps, grow to 600 ; but after this limit is 
reached, I am inclined to believe larger fish are exceptional. Newspapers 
are fond of recording the occurrence of giant fish, weighing 1,500 pounds 
and upwards, and old sailors will in good faith describe the enormous fish 
which they saw at sea, but could not capture ; but one well-authenticated 


. . ' F ■ ■ — 

instance of accurate weighing is much more vahiable. The largest one 
ever taken by Capt. Benjamin Ashby, for twenty years a sword-fish fisher- 
man, was killed on the shoals back of Edgartown, Mass. When salted it 
weighed 639 pounds. Its live weight must have been as much as 750 or 
800. Its sword measured nearly six feet. This was an extraordinary 
fish among the three hundred or more taken by Capt. Ashby in his long 
experience. He considers the average size to be about 250 pounds 
dressed, or 525 alive. Capt. Martin, of Gloucester, estimates the average 
size at 300 to 400 pounds. The largest known to Capt. Michaux weighed 
625. The average about Block Island he considers to be 200 pounds. 

The size of the smallest Sword-fishes taken on our coast is a subject of 
much deeper interest, for it throws light on the time and place of breed- 
ing. There is some difference of testimony regarding the average size, 
but all fishermen with whom I have talked agree that very small ones do 
not find their way into our shore waters. Numerous very small specimens 
have, however, been already taken by the Fish Commission at sea, off our 
middle and southern coast. 

Capt. John Rowe has seen one which did not weigh more than 75 
pounds when taken out of the water. 

Capt. R. H. Hurlbert killed near Block Island, in July, 1S77, one 
which weighed 50 pounds, and measured about two feet without its sword. 

Capt. Ashby's smallest weighed about 25 pounds when dressed ; this he 
killed off Noman's Land. He never killed another which weighed less 
than 100. He tells me that a Bridgeport smack had one weighing 16 
pounds (or probably 24 when alive), and measuring eighteen inches with- 
out its sword. 

In August, 1878, a small specimen of the mackerel-shark, Lamna cor- 
nubica, was captured at the mouth of Gloucester Harbor. In its nostril 
was sticking the sword, about three inches long, of a young Sword-fish. 
When this was pulled out the blood flowed freely, indicating that the 
wound was recent. The fish to which this sword belonged cannot have 
exceeded ten or twelve inches in length. Whether the small Sword-fish 
met with its misfortune in our waters, or whether the shark brought this 
trophy from beyond the sea, is an unsolved problem. 

Lutken speaks of a very young individual taken in the Atlantic, latitutle 
32° 50' N., longitude 74° 19' W. This must be about 150 miles southeast 
of Cape Hatteras. 


For many years from three to six hundred of these fish have been taken 
annually on the New England coast. It is not unusual for twenty-five or 
more to be seen in the course of a single day's cruising, and sometimes as 
many as this are visible from the mast-head at one time. Capt. Ashby 
saw twenty at one time, in August, 1839, between George's Banks and the 
South shoals. One Gloucester schooner, the "Midnight," Capt. Alfred 
Wixom, took fourteen in one day on George's Banks, in 1877. 

Capt. John Rowe obtained twenty barrels, or four thousand pounds, of 
salt fish on one trip to George's Banks ; this amount represents twenty fish 
or more. 

Capt. Ashby has killed one hundred and eight Sword-fish in one year ; 
Capt. M. C. Tripp killed about ninety in 1874. 

Such instances as these indicate in a general way the abundance of the 
Sword-fish. A vessel cruising within fifty miles of our coast, between 
Cape May and Cape Sable, during the months of June, July, August, and 
September, cannot fail, on a favorable day, to come in sight of several of 
them. Mr. Earll states that the fishermen of Portland never knew them 
more abundant than in 1879. This is probably, in part, due to the fact 
that the fishery there is of very recent origin. . 

There is no evidence of any change in their abundance, either increase 
or decrease. Fishermen agree that they are as plenty as ever, nor can 
any change be anticipated. The present mode of fishing does not destroy 
them in any considerable numbers, each individual fish being the object of 
special pursuit. The solitary habits of the species will always protect 
them from wholesale capture, so destructive to schooling fish. Even if 
this were not the case, the evidence proves that spawning Sword-fish do 
not frequent our waters. When a female shad is killed, thousands of pos- 
sible young die also. The Sword-fish taken by our fishermen carry no 
such precious burden. 

"The small Sword-fish is very good meat," remarked Josselyn, in 
writing of the fishes of New England in the seventeenth century. Since 
Josselyn probably never saw a young Sword-fish, unless at some time he 
had visited the Mediterranean, it is fair to suppose that his information 
was derived from some Italian writer. 

It is, however, a fact that the flesh of the Sword-fish, though somewhat 
oily, is a very acceptable article of food. Its texture is coarse ; the thick, 
fleshy, muscular layers cause it to resemble that of the halibut in consist- 


ency. Its flavor is l)y many considered fine, and is not unlike that of the 
bluefish. Its color is gray. The meat of the young fish is highly prized 
on the Mediterranean, and is said to be perfectly white, compact, and of 
delicate flavor. Sword-fish are usually cut up into steaks — thick slices 
across the body — and may be broiled or boiled. 

The apparatus ordinarily employed for the capture of the Sword-fish is 
simple in the extreme. It is a harpoon with detachable head. When 
the fish is struck, the head of the harpoon remains in the body of the fish, 
and carries Avith it a light rope, which is either made fast or held by a man 
in a small boat, or is attached to some kind of a buoy, which is towed 
through the water by the struggling fish, and which marks its whereabouts 
after death. 

The harpoon consists of a pole 15 or 16 feet in length, usually of hickory 
or some other hard wood, upon which the bark has been left, so that the 
harpooner may have a firmer hand-grip. This pole is from an inch and a 
half to two inches in diameter, and at one end is provided with an iron 
rod, or "shank," about two feet long and five-eighths of an inch in 
diameter. This "shank" is fastened to the pole by means of a conical 
or elongated, cup-like expansion at one end, which fits over the sharpened 
end of the pole, to which it is secured by screws or spikes. A light line 
extends from one end of the pole to the point where it joins the " shank," 
and in this line is tied a loop, by which is made fast another short line 
which secures the pole to the vessel or boat, so that when it is thrown at 
the fish it cannot be lost. 

Upon the end of the " shank " fits the head of the harpoon, known by 
the names Sword-fish iron, lily-iron, and Indian-dart. The form of this 
weapon has undergone much variation. The fundamental idea may very 
possibly have been derived from the Indian fish-dart, numerous specimens 
of which are in the National Museum, from various tribes of Indians of New 
England, British America, and the Pacific. However various the modifica- 
tions may have been, the similarity of the different shapes is no less note- 
vrorthy from the fact that all are peculiarly American. In the enormous col- 
lection of fishery implements of all lands in the late exhibition at Berlin, 
nothing of the kind could be found. What is known to whalers as a toggle- 
harpoon is a modification of the lily-iron, but so greatly changed by the ad- 
dition of a pivot by which the head of the harpoon is fastened to the shank 
that it can hardly be regarded as the same weapon. The" lily-iron is, in princi- 


pie, exactly what a whalemen would describe by the word " toggle." It 
consists of a two-pointed piece of metal, having in the centre, at one side, 
a ring or socket, the axis of which is parallel with the long diameter of the 
implement. In this is inserted the end of the pole-shank, and to it or 
near it is also attached the harpoon-line. When the iron has once been 
thrust point first through some solid substance, such as the side of a fish, 
and is released upon the other side by the withdrawal of the pole from the 
socket, it is free, and at once turns its long axis at right angles to the 
direction in which the harpoon-line is pulling, and thus is absolutely pre- 
vented from withdrawal. The principle of the whale-harpoon or 
toggle-iron is similar, except that the pole is not withdrawn, and the head, 
turning upon a pivot at its end, fastens the pole itself securely to the fish, 
the harpoon-line being attached to some part of the pole. The Sword-fish 
lily-iron head, as now ordinarily used, is about four inches in length, and 
consists of two lanceorate blades, each about an inch and a half long, 
connected by a central piece much thicker than they, in which, upon one 
side, and next to the flat side of the blade, is the socket for the insertion 
of the pole-plank. In this same central enlargement is forged an opening 
to which the harpoon-line is attached. The dart-head is usually made of 
steel ; sometimes of iron, which is generally galvanized ; sometimes of 

The entire weight of the harpoon-pole, shank, and head, should not 
exceed iS pounds. 

The harpoon-line is from 50 to 150 fathoms long, and is ordinarily 
what is known as " fifteen- thread line." At the end is sometimes fast- 
ened a buoy, and an ordinary mackerel keg is generally used for this 

In addition to the harpoon, every Sword-fisherman carries a lance. 
This implement is precisely similar to a whaleman's lance, except that it 
is smaller, consisting of a lanceolate blade perhaps, one inch wide and two 
inches long, upon the end of a shank of five-eighths-inch iron, perhaps two 
or three feet in length, fastened in the ordinary way upon a pole 15 to 18 
feet in length. 

The Sword-fish are always harpooned from the end of the bowsprit of a 
sailing-vessel. It is next to impossible to approach them in a small boat. 
All vessels regularly engaged in this fishery are supplied with a special 
apparatus, called a " rest " or " pulpit," for the support of the harpooner 


as he stands on the bowsprit, and tliis is ahnost essential to success, 
although it is possible for an active man to harpoon a fish from this station 
without the aid of the ordinary frame-work. Not only the professional 
Sword-fishermen, but many mackerel schooners and packets are supplied 
in this manner. 

The Sword-fish never comes to the surface except in moderate, smooth 
weather. A vessel cruising in search of them, proceeds to the fishing 
ground, and cruises hither and thither wherever the abundance of small 
fish indicates that they ought to be found. Vessels which are met are 
hailed and asked whether any Sword-fish have been seen, and if tiding are 
thus obtained, the ship's course is at once laid for the locality where they 
were last noticed. A man is always stationed at the masthead, where, 
ivith the keen eve which practice has given him, he can easily descry the 
tell-tale dorsal fins at a distance of two or three miles. When a fish has 
once been sighted, the watch "sings out," and the vessel is steered 
directly towards it. The skipper takes his place in the "pulpit," holding 
the pole in both hands by the small end, and directing the man at the 
wheel by voice and gesture how to steer. There is no difficulty in 
approaching the fish with a large vessel, although, as has already been 
remarked, they will not suffer a small boat to come near them. The ves- 
sel plows and swashes through the water, plunging its bowsprit into the 
waves, without exciting their fears. Noises frighten them and drive them 
down. Although there would be no difficulty in bringing the end of the 
bowsprit directly over the fish, a skilful harpooner never waits for this. 
When the fish is from 6 to 10 feet in front of the vessel it is struck. The 
harpoon is never thrown, the pole being too long. The strong arm of the 
harpooner punches the dart into the back of the fish, right at the side of 
the high dorsal fin, and the pole is withdrawn and fastened again to its 
place. When the dart has been fastened to the fish the line is allowed to 
run out as far as the fish will carry it, and is then passed in a small boat, 
which is towing at the stern. Two men jump into this, and pulling in 
upon the line until the fish is brought in alongside, it is then killed with 
a whale-lance or a whale-spade, which is stuck into the gills. 

The fish having been killed, it is lifted upon the deck by a purchase- 
tackle of two double blocks rigged in the shrouds. 

The pursuit of the Sword-fish is much more exciting than ordinary 
fishing, for it resembles the hunting of large animals upon the land, and 


partakes more of the nature of the chase. ThQre is no slow or careful 
baiting and patient waiting, and no disappointment caused by the acci- 
dental capture of worthless " bait-stealers." The game is seen and 
followed, and outwitted by wary tactics, and killed by strength of arm and 
skill. The Sword-fish is a powerful antagonist, sometimes, and sends his 
pursuers' vessel into harbor leaking, and almost sinking, from injuries 
which he has inflicted. I have known a vessel to be struck by wounded 
Sword-fish as many as twenty times in a season. There is even the spice 
of personal danger to give savor to the chase, for the men are occasionally 
injured by the infuriated fish. One of Capt. Ashby's crew was severely 
Avounded by a Sword-fish which thrust his beak through the oak floor of a 
boat on which he was standing, and penetrated about two inches in his 
naked heel. The strange fascination draws men to this pursuit Avhen they 
have once learned its charms. An old Swords-fisherman, who had followed 
the pursuit for twenty years, told me that Avhen he was on the cruising 
ground, he fished all night in his dreams, and that many a time he has 
bruised his hands and rubbed the skin off his knuckles by striking them 
against the ceiling of his bunk when he raised his arms to thrust the har- 
poon into visionary monster Sword-fishes. 

The Bill-fish or Spear-fish, Tctraptiinis iiidiciis (with various related 
forms, which may or may not be specifically identical) occurs in the Western 
Atlantic from the West Indies, latitude io° to 20° N., to Southern New 
England, latitude 42° N.; in the Eastern Atlantic, from Gibraltar, latitude 
45° N., to the Cape of Good Hope, latitude 30° S.; in the Indian Ocean, 
the Malay Archipelago, New Zealand, latitude 40° S., and on the west 
coast of Chila and Peru. In a general way, the range is between latitude 
40° N., and latitude 40° S. 

The species of Tcti-aptunis which we have been accustomed to call T. 
albidiis, abundant about Cuba, is not very unusual on the coast of 
Southern New England. Several are taken every year by the Sword-fish 
fishermen. I have not known of their capture along the Southern Atlantic 
coast of the United States. All I have known about were taken between 
Sandy Hook and the eastern part of George's Banks. 

The Mediterranean Spear-fish, Tetraptiiriis be/one, appears to be a land- 
locked form, never passing west of the Straits of Gibraiter. 

The Spear-fish in our waters is said by our fishermen to resemble the 
Sword-fish in its movements and manner of feeding. Prof. Poey narrates 


that both the Cuban species swim at a depth of one hundred fathoms, and 
they journey in pairs, shaping their course toward the Gulf of Mexico, the 
females being full of eggs. Only adults are taken. It is not known 
whence they come, or where they breed, or how the young return. It is 
not even known whether the adult fishes return by the same route. When 
the fish has swallowed the hook it rises to the surface, making prodigious 
leaps and plunges. At last it is dragged to the boat, secured with a boat- 
hook, and beaten to death before it is hauled on board. Such fishing is 
not without danger, for the Spear-fish sometimes rushes upon the boat, 
drowning the fisherman, or wounding him with its terrible weapon. The 
fish becomes furious at the appearance of sharks, which are its natural 
enemies. They engage in violent combats, and when the Spear-fish is 
attached to the fisherman's line it often received frightful wounds from 
these adversaries. 

The Spear-fish strikes vessels in the same manner as the Sword-fish. I 
am indebted to Capt. William Spicer, of Noank, Conn., for this note : 


" Mr. William Taylor, of Mystic, a man seventy-six years old, who was 
in the smack 'Evergreen,' Capt. John Appleman, tells me that they 
started from Mystic, October 3, 1832, on a fishing voyage to Key West, in 
company with the smack ' Morning Star,' Capt. Rowland. On the 12th 
were off Cape Hatteras, the wind blowing heavily from the northeast, and 
the smack under double-reefed sails. At 10 o'clock in the evening they 
were struck by a ' Woho' {sic), which shocked the vessel all over. The 
smack was leaking badly, and they made a signal to the ' Morning Star ' 
to keep close by them. The next morning they found the leak, and both 
smacks kept off to Charleston. On arrival they took out the ballast, hove 
her out, and found that the sword had gone through the planking, timber, 
and ceiling. The plank was two inches thick, the timber five inches, and 


the ceiling one and a half inches white oak. The sword projected two 
inches through the ceiling, on the inside of the ' after run.' It struck bv 
a butt on the outside, which caused the leak. They took out and replaced 
a piece of the plank, and proceeded on their voyage." 

The Sail-fish, Histiophorus gladius (with H. aniericanus and H. orien- 
talis, questionable species, and H. pulcliellus and H. immaculatits, young), 
occurs in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Malay Archipelago, and south at 
least as far as the Cape of Good Hope, latitude 35° S.; in the Atlantic on 
the coast of Brazil, latitude 30° S., to the Equator, and north to Southern 
New England, latitude 42° N.; in the Pacific to Southwestern Japan, 
latitude 30° to 10° N. In a general Avay the range may be said to be in 
tropical and temperate seas, between latitude 30° S. and 40° N., and in 
the western parts of those seas. 

The first allusion to this genus occurs in Piso's " Historia Naturalis 
Brasiliae," printed at Amsterdam in 1648. In this book may be found an 
identifiable though rough figure of the American species, accompanied by 
a few lines of description, which, though good, when the fact that they 
Avere written in the seventeenth century is brought to mind, are of no value 
for critical comparison. 

The name given to the Brazilian Sail-fish by Marcgrave, the talented 
young German who described the fishes in the book referred to. and who 
afterwards sacrificed his life in exploring the unknown fields of American 
zoology, was Giicbucu brasiliensibiis. The use of the name Gucbuai is 
interesting, since it gives a clew to the derivation of the name " Boohoo," 
by which this fish, and probably the Spear-fishes, are known to English- 
speaking sailors in the tropical Atlantic. 

Sail-fishes were observed in the East Indies by Renard and Valentijn, 
explorers of that region from 1680 to 1720, and by other eastern voyagers. 
No species of the genus was, however, systematically described until 1786, 
when a stuffed specimen from the Indian Ocean, eight feet long, was taken 
to London, where it still remains in the collections of the British Museum. 
From this specimen M. Broussonet prepared a description, giving it the 
name Scombo' gladius, rightly regarding it as a species allied to the 

From the time of Marcgrave until 1S72 it does not appear that any 
zoologist had any opportunity to study a Sail-fish from America, or even 
from the Atlantic ; vet in Gunther's Catalogue, the name H. aniericanus 


is discarded and the species of America is assumed to be identical with 
that of the Indian Ocean. 

The materials in the National Museum consist of a skeleton and a 
painted plaster cast of the specimen taken near Newport, R. I., in 1872, 
and a drawing made from the same, while fresh, by Mr. J. H. Blake. 

The occurrence of the Sail-fish is, as has been already stated, very 
unusual. Marcgrave saw it in Brazil as early as 1648. Sagra and Poey 
mention that it has been seen about Cuba, and Schomburgk includes it in 
his Barbadoes list. The specimen in the United States National Museum 
was taken off Newport, R. I., in August, 1872, and given to Prof. Baird 
by Mr. Samuel Powell, of Newport. No others were observed in our 
waters until March, 1878, when, according to Mr. Neyle Habersham, of 
Savannah, Ga., two were taken by a vessel between Savannah and Indian 
River, Fla., and were brought to Savannah, where they attracted much 
attention in the market. In 1S73, according to Mr. E. G. Blackford, a 
specimen in a very mutilated condition was brought from Key West to 
New York City. 

No observations have been made in this country, and recourse must be 
had to the statements of observers in the other hemisphere. 

In the life of Sir Stamford Raffles, is printed a letter from Singapore, 
under date of November 30, 1822, with the following statement : 

" The only amusing discovery we have recently made is that of a sailing 
fish, called by the natives, Ikaii layer, of about ten or twelve feet long, 
which hoists a mainsail, and often sails in the manner of a native boat, 
and with considerable swiftness. I have sent a set of the sails home, as 
they are beautifully cut and form a model for a fast-sailing boat. A\*hen 
a school of these are under sail together they are frequently mistaken for 
a fleet of native boats." 

The fish referred to is in all likelihood HistiopJiortis gladius, a species 
very closely related to, if not identical, with our own. 

The Cutlass-fish, Trichiurus lepUirus, unfortunately known in Eastern 
Florida and at Pensacola as the "Sword-fish"; at New Orleans, in the 
St. John's River, and at Brunswick, Ga., it is known as the "Silver Eel," 
on the coast of Texas as " Sabre-fish," while in the Indian River region 
it is called the " Skipjack." No one of these names is particularly appli- 
cable, and the latter being pre-occupied, it would seem advantageous to 
use in this country the name " Cutlass-fish," which is current for the same 
species in the British West Indies. 


Its appearance is very remarkable on account of its long, compressed 
form and its glistening, silvery color. The name " Scabbard-fish," which 
has been given to an allied species in Europe, would be very proper also 
for this species, for in general shape and appearance it looks very like the 
metallic scabbard of the sword. It attains the length of four or five feet, 
though ordinarily not exceeding twenty-five or thirty inches. This species 
is found in the tropical Atlantic, on the coast of Brazil, in the Gulf of 
California, the West Indies, the Gulf of Mexico, and north to Wood's 
Holl, Mass., where, during the past ten years, specimens have occasionally 
been taken. In 1845 one was found at AVellfleet, Mass.; and in the Essex 
Institute is a specimen which is said to have been found in Salem Harbor. 
The species occurs also on the coast of Europe, two specimens having been 
found on the shores of the Moray Frith many years ago, and during the 
past decade it has become somewhat abundant in Southern England. It 
does not, however, enter the Mediterranean. Some writers believed the 
allied species, Tricliiuriis haiunela, found in the Indian Ocean and Archi- 
pelago and in various parts of the Pacific, to be specifically the same. 

The Cutlass-fish is abundant in the St. John's River, Fla., in the Iildian 
River region, and in the Gulf of Mexico. Several instances were related 
to me in which these fish had thrown themselves from the water into row- 
boats, a feat which might be very easily performed by a lithe, active 
species like the Trichiurus. A small one fell into a boat crossing the 
mouth of the Arlington River, where the water is nearly fresh. 

Many individuals of the same species are taken every year at the mouth 
of the St. John's River, at Mayport. Stearns states that they are caught 
in the deep waters of the bays about Pensacola, swimming nearly at the 
surface, but chiefly with hooks and lines from the wharves. He has known 
them to strike at the oars of the boat and at the end of the ropes that 
trailed in the water. At Pensacola they reach a length of twenty to thirty 
inches, and are considered good food-fish. Richard Hill states that in 
Jamaica this s]Decies is much esteemed, and is fished for assiduously in a 
"hole," as it is called, that is, a deep portion of the waters off Fort 
Augusta. This is the best fishing place for the Cutlass-fish, Ti'ichiurus. 
The fishing takes place before day ; all lines are pulled in as fast as they 
are thrown out, with the certainty that the Cutlass has been hooked. As 
many as ninety boats have been counted on this fishing ground at day- 
break during the season. 

/ / 





And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish. 
Argent and gold ; and some of Tyrian skin, 

Some crimson-barred. And ever at a wish 
They rose obsequious, till the wave grew thin 

As glass upon their backs, aud then dived in, 
Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom, 

Whilst others with fresh hues rowed forth to win 

My changeable regard. 

Thomas Hood. 

\ LTHOUGH upon the west coast of North America the fishes of the 
family Scoi-pcenidoe are among the most important, there are only four 
species on the Atlantic coast of our continent ; of these, two have been 
discovered within the past decade, and the others, though well known and 
widely distributed, are not of great importance. The Rose-fish, Sebastes 
fuarimis, is conspicuous among cold-water fishes by its brilliant scarlet 
color; it is known as "Red Perch,"* "Norway Haddock," " Hemdur- 
gan," and "Snapper," as "Bream" in Gloucester, Mass., and "John 
Dory" at Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is found also in Northern Europe, 
where it has been recorded as far south as Newcastle, in Northern England, 
latitude 55°,! and it has been observed in Aberdeen and Berwick, and in 
Zetland, where it is called " Bergylt " and " Norway Haddock." 

* In distinction from the " blue perch " or " cunner " {Ctenolabrus adspersus), which it resembles in form, 
though not in color. 
fOuNTHER; Cat. Fishes Brit. Mus. 2, p. 26. 


On the eastern side of the North sea the species has not been seen south 
of Gothenborg, Latitude 58°, but is said to be abundant along the entire 
western coast of Norway to North Cape and A'aranger Fjord in East Fin- 
mark, while Malmgren records it from Baren Island, and Scoresby from 
Spitzbergen, in latitude 80°. In Iceland it is abundant, and in Davis' 
Straits, at least as far north as Disco, where it is found associated with the 
halibut, and is said to constitute a liberal share of its food. In Eastern 
Labrador, about Newfoundland, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is 
abundant, and also along the shores of Nova Scotia and in the Bay of 
Fundy. In these northern regions the Rose-fish prefers shallow water, 
and may be taken in the greatest abundance in the bays and around the 
wharves in company with the sculpins and the cunners or blue perch. On 
the coast of the United States, south of the Bay of Fundy, they are rarely 
seen near the shore, but have been found in deep water in all parts of the 
Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay, and also abundantly south of Cape 
Cod. In the fall of 1880 the United States Fish Commission obtained 
great quantities of them, young and old. DeKay included this fish in his 
New York list, stating, however, that it was very rare in those waters. 
He remarks that " the coast of New York is probably its extreme southern 

Of late years none have been taken south of the locality already men- 
tioned, which was in water from one to three hundred fathoms in depth, 
at the inner edge of the Gulf stream, from fifty to one hundred miles 
southwest of Newport, and about the same distance east of Sandy Hook. 
A hundred or two hundred miles farther south it is replaced by a fish 
resembling it somewhat in form and color, Scorpcena dactyloptera, De la 
Roche, ciiscovered by the Fish Commission during the past year, and by 
Scorpcena Steaj-nsi, detected at Pensacola by Silas Stearns, and at Charles- 
ton by C. H. Gilbert. 

It may fairly be said that the Rose-fish, as a shore species, is not known 
south of jiarallel 42°, which is 13° south of its transatlantic limit. When 
the deep waters of Southern Europe have been as carefully explored as 
those of the United States, it is probable that the range of this fish will be 
extended considerably further to the south. 

The temperature range of the Rose-fish corresponds closely to that of 
the halibut, and its limits will, on more careful study, probably be found 
included between 32° and 50°. It is found everywhere on the shallow 



off-shore banks north of Cape Cod, where it attains its greatest size. A 
specimen, brought in by one of the Gloucester halibut schooners, was 
about two feet in length and weighed about fourteen pounds. Along the 
Maine coast they are much smaller than this, rarely exceeding eight or ten 
inches and the weight of twelve ounces, though occasionally growing to 
the w^eight of one and a half pounds. 

In Scandinavia there have been recognized two species ; one, a large, 
orange-colored form, inhabiting deep water, known to the Norwegians as 
the "Red-fish" (Roed-fisk), and considered to be S. marinus {S. norwe- 
.giciis) ; the other, a smaller species of much deeper color, called the 
"Lysanger," and described by Kroyer under the name "6". vivipariis,'" 
and by Ekstrom as " ^S". rcgulusy After the most careful study of all the 
specimens in the National Museum, we have been unable to recognize 
more than one species on our coast, and recent Norwegian ichthyologists, 
among them especially Mr. Robert Collett, believe that the two Norwegian 
forms are not actually distinct species, but that the smaller one is simply 
a pigmy race which is especially adapted to live in the long, shallow fiords 
of that region. Dr. Liitken, always conservati\-e, is inclined to believe 
the two forms distinct, regarding the large fish of the deep water as the 
primitive type from which the smaller littoral form has been derived by 
development. According to the last mentioned authority, the two forms 
have very different geographical distribution, S. viviparus inhabiting the 
shallows in the vicinity of the Faroe Islands, Southern Sweden, Norway, 
and New England, but unknown to Great Britain, Denmark, Finmark, 
Iceland, and Greenland ; while S. mariiiits is found in Greenland and 
Iceland and all the length of the Norwegian coast, in Spitzbergen, Baren 
Island, on the coasts of Denmark, and occasionally in the north of 
England and Ireland. Possibly, he suggests, it inhabits the deep waters 
at a distance from shore, off the Faroe Islands and North America, but 
that is not yet certainly known. S. viviparus, then, he declares, is a 
form less arctic as well as more littoral. 

This subject is here referred to in the hope that additional observations 
may be drawn out tending to settle the question whether or not there 
are two forms of Schastes on the American coast. It seems, however, 
improbable, since the physical conditions are so different from those under 
which they occur on the other side of the Atlantic. 

The food of the Rose-fish consists, like that of its cousins, the sculpins, 


of small fish, crustaceans, and, to some extent, of mollusks, although its 
teeth are formed for crushing the thick-shelled species. In Greenland they 
are said to feed upon the pole-flounder. A specimen taken off Eastern 
Point, Gloucester, in July, 187S, had its throat full of shrimp-like crusta- 
ceans [Mjsis, sp.), and others, taken at Eastport, were feeding extensively 
on a larger crustacean i^Thysanopoda, sp.), which is also a favorite food of 
the mackerel. They may be caught with almost any kind of bait, but are 
not, like their associates, the cunners, given to feeding upon refuse 
substances, and, being also more shy and watchful, cannot be captured in 
bag-nets. They breed in summer, from June to September, in deep holes 
in Massachusetts Bay and off the coast of Southern New England, where 
it has not been uncommon for the Fish Commission to obtain thousands of 
young ones, two and three inches long, at one set of the trawl-net, and 
also adults full of spawn. The young are lighter in color than the adults, 
and are conspicuously banded Avith reddish-brown upon a grayish ground. 
The young constitute a favorite food of the codfish, while, at all ages, they 
are preyed upon- by the halibut and other large predaceous fishes of the 
cold-water districts. 

Although the Rose-fish is much esteemed as an article of food, and is 
caught in considerable numbers all along the coast of Maine and the 
British Provinces in the season when it frequents the shallows near the 
shore, and in winter at Gloucester when flocking in large numbers into the 
harbor, the most extensive fisheries are probably on the coast of Green- 
land, where they are highly prized by the natives, who feed on the flesh 
and use the spines of fins for needles, and in Massachusetts Bay, where 
great quantities are taken by the Irish market-fishermen on trawling-lines. 
In winter they are occasionally found in the New York markets, and on 
one or two occasions have been brought in considerable numbers to New 
Haven, and even to Philadelphia. The flesh is firm, rich, and delicate in 
flavor ; the young fish, fried crisp, make an excellent substitute for white- 

The naturalists on the "Albatross" sometimes have a famous dish of 
this sort set before them, when the trawl net has brought up bushels of 
the young Rose-fish from the ocean depths. 

The writer once had the pleasure of testing the flavor of this species 
under peculiarly favorable circumstances. It was during the Fisheries 
Exhibition of 1883, and the occasion was thus described at the time in the 
London " Times." 


" On Thursday, May 17, the Prince of Wales entertained the Foreign 
and Colonial Commissioners at luncheon in the Royal Pavilion. Soi/c/ies 
of trout and eels, Filets de Soles a la Nonnande, Mullets Barhh a la 
Geuoise, Scotch Salmon, grilled Severn trout, eels fried in the manner 
designated as a I Irlaudaise, and White-bait constituted the fish depart- 
ment, as set down in print, but the greatest success was a well prepared 
impromptu, not on the card. It so happened that in the fish market was 
a consignment from Hull, of the Norwegian 'bergylt.' little known in 
London, but quickly identified by the Earl of Ducie, a leading authority 
b\\ the subject of Norway fishing. Being a rather dry fish, though the 
fiakiness and the flavor are not unworthy of comparison with the red 
mullet, it was judged expedient l)y the clief io deal with the bergylt, as a 
Continental artist might deal by the pike. So after being marinaded for 
three hours, with fine oil, this Norwegian fish was expertly treated with 
yolk of eggs and cream, fried in a light batter, and served at the moment 
of perfection. It remains to be said that nothing of the fish was left." 

On the Pacific coast, as has already been stated, the fishes of this family, 
known as Rock-cod and Rockfish, are of great importance, and many of 
them are illustrated in the "The Food Fishes and Fishery Industries of 
the United States." For accurate identification it is necessary to resort 
to Jordan's " Synopsis." They have been discussed briefly by President 
Jordan, who writes as follows : 

One of the most remarkable features of the California fish fauna is the 
enormous abundance both in individuals and in species of the grouj) of 
Scorpaenidae. All of them are excellent food-fishes, and scarcely a boat 
returns from any kind of fishing in which these fishes do not form a con- 
spicuous part of the catch. In every fish market they are found, and from 
their large size and brilliant coloration they are everywhere the most 
conspicuous fishes on the stalls. 

These fishes have so many traits in common, that a review of the group 
as a whole is desirable before we proceed to the consideration of the several 

These fishes are universally known by the names of Rockfish and Rock- 
cod. The latter name is the one most commonly heard, the other name 
being apparently a reaction against the obvious error of calling these fish 
"■ Cod." The name Rockfish is an appropriate one, and in time it will 
probably supplant that of Rock-cod. The name Cod or Codfish is ne\er 
applied to them without the accompanying "Rock." In the southern 
part of California, the name " Garrupa " or "Grouper" is in common 

262 AjMerican fishes. 

use, especially for the olivaceous species. This is a Portuguese word, and 
belonged originally to the species of Epinephelus and related genera. 
Different species have also special names, mostly given by the Portuguese 
fishermen. These are noticed below. 

The average size of the species of the group is about fifteen inches in 
length, and a weight of two or three pounds. Some of them reach a 
length of nearly three feet, and a weight of twelve pounds. Nothing is 
known of their rate of growth. 

The greatest abundance both of individuals and of species in this group 
is to be found from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, the maximum about 
Monterey. They occur from Cerros Island, where they are rather scarce, 
at least as far as Kodiak, and other species similar are found on the coasts 
of Japan and Chili. The individuals are extremely local. Most of the 
species are found about rocky reefs, often in considerable depths, and they 
probably stray but little from their abodes. In general, the red species 
inhabit greater depths than the brown or green ones, and the latter swim 
about more freely. Their abundance on certain reefs about Monterey and 
the Farallones is doubtless being diminished ; elsewhere there has been 
little danger of over-fishing. All are predatory and voracious, feeding 
mainly upon other fishes, and sometimes on crustaceans. 

All of the species are ovo-viviparous. The eggs are small and exceed- 
ingly numerous, and are hatched within the body. The eggs themselves- 
are bright yellow. In the spring, at a season varying with the latitude, 
and perhaps with different species, these yellow eggs turn to a grayish 
color. If then examined, the two eyes of the young fish can be distinctly 
seen. Later a slender body appears, with traces of vertical fins, the length 
then being about one-fourth to one-third of an inch. They are probably 
extruded at about the length of one-third of an inch, and in a very slender 
and pellucid condition, as I have never seen them in any more advanced 
stage of development. Nothing is known of the modes of copulation, nor 
of the circumstances under which the young are excluded, but the time of 
breeding is probably for the most part in May. Young fishes of one and 
a half to two inches are common in August, and in the fall they are large 
enough {S. pmicispinis, flavidus) to be taken with hook and line from the 
wharves. Individuals of less than six or eight inches are rare in the spring, 
and the fish of that length are probably a year old. 

The enemies of these fishes are of course their predatory neighbors, and 


the larger individuals prey upon the smaller. The hag-fish i^Polistrotrcma) 
destroys considerable numbers. They are usually^very free from internal 

All the members of this family rank high as food-fishes. The flesh is 
firm and white, and, although not very delicate, is of a fair quality. That 
o{ Scorpcsna guttata is probably best ; that of Sebastichthys mystinus brings 
the lowest price in market, but the prejudice against the latter species 
perhaps rests on its color. 

The Scorpene, Scorpcena gjtttata, is known also by the names 
"Scorpion" and '' Sculpin." "Scorpene" (Scolpina), in common use 
among the Italian fishermen, is of course the name of .Sd'^r/^^/z^; /^<?r(r/^j-, 6'. 
scrofa, and other Mediterranean fishes, transferred to this very similar 
North American fish. The wound made by the dorsal spines of this fish is 
excessively painful, far more so than the sting of a bee, as though the 
spines had some venomous secretion. The nanie Scorpcena is evidently 
derived from this. This species reaches a length of something over a foot 
and a weight of about two pounds. It is found only from Point Concep- 
tion southward to Ascension Island, living about rocks and kelp, but often 
entering the bays. It is generally common, and takes the hook freely. 
It feeds upon Crustacea and small fishes, and spawns m spring. Nothing 
distinctive is known of its breeding habits. As a food-fish it ranks with 
the best, being superior to the species of Sebastichthys, and it always is in 
good demand where known. 

The Black-banded Rockfish, Sebastichthys migrocinctus, has, so far as we 
know, received no distinctive name from the fishermen. It reaches a 
weight of about four pounds and a length of eighteen to twenty inches. 
It ranges from Monterey northward, being found only in deep water (ten 
to twenty fathoms). About San Francisco it is exceedingly rare, not half 
a dozen usually coming into the market in a year. In the Straits of Fuca 
and outside in the open ocean it is tolerably abundant. The food and 
the breeding habits, as far as known, differ little in this family, and the 
general remarks on the group apply to all the species of Sebastichthys. 
As a food-fish this species sells readily on account of its brilliant and at- 
tractive colors, second only in brilliancy to those of the " Spanish Flag." 

Sebastichthys sej'riceps, wherever this species receives a distinctive 
name, is known as the "Tree-fish," an appellation originating 
with the Portuguese at Monterey, and without obvious application. 



Southward it is confounded with other species as a Garrupa. Its size is 
rather less than that of -5". nigrocinctus, which it much resembles. It 
ranges from San Martin Island to San Francisco, being found in rather 
deep water among rocks. It is most common about the Santa Barbara 
Islands, and is rare in the markets of San Francisco. It is a handsomely 
colored species, and therefore sells well in the markets. 



The Speckled Garruta, ScbasticJitliys ncbiilosus, is known as " Garrupa" 
and "Rock-cod," rarely receiving any distinctive name. It reaches a 
weight of three and one-half pounds. It ranges from Monterey to Puget 
Sound, being generally common at all points, and most abundant north- 
ward. It li\-es in water of moderate depth. It forms about two per cent, 
of the total rockfiish catch, and is always readily salable. It is the most 
attractive in color of any of the dark-colored species. 

The Black and Yellow Garrupa, Sebastichthys chrysomelas, is also con- 
founded under the names ** Garrupa" and " Codfish." It is one of the 
smaller species, reaching a weight of about two pounds. It ranges from 
San Nicolas Island to San Francisco, and is generally common in water of 
moderate depth, although not one of the most abundant species. It is an 
attractive fish in color and therefore readily salable. 

The Flesh-colored Garrupa, Sebastichthys carnatiis, reaches a somewhat 
larger size than the last, and ranges from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. 
About San Francisco it is considerably more abundant, forming nearly 
seven per cent, of the total rockfish catch. 


The Yellow-backed Rockfish, Scbastichthys maliger, seems to have no 
distinct name in common use. It ranges from Monterey to Puget Sound, 
in rather deep water. It is not very common about San Francisco, but 
man)- are caught in the Straits of Fuca. It is one of the largest of the 
species, reaching a weight of si.\ or eight pounds. As a food-fish it is not 
so good as some of the others. 

The Red Garrupa, Scbastichthys caiiriuiis and sub-species vexillaris, is 
known as "Garrupa," "Rockfish" and "Rock-cod." It reaches a 
length of twenty inches and a weight of six pounds. It ranges from San 
Nicolas to Puget Sound, being generally common in water of moderate 
depth. It is subject to greater variations than any other species in the 
different parts of its range. It forms about seven per cent, of the total 
rock-cod catch. Its flesh ranks as about average. 

The Grass Rockfish, Scbastichthys rastrclliger, like all those of duskv 
color, is known as "Garrupa." At San Francisco it is often called 
" Grass Rockfish," perhaps from its color. It reaches a weight of two to 
four pounds. It lives in water of moderate depth, and is rather common 
everywhere from San Nicolas to Humboldt Bay. Its abundance is greatest 
south of Point Conception. It is said to be the best of all the Rockfish 
for the table, and to be an especial favorite with the Jews. 

The Brown Rockfish, Scbastichthys auriculatus, seldom receives a dis- 
tinctive name from the fishermen. It reaches a weight of three or four 
pounds, although, as usually seen in the markets, it is smaller than any 
other of the species. This is owing to the fact that its young are caught 
in seines in the bay. while those of other species are less frequently taken, 
and then only in the open ocean. It ranges from San Martin Island to 
Puget Sound, living in shallow water and entering all the bays, and being 
taken with a hook from all the wharves. It is thus apparently more 
abundant than any other species, although in actual numbers probably 
many of the deep-water forms i^S. flavidiis, pinnigcr, rosaccus) far exceed 
it. As a food-fish it is held in lower esteem than most of the others. 

The Pesce-Vermiglia, Scbasticht/iys chlorostictits, is called " Pesce- 
A^ermiglia," or "Vermilion-fish," by the Portuguese fishermen at Monte- 
rey. It is known only from Monterey Bay and the Farallones, occurring 
about the rocks in considerable depths of water and being taken only with 
the hook. In its native haunts it is not a rare species. It reaches a weight 
of three or four pounds, and is excellent food. 


The inexplicable name of '' Fly-fish " is given to one species, Schasficli- 
f/iys r/iodoc/ilo?'is, by the fishermen at Monterey. Like the preceding, it is 
known only from very deep water about Monterey and the Farallones. It 
is one of the smallest species, rarely weighing more than a pound. 

The Corsair, Scbastichthys rosaceus, is known to the Portuguese fisher- 
men at Monterey by the name '"Corsair," a name of uncertain application 
transplanted from the Azores. It is one of the smallest species, rarely 
weighing more than a pound and a half. It ranges from Santa Barbara 
to San Francisco, in deep water, and where found, it is the most abund- 
ant of the red species. When the weather permits outside fishing with 
trawl-lines this is one of the most abundant species in the San Francisco 
markets. It ranks high as a food-fish. 

The Spotted Corsair, Scbasticht]iys constcllatiis, in size, distribution, 
habits and value agrees with the " Corsair." It is, however, consider- 
ably less abundant, although not a rare fish in the markets of San 

Two specimens only of the Yellow Rockfish, Sebasticlithys umbrosus, are 
known, both of which are from Santa Barbara. 

At Monterey, the Spanish-Flag, Scbastichthys rubn'cincti/s, is known by 
the very appropriate name of "Spanish Flag," from its broad bands of 
red, white, and red. It reaches a weight of about six pounds. It is found 
in very deep water on rocky reefs about Santa Barbara and Monterey. It 
is perhaps the least common in the markets of all the species, except S. um- 
brosus. In coloration it is the most brilliant fish on the coast. 

