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The East Atlantic Coast, 





The Fishes of the East Coast 

— OF 


By SAMUEL C. CLARKE.-^ ^Vpf'''^ 



The American Angler, 


Entered, according to act of Congress, in the year 1884, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 


The within pages contain the illustrated papers of Mr. Louis O. 
Van Doren, Mr. Samuel C. Clarke, and Dr. C. J. Kenworthy, "Al 
Fresco," that have appeared from time to time in the columns of 
The American Angler. They treat of all the fishes of the Atlantic 
Coast that are of interest to the rod and line fisherman, and in con- 
nection with the profuse illustrations form the most practical and 
comprehensive treatise on our salt water fishes, that has been 



The Stbipkd Bass— Rockfish 9 

The Bluefish 16 

The Wkakfish— Squeteauqe 22 

The Shbepshead 29 

The Kingfish 32 

The Bonito 36 

The Black Dbum 40 

The Spanish Mackerel 45 


The Blackfish 49 

The Floundeb 54 

The Sea Bass '. 59 

The Bebgall 63 

The Tomcod. 67 

Thb Codfish 71 

The Haddock 75 

The Menhaden 79 


The Lafayette ob Spot 85 

The Snapping Mackerel 86 

The Shad ; 88 

The Crab and The Lobster 93 



The Species of Fishes found on the East Florida Coast 99 

The Channel Bass 107 

The Salt Water Trout— Southern Weakfish 113 


The Red Grouper 117 


The Rock Grouper 122 

The Pompano 125 


The Cavalli or Crevalle 127 

The Mangrove Snapper 128 

The Crab Eater or Sergeant Fish 132 


The Ladyfish or Bone Fish 133 

The Jewfish 134 

The Tarpum or Tarpon 137 


The Drum 141 

The Hogfish — Pigfish 142 

The Sailor's Choicb 142 


The Salt Water Catfish 145 

The Conger Eel 145 

The Mullet 146 

The Yellow Tail— Silver Pkboh 149 



The Sharks 153 

The Sawfish 156 

The Rays 157 


The Tabpum. By Al Fresco 160 



Tackle and Lubes. By Dr. C. J. Kenworthy — Al Fresco 171 


The Bluefish 17 

The Weakfish 23 

The Sheepshead .j 26 

The Kingfish 33 

The Bonito 37 

The Black Drum 41 

The Spanish Mackerel 47 

The Blackfish 50 

The Flounder .....; 55 

The Sea Bass 60 

The Beroall 64 

The Tomcod 69 

The Codfish 73 

The Haddock 76 

The Menhaden 81 

The Lafayette or Spot 84 

The Shad 88 

The Tarpum 101 

The Channel Bass 108 

The Salt Water Trout 115 

The Red Grouper 119 

The Pompano 123 

The Mangrove Snapper 129 

The Ladyfish 135 

The Hogfish 143 

The Salt Water Catfish 147 

The Whitb ob Silver Mullet 151 



The Striped Bass. — Rockfish. — Roccus lineaius. — Gill. 

No similiar stretch of coast in the world is as plentifully supplied 
with fish life as the eastern seaboard of the United States. From 
the tepid waters of Florida, all along up to the icy waves washing 
the Banks, myriads of fish exist, either to give pleasure to the 
angler or profit to the fisherman. At the head of the list stands the 
striped bass. Every wielder of the rod would put him there will- 
ingly enough, even if the authority of Genio C. Scott and Frank 
Forester did not sanction it. The former is more enthusiastic over 
its many virtues as a game fish than he. is over any other creature 
that wears scales, either of the fresh or salt waters. The latter ranks 
the striped bass second only to the salmon, dividing the honors per- 
il aps with the black bass of the St. Lawrence. 

The striped bass — Jioccus lineatus — Gill, is known south of New 
York as the rock-fish, from its habit, probably, of swimming among 
the boulders of a rapid tide-way, nosing about for some dainty morsel 
with which to satisfy his appetite. To the ordinary gazer of the 
stalls, the striped bass would appear as a silvery fish marked with 
lateral black lines and possessed of a capacious mouth well supplied 
with teeth; but such a description will not answer the requirements 
of the scientific as well as practical angler of to-day. 

The body of the striped bass is long and symmetrical, slightly 
humped over the shoulder, and marked horizontally by seven or 


< ight narrow black lines, growing smaller as they reacli^tbe belly. 
'Die width of the body is two-sevenths of its length, whieli is about 
four times the length of the head. The mouth is extraordinarily 
large, and besides the usual teeth of the inside rim there are two 
patches on the tongue. The eye is large and well rounded, giving 
an index of the bold nature of the fish. The color of the striped 
bass IS white underneath, merging to a silvery aspect, then to an 
olive hue, and over the dorsal giving place to a metallic blue. There 
are two dorsal fins, the first has nine spines, sharp and strong; the 
second has one spine and twelve soft rays. The anal fin, which is 
moderately large, has three spines and eleven soft rays. 

The striped bass varies in size from eight-inch little fellows up to 
monsters of one hundred pounds. The greed of all sizes is, however, 
the same. Those of three and four pounds run in company, and 
Jience are popularly known as "school bass;" l^hese it is that give 
such prime sport to fishermen in New York waters, but let no one 
imagine on this account that big bass are unknown to their rods. 
One of a hundred pounds is on record that "yielded recreant" to the 
a'od of an old troller accustomed to practice his art in the turbulent 
waters of Hell -Gate. 

The "run," as it is called, of bass commences in the spring months, 
and about the tenth of June the large ones begin to reat-h our mar- 
kets. The capture of "school bass" continues throughout the sum- 
mer, and about the end of August the celebrated surf -fishing comes 
in vogue. The striped bass runs up the estuaries and rivers to de- 
posit its spawn, and sometimes ascends even to fresh water. This 
annual movement of the bass commences in the spring, and fishing 
is good until November. 