The Red Rockfish, Sebasticlitliys ruber, is usually the " Red Rockfish " 
l^ar excellence. At Monterey it evidently attains a weight of twelve or 
more pounds, and is called by the Portuguese "Tambor. " It ranges 
from Santa Barbara to Puget Sound, its abundance increasing to the 
northward. It lives in water of considerable depth. In the markets of 
San Francisco it is one of the most common species. Large specimens 
about A'ictoria, in the Straits of Fuca, had the skull above the brain 
infected by an encysted parasite worm. Great numbers of them were 
seen in the Straits of Fuca, according to Mr. Swan, swimming stupidly 
near the surface, so torpid that the Indians killed them with clubs. 
According to the Indians, they had been struck by the Thunder-bird, 
which, Avith its companion, the Lightning-fish, causes many of the phe- 
nomena in that region. The smaller specimens of this species rank well 
as food-fishes ; the larger ones are likely to be coarse or tourrh. 


Sebastichthys ininiatus is known to the Portuguese fishermen at Mon- 
terey as the "Rasher," a name of uncertain origin and othography. 
It ranges from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, living in water of 
moderate depth. It is comparatively common, and is frequently seen in 
the markets, though in much less numbers than S. ruber and S. piiiiiigcr. 
In size and quality it agrees closely with S. pinniger. 

The Orange Rockfish, Sebastichthys pinniger, is usually called simply 
" Red Rock-cod " or " Red Rockfish," and not distinguished from the 
two preceding. The Portuguese at Monterey know it by the name 
"Fliaum," a word of unknown origin. It is one of the largest species, 
reaching a weight of eight or ten pounds. It ranges from Monterey to 
Puget Sound, being generally very abundant in deep water, where it is 
taken on trawl-lines. This is probably the most abundant of the larger 
species. At San Francisco individuals are often found with black dis- 
colored areas, looking like ink-blotches, on their sides. No cause for this 
has been noticed, and if it be a disease it does not seem to discommode 
the fish. In the market this species grades with S. ruber, and like it, is 
often split and salted. 

The Green Garrupa, Sebastichthys atrovirens, is commonly known as 
" Garrupa " and "Green Rockfish," being rarely distinguished from S. 
rastrelligcr. It reaches a weight of about three pounds. It ranges from 
San Diego to ISIonterey, being more southerly in its distribution than the 
other species. It lives in rocky places, in rather shallow water, and is 
generally common, especially south of Point Conception. It is considered 
excellent food. 

Sebastichthys elongatus is known as " Reina," or the Queen, at 
Monterey. It is a small fish, reaching a weight of less than two pounds, 
and lives in deep water about Monterey and the Farallones. It is never 
very common in the markets, although frecpiently taken in considerable 

The Red Rockfish of Alaska, Sebastichthys proriger, in habits, agrees 
with S. elongatus. It is usually still smaller, rarely weighing more than a 
pound. Its range extends northward to the Aleutian Islands, where it 
reaches a large size, and is of considerable importance as a food-fish. 

Sebastichthys oralis is known at Monterey as " Viuva " or the 
Widow ; the reason not evident. It reaches a weight of three or four 
pounds. It is found from Santa Barbara to Monterey, in dcei^ water, and 
is seldom brought to market. 


SebasticJithys seiitomelas is very similar to the preceding in size and 
habits. Thus far it has been only found in deep water outside of Monte- 
rey Bay. 

Sebasticlitliys viystimis, is most generally called the "Black Rock- 
fish," but in Puget Sound is known, with its more abundant relative, 
Sebasticlitliys mclauops, as the " Black Bass." The Portuguese at Monterey 
call it " Pesce Pretre," or Priest-fish, in allusion to its dark colors, so 
different from those of most of the other members of the family. It 
reaches a weight of five pounds, but as usually seen in the markets, varies 
from two to three. It ranges from Santa Barbara to Vancouver's Island, 
inhabiting waters of moderate depths. It is much more abundant about 
Monterey and San Francisco than either northward or southward, and 
large numbers are taken in Tomales Bay. In the markets of San Fran- 
cisco it is found, taking the year through, in greater numbers than any 
other species. It sells at a lower price than the others, its color causing 
a prejudice against it, although the quality of the fish doubtless differs 
little from that of the rest. 

Specimens of the Alaska Black Rockfish, Sebasticlitliys ciliat:is, from the 
Islands are in the National Museum. Nothing distincti\e is known in 
regard to its habits, which probably agree with those oi S. melanops. 

The Spotted Black Rockfish, Sebasticlitliys melanops, is founded with S. 
mystiniis by the fishermen, under the name of "Black Bass" in Puget 
Sound, "Black Rockfish" in San Francisco, and " Pesce Pretre " at 
Monterey. In size and value it agrees with S. iiiystimis. Its range is 
more northerh', from Monterey to Puget Sound, being not very common 
at San Francisco, and one of the most abundant species in Puget Sound. 

The Yellow-Tail Rockfish, Sebasticlitliys flavidus, is occasionally called 
the " Green Rockfish " or " Rock-cod " at San Francisco. At Monterey 
it is always known by the appropriate name of " Yellow-tail," the caudal 
fin being always distinctively yellow. To distinguish it from the Yellow- 
tail of further south we may call it the Yellow-tail Rockfish. This species 
reaches a Aveight of six and seven pounds, but its usual Aveight is about 
two. It ranges from Santa Catalina Island to Cape Mendocino, and is 
taken both in deep water and near shore. About Monterey and San 
Francisco it is A'ery abundant, and is one of the principal species in the 
markets. As a food-fish it is considered as one of the best in the group. 

About Monterey and San Francisco, the Boccacio, Scbastodes paucispinis, 


is known as " Boccacio " or " Boccac " {JwcatcJi) to the Italians, and as 
" Merou " {maroo) to the Portuguese. American fishermen use the name 
" lack," and those who fish for the young from the wharves call them 
"Tom-cod." The name "Boccacio" (Big-mouthed) is very ap])ro- 
jiriate ; " Merou " is transferred from Atlantic species of Epiiicplicliis \ 
"Jack" comes from the species of -£.s"(9J? and Stizostcdiuiii, which in the 
Southern States are called by that name. This species is one of the largest 
of the group, reaching the weight of twelve to fifteen pounds. Its average 
size in the markets is greater than that of any of the others. It ranges 
from the Santa Barbara Islands to Cape Mendocino. It inhabits reefs in 
deep water, only the young coming near the shore. It is rather more 
abundant southward than about San Francisco. It is, however, a common 
market-fish, and its flesh is considered excellent. It is probably the most 
voracious of the family. 

Five species of the genus Scbas/ichfliys, namely, 6". melanops, S. caiirinics, 
S. inaliger, S. prorigcr, and S. ciliatiis, attain to large size and consider- 
able commercial importance in Alaska, and are discussed by Dr. Bean in 
his paper on the " Shore Fisheries of Alaska " in another section of this 
work. S. niclanops is called " Black Bass" at Sitka. 

The Rock Trouts, Chiridce, a family of fish of considerable importance 
on our Pacific coast, is that of the Chiridce, or Rock Trouts, no representa- 
tives of which are known in the Atlantic. One or two species of the 
family occur in the sea of Japan. 

The Boregata, Hexagrammiis Stelicn', is known in Puget Sound by the 
Italian name of "Boregata" or " Boregat." The name "Starling" is 
applied to some fish, supposed by us to be this species, in the Straits of 
Fuca. It reaches a length of fifteen inches and a weight of three pounds. 
It ranges from Puget Sound to Kamtchatka. In Puget Sound it is com- 
paratively abundant, living about rocks. It spawns in July. It feeds on 
crustaceans, worms, and fishes, and apparently gets its food on the bottom 
in deep water, as the animals taken from its stomach are often of a kind 
not seen near shore. Its intestines are very often full of long tcenioid 
worms, supposed to be parasitic. As a food-fish, it ranks with the other 
Rock-trout, being of fair quality, but inferior to Ophiodoii dXi^ Sebastichthys . 

The name "Boregata," is applied to the Green Rock Trout, Hcxa- 
grammus dccagrammus, by the Italians on Puget Sound. The name 
" Rock Cod " is also given to it. From San Francisco southward, the 


names •' Rock Trout " and " Sea Trout " are common. The Portuguese 
at Monterey call it " Bodieron." It reaches a length of fifteen inches 
and a weight of two or three pounds. It ranges from San Luis Obispo to 
Alaska, and is much more generally common than any of the other species, 
and large numbers are brought into the market of San Francisco. It lives 
in rocky places of no great depth. It feeds voraciously on crustaceans and 
worms. It spawns in July. It dies at once on being taken from the 
water, and the flesh becomes rigid and does not keep as well as that of 
the rock-fish. It is a food-fish of fair quality, but not of fine. The sexes 
are very unlike in color, and have been taken for distinct species. 



The Cultus Cod, Ophiodon elongates, is universally called " Cod-fish," 
Avhere the true cod is unknown. About Puget Sound the English call it 
"Ling." Among the Americans the word "cod" is used Avith some 
distinctive adjective, as Cultus Cod ("cultus" in the Chinook jargon, 
meaning of little worth), "Bastard Cod," "Buffalo Cod," etc. The 
name " Blue Cod " is also given to it from the color of its flesh. The 
name " Rock Cod " applied to other Chiroids and to Scbastichthxs, and 
thence even transferred to Serranus, comes from an appreciation of their 
affinity to Ophiodon, and not from any supposed resemblance to the true 
cod-fish. The Cultus Cod reaches a length of five feet, and a weight of 
fifty or sixty pounds, the largest specimens being taken in northern waters. 
Many very small ones come into the San Francisco market, being taken 
in the sweep-nets of the paranzelle. These weigh less than a pound ; the 
average of the large ones is from six to ten pounds. It ranges from Santa 
Barbara to Alaska, being very abundant everywhere north of Point Con- 
ception. It lives about rocky ]Dlaces, and sometimes in considerable 
depths, and spawns in summer. It feeds upon fishes and Crustacea and is 
excessively voracious. It often swallows a red rockfish when the latter is 


on the hook, and is thus taken. Like other large fishes, it is subject to 
the attacks of the hag-fish [Polistrofrcma). As a food-fish it holds a high 
rank, being considered rather su])erior to the rockfish. From its great 
abundance, it is one of the most important fishes on the Pacific coast. 

Zaniolepis latipinnis ranges from San Francisco northward in deep water. 
It reaches a length of about a foot, and is of no economic value. 

The bright-colored little fish, Oxylebiiis pictus, ranges from Santa Bar- 
bara to Vancouver's Island, living among rocks near shore. It reaches 
a length of six inches, is rarely taken and is then used only for bait. 


The Beshow, Anop/opoma fimbria, is generally known in Puget Sound 
by the name of "Horse-mackerel." At San Francisco it is usually 
called "Candle-fish." In the market it is sometimes fraudulently sold 
as Spanish mackerel. It reaches a length of twenty inches and a weight 
of five pounds. It ranges from Monterey northward to Sitka, in rather 
deep water, and is generally common, especially northward. At Seattle 
it is one of the most abundant fishes, but in the San Francisco market it 
is seldom seen in large numbers. It feeds on crustaceans, worms, and 
small fishes. 

In the Straits of Fuca it reaches a much larger size than has been 
noticed elsewhere. It is here very highly valued by the Indians, accord- 
ing to Mr. Swan. It is called by the Indians "Beshow," and is the 
"Black-cod," of recent writers. Mr. James G. Swan has given a fiill 
report upon its habits in a recent Bulletin of the Fish Commission.* and 
has forwarded some of the salted fish for examination. Tlie writer is not 
prepared to give to Anoplopoma a position as yet among tlie finest of 
American fishes, although it is no doubt an excellent kind for local 

*Vol. V. 1SS5, pp*. 225-34. 


In Alaska, according to Dr. Bean, the most important chiroid fishes 
are Ophiodoii e/ongafiis, Auoplopo))ia fimbria, Hcwagraiiiriius di-iagra/iiiiii/s, 
H. lagoccpJiahis, H. ordiiiatus, H. aspcr, and the "Yellow-fish," "' Stri]jed 
Fish," or " Atka Mackerel," Fleurogra/iiinits inonGpterygiiis (Pallas) Gill, 
which is the chief of them all. This fish is most abundant about the 
Aleutian chain and the Shumagins, its northern limit as now understood 
being about Kodiak, and its western limit at Atka. It congregates in 
immense schools, and can be taken in purse-seines like the mackerel, 
which it strongly resembles in taste after being salted in the same manner. 

In this connection, not because of zoological affinities, but in order 
that a majority of the principal food-fishes of the Pacific slope may be dis- 
cussed in one chapter, it seems appropriate to refer to the Embiotocoids 
or Surf-fishes. Full descriptions of the various members of this multiform 
genus are given by President Jordan in his " Synopsis" and in the great 
Fisheries quarto. Here I can only quote what the same authority has to 
say of the group as a whole : 

" This remarkable group of fishes forms the most characteristic feature 
of the fauna of our Pacific coast. Of the nineteen species now known, all 
but one [Fifrcina ^^/////////r/v' of Japan) occur on the coast of California, 
and most of them in very great abundance. The species are most of them 
very similar in habits and economic value, and the following general 
remarks are proffered before proceeding to the discussion of the different 

" The general name '-'Perch" is apjjlied to these fishes everywhere 
along the coast. This unfortunate misnomer came about from their re- 
semblance to the sun-fishes or " perch " of the Southern States, and to the 
"white perch," Focciis aiuericainis, of the East. On the coast of Oregon 
the larger species (especially Damolichthys argyrosomiis) are called 
" Porgy " or " Porgee," in allusion to their undoubted resemblance to 
the scup or porgee of the East. The names " Minny," " Sparada " and 
" Moharra," are also applied to the smaller species northward. About 
San Francisco, the name " Perch " is given to them all, as well as to Archo- 
plitcs intcrniptiis, and separate names for the different species are seldom 
heard. From Monterey southward, the name "Surf-fish" is in common 
use, although the name " Perch" is still more common. 

" The largest, Rhacochihis toxotes, reaches a weight of four pounds ; the 
smallest, Abcona minima, a length of four or five inches. So far as we are 
able to judge, the growth of the young are quite rajtid, as the specimens 
are about half grown the first winter, and probably reach full size in two 
and a half to three winters — perhaps, in some cases, in the second year. 

"The center of distribution of this group is from Santa Barbara to 


Tomales Bay. Northward the number of species decreases, while the 
number of individuals is perhaps, equally great as far as the Gulf of 
Georgia. Southward both individuals and species rapidly diminish in 

•• Their range probably extends from Cerros Island to Sitka; certainly 
no further. Most of them live in shallow water, on a sandy bottom, both 
in the open sea and in sheltered bays. A seine drawn in the surf will 
often be filled with the silvery species [Amphistichus ; Holconotiis), and a 
seine drawn in a bay may be equally full of Ditrcma latcralc, Ditrema 
/acksojii, etc. One species is confined to the fresh waters. Nearly all of 
them feed chiefly on Crustacea, together with such small fish as they can 
swallow. The species of Abcona are chiefly herbivorous, feeding on 

" The Embiotocoids are all oviparous. The young are fifteen to twenty 
in number, and are brought forth in summer : when born, the little fish 
are from three-fourths of an inch to two and a half inches in length, ac- 
cording to the species. They are closely packed together in the uterus, 
the inner surface of which forms folds partly separating the young from 
each other. The young are at first excessively compressed, with the soft 
parts of the vertical fins excessively elevated. As their development pro- 
ceeds they resemble more and more the parent, and when born their form 
is quite similar, the body, however, more compressed, the fins higher, and 
the color usually red. 

" Impregnation probably takes place in the fall. In January most of the 
species have the young half grown, as to length, and when the parent fish 
is caught the young readily slip out from the ovary. From January to 
June the fish-stalls where these fishes are sold are littered with these foetal 
fish. Little is known of the place of spawning, but I suppose that the 
young are simply extruded m the w^ater just outside the breakers and left 
to shift for themselves. As to the mode of impregnation, we have made 
no observations. Dr. Blake thinks that the fleshy thickening on the anal 
fin of the male is to give the female something to hold to with the ventral 
fins, and that the two sexes approach each other, ventral surfaces together, 
and with their heads in opposite directions. They have no special enemies 
except the larger predatory fishes and the fishermen, who destroy great 
numbers at the breeding time. No diseases have been noticed. 

" The species are all, with the exception of two or three of the smallest, 
used as food. Their flesh is watery, flavorless, and much inferior to that 
of the Scorpcenoid, Scicenoid and Percoid fishes, and only their abundance 
gives them value. Great quantities of them are consumed by the Chinese. ' ' 





I will give thee for thy food 

No fish that useth in the mud, 

But trout and pike, that love to swim 

Where the gravel from the brim. 

Through the pure streams may be seen. 

Beaumont and Fletchek, The Faithful Shepherdess , 1611. 

The goodly well-grown trout, I with my angle strike. 
And with my bearded wire, I take the ravenous pike 

Drayton, The Muses Elysiian, Nymphal IV. 

/^NE of the most ancient among the families of fresh-water fishes, is 
^"^^that of the Pike — the Esocidcc — a group of physostomous fishes, 
closely related to the flying-fishes, and the cyprinodonts, and not very dis- 
tantly related to the Salmon tribe. This family contains only the genus 
Esox, which embraces five species, all natives of North America, one, the 
Pike, being a resident of the Old World, as well. Geologists tell us that 
remains of the Pike are found in abundance in the quartemary deposits of 
Europe, and that this, or closely related species,occur in the diluvial marl 
of Silesia, and in the chalks of the Q^ningen region. The wide distribu- 
tion of the Pike throughout the northern regions of Europe, Asia and 
America, indicates that this species was in existence many centuries ago, 
before the three continents became so widely differentiated as they are at 
the present time. 

The Pike being the oldest, the most widely distributed, and the best 
known member of its tribe, shall serve as the text for this chapter, and 
the type with which the related species shall be compared. So few, 
however, have been the observations in this country, and so much has 
Esox lucius been confused with the other species of the genus, that it 



seems impracticable to compile from American authorities a satisfactory 
account of its life history, and in default thereof, frequent references must 
be made to the studies of European observers. 





■JCj /, 




In Eastern x^merica, the Pike is abundant as far south as Ohio ; its 
northward range has not been determined, but since its existence on the 
Island of Kodiak, in Alaska, has been demonstrated by Dr. Bean, 
there is every reason to believe that it will be found pretty generally dis- 
tributed throughout British America. It has not been recorded from 
Greenland, or the islands of the Polar Sea. Its European range extends 
from Britain to Silesia, and doubtless east to Kamtchatka, throughout the 
Scandinavian peninsula, and north in Lapland, even beyond the limits of 
the birch-tree. It inhabits most of the rivers and lakes of European 



Russia and Siberia, but does not enter those of the Trans-Caucasus, and 
the Crimea. On the south it enters Roumania, and has been found in the 
Lake of St. Stefanos, near Constantinople, in the lagoons of Venice, in 
Switzerland and France, but not in the Iberian peninsula. 

It is found in all parts of Germany, not only in the high mountain 
region, but along the sea-coast of Northern Germany, and even close to the 
shores of the Baltic. The highest vertical distribution on the northern side 
of the Alps, is in the Tyrolean Take of Halden, 3,618 feet. On the 
south, it occurs in certain lakes of the Tyrol, and in the Lake of Reschen, 
4,637 feet, which is apparently the loftiest point of its distribution. In 
Switzerland, according to Tschudi, it ranges to 3,398 feet. 

The climate of England and Germany seems suited to its best develop- 
ment, and its persistence in low latitudes will probably be found to be due 
to a special adaptability for hybernation. 

The Muskellunge, Esox nobilior, is the rival of the Pike in size and 
vigor, but is very limited in its geographical range, occurring only in the 
Great Lake region of America, and in the St. Lawrence River.* It is 
very like the Pike, but has a head proportionally somewhat larger, and its 
color is markedly different. In general hue, it is dark grey, with silvery 
lustre, belly white, sides dotted with round, blackish and brownish 
blotches, and the fins fleeted with black. The Pike on the other hand has 
its markings white or yellowish, upon a darker background of green, dark 
grey or brown ; in European examples the lighter markings are often con- 
fluent and band-like. 


The " Pickerels," of American nomenclature, are three in number, and 

* It has frequently been said in print that Muskellunge were introduced into a pond near Bellow's Falls, 
Mass in 1838, and that they have since escaped into the Connecticut, where they have become abundant. 
This is a great' mistake. I have examined several of these would-be Muskellunge from the Connecticut, but 
all of them proved to be overgrown Pike. This species probably does not occur in the Connecticut. 



are much smaller. Esox rcticitlaius, is usually kno\\n in the North by tlie 
name " Pickerel"; in the Southern States it is the "Jack." It is found 
chiefly in the streams along the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Alabama, 
and is generally abundant, especially in clear, grassy creeks and ponds. 
It is not found in the Lake region, nor west of the Alleghanies. It some- 
times, though rarely,attains the weight of seven or eight pounds, and the 
length of three or four feet, and is much more slender in form, and grace- 
ful in motion than the Pike. It is yellow-green or brown in color, with 
an interlacing network of brown lines, covering the l)ody. Its peculiar 
markings have given it the name of "Chain Pickerel," and patriotic 
Americans of early Federal days called it the "Federation Pike," an 
allusion to the chain of thirteen linked rays, symbolical of the Federal 
union, which was stamped upon certain copper coins used during the last 


, ff'ti:'r-'( i- 


Esox americanus, the "Brook Pickerel," or "Banded Pickerel," 
sometimes also called the " Long Island Pickerel," " Trout Pickerel," and 
" Pond Pike," is comparatively small, rarely exceeding a foot in length, 
though occasionally reaching the weight of five to eight pounds. Its color 
is dark green, with about twenty blackish, lateral, transverse bands, 
usually curved, often obscure, but never net-like. There is a black line 
below the eye, and another through the eye and snout. The fins, espe- 
cially in the breeding season, are bright red. This species occurs in the 
brooks on the Atlantic side of the Alleghanies, from Florida north to 


Another diminutive Pike, similar in form and color to the last, is Esox 

venniailatus [Esox cyp/io) whic li is found in the Mississippi valley, 

especially in the small streams and bayous in the South and ^^'cst. I'his 

species is also green, with numerous darker transverse bands or stripes, but 


they are usually arrayed in net-work, or in such manner as to produce a 
" marbled " effect.* It has been called the " Hump-back Pickerel," and is 
of little value for food. 

The common names of this group of fishes offer an opportunity for much 
curious research. The oldest name in literature is the Latin "Lucius," 
by which it was doubtless known to the gourmets of classic times, 
which was mentioned by the poet Ausonius, in the fourth century, f and 
which lingered in the old French " Lus " and the names " Luccio " or 
" Luggo " by which Italians still know the species. 

Although it is customarily stated that the Pike was unknown to the 
ancient Greeks, I see no reason to doubt that this is the fish which Athen- 
seus, sixteen centuries ago, called Lya/s, just as the Germans of to-day 
name it in familiar phrases the " Wasserwolf " (Water Wolf). Another 
vestige of this name, is the English "Luce," commonly applied to large 
individuals in the days of Chaucer, J and not unfamiliar in later days, 
because of the extensive use of the fishes under this name as one of the 
symbols of heraldry. Shakespeare has immortalized the arms as well as 
the name of the name of the country squire, whom he hated, in his 
allusion to the escutcheon of the Lucys, and the blood-thirsty Sir Lucius 
O' Trigger in Sheridan's " Rivals," doubtless owed his prsenomen to the 
savage Esox. 

The name Pike, the philologist says, has been given to this fish, either 
from the likeness of its nose to a pike or spear, or because it moves itself 

* Since it is by no means a simple matter to discriminate between these species, especially when young, 
I depart from my usual custom, and present a key, in which some technical terms are used. This table ii 
based upon Jordan's diagnosis. 

Cheeks and opercula completely covered with scales. 

Branchiostegals, 12 in number. Colors obscure. About 105 scales in lateral line. 
Diameter of eye contained 5 times in length of head, and 

really twice in snout, its posterior margin scarcely behind middle of head. E.aiiicrica,nus^ 
Diameter of eye 6 in length of head, and less 
than B in that of snout, ^he eye being exactly in 
middle of head. E. vcrinkiilatus. 

Branchiostegals 14-16. About 125 scales in lateral 
Diameter' of eye, 8 in that of head, 3^-2 
in snout. Snout prolonged, nearly half the length 
of the head. Colors bright, markings reticulate. 
E. reticulatus. 
Cheeks scaly, lower half of opercula bare. Branchiostegals 14-16 
Color : — light spots on a dark ground. E. luciiis 
Lateral line 123. 
Lower half of cheeks and opercula bare. Branchiostegals 16-19. 
Color : — Black spots on lighter ground. E. nobilior. 
Lateral line 150. 

■f Lucius obscurus ulva csenoque lacunas 
Obsidet: Hie nuUos mensarum lectus ad usas 
Fervet fumosis olido nidore popinis. Moselle, 120-124. 

} Full many a fat partricke had he in mewe, 
And many a Breme and many a Luce in stewe. Canterbury Tales. 



in the water like a spear thrown ; and Pickerel is regarded as another 
form of the same word.* Jack, says the same authority is '' perhaps from 
Jaculum, because like a Javelin, either in shape or motion." The Frencli 
"Brochet," is of similar origin, and has reference to the resemblance of 
tlie fish to a spit or long needle, and "Lance" and " Lanceron," refer 
to its mode of motion. 

In England, in the early days, when transportation was slow, and those 
who lived in castle and monasteries had the carp, and the bream, and the 
pike grown in their own fish-ponds for a sole dependence, Esox hiciiis 
were more highly esteemed than at present, and this one species was hon- 
ored with many names. 

The fish, we learn from Halliwell's " Dictionary of Archaic Words," 
was "first a Jack, then a Pickerel, thirdly a Pike, and last of all a Luce." 
This statement agrees with the prevailing idea that in England, 
" Pickerel " is used as a diminutive of Pike. Whether or not this was the 
usage in the fourteenth century seems a little doubtful, when we read 
what Chancer wrote : 

" Bet is," quote he, " a pike than a pickerel, 
And bet than old beef in the tender veal."f 

I am assured by good authority, that Jack, rather than Pickerel, is at 
present the customary name in Britain for young Pike. 

The word Pickerel is employed in America, to designate any small 
species of Pike, and since this name seems to have been almost abundant 
in England, this usage may perhaps be allowed to pass unchallenged. 
Confusion sometimes has arisen from the fact that in the West, the "Pike 
perch," StizostediuDi , is also by many called "pickerel." (See American 
Angler, Feb. 25, 1882.) 

Concerning the name Muskellunge, there have been many controversies. 
In a recent issue of "Forest and Stream," Mr. Fred Mather has given 
a very thorough history of the name in its various versions. 

The predacious nature of the Pike is proverbial. It eats nearly all other 
kinds of fishes, sparing not even its own species, and also devours frogs, 
mice, rats, and even young ducks. Although it is voracious in its attacks 
upon its prey, it remains generally in quiet and seems to prefer (|uiet and 
slow-flowing waters rather than swift streams. 

* Skinner. 

f Marchant's Tale, verse 9273. 


The Pikes have been well described as mere machines for the assimi- 
lation of animal matter. They are the wolves of the ponds, the blue-fish 
of the fresh waters, and nothing- comes amiss to their ravenous maws. 
The habits of the European species are thus described by a recent writer : 
'' Shrouded from observation in his solitary retreat, he follows with his 
eye the motions of the shoals of fish that wander heedlessly along ; he 
marks the water-rat, swimming to his burrow, the ducklings paddling 
among the waterweeds, the dabchicks and moorhens leisurely swimming 
on the surface, he selects his victim, and like the tiger springing from the 
jungle, he rushes forth, seldom indeed missing his aim ; there is a sudden 
rush, circle after circle forms on the surface of the water, and all is still 
again in an instant." 

"No quadruped, bird or fish that the Pike can capture, seems to be 
secure from its voracity, and even the spiny perch is an acceptable prey 
to this water tyrant," wrote Richardson, speaking of its habits in British 

The breeding habits of the Pike have been best described by my 
friend Prof. Benecke, of Konigsberg, who writes: 

"The Pike inhabits all the waters of Germany except shallow and 
rapid brooks. It prefers clear, quiet water with clean bottom ; is usually 
active at night and quiet in the daytime ; lurks among the plants in con- 
venient corners, whence it rushes forth with arrow-like velocity. It lives 
a hermit life, only consorting in pairs during the spawning season. The 
pair of fish then resort to shallow places upon meadows and banks which 
have been overflowed, and, rubbing violently upon each other, deposit 
their spawn in the midst of powerful blows of their tails. The female 
deposits generally about 100,000 yellowish eggs, about three millimeters 
in diameter, out of which in the course of fourteen days the young, with 
their great umbilical sacs, escape." 

In Germany, the spawning time of the Pike, as is shown in an elaborate 
table presented by Wittmack, often begins in the latter part of February, 
and lasts, depending somewhat on the temperature and the weather, into 
March and April, sometimes even into May. 

In South Germany the spawning time is later than in Prussia, while in 
Ireland and Sweden, it appears to be earlier. In Norway, according to 
Lloyd, there are three successive spawnings, which correspond to the 
disappearance of the winter ice, the pairing of the frogs, and the unfolding 


of the vernal leaves, the broods being known as "Ice-Pike," "Frog- 
Pike," and "Blossom-Pike." 

Benecke's estimate of the number of eggs is undoubtedly too low. 
Buckland states that in a Pike of twenty-eight pounds, the roes weighed 
twenty-one ounces, and contained 292,320 eggs, while in one of thirty-two 
pounds, there were 595,000 eggs, weighing five pounds. 

Benecke's period of incubation would be too short for more northern 
climates. In Great Britain and Sweden, they require from twenty-five to 
thirty days to come to maturity. 

Seeley states that the young fish breed at the age of three years, and 
that the females are larger than the males. 

The newly hatched Pikes grow rapidly when provided abundantly with 
food. A yearling fish in Prussia is often a foot in length, and according 
to Seeley a two-year-old may with exceptional feeding, weigh six or seven 

Wittmack gives a number of statements from authorities in different 
parts of Germany, showing the annual rate of growth of the Pike, which 
appears to vary from two to three pounds, the maximum size attained 
being from forty-five to seventy pounds. He cites one instance in which, 
in two summers, a few individuals, liberated in a pond full of a species of 
carp, grew from the weight of one and three-quarters to that of about ten 

As to the size to which a Pike may ultimately attain, there exist import- 
ant differences of opinion. Frank Buckland naively remarks that " from 
the days of Gesner down, more lies, to put it in very plain language — have 
been told about the Pike than any other fish in the world ; and the greater 
the improbability of the story, the more particularly is it sure to be 
quoted." This savage thrust at Gesner and his comm.enters, has especial 
reference to the story of that enormous fish, nineteen feet in length, 
caught in the year 1497, in a pool near Hailprun in Suabia, and which 
carried attached to its gills, a brass ring upon which was a Greek inscrip- 
tion, which said: — " I am that fish that was first put into this lake by the 
hands of the Emperor Frederick II, on the fifth day of October, 1230." 
The skeleton of this fish was said to have been preserved at Mannheim for 
many years, and there is a tradition that some inquiring anatomist dis- 
covered that it had been lengthened Ijy the addition of several vertebrae. 
While it is true that "the legends of fishes with rings bearing ancient 


dates have not that quality of veracity vrhich is required by science," it is 
also true that it was the practice in early days to fasten inscribed rings in 
the gill covers of fishes. Pennell states that in 1610, a Pike was taken in 
the Meuse, bearing a copper ring dating 144S. It is very curious that no 
English writer on the Pike seems to have taken pains to investigate the 
German records which undoubtedly contain accurate and critical esti- 
mates of the value of this tradition. 

Buckland seems disposed to doubt the existence of Pike larger than 
those which have come "under his own personal knowledge," a method 
sufficiently skeptical no doubt, but not necessarily scientific. He saw one 
forty-six and a half inches long, weighing thirty-five pounds, and ascer- 
tained to be about thirteen years old, another thirty inches long, weighing 
twenty-four pounds, another of forty-three inches, and twenty-eight 
pounds, and forty-four inches and thirty-two pounds, and two others, one 
forty-six and a half inches, and thirty-five pounds, and one forty-six 
inches, and thirty-six pounds, Avere taken by his friend Mr. Jardine. 
Daniell, in his "Rural Sports," speakes of a Scotch example, seventy-two 
pounds, and over seven feet in length. Pennell refers to others captured 
on the Continent, which weighed So, 97, and 145 pounds, the latter 
caught at Bregenty in 1862. 

There is no inherent improbability in these stories, since the ISIuskel- 
lunge often attains the weight of eighty pounds or more, as is attested by 
numerous witnesses. 

No records of colossal Pike are found in the annals of American 
anglers — perhaps because the large Pike are usually pronounced by uncriti- 
cal anglers to be in INIuskellunge. 

The western Pickerel, Esox vcnniiiihitiis, said to have been known to 
the Indians by the name Ficca/iaii, has been known to attain the weight 
of twenty pounds,* but at the present day never exceeds seven or eight, 
and as usually seen, is not more than a foot in length. The eastern brook 
Pickerel is likewise diminutive. 

In his census investigation of the Great Lakes, Mr. Kumlien obtained 
the following notes upon the abundance of the Pike and Muskellunge : 

"On the western shore of Lake Michigan, Pike appear to be resident 
in those portions of the lake off Racine, and are very rarely taken in giil- 
nets. At the west end of Lake Erie, individuals are at rare intervals taken 

* Mississippi. 


in pound-nets set in the deepest water. About Sandusky and vicinity, 
like the Muskellunge, they are said to be rather rare, though a few taken 
in winter around Put-in-Bay Island are there regarded as residents of cold, 
deep water. Above Cleveland they are not known to the fishermen, but 
in the vicinity of Ashtabula, considerable numbers are sometimes taken in 
spring — one or two hundred pounds at a haul of a pound-net. On the 
south shore of Lake Erie, very few are taken in pounds, and it is there 
thought that they keep constantly in deep water and seldom approach the 
shore. They are very salable and much sought after, but apparently 
nowhere abundant." 

Among the Islands dotting the southwestern part of Lake Superior, in- 
cluding the Apostle Islands, Sand, York, and Rock Islands, and others, 
Muskellunge are caught in small quantities in the pound-nets. The Muskel- 
lunge is occasionally caught in the small bays indenting the shore south 
of Keweenaw Point as far as Huron Bay, and w'ith it a large and much 
lighter-colored fish that may possibly be Esox Iiiciiis. This latter is not 
well known among the fishermen, but Mr. Edgarton says he has often 
noticed it, and has remarked that the general aspect was different from 
that of the Muskellunge. On the fishing grounds at the north end of 
Green Bay this is a rare fish, only half a dozen or so being taken each 
year. When it occurs it is found at any and at no particular point. Not 
a single specimen of this fish was taken by Mr. Nelson in ten year's fish- 
ing in the Cedar River district, and Mr. Everland in thirty-six years has 
not taken half a dozen. Tliey are reported of occasional occurrence in 
the Monomonee River; but are not found in deep nets far out in the bay. 

Lower down on the west coast of Green Bay, from Longtail Point to 
Peshtigo Point, this fish occurs everywhere, but nowhere in abundance. 
A specimen was taken at Washington Island in 1866 that weighed forty- 
four pounds. The fishermen of this stretch of coast-line pronounce it 
Musk-ka-lone. At Green Bay City this fish is caught frequently weighing 
forty pounds. It is common at this point, /. c. the southern end of Green 
Bay. Ascending the eastern shore of Green Bay as far as St. Martin's 
Island the Muskellunge is very rare, being known by name only to a great 
many of the fishermen. Following the western shore of Lake Michigan 
southward from Port des Mortes on the north, as far south as Manitowoc, 
this fish is rare. At Jacksonport two have been taken in seven years. At 
Two Rivers only one has ever been recorded, viz., in 1878. At Manito- 


Avoc it is less scarce, being caught sometimes in pound-nets, and more 
frequently in the River. At Milwaukee, the Muskellunge occurs in the 
lake but rarely ; it is never caught in gill-nets. In 1868 Mr. Schultz took 
one in a small seine, in the old harbor, weighing one hundred pounds. 
This is believed by Mr. Kumlien to be a fact, having been testified to, as 
he says, " by so many reliable persons." He adds: "Formerly, fish of 
this kind weighing eighty pounds were far from rare." 

On the 9th of April, a fish of this species four feet in length was taken 
at Racine ; head to operculum, ten inches ; to eye, four inches; greatest 
circumference, twenty and one-half inches ; over eye, eighteen inches ; at 
gills, eighteen inches ; weight, forty-five pounds. These fish are never 
here taken in the gill-nets; they are resident in the lake about Racine in 
winter. A very few have been known to occur at Waukegan. On the 
southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, including the fisheries of Saugatuck, 
South Haven, and St. Joseph, this fish is reported as always being of a 
large size. At Ludington, farther north, only one instance of capture is 
on record ; it is also said to be verv rare at Grand Haven. 

But little has been reported regarding the occurrence of the Muskel- 
lunge upon the numerous fishing grounds along the north shore of the 
southern peninsula of Michigan, between Little Traverse Bay and Thunder 
Bay. It is generally rare through the Straits of Mackinaw, only about 
half a dozen being taken each season ; and most abundant of all at Les 
Cheneaux Islands. Capt. Coats caught one here, in 1S74, weighing 
sixty-two pounds. These fish are rarely taken in pound-nets, and are 
chiefly caught with hook and line about the Les Cheneaux and Drummond 
Islands. Capt. Dingman has caught only one in his pound-net in the past 
fifteen years. All caught, of which he has heard, have been large. In 
Thunder Bay, about a dozen, on an average, are taken in twelve months. 
In Saginaw Bay, they are taken in about the same numbers as in Thunder 
Bay. Here too they are always large fish. A few are taken in seines 
along the coast between Port aux Barques and Port Huron. A few also 
are taken annually in the St. Clair River; perhaps a dozen or two alto- 
gether in this region during a year. Between Toledo and Detroit River, 
Lake Erie, a specimen of this fish is taken now and then in the pound- 
nets. When taken, it is always large. The same remark will apply to 
the vicinity of Toledo and Maumee Bay.* 

* Mr. Fred Alford states that he procured a Muskellunge from Maumee Bay, in 1864, weighing eighty-five 


About Locust Point a few arc taken in the fall. Twenty years ago, in 
this region, including the fisheries of Ottawa, Port Clinton, Toussaint, and 
Locust Point, Muskellunge were taken weighing sixty or seventy pounds. 
In Sandusky Bay, specimens are caught of forty-five pounds weight, and 
at Kelley's Island one was caught weighing fifty-seven pounds, and another 
sixty-two pounds. 

In connection with the Huron (Ohio) fisheries, it is reported that about 
one hundred and fifty fish of this species were taken in seventy-five nets 
during the year 1879. They are here generally large, and are always 
taken in pairs. Three or four represent a year's catch of this fish at Ver- 
million, Ohio. About Black River, Lorain County, Ohio, Amherst, and 
Brownhelm Bay, it is very scarce, few l)eing caught in nets ; all that are 
taken are large. Of this fish, in connection with the Cleveland and Dover 
Bay fisheries, it may be said that it is very rare, and is becoming more so 
each year. Mr. Sadler says he took one weighing eighty pounds. The 
fishermen say they are always found in pairs. 

The Muskellunge is taken at Conneaut, at the rate of half a dozen in 
ten years. Only one specimen was taken in the Painesville pounds in 
1879. At Fairport and Willoughby, Ohio, no mention is made of its 
occurrence. Erie Bay, especially at Dunkirk and Barcelona, New York, 
Erie, Pennsylvania, and Mill's Grove, Ohio, is famous for its Muskellunge 
fishing; this past season, over sixty were caught, weighing from twenty to 
forty-five pounds. They are caught by trawling. Fancy prices are paid 
for them ; about twenty-five cents per pound retail in the city, and twelve 
and a half cents when shipped. More were caught during the season of 
[879 than ever before. 

The following notes relate to the fishery in Lake Ontario : At Oswego, 
the fish is very rare on the American side ; at Port Ontario, one is occa- 
sionally caught ; at Cape Vincent, they are common, especially in the St. 
Lawrence. Nine have been brought in in one day, the smallest of whicli 
weighed thirty-two pounds. They are not now, however, so plentiful 
here as formerly. At Chaumont very few are caught. Seven years ago 
one was captured here weighing sixty-five pounds. At Sacket's Harbor, 
very few Muskellunge are caught. 

The Pike is in Europe considered one of the most important of game 
fishes. Isaac Walton devotes to it an entire chapter, and Mr. Cholmon- 
deley-Pennell, a well-known English writer on angling, has published a 
considerable work, entitled " The Book of the Pike." 


Buckland, in his " History of British Fishes," devotes several pages to 
the exploits of Mr. Alfred Jardine, where he describes as '' the most suc- 
cessful angler for Pike in modern times." 

In this country, the Pike and the Pickerels have few friends, although 
the Muskellunge is not without admirers, among those who fish for sport. 
The opposition party is led chiefly by the angler-fish -culturists, who have 
good reason for their spite, since the hungry Esox is a sad foe to the pro- 
prietor of a fish preserve, and until it has been banished from a pond, no 
other species can be expected to thrive. In the days of the infancy of 
fish culture, Pike and Pickerel were frequently transplanted into our 
waters, and the results of this ill advised enterprise are by no means 
satisfactory to those who desire to propagate carp or trout in the same 
area. Only a few of these fish can live in one pond, and in the end the 
colony consists of a few patriarchs, strong, large and voracious. 

The Pike is not without its uses in fish-culture however. One or two, 
kept in a pond, are believed by German carp-breeders to benefit the carp, 
by "keeping them lively," and thinning out the feeble. 