As beseems such a noble fish, the striped bass reaches perfection 
of size and courage in the midst of strong, sweeping tides, in the 
olear, deep waters of the Sound, and along the rugged rocky beaches 
of the ocean side of Long Island and Martha's Vineyard, Such 
hunting grounds could only produce such a fish as the bass, which 
indeed shows the effect of their surroundings in his shape and move- 
.ments. His hard, muscular, well-rounded body, his large, bright eye 
and rapacious-looking mouth, warrant us in applying to him Prank 


Forester's expressive sentence: "The striped bass is the boldest, 
bravest, strongest and most active fish that visits the waters of tlu' 
midland States." 

Every extensive work on angling in American waters contains a 
reference to the striped bass fishing to be enjoyed in the water? 
about Manhattan Island. The great depth of water r nd the narrow 
rock-strewn channels combine to form a very paradise for the bass, 
who seems to find the greatest enjoyment of his existence in darting 
through the Hell-Gate mill-race and among the rapid tide-ways of 
the lower Sound. Twenty years ago the striped bass fifihing in New 
York Harbor was simply superb ; every flood tide would see the 
capture of hundreds of bass in their season. There was one place in 
particular, the mention of which will perhaps recall to many an old- 
time angler some of his fishing triumphs — " The Willows," as it was 
termed. This famous spot in the Harlem Kills was often so encircled 
by row boats that any late arrival on the ground was forced to push 
his boat stern foremost into the crowded ring. 

As New York waters were and still are the center of striped bass 
fishing, I will first describe the methods of fishing here and the tackle 
and baits used. As the monster fish of former days are not now 
looked for, the New York fisherman fixes his rod and line for bass 
under ten pounds. 

The kind of fishing most popular in our waters is " trolling." By 
some the rod is used, but of tener we see a solitary boatman leisurely 
rowing and holding a long and heavy line in his teeth (a sure sign, I 
take it, that they are his own). How anyone's jaws can stand such 
a strain I do not know; no doubt, though, enthusiasm gives them 
three-fold strength. I have seen such a lone fisherman rowing along 
with the stillness and imperturbable gravity of a Sphnix, suddenly 
drop his oars, take the wet line from between his teeth and after a 
struggle bring to his basket a three or four-pound striped bass. 
Imagine what a tooth-pulling strike such a fish must have made. 

Trolling for bass in the channels of New York Harbor is more 
work than sport, and requires too little skill to suit the accustomed 
wielder of the fly-rod. . It is the way though by which most of the 
large fish are taken, and therefore is worthy of notice. The best 


Stage of the tide for this mode of fishing is during the last two hours 
of the flood. As to tackle, some use short rods, some long rods and 
some, as I have said, no rods at all. The rod, however, should be 
strong and supple ; all sellers of fishing tackle have assortments of 
striped bass rods from which the angler can easily get one meeting 
his ideal of what a rod should be. The line, usually of linen, should 
be at least two hundred feet long. The sinker gauged according to 
the force of the water, must keep the line about four feet from the 
bottom. A leader is always used, made of double gut and arranged 
to carry one or two hooks. This leader is generally about four feet 
long ; if one hook is used it may be shortened ; if two hooks, then 
two pieces of gut are tied below the sinker, one being the first 
length mentioned, the other two feet in length. What is very es- 
sential is that the tyings should be as neatly made as possible, as 
the striped bass is a wary and shy fellow. Now, as to bait, shedder 
crab is tempting but not serviceable, the swift current' gradually 
washing it from the hooks. A better bait is the long red sand worm 
looped on the hook so as to writhe with facility, thus as any one can 
see, making a most killing lure. These worms are found often nine 
inches long and as thick as the little finger. The tail of the squid 
is frequently used in trolling for large bass with heavy tackle. The 
seasons for trolling are June, July and August, and the places most 
frequented by bass are along the sedge-covered banks, aboat sunken 
meadows and in swift race-ways of the tides. 

The next general Jtmd of bass fishing is that styled still fishing. 
Let skill and fancy select the reel accurately balanced, the rod strong 
and yielding, bright polished guides, large enough to let the line run 
smoothly, and an evenly twisted line. The angler will need these 
qualities in his tackle, for long casts are essential to successful still 
fishing. The leader is the same as is used in trolling, joined to the 
line by a swivel sinker and holding two "flatted Kirbys," size 0-9, 
this being in my estimation about the proper hook for still fishing 
for school-bass. The best bait is the shedder crab, next the shedder 
lobster, and last but almost equal in efficiency to the other two, the 
»and worm. 

The striped bass, like its brother the fresh water str ped bass, will 


take the fly eagerly, and in doing so w ill give more excitement, per- 
haps, than genuine pleasure to tlie enthusiastic fly-caster who is un- 
willing to place any fish under the headmg Game, before he has as- 
sured himself that the member of the finny tribe in question will 
seize a surface lure in the sh2k,pe of an artificial fly. 

In all salt water fishing, with hardly an exception, the hours when 
the tide is rising afford the best scoring time, and this is invariably 
true in striped bass fishing. In fly fishing for the bass the top of tLe 
flood is the right time, a little before the tide will turn. The angler 
may stand in the stern of the boat while the boatman rows him 
about over the flooded flats and still waters near the shores. A large 
fly must be used, a red ibis or a red and white one, in fact any of 
those bright ones used in salmon fishing. It will sometimes be well to 
let the fly sink beneath the surface six or eight inches. All of the 
above methods of fishing are tame and commonplace compared with 
that acme of all angling on the Atlantic coast — surf fishing for the 
striped bass. It is also called " chumming," but the " chumming" 
part of the sport is not performed by the angler. This surf fishing 
is limited to a stretch of our Eastern coast, whose northern limit is 
Oape Cod and whose southern is a little below Montauk Point. 
The description of this widely celebrated branch of salt water fish- 
ing, though it is known perhaps to every angler, could not well be 
omitted in anything written about the striped bass, it is such mag- 
nificent use of skill and tackle, such splendid practice for the 

Running out from the shore, right in the midst of the rolling surf 
and over the great boulders, a light frame work or "bridge "of 
wood is built. It terminates in a small platform affording just room 
enough for the fisherman and his attendant. I mentioned above 
the necessity for the best of tackle. Now the need is doubled. 
The rod is nine or ten feet long (each angler is sure to take the 
length he can handle best) ; the reel, a triple multiplier of largest 
size, must be most beautifully and perfectly balanced in its move- 
ments ; the line, some four hundred feet long, is of the best linen 
make. All these things must be well looked to, for they are indis- 
pensable in casting. He who makef the longest casts, takes the 


most and largest fish. To be successful in any degree the baits 
must be shot seaward over one hundred feet. 

There are two general methods of casting — the " overhand " and 
the " underhand." These terras have reference to the way the rod 
is held in casting, either over or under the level of the arm. 

Before the angler launches his bait on their long trip through the 
air, the "chummer" has cut up into pieces enough menhaden to fill 
a bushel basket,, and with a long sweep of his arm is scattering the 
bits of fish over the waves. Besides the menhaden being a favorite 
side-dish of our friend the bass, the oil of the fish covers the water 
for some distance out. This film whets the appetite of the striped 
bass, tempting him further in, till suddenly a great piece of crab or 
an entire lobster's tail splashes down right in front of his open 
jaws. It is no strain on any one's imagination even though he has 
never "been there," to try to picture what a gloriously exciting and 
hard-fought struggle there will be before his hungry lordship is 
brought within the reach of the gaff. The splendid fish, thoroughly 
game, full of the rush and exhilerating life of the salt waves, his 
firm muscles trained by many tussles with the boisterous tides, is 
able to make a fight for life exceeding in length and fierceness that 
of any other game fish of our continent. The angler, on his frail 
platform, barely giving him space for action, out over the combing 
breakers that now and again drench him with spray, is also spurred 
by the excitement of the moment and its surroundings to use his ut- 
most skill and art. The combined result is what the salt water fish- 
erman claims the right of terming the high water mark of all angling. 
In order to enjoy this noble sport where the fish has a better 
chance of escaping than the angler has of catching him, safe from 
intrusion, and also that they may have some prospect of success, 
parties of gentlemen have formed clubs and purchased parts of the 
coast line and among these fishermen an earnest rivalry exists for the 
proud possession of the title of " high-line," given to him who takes 
the largest fish or the greatest number. 

Perhaps some over-fastidious angler will object that this surf -fish- 
ing is a mere contest between heavy tackle and brute strength, but 
the objection will not hold good, for in no branch of the angler's 


art is there such oj^portunity given for work of head and hand as m. 
landing a great striped bass whose weight is out of all proportion to* 
the tackle used in his capture. * 

The time of year when anglers can most enjoy this surf-fishing is; 
in the months of August and September; the bait they use is the 
oily menhaden, the shedder crab, and as something new, the meat 
stripped from the tad of the lobster. The places they go to are 
Montauk Point and its vicinity, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, 
the Elizabeth Islands, and the rocky shores of Connecticut and Mas- 

For smaller bass any of the bays of South Long Island, along the 
New Jersey coast, the pleasant inlets of the river at the Sound, 
and the ITarlem River at Kingsbridge, the East River at Hell-Gate, 
at Harlem Kills, the North River up to fresh water, are good 
grounds. The tackle for this lighter fishing I have already de- 
scribed under " trolling." The baits are shedder crab, sand- worms- 
and shedder lobster. 

I have touched here and there upon the virtues of the striped bass- 
as a game fish. I will add another to that long list by mentioning 
the splendid flavor of the fish when rightly served. By all means 
then, ye angler who like fish cooked as well as (I will not say — bet- 
ter than) alive, let the striped bass of four pounds weight be^ 
gashed and broiled, served on a hot dish, sprinkled with a mere- 
dash of red pepper and buttered well, and then eaten with the ad- 
dition of a few drops pressed from the half of a smooth-skinned 
lemon. Truly you \v\\\ enjoy a taste putting the fried Saddle Rock 
to shame, and making the canvass-backed duck hide his diminished 


The Bluefish. — Famatomus saUatrix. — Gill. 

The bluefish, at once the most destructive a id oiiooi the most im- 
portant, from an economic point of view, of ull coast fishes, is next 
on the list of gamy denizens of the sea. 

The bluefish has not always been taken on the North Atlantic 
seaboard of the United States, but made his appearance there for the 
first time during the first decade of the century. But since that mi- 
gration from more Southern waters, vast schools of bluefish have 
swept along the coast of the Atlantic States year after year, without 
a single season being omitted. It is thought by many that this rapa- 
cious foreigner came from the warm seas surrounding the West 
Indies. Be that as it may, he certainly has the bloodthirsty habits 
and murderous ways of the Spanish buccaneers, who once infested 
those islands. 

The bluefish in his annual visits, as some one has recently esti- 
mated, slaughters billions of the smaller fishes, killing in mere wan- 
tonness. He drives before him immense schools of the mossbunkers, 
and anon dashes into their midst, cutting right and left with his 
sharp teeth. They do not eat one-tenth of what they slay, but for 
the most part take one round, clean bite out of each victim, leaving 
their bodies to float on the waves, " a prey to the birds that sail in 
the air." It is this fact that betrays the whereabouts of the bluefish; 
for the loiig-winged gulls hover above every school of them, picking 
ip the fioatmg crumbs in the shape of dead fish from the bluefishes' 
cable. The fishermen on shore watch till they see the gulls sailing 


and dipping, and then know exactly where the bluefish are at their 
murderous work. 

The run of these fish commences in early spring, and lasts through 
the whole summer and fall, but in winter the fish disappear. 