The enemies of Esox in America denounce him vigorously, and declare 
that he is bony, flavorless, and of trifling value. He has his friends how- 
ever. In the reign of Edward I., the value of Pike was higher than that 
of fresh salmon, and more than ten times greater than that of the best 
Turbot or cod, and in the time of Henry VIII, a large one sold for double 
the price of a lamb, and a Pickerel for more than a fat capon. Tough 
old Pike, and those taken from muddy, sluggish water, are of course not to 
be desired, but as a rule, any one of the American species is to be chosen 
as a delicate morsel for the table. 

"Roast him when he is caught," said Isaac Walton, "and he is 
choicely good — too good for any but anglers and honest men." 



While blazing breast of humming-bird and lo's stiffen'd wing 

Are bright as when they first came forth new-painted in the spring. 

While speckled snake and spotted pard their markings still display. 

Though he who once embalm'd them both himself, be turn'd to clay, 

On fish a different fate attends, nor reach they long the shore 

Ere fade their hues like rain-bow tints, and soon their beaut3''s o'er. 

The eye that late in ocean's flood was large and round and full, 

Becomes on land a sunken orb, glaucomatous and dull ; 

The gills, like mushrooms, soon begin to turn from pink to black. 

The blood congeals in stasis thick, the scales upturn and crack ; 

And those fair forms, a Veronese, in art's meridian power, 

With every varied tint at hand, and in his happiest hour. 

Could ne'er in equal beauty deck and bid the canvas live. 

Are now so colourless and cold, a Rembrandt's touch might give. 


' I ■'HE Wrasses and Parrot-fishes, are among the most gorgeously 
apparelled of the inhabitants of the waters. Nature has not conferred 
on the Labri, said Lacepede, either strength or i:)Ower, but they have 
received instead, as their share of her favors, shapely proportions, and 
activity of fin, and are adorned with all the hues of the rainbow. " Le feu 
du diamant, du rubis, de la topaz, de I'emeraude, du saphir, de I'amethystes 
du grenat, scintille sur leurs ecailles polies, il brille sur leur surface en 
goutte, croissans, en raies, en bandes, en anneaux, en ceintures, en zones, 
en ondes ; il se mele a I'eclat de Tor et de I'argent, qui y resplendit sur 
des grandes places, les teintes obscure, les aires pales, et pour ainsi 


These fishes were hehl in the highest esteem m classical clays, for num- 
erous sj^ecies of the group frecjuent the waters of Italy and Greece. 

" According to the Greeks," writes Badham, -' to do justice to their 
flesh was not easy, to speak of their trail as it deserved was impossi- 
ble, and to throw away even its excrement was a sin. The frugal Numa 
would not allow these expensive ' brains of Jove ' {^Ccrcbntui Jovis Suprcmi 
was a poetic name for the Scarus) to be imported for public entertainments, 
intimating thereby that parsimony was agreeable to the gods." 

Aristotle considered the Scarus to be the only fish which slept at night. 

"Scarus alone their folded eyelids close 
In grateful intervals of soft repose 
In some sequestered cell, removed from sight 
They doze away the dangers of the night." 

This ancient and aristocratic family is rather tropical in its tastes, but we 
have two worthy though not very highly appreciated representatives on our 
Eastern Atlantic coast, and others in our Gulf and Pacific waters. 

One of the best known shore species on our Atlantic coast, is the 
Tautog or Black-fish, Taiitoga onitis. This fish is now found in greater 
or less abundance about St. John, N. B., to Charleston, S. C. East of 
New York it is usually called Tautog, a name of Indian origin, which first 
occurs in Roger William's "Key to American Language," printed in 
1643, in which this fish is enumerated among the edible species of Southern 
New England. "Tautog" would consequently seem to be a word from 
the dialect of the Narragansett Indians. On the coast of New York it is 
called "Black-fish"; in New Jersey also "Black-fish" and "Smooth 
Black-fish," "Tautog," or " Chul) " ; on the eastern shore of Virginia 
"MolL" or "Will-George"; at the mouth of the Chesapeake "Salt- 
water Chub," and in North Carolina the "Oyster-fish." Of all these 
names, Tautog is by far the most desirable for general use. There are 
several other species along our coast called Black-fish, especially the sea- 
bass, Avhich is often associated with the Tautog. The names Oyster-fish 
and Chub are also pre-engaged by other species. 

Though the present geographical distril)ution of the Tautog is well 
understood, there is no reason to believe that its range has been very 
considerably extended in the present century by the agency of man. 
That the species was known in Rhode Island two hundred and thirty 
years ago is reasonably certain from the reference by Roger Williams, 


already referred to, and in 1776 it was stated by Schoepf that it was very 
abundant in summer at New York. It is in greatest abundance between 
the southern angle of Cape Cod and the Capes of Delaware, which would 
indicate that within these limits, at least, the species has always existed. 
The waters of Long Island Sound and those immediately adjoining seem 
especially well adapted for its residence. 

Mitchill, writing in 1S14, remarked: "The Tautog was not originally 
known in Massachusetts Bay; but within a few years he has been carried 
beyond Cape Cod, and has multiplied so abundantly that the Boston mar- 
ket has now a full supply without the necessity of importing from Newport 
and Providence." This statement is confirmed, in a way, by Mr. Isaac 
Hinkley, of Philadelphia, who tells me that in 1S24, he saw several indi 
viduals from Cohasset Rocks, Jerusalem Road, Mass., and that the fish was 
at that time said by the fishermen to be entirely new to them. Storer, 
writing about 1867, remarked: "Although a few years only has passed 
since this species was brought into Massachusetts Bay, it is now taken 
along a large portion of the coast. At Plymouth, Nahant, and Lynn, at 
some seasons, it is found in considerable numbers, and is frequently caught 
from the bridges leading from Boston. The Boston market is for the most 
part supplied by Plymouth and Wellfleet." As early as 1S51, they had 
spread northward to the Bay of Fundy, and in that year it is stated that 
many were sold in the fish market at St. John, the largest of which weighed 
eight pounds ; Mr. Lanman wrote that he obtained there in July and 
August specimens nineteen inches long, and weighing four pounds. 

The rocky shores of Cape Ann seem particularly well adapted to its 
peculiar habits, and large numbers are annually obtained from the Rocks. 
So long has it been acclimated, and so well known is it, that the local 
authorities of that region are inclined to doubt that it is not native. The 
"Gloucester Telegraph" of May 5, 1S60, challenged the statement 
that the Tautog Avas a new fish, declaring that many years ago they were 
very plenty, and that after a period of scarcity they reappeared. So 
abundant had they become in 1836 in the harbor of Wellfleet, Mass., that 
three Connecticut smacks were accustomed summer after summer to devote 
their entire energies to their capture in this locality, and this fishery has 
continued up to the present day. In sandy localities, like the harbor of 
Provincetown, they have never secured a firm hold, though large specimens 
are sometimes taken under the wharves. 



'As to the extension of the range of this species southward, we have the 
statement of Holbrook, quoted by DeKay, writing in 1S42 : "Attempts 
have been made to introduce this fish farther south, but witia bmited suc- 
cess. I am informed by my friend, Dr. Holbrook, that Gen. Thomas 
Pinckney imported from Rhode Island a smack load of the Tautog and set 
them adrift in the harbor of Charleston, S. C, where they are to be found 
to this day. They are still occasionally caught, weighing from one to two 
pounds, but never in such quantities as to be brought to market." Mr. 
Earll obtained specimens at Charleston in January, 1S80. Certain ich- 
thyologists, among whom is Prof. Jordan, express skepticism as to the 
range having been thus artificially extended southward. 

At Cape Lookout, S. C, Jordan records the species, under the name 
" Oyster-fish," as rather common, the young abundant about the wharves. 
About Norfolk and in the mouth of Chesapeake Bay they occur, and also 
on the coast of Southern New Jersey, where they are taken in the vicinity 
of Beasley's Point, in the channel ways, and along the shores, and they 
are said to be somewhat common on the banks off Sandy Hook, and in the 
southern bays of Long Island. These sandy regions, however, are not so 
much frequented by them as those abounding in rocky beaches and ledges. 

Although the Tautog appear to thrive in cool water, as has been shown 
by the rapid extension of the northern range, they take refuge from too 
great cold, by retreating in winter to somewhat deeper water than that 
preferred in summer. Here they appear to seek shelter under the stones 
and in crevices of the rocks, if we may judge from their li^bits as observed 
in aquaria, their smooth, slimy skins, with scales protected from abrasion 
by a thick epidermis, enabling them to move about among the sharp- 
pointed rocks unharmed. They are on this account, also, especially well 
suited for confinement in the walls of smacks and in " live-cars," where 
it is customary to keep them living until required for market. They 
appear to enter upon an actual state of hibernation, ceasing to feed, and 
the vital functions partially suspended. It is the opinion of fishermen that 
during the hibernating season, the vent becomes entirely closed up, as is 
known to be the case with hibernating mammals. It is certain that they 
do not retreat far from the shore in winter, and that very cold weather, 
especially in connection with a run of low tides, often causes very 
remarkable fatalities. There are instances of their death in immense 
numbers. In February, 1857, after a very cold season, hundreds of tons 


•drifted upon the beach at Block Island, and along the southern shores of 
Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and a similar catastrophe took i)lace in 
1S41. In INIarch, 1S75, it is stated that as much as a ton was thrown 
ashore in the drift ice at Cuttyhunk. They were seen floating by the Hen 
and Chickens light-ship for three successive days. In Southern New 
England they become torpid in November and December. It is stated 
that they are sometimes caught as late as Christmas. It is probable that 
many do not enter upon a state of complete torpidity, but remain in a par- 
tially active state in deep holes not far from the shore, and that it is these, 
rather than the hibernating individuals, which are especially liable to 
injury from the cold. A few are taken in Rhode Island in midwinter, 
both by line and in lobster-pots. North of Cape Cod they are rarely 
taken except in summer,* while towards the southern limit of their range 
they are apparently as abundant in winter as at any other time. Mr. 
Nathan King, a Rhode Island fisherman, states that when the sun is very 
hot the Tautog leaves the clear spots for shelter among the weeds and 

As may be inferred from its haunts and from the character of its strong, 
sharp teeth, the food of this consists of the hard-shelled mollusks and 
crustaceans which are so abundant among the rocks. In their stomachs 
have been found, among other things, lobsters, crabs of various species, 
clams, mollusks, squids, scollops, barnacles, and sand-dollars. Many of 
the smaller mollusks they swallow, shells and all, ejecting the hard parts 
after the flesh has been digested. The common bait for Tautog in the 
spring is the clam, preferably the soft clam, for at this time the fishermen 
say they have tender mouths. In the fall, crabs and lobsters are used, 
the fiddler-crab and rock-crab being the favorites. They are sometimes 
taken with a bait of marine worms. 

In Narragansett Bay and vicinity they spawn from the end of April 
until August. 

The pound fishermen find them to be full of ripe eggs when they begin 
to approach the shore in early summer. Mr. Christopher E. Dyer, of New 
Bedford, has witnessed the operation of spawning in Buzzard's Bay in the 
middle of June, in water about two fathoms deep. This was in 1S59 or 
i860, about two miles east of Seconnet Point. The number of eggs has 
not yet been determined, nor is it known how long the period of incuba- 

*The first of the season were taken at Gloucester, May 13, 1881, 


tion continues, but young fish are found abundantly m the eel-grass along 
the shore in August and September, and have been observed at various 
points from Cape Lookout to Monomoy. There can be no question, 
however, that there are breeding grounds near Charleston, S. C, and 
north to Cape Cod, since the species is very local in its habits, and does 
not make long journeys to select spawning beds. Little is known of their 
rate of growth, though it is probably slow. Capt. Benjamin Edwards, of 
Woods Holl, Mass., kept thousands of small Tautog confined in a pond 
for five years, and at the end of that time, when six years old, none 
weighed more than two and one-half pounds. A half-pound fish which he 
confined in a lobster-car, with plenty of room and plenty of food, 
increased from one-half to three-quarters of a pound in six months. The 
average weight of those sent to market does not exceed two or three 
pounds, though individuals weighing ten, twelve, and fourteen pounds are 
by no means unusual. The largest on record was obtained near New 
York in July, 1876, and is preserved in the National Museum — its length 
thirty-six and one-half inches, its weight twenty-two and one-half pounds. 
The abundance of this species past and present has been actively dis- 
cussed and much interesting testimony on the sul^ject may be found in the 
report of the United States Commissioner of fisheries. This was one of 
the fish regarding which the claim was made that it has been almost exter- 
minated in Rhode Island by overfishing ; upon this point, however, the 
opinions of fishermen and experts are much at variance. \\\ 1870, when, 
according to general opinion, Tautog had been almost exterminated in the 
Avaters of Narragansett Bay, the records of Newport fish-markets show that 
in one day, November 2, eleven men caught about 3,000 pounds of Tau- 
tog with hook and line, besides cod and other fish, while on the following 
day the catch of fifteen meen was 28,000 pounds, besides codfish caught 
to the amount of 600 pounds, being an average of over 2,600 pounds to 
each man. These catches compare very fa\'orably with that recorded at 
Fir Rock Ledge, Wareham, ten years previous, when, on the 9th of 
October, two men caught, in three hours, 271 pounds of Tautog, a catch 
which was pronounced by local authorities the greatest ever made in those 
waters.* Col. Lyman, Massachusetts commissioner, writing in 1S72, 
remarked: "Great complaint is made of the scarcity of this valued 
species north and south of Cape Cod, but especially near the mouth of 

* Barnstable Patriot, October g, iS6o. 


Narragansett Bay, where they are said to be not more than one-eighth as 
numerous as they were a score of years ago." Although much testimony 
has been printed in the reports of the Fish Commissions of the United 
States and of Rhode Island, the general tendency of which is to show that 
old fishermen believe that Tautog and other fish are much less abundant 
than in the days of their youth, nothing definite has yet been proved. 

The Tautog has always been a favorite table fish, especially in New 
York, its flesh being white, dry, and of a delicate flavor. Storer states 
that they are frequently pickled, and may be kept in weak brine for a long 
time, and in this state they are considered by epicures a delicacy. 

The capture of Tautog is chiefly accomplished by the line fishermen of 
Southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the weir fishermen of the 
same district. No one fishes for Tautog alone, and it is consequently 
more difficult to estimate the quantity taken. About 200,000 pounds were 
brought to the New York market last year. Local consumption is con- 
siderable, and the total amount annually taken may be estimated at from 
400,000 to 450,000 pounds. At least two hundred fishermen are entirely 
or partly engaged in this business between Cape Cod and New York. 
The catch of such fishermen in Narragansett Bay is estimated at 6,000 
pounds each annually. This gives in round numbers 100,000 i^ounds 
taken by hook and line along this stretch of coast. To this should be 
added 20,000 pounds estimated to be taken on the coast of New Jersey and 
southward, and 20,000 more north of Cape Cod. Tautog are also fre- 
quently taken in the weirs and pounds, and the catch of these for the year 
1876 was estimated as is shown in the following table : 


Weirs on north side of Cape Cod 2,274 

Weirs on south side of Cape Cod 561 

Weirs in Yineyard Sound 29,220 

Weirs in Buzzard's Bay 39,423 

Weirs in Narragansett Bay 156,750 

Weirs on Block Island 33'i53 

Weirs in Fisher's Island Sound 14,000 

Weirs on eastern end of Long Island 36.000 

At Noank, Conn., there is in the fall a season of "black-fishing" 
Avhich continues from the middle of October until the snow begins to fall, 


about the first of December. About twenty-five men are engaged in this 
fishery during the season specified, some of whom begin a month or two 
earlier. They fish in Fisher's Island Sound at a depth of six to eight 
fathoms, using crabs and lobsters for bait. The average catch of each 
man for the season is estimated by Capt. Ashby at one thousand pounds. 
The most northerly point where there is a regular fishery for them is, as 
has already been mentioned, in Wellfleet harbor. According to DeKay, 
three smacks were constantly employed from April to November. These 
smacks doubtless, then as now, hailed from Connecticut. In 1879, these 
vessels were still upon the old ground, one of them hailing from Westport 
and one or two from New London. One of the skippers was said to have 
fished upon this ground every season for thirty years. I was told m Well- 
fleet that they ordinarily remained about three weeks to fill their wells, 
obtaining in that time from two to four thousand pounds. 

Angling for Tautog from rocks is a favorite pursuit of amateur fishermen 
all along the coast, particularly about New York, where there are pre- 
cipitous shores, the anglers standing upon the rocks. July 12, 1879, Capt. 
S. J. Martin caught in this way, at Eastern Point, Gloucester, seven, two 
of which weighed twenty-one and a half pounds. In Long Island Sound 
and other protected waters they are usually fished for from boats anchored 
among the reefs or near wrecked vessels. INIitchill, writing in 1814, 
describes the methods of this fishery better than any other subsequent 
authority : " Rocky shores and bottoms are the haunts of Blackfish. Long 
experience is required to find all these places of resort. Nice observations 
on the landmarks in different directions are requisite to enable a fishing 
party to anchor on the proper spot. For example, when a certain rock 
and tree range one way, with a barn window appearing over a headland 
the other way, the boat lying at the point where two such lines intersect 
each other, is exactly over some famous rendezvous. At some places 
Blackfish bite best upon the flood. In others they are voracious 
during the ebb. Thunder accompanying a shower is an indication that no 
more of them can be caught. The appearance of a porpoise infallibly 
puts an end to the sport. Dull weather with an easterly wind is generally 
the omen of ill luck. Some persons who live contiguous to the shores 
where are situated the rocks which are frequented by Tautog, invite 
the fish there by baiting. By this is meant the throwing overboard 
broken clams or crabs to induce the Blackfish to renew their visits ; and 
fine sport is procured." 


Mitchill also gives an interesting bit of folk lore in the following 
account of the botanical mnenonics of the fishermen in the vicinity of New 
York : 

" The blossoming of the dogwood, Cornus florida, early in April is 
understood to denote the time of catching black-fish. As soon as these 
flowers unfold, the fishermen proceed with their hooks and lines to the 
favorite places. If there is no dogwood, a judgment is derived from the 
vegetation of the chesnut tree, Castajiea vesca. The people express this 
sentiment in these coarse rhymes : 

" When chesnut leaves are as big as thumb-nails 
Then bite black-fish without fail, 
But when chesnut leaves are as large as a span, 
Then catch black-tish if you can ? " 

As has been already stated, the Tautog on the coasts of the United 
States is extremely sensitive to cold, and at the approach of the time of 
hibernation, the vent becomes sealed, the fish thus becoming prepared for 
a minimum consumption of its own fat during its winter sleep. 

In Brown's "American Angler's Guide," in the article on Tautog or 
Black-fish it is remarked : 

" The Black-fish abounds in the vicinity of Long Island, and is a sta- 
tionary inhabitant of the saltwater. He may be kept for a long time in 
ponds or cars, and even fatted there. When the cold of winter benumbs 
him he refuses to eat any more, and a membrane is observed to form over 
the vent and close it. He begins to regain appetite with the return of 
warmth in the spring. 

" Now we know that Tautog hibernate among rocks near the coast and 
in our rivers, and it has been stated by Mr. L. Tallman or Mr. Daniel 
Church, that some years ago, after a very cold snap, not only many Tau- 
tog were washed ashore frozen stiff, but afterward quantities were also 
found dead among rocks off the coast. If, during the winter, they don't 
feed as stated above, and this membrane closes them up, the conclusion 
must be that they remain in a state of torpor or sleep during cold weather. 
Now it happens that the scup, when first taken by traps, are in a state of 
torpor ; they neither eat nor have any passage. It is probably sealed up 
like the Tautog, and nothing in the shape of food is to be found within 
them. Some say they are blind, and they seem hardly able or willing 
to move. 

" The inference, then is, that the scup have also been hibernating within 
a short distance from the coast, in the same state as the Tautog. This 
would account for the stray scup mentioned by Mr. Southwick as having 
been occasionally found in March. A warm day wakes him up, and he 



visits the shore for a day or so and then returns. To my mind this is a 
more reasonable way of accounting for his presence than to assume that he 
has been left behind. If these facts are as stated, it is to be presumed 
that scup are local fish, and do not have their localities any more than 
Tautog, about the propriety of classification of which as a local fish there 
is no question." 


The Chogset, or Gunner, or Bergall, Ctenolabrus adspersus, is very simi- 
lar in appearance to the Tautog, though much smaller and far less 
important. Its range is more northerly. I can find no record of its 
occurrence south of New Jersey. DeKay remarks : "I am not aware that 
it is found south of Delaware Bay." From New York to the Straits of 
Canso the species is exceedingly aoundant, being found everywhere in 
harbors and bays, particularly in the vicinity of fish houses, where offal is 
thrown overboard. Cuvier had specimens from Newfoundland, but it 
abounds on the coast of Labrador. It is closely related to the " Gold- 
sinny," Ctenolabrus riipcstris, and the "Connor" or "Gilt-head," 
Crcuilahrus melops, of Great Britain and adjoining Europe. It has 
numerous conmon names. In Southern New England it is called " Chog- 
set," a name of Indian origin, sometimes pronounced Cachogset. This 
name appears to have been in occasional use as far west as New York, 
where, in Mitchill's time, it was also called " Bluefish." In Maine, the 
British Provinces, and in some parts of Massachusetts the name " Gunner " 
is in use, evidently having been brought over by the English colonists 
who remembered a very similar fish at home which has this name. In 
New York, the name " Burgall " has continued in use since the revo- 


lutionary times. This name also is of English origin, certain species of 
this family being called " Bergylt " in jjarts of Kngland." This name 
appears to hold in Eastern Long Island at the present time. At Province- 
town they are called " Sea-perch," and at the Isle of Shoals and 
occasionally on the adjoining mainland, " Blue-i^erch " and "Perch," 
this also being a reminiscence of English usage. At Salem they are called 
" Nippers," and occasionally here and elsewhere " Bait-stealers." About 
where Gunners are found at all, they are exceedingly abundant, and, 
though performing a useful duty as scavengers, are a pest of fishermen, 
from their habit of nibbling the bait from their hooks. They are the 
especial detestation of those who fish for Tautog, since the two species are 
ordinarily found together. Their food is very similar to that of the Tau- 
tog, except that they cannot swallow large shells. They feed also upon 
dead animal matter, and are among the most important scavengers of our 
harbors. Numbers of them may be taken by lowering a net containing a 
piece of meat or fish and quickly raising it to the surface. Like the Tau- 
togs, Gunners are local in their habits, only moving from the shoal water 
in extreme cold weather, and, though adapted for living in colder water, 
rarely retreat except in the severest weather. In winter, however, they 
are rarely caught with the hook. The first of the season of 18S1 at 
Gloucester, were caught May 8. A very cold season sometimes destroys 
them. It is recorded that in January, 1835, great quantities were frozen 
and thrown up on the shore between Gloucester and Marblehead.* In 
June and July they spawn on their feeding grounds in Southern New 
England, and in July and August fish three-quarters of an inch, or more, 
in length are taken abundantly along the shores. They appear to become 
adult and to breed when three inches long. The largest I have obser\ed 
was taken at Woods Holl, in July, 1875 ; its weight was twelve ounces, 
its Ifength ten and a half inches, and it was si:)awning freely. Storer 
claims to have seen them fourteen inches long, and I am assured that they 
sometimes attain a weight of two pounds. 

From Eastport, Maine, to the vicinity of Boston, the Gunner is a favorite 
article of food. Elsewhere it is rarely eaten and is usually regarded with 
disgust — a foolish prejudice, for it is one of the most agreeably flavored 
among the small fishes on our coast. Immense quantities are taken with 
the hook from the rocks, bridges, and boats, especially in the vicinity of 

* Gloucester Telegraph, January 14, 1835. 


cities like Boston and Portland. They are also taken in immense 
quantities in nets. The Irish market-boats of Boston make a special 
business of catching them, using circular nets three or four feet in diameter 
which are baited and set among the rocks. Dr. Storer records that on the 
occasion of his visit to Labrador, in 1849, he found them so plentiful in 
the Gut of Canso, that by sinking a basket with a salt fish tied therein for 
bait, he continually caught them by the score, and by putting a itw hun- 
dreds in the well of his sloop, kept the crew well supplied with fish while 
at sea on the way to Labrador. The people of Nova Scotia, like those 
south of Cape Cod, rarely if ever eat the Cunner. Mr. J. Matthew 
Jones informs me that in the summer of 1S63, when the French fleet was 
anchored in Halifax Harbor, the sailors caught them for food in great 
numbers. About St. Margaret's Bay, according to ^Ix. Ambrose, they are 
given as food to pigs ; since, however, the pork of these fish-fed pigs 
always tastes oily, they are generally fed on some other food for a short 
time before being killed, and well dosed with sulphur. It was formerly 
customary in Boston to keep these fish alive for market in large cars, de- 
scribed by Storer as three feet deep, twelve to fifteen feet long, closed 
beneath and latticed at the sides, and anchored in deep water. Storer 
states that sometimes as many as five thousand fish were kept in a single 
car, and that these cars were replenished every week or fortnight. It is 
impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the quantity of Cun- 
ners annually taken. The catch of the Irish market-boats of Boston 
cannot fall much short of 300,000 pounds, and that of the other towns and 
States on the coast of New England is certain to be from 200,000 to 
250,000 pounds. 

Several of the Parrot-fishes occur on the Florida coast, notably the 
Blue Parrot-fish, Platyglossus radiatus (Linn.) Goode, sometimes, accord- 
ing to Jordan, seen in Key West market, and P. hivattafus, known in 
Bermuda as "Slippery Dick," recorded by Jordan from Charleston mar- 
ket. They are gorgeous in color, but the flesh is so dry that they are held 
in slight esteem for table use. 

The Red-fish, of California, TrocJiocopus pulcher, writes Jordan, is 
everywhere known as the "Red-fish": the name "Fat-head" is occa- 
sionally used, and it is very rarely called " Sheepshead." It reaches a 
weio-ht of twelve to fifteen pounds. It is found from Point Conception 
southward to Cerros Island in enormous numbers, in the kelp. It is taken 


chiefly with hook and line. It feeds on crustaceans and molhisks. It is 
taken chiefly by the Chinese, who salt and dry it. It forms half of the 
total catch of the Chinese south of Point Conception. It does not rank 
high as food-fish, its flesh being coarse. The fat forehead is said to make 
excellent chowder. 

The Senorita-fish, of Monterey, Pseudojulis modestus, is known as 
" Pescerey"; southward it is called "Senorita." It reaches a weight of 
less than half a pound. It is found in the kelp from Monterey southward 
to Cerros Island, and is generally common. It feeds chiefly on crusta- 
ceans, and is used, as a rule, only for bait, although the flesh is said to 
be of excellent quality. 

The Kelp-fish, of California, Platyglossus semicincfus, bears in company 
with Heterostichus rosfatus, and perhaps others, the name of " Kelp-fish." 
It reaches a pound in weight, and a length of nearly a foot. It is found 
in the kelp about Santa Catalina Island and southward, and is not very 
abundant. It feeds on Crustacea, and spawns in July. Its flesh is said to 
be of good quality. 

The Hog-fish, Lachnokemus falcatus, is, according to Mr. Stearns, 
abundant at Key West and along the Florida coral reefs, although he has 
not observed it north of the Gulf of Mexico. It there attains a consider- 
able size, and a weight of twelve or fifteen pounds, although the average 
fish is not more than one-fourth that size. In the Key West market it 
appears almost daily, and is much esteemed for food. This species occurs 
throughout the West Indies, and is one of the favorite food-fishes of Cuba, 
although its sale is forbidden by law, on account of the supposed poisonous 
nature of its flesh. In the Bermudas it is one of the most important of the 
food-fishes, attaining sometimes the weight of twenty pounds. It is caught 
by the line fishermen among the reefs, at a depth of five to forty fathoms. 
Like the other members of this family, it feeds upon small fish, and upon 
bottom crustaceans and mollusks. Its brilliant red color renders it a con- 
spicuous object in the markets. During the diff'erent stages of growth its 
species undergoes many changes of form, and has been described under 
several diff'erent names. The large adult male is remarkable on account 
of a heavy black blotch over the forehead and over the eyes. The name 
''Hog-fish" refers to the swine-like appearance of the head, jaws, and 
teeth. At the entrance to the Great Sound, in Bermuda, is a reef called 
Hog-fish shoal, which is surmounted by a beacon bearing an enormous 
effigy of a Hog-fish in metal. 


A family related to the Wrasses is that of the Demoiselles or Pouiacen- 
1 7' idee. 

Among the reefs of Florida two or three species of this family are abund- 
ant. Most prominent among them is the " Sergeant Major," Glyphidodon 
saxatilis (L.) C. &V., called in Bermuda the " Cow-pilot," from an al- 
leged habit of being always found in the society of the " Cow-fish," or 
Ostracton. This fish sometimes attains the length of ten inches and the 
weight of a pound or so, but is usually of a smaller size and is not highly 
esteemed for food. It is found throughout the tropical waters of the 

There are several smaller species of this and of allied genera in the Gulf 
of Mexico, and on the western side of the Isthmus of Panama and in the 
Gulf of California. On the California coast occurs a species, Poiuaccutnis 
ruhicundus, conspicuous by reason of its uniformly deep crimson or orange 
•coloration, which is usually known as the ''Garibaldi" among the 
Italians. The names " Gold-fish" and " Red Perch" are also used, all 
of them referring to its brilliant orange colorations. It reaches a weight 
of three pounds, and a length of less than a foot. It is found about the 
Santa Barbara Islands and southward to Lower California. It lives about 
rocky places, and is generally abundant. Its food is chiefly crustaceans. 
It is a food-fish of low grade, and has little economic importance. 
Another somewhat noteworthy species is known in California, on account 
of its dusky colors, as the " Blacksmith," Cliromis punctipinnis, Cooper. 

" This fish," writes Jordan, " is known as the 'Blacksmith' from its 
dusky colors. It reaches a weight of about two pounds. It ranges from 
the Santa Barbara Islands southward, living about reefs of rock, and is 
Iccally abundant. It feeds on shells and Crustacea. It is considered as 
indifferent food." 

The family Cichlidce is large, and is composed chiefly of fresh-water 
fishes occurring in the tropical parts of Africa and America. Among its 
members is a South American species, Geophagns suriiiamcnsis, which is 
often mentioned by writers on the instincts of animals on account of a 
peculiar habit of the males which carry in their mouths the eggs until they 
are hatched, and which are even said to allow the young fish to seek refuge 
within their jaws. We have no representatives of this family on our Atlan- 
tic coast, though one or two species of the genus Hcros occur in the 
"brackish waters of Texas. 




Now the Sculpin is a little water beast which pretends to consider itself a fish, and, under that pretext, hr.ngs 
about the piles on which West Boston Bridge is built, swallowing the bait and hook intended for flounders. 
On being drawn from the water, it exposes an immense head, a diminutive bony carcass, and a surface so full 
of spines, ridges, ruffles and frills that the naturalists have not been able to count them without quarreling about 
their number ; and that the colored youth, whose sport they spoil do not like to touch them, and especially to 
tread on them unless they happen to have shoes on to cover the soles of their broad black feet. 

Holmes: The Professor at the Breakfast Table. 


N our Atlantic coast are found several species of this family, generally 
known by the name " Sculpin," and also by such titles as *' Grubby," 
"Puffing-grubby," "Daddy Sculpin," "Bullhead," "Sea-robin," "Sea- 
toad," and "Pig-fish." Their economic value is little or none, but 
they are important as scavengers, and are used for lobster bait. They are 
often a source of great annoyance to the fishermen by cumbering their 
hooks and by stealing their bait. The most abundant species is the 
Eighteen-spined Sculpin, Cottus octodecimspinosus , which frequents shallow 
and moderately deep waters from Labrador to New York. It is usually 
associated with a smaller species, Cottus anetcs, which may be called the 
" Pigmy Sculpin," and which ranges from the Bay of Fundy to New York. 
Cottus scorpius, of Europe, is represented on our coasts by C. scorpius 
sub-species gr cent an dims, which is abundant everywhere from New York to 
Greenland and Labrador. This sub-species has been found on the coast of 
Ireland,* and the typical Cottus scorpius has been shown by Dr. Bean to 
occur in Maine. This is also, in addition to several insignificant species 
seldom seen except by naturalists, a large, brilliantly colored form, known 

* Annals of Natural History, 1844, p. 402. 


as the " Sea-raven," '• Rock Toad fish," or " Deep-water Sculpin," which 
is found as far south as the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, is abundant 
throughout New England, and has been discovered off" the coast of Nova 
Scotia. This fish, Hemiiripterus hispidits, or H. avicricanus, attains the 
length of two feet, and is conspicuous by reason of its russet-orange or 
brick-red colors, its harlequin-like markings, its warted body, its gro- 
tesquely elongated fins, and above all, by its peculiar habit of swallowing 
air until its belly is inflated like a balloon. 

These fishes feed upon all bottom animals, mollusks, crustaceans, sea- 
urchins, and worms, and may also be found in the harbors devouring any 
refuse substances which may be lying upon the bottom. They breed for 
the most part in summer, and certain species, like the Sea-raven and the 
Greenland Sculpin, at that time assume very brilliant colors. They are 
not eaten by our people, although the Sea-raven is decidedly palatable. 
Those species which occur in Greenland, are said to be eaten by the 
natives. As has been remarked, they are a source of annoyance to fisher- 
men, Avhose bait they steal and whose hooks, especially the hooks of their 
trawl-lines, they encumber. Boys delight to catch them and fix a piece of 
light wood between their teeth ; they are then unable to swim and struggle 
vigorously at the top of the water. 

About the fish-curing stations they are very abundant, and exceedingly 
useful as scavengers, gorging themselves with refuse thrown back into the 
sea ; they care little for the presence of man, and can hardly be driven 
away, even when roughly punched with a boat-hook. 

In the lakes and streams of the Northern States are numerous species of 
Uranidca and allied genera, known in some localities by the English 
name of "Miller's Thumb," also called "Bull-heads," "Goblins," 
"Blobs," and " Muffle-jaws." They are small and of no importance 
except as the food for larger species. 

The Cottidce, according to Jordan, are represented on the Pacific coast 
by about eighteen separate species, known by such names as " Sculpin." 
"Drummer," " Salpa," "Johnny," " Biggy-head," and "Cabezon." 
Only one of these species, ScorpCBnichthys marvwratus, has any sort of 
economic importance ; the others may be considered collectively. The 
names applied to them may be briefly considered. The name Sculpin, of 
course, is derived from that in use for the Atlantic species of Cottus. 
" Drummer," comes from the quivering noise made by many species when 


taken alive out of the water. " Salpa " is a Spanish word for toad, and 
applied also to species of Batraehidce. " Johnny " is applied only to very 
little Sculpins along the shore, notably Oligocottus maailosus. The same 
name is given in the Ohio Valley to fishes of precisely similar habits, 
the Etlieostomatidce. " Biggy-head " and its Spanish cognate " Cabezon " 
are used by the Italians and Spanish about Monterey, Santa Barbara, and 
elsewhere, for different Cottidse. 

Most of the Cottidae feed upon small fishes, and especially crustacean 
one species, £noJ>/ir}'s bison, being a vegetable feeder. All take the hook 
readily. The flesh is poor, tough, and dry, and the waste by the removal 
of the head, viscera, and skin is so great that even the poorest people do 
not use them as food. Various sorts (notably Lepiocottus arniatits) are 
dried by the Chinese, who consider them the poorest of all dried fishes. 

The Sea-robin or Gurnard family, is represented on our Atlantic coast 
by several species, some of them being quite abundant. The most striking 
of them all is the Sea-bat or Flying Gurnard, Dactylopterus volitans, which 
is remarkable on account of its enormous spreading fins, larger than those 
of a flying-fish — wings which, however, are not sufficiently powerful to lift 
the body above the surface of the water, though useful in maintaining the 
equilibrium of the heavy-headed body swimming through the water. The 
colors of the body and of the fins are very brilliant, and the fish is often 
exhibited as a curiosity. It is found along our entire coast south of Cape 
Cod, and in the waters of Brazil ; also in the Mediterranean and in the 
neighboring parts of the Eastern Atlantic. 

The most important of the Pacific Sculpins, writes Jordan, is Scorpcen- 
ichthys marmoratus. a species which attains the weight of more than ten 
pounds, being by far the largest member of its family in those waters. It 
is found from San Diego on the south, to Victoria on the north, but is 
more abundant about Monterey and San Francisco, than either northward 
or southward. It inhabits moderate depths, and is taken in considerate 
numbers with gill-nets and hooks. It feeds upon Crustacea and small fish. 
Its value is very slight, its flesh being tough and flavorless, and it is rarely 
sent to market when good fish are abundant. 

The genus Prionotus, of which we have five species, resembles Dac- 
tylopterus in general form, but the wings are much smaller, while two or 
three of the lower rays of these fins are developed into fingerrlike 
appendages which are used in stirring up the weeds and sand to rout out 


the small animals upon which they feed. In Southern New England there 
are two species, P. palmipes and P. evolans, the latter distinguished by the 
presence of dark stripes upon its sides. These attain the length of fifteen 
to eighteen inches and a weight of one and a quarter to two pounds. 
They have excellent food qualities, but are eaten, so far as we have 
record, only in the vicinity of Hartford, Conn., where they are known as 
'■'■ Wing-fish." They are taken in great quantities in the pound-nets along 
the Vineyard Sound, especially the unstriped species, the habits of which 
are better understood than those of the allied species. It feeds upon 
crabs, shrimps, and small fishes. 

In Vineyard Sound the Sea-robin spawns during the summer months. 
A specimen obtained at Woods Holl, August t2, 1S75, contained eggs 
nearly ripe. Another, observed at Noank, Conn., July 11, 1874, was in 
precisely the same condition. Lyman states that in 1871 the eggs, which 
are bright orange, were thrown up in quantities during the last third of 
May on the beach on the inner parts of Waquoit Bay, and the females had 
well developed spawn in them. 

The species just mentioned are found as far north as Cape Cod ; the 
Web-fingered Sea-robin, P. palmipes, even north of the Cape, two or three 
specimens having been obtained in the vicinity of Salem and Lynn. 
These two species apparently do not occur much to the south of Cape 
Hatteras, and on our Southern coast they are replaced by others which 
are smaller, and at present, of no economic importance. The genus 
Prionotus does not occur in Europe, the family being there represented by 
a very similar form, genus Trigla, which, however, has still smaller wings. 
Its habits are much the same. A single specimen of the Red Gurnard of 
Europe, Trigla ci/ciilus, is said to have been taken at New York. Europe 
has nine species of Trigla, most of which are highly esteemed for food; 
some of these species have been known to attain the length of two feet, 
and the weight of eleven pounds. These fishes are held in high estima- 
tion, and are frequently seen in the markets. 

Parnell writes: "The Red Gurnard occurs on the Devonshire coast in 
great numbers, and on some occasions thousands of them may be seen 
exposed for sale daily, especially in those small towns where the trawl- 
boat fishing is carried on. The flesh is firm and well-flavored. The 
Tub-fish, T. liirii/ido, is of frequent occurrence on the west coast of Scot- 
land, and is occasionally brought to the Edinburgh market. Its flesh is 



firm and wholesome, and is considered by some to be superior to the lasl 
species, but in general more dry. In the north of Europe it is salted for 
keeping. The Gray Gurnard, T. gurnardus, is considered by all fishermen 
richer and sweeter than any of the other Gurnards, although in the markets 
it is less sought after than the Red Gurnard, which is the drier and worse 
flavored of the two. It is taken generally with hooks baited with mussels. " 
These fish are taken in very great numbers in the trawl-nets; they appear 
to be much more abundant on the European coast than their cousins, the 
Sea-robins, with us. These recommendations are quoted here in order 
to draw attention to this neglected group of fishes, which are certainly 
worthy of greater consideration than they have hitherto received. 

Mr. J. Carson Brevoort has given the following testimony regarding the 
food qualities of the American species : 

"Among the fish that may be classed as edible, but which are entirely 
neglected here, is the Sea-robin, Grunter, or Gurnard. This curious, 
but rather forbidding creature, is, in reality, one of the most delicate 
morsels that can be laid before an epicure, the flesh being snow-Avhite, 
firm, and fully as good as that of the king-fish, or whiting. In fact it 
would be hard to distinguish them when placed on the table. 

" In Europe every one of the kinds of the Trigla, or Gurnard family, 
is sought after eagerly, and finds a ready sale on the fish stalls. They have 
eight or ten kinds of the group there, and we have but six here ; all but 
one diflerent from the European kinds, though belonging to the same 
family. We shall not attempt to describe all these fish, which resemble 
each other very much in all but tlie color. They all have large heads, 
sheathed with rough, bony plates, and armed with many acute points, and 
their dorsal fin has also several sharp, thorny rays. These prickles are all 
erected by the fish when taken alive, and they inflict a painful, though 
not, as many say, a poisonous wound. The broad mouth is furnished with 
rough, but not sharp, teeth ; the pectoral fins in most of the species are very 
long, and can be expanded like a fan, whence they are sometimes called 
Flying-fish and Butterfly-fish. It is doubtful, however, whether they can 
actually fly like a flying-fish, but they have been said to skip from wave 
to wave, a peculiarity often alluded to by halieutic ])oets. They also 
emit a grunting sound, which can be distinctly heard in still weather 
while lying at anchor on a shallow, which they frequent. At such a time 
the sound resembles the distant lowing of kine. When freshly taken 
from the water they grunt quite loudly, whence their popular name of 
Grunter, or Cuckoo-fish. 

"The Gurnards live on crabs and delicate fresh food, taking all such 
baits readily, on a clean bottom, and they sometimes anno" fishermen 


hugely by their voracity. They play well on the hook, and a large one 
tugging at a rod is often supposed to be a game fish and a prize, till the 
ugly Sea-robin, with his spiky helmet, shows himself at the surface. 

" The Gurnards of our coasts do not reach a large size, at least we have 
but rarely seen any that weighed over a pound, while in Europe some of 
the species, such as the Tub-fish, Trigla hi7'iindo, have been found weigh- 
ing eleven pounds, and those of seven or eight are common. The Red 
Gurnard, or Rochet, T. cu cuius, and the Piper, T. lyra, reach three or 
four pounds, averaging about two, while the other European kinds 
resembles ours as to size. 

" Small as our species are, they are not the less delicate when cooked, 
and we have often verified this fact. They are sold in England by the 
number, and not by weight, for their large heads are inedible, while they 
add, perhaps, one-quarter to their weight. The English fishermen take 
them almost everywhere along the coast in large trawl-nets, constructed 
for their capture, though other bottom fish may find their way into the 
net. These trawls are generally twelve or sixteen feet wide at the mouth, 
Avhile a bag proportioned to their beam, which has one or two labyrinths 
like a fyke-net inside. The Trawl is managed from a large sail-boat, with 
a block and tackle, and is hauled in water as deep as eight or ten 
fathoms. We do not recommend this special fishery to our coast fisher- 
men, as our Gurnards are small, but wish only to call attention to the 
edible qualities of this generally despised fish. 

" Piscator (the anonymous auther of the 'Practical Angler), in his 
excellent little treatise entitled ' Fish ; How to Choose and How to Dress,' 
published in 1843, says of the Gurnard that their flesh is ' white, excellent, 
exceedingly firm, and shells out into snowy flakes, and is of a remarkably 
agreeable flavor,' and that ' they keep well.' He recommends them to be 
boiled — that is the large ones; while the small ones may be split and fried. 

Having drawn attention to this first as one that deserves a place on our 
tables, we leave his fate hereafter to the tender care of a good cook and 
a discerning palate. 

Another member of this family is the Pcristcdium miniatum, a brilliant 
red species recently discovered by the Fish Commission in the deep waters 
on the coast of Southern New England. 



•< i^ '^ 



Flat fish, with eyes distorted, square, ovoid, rhomboid, long. 
Some cased in mail, some slippery-backed, the feeble and the strong, 
Sedan'd on poles, or dragg'd on hooks, or poured from tubs like water. 
Gasp side by side, together piled, in one promiscuous slaughter. 

B.\DH.\M . 

npHE Halibut is widely distributed through the North Atlantic and 
North Pacific, near the shores, in shallow water, as well as upon the 
off-shore banks and the edges of the continental slope down to a depth of 
two hundred and fifty fathoms or more. In the Western Atlantic the 
species has not been observed south of the fortieth parallel, stragglers 
having occasionally been taken off Sandy Hook, Block Island, and Mon- 
tauk Point, while it ranges north at least to Cumberland Gulf, latitude 
64°, and as far as Disko, Greenland, five or six degrees within the Arctic 
Circle. Along the entire west coast of Greenland they exist, abundant 
about Iceland and north to Spitzbergen, in latitude 80°. No one knows 
to what extent they are distributed along the European and Asiatic shores 
of the Arctic Ocean, but they have been observed on both sides of the 
North Cape, in East and West Denmark, and from the North Cape, 
latitude 71°, south along the entire western line of the Scandinavian 
Peninsula, in the Skager Rack and Kattegat, but not, however in the 
Baltic. South of latitude 50° their range in the Eastern Atlantic appears 
to cease. 

On the Pacific coast the Halibut, which has been shown by Dr. Bean to 

» f 


be identical with that of the Atlantic, ranges from the Farallone Islands 
northward to Behring Straits, becoming more abundant northward. Its 
centre of abundance is in the Gulf of Alaska, particularly about Kodiak, 
the Alexander Archipelago, and the Shumagins. It is occasionally taken 
off San Francisco and about Humboldt Bay. In the Straits of Fuca and in 
the deeper channels about Puget Sound it is taken in considerable 

The Halibut is emphatically a cold-water species. That it ranges nine 
or ten degrees further south on the American than on the European coast, 
is quite in accordance with the general law of the distribution of fish-life 
in the Atlantic ; indeed, it is only in winter that Halibut are known to 
approach the shore to the south of Cape Cod, and it is safe to say that the 
temperature of the water in which they are at present most frequently 
taken is never, or rarely higher than 45°, and seldom higher than 35°, 
and often in the neighborhood of 32°. Its geographic range corresponds 
closely to that of the codfish, with which it is almost invariably associated, 
though the cod is less dependent upon the presence of very cold water, and 
in the Western Atlantic is found four or five degrees — in the Eastern 
Atlantic at least two — nearer the Equator, while the range of the two 
species to the north is probably, though not certainly, known to be limited 
relatively in about the same degree. In the same manner the Halibut 
appears to extend its wanderings further out to sea, and in deeper and 
colder water than the cod. Although observations on this point have 
necessarily been imperfect, it seems to be a fact, that while cod are very 
rarely found upon the edge of the continental slope of North America, 
beyond the 250-fathom line, Halibut are present there in abundance. 

The name of this species is quite uniform in the regions where it is 
known, though of course subject to certain variations in the languages of 
the different countries, and its characteristic features are so unmistakable 
that it is rarely confounded with other species, the only fish for which it is 
ever mistaken seeming to be the Turbot of the European coast, with which 
it sometimes interchanges names. In Scotland it is said that the Halibut 
is frequently called the Turbot, and Yarrell has expressed the opinion that 
in instances where it had been claimed that Halibut had been taken in 
the south of Ireland the Turbot was the species actually referred to. 

" Halibut " and " Holibut " are words which are as old as the English 
language. In Germany it is called "Heilbutt" or " Heiligebutt "; in 


Sweden, " Hallefisk " or " Halleflundra," while in Holland the name is 

In studying these names it should be borne in mind that '"But" or 
" Bott " is another word for a flounder or flat fish, and that the English, 
Dutch, German, and Scandinavian prefixes to either this word, or the 
equivalent word Flounder, are presumably of the same meaning. A false 
derivation has been imagined for the name, which is exemplified in the 
German word " Heiligebutt " just mentioned, and also in the English 
orthography, which is sometimes encountered " Holybut." This is with- 
out foundation, for the Halibut has never been mentioned more than any 
other species of flat fish, and the derivation is as fanciful as the New Eng- 
land one of " Haul-a-boat," which our fishermen have frequently assured 
me is the proper name, referring to the size and the strength of the fish. 
The true derivation of the word is best understood by a study of its Scan- 
dinavian names, from which it appears that the prefix has reference 
simply to the holes or deep places at sea in which the fish is found, and 
that the name simply means, " a deep-sea fish," or " a deep-sea flounder." 
The name " Fletan " which a species bears in France is not distinctive, 
the fish being almost unknown in that country. 

Half a century ago Halibut were extremely abundant in INIassachusetts 
Bay. Elsewhere in this essay are given several instances of their great 
plenty and voracity, as narrated by some of the early fishermen of Cape 
Ann. Of late years, however, few are found except in deep water on the 
off-shore banks. 

The presence of so important a food-fish as the Halibut in America did 
not long escape the observations of the early English explorers. Capt. 
John Smith, in his " History of Virginia," wrote : " There is a large sized 
fish called Halibut, or Turbot ; some are taken so bigg that two men have 
much a doe to hall them into the boate ; but there is such jjlenty, that the 
fisher men onely eate the heads & finnes, and throw away the bodies ; 
such in Paris would yeeld 5. or 6. crownes a peece : and this is no 

The Halibut is surpassed in size by only three of our eastern species — 
th^ sword-fish, the tunny, and the tarpum. There is said, by experienced 
fishermen, to be a great difference in the size of the two sexes, the females 
being much the larger; the male is said rarely to exceed fifty pounds in 
Aveight, and to be, ordinarily, in poor condition and less desirable for 


food. The average size of a full-grown female is somewhat between one 
hundred and one hundred and fifty pounds, though they are sometimes 
much heavier. Capt. Collins, who has had many years' experience in the 
Gloucester Halibut fishery, assures me that he has never seen one which 
Avould weigh over two hundred and fifty pounds, and that one weighing 
over two hundred and fifty pounds is considered large. There are, how- 
ever, well-authenticated instances of their attaining greater dimensions. 
Capt. Atwood, in a communication to the Boston Society of Natural 
History, in 1S64, stated that the largest he had ever taken weighed, when 
dressed, two hundred and thirty-seven pounds, and would probably have 
weighed three hundred pounds as taken from the water. In July, 1879, 
however, the same reliable observer saw at Provincetown two individuals 
taken near Race Point, one of which weighed three hundred and fifty-nine 
pounds (three hundred and two pounds when dressed), the other, four 
hundred and one pounds (three hundred and twenty-two pounds when 

There is a tradition in Boston that ]\Ir. Anthony Holbrook, one of the 
early fish dealers of that city, had in his possession a Halibut, taken at 
New Ledge, sixty miles southeast of Portland, which weighed over six 
hundred pounds. This story, which is recorded by Storer in his " Fishes 
of Massachusetts," Capt. Atwood believes to be untrue. Halibut, weigh- 
ing from three to four hundred pounds, though unusual in comparison 
with the ordinary size, are by no means rare. I have before me a record 
of ten or twelve such, captured on the New England coast during the past 
ten years. Nilsson, a Swedish ichthyologist, has mentioned the capture 
of a Halibut on that coast which weighed seven hundred and twenty 
pounds. There are stories of Halibut ten feet in length : a fish weighing 
three hundred and fifty pounds is between seven and eight feet long and 
nearly four feet in width. The largest individuals are not considered 
nearly so good for table use as those of less than one hundred pounds' 
weight. A fat female of eighty pounds, is by good judges, considered to 
be in the highest state of perfection. Males are not, however, so highly 
esteemed. Small Halibut, known as " Chicken Halibut," ranging from 
ten to twenty pounds, are much sought after by epicures, and bring a high 
price in the New York and Boston markets. They are comparatively 
rare however, and a Halibut weighing ten pounds or less is rarely seen ; 
the smallest recorded on our coast was about five inches in length and was 
taken by Prof. Verrill in a dredge-net in the Straits of Canso. 


The Halibut of the Pacific are apparently similar in those 
of New England. Mr. Anderson, inspector of fisheries for British Colum- 
bia, states that they there attain a weight of 200 pounds. 

The wholesale dealers of Gloucester, in buying fresh Halibut from the 
fishermen, recognize two grades; one, which they call " Grey Halibut," 
they consider to be of inferior value, and pay a lower price for. The 
Grey Halibut are distinguished by dark cloudings or blotches upon the 
under side, which in the most remarkable fishes are pure white. Almost 
all the largest Halibut are classed among the Greys. Fishermen claim 
that there is no actual difference between the grey and the white fish, and 
it is a fair question whether they are not right. 

They are large-mouthed, sharp-toothed, voracious, although adapted for 
life upon the bottom, and doubtless feed largely upon crabs and mollusks ; 
they are particularly fond of fish of all kinds ; these they waylay, lying 
upon the bottom, invisible by reason of their flat bodies, colored to corre- 
spond with the general color of the sand or mud upon which they rest. 
When in pursuit of their prey they are active, and often come quite to the 
surface, especially when in the summer they follow the capelin to the 
shoal water near the land. They feed upon skate, cod, haddock, men- 
haden, mackerel, herring, lobsters, flounders, sculpins, grenadiers, turbot, 
Norway haddock, bank clams, and anything else that is eatable and can 
be found in the same waters. Capt. Ashby tells me that common 
flounders and flat-fish are among their most favorite food ; they follow 
them up the shoals of George's and Nantucket ; they lie in wait for them 
on the sand-rips and catch them as they swim over. He has seen a half 
bushel of flat-fish in the stomach of one ; they stow them away very 
tightly. He has often seen Halibut chasing flat-fish over the surface of the 
water. About Cape Sable their favorite food seems to be haddock and 
rusk. He has seen eight or ten pounds of haddock and cod taken out of 
one of them. When they are on the shoals they are sometimes filled with 
flat-fish, haddock, cusk, sculpin and herring, but when in deep water he 
has found very little food in them. They eat crabs and other crustaceans, 
but shells are rarely found in their stomachs, except those of clams and 

Capt. Hurlbert tells me that when the vessels are dressing codfish on the 
Grand Banks, and the back-bones and head are thrown overboard, these 
are frequently found in the stomachs of Halibut taken in the same 


At the meeting of the Boston Society of Natural History, in 1S52, Dr. 
W. O. Ayres stated that he had seen a block of wood, a cubic foot in 
dimension, taken from the stomach of a Halibut, where it had apparently 
lain for a long time. Capt. George A. Johnson found an accordion key 
in one of them. Olafson, in 1831, studying them on the coast of Green- 
land, found not only pieces of iron and wood in them, but in the stomach 
of one individual a large piece of floe ice. Capt. Collins has observed 
that they often kill their prey by blows of the tail, a fact which is quite 
novel and interesting. He described to me an instance which occurred 
on a voyage home from Sable Island in 1877 : " The man at the wheel 
sang out that he saw a Halibut flapping its tail about a quarter of a mile 
off our starboard quarter. I looked through the spy-glass, and his state- 
ment was soon verified by the second appearance of the tail. We hove 
out a dory, and two men went in her, taking with them a pair of gaft"- 
hooks. They soon returned bringing not only the Halibut, which was a 
fine one, of about seventy pounds' weight, but a small codfish which it 
had been trying to kill by striking it with its tail. The codfish was quite 
exhausted by the repeated blows, and did not attempt to escape after his 
enemy had been captured. The Halibut was so completely engaged in 
the pursuit of the codfish that it paid no attention to the dory, and was 
easily captured." 

The Halibut, in its turn, is the prey of seals, of the white whale, and of 
the various large sharks, especially the ground shark, or sleeping shark, in 
the stomachs of which they have sometimes been found ; their sides, I am 
told by Copt. Collins, are often deeply scarred, probably by the teeth of 
the sharks, or in their early lives by mouths of larger individuals of their 
own kind. 

There is diversity of opinion regarding their spawning. Some fishermen 
say that they breed at Christmas time, in the month of January, when 
they are on the shoals. Others declare that it is in summer, at the end 
of June. Capt. George A. Johnson, of the Schooner "Augusta H. John- 
son." of Gloucester, assures me that Halibut " spawn, just like the human 
race, at any time of the year." In April, 1878, he was fishing on Quer- 
eau Bank, and found large and small Halibut, the large ones full of spawn. 
In May he was on the Le Have Bank, where he found only small male fish 
full of milt ; in June he was on Le Have again, fishing in shallow water, 
where he found plenty of "small bull fish, with their pockets full of milt"; in 


July he was again on Quereau Bank, where he found a school of small and 
big male and female fish, all, apparently, spawning, or ready to spawn, 
"with milt and pees soft"; in August he was on the outer part of Sable 
Island, where he found females full of spawn. 

Capt. Ashby, speaking of the Halibut on George's Banks, states that 
roe is always found in them in May and June. The roes of a large Hali- 
but caught by him in 1S48 on the southwest part of George's, and whicli 
weighed 356 pounds, after it had been dressed and its head removed, 
weighed 44 pounds. He states that the Halibut in this region have spawn 
in them as long as Connecticut vessels continue to catch them, or until 
September. He has seen eggs in Halibut of twenty pounds' weight, and 
thinks that they begin to breed at that size. The spawn of the Halibut 
is a favorite food of the fishermen of Southern New England, though never 
eaten by those of Cape Ann. 

Capt. Hurlbert, of Gloucester, tells me that on the Grand Banks of 
Newfoundland the Halibut school used to come up in shoal water, in forty 
or fifty fathoms, in summer and that the spawn was ripest about a fort- 
night later. In August, 1878, he found many with the spawn already run 
out. At that time several Gloucester fishermen reported that the Halibut 
on Le Have and Quereau Banks were full of spawn. Capt. Collins 
told me that in July and August, and up to the first of September, they are 
found here with the ovaries very large, and are often seen with the ova and 
milt exuding. The ovaries of a large fish are too heavy to be lifted by a 
man, without considerable exertion, being often two feet or more in length. 
At this time very little food is found in their stomachs. In September, 
1878, the Fish Commission obtained from Capt. Collins the roes of a 
fish weighing from 190 to 200 pounds, taken by the schooner "Marion" 
on the 13th of the month on Quereau Bank. This fish was taken at the 
depth of 200 fathoms, and the temperature of the water was roughly re- 
corded at 36° F. These ovaries were put into a basket with ice and brought 
to the laboratory of the Fish Commission, where they were found to weigh 
seventeen pounds, two ounces. Part of the eggs were nearly ripe, and 
separated readily, while others were immature and closely adherent to each 
other. A portion of the roe, representing a fair average of the size of the 
eggs, was weighed and was found to contain 2,185 ^ggs; the weight of 
this portion was two drams. The total number of eggs was from this es- 
timated to be 2,182,773. It is not yet known whether the eggs float or 


rest upon the bottom, nor is it known how long is the period of incubation, 
nor what is the rate of growth of the fish. As has already been mentioned, 
young fish are very unusual ; the smallest ever seen by Capt. Ashby in 
Southern New England was taken on Nantucket Shoals, and weighed two 
and a half pounds after it had been eviscerated. 

" Left-handed " Halibut are sometimes taken. Perhaps one out of five 
thousand is thus abnormal in its form, having the eyes uiDon the left rather 
than upon the right hand side of the head. 

Halibut with dark spots or patches on the under side of the same dark 
color as the back are occasionally taken. These are called by the fisher- 
men " Circus Halibut." They are generally of medium size, and thick, 
well-fed fish. 




The Plaice, Summer Flounder, or Turbot Flounder, Paralichthys den- 
ciitus, is, next to the Halibut, the most important flat fish on the eastern 
coast. It is a member of a genus not existing in Europe, though repre- 
sented on our own Pacific coast, in China and Japan, and in the Indian 
Ocean. Its affinities are with the Halibut, which it much resembles in form, 
and to which it is more similar in flavor than to the Turbot and Brill, so 
well known in transatlantic fish markets. Our common species was first 
brought to notice in 1766, when Linnaeus received specimens from South 
Carolina, sent him by Dr. Garden. It seems at that time to have been of 
recognized commercial importance, since it was one of the few received by 
Linnreus from Garden which had a common name. In South Carolina at 
this time it was called Plaice, and this is a name which is now accepted 


in the New York market and about Cape Cod, although it has never been 
recognized by those ■vvho have written books on American fishes. The 
fishermen of the St. John's River also use the name Plaice, but whether 
for this species has not been determined. In Connecticut, North Caro- 
lina, and in Florida, east and west, as well as on other parts of the coast, 
the names Flounder and Common Flounder are current. In New York 
and New England the name Summer Flounder is also frequently heard. 
In Rhode Island the names "Brail" and '•' Puckermouth " are used, the 
former doubtless a modification of the English name "Brill," while on the 
bills of fare in Boston and New York hotels it is often called the " Deep-sea 
Flounder," especially since the Pole Flounder has been brought to notice by 
the Fish Commission, and has obtained a reputation as a delicious table 
fish. Fishermen sometimes mistake them for young Halibut, and they 
doubtless at times are sold under the name of " Chicken Halibut." Tur- 
bot Flounder is another name which has been suggested, but, upon the 
whole. Plaice seems most desirable for general adoption. 

This fish is abundant upon the eastern coast of the United States from 
Cape Cod to Cape Florida, and according to Mr. Steam's report is also 
found along the entire Gulf coast. Southward, its range extends at least 
as far as Paraguay. To the northward it barely rounds Cape Cod. Capt. 
Atwood remembers that in the first half of the present century great 
quantities of Plaice were found inside the Point at Provincetown. They 
were so numerous that in one afternoon he caught two thousand pounds. 
They are now only occasionally taken, and have not recently been seen 
north of Provincetown, though Storer has recorded their occurrence at 
Wellfleet. Capt. Atwood attributes their disappearance, which was nearly 
simultaneous with the advent of the blue fish, to the fact that blue fish de- 
stroyed their favorite food, the squid, and rendered it impossible for them 
to live longer in these waters. The Plaice has been much less abundant 
in Cape Cod Bay within the last thirty years, but there is no evidence of 
considerable diminution in numbers elsewhere. On the eastern coast of 
Connecticut and Long Island, where the Plaice fishery is most extensively 
prosecuted, it is the opinion of experienced fishermen that no change in 
numbers has been perceptible within the last thirty years. The Connecti- 
cut fishermen say that they are frequently so abundant that they have only 
to throw out and pull in their lines, catching "■ all they choose," while the 
bottom seems to be carpeted with them. 


Like others of its tribe, the Plaice habitually lie upon the bottom, where 
their peculiar shape and color protect them from observation and give 
them excellent opportunities to capture their prey. In the north they are 
usually found at a depth of two to twenty fathoms, and in winter move off 
into deeper water. In New Jersey they occur at lesser depths. Prof. 
Baird records that they are sometimes taken in large numbers by means of 
nets in the deep slues along the beach. In winter they do not run out so 
far into deep water, and " at times," says Prof. Baird, "seem to be quite 
torpid on the shallow grounds, suffering themselves to be taken up with 
oyster-tongs without making any attempt to escape." Still further south 
they are found in the shallowest water. The fishermen of St. John's River 
seine them in the grass along the shores at a depth of three or four feet. 
Mr. Stearns writes, speaking of the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico : 
" They are found mostly in the bays and bayous where the bottom is 
muddy or grassy, but it is not unusual to find them in shoal water along 
the sand beaches of the coast and bays. Very shoal water seems to be 
particularly attractive, and they are often found at the water's edge 
embedded in the sand, with only their eyes in view. When alarmed or in 
pursuit of prey their movements are very swift, and the quickness with 
Avhich they bury themselves in the sand is quite wonderful." 

Their habit of ascending Southern rivers is remarkable. They are said 
to occur in Lake George and the other lakes at the headwaters of the St. 
John's and the Ocklawaha Rivers. At Jacksonville they are commonly 
taken in company with bream, black bass, and other fresh-water fish, in 
winter as well as summer. 

Although present in the shoal waters of Florida throughout the year, 
Mr. Stearns states that they are most abundant in summer. On the Con- 
necticut coast, however, their habit of migrating seaward is much more 
pronounced. The Noank fishermen never find them until May. They 
say that they never catch them until after they have fished awhile for sea- 
bass. As early as the first of October they begin to grow scarce, and none 
are ordinarily caught after the middle of the month. I cannot find that 
they have ever been seen moving in schools, though fish taken in the same 
locality at the same time are usually quite uniform in size. They shift 
their position, probably in search of food, and where any are found they 
are plenty. This indicates that they are gregarious in habit. The abun- 
dance of food in special localities sufficiently explains this fact. 


The Plaice feed upon small Tish, shrimps, crabs, and hermit crabs, 
squid, small species of shell-bearing mollusks, and certain radiates, such 
as sand-dollars. They are frequently seen at the surface, rapidly swim- 
ming, and even jumping out of the water, in pursuit of schools of sand-eels 
and sand-smelts. They also feed upon dead fish thrown out from the 
fish-houses. Little is known of their breeding habits. All the large 
females observed in July and August, 1874, upon the Connecticut coast 
contained spawn, but it was, evidently, far from maturity. The Fish Com- 
mission has obtained no very small specimens ; in fact, none less than 
eight or nine inches in length, though the fishermen speak of capturing 
six-inch individuals. Their average length is from sixteen to thirty inches, 
and the weight about two and a half pounds, though it is not unusual to 
take indi\iduals weighing seven or eight pounds. At Noank about eighty 
fish are ordinarily packed in a barrel, weighing from 160 to 175 pounds. 
The largest ever brought to Noank weighed twenty-six pounds. Others, 
of whose capture I have known, weighed twenty, seventeen and a half, 
and fifteen pounds. In Florida and at ProvincetoW'U I have seen them 
three feet in length. A one-pound fish measures about fifteen inches ; a 
one and a quarter pound fish, sixteen or seventeen ; a two-pound fish, seven- 
teen or eighteen ; a three-pound fish, about twenty; a four-pound fish, 
about twenty-two ; an eight-pound fish, about twenty-seven, and a ten- 
pound fish, about tliirty inches. These proportions are taken from notes 
relating to a large number weighed and measured at Noank, Conn. The 
Winter Flounder or Flat Fish spawns in late winter and early spring near 
the shore, and it is possible that the Plaice breeds at about the same 

The most extensive fishery for the Plaice is in the waters of Southern 
New England. Favorite fishing grounds are on sandy bottoms, at a depth 
of ten to twenty fathoms, along the Atlantic side of Block Island, Martha's 
A'ineyard, and Eastern Long Island, where they are most plentiful. They 
are obtained in smaller numl)ers in the harbors and bays along the south 
shore of New England, on Skagwam and Middle Ground Reefs, in Fisher's 
Island Sound and Long Island Sound, and outside of Fisher's Island. 
They are also taken in considerable numbers in the pounds of this region, 
occasionally five or six hundred at a time. The quantity taken in the 
weirs of New England in 1876 was estimated as follows : 



Weirs on north side of Cape Cod 436 

Weirs on south side of Cape Cod 3,600 

Weirs in Vineyard Sound 326,620 

Weirs in Buzzard's Bay 15, 749 

Weirs on Block Island, (estimated) 94,500 

Weirs in Fisher's Island Sound, (estimated) 4,000 

Weirs on eastern end of Long Island 14,000 

Weirs on Rhode Island - ._. 172,250 

From other localities 50,000 

Estimated annual catch of Flat Fish 600,000 

1. 313. 555 
Value of the above, at four cents a pound, ^52,542.00. 

These statistics of the catch in pound-nets include Plaice and Flat Fish, 
and in the statement of the total catch no distinction will be made 
between these two species. 

Immense numbers of them are sometimes taken in large seines hauled 
up on the beach. In 1S76, E. Cleveland seined 128,000 pounds at 
Menemsha Bight, Mass. By far the greater quantity, however, is taken 
by small fishing smacks belonging to and hailing from Noank, Mystic, and 
New London, which pursue this special business from May until October. 
These vessels are usually absent from port four or five days, and spend two 
days in fishing. The fish are shipped in ice from Noank and New London 
principally to New York, and also to inland cities in the vicinity. A single 
smack, with a crew of a man and two boys, usually will obtain and ship to 
New York, on an average, about 12 barrels a week, about 160 barrels a 
year, or 25,000 to 28,000 pounds. Capt. Palmer, of Noank, in 1S73, 
caught on one trip of two days about 1,000 fish, weighing, perhaps, 2,000 
pounds. On this trip he used four lines. A good fisherman is able to 
manage two lines, each carrying two hooks. Menhaden bait is always 
used by professional fishermen, though I have caught Plaice to good advan- 
tage with lobster bait. A vessel usually consumes one barrel of menhaden 
on each trip. The fish strike the hook sharply as soon as it approaches 


the bottom, giving little opportunity to the skates, which very seUlom get 
a chance at a Plaice's hook. In this respect they are very different from 
the cod. When the fish have been hauled to the surface, they are quickly 
transferred, with as little injury as possible, to the well of the smack, 
which is amply large enough to hold the results of two or three days' fish- 
ing. They are thus brought alive to the place of shipment nnd reach the 
markets in excellent condition, a fact which partially explains their 
popularity compared with that of other fish of the same family. 

In 1877 there were seven smacks engaged in this fishery — one from 
Mystic, one from New London, and five from Noank. It was estimated 
by the owner of one of the vessels that each vessel made on an average 
fifteen trips during the summer, and that each trip averaged Soo fish, 
weighing i^ pounds each, making a total of 1,400 pounds to a trip, or 
21,000 pounds to the season, thus giving an aggregate of 147.000 pounds 
as the result of this branch of the fishery. 

Capt. Atwood states that in 1S46 he began catching Plaice for the Bos- 
ton market, in Provincetown Harbor, anchoring where the keel of the smack 
would just clear the bottom, and anywhere near Race Point he could catch 
them in great numbers, the largest weighing from ten to fifteen pounds 
each. In one afternoon he caught two thousand pounds. These he carried 
to Boston in the well of his smack and tried to sell, but was unsuccessful, 
though they were offered under the name of " Turbot,' ' local prejudice being 
against them. In 1879 there were seven or eight boats engaged in the 
Plaice fishery during the month of June, this month being the best for 
Plaice fishing. In the latter part of July, when I made my observations, 
all of the winter boats had stopped fishing for the year. 

The method in use here is somewhat peculiar, and merits description. 
The fishermen call it " drailing for Plaice." The boat used is an ordinary 
cat-boat, managed by one person, and is allowed to drift with free sheet 
before the wind, while the fisherman stands in the stern dragging the line 
over the bottom, baited with a bit of squid or clam. The boat is kept as 
nearly as possible over the places where the flats are deepening most 
abruptly into the basin of the harbor, and where the water is from eight to 
eighteen fathoms deep. Only very large fish, weighing ten, fifteen, some- 
times even twenty pounds, are taken in this manner. The average catch 
is from eight to twenty a day. In one day one man reported eight, one 
fourteen, and one twenty-three. Some of these fish are sold in Province- 


town, but the greater portion is sent iced to New York, where a price of 
twelve cents a pound wholesale, is easily obtained. In Boston there is no 
market for them. 

On the coast of New Jersey Prof. Baird states that in 1854 they were 
taken in large numbers, by means of nets, in the deep slues along the 
beach. Along the southern coast they are occasionally taken by the line 
fishermen, and a considerable quantity is seined by the river fishermen. 

In the Gulf of Mexico they are rarely taken by hook and line, and are 
usually speared or jigged at night, by torchlight. 

The Plaice has always been the most popular of our in -shore flat fishes, 
being exempt in a certain degree from the prejudice attaching to the fishes 
of this family. It seems to have been a common food-fish in South Caro- 
lina as early as 1760, and Schoepf mentions it as one of the food-fishes of 
New York in 1776. In 1856, according to Gill, it was found in the New 
York market in autumn, but seems to have been less in favor than the 
Flat Fish. At present the Plaice is growing in favor in New York, and is 
upon the lists of all good restaurants, though perhaps not so generally 
consumed as the Flat Fish, which comes in the winter, when the market is 
less lavishly supplied. 

In Boston, and indeed throughout the greater part of New England, 
this, with all other Flounders, is considered unfit to eat, and it is by no 
means generally popular along the Southern coast, though in Florida its 
flesh is highly prized. The Connecticut fishermen esteem it greatly, and 
when preparing it for their own use are accustomed to hang it in the open 
air for a day or two " to dry," as they say. The wholesale price in New 
York varies from one and a half to six cents, but is usually three cents a 

Another species of Flounder, closely related to the Plaice, is the common 
Four-spotted Flounder, Paralichthys ohlongus, \A\\c\\ occasionally finds its 
way to market in company with the Plaice, and is doubtless sold under the 
same name. It is a small species, rarely attaining a greater length than 
twelve inches and a weight of one pound. It may be readily distinguished 
by the presence upon the back of four large, dark spots, elliptical in form, 
but these soon fade out after death. 

Its distribution is much more restricted than that of the Plaice : it is 
most abundant, at a depth often to twenty fathoms, off the southern coast 
of New England ; it rarely occurs north of Cape Cod, though one 


individual was taken by the Fish Commission at the mouth of Salem Har- 
bor, nor has it been recorded south of New York. There are two smaller 
species upon the Southern coast — one, Faralichthys qiiadrocellatuSy 
broader than Faralichthys oblongus, also marked with four dorsal spots, 
and known in the South as the Four-spotted Flounder. This species has 
been observed as far north as Charleston and Fort Macon, while its west- 
ern record of limit is Pensacola. Stearns records it as common from 
Cedar Keys south to Key West, and pronounces it an excellent food-fish. 
It cannot at present, however, be considered very important. The other 
species, Faralichthys stigmatias, occurs in deep water (seventy-five fathoms) 
off the coast of South Carolina, and may be distinguished by the presence 
of tliree conspicuous spots upon the upper side of the body. 




''-,*' i 


^:, - ■#v^/'' 


Next in importance to the Plaice, comes the Flat Fish, Fscttdoplciiro- 
ucctcs auicricaniis, or Common Flounder, sometimes called the "Winter 
Flounder," said to be known in Massachusetts Bay as the "Mud-dab," 
and in New York as the "Flounder." New York anglers call it the 
"Nigger Fish." This fish, like the Plaice, belongs to a genus unknown 
to Europe, but is closely related to the common Flounder, or Fluke, of the 
Lritish coast. Its range is somewhat extensive, and in a certain degree it 
replaces the Plaice along our northern coast. It has not been observed 
south of Chesapeake Bay, but northward its range extends to the Bay of 
Fundy, to the eastern shores of Xova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Tawrence, 
and even to the coast of Labrador. 


Flat Fish are always upon the bottom, feeding chiefly upon minute 
shells, such as Nuciila and BiiUa, upon young crabs, or whatever they can 
find among the stones in the mud. Their mouths are very small, and 
since they would be unable to seize and kill other fish, they never come 
to the surface in pursuit of prey, as do the large-mouthed Flounders. 
They prefer sheltered bays and harbors, and appear to be equally abundant 
on the bottoms of the sand, mud, or rock ; when at rest, they are usually 
partially embedded in the mud or sand at the bottom. I have observed 
that, when they come to a stop, they always settle themselves by convul- 
sive motions of the fins and body, which has the effect of pushing them 
down into the soft bottom. This species is perhaps a more permanent 
resident of the localities which it inhabits than any other on our coast, unless 
it be the sculpins. There is very little evidence of a tendency to move 
to and from the shore with a change of season. Winter and summer, they 
appear to be equally abundant from New York to the Bay of Chaleur, 
where, in the tide-way of jMiramichi River, they are caught in winter 
through holes in the ice. In Labrador they are described as exceedingly 
abundant in summer, but nothing is known of their winter habits. Prof. 
Eaird found them scarce in Southern New Jersey in summer, but 
learned that they were very abundant in the bays in winter. Small quan- 
tities are brought to Washington in winter from the mouth of the Chesa- 

The spawning season occurs early in spring, in February and March on 
the Connecticut coast, and is thought to be closed by the first part of 
April. Young fish of half an inch in length are found in July in the deep- 
er parts of the bays and sounds, and in August and September, having 
attained the length of one and one-half to five inches, occur in great 
abundance in the coves and along the sandy shores of the Southern New 
England coast, in very shallow vrater. Their growth is probably rapid, 
though it would seem most likely that the five-inch specimens just referred 
to were eighteen months rather than six months old. The largest that 
have been discovered were fifteen inches long, and would weigh from one 
to one and a half pounds. 

The fiesh of the Flat Fish is solid, white, and of excellent flavor, and 
deserves a more general ])opularity than it has yet attained. It is, and 
has been for the last century, largely consumed in New York in winter. 
Schoepf, writing in 1776, mentions it as occurring in the market in spring ; 


later, writing in 1818, he states that small numbers were found in the 
stalls in January and February, taken with spears while searching for eels. 
These were not very inviting, owing to their mangled appearance and 
frozen state, but, with the disappearance of ice and the approach of spring, 
their numbers increased, and in Marcli the stalls were well filled with them, 
cheap and fresh and good. They , were only used as pan-fish. Gill wrote, 
in 1S56: "This is the most common species of flounder that is brought 
to the city markets in the winter and spring months ; it is seldom sold at 
a higher price than eight to ten cents per pound. Flounders are chiefly 
-sold by the weight; occasionally they are strung through the bronchial 
apertures on twigs and nominally sold by the bunch." 

The Smooth Flounder, or Christmas Flounder, Pleuronectcs glabcr, is 
very similar in habits and appearance to the Flat Fish, and is still closer 
to the Flounder of Europe, being a member of the same genus. It may 
be distinguished from the former by its smooth skin, which has given to 
the species, in some localities, the name "Eel-back." Its distribution is 
extremely limited, it having been recorded as only found in Salem, Massa- 
chusetts, Portland and Belfast, Maine, or within the limits of two degrees 
•of latitude. Its range may in the future be extended farther to the north, 
l)ut it is certain that at present none occur south of Salem. In Casco Bay 
they are very abundant in summer, and the Fish Commission secured great 
quantities of them in water three or four fathoms deep in Bluelight Cove. 
They have never elsewhere been observed, except in winter, about Christ- 
mas time, when they come into the harbors to spawn. At Salem they are, 
on this account, called the Christmas Fish. Considerable quantities are 
caught every year by spearing them upon the sand. At this place they 
are also called "Fool Fish," because, in their anxiety for food, they will 
bite at any kind of bait, even at a rag. The spawning season is short, and 
they soon retire into deeper water. At Portland, and in the vicinity, con- 
siderable numbers are taken in the winter fishery in company with the Flat 
Fish, and with them are sent to New York and neighboring markets. In 
one instance a quantity were offered for sale in the markets of Washington. 
The spawning season on the coast of Maine is slightly earlier than that 
of Massachusetts, beginning as early as the middle of December, while in 
Penobscot Bay they are taken at the very beginning of the month, full of 
spawn. In Penobscot Bay they are taken in traps, or "fliers," as the 
fishermen call them, shaped something like lobster-traps and baited. The 



young Smooth Flounder may be taken in summer on the beaches. The 
largest females observed weighed twenty-three ounces, the weight of the 
spawn being seven ounces. Too little attention has hitherto been paid to 
this fish, but it seems more than probable that in the future it will greatly 
increase in favor. 

The Greenland Turbot, Platysomatichthys hippoglossoidcs, though never 
occurring in our inshore waters, is found on the off-shore banks, as far 
south as George's Bank, and a certain quantity of them is usually brought 
to New York in winter. It is emphatically an arctic species, being 
abundant on the coast of Greenland, often found at Holsteinborg and 
beyond, and along this entire coast very eagerly sought by the natives. 
The Eskimo name is " Kalleraglik," and the fish is also known as "Little 
Halibut." In Gunther's work on " The Fishes of the British Museum," 
he has confused this species with the true Halibut, making it appear that 
only the former is to be found on the coast of North America. In North- 
ern Greenland the Turbot is found only at very great depths, and is fished 
for, in water of three hundred and fifty to three hundred and eighty fath- 
oms, through holes in the ice, over certain banks in Omenak Fiord and 
at the mouth of the Jacob's-Haven ice-fiord which is also packed with 
great ice-floes. It is said to be found only in the ice-fiords and between 
the great ice-fields, and there only in the coldest months of the year. 

In South Greenland they are taken on the oceanic banks at a depth of 
sixty to one hundred and eighty fathoms, though there considered to be 
not so abundant as in North Greenland. In Fortune Bay, Newfoundland, 
according to Captains G. Johnson and A. Leighton, of Gloucester, they 
are very abundant in sixty to three hundred fathoms, and are caught chiefly 
in winter. They are also obtained by the Gloucester halibut fleet on the 
outer edge of the oceanic banks, in two hundred and fifty to three hundred 
fathoms of water. 

Their habits are not at all well understood, but it would appear from the 
statement of several experienced fisherman, whom I have questioned, that 
they occur on the very edge of the continental slope in deeper water than 
the true Halibut, in fact in places where the slope is so ne'arly perpendi- 
cular that the Halibut can hardly hold their places on the bottom. This 
species is more symmetrical than any other of the family on our coast, and, 
moreover, is colored upon both sides of the body — a fact which indicates 
that its movements are more like those of the ordinary symmetrical fishes 
and that it can rest with the body in a vertical attitude. 


It would seem i)robable that its chosen haunts are along the declivities 
of the outer slope of the continental plateau, where abundance of food is 
known to occur, and where other fishes are not so well adapted to live. 
Many hundreds of pounds are caught, every year, on the halibut trawls, 
and the fish are frequently iced and brought to market with the Halibut, 
and frequently eaten by the fishermen themselves. The greater portion of 
those brought to New York in winter are, however, taken on trawl lines at 
the mouth of Fortune Bay, and brought down by the vessels which go there 
to secure cargoes of frozen herring. It is impossible to obtain statistics 
of the quantities thus brought in, because the market returns do not dis- 
criminate between the different species of flounders and flat fishes. 

The Greenland Turbot is an exceedingly palatable fish, its flesh being 
firm, white, and less dry and more delicate in flavor than that of the Hal- 
ibut. The average weight is from ten to twenty-five pounds. In Greenland 
they are perhaps more highly esteemed than any other fish. The Green- 
landers begin fishing as soon as the fiords are frozen and the white whales, 
which prey greedily upon this fish, have left the entrances open. They 
fish through holes in the ice, and attach little threads at intervals to lines, 
so that they may better see the motion which the nibbling fish makes. 
Under favorable circumstances a man may take ten to eighteen of these 
fishes daily. The fishery continues from January to the middle of March, 
sometimes, however, only a week or two, and usually only about a month. 
The fish are cut into strips and dried for the consumption of the Danish 
colonists. It it said that a very fine oil can be made out of their fat, so 
that in hard times the fish serves to \,-arm and light the houses as well as 
feed their occupants. In South Greenland they are not so numerous, l)ut 
are constantly sought for, being taken in company with the sea perch, or 
red fish. 

Glyptocephalus cynoglossus, a fish often known as the Deep-sea 
Flounder, was first observed on this coast in 1877, when numerous speci- 
mens were obtained by the United States Fish Commission, in the deep- 
est part of Massachusetts Bay. Specimens have since been obtained south 
of Cape Cod, at a dej^th of one hundred fathoms or more, by the Fish 
Commission, and by Prof. Agassiz, off the entrance to Delaware Bay, 
at a depth of three hundred and ninety-five fathoms. The Pole Flounder 
appears to be a permanent resident, throughout the whole year, in the deep 
.basins of Massachusetts Bay and on the edge of the continental slope, and 


is found abundant in Bedford Basin, the inner expansion of Halifax Harbor;, 
at a dejjth of thirty-seven fathoms. It ranges nearly to Greenland, and is- 
also found on the coast of Northern Europe, where it is found in the 
Trondhjem Fjord, in latitude 65°, and south to the coast of Ireland. Its 
thermal range appears to be confined by the limits 34° and 45°. 

It breeds abundantly in our waters in summer time, numerous individuals, 
full of spawn, and young from half an inch upward, having been taken,,, 
from July to October, in various localities. 

The Pole Flounder has been pronounced, by all who have tasted it, a 
most delicious food-fish, resembling more closely than any other species on 
our coast the English Sole, having a great quantity of jicculiarly flavored 
mucilaginous tissue about the base of the fins ; it has never been taken by 
our fishermen, because, on account of its exceedingly small and weak 
mouth, it could not hold fast to an ordinary hook and line ; and, should 
it ever come into demand, it will be necessary for our fisherman to intro- 
duce the English trawl-net. 