The appearance of the bluefish is rakish, as beseems the pirate of 
the ocean. His body is bounded by graceful curved lines ; the fins 
are small, considering the great strength and speed of the fish, and 
look when spread out as if they had been trimmed. The tail is 
forked ; the first dorsal fin has seven rays, and is much smaller than 
the second, which has twenty-five rays. The ventral fin is small, 
and has five rays. The anal fin is larger, and about the same size as 
the second dorsal. The operculi, or gill covers, are covered with 
scales ; the mouth is very large and its edges are full of very sharp 
teeth, good to tear and cut (hence one of its scientific names — tem- 
nodon). The head is more than one-fourth the length of the body. 
The whole fish in form is beautiful and symmetrical. The color m 
white, or greenish white on the belly, gradually deepening into a 
steel blue as it nears the dorsal fin. 

Of the various ways of taking the bluefish I will first describe the 
most important to all classes of fishermen — trolling with hand lines. 
There are some who think no true angler will take aught but the 
salmon or the black bass ; there are others who limit the angler's 
skill to casting the artificial fiy ; there 'are many more who will allow 
him no "gentlemanly" method of fishing save with the rod. I think 
they are mistaken as well as selfish. I would give as a truer defin- 
ition of the art : fishmg of every kind requiring skill and carried on 
humanely and for enjoyment. If, then, the " gentleman angler " will 
not feel less of the gentleman while trolling, he may enjoy the de- 
lightful sport in the following way : 

Have a staunch fast-sailing catboat or sloop, one that will " turn 
on a shilling," as the phrase goes, and a good-natured old sea-dog to 
handle it. In a good breeze he will make his craft tack to and fro_ 
through the shoal of bluefish, jamming the helm hard down and cans 
ing her to spin round witnout losing headway. 

The next requisite is a good stout line, generally of cotton, two 
or three hundred feet long, carrying a heavy sinker, and below this 


a trolling spoon of ivory, bone or metal. A trolling sinker is made 
sometimes with a large hook set in the lead. Trolling spoons are of 
great variety, very costly ones being made of silver and pearl. The 
trolling sinker or spoon must be attached to the line by a yard 
length of wire snell, or the two will soon part connection, aided by 
the sharp teeth of the bluefish. 

To protect the hands of the angler, woollen gloves are often de- 
sirable. When the bluefish strikes (fiercely, he does, too,) and feels 
the hook, he begins a famous fight, sometimes running deep, then 
breaking on the surface, and sometimes surging from side to side. 
A well-known trick of his is to start off at lightning speed and over- 
run the hooks. 

Fish caught by trolling run from four to fifteen pounds in weight, 
and this method of fishing gives great enjoyment. Overhead the 
blue sky and soaring gulls ; the sparkling waters all about ; the 
swift motion of the boat and the excitement o^ the caj)ture, make 
the hours pass most delightfully. 

Another good way of taking the bluefish is by chumming. Moss 
bunkers are chopped fine, as in striped bass fishing, and thrown upon 
the water. The rod must have large free guides, the reel be free run 
ning aad of fine workmanship, and the swivel sinker light. The 
bait, a piece of menhaden or crab, is cast out in the midst of the 
chum-bait and then reeled up ; and be it remembered, that always 
in bluefishing the hooks must be fastened to the line by a piece of 
fine wire or gimp pnell. 

The best stage of the tide for bluefishing is the rising tide and 
the slack water at the ebb and flood. 

The bluefish will take the fly and often keep it. If you have any 
«o bestow, he prefers the large ones, of bright and assorted colors. 

Where to enjoy bluefishing is easily told. In the Ocean off Cane 
May, at Long Branch, and all along the coast of New Jersey. Ex- 
cellent fishing is enjoyed every season at Barnegat and Atlantic City, 
at Fire Island and on the whole stretch of the Ocean side of Long 
Island. The natural food of the bluefish is the mossbunker, and un- 
less something in the shape of legislative action is done to restrict 
the taking of these fish within a certain period, the mossbunker wiK 


be almost annihilated, and the attraction which draws the bluefish to 
our shores will be a thing of the past. This is a matter not only of 
much concern to the angler, but vastly more important to the poor 
of our great seaboard cities. 


The Weakfish. — Cynoscion regalit<.-^GiU. 

The fish we now treat of is by far the most beautiful specimen 
of the inhabitants of the sea which the salt water angler has the 
happy fortune of capturing. Though he cannot lay claim to the 
game qualities of the striped bass, upon his scales shine each of the 
seven cardinal hues. 

The general color of the weakfish, or as the Indians called him, the 
squeteague, is blue, lightening on the under parts. On the back 
and sides are spots arranged in a transverse order. The color of the 
top of the head is greenish blue; the inside of the mouth yellow; 
the gill covers lustrous silver; on the lower jaw there is a salmon 
tint. The fins also are of different coloration; the dorsals are brown; 
the pectorals a yellowish brown; the ventral and anal are orange. 
On both sides of the head, upon the operculi, are two rudimentary 
flattened points. 

The first dorsal fin is composed of eight rays, which might with 
propriety be called spines. The second dorsal is composed of rays 
much divided. The pectoral fins consist of seventeen branched 
rays. The ventral fin of one ray and five imperfect rays, and the 
<;audal fin has seventeen rays. 

The weakfish gives amusement to more anglers of the metropolis 
than any other fish on our lists. They run in great numbers during 
the summer months and early fall. July, August and September 
will be found to be the most successful months for weakfishing. 
Into every shallow estuary and creek and tide-channel the weakfish 



gwarm and it is their habit to run in from deep water on the incom- 
ing tide, the large ones swimming four or five feet below the sur- 

Before the rapacious bluefish came from the South in such num- 
bers and regularity, the weakfish were much more plentiful on our 
coasts, and though it is a sort of post hoc prop hoc argument, yet 
many claim that the gradual decrease in the supply of weakfish is 
due to the bluefish's advent. 

As above stated, the weakfish can be taken almost anywhere on 
the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay up to the Connecticut 
river, and a few of the best places to take them are the fol- 

Princess Bay, reached by way of the South Ferry; Fort Lafay- 
ette in the Narrows; Newark Bay; up the Long Island Sound at 
Westchester Creek; at Atlantic City, and at the mouth of the Del- 
aware river. 