The Turbot, or Steinbutt, Rhombus maximus, and the Brill, or Glatt- 
butt, do not occur in our waters, although many attempts have been made 
to prove that they do. The nearest representative of the Turbot is the 
Spotted Sand Flounder, Lophopsetta maculata, a species found from Bucks- 
port, Maine, to Fort Macon, North Carolina, variously known along the 
coast as Water Flounder, Window-pane, and Daylight ; the latter name 
refers to the remarkable thinness of the fish, its flesh being so transparent 
that, when held to the light, the shadow of an object on the other side 
can be seen. Its flavor is good, but the amount of flesh is so small that 
it is of no consequence as a food-fish. There are other smaller represen- 
tatives of the family on the southern coast, and in deep water from Cape 
Cod southward, belonging to the genus Cifhaj-ichtliys, which, although 
edible, are never eaten. 

The Sand Dab, or rough Dab, Hippoglossoides platessoides, also some- 
times known as the Rusty Flounder, is taken in winter by the line fisher- 
men of New England, and small quantities are doubtless brought to market 
and sold with other flat fishes without discrimination as to species. It of- 
ten attains the length of twenty to twenty-four inches, and the weight of 
two to five pounds, and is, in all respects, a desirable food-fish, being 
highly esteemed on the other side of the Atlantic. In summer, individ- 
uals of this species are to be found only in very deep water, thirty fathoms 



or more, on the New England coast, and, though never very abundant in 
any one locality, might be taken in considerable quantities, in company 
with the Pole Flounder, by the use of a trawl-net, or even by specially 
devised trawl -lines. 

The Rough Dab has not been observed south of Woods Holl, Massachu- 
setts, but ranges north to Greenland, is abundant on the English coast, 
and is a well-known food-fish of Scandinavia. Its breeding habits in our 
waters have not been observed, but in Southern Sweden the spawning time 
is in April and May. It is a large-mouthed species, feeding upon fish as 
well as upon large invertebrates, such as crustaceans and annelids, and 
mention has been made of it more on account of its possible value in the 
future than for its importance at the present time. 



The much-prized Sole of Europe, Solca vulgaris, does not occur in the 
Western Atlantic, although attempts are being made to introduce it, and 
individuals have been set free in Massachusetts Bay, at Woods Holl, 
and off Coney Island. Its nearest representative, the American 
Sole, is found along our coast from Boston and Nahant to the mouth of 
the Mississippi River. It occurs in all of the rivers south of the Susque- 
hanna, and is taken in great numbers in the shad seines. It rarely attains 


a greater length than six inches, and, though edible, is never eaten, and 
it must be regarded as of extremely small importance. There are also two 
or three other fishes belonging to this family in our Southern waters which 
are insignificant in size and of no importance whatever. 

Aphoristia atricauda is a very small species of Sole, the only genuine 
representative of the European Sole on our Pacific coast. It reaches a 
length of six inches, and is occasionally taken in San Diego Bay. It has 
no economic value. 

TuRBOT AND SoLE IN AiMERiCA. — A Philadelphia writer has lately tried 
in the newspapers to revive the long-obsolete belief that the Turbot and 
Sole of Europe occur on our coast. Although he has never seen them 
himself, and fails to bring forward evidence that any one else has seen 
them, he insists that they occur in the greatest abundance in New Jersey, 
particularly in the vicinity of Atlantic, "and doubtless all along the At- 
lantic coast from Portsmouth, N. H., to Wilmington, S. C." {^sic') He 
upbraids the American public for their incredulity, though this does not 
surprise him so much when he calls to mind that "our Government Fish 
Commissoner has actually contemplated sending a steamer to English 
waters to procure turbot-seed to plant along our shores." He would not 
be surprised if incredulity were to continue longer " under such official 
indorsement." He accounts for the ignorance regarding them by the 
theory that the English trawl-net is unknown in America, and that our 
fishermen would not know how to catch such fish if they were aware of 
their presence, and have not become aware of their presence because they 
have no means of catching them. He intimates that he is preparing to 
form a company for the purpose of developing a turbot fishery upon our 
coast; an enterprise "in which but little will be risked, and the results 
Avill be a surprise to all." He closed one of his letters to a New York 
journal with the appeal : "I trust that you will not let this question sub- 
side, but persist in calling attention to it until we do away with the ex- 
traordinary anomaly of this enlightened nation being within reach of 
treasure that for more than a century they have been unaware of and have 
remained persistently blind to." 

All this is very entertaining, and furnishes a neat text for a few remarks 
on the history of this belief, as well as an opportunity for demonstrating 
to the public a fact which has for forty years or more been known to ich- 
thvologists, that the Turbot and the Sole never have been seen on the 


western side of the Atlantic, and never will be, unless they are introduced 
by artificial means. 

From the beginning to the end we encounter the well-known sources of 
conlusion — the giving of old-world names to species which resemble in a 
general way the old-world species which bear them, and the unquestion- 
ing acceptance of these names as authoritative, by persons who are not 
trained to close discrimination. 

A\'hen Boston was occupied by the British during the Revolutionary war, 
the officers of the fleet are said to have been bountifully supplied with 
Turbot, which was caught in the neighborhood of an outer harbor. This 
fact is recorded by Dr. J. V. C. Smith, in his " Natural History of the 
Fishes of Massachusetts" (Boston, 1833), on the authority of William 
Ladd, esq., of Maine. He also mentions "a statement of Mr. Parker, 
the conductor of the marine telegraph," who told him that " many years 
before, Admirable Sir Isaac Coffin brought out to this country a trawl-net, 
such as is used on the coast of Holland, for taking Sole for the London 
markets, with which he succeeded m capturing that delightful fish in Ips- 
wich Bav, which was not before supposed to exist here." The fishes found 
in this manner were no doubt the common Flat Fishes of Massachusetts 
Bay. The common Flounder, Paraliclithys dentatus, taken in Province- 
town water, where it is usually called "Plaice." was in 1880 sold in 
Boston under the name "Turbot." Captain Mackinnon, of the Royal 
Navy, who visited this country in 1850, conceived the idea that Turbot 
ought to be found on the shores of the United States, and took pains to 
search for them with a trawl-net. The nets which he used had been im- 
ported ten years before by Mr. Nathan Smith, an American gentleman, 
who had hoped to introduce them, but had never used them. Captain 
Mackinnon tried one net at Newport, Rhode Island, and succeeded in 
taking a number of different kinds of Flat Fish. He carefully refrained, 
however, from pronouncing any one of them to be identical with the Tur- 
bot or Sole, though from the vagueness of his language it is evident that 
his ichthyological knowledge was very scanty, and that he was not accus- 
tomed to observe the differences between the different species of fishes 
which somewhat resemble each other. His experiences are descril)ed at 
length in his book of travels, entitled "Atlantic and Trans-Atlantic 
Sketches, Afloat and Ashore " (Harper & Bros., New York, 1852, pp. 166- 
170). Cai)t. C. C. Churchill, U. S. A., who saw the results of Capt. 


Mackinnon's experiment, tells me that the fish taken were the common 
species of New England flat-fishes and flounders. 

We fancy that the inspiration of the new advocate of the turbot-in- 
America question, as well as the information upon which he bases his con- 
clusion, was drawn from this very same book of Capt. Mackinnon, for 
he uses many of the same phrases, and he repeats, in almost the same 
words. Captain Mackinnon's statement: "The fish markets in America 
are not all in keeping with the size and wealth of the States," a statement 
which, however true it may have been thirty years ago, will be amusing to 
any one who has recently had opportunity to compare the fish markets of 
America and Europe. This ingenious Philadelphia savant sums up his 
evidence as follows : 

"The Turbot, Sole, and Plaice are, however, in abundance in your 
deep-water sand banks. They were caught there in 1S12 by English sailors, 
and in iSSo Turbot have been obtained off Atlantic City, if the 'Balti- 
more American' is any authority." 

The notion that the introduction of the English trawl in America would 
be novel and would at once open up a field for a fishery industry of bound- 
less extent, deserves a word. The trawl has been assiduously used by the 
summer collecting party of the United States Fish Commission for ten 
years past, and also by Prof. Agassiz upon various exploring trips. The 
steamers of the Fish Commission have used it on every portion of the 
coast, from Yucatan to Halifax. Prof. Agassiz has used it in the 
Gulf of IVlexico and on the coast of Florida, and has employed 
it in running five lines of research at right angles to the coast from Cape 
Hatteras, at points nearly equidistant between Charleston and Cape Cod, 
one of them directly out from the entrance to Delaware Bay. The 
dredgings of the Fish Commission Avere carried from near the shore to a 
depth of nearly five miles in the open sea, and covered a very wide area 
of the ocean bottom. 

In 1854 Prof. Baird made a careful exploration of the coast of New Jer- 
sey with especial reference to the fishes, and since that time every stretch 
of coast line from Brownsville, Texas, to Eastport, Me., has been 
thoroughly investigated by the naturalists of the United States Fish Com- 
mission. It is true that a new species of fish is occasionally discovered, but 
the new fishes always belong to one of two classes. They are either 
swift-swimming species, members of the West Indian fauna, which come. 


upon our northern shores in summer, or they are inhabitants of waters 
more than six hundred feet deep, which have never previously been 
explored. The Turbot and the Sole are shallow-water species, and, had 
they occurred in our waters, would have been discovered many years ago. 

There are twenty-six species of flat fishes on the east coast of the United 
States. Four of these belong to the same family with the Sole, but are 
utterly worthless as articles of food. The nearest relative of the Sole is 
often called the American Sole, Achirus Hneatus, and is known on the 
coast of New Jersey as the Hog-choker, Cover-clip, or Cover. Of the 
flat fishes only two are positively unfit for food, and these two, strangely 
enough, are the representatives of the sub-family Fhombi/ice, to which 
belong the Turbot aud Brill of Europe. One of these Lophopsctta viacu- 
latta, is sometimes called the Spotted Turbot, and in New Jersey is called 
Window-pane, or Daylight, because it is so thin that when held to the 
light the sun can be seen through its translucent flesh. 

The most important Flat Fish is the Halibut, which is identical with 
that of Europe. This species, and the Pole Flounder, which has recently 
been brought to light in our waters by the Fish Commission, are the only 
two of the number referred to that are found on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic. We have in our waters abundance of flat fishes, some of which, for 
instance, the common Flounder of the New A^ork market, Paralichtliys 
dcntatus, are probably fully equal to the turbot for food uses. In fact, it 
may be had in the New A'ork restaurants and hotels under this name. 
Another fish, Platysoinaiichthys hippoglossoidcs, resembling the Turbot in 
flavor, is sometimes brought to New York in winter. It is found at great 
depths on the coast of Newfoundland, and is often called the American 
or the Newfoundland turbot. The Pole Flounder is very similar to the 
sole in flavor and in the texture of its flesh, but it unfortunately inhabits 
somewhat inaccessible localities at great depths, and it is hardly to l)e ex- 
pected that, with the present supply of excellent food-fish to be obtained 
at so much smaller expense, our fishermen will take the pains to go in 
search of it. That the popular taste for flat fish is already cultivated is 
shown by the fact that, in 1S79, 1,796,000 pounds were sold in New York 

It is needless to refer to the efforts of the United States Fish Commis- 
sion to introduce Sole ; they are familiar to all who are interested in the 
subject. The introduction of the trawl-net has Deen for many years 



under consideration, but this expensive mode of fishing does not seem to 
be required at present, since the supply of fine-flavored food-fishes is more 
than equal to the demand. With an eye to the interest of the American 
fishermen, Prof. Baird some years ago detailed Capt. J. W. Collins, of the 
Fish Commission, one of the most experienced fishermen of Massachusetts, 
to study the trawl fishery of the (German Ocean, and his report which is 
in press, will soon be published. 

Finally, it may not be amiss to state that Mr. E. G. Blackford, of Ful- 
ton Market, New York, has for some time been authorized by the Com- 
missioner of Fisheries to pay twenty-five dollars to any one who should 
present a true Turbot or a true Sole, caught on the coast. This offer is 
still standing. 



T'vvas merr}', when 
You wager' d on your angling ; when your diver 
Did hang a salt fish on his hook, which he 
With fervency drew up. 

Anthotty and Cleopatra, Act ii Scene v. 

Within this twenty years 
Westward be found new lands. 

Fish they have so great plenty. 

That in havens take and slane they be 

With staves, withouten fail, 

Now Frenchmen and others have found the trade 

That yearly of fish there they lade 

Above a hundred sail. 

ExPERlENS, The Four Elevients, 1519. 

' I ^HE Codfish and its allies constitute, from an economical point of view, 
the most important of all the families of fishes, containing, as it does, 
a large number of species, most of them of considerable size, distributed 
throughout all parts of the northern hemisphere, usually found together in 
great numbers, readily captured, and easily preserved for future use. 

The codfish is usually found in the North Atlantic, in the North Pacific, 
and in the Polar Ocean, its range extending far beyond the Arctic Circle. 
It seems unnecessary to enumerate all the localities in which it has been 
observed, for its geographical range may be defined with sufficient accu- 
racy by a much more comprehensive statement. In the Western 
Atlantic the species occurs in the winter in considerable abundance as 
far south as the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, lat. 37°, and stragglers 


have been observed about Ocracoke Inlet. The southern limit of this 
species may safely be considered to be Cape Hatteras, in lat. 35°, 10'. 
Along the coast of the Middle States, New England, and British North 
America, and upon all the off-shore banks of this region, Cod are found 
usually in great abundance during part of the year at least. They have 
been observed also in the Gulf of Boothia, lat. 70° to 75°, and in the 
southeastern part of Baffin's Land to the northward of Cumberland 
Sound, and it is more than probable that they occur in the waters of the 
Arctic Sea to the north of the American continent, or away round to 
Behring's Straits. 

The Cod has been observed on the Western coast of Greenland. In the 
North Atlantic the range of the species extends to Iceland and Spitzber- 
gen, lat. 80° ; along the arctic coast of Europe, as far as Eastern Fm- 
mark, and probably round to Siberia ; while southward it ranges at least 
to Brittany. Its southern limit is probably near the Bay of Biscay, lat. 
40°, although Yarrell states that it is found south to Gibraltar. It does 
not enter the Mediterranean, but penetrates into the Baltic to the coast of 
Western Russia. Its distribution in the North Pacific is not so well 
understood, though it appears to occur in the same abundance on all the 
off-shore banks of this region, and also close to the coasts to the north of 
the Straits of Fuca. According to Jordan, there is said to be a cod bank 
outside of the mouth of the Columbia, but the species at present is of no 
-economic importance south of Alaska. 

The Cod, like most other species which migrate to and from the shore 
instead of northward and southward, is, doubtless, more dependent upon 
temperature conditions than fishes like the menhaden and the blue-fish, 
and, Mr. Earll has suggested, the abundance of food doubtless has much 
more influence upon its movements. We cannot doubt, however, that 
the Cod moves periodically to and from the shore as a direct result of 
the seasonal changes of temperature. The Cod prefers a temperature of 
from 35° to 42° Fahr., approximately, and this it secures in a temperate 
climate, such as that of Southern New England, by remaining on the off- 
shore banks in fifteen to thirty fathoms of water, coming into the shallows 
in winter. On the coasts of Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and 
Eastern Maine, moving to and from the shore from deeper to shallower 
water and vice versa to secure at different seasons of the year a tempera- 
ture environment best suited to their needs, they are near the shore in 
.summer and in deep water in winter. 


I have before me the statements of nearly a hundred observers whic li I 
hope to discuss more fully at some future time. Their opinions confirm, 
in a very striking manner, the generalization just stated. They show that 
while on the coast of Maine the Cod leave the immediate shores in the 
autumn, not reappearing in any considerable numbers until late in the 
following spring, south of Cape Cod they approach the shore only in the 
winter season, while during the summer they keep out in the cold Labra- 
bor current, which extends south to the inside of the current of the Gulf 
stream. In Vineyard Sound, Buzzard's Bay, and off the shores of 
Connecticut, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and even in Eastern 
A^irginia, there is excellent fishing during the winter season. " A wise 
provision of nature," remarks Prof. Baird, "in the absence of so many 
species that supply food during the summer." 

It will probably be found that fishing in deeper wate/ in these same 
regions in summer will bring to light an abundance of Cod. 

In Norway they are caught, to some extent, in the fiords in the summer 
season, though more are caught in winter, while in summer great numbers 
of them still remain on the off-shore banks. 

From Prof. Hind's pen the following paragraphs are taken : 

" When the coasts of Finmark are thronged with fishermen catching 
their fares of the " Lodde,' or summer Cod, the shores of Northeast New- 
foundland and the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are alive with 
fishermen successfully capturing the same variety of fish in British 
American waters ; and when the Russian on the Murmanian coast is laying 
in his winter stock of Cod, and accumulating a large overplus for a foreign 
market, the New Foundlander and the Labradorian are securing their 
fares at the Moravian missionary stations, Okak and Nain. So, also, in 
the North Sea and on the coast of the British Isles, around the Faroe 
Islands, all along the Icelandic shores, on the south coast of Greenland, 
off Arksut Fiord, away up north to Torske Banks, and down the Atlantic 
coast of America to over the Grand Banks, and as far as, and even beyond, 
St. George's Shoal, the Cod is taken simultaneously and in great 

"Local variations of days, and even weeks, occur in a coast line or 
stretch of shallow sea of not more than one hundred miles in length ; but 
these arise from the one great leading cause which guides the Cod in its 
approach to known feeding grounds on the coast or known banks at sea. 
This leading cause is temperature, which determines the movement towards 
the coast of the various forms of marine life on which the Cod, inhabiting 
different waters, is accustomed to feed. • • • The Cod, caught on 


each stretch of coast line within variable but tolerably well-defined limits, 
are indigenous to the sea area adjacent to the sea-coast which they 

"Thus the winter haunts of the Codfish on the Northern Labrador 
coast are slopes of the great range of outside banks on that coast. The 
summer haunts of the ' Winter Cod ' caught on the coast of Norway 
during the winter season, are on the slope of the ' Storegg ' and its con- 
tinuations which lie seawards from the Norwegian coast, following the 
edge of the barrier separating the ' polar deeps ' from the shallower 
costal seas. The seasonal movements of the Cod are reversed in this 
case, purposely introduced, but have afforded a beautiful illustration c>f 
the principles adopted and confirmed by Prof. Baird and the influence of 
marine climate on fish-life." 

The depth at which Codfish are found varies greatly with the season 
and locality. It is stated by Mr. Earll that they seem to prefer water 
less than seventy fathoms deep, and that by far the greater numbers are 
caught in from eight to forty fathoms. This generalization will doubtless 
hold true for the whole coast of North America. Many of our corre- 
spondents state that they are occasionally seen in the water two or three 
feet in depth. In the course of some recent explorations by Prof. Agassiz, 
Cod were found three hundred fathoms below the surface. 

In February, 1S79, there was good fishing in three fathoms of water, 
within a few rods of the shore in Ipswich Bay, while in May of the same year 
larce numbers were taken in one hundred and ten fathoms in the 
channel near Clarke's Bank. 

It would be extremely interesting to know the extent of the migrations 
of Codfish, from deep to shallow water and back again, on different parts 
of the coast. This, however, varies with local conditions. There have 
already been many observations made, the study of which will doubtless 
aid in the solution of this problem, but it is exceedingly important that 
there should be systematic exploration at a distance from the shore both 
in winter and summer. This is one of the tasks proposed for the Fish 
Commission schooner "Grampus," recently constructed. Mr. Marcus A. 
Hanna, of Bowery Beach, Me., states that he knows certain places on the 
coast of Maine where Cod are found in mid-summer not more than two 
miles from land, in water from forty to fifty fathoms deep, and upon soft 
bottom. A portion of the Gloucester George's Bank fleet continues 
fishing through the winter months, though at this season the vessels do 
not, as in spring and summer, fish upon the shallow parts of the bank. 


but rather seek the deep waters around its edge. The fish make their 
ajjpearance, however, on the bank early in February. 

Cod may be found in greater or less number ^\•ithin reach of the land 
from Block Island to Newfoundland, and perhaps to Labrador, at all sea- 
sons of the year. South of Block Island, Codfish are very rarely noticed 
in summer, even in the deepest water frequented by the fishermen, though a 
few remain on the grounds in the vicinity of the islands during the whole 

In the waters from Cape Cod to Cape Ann, and perhaps a little further 
to the north, we find the district in which the bathic migrations of the 
Codfish are least apparent, the periodical changes in depth being but 
slight from winter to summer— the fish being within easy reach of the 
fishermen at all seasons of the year. Even here, however, there is a great 
increment in their numbers in winter. 

The statements which have been made regarding the periodical move- 
ments or the Cod I do not by any means consider satisfactory or final. 
These movements are the results of many influences, and no one yet 
understands how much weight to attach to the relative importance of 
these three influences, /. e., (1) the direct effect of temperature upon the 
fish themselves ; (2) the abundance of food, as affected by temperature 
and other causes ; and (3) the immediate relations between temperature 
and the reproductive habits of the fish. There is no more difficult problem 
in ichthyological science. 

Mr. J. Carson Brevoort, of New York, contributes the following inter- 
esting sketch of the names applied to the cod family by the different 
nations of Europe : 

" The appellations under which the weather-dried Codfish, split and 
stretched on a short stick, is known throughout the civilized world can all 
be traced to one common root, based upon the mode of preparation for 
the market. 

" Among the Greeks the large Codfish were called BaccJit, from Bac- 
chus, a rod. By the Latins the fish was named Gadus, from a Sandscrit 
\0(A cad ox gad, a rod. We find this root in English in 'goad,' and 
perhaps, in ' cat-o' -nine-tail '; in Gaelic gad and godan, signifying a 
small rod. By the Iberians the dried Cod were called Bacalaos, from 
Baculeum, a small stick.* This p'oints also to the root of the French 
Baguette, a rod, Bilboquet, the toy known as cup and ball, really a stick 

*The rod held by Mercury was called a Baculeum. 


and ball, and other words. By the Anglo-Saxons it was called the Cod, 
from the \\oxA gad ox goad, a rod. By the Germans it was known as the 
Stockfiscli, from Stock, a stick. 

"The Hollanders varied a little from this, and as far back as the 5'ear 
1 400 called it the Kabeljaauw, which seems to be from the Dutch gabcl, 
a fork. They also called it the Bakkeljauuc. 

" The French Moi'ue is not from the above root. It may be from the 
Celtic Mor, the sea. The French, however, never prepared the Cod by 
drying it on a stick, but salted it as the Morue verte, or green Cod. The 
French Molue is merely a change in the liquid consonants. 

" When the Cod is dried on the downs it is called Dunfish, from the 
Gaelic root Diii/i, a hill. If dried on the rocks it becomes the Rock Cod, 
or the KUppfisk of the Norwegians, Among these last the Cod is called 
the Dorset, or Torsk, in English Tusk, from the Gothic Darren, to dry. 

"The English 'Aberdeen fish,' or French Laberdan, is from the 
Q^.q\\c abar, the mouth; dan, a river, or fish caught near the river's 

These remarks are suggestive in the extreme, since they explain the 
origin of almost all of the names now applied to this species both in its 
fresh and cured condition.* 

The name by which this species was known among the Narragansett 
Indians is indicated by the following sentence from Roger "William's 
" Key into the Languages of America "; 

" Panganaut, tamwock. Cod, which is the first that comes a little 
before the Spring." 

In the vicinity of Cape Ann the young Cod, too small to swallow a 
bait, are sometimes known to the fishermen as " Pickers," and through- 
out all Eastern Massachusetts the name "Scrod," or "Scrode," is in 
common use. In its primary meaning it seems to refer to these small 
fish slightly corned, in which condition they are a favorite article of food, 
but the name is also transferred to the young fish themselves. The 
fishermen recognize several varieties of Cod for which they have different 
names. Rock Cod are those which are found in shoal water anions^ the 
reefs and ledges, and which usually are of a dark color ; these fish are 
often brilliant red in color, owing to the fact that the small animals upon 
which they live feed upon the red algK, abundant in those localities, and 

*Skeat in his Etymological Dictionary, recently published, does not confirm the views advanced by Mr. 
Brevoort, remarking: "I suppose that this word cod va\x%\. be the same as the Middle English codde or cod, a 
husk, bag, bolster; though the resemblance of the fish to a bolster is but fanciful. It is obvious that Shakes- 
peare knew nothing of the Linna;an name ^nirt'wji (Greek -yaSos), nor is the derivation oi cod from £-adiis a.t 
all satisfactory, 


from them they have absorbed the red coloring matter into their tissues. 
^'Rockling" are probably young Rock Cod. In the vicinity of Scituate, 
Mass., Rock Cod are also called " Native Cod." 

Another class of names appears to apply to those fish which live near 
the shores, but which are less closely limited to the reefs. These are 
called "Shoal-water Cod," Shore Cod," " Inshore Cod," "Worm-cod," 
"Clam-Cod," "Black Snappers," "Black Biters," "Brown Cod," 
" Ground Keepers," and " Ground Tenders " or " Groupers." 

Still another class of fish is known by such names as " Deep-water 
Cod," "Bank Cod," and "School Cod. 

There are also certain local schools of fish which have names of their 
own; for instance, the "Herring Fish" or "Herring Cod" of South- 
eastern Maine, and the " Squid School " of Nantucket and other parts of 
the coast, the "Pasture School" of Cape Ann, and the so-called "Shad 
School " which frequented Massachusetts Bay between 18 15 and 1830. 

In Southeastern Maine the name "Pine-tree Cod" is also in use. It is 
difficult at present to determine exactly to what extent these names are 
used and what their precise meaning may be, but it is almost certain that 
each community of fishermen has its own peculiar names by Avhich to 
designate local peculiarities of habit and movement. 

In the markets, the Cod from George's Bank are usually classed as 
" George's Fish," and are considered to be of superior value. George's 
fish are very fat fish with white " napes." This name is becoming a com- 
mercial term to describe Codfish of the finest quality. No one of these 
names, excepting Rock Cod, or Red Cod, appears to be in use in Great 
Britain, although there, as here, there are various names of local signifi- 
cance, which are of little interest, however, to Americans. 

"Bank Cod" and "Shore Cod" are commercial names, used in the 
same liianner as the name " George's Cod." 

As early as 141 5 A. D., English vessels frequented the fishing grounds 
near Iceland, and it is claimed by some authorities that the Banks of 
Newfoundland were known to the Basques centuries before the discovery of 
the American continent. The Banks of Newfoundland were among the 
principal inducements which led the English to establish colonies in this 
country, and in the records of early voyages are many allusions to the 
abundance of Cod along our shores. 

A Nova Scotia coin or bank-token has upon it the figure of a Codfish. 


Upon the obverse is a plow with the legend " Speed the Plough," upon 
the reverse a salted Codfish with the words, " Success to the Fisheries." 

Codfish feed upon all marine animals smaller than themselves- which are 
found in the same Avaters with them and are digestible. For a long period 
of years, before our naturalists learned to use the hand-dredge, a favorite 
place in which to search for the rare invertebrates of the deep water was 
the fish-dealer's stall, and from the stomachs of Codfish scores of shells 
new to science have been taken. Since the introduction of improved 
methods of deep-sea research the mode of collecting has been somewhat 
less prosperous, but even at the present time many important additions to 
zoology are yearly made by the aid of this omnivorous animal. 

Codfish swallow bivalve shells of the largest size, like the great sea 
clams, which are a favorite article of food on certain portions of the coast ; 
for instance, in Ipswich Bay great beds of empty shells of the sea-clam, 
Mactra ova/is, may be found upon the bottom. These shells are 
"nested," the smaller inside of the larger, sometimes six or seven in a 
set, having been packed together in this compact manner in the stomachs 
of the Codfish after the soft parts have been digested out. Some of them 
had shreds of the mussels remaining in them and were quite fresh, having 
evidently been but recently ejected by the fish. In Dana's "Geology" 
are mentioned great banks of dead shells off the island of Grand Manan, 

which doubtless originated in the same manner. Mr. W. H. Dall found 
some similar beds on the coast of Alaska which he attributed to the walrus, 
but which are more probably the remains of mollusks eaten by the Codfish. 
They feed also upon crabs of all kinds, lobsters and star fish, and have 
been seen at the surface catching the potato beetles and "June-bugs" 
which have drifted out from the shore. It is said that they succeed occa- 
sionally in capturing a duck,* and that they vary their diet by browsing 
upon carrageen, or Irish moss, which grows on the ledges near the shore. 
In searching at the bottom for shells and worms. Codfish often pick up 
objects which can hardly be regarded as nutritious. A very amusing 
catalogue of such objects might be included in this chapter, in which 
would be enumerated articles such as scissors, brass oil-cans, potato 
])arings, corn cobs, and head of a rubber doll. The finding of finger- 
rings and fragments of oil-clothing, and the heel of a boot, inside of a 

* The Vineyard Gazette says that Mr. James Osborne took a Codfish on Wednesday, at the " South Side," 
which weighed over sixty pounds. On dressing it, two full-grown ducks (old squaws) were found it its en- 
trails. They were quite fresh, having most of their feathers. — Gloucester Telegraph, May 6, 1857. 


large Codfish has suggested the idea that sometimes they swallow the 

A wedding ring whicli belonged to Pauline Burnam, an English lady 
Avho was lost in the steamship *' Anglo Saxon," wrecked off Chance Cove, 
N. F., in 1S61, was lately restored to her relations by a St. Johns (N. F.) 
fisherman, who found the ring in the entrails of a Codfish. The lucky 
fisherman received a present of £50 for restoring the highly prized 
memento to the lady's son.* 

Stones of considerable size are often found in their stomachs, and 
fishermen have a theory that this is a sign of an approaching storm and 
that the fish thus take in ballast to enable them to remain at the bottom 
when the waters are troubled. It is more likely that these stones are 
swallowed on account of sea-anemones or other edible substances which 
may be attached to them, in just the same manner that the shells of mol- 
lusks are taken in for the sake of the nutritious parts which they contain. 

It is believed that certain schools of Codfish feed slmost entirely at the 
bottom, while others prey upon fish. The fishermen claim to be able to 
distinguish these two classes by their general appearance, the first being 
heavier, with shorter heads, blunter noses, and smaller fins, and frequently 
known as " grubbers " or " ground-keepers," while fish belonging to what 
are known as the squid school, the herring school, and the lant school, 
which are probably the same fish at different seasons of the year, are 
brighter-eyed, slenderer in form, with sharper head, and in every way 
better adapted for swift locomotion. On the coast of Labrador, as well 
as in Scandinavia, Codfish follow the schools of spawning capelin in to the 
shore and prey greedily upon them, and elsewhere, at other seasons, they 
feed with no less voracity upon other species of fish which may be school- 
ing, and of which they destroy vast numbers, such as mackerel, menhaden, 
herring, alewife, salmon, sculpin, flounders, cunners, and haddock. 

On the Grand Banks, especially in shallow water about the Virgin 
Rocks, I have been told that they follow the lant to the surface, pursuing 
them with great fierceness. Along our northern coasts they replace, to 
some extent, the voracious bluefish and bonito of the South. Capt. 
Atwood remarks that the amount of food which they consume is enormous, 
Avhen the size of the fish is taken into account. He has seen them on the 
coast of Labrador, where the capelin were in great numbers, with their 

* Boston Journal, July 9, 1871 . 



stomachs filled to the greatest possible extent, and capelin in their mouths 
which they were miable to swallow for want of room, and in this condition 
they were still biting at the hook. They even feed upon the young of 
their own kind. They are said to feed largely upon herring spawn, 
though they are not seen in great numbers, about the spawning grounds 
until the schools of parent fish have departed. The herring, also, is a 
favorite article of food, and when these fish approach the shores or are 
seen on the banks, it is a very good sign that Cod will soon be abundant. 
Mr. Earll remarks : 

" I am told that in the spring of 1879 an immense school of herring 
moved closely across George's Bank, and that with them came the largest 
school of Cod that has been seen in that locality for a long time. The 
Cod remained constantly among the herring, so that when the lattter had 
passed the fishing fleet, the vessels were obliged to weigh anchor and fol- 
low them in order to secure the Cod. 

''About Provincetown the common squid sometimes appear in great 
numbers, and they are most vigorously preyed upon by the Cod." 

The same accurate observer gives the following notes concerning their 
food while breeding : 

" During the spawning season the Codfish cease to search for food, and 
give less attention to feeding than at other times, though they will 
usually take the bait when placed before them. That they do not search 
for food is shown by the fact that the pasture school remained within a 
few miles of a large school of sperling without being drawn after them ; 
and that the Ipswich Bay school was largest after the sperling had left the 
coast, and remained for a number of months on sandy wastes which sup- 
ported only three species of invertebrates, Biiccinum undatuni, Fusiis 
species, and Asterias vulgaris, in any considerable abundance. The 
examination of the stomachs of several hundred individuals showed four- 
fifths of all to be entirely empty, while a greater part of the remainder 
contained only bait picked trom the trawls of the fishermen. A small 
number contained fish of one or more species that had probably been 
captured in the locality, while a few scattering invertebrates were found. 
Of the species mentioned as abundant on the grounds, not a star-fish and 
but two shells of one species and one of the other are found. But it was 
clearly shown that the fish would not refuse food, for often the stomachs 
were well filled with bait picked from the trawl before the fish were hooked. 
From ten to fifteen pieces were frequently found, and in one case eigh- 
teen were counted. 

"The females when fully ripe seemed less willing to feed than at other 
times, and few were caught with the moving hand-lines ; but when the 


trawl was used, thus leaving the bait motionless on the bottom for hours 
at a time, they were induced to bite, and many were taken with the eggs 
running from them. Ripe males seemed to bite readily at any time. 

" The young fish, as has been remarked, seems to spend the first three 
or four years of its life in shoal water, among the rocks and algre. Here 
its food consists at first of the minutest forms, and later principally of 
small Crustacea, though it often picks up raollusks and w^orms, and even 
enters the harbors in summer, where it remains about the wharves, pick- 
ing up bits of refuse thrown from the fish-houses." 

Capt. R. H. Hurlbert tells me that sometimes a school of Codfish will 
bite at night ; these the fishermen call " Night Cod." 

In i860 the schooner '' C. C. Davis" caught one entire trip of fish 
on George's Bank all in the night, and there are other instances on record, 
though, as a rule, these fish feed only in the daytime. 

The Cod is one of the most prolific of the ocean fishes, and we find not 
only thousands but millions of eggs in a single female. All members of 
this family contain large number of eggs, but the Codfish is the most pro- 
lific of all. Mr. Earll writes as follows : 

" The exact number of eggs in a female varies greatly with the individual, 
being dependent largely upon its size and age. To ascertain the number 
for the different sizes, a series of six fish, representing various stages of 
growth from twenty-one to seventy-five pounds, was taken, and the eggs 
were estimated. Care was exercised that the series should contain only 
immature females, so that no egg should have been lost, and that all 
might be of nearly equal size. The ovaries were taken from the fish and 
their weight accurately ascertained ; after which small quantities were 
taken from different parts of each and weighed on delicately adjusted 
scales, the eggs in these portions being carefully counted. The number 
contained in a given weight being known, it w^as easy to determine 
approximately the entire number for each fish." 

" The results obtained are given in a table, quoted below, showing a 
twenty-one pound fish to have 2,700,000, and a seventy-five pound one, 
9,100,000. The largest number of eggs found in the Pollock was 4,029- 
200, and in the Haddock, 1,840,000. 

" When the eggs are first seen in the fish they are so small as to be hardly 
distinguishable, but they continue to increase in size until maturity, and, 
after impregnation, have a diameter, depending upon the size of the 
parent, varying from one-nineteenth to one-seventeenth of an inch. A 


five to eight pound fish has eggs of the smaller size, while a twenty-five 
pound one has them betAveen an eighteenth and a seventeenth. 

"From weighing and measuring known quantities it is found that one 
pound avoirdupois will contain 190,000 of the smaller size, or that 
1,000,000 eggs well drained will weigh about five pounds. Again, by 
assuming one-nineteenth of an inch as the standard, or by precipitating 
a known quantity in chronic acid and measuring, we find one quart, or 
fifty-seven cubic inches, and three-quarters to contain a little less than 
400,000, or that 1,000,000 will measure between two and a half and three 

With these facts in mind, it will be an easy matter to estimate the 
quantity of eggs taken for hatching purposes during any given season. 

" When the little fish breaks through the shell of the t^g,'" says Earll, 
" the fcetal curve or crook is still quite noticeable, but it soon straightens, 
and is then about five-sixteenths of an inch in length. At this time the 
yelk-sack, situated well forward, is quite large, but so transparent as to 
escape the notice of the ordinary observer. This is gradually absorbed, 
disappearing wholly in about ten to fifteen days, and the little fish begins 
to move about with a peculiar serpentine motion, at times darting quite 
rapidly, and then remaining motionless, as if resting from its evolutions. 
It now begins its independent existence, and moves about more frequently, 
apparently in search of food. From this date it is impossible to follow 
the Cod, for none have been confined, and it is only by catching large 
numbers at different seasons and carefully recording their weights and 
measurements that one is enabled to judge of their growth. The habits of 
the species, that cause them to live near the shore for the first few years, 
furnish excellent opportunities for such observations, and many were 
examined during our stay at Cape Ann. 

" Evidence is not wanting to show that a Cod spawns every year, and 
that it deposits the entire number of eggs in the ovaries each season. 
AVe have examined hundreds of specimens and have failed to find a single 
instance where the condition of the ovaries did not clearly indicate that 
such was the case. During the first of the season no mature fish were 
found in which eggs were not present, though they often varied greatly in 
development from very small to nearly ripe Again, later in the season, 
no spent fish were seen with any eggs remaining in the ovaries ; and no 
fish were found during the spawning period in which the condition of the 


ovaries did not indicate that the eggs were gradually maturing, and would 
be deposited before the close of the season. 

" The schools of Cod move about but little during the sijawning season, 
except when driven away by enemies or by violent storms. After they 
reach the waters of Cape Ann, fishing continues best in the same localities, 
and even upon the same spots, until they leave. The individuals, too, 
seem to move about but little among themselves. When the female 
becomes ripe she remains quietly near the bottom, while the male, a little 
more active, often swims high up. This is indicated by the fact that 
greater numbers of spawning females are taken with the trawl, which lies 
directly on the bottom, than with the hand-line a little way above it, 
while the males are taken on one as readily as on the other. 

" It may not be impossible that the eggs are fertilized while floating about 
in the water some minutes after exclusion, and that the strong tides usually 
found on the spawning grounds play an important part in distributing the 
germs, thus making the chances of impregnation more favorable. Indeed 
it may be possible, and, if the spawning goes on gradually for several 
months, seems not improbable, that the immediate presence of the oppo- 
site sexes during the act of spawning is not necessary, but rather that the 
eggs are fertilized mainly by accidental contact. Observations would 
seem to strengthen the probabilities of this theory ; for, if the fish went 
in pairs, they would often be taken on adjoining hooks of the trawl, or 
one on ei-ther hook of the hand-line. Such is not usually the case, how- 
ever ; but, on the contrary, several of the same sex are more frequently 
taken together. 

"The eggs have a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.025, as indicated by the 
fact that they float in salt water and sink rapidly in fresh. They may be 
found at the surface in common with eggs of the Pollock, Haddock, and 
probably other species of the cod family, when the sea is smooth ; but 
when the water becomes rough they are carried to a depth of several 
fathoms by the current, though the tendency is to remain near the surface. 

" There are many ways in which the eggs maybe destroyed. The princi- 
pal loss is probably the result of non-impregnation, for unless they come 
in contact with the milt of the male very soon after being thrown from 
the parent, they lose their vitality. Again, being drifted about by the 
winds and tides, they are often carried long distances from the spawning 
grounds into the little bays and coves, and arc driven in immense num- 



bers upon the shores, or are left dry by the tides, where they soon die from 
exposure to the atmosphere, or during the cold Avinter weather are in- 
stantly destroyed by freezing. Ipswich Bay, the most extensive spawning 
ground in the locality, is especially unfortunate in this particular, for the 
heavy storms from the north and east sweep with unbroken force across 
its surface, and each breaker as it rolls in upon the beach must carry with 
it many millions of eggs. 

" But such impregnated eggs as escape destruction upon the shores are 
subjected to the ravages of the myriads of hungry animals living about 
the rocks and coves. One day in January we placed a jelly-fish or medusid, 
having a diameter of but one and a half inches, into a tray of eggs in the 
hatching-room, and in less than five minutes it had fastened seventy eggs 
to its tentacles, loading some of them so heavily that they were severed 
from the body by the weight or resistance of the eggs as they were dragged 
through the water. ' ' 

In addition to his other observations, Mr. Earll computed the number 
of eggs in Codfish of different sizes. The results of his observations are 
shown in the following tables : 

Table showing the niunber of eggs in Codfish of different sizes : 









X. iA 


rt > 

be J, 
> ba 

Number of troy 
grains weighed 

Number of eggs 
in the portion 
weighed out. 


u ■ 

.n in 

P c 
c — 


■-5 he 

Ft. in. 









8 8 

8 8 

7 2 
2 8.% 

2 9^8 
2 2>^ 






8 2 

8 2 

8 13 


2 6 

2 oji 

I 14 



1. 131 


1 160 








I {d\ 

4 2% 
3 8 
3 5 
3 A% 
3 3 



It is interesting to compare these with the observations made during the 
last century, references to which may be found in all the standard works 
on natural history. Leuwenhoek is said to have found in a Cod of mid- 
dling size 384,000 eggs. Harmer found, in one weighing eighteen or 
twenty pounds, between 3,000,000 and 4.000,000 eggs. It was examined 


December 23, and was estimated to have 294 eggs to the grain, the ovaries 
weighing 12,540 grains; the total number, according to this calculation, 
is 3,686,760. 

The result of Mr. Earll's observations indicates that in June the 
fish hatched the previous winter, or about six months old, range from 
one and a half to three inches in length ; while those from nine to 
thirteen inches long, and weighing seven or eight ounces, were eighteen 
months old ; those seventeen to eighteen inches long, and weighing 
two to two and a quarter pounds, were supposed to be two years 
and a half old ; those of about twenty-two inches, which weighed four to 
five pounds, were three years and a half old. He also concludes that the 
male reaches maturity at the age of three, and female at the age of four 
years, for the smallest ripe male noticed during the season of i878-'79 
weighed three and one-half pounds, and the smallest ripe female five 

I have before me memoranda relating to a large number of enormous 
Codfish, taken along the New England coast at various times from 1S30 
to 1879. It seems unnecessary to refer to them, excepting the cases of a 
few which exceed one hundred pounds in weight. Capt. King Harding, 
of Swampscott, tells me that he once caught, on the eastern side of Cape Cod, 
a fish weighing 10 1 pounds as it came from the water. On the 2 2d of 
July, 1873, ]\Iiss Fannie Belis, of St. Louis, while on a fishing excursion 
off Eastern Point, on board the yacht " United States," caught a Cod 
which weighed 130 pounds. Capt. G. H. Martin caught, off Chatham, a 
Codfish which weighed, dressed, in pounds. Capt. Stephen Mar, of 
Gloucester, saw a Codfish taken on George's Banks in 1838, which, after 
having been eviscerated, weighed 136 pounds. Capt. Atwood says, on 
the coast of Cape Cod he has never seen a male Codfish, with one excep- 
tion, which weighed more than 60 pounds ; he once saw one, however, 
which weighed 160 pounds. This fish was not much larger than an ordinary 
fish weighing 75 pounds, but was very thick. 

Capt. Atwood remarks : "In regard to size, the Cod differs very widely 
in different localities. When taken on the Grand Banks it usually requires 
from thirty to forty to make a quintal when dried. Those caught in- the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence with hand-lines are smaller, requiring seventy or 

* On pages 733-734 of Mr. Earll's report maybe found the measurements of a large number of Codfish of 
different weights, and with the ovaries and spermaries in different stages of development. These measure- 
ments are interesting, since they show the relation between the length and weight of individual fisli. 


eighty per quintal ; in the same locality, however, Cod caught on trawl 
lines require only twenty to twenty-five per quintal, while on the coast of 
Labrador they are small, and it requires about one hundred to one hun- 
dred and ten to make a quintal. 

Writing in the summer of 1877, Capt. Atwood expressed the opinion that 
the average weight of the fish taken about Cape Cod was in the neighbor- 
hood of ten pounds; but he informed me that in the winter of 1S77, in 
two days, thirty thousand pounds of Codfish were landed from the boats, 
and that there was not a fish among them small enough to be classed as a 
market Cod, a market Cod weighing from six to ten or twelve pounds. 

In conclusion, it may not be amiss to quote the remarks of Prof. 
Baird concerning the decrease of Codfish along our coast, and its probable 
causes : 

" Of all the various fisheries formerly prosecuted directly off the coast of 
New England, north of Cape Cod, the depreciation in that of the Cod 
appears to be of the greatest economical importance. Formerly the waters 
abounded in this fish to such an extent that a large supply could be taken 
throughout almost the entire year along the banks, especially in the 
vicinity of the large rivers. At that time the tidal streams were almost 
choked up with the alewives, shad, and salmon that were struggling for 
entrance in the spring, and which filled the adjacent waters throughout a 
great part of the year. 

" As is well known, the erection of impassable dams across the streams, by 
preventing the ascent of the species just mentioned to their spawning 
grounds, produced a very great diminution, and almost the extermination 
of their numbers ; so that whereas in former years a large trade could be 
carried on during the proper season, now nothing would be gained by the 

" Of late the attention of the legislatures of the New England States has 
been called to this fact, and to the importance of restoring their fisheries, 
and a great deal has been already accomplished toward that end. Unfor- 
tunately, however, the lumbering interest in Maine, and the manufactur- 
ing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, are so powerful as to render it 
extremely difficult to carry out any measures which in any way interfere 
with their convenience or profits ; and notwithstanding the passage of 
laws requiring the construction of fishways through the dams, these have 
either been neglected altogether, or are of such a character as not to an- 
swer their purpose. The reform, therefore, however imperatively required, 
has been very slow in its progress, and many years will probably elapse 
before efficient measures Avill be taken to remedy the evil referred to. 

" It would, therefore, appear that while the river fisheries have been 


depreciated or destroyed by means of dams or by exhaustive fishing, the 
Codfish have disappeared in equal ratio. This is not, however, for the 
same reason, as they are taken only with the line, at a rate more than 
compensated by the natural fecundity of the fish. I am well satisfied, 
however, that there is a relation of cause and effect between tlie present 
and past condition of the two series of fish ; and in this I am supported 
by the opinion of Capt. U. S. Treat, of Eastport, by whom, indeed, the 
iclea was first suggested to me. Capt. Treat is a successful fisherman and 
dealer in fish on a very large scale, and at the same time a gentleman of 
very great intelligence and knowledge of the many details connected with 
the natural history of our coast fishes, in this respect worthily representing 
Capt. Atwood, of Provincetown. It is to Capt. Treat that we owe many 
experiments on the reproduction of alewifes in ponds, and the possibility 
of keeping salmon in fresh waters for a period of years. The general 
conclusions which have been reached, as the result of repeated conversa- 
tions with Capt. Treat and other fishermen on the coast, incline me to 
believe that the reduction in the Cod and other fisheries, so as to become 
practically a failure, is due to the decrease off our coast in the quantity, 
primarily, of alewives ; and, secondarily, of shad and salmon, more than 
to any other cause. 

" It is well known to the old residents of Eastport that from thirty to 
fifty years ago Cod could be taken in abundance in Passamaquoddy Bay, 
and off Eastport, where only stragglers are now to be caught. The same 
is the case at the mouth of the Penobscot River and at other points along 
the coasts of Massachusetts, a much more weighty reason than that of 
merely enabling a few salmon to enter the streams in order to permit their 
capture while on their way. 

" Whatever may be the importance of increasing the supply of salmon, it 
is trifling compared with the restoration of our exhausted Cod fisheries ; 
and should these be brought back to their original condition, we shall 
find, within a short time, an increase of wealth on our shores, the amount 
of which it would be difficult to calculate. Not only would the general 
prosperity of the adjacent States be enhanced, but in the increased num- 
ber of vessels built, in the larger number of men induced to devote 
themselves to maritime pursuits, and in the general stimulus to every- 
thing connected with the business of the sea-faring profession, we should be 
recovering, in a great measure, from that loss which has been the source 
of so much lamentation to political economists and well-wishers of the 

The Atlantic Tom Cod, Microgadus tovicod, is found only in the 
Western Atlantic, ranging from New York at the south, to Cape Sable at 
the north. It is ordinarily known as the Tom Cod, but in the Bay of 
Fundy, and in various places south of Cod, it is called the *' Frost 


Fish," owing to the fact that it becomes most abundant in the early part 
•of the winter, when it approaches the shore and even ascends the rivers 
and creeks for the purpose of spawning. Dr. DeKay states, on the 
authority of Dr. Yates, that Tom Cods sometimes appear at Albany in 
abundance, while I am informed by the Rev. Dr. Gardiner that they are 
taken in winter in the Kennebec, sixty miles from its mouth, and far 
above the reach of the tide. They ascend the Charles River to Watertown, 
where they are taken in dip-nets and by the hook from the wharves and 
bridges. Although most abundant near the shores and in the streams in 
early winter, they are found along the coast at all seasons of the year. 

In form the Tom Cod is the miniature of the Codfish, rarely exceeding 
ten or twelve inches in length, and there is much difficulty in distinguish- 
ing the young of the two species. The Tom Cod, however, varies even 
more in its color than the Cod, and several varieties have been described 
under different names. When these fish approach the shores in winter 
they are taken in great cjuantities in nets, and are esteemed in many 
localities as a great delicacy. It is said that they are sometimes sold in 
the markets under the captivating name of " London Trout." 

The Tom Cod feeds upon numerous species of crustaceans and mollusks, 
and also upon the young of many other kinds of fishes. 

The Pacific Tom Cod, Microgadus proximus, is thus described by Prof. 
Jordan : 

" The English at Victoria know this species by the name ' Whiting.' 
Elsewhere on the coast the name of ' Tom Cod ' is universally applied to 
it. In the restaurants at San Francisco it is usually served under the 
name of smelt. It reaches the length of a foot and a weight of about half 
a pound. It ranges from Monterey to Puget Sound and northward, being 
everywhere very abundant, and taken in great numbers in seines and 
■sweep-nets, both outside and in the bays. Its food is small fishes. Noth- 
ing special is known of its breeding habits ; it is apparently abundant at 
all seasons. It is one of the important food fishes of the coast, always 
abundant and always meeting a ready sale. Its flesh is, however, watery 
and tasteless, and cannot be rated high." 

The Pollock, Pollachiiis carbonarius, which is the Coalfish of England, 
the Kohler of Germany, and the Sei of Norway and Sweden, is closely 
related to the Pollock of Great Britian, Pollachiiis vircns, from which, 
however, it is specifically different. It is one of the best-known fishes of 
Northern Europe, as may be inferred from the abundance of its common 



names. The following names are in use in different parts of England : 
Baddoch, Billet, Billard, Black-Pollock, Black-jack, Black-Coalsey, 
Blockan, Blockin, Coal, Coal-fish, Coalsay, Coalsey, Coal-whiting, 
Colemie, Colmey, Cooth, Cudden, Cuddy, Dargie, Gilpin, Glassock, 
Glashan, Glossan, Glossin, Green-cod, Green Pollock, Grey-lord, Gull- 
fish, Harbin, Kuth, Lob, Lob-keling, Maulrush, Parr, Pitock. Podle}-, 
Poddlie, Podling, Pollack, Prinkle, Rauning Pollack, Rawlin Pollack, 
Rock Salmon, Raw Pollock, Saithe, Sethe, Sey, Sey Pollack, Sillock, 
Skrae-fish, Stenlock, Tibre. 



-r- ^' 


Its geographical distribution is quite different from that of either the 
Cod or Haddock, its northern range, at least in the Eastern Atlantic, 
being fully as wide as that of the Cod, the species having been found in 
the northern part of Spitzbergen, beyond the parallel of So°, and on the 
arctic coast of Europe. It rarely enters the Baltic. Bloch records a 
specimen from Lubeck, and it is said to occur on the coast of Pomerania. 

Concerning the limits of its southern range authorities differ. Gunther 
places this at latitude 46° in the Bay of Biscay, while others claim that it 
enters the ISIediterranean. Canestrini states that it has been observed at 
Taranto. It does not appear, however, that the species is abundant south 
of the English channel. It occurs about Iceland and on the west coast of 
Davis Straits, where specimens were obtained by Sir Edward Parry on his 
first voyage. North of Newfoundland it does not seem to be very abund- 
ant, while to the south the limit appears to be in the vicinity of Nantucket 
Shoals, where specimens are occasionally taken by the cod smacks. 

In Perley's " Catalogue of the Fishes of Nova Scotia," he states that he 
had never seen the fish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, nor hoard of it ex- 
cept near the Straits of Canso, although it was found very abundant in the 


Bay of Fundy and everywhere except in the muddy waters, such as those 
of Cumberland Bay and the Basin of Minas. 

I have seen large individuals taken in midsummer in the pounds in 
Vineyard Sound, and the capture of small individuals in these waters is 
not unusual. They are often taken, according to De Kay, off New York, 
in company with the Cod. In June, 1881, the schooner "Edward E. 
Webster," of Gloucester, Solomon Jacobs, captain, returning from a 
southern mackerel trip, fell in with a school of Pollock and captured sixty 
thousand pounds of them in her purse seine. Its range, as now under- 
stood, is in the Eastern Atlantic between the parallels 46° and So°, in the 
Western Atlantic between 40° and 70°. That its southeastern limit is as 
near the equator as the parallel of 36° seems quite improbable. 

Unlike the Cod and the Haddock, the Pollock is, to a great extent, a 
surface-swimming species. The fishes of this species congregate together 
in large schools, roaming from place to place in search of food. To a 
certain extent they feed at the bottom, like Cod, but are more often seen 
at the surface of the water, Avhere they prey upon young fish of all kinds. 

Prof. Sars gives the following account of the manner in which they prey 
upon little Codfish : 

"I was much interested to see how the Pollock caught the young Cod- 
fish. It looked like a systematic chase, and it certainly looked as if the 
Pollock were acting with a common and well-defined purpose. As far as 
I could observe, the schools of Pollock surrounded the little Codfish on all 
sides, making the circle constantly narrower until all the Codfish were 
gathered in one lump, which they then-, by a quick movement, chased up 
to the surface of the water. The poor little fish now found themselves 
attacked on all sides ; below, the voracious Pollock, which in their eager- 
ness often leaped above the water ; and above, hundreds of screeching 
sea-gulls, which, with wonderful voracity and precision, pounced down 
upon the places where the Pollock showed themselves, to share the spoils 
with them. The whole chase is carried on so rapidly, and the young fish 
stay only so short a time at the surface of the water before they are scat- 
tered in all directions with lightning-like rapidity, that it was not even 
possible for me to see any, much less to catch any with my insufficient 

On the coast of New England they are much disliked by the fishermen, 
who claim that they consume great quantities of other fish much more 

* Report of the United States Fish Commission, Part 5, 1879, p. 593- Another vivid description of the 
manner in which the Pollock feed upon the sand-eels, or lant, may be found on pp. 619 and 620. 


valuable than themselves ; in consequence of this the fishermen have a 
great prejudice against them and refuse to eat them. 

Capt. Atwood states that about Cape Cod they do not take to the hook 
freely ; that in other localities they are exceedingly voracious, and great 
numbers of them may be caught in Massachusetts Bay with a surface 

When the United States Fish Commission steamer has been stationed 
north of Cape Cod, a favorite amusement of the officers has been to catch 
young Pollock with a fly. The older fish are less active and remain more 
at the bottom. 

Concerning this species, Capt. Atwood states that they appear about 
Cape Cod in schools in early May, frequently passing Race Point so 
close to the shore as to be caught with the seine among the " tide-rips." 

Capt. E. W. Merchant, of Gloucester, tells me that the Pollock were 
very abundant in Massachusetts Bay early in this century — before the war 
of I Si 3. They were especially abundant on Middle Bank. They were 
at that time chiefly caught with bait of herring, taken in seines from the 
beaches. The fishing boats were of about thirty tons, and carried three 
men and a boy. Fishing was carried on chiefly at night. When the ves- 
sels would all " fleet up," and the bait on their hooks would toll the 
schools of fish together. The vessels would take about fifty quintals in a 
night. There were about thirty fish to the quintal. This abundance of 
Pollock lasted until about 1820. These Pollock were salted, and con- 
sumed at home or carried to INIaine. They sold for about two dollars a 
quintal. The oil of their livers was tried out in kettles on the shore. 
Their roe was exported largely in those days. It was sold by the bushel,., 
at the rate of about sixty cents. 

Mr. Earll writes : " Large Pollock are absent from the waters of Cape 
Ann from the middle of January till early in May, the small ones leaving 
earlier, in the fall, and returning in April.* The young may be taken 
almost anywhere along the shore, but the large fish seem to confine them- 
selves to definite localities; and though not particularly abundant during 
the summer at Cape Ann, it is a favorite spawning ground for the species, 
antl during this period large schools visit this shore. 

" They begin to grow plenty about the first of October, and by the last 
of the month are so numerous as to greatly annoy the cod-fishermen by 
taking the hook before it can get to the bottom. 

*In 1S81 the first Pollock came into (iloucester harbor May 2. 



" During this season some of the small vessels fish exclusively for Pol- 
lock, 'seizing up' their lines a number of fathoms from the bottom, and 
at times the fish bite as fast as the fishermen can haul them. Early in 
in November a crew of four men landed 10,420 pounds, or about 1,100 
fish, the result of less than two days' fishing. Owing to a foolish prejudice, 
the price is always low, at times being less than thirty cents per one hun- 
dred pounds. The average weight of the fish is about nine or ten pounds, 
and during the spawning season the sexes are taken in about equal 

In the Bay of Fundy and along the coast of Maine the capture of young 
Pollock from the rocks is a favorite amusement, At Eastport these fish 
are often called " Quoddy Salmon." Hinds states that in the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence they are known as " Sea Salmon;" this name may refer both 
to their active and voracious habits, and to the excellence of their flesh in 
those localities. 

The spawning of the Pollock occurs in the German Ocean, according 
to Wittmack, from December to February ; in Scotland, according to 
Parnell, in Februarv, after which it remains out of condition until May. 

About the Loffodens, as indicated by the observations of Sars, the breed- 
ing time corresponds with that of the Codfish, the young Pollock being 
found in early summer in company with the young Cod, swimming under 
the protection of the jelly-fishes. 

The Pollock is one of those species whose value as an article of food is 
very much underestimated. Many persons who ha\-e investigated the 
subject accurately prefer salted 'Pollock to salted Codfish, although the 
flesh is not so white. Its value for use in the fresh state, we think, de- 
serves the highest commendation. 

Pollock are more highly prized in New Brunswick than anywhere else 
on the Western Atlantic coast, and the pollock fishery was in 1S50 pro- 
nonnced by Perley the most valuable and extensive of the deep-sea fisheries 
of the Bay of Fundy. It is stated by this authority that directly after the 
spawning season the fish is lank and almost worthless, but that it becomes 
in good condition' again in August and improves as the season advances. 

The liver of the Pollock yields a great quantity of oil, proportionally 
much more than that of the Cod. It is probable that most of the cod-liver 
oil in the market is more or less adulterated with pollock-li^■er oil. No 
one has yet demonstrated that its medicinal properties are inferior. The 
eggs of the Pollock are ^■ery large, and great quantities of them haAC been 
in past years salted and exported to France. 



The Alaska Pollock, PoUacJiius chalcograinmiis (Pallas) J. & G., is thus 
described by Prof. Jordan : "This species is known as Pollack to those 
who have seen the Atlantic species. It is possibly identical with the 
' Beshow ' of the Makah Indians, the ' Coal-fish' of the English settlers 
northward, a deep-water fish noted for its rich, fat flesh. It reaches a 
length of about two feet. It ranges from Monterey to Behring's Straits. 
It is taken with hook and line in deep water, and is never plentiful south 
of Cape Flattery. It feeds upon anchovies and the like. Nothing is 
known of its breeding habits, enemies or diseases, and, unless it be the 
* Beshow ' above noticed, it is not sufficiently abundant to attract any 
notice as an article of food. 




The Haddock, Alelanogramnms CBglefinus, is found only in the Atlantic. 
Hadot and Hadou are old French names for the same fish, though the 
species is now usually known by the name Egrefin. In Scotland the name 
is said to be pronounced almost in the same way as in France, and is often 
varied to Haddie. It is the Schellfish of Germany. Concerning this fish 
many of our fishermen entertain the idea, which with them can 
hardly be called a superstition, that the black spots upon their side are 
due to the impression of the thumb and finger of St. Peter when the 
apostle took the tribute money out of the mouth of a fish supposed to be of 
this species, the fisherman's mark having been continued among its de- 
scendants ever since. This notion is prevalent also in England, and in 
Southern Europe is attached to other fishes, particularly to the John Dory, 
Zeus fahcr. It is needless to say that no member of this family occurs in 
the Sea of Galilee. 


Its wanderings are more limited than those of the Cod. It is not found 
nearly as far to the north, while its southern range is no wider. Had- 
dock are probably found in company with Codfish on all the northern 
fishing grounds, as far south, at least, as the Capes of Delaware, though 
concerning their occurrence in southern waters there is dearth of informa- 
tion. In winter and spring they are taken in Fisher's Island Sound and 
outside of Fisher's Island, on the coast of Eastern Connecticut; and also 
in great quantities on Nantucket Shoals by the smacks, and are carried 
thence with Cod into New York market. In 1S71 it was estimated that 
the catch of Haddock here was nearly equal to that of Cod, although the 
latter usually predominates. They abound north of Cape Cod, in the 
Gulf of Maine, and in the Bay of Fundy, in the Basin of Minas, on the 
coast of Nova Scotia, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and in the Bay of 
Chaleur. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to Capt. Atwood, they 
are not very abundant, but the individuals taken are very large. They 
are taken on the western coast of Newfoundland in winter; their northern 
limit appears to be marked by the Straits of Belle Isle, latitude 52° N. 
In 1863 and 1S64 they were found in abundance on the southern border 
of the Grand Bank. They are not so frequent on the Grand Bank as on 
the Western Bank, and, in turn, less common there than on George's 

In the Eastern Atlantic the range of the Haddock is somewhat wider, 
for they are found in the seas of Iceland, the whole length of the Scandi- 
navian coast to East Finmark and Varanger Fjord, and on all the shores 
of Great Britain, and in the North Sea, where they are particularly abund- 
ant, though rarely or never entering the Baltic. There is no evidence 
that they are found to the south of the English Channel. De La Blanchere 
states that they are caught in considerable numbers on the coast of 
Manche. In the Eastern Atlantic, then, they are found between the 
parallels 48° and 66° ; in the Western Atlantic between parallels 38*^ 
and 53°. 

Haddock are not so active and powerful as the Cod. Dr. Gilpin has 
expressed the opinion that on the coast of Nova Scotia they do not retreat 
so far from the shore in winter as the Cod, but this does not appear to be 
true in Massachusetts Bay. 

Remarkable variations in the abundance of this fish are upon record ; 
at certain times they have been exceedingly rare, at others abundant in the 



Capt. Atwood states that in 1834 Haddock were very scarce on the 
■Grand Bank, and itw were caught anywhere on the coast, but in 1S40 
they became so numerous about Cape Cod as to interfere seriously with 
the Cod fishery, devouring the bait before the Cod could reach it, and 
about 1850 they had increased so rapidly that the markets were glutted. 
In 1864 they were caught in great numbers and were still on the increase. 
In 1 8 70 the same observer related to the Massachusetts senate the story of 
another period of scarcity and abundance. His statements may be found 
in the report of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, 
Part I, 1873, p. 119. 

The food of the Haddock resembles that of the Cod, except that they 
are, if possible, more omnivorous ; their diet consists, however, largely of 
invertebrates. They are rarely seen feeding at the surface, though they 
devour the spawn of other fishes, particularly that of the herring, with 
great eagerness. They devour great quantities of shells, many of them of 
the burrowing species. Prof. Yerrill has well said that a complete list of 
the animals devoured by the Haddock would doubtless include all the 
mollusks belonging to the fauna of New England. 

The Haddock are said to be particularly abundant on clam-banks. 
From this habit of feeding on shells has originated the German name for 
the fish. The difference between the habits of the Haddock and the Cod 
is illustrated by the remark of Capt. Atwood that Haddock will take a 
baited hook as it rests upon the ground, while the Cod will only notice it 
Avhen it is raised a short distance from the bottom. Salted menhaden is a 
favorite bait for Haddock, but not desirable for Cod, while both Cod 
and Haddock will readily take stale clams, which are much better for bait 
than fresh ones. 

On the German coast the Haddock spawn on rocky bottoms in February 
and early March at a depth of twenty-two to twenty-five fathoms ; and 
according to Yarrow the spawning period is the same on the British coast, 
the young growing to a length of six or seven inches before the beginning 
of September. At the Loffoden Isles, according to Sars, the spawning 
season of the Haddock takes place a little later, beginning toward the end 
of February and being at its height late in March. At Cape Ann the 
season is in late April, May and June. 

The average size of the Haddock is probably not far from three or four 
pounds; many twelve-pound fish are brought to market, and individuals 
weighing seventeen pounds are on record. 



In 1879 Haddock were successfully hatched, under the supervision of 
Mr. Earll, at the Gloucester station of the United States Fish Commission. 

The Haddock is now very highly esteemed as a food fish, having grown 
in favor during the last twenty years. It is especially desirable for boil- 
ing or for making chowders, and is a great favorite in Boston, while in 
Philadelphia enormous quantities are yearly consumed. Being well 
adapted for preservation in ice, great numbers of them are distributed 
through the interior of the country, together with the Codfish. The suc- 
cess with which the Scotch method of smoking Haddock has been intro- 
duced into this country has also greatly increased the demand for them, 
and " Finnan Haddies " are manufactured in enormous quantities in Port- 
land and Boston. At Provincetown a Haddock salted and dried after 
being split is called by the name " Skulljoe," or '• Scoodled Skulljoe." 


The Cusk, Brosmiiis hrosmc, is a deep-water species, inhabiting rocky 
ledges in the North Atlantic. It has not been observed south of Cape 
Cod, out ranges northward to the banks of Newfoundland and of Green- 
land. It occurs in Iceland and Spitzbergen and along the entire length 
of the Scandinavian Peninsula, but is not known on the coast of Germany, 
while Faber states that it just touches the most northern part of Denmark 
at the Scaw in Jutland, and that it is occasionally taken in the Frith of 
Forth and brought to the Edinburgh market. It is also plentiful about 
the Faroe Islands. Its range in the Western Atlantic is from latitude 42° 
to latitude 65°, or beyond; in the Northeastern Atlantic to latitude 80°, 
and south to latitude 55°. 

The Massachusetts fishermen tell me that these fish are usually found in 
considerable abundance on newly-discovered ledges, and that great num- 
bers may be taken for a year or two, but that they are soon all caught. 
Sometimes, after a lapse of years, they may be found again abundant on a 
recently-deserted ground. From these facts it has been reasoned that the 


Cusk is very local in its liabits and rarely changes from one locality to 

The food of the Cusk doubtless consist chiefly of mollusks and small 

Concerning its spawning habits nothing is known, except that, accord- 
ing to Faber, it breeds in April and May on the coast of West and South 

The Cusk is considered a very excellent fish, especially for boiling,, but 
there is a very limited demand for it, and most of those which are taken 
are salted. On account of their low prices fishermen shun them, and they 
are hardly in better favor than dogfish. In the spring of 1878 they were 
worth in Gloucester from twenty to fifty cents per hundred, and in August 
of the same year about one dollar per hundred. One of the peculiar 
habits of the Cusks renders their capture difficult, and frequently causes the 
destruction of the fishing-tackle ; it is said that after they have taken the 
hook they curl their tails rountl the angles of the rock and cling to them 
with such strength that it is impossible to dislodge them. Fishermen say 
that when they are brought to the surface the skin rises from the body in 
great blisters. This they regard as a favorable sign, as showing that the 
fish are " thrifty," or healthy. The name "Tusk," used for this fish in 
Newfoundland, is now never used in the United States, although it seems 
to have been in use a century ago, a well-known fishing ground in the 
Gulf of Maine being known as the " Tusk Rock." 

The two species which have commercial value being P. chuss and P. 
tenuis. These species are very similar in appearance, and it is with diffi- 
culty that they can be distinguished from each other by the trained eye of 
the zoologist. The most tangible distinction may be found in the num- 
ber of scales, wdiich are much smaller in P. tenuis, there being from one 
hundred and thirty-five to one hundred and forty oblique rows between the 
bronchial opening and the root of the caudal fin, while there are about 
twelve rows between the lateral line and the region of the first dorsal. In 
P. chuss there are only one hundred rows in the lateral line and nine rows 
above the lateral line ; in the former the ventral does not ordinarily reach 
quite to the vent, in the latter it extends beyond the vent. This char- 
acter, however, cannot always be relied upon. 

Our Hakes are all different from the Forked Beard, P. blennioidcs, of 
Great Britain, sometimes called the Hake's Dame, which is a member of 


the same genus.* Owing to their great similarity, Pliycis chiiss and P. 
tenuis, are usually known indifferently by the name '' Hake ;" the former, 
however, is sometimes called the Old English Hake, and the other, Phycis 
tenuis, the Squirrel Hake or White Hake. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence 
and the Bay of Chaleur, and also south of Cape Cod, they are invariably 
called Ling. There has been much confusion both in the names and 
descriptions applied to them by fishermen and ichthyologists. Their geo- 
graphical range appears to be essentially the same. The young of one or 
both species are frequently taken swimming at the surface, on the southern 
coast of New England, in midsummer, and numerous individuals have been 
found off Block Island and Watch Hill, seeking shelter between the valves 
of a large species of scallop, Pectcn tcmiicostatits ; the majority appear to 
belong to the species of P. chuss. 


The two species are frequently taken by the cod-fishermen, on the 
shoals south of Cape Cod, but they are there considered to be of Init little 
value. They are more or less abundant in Massachusetts Bay, in the Bay 
of Fundy and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Large specimens of one or 
both species have been taken at a depth of three hundred fathoms as far 
south as Virginia. 

The Hakes appear to be bottom-loving fishes, and rarely change locality. 
They feed on crustaceans, and occasionally indulge in a fish diet. One 
taken at Gloucester in July, 187S, had a menhaden in its stomach. 

It is believed that they spawn throughout the summer, for the young 
fish are found during all the summer months, while specimens taken at the 
depth of thirty-seven fathoms August 18, 1878, off Ipswich, at a tempera- 
ture of 41° F., contained well-de\-eloped ova, and were apparently ready 
to spawn. 

* The Hake of Europe is a different fish, more closely related to the Silver Hake or Whiting of the New 
England coast, Merlucius bilinear is. 



An extensive fishery is carried on from Cape Ann for these fish in winter, 
and there are sometimes as many as fifty vessels engaged. It was esti- 
mated in 1S78 that the total quantity landed at Gloucester was not far 
from 5.000.000 pounds. The fishing is carried on almost entirely at night 
with the use of trawls, which are about the size of those used in the capture 
of Haddock. 

Hake are salted and dried in the same manner as Codfish, and are often 
sold under the name of Codfish. Before the introduction of boneless fish 
it was sometimes difficult to sell them on account of the difference in 
appearance, but at the present time great quantities of Hake are put up 
in boxes under the trade name of "boneless fish," the qualifying word 
"Cod" being usually omitted from the brands and labels. The Hake 
is not often eaten except when salted. 

The air-bladder, or sound, of the Hake is of great commercial value, 
being used extensively in the manufacture of isinglass; great quantities of 
sounds are sent from the British Provinces to the United States annually, 
sounds from the Gulf of St. Lawrence being considered much better than 
those from farther south. In iSSo New England ])roduced 255,698 
pounds of dried sounds, worth $178,808. Massachusetts had eight isinglass 
and glue factories, employing one hundred and eighty-two men and a 
capital of $315,000, and producing $450,000 worth of ribbon-isinglass 
and glue in 1879. These sounds were for the most part derived from the 


It is the opinion of certain writers, among whom Dr. Gunther is leader, 
that the Hake of Europe, Me?-luchis vierlus (or J/, vulgaris of recent 
authors), is identical with the species of Merhicius occurring in the 
Western Atlantic. This is, however, a mistake ', the American form 
may easily be distinguished from that of Europe by the greater number of 


rays in the first dorsal (10 to ti in M. luerlus, 12 to 13 in J/, bilincaris), 
and by the larger size of the scales (the number in the lateral line beino- 
about 150 in AI. merlus, 100 to no in M. biii/iearis). 

The general appearance of the two species is very similar, and it re- 
quires careful study to separate them. It is probable that at no very remote 
period they diverged from a common stock. The distribution of the two 
species upon the opposite sides of the Atlantic coincides very closely with 
that of other Gadoid fishes, which are siDecifically identical in Europe and 
America. The Hake of Europe is found along the coast from Trondhjem 
Fjord, latitude 65°, south to 36°, being very abundant in the Mediter- 
ranean ; also found on the coast of Portugal and in Western France. In 
the English Channel, however, and in the waters of Holland and Ger- 
many, it is considered very unusual. On our coast it ranges from New 
York to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where it is common — especially in the 
Bay of Chaleur — but it has rarely been observed as far north as the Straits 
of Belle Isle. Dr. Packard was told by fishermen that during a period of 
forty summers spent on the coast of Labrador they had taken but one speci- 
men of this fish. This fish has been found at great depths as far south as 
latitude 36° and 37°. 

The name Silver Hake, by which this fish is known in the Bay of Fundy, 
is much more appropriate than that of Whiting, though the latter is more 
frequently heard in New England ; its similarity to the European Hake 
is very great ; while the name Whiting, which is in Europe applied to a 
species [Merlangus vulgaris), somewhat resembling the Pollock, has been 
appropriated in this country for a fish which frequents our southern coast 
and belongs to the drum family. 

The Silver Hake commonly inhabits the middle depths of the ocean, 
or the outer edge of the continental slope, and comes to the surface to 
feed. Like the Pollock, it is a fish of prey ; its teeth are sharp, its mouth 
large and powerful, and its form lithe, muscular, and adapted to rapid 
locomotion. It comes to the surface to prey upon the schools of herring 
and other small fish, and is frequently caught in the mackerel and bluefish 
nets. Its appearance in our waters is irregular, and when seen it is usually 
swimming in schools in considerable numbers. 

They average one foot in length. They are of roving habits, following 
the shoals of herring, which they devour in great quantities. Until iSSo 
little was known concerning the breeding habits of the Silver Hake 3 but, 


in exploring the bottom, at a depth of from one hundred and fifty to three 
hundred fathoms, off Newport and in the edge of the Gulf Stream, im- 
mense numbers of young fish, from half an inch to three inches in length, 
were found at the bottom, and with them were many adults, twelve to 
eighteen inches in length, apparently in the act of spawning ; some of 
them with the ova ripe, or nearly ripe, but not yet shed ; others evidently 
spent-fish. This discovery was exceedingly interesting, since it may serve 
as a clew to the spawning habits of other species, like the bluefish and 
menhaden, which have been supposed to spawn at a distance from the 
shore, but have never been detected in the act. The spawning period 
doubtless extends over a considerable space of time ; some of the eggs 
from which the largest of the young were hatched off Newport must have 
been laid as early as July. In September an adult, obtained at Halifax, 
Nova Scotia, had the ova well developed and nearly ready for deposition. 
It is not known whether the eggs of the Silver Hake float or sink. Couch 
stales that the spawning season of the European Hake is from January to 
April, at which time the fish are caught near the bottom, and lose the 
great voracity by which they are characterized at other times, so that 
multitudes are caught in trawls, and a few with lines. When pilchards 
approach the shore the Hake follow them, continuing in incalculable 
numbers throughout the winter. 

The Hake of Europe is always considered a coarse fish, and though 
great quantities are annually salted and dried it is not held in very high 
esteem. ]Many of the salted fish are sent to Spain. They are said to be 
(juite common on the northern shore of the Mediterranean, where con- 
siderable traffic is carried on with them ; they are packed with aromatic 
plants and sent to the towns remote from the coast. 

Storer remarks : " Occasionally this species is brought to market, and 
when perfectly fresh is a very sweet fish, boiled, broiled or fried. It soon 
becomes soft and is preserved with difficulty. As it does not appear to 
be known abroad, and the fishermen consequently have no call for it, it is 
not cured, but is considered worthless. In the months of September and 
October the Whiting is used somewhat for bait for the dogfish and answers 
a good purpose." 

The California Hake, Merluciics productus,. writes Prof. Jordan, is most 
commonly known along the coast by its Italian name, " Merluccio," pro- 
nounced mcrlooch. At Soquel and elsewhere it goes by the name of 


Horse-mackerel, a name used on our coasts with the greatest carelessness, 
being applied to EIops saiirits, Anoplopoma fimbria, and Mcrhicius pro- 
ductus, as well as to various scombroids and carangoid fishes. It reaches 
a length of about thirty inches and a weight of ten pounds, its average 
weight being five or six. It is found from the Island of Santa Cruz to 
Alaska, being very irregular in its appearance, some years very abundant 
and at other times wanting altogether. It is exceedingly voracious, feed- 
ing on all sorts of small fishes and squids. The stomach is always filled 
almost to bursting. 

It spawns in the spring, and its arrival near the coast always precedes 
the deposition of the spawn. It probably then retires to deeper water. 

Its value as a food-fish is very little. It is scarcely salable in the mar- 
ket of San Francisco. Its flesh is very soft, and it is always ragged-looking 
when shipped. Nothing was learned as to the quality of its flesh, but it 
probably differs little from the Atlantic form Mcrlucius bilinearis. 

« > ,u - * ?. V * r. « ti i- ^. » :■ J i J , » « 

' T^^*^^??^- ■ 



Still shall be heard the loons lone cry 
Upon the stream, and to their rest 
Long troops of curlews seaward fly. 
At sunset to their sandy nest. 
Still joyous from the sparkling tide 
With silver sides shall Mullets leap 
The eagle soar in wonted pride, 
And by their eyrie strong and wide 
On the dry oak beside the deep, 
Their watch shall busy ospreys keep. 

William J. Grayson : T/ic River Coosa. 

{~\^ our eastern coast there are two species oi Mugil, the differences be- 
^^^tween which are sometimes, though not always recognized by fishermen. 
The most familiar is the Striped Mullet, Mugil alhula ; the other is 
the so-called "White Mullet," Mugil brasiliensis. The former is the 
larger, and has eight instead of nine rays in the anal fin, and forty-two 
instead of thirty-eight scales between the gill openings and the base of the 
caudal fin. There has been so much confusion among writers regarding 
the species of this family upon our coast that it has until very recently 
been impossible to define precisely their geographical range. The 
Striped Mullet occurs in the West Indies, the Gulf, and from Lower Cali- 
fornia to Peru. A single specimen of M. brasiliensis, was taken at 
Provincetown, in November, 1851. North of New Jersey the capture of 
a large individual is very unusual. In July great numbers of them, about 
an inch in length, have been observed on the Connecticut coast, especially 
in the vicinity of Noank ; the fishermen there call them by the name of 


" Bluefish Mummichog." On various parts of the coast they have special 
names, which, however, do not appear to refer to special peculiarities. 
About Cape Hatteras the names " Jumping Mullet " and " Sand Mullet " 
occur; in Northampton County, Va., "Fat-back," and in Southeastern 
Florida "Silver Mullet" and "Big-eyed Mullet." The name "Fat- 
back " is also in use, but whether this name is used for Mullets in general, 
or simply for those in particularly good condition, I have been unable to 
learn. In the Gulf of Mexico the Striped Mullet is known simply as the 
" Mullet"; the other species as the " Silver Mullet." 

There are seventy or more species of Mullets, some of which are 
found on every stretch of coast line in the world in the temperate and 
tropical zones. They live in the sea, and in the brackish waters near the 
mouths of rivers. They, like the menhaden, though indeed to a still 
greater degree, subsist on the organic substances which are mingled with 
the mud and sand on the bottom. 

In order to prevent the larger bodies from passing into the stomach, or 
substances from passing through the gill openings, they have the organs of 
the pharynx modified into a filtering apparatus. They take in a quantity 
of sand and mud, and after having worked it for some time between the 
pharyngeal bones, they eject the roughest and most indigestible portion of 
it. Each bronchial arch is provided on each side, in its whole length, 
Avith a series of closely set gill-rakers, which are laterally bent downward, 
each series closely fitting into the series of the adjoining arch ; these con- 
stitute together a sieve, admirably adapted to permit a transit for the 
water, retaining, at the same time, every other substance in the cavity of 
the pharynx. The intestinal tract is no less peculiar, and the stomach, 
like that of the menhaden, resembles the gizzard of a bird. The intestines 
make a great number of circumvolutions, and are seven feet long in a 
specimen thirteen inches in length. 

Although Mullets are abundant almost everywhere, it is probable that no 
stretches of sea-coast in the world are so bountifully supplied with them 
as those of our own Southern Atlantic and Gulf States, with their broad 
margin of partially or entirely land-locked brackish water and the numerous 
estuaries and broad river mouths. The m.ullet is probably tlie most 
generally popular and the most abundant fish of our own whole southern 
seaboard. Like the menhaden, it utilizes food inaccessible to other fishes, 
groping in the bottom mud, which it swallows in large quantities. Like 


the menhaden, it is not only caught extensively by man, but is the main 
article of food for all the larger fishes, and is the best bait fish of llie 
regions in which it occurs. In the discussion of the habits of the Mullet, 
when it is not otherwise stated, the Striped Mullet, which is in our waters 
by far the most important species, is kept chiefly in mind. 

Since the time of Capt. John Smith every observer has remarked ujion 
the great abundance of Mullets. Numerous correspondents of the Fish 
Commission, from Wilmington south, agree that the Mullet is far more 
abundant than any other species, except Mr. Simpson, who thinks that at 
Cape Hatteras they are less numerous than the tailors or blue-fish, and 
about as numerous as the fat-backs or menhaden. 

In 1875 circulars were sent out by the United States Fish Commission, 
asking information concerning the habits of the Mullet. The replies, 
although suggestive, were not sufficiently numerous to afford the data 
necessary for a complete biography of this species. In fact its habits are 
so peculiar that in order to understand them it will be necessary for some 
naturalist to devote a considerable period of time to study them through- 
out the whole extent of their range. At present, therefore, I propose to 
present first the results of my own observations upon this fish, as it occurs 
in Eastern Florida, supplementing them with the excellent study of the 
Gulf Mullet from the pen of Mr. Stearns. 

Mullets abound in the St. John's River, sometimes running up to the 
lakes, and along the coast in all the inland bays, or " salt-water rivers." 
It is probably incorrect to call them anadromous. They ajjpear to ascend 
the rivers to feed, and the relative saltness of the water is a matter of 
small importance. Small mullet are abundant all the year round, and so 
are scattered individuals of a larger size. Cast-nets at Mayport take 
them throughout the year. I have taken quantities of small fish, from one 
to five inches long, in the St. John's near Arlington. They begin to 
assemble in schools in midsummer. This is probably preparatory to 
spawning, for at this time the ova are beginning to mature. In midsum- 
mer they swim at the surface, pursued by enemies in the water and the air, 
and are an easy prey to the fishermen. They prefer to swim against the 
wind, and, I am told, school best with a northeast wind. They also ]Dre- 
fer to run against the tide. The spawning season appears to continue 
from the middle of November to the middle of Januarv, and the weight 
of evidence tends to show that they spawn in brackish or salt water. 


Some of the fishermen say that they go on the mud-flats and oyster-beds 
at the mouth of the river to deposit their eggs. What becomes of them 
after this no one seems to know, but it is probable that they spread them- 
selves throughout all the adjacent rivers, bays, and sounds, in such a 
manner as not to be perceptible to the fishermen, who make no effort at 
this time to secure the spent, lean fish. Many of them probably find 
their way to the lakes, and others remain Avherever they find good feeding 
ground, gathering flesh and recruiting strength for the great strain of the 
next spawning season. There is no evidence of any northern or southern 
coastwise migrations, the habits of the species apparently being very local. 