The nearness of many of these places to the great cities, New 
York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, gives an opportunity to the an- 
gler with little leisure to take his day or two of fishing in the tossing 
ocean and take what he catches home with him. It would be best, 
too, to do this last as soon as he can, for the weakfish unless eaten 
while yet the brilliant tints shine on his sides is of a poor and in- 
sipid flavor. 

The weight of this fish varies from two pounds running close in 
shore, to those of eighteen pounds, rarely caught, and that only in 
deep water. 

A\ eak fishing is generally carried on from a boat anchored in the 
tideway and the best stage of the tide is the flood tide, and especial- 
ly the last half of it. It affords the most sport to fish for the 
squeteague with a light bamboo rod; with a rod his capture is more 
certain, and it is not true fishing to take a delii'ate fish like the 
weakfish out of the water with a heavy hand line, though perfectly 
allowable in the case of the fierce and weighty bluefish. 

The reel should be large, the same as is used in fishing for the 
small striped bass; the line, a finely-twisted linen one, light as may 
be consistent with strength. The lighter the line the lighter the 



sinker, is a rule of great consideration in salt water angling. A 
light swivel sinker is used, and a leader, upon which two hooks of 
large bend are fastened. An excellent hook is 4-0, best hollow 
point Limerick. The best bait is the shedder crab, and among other 
baits hard clam, shrimp or a piece of menhaden or other light col- 
ored fish. 

If you are fishing for the smaller Aveakfish make a cast and {hen 
allow the sinker to remain off the bottom three or four feet. If in 
the tide-way and for larger game, it is well to use a float which will 
hold the baits some five feet below the surface. 

The weakfish bites fiercely and makes a brave fight, and his favor- 
ite tactics are to run with the line faster than it is reeled off, to 
overrun it, as the angler terms it, and so shake out the hooks. This 
operation is made easier by the fact that the jaws of the weakfish 
are parchment-like and in them the hook makes a large rent, being 
stayed only by the stiff rim of the mouth. In weakfishing, then, be 
Bure to keep, the line taut. 



The Sheepshead. — Archosargui^ prohatocephalus. — Gill. 

The fish we now treat of is the greatest delicacy, according to 
many, which the sea yields to man, but whether it ranks higher in 
this respect than the Spanish mackerel or the pompano, I think is 
very doubtful, but de gicstibics there is no dispute. The flavor 
of the sheepshead is however acknowledged by everyone to be most 
excellent. The appearance of the fish is most peculiar. The head 
is large and massive, and the back greatly arched at the shoulders, 
and along the most of its length is placed a large dorsal fin, which 
the sheepshead can raise or lower at will into a groove where it fits 
neatly. I know of no other fish whose scientific name is a direct 
translation of its common and local appellation — (prohatocephalus 
is sheepshead turned into Greek). This coincidence is caused by the 
marked resemblance between the front teeth of the sheepshead and the 
la,nd ovis. The tooth system of the sheepshead is remarkably well de- 
veloped ; besides the front incisors (six or eight) there are molars pow- 
erful enough to crack a clam-shell with ease. The color of the fish is 
brassy bn the dorsal ridge, merging into dull silver, which gets lighter 
as it nears the ventral line. About the body at right angles to the 
medial line run six dusky bands ; the eye is large and gamy. The 
dorsal fin is composed of twelve spines and twelve rays. The pec- 
toral fins are composed each of sixteen ramose rays. The ventral 
ray consists of one spine and five rays ; the anal fin of ten soft rays. 
Upon each shoulder is a dark spot. Altogether, the sheepshead is 


one of those beautifully colored, toothsome fishes which only salt 
water holds within its depths. 

The sheepshead runs in size from half a pound up to fifteen 
pounds, and like most of the other coast fishes, is a summer visitor ; 
appearing in June and leaving in November. This fish runs up 
from the South, and increases in size as it nears our waters. The 
sheepshead is not seen above New York State. Though he seldom 
appears in such numbers as the bluefish, or even the weakfish, yet 
sometimes the sheepshead come in great schools, and happy is the 
fisherman who falls in with such a collection of them. It is a thing 
to boast of, the capture of a large sheepshead. 

The front teeth of the sheepshead are wisely given him for a 
special habit of his ; he swims about sunken logs, along the bottom 
rocks, and is enabled by his projectmg teeth to bite off the different 
molluscs which form the food of the sheepshead. This grazing habit 
of the fish has given rise to an arrangement on the Virginia coast 
by which the certainty of an annual call from the sheepshead is se- 
cured. A writer in the first volume of The Angjeb has well 
described this plan : 

" The natives drive long stakes of split wood into the bottom of 
inlets and sounds in square or circular shape, forming pens. On 
these stakes the molluscs soon attach themselves, and the sheepshead 
finds in or about them an attraction habitual where he can 
eat to his fill without beating about for the delicacies he demands." 

Sheepshead are caught by hand-line and with rod and reel, and of the 
two methods of course the skillful angler will chose the latter. The 
sheepshead is a wary and careful fish, and to draw him from his na- 
tive element requires skill and patience. The rod should be a stout 
©ne, and about nine feet long — the regulation striped bass rod is 
about right. The line most thought of by skilled sheepshead fish- 
ermen is a braided linen line of the smallest diameter giving strength 
enough. To this line is fastened a swivel and tracing sinker, and 
also a double gut leader composed of two parts, one of which is 
about two feet in length, the other twelve inches. The best bait is 
the soft clam, either put on whole or with the shell removed ; the 
next best is the shedder crab — (is there any living sea animal that 


won't take it ?) The hooks are made of stout wire, short shank, and 
ringed. Most tackle dealers sell a sheepshead hook. The reel 
ought to be a multiplier, and about the size used in bass-fishing. On 
making a cast the sinker is allowed to find bottom, and then the line 
IS drawn taut. The sheepshead is a cautious nibbler, and the taut 
line enables the fisherman to feel his slightest nibble at the bait. On 
being hooked the sheepshead will come up without making much 
fuss, but when near the surface of the water will often sink like a 

The best places to take the sheepshead are the following : On the 
New Jersey coast off Long Branch ; atBarnegat ; off Atlantic City; 
at Rockaway Beach, and in the South Bay. 