The fisherman recognizes three distinct periods of schooling or separate 
runs of mullet. To what extent these are founded on tradition, or upon 
the necessity of change in the size of the mesh of their nets, it is impossi- 
ble to say. The "June Mullet" average about five to the pound ; the 
'* Fat Mullet," which are taken from August 20 to October i, weigh 
about two pounds ; these have, the fishermen say, a " roe of fat " on each 
side as thick as a man's thumb. The "Roe Mullet" weigh about two 
and a half pounds, and are caught in November and until Christmas. 
Between the seasons of "Fat Mullet" and "Roe ISIullet " there is an 
intermission of two or three weeks in the fishing. How to interpret these 
curious statements is surely a difficult problem, and one which can be 
solved only by careful study of the fishes themselves at these seasons. The 
fishermen insist that these schools come successively down the river and 
proceed directly out to sea. They will not believe that the " Fat Mullet " 
and the "Roe Mullet" are the same schools under different circum- 
stances. I would hazard the suggestion that the "Fat Mullet" of 
September are the breeding fish of November, with roes in an immature 
state, the ova not having become fully differentiated. 

The largest fish appear rarely to exceed six pounds. This is exceptional, 
however. ]\Ir. W. H. Tate, of Melton &: Co., Jacksonville, tells me that 
he never saw one exceeding seven pounds, though he had heard of one 
weighing fourteen. He showed me on the floor of the fish-market a line 
indicating the length of a very large one ; this measured twenty-nine 
inches. At Mayport none had been seen exceeding six pounds in weight. 
At the mouth of the St. John's cast-nets ten feet in diameter are used, 
but most Mullet are taken in gill-nets, which are swept around the 
schools, the fish being easilv \'isible at the surface. These nets are from 


seventy to ninety fathoms long and forty meshes deep. The size of the 
mesh varies with the season. Very few are used from December to July, 
but where they are used the mesh two and one-half to two and three- 
quarters inches is preferred ; from August i to October i, for " Fat Mul- 
let," the mesh is three and one-half to three and three-quarters inches, 
and in late October, November, and December, for "Roe Mullet," four 
inches — at least so said my informant, an intelligent negro fisherman. 
At Mayport there were in 1SS5 two sweep-seines, seventy-five fathoms long 
and thirty feet deep, belonging to Kemp, Mead & Smith, used in the Mullet 

There is a large trade in fresh Mullet iced, of the extent of which I 
could gain but little idea ; they are shipped chiefly to Central Florida and 
Georgia. Some have been sent in ice to Atlanta. About twenty thous- 
and are shipped from Yellow Bluffs, by way of Jacksonville. 

It is the general opinion of the fishermen that the Mullet have greatly 
diminished in abundance of late years, and that they are not one-third as 
plenty as they were ten years ago. This falling off is attributed to the 
presence of steamers, to the changes of the season, and, most of all, to the 
use of small-meshed seines, which catch the young fish in great numbers, 
and to the constant' fishing by numerous nets, which destroys a large 
proportion of the mother-fish from year to year. Mr. Isaac Calsam, of 
New Berlin, told me that ten or twelve years ago a man with a cast-net 
could easily take four or five hundred Mullet in a day, while now it is 
difficult to get any ; this is due in part to their shyness. Mullet were 
comparatively scarce in the St. John's in 1S77, though plenty in 1S76. 
The fishermen with whom I have talked favor the passage of laws pro- 
hibiting the use of gill-nets with a smaller mesh than three inches, and 
thus to allow the escape of the young fish, and of a close time during 
which fishing shall cease — for instance from Saturday night to Monday 
morning. And then they say, with a regretful shake of the head, that the 
Mullet always run best on Sunday. There are probably one hundred or 
more ^lullet nets on the St. John's, yielding an average of perhaps five 
thousand Mullet each annually. The fisheries are chiefly carried on by 
negroes in small boats, dug-outs, and skiffs, although every resident fishes 
for Mullet in summer when there is nothing else to do, and when the 
Mulkt is the best food and the easiest obtained. There is no salting 
business of commercial importance in East Florida, though considerable 



quantities are put up for domestic consumption. Salt Mullet sell at the 
rate of eight or ten dollars a barrel, or five or six fish for twenty-five cents. 
I had an opportunity of tasting some salted by a negro at Mill Cove, and 
can bear testimony to their excellence. Their flavor is more like that of 
salted salmon than of mackerel, and they are hard, toothsome, and 
not at all "muddy" in taste, this last being the usual charge made 
against the Mullet. Usually only the "Fat Mullet" are salted, the 
" Roe Mullet " being caught later in the season, when they can easily be 

To prepare a Mullet for salting, the head is first cut off, then a cut is 
made on each side of the back-bone, down the back, and the bone is 
removed ; the fish may then be spread out flat, and packed in a barrel. 
In packing, the flesh side is carefully placed up, the skin down. The 
fish are spread out flat upon the skin side and are laid in tiers across the 
bottom of the barrel, each tier being covered with salt. Care is taken to 
have the direction of the bodies in the diff'erent tiers at right angles to 
each other. When the Mullet are scaled before packing they command a 
somewhat higher price. Mullet roes, though usually eaten fresh, are 
sometimes salted and dried in the sun. In this condition they are eaten 
raw, like dried beef, or are fried. Large ones sell for ten cents a pair. 
Fishermen often boil the heads to extract the oil, which they use to lubri- 
cate their guns. 

Mr. Silas Stearns has prepared a most valuable study of the habits of 
the Mullet, and writes as follows : 

" The Mullet is one of the most abundant and valuable food-fishes of the 
Gulf coast. It is jn-esent on the coast and in the estuaries of the Gulf 
throughout the year, and in most places is pursued by fishermen at all 
seasons, yet, for so common and important a fish, its habits seem to be 
but little known or understood. Intelligent fishermen of long experience 
at particular points have learned many details regarding their local 
movements, which may disagree in many respects with those at some 
other point a hundred miles or so away. A few months spent on the 
southern part of the Florida coast has led me to believe that there is a 
less migratory movement of Mullet in that section than along the northern 
Gulf coast. It is i)robable that in each l)ay or section or coast Mullet 
have peculiar habits as to time and manner of arrival, time and j)lace of 
spawning, and the general habits of old fish after spawning and young 


after liatching. It is also likely that their manner of sjmwningand feed- 
ing is the same everywhere. My own observations have been chiefly 
made in Pensacola and Choctowhatchee Bays and Santa Rosa Sound, 
■which take in fifty miles of coast line. In this section, which I have called 
the Pensacola region, there is a spring ' run ' of Mullet composed of 
various sizes of young which are in part, no doubt, of the previous year's 
hatching. The first school of this run api)ears on the coast in April or in 
the first part of May, and they continue to come for two or three weeks, 
when they are all inside and scattered about the bay shores. These fish 
are very thin on their arrival, but rapidly fatten and grow on the feeding 
grounds. Some of these contain spawn at first, and in some it is developed 
during the summer. 

" In September and October there is a ' run ' of large fish, which comes, 
as usual from the eastward, the fish swimming at the surface of the 
water and making considerable commotion. Some years there is but one 
large school in the ' run ' and at others many small schools, and it is 
thought that the fish are more abundant when they come in the latter 
form. At Chotawhatchee Inlet, when the spawning grounds are near by, 
the fish come in with the flood tide and go out again with the ebb tide ; 
and at the Pensacola Inlet, when the spawning grounds are far away, they 
come into the bay and stay until the operation of spawning is over. The 
spawn in this fall ' run ' is fully developed, and is deposited in October 
and November. The spawning grounds are in fresh or brackish water at the 
heads of bayous, in rivers or heads of bays. The many bayous of Choc- 
tawhatchee Bay are almost blocked up with spawning Mullet in October, 
and they are very abundant at the head of Pensacola Bay near the mouths 
of fresh-water rivers at that time. Although I have been in the bayous 
when Mullet were supposed to be spawning, I have not witnessed the 
operation, nor seen any person who has. In such places the bottom is 
grassy, sandy, and muddy, the water varying with the tide from t>esh to 
brackish, and of a temperature varying from 70° to 75° F. It is sup- 
posed that the spawn is deposited upon the bottom. If they have been 
spawning at the times when I have been present, I would say that the 
operation was a general one. That they do spawn at or near these places 
is quite certain, for they go to them with spawn and come away without 
it, and the young fry first appear near the same places. Crabs and alli- 
gators are abundant in such places, and they doubtless destroy many 


of the eggs and fry. Before spawning Mullet are very fat, but after the 
operation are extremely thin and worthless for food. Their colors also 
undergo some changes, at sea being bright blue on the back, which 
deepens to a light brown in the bays and to a dark brown in fresh water. 
By these characteristics it is not difficult to determine the locality where a 
lot of Mullet are caught. 

" Some persons of this coast agree that Mullet, or any other sea-fish, will 
not bear sudden change from salt to fresh water, and to meet this argu- 
ment I made an experiment with Mullet in 1S79. I took a dozen or more 
medium-sized Mullet from the warm shoal water of the bay and placed 
them in cool, fresh spring water. They swam around very rapidly for 
about half an hour, then sank to the bottom of the spring, where they 
remained, apparently comfortable, for twelve hours. Before leaving the 
spring I returned them to their native waters, seemingly in as good con- 
dition as when first caught. The bay water was at that time 77° F. and 
the spring water 71° F., a difference of 6° and a change from pure salt 
to pure fresh water. 

'•'After spawning, in October and November, the Mullet leaves these 
bays in small schools, going directly to deep water if the weather is 
stormy, and following the beach along if there is not much surf. Those 
that have been in the bays all the summer leave also at about this time, 
many of them having spawned at the same time with the full 'run.' A 
few of these, having just reached maturity, are found with spawn nearly 
all winter ; also, some young stragglers. In February, March, and 
April young Mullet, varying from one to two and a half inches long, are 
found in great abundance along the bay shores. Mullet grow to about 
eight inches in length the first year, to twelve or thirteen inches the second 
year, when they are mature. The average size of adults is twelve inches 
in length, weight about one and a quarter pounds. The largest I have seen 
measured twenty inches long and weighed four and a half pounds. It was 
caught at Charlotte Harbor, Fla. Mullet of that size are extremely rare 
in West Florida. Those of South Florida are much larger, as a rule, than 
those found further north. There they are also far more abundant than 
on the coasts of West Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and 

" In October, Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota and Palmasola Bays, seem to be 
the headquarters of all the Mullet of the Gulf. Tampa Bay, Anclote 


River, Homosassa River and vicinity, are also favorite sjtawning jjlaces. 
During the fall they move in such immense schools that the noise of tlieir 
splashing in the water resembles distant thunder; and to persons living 
near the river or bay, their noise, kept up day and night, becoming very 
annoying. These schools are followed by large numbers of sharks, por- 
poises, and other destructive fishes, as well as pelicans and like sea-birds, 
all of which eat of the Mullet until they can eat no more, and have to 
make way for fresh arrivals. In spite of these enemies and those of the 
eggs and fry. Mullet are as plentiful as formerly, according to the general 
opinion of the fishermen of the coast." 

The Mullet is a bottom-feeding fish, and prefers still, shoal water with 
grassy and sandy bottom. It swims along the bottom, head down, now and 
then taking a mouthful of earth, which is partially culled over in the mouth, 
the microscopic particles of animal matter or vegetable matter retained, 
and the refuse expelled. When one fish finds a spot rich in their desired 
food, its companions immediately flock around in a manner that reminds 
one of barn-yard fowls feeding from one dish. The Mullet eats very 
little compared with other fish of its size. It preys on no other fish, and 
is preyed upon by nearly all other common fishes larger than itself. It 
does not readily take the hook, but can sometimes be caught with a bait 
of banana, or one manufactured from cotton and flour. It is the most 
widely distributed fish of the Gulf of INIexico, being found on the sea- 
beach everywhere, in all the bays and sound, and even far up fresh-water 
rivers and in fresh-water lakes that have outlets. 

Concerning the other species of Mullet, Miigil brasiliensis, as occurring 
in the Gulf, Mr. Stearns writes : 

"It is common, and is found in company with the Mi/gil albiila and 
usually considered with it, and the old fishermen of Pensacola distin- 
guished it and have given it the above name. I have found spawn in 
them in May and June. On the southern coast they are very abundant, 
and appear in Key West almost daily in the fall and winter." 

" On the California coast occurs J///^'-// <7//^//!A?," writes Prof. Jordan, 
"which is commonly known as the 'Mullet.' It reaches a length of 
about fifteen inches. It is very abundant about San Diego, and thence 
south to Mazatlan, and it ranges occasionally northward as far as Monte- 
rey. It enters creeks and lagoons, ascending as far as the brackish 
water extends, in the winter, and thus is often land-locked in great 
numbers, which are then destroyed by the sea-birds, especially by the 
pelicans, and a few are taken in seines. It swims in schools in the bays, 



and its presence is made known by its frequent leaps from the water. It 
is said that the Mullet has long been known at San Diego, but that it first 
made its appearance at San Pedro in 1S77. It is not well known either at 
Santa Barbara or Soquel, although occasionally taken at both places. 
Those fishermen who have given the matter any attention assert that the 
Mullet is gradually extending its range northward. It feeds on mud and 
minute organisms contained in it. It is considered a good food-fish when 
taken from the ocean. In the muddy lagoons it acquires in summer a 
rank flavor.' ' 

The Mullet of America compared to the Grey Mullet of Europe, must 
be carefully distinguished from the Miillus of classical literature. 


This fish, the Red Mullet or Surmullet of modern nomenclature was the- 
favorite of the gourmets of ancient Athens and Rome. It was brought 
living into the banquet hall, that the guests might admire the brilliant 
change of color exhibited in its expiring struggles. There are two or three 
related species in our waters, one of which Upencus flavovittatus, the Goat- 
fish, is occasionally captured in New England. 


On the white sand of the bottom 
Lay the monster Mishe-Nahma 
Lay the sturgeon. King of Fishes. 

Longfellow : Hia-cvatha' s Fishing. 

npWO species of Sturgeon are supposed to exist on our Atlantic coast. 
The most abundant of these, Acipcnser oxyrhynchus, is now generally 
supposed to be identical with the common Sturgeon of Europe, A. sfiirw. 
The other, A. brevirostris, which is distinguished from A. oxyrhyiiclius by 
its shorter and blunter nose, has not yet been found north of Cape Cod, 
and appears to be comparatively less abundant, although both species are 
found in great numbers in the larger rivers and estuaries during the si m- 
mer season, and are frequently seen leaping from the water, especially at 
dusk. A leaping Sturgeon is a striking object, the whole length of the 
fish appearing above the surface before it falls back with a splash into the 

The Sturgeon attains the length of five to twelve feet. In Europe, indi- 
viduals of the common Sturgeon eighteen feet long have been observed. 
They spawn in spring and early summer, in the lower stretches of the 
rivers, and perhaps also at their mouths, in brackish water. 

The mouth is situated upon the under surface of the head, and is not 
provided with teeth, but is surrounded with a cup-shaped organ composed 
of powerful muscular tissue, by means of which it grubs for its food in the 
mud. Its stomach resembles that of the menhaden and mullet, though 
comparatively more muscular, since, like the gizzard of a fowl, one of its 
uses is to triturate the food which has been swallowed, and which consists 
largely of mollusks, and crustaceans. Around the mouth is a group of 
large and sensitive tentacles, which aid the fish in its search for food. 

No one has yet made a careful study of the habits of the Sturgeon in our 
waters, and in fact European zoologists have made little progress in the 
study of the species of the Old World. 

Within the past few years the capture of the Sturgeon for smoking and 
for the manufacture of caviare from its eggs has attained considerable 
importance on the Atlantic coast. The most satisfactory discussion of this 
fish is that published by Milner in Part II, of the Report of the United 
States Fish Commission, pages 67 to 75. 



Don't talk to me o' bacon fat 
Or taters, coon or 'possum, 
Fo' when I'se hooked a yaller cat 
I'se got a meal to boss 'em. 

Tlie Darky and the Catfish. 

'"T^HE Catfish is somewhat like pate dc foic gras or pickled olives. 
^ Those who do not very much like it detest it. The metropolis of its 
popularity is Philadelphia, but whenever taken from clear, cool water it is 
palatable, and when properly cooked even delicious, its texture and flavor 
resembling that of the eel. Since every small boy begins his angling ex- 
periences with Catfish, instructions for its capture would be superfluous. Its 
appetite is always good, and its palate, or Avhatever stands for palate in 
fish architecture, by no means delicate. A spice of danger attends its 
capture, and perhaps the excitement of taking one of them off the hook. 
atones in part for its lack of gameness in the water, for a well constituted 
catfish always gorges the hook, and its spines, always erected, inflict pain- 
ful wounds. Certain anglers I believe, essay the capture of catfish with 
fly and fancy tackle. It would be cruel to deprive ingenious tyros of 
the privilege of learning this method for themselves. 

I am assured that salt mackerel is almost as good a bait as angle-worms 
or live minnows — a secret of great economic importance to small boys. 
Another secret is this, that the catfish never bites when an east wind is 


I am indebted to President Jordan of Indiana University, for the 
following remarks upon this group : 

"The Catfishes abound in all the fresh waters of the United States east 
of the Rocky Mountains. The species of the three genera, Ictalurus, 
Amiiiriis, and Lcpfops, which constitute the bulk of the family as repre- 
sented in North America, all reach a length of from one to five feet, and 
are all food-fishes of more or less importance. One of the Catfishes, 
Ictaliirus pondcrosits, is our largest fresh-water fish, weighing upwards of 
one hundred and fifty pounds, and two of the others, Leptops olivaris and 
Ictahiriis nigricans, reach a very considerable size. 

"The Catfishes are voracious and indiscriminate feeders, any kind of 
animal substance, living or dead, being greedily swallowed by them. 
They are also (especially the species of Aniiiinis) extremely tenacious of 
life, living for a long time out of water, and being able to resist impurities 
in the water better than any other of our food-fishes. They spawn in 
spring, and the female fish keeps a watch over the school of young, much 
as a hen takes care of chickens. The Catfishes are especially adapted for 
stocking ponds and sluggish streams with muddy bottoms, which become 
partly dry in summer, bodies of water not suited for the more aris'tocratic 
trout and bass. 

" The species of the genus Ictalurus — known as " Channel Cats " are 
much less hardy than the other Catfishes, and do not thrive well except in 
river channels. Any water which does not dry up absolutely to the 
bottom in summer will suffice to nurture the common small Catfishes. 

" The flesh of all the Catfishes is of fair quality, not delicate nor tender, 
but of good flavor. The Channel Cats have whiter meat than the ordinary 
small Catfish, but the flesh is drier, and the latter are usually preferred." 

The Channel Cat or Blue Cat, Ictalurus punctatus, abounds in all the 
larger Western and Southern streams, living in the river channels. It 
reaches a weight of five to ten pounds and is readily salable, but its flesh 
is not better than that of its less attractive relatives. It takes the hook 
readily. This species is abundant in the St. John's River, Florida. In 
1878 many were taken near the bar at Mayport in brackish water. For 
table use they are much more highly esteemed than the Mud Catfish. 

The Great Mississippi Cat, Ictalurus ponderosus, the largest of our Cat- 
fish, is found in the Mississippi, and probably in its larger tributaries, 
where it reaches a weight of about one hundred and fifty pounds. Little 
distinctive is known of its habits, which probably agree with those of the 
next species. 

The Great Lake Catfish, Ictalurus nigricans, the most abundant of the 
large Catfishes, abounds m the Great Lakes and in the larger streams of 


the West and South as far as Florida. It reaches a weight of fifty to one 
hundred pounds, perhaps more. In all the markets of the region where 
found it is one of the most important species, and its flesh, which can be 
cut in "steaks" like Halibut, is generally esteemed. Nothing distinctive 
is known of its breeding habits or rate of growth. Prof. Goode remarks : 
" I have observed frequently enormous specimens of this species in the St. 
John's River, where they are called Mud Cats. The young are sometimes 
called "Flannel-Mouth Cats." 

The White Catfish, the Channel Cat of the Potomac, Ictalurus albidus, 
of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, is very abundant in the Susque- 
hanna and Potomac Rivers, and forms an important part of the fish 
supply of the Washington market. It reaches a weight of two to five 
pounds, being much smaller than the preceding species, which it resembles. 

Amiiims nebulosiis, the common " Horned Pout," "Bull-head," " Bull- 
230ut," or "Minister" of the Northern and Eastern States is the most 
generally abundant and familiar representatives of this family. It reaches 
a length of about eighteen inches and rarely exceeds three or four pounds 
in weight, while the majority of those seen in the markets are still smaller. 
It is probably the hardiest of all our fresh-water fishes, thriving in any 
waters, but preferring those which are quiet and shaded. Numerous other 
species very similar to this occur in our fresh waters. 

The Bull-head has been introduced from the Schuylkill into the Sacra- 
mento and San Joaquin Rivers in California. It has there very rapidly 
multiplied, and is now common in all the sloughs and bayous of the lower 
courses of these rivers. As a food-fish it is not very- highly valued by the 
Californians, most of those brought to market being taken by the Chinese. 
Leptops olivaris, the "Mud Cat," "Yellow Cat," "Goujon," or 
"Bashaw" is found in all the large rivers of the West and South. It 
reaches a weight of at least fifty pounds. It is found only in the larger 
streams, swimming near the bottom. It is less attractive in its appearance 
than the other Catfishes, but we are not aware that its flesh is inferior to 
that of the others. This species, and other of the larger Catfishes, are 
often caught by "jugging," the bait being attached to a jug filled with 
air, which will in time tire out the fish and bring it to the surface. 

The Stone Cat, Noturus flaviis , reaches a length of about a foot; the 
other Stone Cats {Noturus) are still smaller, and none of them can be 
considered as food-fishes. 



The Gaff-topsail Catfish, ^luriclitJiys marimts, which ranges from Cape 
Cod to Florida, is found chiefly in brackish water. It is not uncommonly- 
taken at Arlington, Florida, and Empire Point. It is known here and at 
Pensacola as the "Sea Cat," and at Brunswick, Ga., as "Gaff-topsail," 
in allusion to the shape of the first dorsal fin. According to Mr. H. S. 
Williams, it is abundant in the Indian River. It is common also along 
the Gulf coast, but is nowhere valued as food. ISIany of the fishermen 
believe this species to be viviparous. IMr. S. C. Clarke, writing from New 
Smyrna, March 31, 1874, remarks: "They have eggs in them as large as 


The Salt-water Catfish, ^/7//j/^//j-, is found along the coasts of the Gulf 
of Mexico to as far north as Cape Hatteras. In the first volume of the 
Proceedings of the United States National Museum, p. 2 78, is an interest- 
ing account of its breeding habits, as observed by Prof. N. T. Lupton. 
The species spawns there in July, and the parent (sex not stated) carries 
the eggs in its mouth. Silas Stearns says of this fish : 

" The Salt-water Catfish is very abundant everywhere on the Gulf coast. 
It is found on the sea-beaches, the shores and bottoms of bays and bayous, 
and even some distance up fresh-water streams. It is a bottom-loving 
fish, feeding upon worms and small crustaceans chiefly, but will readily 
eat anything else — fish, flesh, or fowl, dead or alive, As the pest of these 
waters, it is ever present and never welcome. It breeds in the summer, 
in June, July, and xVugust. The spawn is deposited in the depression in 
the sand "and impregnated with the milt. One of the parent fish then 
takes the eggs in his mouth and by some movement fixes them against the 
gills, or between the leaves of the gills. The eggs are carried in this 
position until the embyro fish are hatched and have become perfect and 
able to care for themselves. The eggs when full size resemble white 
grapes ; they are large and clear. Sometimes the parent fish's jaws are 
much distended by the eggs and young inside, and its appearance is 


The Catfish has been introduced in Europe, and in Belgium is already 
fairly well acclimated. Attempts have been made to introduce it into 
England — an act of international courtesy which might perhaps offset in 
a slight degree our debt to our motherland for the gift of the English 
Sparrow. PuucJi in this connection has made his only contribution to the 
literature offish culture under the caption : — 


Oh do not bring the Catfish here ! 
The Catfish is a name of fear. 

Oh, spare each stream and spring. 
The Kennet Swift, the Wandle clear, 
The lake, the loch, the broad, the mere. 

From that detested thing ! 

The Catfish is a hideous beast, 
A bottom-feeder that doth feast 

Upon unholy bait : 
He's no addition to your meal. 
He's rather richer than the eel; 

And ranker than the skate. 

His face is broad, and flat, and glum ; 
He's like some monstrous miller's thumb ; 

He's bearded like the pard. 
Beholding him the grayling flee. 
The trout take refuge in the sea, 

The gudgeons go on guard ! 

He grows into a startling size ; 

The British matron 'twould surprise. 

And raise her burning blush. 
To see white catfish, large as man, 
Through what the bards call " water wan " 

Come with an ugly rush ! 

They say the catfish climbs the trees, 

And robs the roosts, and, down the breeze, 

Prolongs his catterwaul. 
Ah, leave him in his western flood, 
Where INIississippi churns the mud ; 

Don't bring him here at all ! 

1 ^ /#ii'AteiiMMMSP 



But why, good fisherman. 

Am I thought meat for you, that never yet 

Had angling rod cast towards me ? 

MiDDLETON AND DeKKAR: Jllcii Cllt PurSC, 161I. 

Between dark hills on cither side 
The salt sea-loch runs for a mile, 
And now, sun-charmed to a smile, 
Gleams bright its flowing frothing tide. 
But lo ! each wave to silver turns 
In dazzling fire the whole loch burns, 
Millions of Herring dart and splash 
Each one a living lightning flash. 

William Sharp: A Herring Shoal, iS 

'T^HE Herring family contributes more generously than any other group 
of aquatic animals to the support of man, and the Herring is beyond 
question the most important of food-fishes. Distributed throughout the 
whole of the North Atlantic, it affords occupation for immense fleets of 
fishing boats, and, according to Huxley, the number taken every year 
out of the North Sea and Atlantic is at least 3,000,000,000 with a weight 
of at least 1,500,000,000 pounds. According to Dambeck, the average 
yield in Norway from i860 to 1870 amounted to 1,452,000,000 pounds. 
Holdsworth placed the yield of Scotland in 1873 at 188,000,000 pounds, 
their capture requiring 15,095 boats with crews of 45,494 men. In the 
same period in the English fisheries he states that 15,321 boats were used. 
France, Ireland and Belgium have also Herring fisheries of considerable 
extent, and Germany in less degree. In 1874, according to compilations 
and estimates of Prof. Hind, 200,000,000 pounds of Herring were taken 


in the waters of British North America, and in iSSo nearly 43,000,000 
pounds were obtained on the east coast of the United States. Summing 
up the aggregate of these statements and estimates, and allowing to Ire- 
land, Belgium, Germany and France, a product equal to that cited for 
Scotland, we have an aggregate of 250,000,000 pounds. 

Commenting upon the supposed injurious effect of the fisheries upon the 
abundance of this fish. Prof. Huxley in his well-known lecture upon the 
Herring, delivered at the International Fishery Exhibition at Norwich in 
1 88 1, remarked as follows: 

" It is said that 2,500,000,000, or thereabout, of Herrings are every 
year taken out of the North Sea and the Atlantic. Suppose we assume the 
number to be 3.000,000,000, so as to be quite safe. It is a large number, 
undoubtedly, but what does it come to? Not more than that of the Her- 
rings which may be contained in one shoal, if it covers half a dozen square 
miles, and shoals of much larger size are on record. It is safe to say that 
scattered through the North Sea and the Atlantic, at one and the same 
time, there must be scores of shoals, any one of which would go a long way 
toward supplying the whole of man's consumption of Herrings.'" 

So well known was the Herring, from the earliest days, to the inhabi- 
tants of Northern Europe and to their descendants who migrated to the 
western shores of the Atlantic, that one name serves to designate the fish 
in the languages of a majority of the peoples to whom it is known. Its 
name in English, German, and Dutch, though differently spelled, is 
pronounced in exactly the same way. To the Scandinavians it is known 
by the name " Sill." France in the name Clupee employs a form of the 
Latin for fishes of this group by which the same fish is known to these 
nations when described in the language of their men of science. There 
are also local names to designate certain conditions and ages. To this 
class belongs the name "Sperling," employed by our own fishermen of 
Cape Ann to denote the young Herrings. Corresponding to this name 
the word " Stromming " is used in Sweden. 

The Herring is found in the temperate and colder parts of the North 
Atlantic. On the west, its range extends south to Sandy Hook, at the 
entrance of New York Harbor, where it is found occasionally in mid- 
winter, and on the north as far as Northern Labrador, diminishing in 
numbers perhaps toward the northern extreme. On the east its southern 
limit is in the vicinity of the Bay of Biscay, while northward it is found 
in the White Sea and on the southern shores of Spitzbergen. It of course 


does not enter the Mediterranean, though it is abundant in the North 
Sea and in the Baltic. 

The temperature preferred by the Herring has been more carefully 
determined in Europe than here. The observations of the Scotch and 
Dutch meteorological societies have demonstrated that the temperature 
of the water most favorable to the summer Herrihg fisheries of their 
respective countries is about 5 5°. 4 F., though during the Scotch winter 
fisheries the temperature ranges from 40°.! F. , and during the Norwegian 
spring Herring fisheries it ranges from 3 7°. 4 F. to 39°. 2 F. 

Discussing the causes of the movements of the Herring schools, Prof. 
Baird in 1877 wrote as follows. 

" Although the movements of the Herring appear to be very capricious, 
they are doubtless governed as much by well-defined laws as any other 
portion of creation, although we are yet tar from understanding fully the 
conditions which control their actions. They sometimes frequent a por- 
tion of the European coast for many successive years, and then abandon 
it gradually or suddenly, presenting themselves usually at the same season 
in some far remote locality. Sometimes a wind blowing on shore will 
favor their inward migration ; at other times it appears to have a directly 
opposite effect. Even when they reach the portion of the coast for which 
they are bound, the facilities of their capture depend upon meteorological 
conditions ; and the Scottish Meteorological Society has been engaged for 
several years in ascertaining what these are, and how they may be best 
applied by the fishermen." 

So far as is known, the abundance of Herrings in the Western Atlantic 
has been constant during the past two centuries ; at the same time so 
little is our fishing population dependent on the Herring fisheries when 
compared with that of Northern Europe that variations in abundance not 
being regarded as national disasters would, except perhaps, in the case of 
Newfoundland, scarcely have been placed definitely upon record. 

Prof. Baird' s remarks concerning the periodicity of the Herring supply 
in Northern Europe, may be found in the Quarto Fisheries Report. 

There are several interesting series of observations upon the spawning 
habits of the Herring, the hatching of the *tgg, and the development of 
the young ; all of which may be found in the later volumes of the Report 
of the United States Commissioner of Fisheries, and in Prof. Huxley's 
lecture on the Herring. 

In the spring of 1S7S the first successful experiments in the artificial 


propagation of Herring were carried on in Germany by Dr. H. A. jNIeyer, 
of the Commission for Scientific Investigation of the German Seas, at Kiel, 
and in the fall of the same year by Mr. R. E. Earll, of the United States 
Fish Commission, at Gloucester. A translation of Dr. Meyer's paper may 
be found in the United States Fish Commission Report, part vi, pp. 629- 
(i2i^, and a brief summation of Mr. Earll' s experiments in the same 
volume, pp. 727-729. 

Much has been written upon the food of the Herring, and the transla- 
tion from an article in " Die Natur," No. 47, 1869, printed in the quarto 
Report of the U. S. Fish Commission, expounds in a very satisfactory man- 
ner recent views of European authorities upon the subject. 

The methods of capture of the Herring are fully described in the publi- 
cations of the Fish Commission, but being always of a commercial 
character will not be referred to here. The Herring fishery is as yet of 
comparatively small importance in America, but is constantly increasing, 
and in time will without doubt, approximate in extent that of Northern 
Europe, especially after our countrymen shall have begun to pay attention 
to the now multiplying resources of our Pacific coast, where there are at 
least two species sufficiently abundant to be of value to fishermen. 

" One of these, Cliipca viirabilis, is universally known as the Herring," 
v/rites Prof. Jordan. It indeed scarcely differs in size, appearance, or 
qualities from the Herring of the Atlantic. It reaches a length of about 
a foot. It is found for the entire length of the coast, being exceedingly 
abundant northward. All the bay sand outlets of Puget Sound are filled 
with them in the summer. South of Point Conception they are seldom 
seen except in winter. At San Diego they spawn in the bay in January. 
Farther north their spawning season comes later. They are so abundant 
in San Francisco Bay in the spring that eighty pounds can often be bought 
for twenty cents. They are fattest and bring the best price in early winter. 
The Herrings are smoked and dried, or salted, or sent fresh to the mar- 
kets. Sometimes herring oil is expressed from them. The principal 
herring-curing establishment is at Port Madison, on Puget Sound." 

Prof. Huxley, in his Norwich address, expressed belief that the true 
Herring probably occurs in the Pacific, but there is no reason to believe 
that his supi)osition was correct. 

Still another is the California Sardine, Cliilca sagax. " This species," 
writes Prof. Jordan, "is everywhere known as the Sardine, or by the 


Italians as 'Sardina.' It is, in fart, almost exactly identical with the 
Sardine of Europe. It reaches a length of a little less than a foot. It 
ranges from Cape Mendocino to Chili, and is extremely abundant south- 
ward, especially in the winter, when it fdls all the bays. In the summer 
it is generally scarce southward, although still taken northward. The 
young are, however, seen in San Diego in the summer. It is probably to 
some extent migratory along the coast, but as little attention is paid to it, 
no definite data can be given. It is brought into the markets when taken, 
and is sold with the Herring. The question of the possibility of canning 
it in oil, like the Sardine, has been considerably discussed. It would 
probably prove unprofitable, from the high price of labor and the uncer- 
tain supply of fish." 

Far more abundant than the Herring, and occurring at times on all parts 
of our Atlantic coast, is the Menhaden, Brcvoortia tyraiimis. This species 
has at least thirty popular names, most of them limited in their use within 
narrow geographical boundaries. To this circumstance may be attributed 
the prevailing ignorance regarding its habits and migrations, among our 
fishermen, which has perhaps prevented the more extensive utilization of 
this fish, particularly in the South. 



North of Cape Cod the name " Pogy " is ahnost universall}- in use, 
while in Southern New England the fish is known only as the " Menhaden." 
These two names are derived from two Indian words of the same meaning- ; 
the first being the Abnaki name '• Pookagan," or " Poghaden," which 
means "fertilizer," while the latter is the modification of a word which 
in the Narragansett dialect meant '"that which enriches the earth." 
About Cape Ann, " Pogy " is partially replaced by " Hard-head " or 


"Hard-head Shad," and in Eastern Connecticut "Bony Fish." In 
Western Connecticut the species is usually known as the "White-fish," 
while in New York the usage of two centuries is in favor of ' ' Mossbunker. ' ' 
This name is a relic of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, having 
evidently been transferred from the "Scad," or "Horse Mackerel," 
Tractiunis laccrta, a fish which visits the shores of Northern Europe in 
immense schools, swimming at the surface in much the same manner as 
our Menhaden, and known to the Hollanders as the " Marsbanker." 
New Jersey uses the New York name with its local variations, such as 
"Bunker" and " Marshbanker." In Delaware Bay, the Potomac and 
the Chesapeake, we meet with the "Alewife," " Bay Alewife," " Pilcher " 
(Pilchard), and "Green-tail." Virginia gives us "Bug-fish," "Bug- 
head" and "Bug-shad," referring to the parasitic crustacean found in 
the mouths of all Southern Menhaden. In North Carolina occurs the 
name "Fat-back," which prevails as far south as Florida, and refers to 
the oiliness of the flesh. In this vicinity, too, the names "Yellow-tail" 
and " Yellow-tail Shad " are occasionally heard, while in Southern Florida 
the fish is called " Shiner " and " Herring." In South America, among 
the Portuguese, the name " Savega " is in use. On the St. John's River, 
and wherever Northern fishermen are found, " Menhaden " is preferred, 
and it is to be hoped that this name will in time be generally adopted. 
A number of trade names are employed by the manufacturers in New 
Jersey who can this fish for food ; these are "American Sardine," "Ameri- 
can Club-fish," "Shadine" and "Ocean Trout." 

The geographical range of Brevooriia fyraii/iiis varies from year to year. 
In 1S77 it was, so far as it is definable in words, as follows: The wander- 
ings of the species are bounded by the parallels of north latitude 25° and 
45°; on the continental side by the line of brackish water; on the east 
by the inner boundary of the Gulf Stream. In the summer it occurs in 
the coastal waters of all the Atlantic States from Maine to Florida, in 
winter only south of Cape Hatteras. The limits of its winter migration 
oceanwards cannot be defined, though it is demonstrated that the species 
does not occur about the Bermudas or Cuba, nor presumabl}- in the Carib- 
bean Sea. 

With the advance of spring, Menhaden appear near our coasts in com- 
pany with, and usually slightly in advance of, the other non-resident 
species, such as the Shad, Alewife, bluefish and squeteague. The follow- 


ing general conclusions regarding their movements are deduced from the 
statements of about two hundred observers at different points on the coasts 
from Florida to Nova Scotia. 

At the approach of settled warm weather they make their appearance in 
the inshore waters. It is manifestly impracticable to indicate the periods 
of their movements except in an approximate way. The comparison of 
two localities distant apart one or two hundred miles will indicate very 
little. When wider ranges are compared there becomes perceptible a cer- 
tain proportion in the relations of the general averages. There is always 
a balance in favor of earlier arrivals in the more southern localities ; thus 
it becomes apparent that the first schools appear in Chesapeake Bay in 
March and April ; on the coast of New Jersey in April and early INIay ; 
on the coast of New England in late April and May ; off Cape Ann about 
the middle of May, and in the Gulf of Maine in the latter part of May 
and the first of June. Returning, they leave Maine late m September or 
in October ; Massachusetts in October, November and December, the 
latest departures being those of fish which have been detained in the nar- 
row bays and Creeks ; Long Island Sound and vicinity in November and 
December ; Chesapeake Bay in December, and Cape Hatteras in January. 
Farther to the south they appear to remain more or less constantly 
throughout the year. 

The arrival of the Menhaden schools is closely synchronous with the 
period at which the weekly average of the surface temperatures of the 
harbors rises to 51° F., that they do not enter waters in which, as about 
Eastport Me., the midsummer surface temperatures, as indicated by 
monthly averages, fall below 51° F., and that their departure in the 
autumn is closely connected with the fall of the thermometer to 51'' F. 
and below. 

The arrival of the INIenhaden is announced by their appearance at the 
top of the water. They swim in immense schools, their heads close to tlie 
surface, packed side by side, and often tier above tier, almost as closely 
as sardines in a box. A gentle ripjjle indicates their ])Osition, and this 
may be seen at a distance of nearly a mile by the lookout at the masthead 
of a fishing vessel, and is of great assistance to the seiners in setting their 
nets. At the slightest alarm the school sinks toward the bottom, often 
escaping its pursuers. Sailing over a body of Menhaden swimming at a 
short distance below the surface, one may see their glittering backs 


beneath, and the boat seems to be gliding over a floor inlaid with blocks 
of silver. At night they are phosphorescent. Their motions seem capri- 
cious and Avithout a definite purpose ; at times they swim around and 
around in circles ; at other times they sink and rise. While they remain 
thus at the surface, after the appearance of a vanguard they rapidly in- 
crease in abundance until the sea appears to be alive with them. They 
delight to play in inlets and bays, such as the Chesapeake, Peconic and 
Narragansett Bays, and in former years frequented the narrow fiords cf 
Maine. They seem particularly fond of shallow waters protected from the 
wind, in which, if not molested, they will remain throughout the season,, 
drifting in and out with the tide. Brackish water attracts them, and they 
abound at the mouth of streams, especially on the Southern coast. 

Why the schools swim at the surface so conspicuous a prey to men, 
birds and other fishes is not known. It does not appear to be for the pur- 
pose of feeding ; perhaps the fisherman is right when he declares that they 
are playing. 

An old mackerel fisherman thus describes the difference in the habits of 
the mackerel and Menhaden : " Pogies school differently from mackerel; 
the Pogy slaps with his tail, and in moderate weather you can hear the 
sound of a school of them, as first one and then another strikes the water. 
The mackerel go along " gilling," that is, putting the sides of their heads 
out of the water as they swim. The Pogies make a flapping sound ; the 
mackerel a rushing sound. Sometimes in calm and foggy weather you can 
hear a school of mackerel miles away." They do not attract small birds 
as do the schools of predaceous fish. The fish-hawk often hovers above 
them, and some of the larger gulls occasionally follow them in quest of a 

Their winter habitat, like that of the other cold-water absentees, has 
never been determined. The most plausible hypothesis supposes that 
instead of migrating towards the tropics or hibernating near the shore, as 
has been claimed by many, they swim out to sea until they find a stratum 
of water corresponding to that frequented by them during their summer 
sojourn on the coast. 

As indicated by the testimony of many observers, whose statements are 
elsewhere reviewed at length, the Menhaden is by far the most abundant 
species of fish on the eastern coast of the United States. Several hundred 
thousands are frequently taken in a single draft of a purse-seine. A firm 


in Milford, Conn., captured in 1870,8,800,000; in 1S71, 8,000,000; in 
1872, 10,000.000 ; in 1873, 12,000,000. In 1877 three sloops from New 
London seined 13,000,000. In 1S77, an unprofitable year, thePemaquid Oil 
Company took 20,000,000, and the town of Booth Bay alone 50,000,000. 
There is no evidence whatever of any decrease in their numbers, though 
there can be in the nature of the case absolutely no data for comparison 
of their abundance in successive" years. Since spawning Menhaden are 
never taken in the nets, no one can reasonably predict a decrease in the 

The nature of their food has been closely investigated. Hundreds of 
specimens have been dissected, and every stomach examined by me has 
been found full of dark greenish or brownish mud or silt, such as occurs 
near the mouths of rivers and on the bottoms of still bays and estuaries. 
When this mud is allowed to stand for a time in clear water, this becomes 
slightly tinged with green, indicating the presence of chlorophyl, perhaps 
derived from the algce, so common on muddy bottoms. In addition to 
particles of fine mud the microsco^De reveals a few common forms of 

There are no teeth in the mouth of the Menhaden, their place being 
supplied by about fifteen hundred thread-like bristles, from one-third to 
three-quarters of an inch long, which are attached to the gill-arches, and 
may be so adjusted as to form a very effective strainer. The stomach is 
globular, pear-shaped, with thick, muscular walls, resembling the gizzard 
of a fowl, while the length of the coiled intestine is five or six times that 
•of the body of the fish. The plain inference from these facts, taken in 
connection with what is known of the habits of the Menhaden, seems to 
be that their food consists in large part of the sediment, containing much 
organic matter, Avhich gathers upon the bottoms of still, protected bays, 
and also of the vegetation that grows in such localities. They also, as 
was demonstrated by Mr. Rathbun in 1880, feed very extensively upon the 
minute crustaceans, Copepoda, &:c., which are found in great quantities 
swimming near the surface in the summer months all along our coast. 

Their rapid increase in size and fatness, which commences as soon as 
they approach our shores, indicates that they find an abundant supply of 
some kind of food. The oil manufacturers re])ort that in the spring a bar- 
rel' of fish often yields less than three quarts of oil, while late in the fall 
it is not uncommon to obtain five or six gallons. 


There is a mystery about their breeding. Tliousands of specimens have 
been dissected since 1S71 without the discovery of mature ova. In early 
summer the genitalia are quite undeveloped, but as the season advances 
they slowly increase in size and vascularity. Among the October fish a 
few ovaries were noticed in which the eggs could be seen with the naked 
eye. A school of large fish driven ashore in November, in Delaware Bay, 
by the bluefish, contained spawn nearly ripe, and others taken at Christmas 
time, in Provincetown harbor, evidently stragglers accidentally delayed, 
contained eggs quite mature. Young Menhaden from one to three inches 
in length and upward are common in summer south of New York, and 
those of five to eight inches in late summer and autumn in the southern 
part of New England. These are in schools, and make their appearance 
suddenly from the open ocean like the adult fish. Menhaden have never 
been observed spawning on the Southern coast, and the egg-bearing indi- 
viduals when observed are always heading out to sea. These considera- 
tions appear to warrant the theory that their breeding grounds are on the 
off-shore shoals which skirt the coast from George's Banks to the Florida 
Keys. There are indications, too, that a small school of Menhaden 
possibly spawn at the east end of. Long Island in the very early spring. 

The fecundity of the Menhaden is very great, much surpassing that of 
the Shad and Herring. The ovaries of a fish taken in Narragansett Bay, 
November i, 1879, contained at least 150,000 eggs. 

Among its enemies may be counted every predaceous animal which 
swims in the same waters. Whales and dolphins follow the schools and 
consume them by the hogshead. Sharks of all kinds prey upon them 
largely ; one hundred have been taken from the stomach of one shark. All 
the large carnivorous fishes feed ujjon them. The tunny is the most de- 
structive. "I have often," writes a Maine observer, "watched their 
antics from the masthead of my vessel — rushing and thrashing like demons 
among a school of fish ; darting with almost lightning swiftness, scattering 
them in every direction, and throwing hundreds of them in the air with 
their tails." The pollock, the whiting, the striped bass, the cod, the 
squeteague, and the gar-fish are savage foes. The sword-fish and the 
bayonet-fish destroy many, rushing through the schools and striking right 
and left with their powerful swords. The blue-fish and lionito are, how- 
ever, their most destructive enemies, not even excepting man ; these corsairs 
of the sea, not content with what they eat, which is of itself an enormous 


quantity, rush ravenously through the closely-crowded schools, cutting and 
tearing the living fish as they go, and leaving in their wake the mangled 
fragments. Traces of their carnage remain for weeks in the great " slicks " 
of oil so commonly seen on smooth water in summer. Prof. Baird, in his 
well-known and often-quoted estimates of food annually consumed by the 
blue-fish, states that probably ten thousand million fish, or twenty-five 
million pounds, dail\-, or twelve hundred million million fish and three 
hundred thousand million i)ounds are much below the real figures. This 
estimate is for the period of four months in the middle of summer and fall, 
and for the coast of New England only. 

Such estimates are professedly only approximations, but are legitimate 
in their way, since they enable us to appreciate more clearly the luxuriance 
of marine life. Applying similar methods of calculation to the Menhaden, 
I estimate the total number destroyed annually on our coast by predaceous 
animals at a million million of millions ; in comparison with which the 
quantities destroyed by man, yearly, sink into insignificance. 

It is not hard to define the place of Menhaden in nature. Swarming in 
our waters m countless myriads, swimming in closely packed, unwieldy 
masses, helpless as flocks of sheep, near to the surface and at the mercy of 
every enemy, destitute of means of defense and offense, their mission is 
unmistakably to be eaten. 

In the economy of nature certain orders of terrestrial animals, feeding 
entirely upon vegetable substances, seem intended for one purpose — to 
elaborate simple materials into the nitrogenous tissues necessary for the 
food of other animals, which are wholly or in part carnivorous in their 
diet ; so the Menhaden feeding upon otherwise unutilized organic matter 
is pre-eminently a meat-producing agent. Man takes from the water every 
year eight or nine hundred millions of these fish, weighing from two hun- 
dred to three hundred thousand tons, but his indebtedness does not end 
here ; when he brings upon his table bluefish, bonitoes, weak-fish, sword- 
fish, or bass, he has before him usually Menhaden flesh in another form. 

The commercial importance of the Menhaden has only lately been 
rightly appreciated. Thirty years ago and before, it was thought to be of 
very small value. A few millions were taken every year in Massachusetts 
Bay, Long Island Sound, and the inlets of New Jersey. A small portion 
of these were used for bait ; a few barrels occasionally salted in Massa- 
chusetts to be exported to the West Indies. Large (quantities were plowed 


into the soil of the farms along the shores, stimulating the crops for a time, 
but in the end filling the soil with oil, parching it and making it unfit for 
tillage. Since that time manifold uses have been found. As a bait-fish 
this excels all others ; for many years much the greater share of our 
mackerel was caught by its aid, while the cod and halibut fleet use it rather 
than any other fish when it can be procured. The total consumption of 
Menhaden for bait in 1S77 did not fall below 80,000 barrels, or 26,000,000 
fish, valued at $500,000. Ten years before, when the entire mackerel 
fleet was fishing with hooks, the consumption was much greater. The 
Dominion mackerel fleet buy Menhaden bait in quantity, and its value has 
been thought an important element in framing treaties between our govern- 
ment and that of Great Britain. 

As a food resource it is found to have great possibilities. Many hun- 
dreds of barrels are sold in the West Indies, while thousands of barrels are 
salted down for domestic use by families living near the shore. In m.any 
sections they are sold fresh in the market. Within six years there has 
sprung up an important industry, which consists in packing these fish in 
oil, after the manner of sardines, for home and foreign consumption. In 
1S74 the production of canned fish did not fall below 500,000 boxes. 

The discovery made by Mr. S. L. Goodale, that from these fish may be 
extracted, for the cost of carefully boiling them, a substance possessing all 
the properties of Liebig's " Extract of beef," opens up a vast field for 
future development. As a food for the domestic animals in the form of 
" fish meat," there seems also to be a broad opening. As a source of oil, 
the Menhaden is of more importance than any other marine animal. Its 
annual yield usually exceeds that of the whale (from the American fisheries) 
by about 200,000 gallons, and in 1S74 did not fall far short of the aggre- 
gate of all the whale, seal, and cod oil made in x\merica. In 1S78 the 
menhaden oil and guano industry employed capital to the amount of 
^2,350,000, 3,337 men, 64 steamers, 279 sailing vessels, and consumed 
777,000,000 fish; there were 56 factories, which produced 1,392,644 
gallons of oil, valued at $450,000, and 55,154 tons of crude guano, valued 
at $600,000 ; this Avas a poor year. In 1S74 the number of gallons pro- 
duced was 3,373,000 ; in 1875, 2,681,000 ; in 1876, 2,992,000 : in 1S77, 
2,427,000. In 1878 the total value of manufactured products was $1,050,- 
000; in 1874 this was $1,809,000 ; in 1S75, $1,582,000 ; in 1S76, $1,671, - 
000; in 1877, $1, 60S. 000. It should be stated that in these reports only 


four-fifths of the whole number of factories were included. In 18S0 the 
number of persons employed in the entire industry was placed at 3,635, 
the amount of capital invested, $2,362,841, the \alue of i)roducts, $2,116,- 
787, including 2,066,396 gallons of oil, worth 5733,424, and 68,904 tons 
of guano, worth $1,301,217. The refuse of the oil factories supplies a 
material of much value for manures. As a base for nitrogen it enters 
largely into the composition of most of the manufactured fertilizers. The 
amount of nitrogen derived from this source in 1875 was estimated to be 
equivalent to that contained in 60,000,000 pounds of Peruvian guano, the 
gold value of which would not have been far from $1,920,000. The yield 
of the menhaden fishery in pounds is probably triple that of any other 
carried on by the fishermen of the United States. 

In estimating the importance of the Menhaden to the United States, it 
should be borne in mind that its absence from our waters would probably 
reduce all our other sea-fisheries to at least one-fourth their present extent. 
It is therefore of great importance to anglers as well as fishermen. 

In addition to the common Menhaden, a second North American 
species, Brevoortia patromcs, has recently been discovered. This species 
has been reported only from the Gulf of Mexico. 

The commercial representatives of the Herring in America are perhaps 
the River Herrings and the Shad, which ascend our streams in the spring, 
and, fresh, pickled and smoked, enter very largely into the food resources 
of the Atlantic region. 

Early writers on American fishes, especially ]\Iitchill and De Kay, seem 
to have experienced great difficulty in differentiating into species the vari- 
ous forms of River Herrings or Alewives in our waters. These early 
writers were, however, apparently more discriminating than some of their 
successors, for they recognized differences which have been ignored by 
subsequent writers. They were as much at fault, however, in making too 
many species, as were Storer and Gill in uniting all the forms under one 
specific name. 

The attention of the zoologists of the Fish Commission was first called 
to the probable existence of two species by the persistent opinions of the 
fishermen of the Potomac, who recognized two forms — differing in habit 
and in general appearance — which they called the "Branch Herring" 
and the "Glut Herring" respectively. 

The announcement of the discovery of the two species and a definition 


of their characters were first published in the report of the Virginia Fish 
Commission for 1S79. These species may easily be distinguished from 
each other by the following characters: C. cestivalis is more elongate in 
form, has a lower body, less elevated fins, and smaller eyes than C. vernalis. 
The proportions of the bones of the head in C. cestivalis differ from those 
in C. vernalis, as also does the coloration of the lining of the abdomen, 
which in C. cestivalis is black and in C. vernalis, gray. 

The popular names applied to these fishes differ in almost every river 
along the coast. C. vernalis is known along the Potoniac River as the 
" Branch Herring"; on the Albemarle River as the " Big-eyed Herring" 
and the ''Wall-eyed Herring"; in Canada it is known as the " Gaspe- 
reau " or " Gasperot." It is pre-eminently the " Alewife " of New Eng- 
land ; the " Ellwife " or " Ellwhop " of the Connecticut River. The 
other species, C. cEstivalis, undoubtedly occurs occasionally in its com- 
pany, but is probably not common in the Connecticut and Housatonic 
Rivers, and in many parts of Massachusetts is distinguished by another 

The C. CEstivalis is the "Glut Herring" of the Albemarle and the 
Chesapeake, and the "English Herring" of the Ogeechee River. In the 
St. John's River, Florida, it is known simply as the "Herring." On the 
coast of Massachusetts it is called the "Blue-back," a name which is 
common to the late runs of the same species of the Rappahannock. Around 
the Gulf of Maine this species is also known by the names " Kyack " or 
" Kyauk," "Saw-belly," and "Cat-thrasher." Although the coast fisher- 
men of Massachusetts and Maine claim to distinguish the two species, the 
" Blue-backs" and the " Alewives," their judgment is by no means in- 
fallible, for I have frequently had them sort out into two piles the fishes 
which they distinguish vmder these names, and found that their discrimi- 
nation was not at all reliable. The features to which they mainly trusted 
in the determination of C. cestivalis are the bluer color of the back and the 
greater serration upon the ventral-ridge. The other species, when the 
scales on its back are rubbed off, is as blue as this, and the serration of the 
belly is dependent entirely upon the extent to which the back has become 
stiffened in the death struggle and the consequent degree of arching of the 
ventral ridge. The young of one or both species are sold in the Boston 
markets under the name " Sprats," and in New York they makeup a large 
proportion of the so-called " Whitebait." 



" The Alewife," writes Col. MacDonald. '• is by far the most abunthuit 
of our river fishes, and throughout the whole Soutiiern region where thev 
are caught, together with the Shad, the number of indi\iduals is not firr 
from ten to twenty times as great as that of the Shad. For instance, in 
the Albemarle region, in 1879, 750,000 Shad were taken and upwards of 
20,000,000 Alewives. Again, in iSSo, about 600,000 Shad were taken 
from the Potomac and 11,000,000 Alewives. By far the greatest number 
of the AleAvives thus taken were "Glut Herring," C. cestivalis ; but, since 
the two species are sold together, without discrimination, no accurate 
statement of proportional numbers can be made. 





There is on Cape Cod an extensive Alewife fishery. This has for more 
than a century been regulated by law, and the fish are allowed during 
stated periods to swim without interruption to their spawning beds. The 
streams in which they are taken are so small, and the fish in their ascent 
so crowded together, that they appear to be extremely abundant, although 
the aggregate catch for the entire Cape is not perhaps much greater than 
the yield of many single seines in the South. Here, however, there has 
been no great decrease in abundance, while in the South the herring fishery 
is much less productive than in former years. 

A very remarkable phenomenon, recently observed, has been the appear- 
ance of this species in immense numbers in Lake Ontario and lakes of New 
York. This has been only in waters in which shad fry had previously 
been placed by fish culturists. 

Like the Shad, the Alewives are anadromous in habit. The dates of 
their first appearance in any given river may be very closely determined 


by an examination of the tables which show the movements of the Shad. 
The Gaspereau or "Spring Herring" usually precedes the Shad by a 
period of several weeks, while the run of the "Blue-back" or "Glut 
Herring " occurs in the middle of the Shad season. 

One of the earliest American observers thus spoke of their habits : 

At the end of March begins the spring by Sol's new elevation, 
Stealing away the Earth's white robe, dropping with sweat's vexation. 
The Codfisli, Holybut and Barse do sport the rivers in, 
And Allvvives, with their crowdy sholes in every creek do swim. 

Good NeiL'cs from A'ew England , 167S. 

Little is known concerning the food of the river Alewives in their salt- 
water habitat. It is, however, supposed that they, like the Shad, exist 
largely upon swimming crustaceans. When in the rivers they do not feed 
to any considerable extent, although they have been known in a few in- 
stances to take the fly. 

The eggs of the Alewife are adhesive, like those of the sea Herring, 
though to a much less degree. The number of eggs varies from sixty 
thousand to one hundred thousand, in accordance with the size of the 
individual. They are deposited upon the bottom in shoal water, or on 
whatever object they may come in contact with. The time for spawning, 
after the fish have entered the river, depends, as in the case of the Shad, 
entirely on the temperature of the water. The spawning of the " Glut 
Herring " takes place under ordinary conditions at a temperature of 70° 
to 70° F.; that of the " Branch Herring," when the water is as low as 
55° to 60° F. The period of development varies directly with the 

" During past years," writes McDonald, " the Alewife has frequently 
been artificially introduced into new waters or over dams by the trans- 
portation of fish of considerable size. This is constantly done on Cape 
Cod in the restocking of the herring streams which have been exhausted, 
and was successfully accomplished by Gen. N. L. Lincoln, in Maine, as 
long ago as 1750." 

"Herring eggs have frequently been artificially impregnated by men 
engaged in shad culture. The young fish artificially hatched have in some 
instances been transported. In 1882, two million were sent to Texas by 
the United States Fish Commission and deposited in the Colorado River. 
Artificial hatching would seem less necessary in the case of the Alewife 


than in that of the Shad, since with the former, owing to its peculiar 
spawning habits, the eggs stand a better chance of hatching out, and very 
slight protection of the fish during spawning season will be sufficient to 
keep i:p the supply." 

Prof. Baird, in his second report as Commissioner of Fisheries, spoke 
as follows upon the uses and importance of this fish : 

" I am inclined to think, for various reasons, that too little has been 
done in our waters toward the restoration to their primitive abundance of 
the Alewife. 

" The Alewife in many respects is superior, in commercial and econo- 
mical value, to the Herring, being a much larger and sweeter fish, and 
more like the true Shad in this respect. Of all American fish none are so 
easily propagated as the Alewife, and waters from which it has been driven 
by the erection of impassable dams can be fully restocked in the course of 
a few years, simply by transporting a sufficient number of the mature fish 
taken at the mouth of the stream to a point above the dams, or placing 
them in ponds or lakes. Here they will spawn and return to the sea after 
a short interval, making their way over dams which carry any flow. The 
young Alewives, after a season, descend and return, if not prevented, at 
the end of their period of immaturity, to the place where they were spawned. 

"In addition to the value of the Alewife as an article of food, it is of 
much service in ponds and rivers as nutriment for trout, salmon and other 
valuable fishes. The young derive their sustenance from minute crusta- 
ceans and other objects too diminutive for the larger fish, and in their great 
abundance are greedily devoured by the other species around them. In 
waters inhabited by both pickerel and trout these fish find in the young 
Alewives sufficient food to prevent their preying upon each other. They 
are also, for the same reason, serviceable in ponds containing black bass. 

"As a cheap and very abundant food for other fishes, the young Alewives 
can be ]:)laced in waters that have no connection with the sea by merely 
transferring from any convenient locality a sufficient number of the li\ing 
mature parents, taken at the approach of the spawning season; they will 
remain for several months, and indeed can often be easdy penned up by 
a suitable dam and kept throughout the year. 

" It is in another still more important connection that we should con- 
sider the Alewife. It is well known that wathin the last thirty or forty 
years the fisheries of cod, haddock and hake along our coast have measur- 
ably diminished, and in some places ceased entirely. Enough may be 
taken for local consumption, but localities which formerly furnished the 
material for an extensive commerce in dried fish have been entirely 
abandoned. Various causes have been assigned for this condition of 
things, and among others the alleged diminution of the sea Herring. 
After a careful consideration of the subject, however, I am strongly in- 


clined to believe that it is due to the diminution, and in many instances 
to the extermination, of the Alewives. As already remarked, before the 
construction of dams in the tidal rivers the Alewife was found in incredi- 
ble numbers along our coast, probably remaining not far from shore, 
excepting when moving up into the fresh water, and at any rate spending 
a considerable interval off the mouths of the rivers either at the time of 
their journey upward or on their return. The young, too, after returning 
from the ocean, usually swarmed in the same localities, and thus furnished 
for the larger species a bait such as is not supplied at present by any other 
fish, the sea Herring not excepted. We know that the Alewife is particu- 
larly attractive as a bait to other fishes, especially for cod and mackerel. 
Alewives enter the streams on the south coast of New England before the 
arrival of the bluefish ; but the latter devote themselves with great assiduity 
to the capture of the young as they come out from their breeding ponds. 
The outlet of an alewife pond is always a capital place for the bluefish, 
and, as they come very near the shore in siich localities, they can be 
caught there with the line by what is called ' heaving and hauling,' or 
throwing a squid from the shore and hauling it in with the utmost rapidity. 

"The coincidence, at least, in the erection of the dams, and the enor- 
mous diminution in the number of the Alewives, and the decadence of the 
inshore Cod fishery, is certainly very remarkable. It isprobable, also, that 
the mackerel fisheries have suffered in the same way, as these fish find in 
the young Menhaden and Alewives an attraccive bait. 

"The same remarks as to the agency of the Alewife in attracting the 
deep-sea fishes to the shores, and especially near the mouths of rivers, 
apply in a proportional degree to the Shad and salmon." 

The Inland Alewife or Skipjack, Clupea clirysocliloris, which is found in 
many parts of the Mississippi Valley, has recently been found by Mr. Silas 
Stearns in the salt water off Pensacola — a surprising circumstance, since 
the species was thought to be an inhabitant of fresh water exclusively. '• It 
is known to most inland fishermen as the ' Skipjack,' " writes Prof. Jordan, 
" in allusion to its habit of leaping from the water. It is also sometimes 
called ' Shad ' and ' Herring.' It is abundant throughout the Mississippi 
Valley in all the larger streams. In the neighborhood of the ocean it 
descends to the Gulf, but in the upper courses it is permanently resident. 
It has also entered Lake Michigan and Lake Erie since the construction 
of the canals. It reaches a length of a little more than a foot. It feeds 
on small crustaceans, worms, and the like, rarely taking the hook. As a 
food-fish it is regarded as wholly worthless, its flesh being poor and dry 
and full of innumerable small bones." 

The Shad appears to have been considered by early American writers 



on fish identical with the Shad of England, Chipeafinta. The first to give 
to it a distinctive name was Alexander Wilson in the American edition of 
Rees' Encyclopaedia. 


It is very closely allied to the European species, but is a much finer fish. 
The English care little for their shad, though in France the same species 
is highly esteemed. 

The following account of our Shad is from the pen of Col. Marshall 
MacDonald, who has made it a subject of special study for many years : 

The Shad is found along the whole Atlantic coast of the United States, 
and its capture constitutes one of the most important fisheries in all the 
streams draining into the Atlantic between the Gulf of St. Eawrence and 
the St. John's River, Florida. 

It is but rarely seen on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, but occurs in 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the various rivers of which it ascends as far 
north as the Miramichi, which seems to be its limit in that direction, none 
having been seen in the Bay of Chaleur. 

Throughout its entire range the Shad is found in sufficient quantities to 
give rise to fisheries of great commercial value. There is no run of Shad 
in any of the rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico, although the capture 
of isolated individuals of this species has been reported from the Ala- 
bama River and from several tributaries of the Mississippi prior to any 
steps towards the artificial propagation of Shad in these waters by the 
United States Fish Commission. 

The geographical range of the Shad then was confined to the Atlantic 
coast of the United States until, by the operations of the United Slates 
Fish Commission, its limits were vastly extended. Runs of Shad, suf- 
ficiently large to be of commercial value, have been established in several 
of the tributaries of the Mississippi River, notably the Ohio River; and 
the several plants made from time to time in the Sacramento River, on the 



Pacific coast, have resulted in the colonization of this species in all the 
rivers of the Pacific slope, from the Sacramento to Puget Sound. 

The Shad make their first appearance in the St. John's River about the 
middle of November, the height of their spawning season in that river 
being about the ist of April. In the Savannah River they appear early in 
January, and in the Neuse River at a period not much later than in the 
Savannah. In the Albemarle the important Shad seine-fisheries begin 
early in March, but doubtless the fish are in the Sound some time before 
that date ; not, however, in numbers sufficient to justify the great expenses 
attendant upon the operation of these large seines. In the Chesapeake 
Bay they make their appearance in February, although the height of the 
fishing season in its waters is during April and May, and at a date some- 
what later in the more northern tributaries. In the Delaware, Connecticut, 
Merrimac, and St. John (Nova Scotia) Rivers, Shad are first seen at periods 
successively later as we proceed farther north. The date of their first ap- 
pearance in any of these waters, however, varies from season to season, 
the limit of such variation being from three to four weeks. 

These irregularities in the time of the run into our rivers, which cause 
so much perplexity and discouragement to the fishermen, are, however, 
readily explained by the influence of temperature. 


It is doubtful whether there is any general coastwise movement of the 
Shad. That there is an occasional migration of this kind is evidenced by 
the following facts : The Shad of the rivers of the South Atlantic coast, 
as a rule, have black-tipped caudal and dorsal fins, which distinctive 
marks of coloration are absent in the Shad of more northern rivers ; and 
yet occasionally these southern Shad are caught as far north as the tribu- 


taries of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. These fish have undoubtedly- 
been born and bred in southern waters, and their appearance so far north 
would indicate that occasionally this southern variety strays beyond its 
normal range. At one time it was imagined that the whole body of 
American Shad, having wintered in the south, started northward with the 
new year, and as each river mouth was reached a detachment would leave 
the entire mass for the purpose of ascending the river, the last remaining 
portion of the immense school entering the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

At a later date it was thought more reasonable to suppose that the young 
fish, hatched out in any particular stream, went out into the sea and re- 
mained within a moderate distance of the coast until the period again 
occurred for their upward river migration. Their appearance, first in the 
extreme southern river of the coast, the St. John's, and at later dates suc- 
cessively in the more northern rivers, was thought to confirm this view. It 
will be seen, in the discussions of the relation of the movements of the 
Shad to the water temperature, published in the reports of the United 
States Fish Commission, that this order of appearance when preserved 
may be reasonably accounted for; there are, however, exceptions. 
For instance, the Edisto River is many miles north of the Savannah, and 
yet the run of Shad in the former is usually coincident with that in the 
latter. This leads us to believe that the Shad are generally distributed 
along the coast at all times, entering the rivers as soon as the temperature 
of the water is suitable. It is but natural that the Avaters of a creek or 
short stream, not having its source in the mountains, should in the spring 
become warm long before those of a large river whose headwaters are far 
up among the mountains ; for which reason we may expect to find, in the 
case of two rivers, the most southerly of which has a longer water-course 
than the other, that the Shad will first enter the more northerly, yet 
shorter, and consequently, at a given date, warmer stream. The question, 
therefore, appears to be rather one of temperature than of geographical 

The greater portion of the life of the Shad being spent in salt water, the 
possibility of close observation as to their food, habits, or precise habitat 
is precluded. The young fry, hatched out in the rivers in spring and early 
summer, remain there until the following fall, when, the temperature of 
the waters having fallen below 60°, they leave for the ocean. Nothing 
more is seen of them until they return to the rivers as mature fish for the 



purpose of spawning. In these upward migrations the schools of mature 
fish ascend the rivers either until obstructed by impassable falls or dams, 
or until the volume of water becomes very inconsiderable. Before artificial 
impediments were placed in the rivers, the limit of this movement was the 
natural and insurmountable falls to be found at the head of almost all of 
our principal streams. For example, in the Savannah River the Shad used 
to ascend to the Falls of Tallula, at the very source of the river in the 
northern part of Georgia. In the Potomac they ascend as high as the 
Great Falls. In the Susquehanna River, in which there exist no natural 
obstructions, their migration extended up into the State of New York, a 
distance of several hundred miles above the present limit. On the Hudson 
River they ascended to Glens Falls. On the Connecticut at one time they 
went as high as Bellows Falls, but recent obstructions in this river have 
materially reduced the extent of their range. 

The age at which the Shad reaches maturity and becomes capable of 
reproducing is not definitely determined ; it is generally held by fish 
culturists, however, that the female Shad attains this condition when three 
or four years old. The favorite spawning grounds, or "Shad Wallows," 
as they are termed by the fishermen, are on the sandy flats which border 
the streams, and the sand-bars which are found at intervals higher up the 
river. When the fish have reached suitable spawning grounds and are 
ready to cast their eggs, they move up to the flats seemingly in pairs. The 
time of this movement is usually between sundown and ii p. m. When 
in the act of coition they swim close together and near the surface, 
their back fins projecting above the water. The rapid, vigorous, spas- 
modic movements which accompany this operation produce a splashing in 
the water which can be plainly heard from the shore, and which the fisher- 
men characterize as " washing." 

The number of eggs in the ovary of a Shad, as in all other fish, bears a 
certain relation to the size and weight of the fish. As the result of ex- 
perience in the artificial propagation of the Shad we conclude that a ripe 
roe Shad weighing four or five pounds contains from 20,000 to 40,000 
eggs, the average number being about 25,000. A much larger number, 
however, has been obtained from some individuals. In the season of 
1 88 1 we obtained from a single Shad, weighing about six pounds, over 
60,000 impregnated eggs; again, in 1S80. on the Potomac River, the 
yield of eggs from a single Shad was over 100,000. These were full-sized. 


thoroughly impregnated, and were hatched out with a loss of hardly one 
per cent. 

Shad ready to deposit their spawn seem to prefer waters of a warmer 
temperature than 60° F. Therefore, when the mature Shad, intent on 
reproduction, leave the hydrothermal area of 60° F. and ascend the rivers 
into waters of 65° to 70° F. and upwards, they are unaccompanied by the 
half-grown Shad, the latter ceasing to ascend as soon as they encounter 
a temperature of more than 60° F. In 1S82, however, when the tem- 
perature of the water was below 60° F. for the greater portion of tlie 
season, the spawning had to take place in water colder than the fish would 
have preferred, and therefore mature and young Shad were found together 
on the spawning grounds. 

The shad-fry, which spend the first six months in our rivers, must of ne- 
cessity find their food therein. From examinations made of the stomachs of 
these young fish, they have been found to feed upon certain species of Crus- 
tacea and insect larvre, common to the fresh waters of our rivers. During the 
spring of 1882 some young fry, which were hatched out at Central station, 
were confined by Dr. John A. Ryder in a glass aquarium, through which 
the circulation of the water was maintained, and fed with Copepoda, 
obtained in large quantities from the United States carp ponds. In about 
seven days after hatching some of the young fry were observed to eat, 
and a few days later they were all vigorously engaged in pursuit of food. 
While the ratio of mortality was large, some of the fish survived for six 
weeks, the last specimen having attained a length of considerably more 
than an inch, and a weight many times greater than that at birth. 

From these experiments we deem it altogether probable that under 
natural conditions the Copepoda, which are abundant in the Potomac in 
places frequented by the young Shad, are their natural food during the 
early stages of their existence. 

It is probable that Shad in their early lives vary their food with min- 
nows and the young of other species of fish. Indeed, from the stomach 
of a Shad, taken in one of the pounds at Saybrook, I found an undigested 
minnow two or three inches in length. In the fresh-water life of the 
mature Shad, the fish do not seem to take food at all. Repeated observa- 
tions of the contents of the stomach show no food whatever. Occasionally, 
however, they can be induced to rise to a fly dexterously cast on the water. 
This fact is presumptive evidence that the desire for food, although sub- 



ordinated to the impulse of reproduction (which brings them into the 
river), is not wholly lost. 

A female Shad of a certain age is always larger than a male of corre- 
sponding age. A general average for both sexes along the whole coast 
would be about four pounds, the extremes — for males — being from one 
and a half to six pounds, and for females from three and a half to eight 
pounds, the latter representing a maximum weight for Shad at the present 
time ; although, in the early history of the fisheries, there are records of 
the capture of fish weighing eleven, twelve and as much as fourteen 


The Hickory Shad, or Mattowacca, Cliipca mediocris, was first brought 
to notice in 1815 in Mitchill's paper on the fishes of New York, wherein 
it was described under two names, being called the " Staten Island" 
Herring, C. mcdiocris, and the "Long Island" Herring, C. mattowacca. 
The latter name was adopted by Storer for the species, but more recent 
authorities, guided by a rather questionable interpretation of the rules of 
priority, have substituted the name C. mcdiocris, because it was printed on 
the page preceding the other. Mitchill stated that the " Long Island " 
Herring occupied a middle station between the Shad and the " Staten 
Island " Herring, but it seems strange that so accomplished an ichthyolo- 
gist should not have at once perceived the identity of the two. The name 
'■'■mcdiocris'''' was founded upon small specimens. The names given this 
species are as varied as those of the river Herrings. Tlie name " Matto- 
wacca" is of Indian origin, and is said to have been derived from the 
Indian name for Long Island, Mattoztuika or Mattowax. 

The name " Hickory Shad " is applied to this species on all parts of the 


coast from Cape Cod to Florida. It is used in the Chesapeake and in the 
Albemarle regions, and on the Ogeechee, Savannah, and Altamaha Rivers, 
where it is familiarly called "Hicks." In the St. John's River and 
Alabama River the name "Hickory" Shad is also used. The derivation 
of the name " Hickory" Shad cannot easily be traced. It may be that 
the word " Hickory " is used in a derogatory sense, but a more reasonable 
explanation is that it refers to the striped markings on the fish, which re- 
semble those upon the coarse cotton fabric known in the South as " Hick- 
ory," and frequently used by the fishermen. 

In the Potomac the species is called the " Tailor Shad," or the " Fresh- 
water Tailor," in contradistinction to the bluefish, which is called the 
"Salt-water Tailor." The comparison between the bluefish and this 
species is doubtless due to a fancied resemblance between their jaws, those 
of the " Tailor Shad " being very long and strong. The " Tailor Shad " 
may be distinguished from the common Shad and from the river Herrings 
by the extreme projection and thickness of the lower jaw. This species is 
in some rivers called a " Forerunner," from the fact that it makes its ap- 
pearance shortly before the Shad. 

Col. McDonald writes as follows concerning this species: "The 
•' Hickory Shad ' is most abundant in the region between the Chesapeake 
Bay and Altamaha River and intermediate waters, ascending the rivers as 
high as the Shad. In the St. John's River it is somewhat abundant? 
making its appearance the first or second week in November, and shortly 
before the Shad. North of New York it has not been observed to enter 
the rivers in any great numbers, and there is no record north of Cape Cod 
of its having been seen in fresh water. In the fall small schools of them 
occasionally enter the brackish estuaries and tideways of Cape Cod." 

In the Altamaha River, Georgia, the catch of "Hickory" Shad is 
equal to that of " Common " or " White Shad," and in the markets they 
sell for more than one-half as much. In the St. John's River they are not 
exceedingly abundant, and two " Hickory Shad " are equal in value to one 
"White Shad." In the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers the proportion of 
the catch of the " Hickory" to that of "White Shad" is about one to 
four. All taken here are used for local consumption, and are sold at i)rices 
equal to about one-half of the White Shad. In the Albemarle they are less 
abundant than farther south and are of less value. Here they are sold 
with the herring for local consumption, two of them counting for one 



herring, or are used for manure. In the Chesapeake region they are not 
highly esteemed, although great quantities are sold by hawkers, especially 
in the cities, where people are not well informed, under the name of 
" Shad." At the beginning of the season hundreds of men may be seen 
going about the city of Washington with strings of these fish, which they 
cry for Shad, and which with great insolence they press upon such would- 
be purchasers as are inclined to question their genuineness. In the pound- 
nets of the Chesapeake in the beginning of the season they are caught in 
immense numbers, and are shipped to the markets with the true Shad until 
tlieir price falls below three cents apiece, after which they are sold with 
the Herring, one counting as two Herrings. 


In our waters the most important member of this family is the Tarpum,. 
Megalops thrissoides, an immense herring-like fish, which occurs in the 
Western Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico, ranging north to Cape Cod 
and south at least to Northern Brazil. It is somewhat abundant in the 
West Indies, and stragglers have been taken as far to the eastward as the 
Bermudas. This species attains the length of five or six feet, and is 
covered with enormous circular scales of one inch to two inches and a 
half in diameter, the exposed portions of which are covered with a silvery 
epidermis. The fish, when alive, presents a very brilliant metallic ap- 
pearance, and the scales are much prized by curiosity hunters and for 
fancy work in the Florida curiosity shops. They are a staple article of 
trade, selling for from ten to twenty-five cents each, the price paid to the 
fishermen being about fifty cents per dozen. 

The sailors' name for this fish, by which same name it is also known at 
Key West, Bermuda, Brunswick, Georgia and elsewhere, is ''Tarpum" or 
" Tarpon." In Georgia and Florida it is commonly called the "Jew-fish," 



a name also applied by the fishermen of South Florida to a species of 
percoid which has already been discussed. It is the "Silver-fish" of 
Pensacola, the " Grande-Ecaille " (Large-scale fish), or " Grandykye," 
as it is pronounced and sometimes spelled, and the " Savanilla " of Texas. 

The species can hardly be said to be common on our Atlantic coasts, 
though from fifty to one hundred specimens are doubtless taken every 
year between Florida and Cape Cod. In 1874 and 1875 i^oiie were 
caught in the St. John's River, though several had been brought in during 
the previous winter. In the Indian River region these fish are sometimes 

Mr. Stearns contributes the following notes upon the fish, as observed 
by him : 

" The Silver fish, or Grande Ecaille, is common everywhere on the 
Gulf coast. It is an immense and active fish, preying eagerly upon schools 
of young fry, or any small fish that it is able to receive into its mouth, and 
in pursuit of which it ascends fresh-water rivers quite a long distance. 
During September, 1879, I saw large numbers of Silver-fish eight or ten 
miles up the Apalachicola River, and am told that that was not an unusual 
occurrence. They go up the Homosassa River in Florida, and several of 
the Texas rivers, so I have subsequently learned. The Tarpum will take 
a baited hook, but it is difficult to handle and seldom landed. The Pensa- 
cola seine fishermen dread it while dragging their seines, for they have 
known of persons having been killed or severely injured by its leaping 
asrainst them from the seine in which it was inclosed. Even when it does 
not jump over the cork-line of a seine, it is quite likely to break through 
the netting before landed. I have secured several specimens, the smallest 
of which weighed thirty pounds and the largest about seventy-five 
pounds. The Tarpum is said to be palatable and well flavored." 

Dr. C. J. Kenworthy, of Jacksonville, Fla., known in the literature of 
American angling as "Al. Fresco," is the great apostle of Tarpum, and 
by his enthusiastic advocacy has won it a place among game fishes. 

The "Big-eyed Herring" or "Ten-pounder," Elops saurus, was 
described by Linnceus from a Carolina specimen sent to him by Garden. 
It occurs all along the coast from Martha's Vineyard southward, but only 
in the summer in the northern part of its range. It is cosmopolitan in 
its distribution, occurring throughout the West Indies, on the coast of 
South America, on both coasts of Mexico, at the Cape of Good Hope, in 
East Africa, Arabia and China. At Fort Macon it is known as the 
" Horse Mackerel." It is rarely or never eaten in the United States, its 
flesh being said to be drv and bonv. 


A species of Anchovy, Siolcphorus Browni, is extremely common about 
Fort Macon, where it is known as the ''Sardine" and occurs in large 
schools. Specimens of this and of an allied species, S. Mitchilli, are 
occasionally taken in the vicinity of Woods Holl, Mass., and in greater 
abundance in New Jersey. 

The presence of a true Anchovy in America was first announced by Prof. 
Baird in 1854. A species was noticed by Mitchill, but its relations to 
the Anchovy of Europe were not recognized. In his report on the Fish 
of the New Jersey Coast, Prof. Baird remarked of S. Browni : "The 
Anchovy made its appearance early in August in the shallow waters along 
the beach, though of very small size ; it subsequently became more abund- 
ant, and towards the end of the month, while hauling a large net in the 
surf, many were taken, measuring over six inches in length; as the meshes 
of the net were large, a great portion escaped, but with a seine properly 
constructed enough could be secured to supply the American market. I 
procured several specimens of this fish in 1847 ^^ the residence of Mr. 
Audubon, on the Hudson River above New York." 

There is little reason to doubt that this species of Anchovy might be 
prepared in salt or in paste, like that of P^urope, and that the results 
would be equally satisfactory ; as an actual fact, however, most of the 
Anchovies put up in Europe do not belong to this genus at all, but are 
simply pilchards or sprats preserved in a peculiar manner, the name 
"Anchovy" having come to be descriptive of a peculiar method of pre- 
paration rather than of the fish which is prepared. Our Anchovy has 
recently been sold in considerable numbers in New York under the name 
" Whitebait," although the fishermen distinguish it from the true " White- 
bait," the young of the herring, calling it "■ Spearing." 

The Anchovy of the Pacific coast is reported by Jordan to be of little 
economic value. The commonest form is what he calls the California 
Anchovy, Stolephorus ringens, and which is thus described by him : 

" This species is everywhere known as the Anchovy. It reaches a length 
of about six inches. It ranges from British Columbia to Chili, and is 
probably found on the coast of Asia also. It is found in sheltered bays, 
and is everywhere extremely common, but rather more abundant south of 
San Francisco than northward. It serves as food for the larger species to 
a greater extent than any other single species. The salmon, bonito, 
mackerel of all sorts, barracuda, sea-bass, the larger flounders, and, in 
fact, a majority of the larger fishes make a large percentage of their food 


of Anchovy. At San Francisco it is occasionally brought into the market. 
Some attempts have been made to pickle them with spices for the trade, 
but this amounts to little as yet. A great many are salted by the Chinese, 
who use them as bait for the llounders and rock-fish. Two other species 
of Anchovies, Stolcplwrus comprcssus and Stolcplionts delicatissinnis 
abound south of Point Concepcion. They have no economic value." 

The family Dorosomatidce is represented on our Atlantic coast by a 
single species, the "Mud-Shad," Dorosoma Cepediaiiimi, which is abund- 
ant in brackish waters along the coast from Delaware Bay southward to 
Mexico. In the Chesapeake region it is known as the ''Mud-Shad," 
"Winter-Shad," or " Stink Shad;" in North Carolina as the "Hairy- 
back " or the "Thread Herring ;" in the St. John's River as the " Giz- 
zard Shad," "Stink Shad," or "White-eyed Shad." 

The names " Gizzard Shad " or " Hickory Shad " refer to the peculiar 
muscular stomach, which is of about the size of a hickory-nut and is 
shaped like the gizzard of a fowl. The fish is found in brackish waters, 
or in the sea. lor the whole length of our coast. It enters all streams after 
becoming land-locked in ponds, ami throughout the whole jSIississippi 
A'alley it is jjermanently resident in large numbers in the largier streams 
and reservoirs. Since the construction of the canals it has appeared in 
force in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. 

This fish is extremely abundant in many localities, particularly in the 
St. John's River, Florida, where it becomes an annoyance to the fishermen 
by getting into their nets, se\-eral hundred bushels being sometimes taken 
in a shad net. They are also sometimes annoying to fishermen using gill- 
nets for catching mul