The sheepshead is heavily armored with scales, and a landing net 
is a necessary part of the angler's outfit. 


The Kingfish. — Menticirrufi nebuhsuH — Mitcb. 

The kingfish, or whiting, us it is called along the southern coast, 
is the gamiest fish for its size known to the angler. Its great 
gaminess, its beauty of coloring and form, and its excellent flavor 
combined to cause the loyal citizens of New York in the colonial 
days, to name the fish the king-fish. 

It used to be very abundant in the waters of New York city, and 
with the small striped bass, was the crowning glory of the old 
time fishing. In such esteem was the king-fish that I have read in 
some fishing book that the New York angler on hearing that 
king-fish were to be caught from the pier-heads, would seize his rod 
and basket and rush off in his shirt sleeves to enjoy the long wished 
for sport. 

But now the kingfish are very scarce in our harbor ; but there are 
plenty of them to be bought in Fulton Market, having been brought 
up to the city from the Jersey coast and the South Bay. Genio. C. 
Scott is very enthusiastic about the kingfish, giving it a very high 
rank among salt water game fishes ; and he makes the assertion 
that the New York angler cares more for a two pound whiting in 
his basket than (well I have forgotten how many pounds of any 
other salt water fish.) But without claiming as much as this for 
the kingfish, he is worthy in every respect of the high esteem in 
which he is held by anglers and epicures. 

The kingfish, also sometimes called barb, is tapering and long in 
form, has a complete covering of round and ciliated scales, and on 


the gill cover are two stout flattened spines. The head and moutb 
are small and the snout well thrown forward. The teeth in the two* 
jaws are not alike ; in the upper jaw they are long and acute ;,in the • 
lower they are short and bent inward. There are two dorsal' fins ; • 
the first is a triangle and is remarkable for the height of the fifi-fet • 
ray. The second dorsal is long and low ; the pectorals are wide ' 
and pointed. The anal fin is composed of one spine and eighth 
rays. The tail is curved in and then out like the letter S. 

The kingfish glows with many beautiful tints ; upon the back and 
sides are shades of grey and silvery red : the abdomen is blueishi 
white and the fins are of different colors. The first dorsal fin is- 
brown ; the caudal and pectoral fins are olive brown ;■ the ventral 
and anal fins are yellow. On the sides above the lateral line are- 
many dark stripes or rather bands, hence nebulosus. It is a summer 
fish and runs in July and August, and in its wanderings it never 
goes beyond Cape Cod. 

The kingfish, as I have said, is very rarely met with about New 
York, but further south, at the inlet and along down to Florida they 
are very plentiful. A light rod and multiplying reel, a strongs an^ 
very light line, a swivel sinker and two rather small hooks ara what, 
is required in the way of tackle; much the same rig as is used in^ 
weakfishing. The bait either shedder crab or sand- worm. The king-. 
fish is thoroughly game ; he seizes the bait eagerly and then gO€»^^ tos 
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, thft 
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 Brunch and Barnegat Inlet, and f urth^x HQukh they are ver^ 


The Bonito. — barda pelamy ^.—GiW. 

The bonito, or skip- jack as the fishermen call it, is a wanderer in 
all the warmer waters of the world. It is a species of tunny, sup- 
posed to have been first seen at the Island of Sardinia. It is plentiful 
in the Mediterranean Sea to this day ; is found off the east coast of 
Africa, in the waters of South America and all along our eastern 
«oa8t. In appearance the bonito resembles the members of the 
mackerel tribe, but on a second inspection is found to be vastly 
stouter and heavier in proportion to its size. 

Its symmetrical form and sharply cut fins give it an appearance of 
great speed, and its sharp teeth a rather vicious look. It is nearly 
one-quarter as broad as it is long. The scales on the bonito are so 
fine that they are scarcely visible to the eye. The mouth is well 
supplied with teeth, each jaw has about twenty fine acute teeth, 
slightly inclined inward, and at the base of the tongue there are 
two patches of small teeth. The eye is large and prominent. The 
first dorsal is long and consists of twenty-one weak spines ; the sec- 
<Jond dorsal is rather small and has two spines and a number of rays; 
behind this fin are nine finlets. The pectoral fins are long, triangu- 
lar and lodged in a "cavity fitting their shape. The ventrals also 
have such a hollow into which they fit. Between the anal and the 
caudal fin there are six or seven finlets. The caudal is curiously 
curved inwards, about the shape of a crescent. 

The top of the head and sides are dark lead color. The belly is 
an ashen grey, almost blue in some places. The ventral fins are 



white and the other fins are black or a dark blue color. Upon the 
sides are six or eight stripes iparalled to each other. These stripes 
alone should serve to identify the fi^h. Th-e bonito visits us in 
August and September, at the same time as their nobler brother, the 
Spanish mackerel, and these last being worth in the market twenty 
and twenty-five cents per pound and the bonito about six cents, 
there is a vast deal of imposition practiced by the marketmen, es- 
pecially the smaller dealers outside of the market. The two fish 
look somewhat alike but their flavors are miles apart. The bonito 
is coarse and not very good, but the Spanish mackerel is one of the 
greatest luxuries taken from the sea. 

The bonito is frequently caught by blue-fishing parties ; it takes 
the same bait as the bluefish and often accompanies the bluefish 
armies, and also sometimes travels in -large schools of its own kind. 
In trolling, which is the only way of taking him with the hook, he 
seizes the bait with a snap and makes almost as much of a struggle 
as the bluefish. Those caught for the market are taken in seine 
nets and when honestly sold are very cheap. Cape Cod seems to be 
their northern limit, and they are plentiful in the summer months 
in Massachusetts Bay. 


The Black Drum. — Fogonias chromic. — Lace]). 

The drum is the largest fish caught with hook and line that visits 
the Eastern coast. Of this fish there are two distinctly different 
varieties, distinguished by the coloring. The black drum and the 
red drum, although thus differently marked, are not, as many sup 
pose, two separate kinds of fish, but are species of one and the same 
class. Tl^e so-called "banded drum" is not a member of this class, 
but belongs to a totally distinct family — that of the Gorvince. 

In the months of August and September these " heavy-weights " 
of the angler's list arrive in swarms, or rather in small companies, 
off the Jersey shore. The drum is a social fish, and where you find 
one, you are pretty sure of finding others also ; and so it often hap- 
pens that schools of them are taken in the seine nets cast for menha- 
den. Such as are caught in this way are ground up for fertilizing 
purposes ; a great waste of a very good food-fish. 

The black drum is a heavy, compact and solid fish, of great depth 
as compared with its length. From the chin depend nearly twenty 
fleshy cirri. The body is covered with a heavy coat of large and 
ucsymmetrical scales, and on the gill-cover are two blunt points. 
Each jaw is well armed with blunt teeth, closely put together and 
eminently fitted to grind and crunch. There are no teeth upon the 
tongue. A marked feature of this fish is the abundance of fin- 
power with which it is supplied. First, there are two dorsal fins, 
very prominent when expanded, and fitting into a groove which is 
more developed for the first dorsal. The first dorsal fin is composed 



of ten stout flattened rays ; the second dorsal, ot one very short 
ray and about twenty soft rays. The pectoral fins are large and 
pointed ; the anal fin has one very short ray and another long and 
stout one. 

The prevailing color is darkish bronze, of a brown tint ; lighten 
ingas it nears the ventral region. Behind each pectoral fin is a 
round dark spot. The scales are silvery on the exposed edges. The 
black drum, as it is called, is dark brown, rather than black, and 
the red drum is lighter in tint, reddish and coppery. 

In size the drum runs from twenty to one hundred pounds and 
over, and their habitat is in extent from Florida to Xew York. 

Most of the drum are captured in seine nets during the summer 
months, but the angler, (probably tired of troutlings and basslets, 
and following the example of the English sportsman who, wearied 
of pheasants and jack-rabbits, journeys over half a world to find 
tigers and elephants) standing in the surf takes the monster out of 
his native element by a happy combination of strength, tackle and skill. 

Black drum are taken from the flat beaches of New Jersey while 
the tide is running up ; they are not found at all at ebb tide. Evi- 
dently they run out into deep water, and follow up the incoming 
tide, seeking food, which is generally crabs, clams, molluscs and sand 
insects of all kinds. 

The drum is taken without the use of a rod. The angler stands 
on the beach at the edge of the surf, or a little way in it, and uses a 
long hand line — two or three hundred feet of Cuttyhunk striped bass 
line is about the thing. The line should be as light as is possible in 
bringing in such big fish. To the line is attached a heavy " cast," 
or " bank" sinker, and above this lead are fastened the hooks ; gen- 
erally two are used, which are large — numbers 1 and 2 " sea hooks" 
are about right in size. The bait used is either crab, clam (soft shell) 
or mussel. The drum can crush almost any mollusc with his pow- 
erful teeth, and it is said he is very destructive to the oyster fanns 
along the coast. The baited line is cast far out in the surf by the 
angler, and as the action of the waves rolling in brings along with 
them the heavy sinker, the fisherman coils up in a round recep- 
tacle hanging from his neck the slack of the line. It often hap- 


pens that the bait is seized when there is scarcely enough water 
to cover the fins of the drum. 

The drum bites at first rather gingerly, like the sheepshead 
but as soon as he feels the strain of the line he begins to pull 
away, and then as the angler gradually brings him in, the drum 
will commence a series of short runs, following each other quickly, 
and such are the staying qualities of the fish, that a large 
one of fifty pounds weight will make a heavy pull for the angler. 


The Spakish Mackerel — Scomberomorus maculatum — Mitch, 

'J'he Spanish mackerel, the most delicate in flavor of all the salt 
water coast fishes (with the exception of the striped bass) deserves, 
mention in this paper both for his beauty and taste, and because a 
description of him will make the reader less liable to be imposed 
upon by fish sellers who are ready to palm off the bonito for the 
royal leader of all, the Spanish mackerel. 

The fact is, that Spanish mackerel are not often taken by amateur 
anglers in the ocean above Cape May. Those in the markets of 
New York are either shipped or taken in seines in the lower bay 
and off the J^ersey shore. The Spanish mackerel is far more elegant 
in shape and color than the bonito, as the following description will 

The very symmetrical and rounded form of the Spanish mackerel 
gives the fish an appearance of swiftness and grace. The head is 
small and flattened on the top and the eyes are large. On the pec- 
toral regions the scales are larger than on other parts of the body. 
There are sixty or seventy small teeth in the mouth. There are two 
dorsal fins, the first of which is transparent, and six or seven dorsal 
finlets. The pectoral fins are pointed. Behind the anal fin are five 
finlets. The caudal fin is deeply forked and on each side of it are 
small projections called by icthyologists carincB, or keels. 

The coloring of the Spanish mackerel consists of many diverse 
tints and gives the fish the most beautiful appearance. Above, on 
the sides is spread a light sea green, deeper in shade on the dorsal 
line, and there are darker green lines that go down the sides and 
just cross the lateral line. Beneath, on the belly the color is a dull 


l>lue, and on the sides are numerous gold spots, oval in shape. 
The abdomen is of a copper hue ; the gill-covers are also coppery, in 
some lights reflecting a silver brightness. 

The fact that the bonito has no visible scales, and is barred, not 
spotted, oui?ht to serve at once to distinguish between the bonito and 
Spanish mackerel. 

When the Spanish mackerel is taken by hook and line it is while 
trolling. They do not run so close to the shore as the bluefisii, and 
this is why the angler so infrequently meets with them. Though some- 
times caught by fishermen while bluefishing, yet when a trip is made 
tfpecially for the mackerel it is best to change the blitefish tackle, 
substituting a smaller spoon and lighter sinker. The Spanish mackerel 
takes the bait with a snap, makes a short and gallant fight, and when 
he yields gives up thoroughly, having no more struggle in him. Off 
the Southern coast I understand the capture of Spanish mackerel 
with hook and line is practiced frequently and with success. The 
baits used are the same as in bluefishing, and the months when the 
mackerel appear on the Jersey and New York coast are August and 

• The Spanish mackerel, like maiiy other good fish, is *Homad, and 
is a traveller from warmer seas, having first been seen in the Medi- 
terranean, and now being caught almost everywhere. In size they 
vary from one to six pounds; they come larger, bat I never have 
seen any exceeding the latter weight. 

The four fish, the drum, kingfish, bonito and Spanish mackerel, 
are all highly valued additions to our fish supply, giving enjoyment 
to the angler and food to the many. They are all remarkable for 
the beauty of their coloring — it would be hard to find their equal 
in this respect among fresh waters — and it is a curious fact that the 
colors of salt w^ater fish are less changeable than those of their 
fresh water brethren. Not only more unvarying are the tints flash- 
ing from the scales of the dwellers of the deep, but far more vivid. 
The xjlear yellow of the porapano, the pure white of the striped 
bass, the deep red of the drum, and the metallic green and blues and 
silver of the bonito and Spanish mackerel, have no rivals in the lakes 
and rivers of the inland 


The Blackfish — Tautoga ooiitis — Lmn. 

The fish we treat of in this paper are humbler members of the 
finny tribe than those mentioned in the first articles. They 
cannot lay claim to beiuty, nor to more than indifferent gaminess, 
yet they compensate for this great lacking by their number, their 
toothsomeness, and by the fact that they are the first to come and 
almost the last to go ; and also that they run nearest the great city,, 
up to the very wharves, affording intense delight to the very lowest, 
of the angling fraternity — the newsboy after he has sold his last paper, 
the bootblack whose jobs are few, and the market lounger who hag 
come into possession of a lobster thrown out of one of the trim fish- 
ing smacks. 

At aiiy day in the fishing season all along the East and North 
rivers the string pieces of the wharves are alive with bare-legged 
hatless urchins, each with a piece of lobster for bait, and all engaged 
in tempting from the depths " tommies," eels or " nigger-fish." 

The fish that will be described below are properly termed " pan- 
fish," and at the head of the list of such fish we would with propriety^ 
place the blackfish, or tautog. His firm flesh and frequently large size,, 
and his disposition to resist capture almost equalling the bluefish, 
would perhaps permit of his being classified among the game fish of 
our shore waters, but as he will not take a surface lure that would per- 
haps be objected to by many. 

A close and strictly scientific description of these pan-fish would 
not be necessary, so I will describe the fish of this paper from an. 
angler's point of view. 

The blackfish in color is of every shade of grey, often only marked 


"with greyish spots on a pervading black, and is always deeply 
fola<ik along the dorsal. For a fish not swift in his movements his 
extent of fin is great, especially noticeable in the dorsal and caudal ; 
the pectorals also are very large. The head is very big an I heavy ; 
the back is high-arched immediately behind the head. The eye is 
full and round, and the mouth is small and bordered by thick 
fleshy lips. There is a heavy coat of scales over the whole body, 
and they are remarkably hard to get off in dressing the fish. This 
difiiculty can be partially done away with by dipping the fish in vin- 
egar before scaling him. 

The blackfish runs in size from half a pound to ten or twelve 
pounds, fish of the latter weight being taken in deep water. The 
•season for tautog fishing commences in the last of April — fishermen 
€ay when the willows commence to bud — and continues through the 
summer months, ending about the middle of October. 

The biackfish is a bottoni fish ; he loves the rock-strewn tide- 
"ways and the shelving sedgey edges of narrow channels. It was this 
preference of the tautog that made New York Harbor and its ap 
proaches the greatest blackfishing 'grounds known to the angler. 

The rocks of Hell Gate are renowned for their number, but only be- 
cause of the vast traffic which passes through that channel ; they 
•do not exceed or even equal the myriad boulders which choke the 
two river arms to the north of it. Little Hell Gate is a a roaring 
torrent when the tide is running up, and Bronx or Harlem Kills is 
its counteri^art. This last was the most famous place of all for 

Right in the middle of the water about two thirds of the length 
of the Kills from the Harlem mouth, there is a vast round rock, one 
of those smooth topped boulders, relics of the glacier that hollowed 
-out the bed it left them in. At half tide the waters sweep by this 
:stone like a miniature Niagara and create a strong eddy behind it 
'There existed in this rock a huge iron ring ; no one ever knew how 
it got there — and in times gone by if the angler could get his 
" painter" tied to that ring at the first of the flood tide he was sure 
of as much sport with the blackfish as he cared to enjoy. It is need- 
less to say to Harlem fishermen of to-day that a blackfish is a rara 


avis there in the year 1883. But the tautog has not altogether de. 
serted the lower Sound, and below I will give the names of some 
places where he can be taken. 

The tackle for blackfishing does not differ materially from that 
for weakfishing, save that the hooks should be low in the point and 
of rather heavy wire. The hook, when the sinker has reached bot- 
tom should then be drawn a foot or so up from the river bed. The 
best baits are the hard clam and the sand worm, and when the fish 
are plentiful the fiddler crab, placed entire on the hook. 

A peculiar way of fishing which I have noticed along the Sound, 
is to have a pole twelve or fourteen feet long without joints — a "bean 
pole" — and no reel, but only a fixed length of line. The pole is 
elastic, and when the fish, having taken the bait, is wearied with his 
efforts to free himself, the pole is raised and the fish swung in to the 
fisherman's hand — a very primitive style of fishing, and one only 
suited to shallow water, not exceeding sixteen feet in depth. When 
a three or four pound blackfiph strikes he makes three or four lunges 
to right and left, pulls back strongly, and sometimes when nearing 
the top moves in small circles. Those under a pound make very 
little resistance. 

Blackfish can be taken at Barnegat, off Long Branch or Rockaway 
Beach in great numbers, and at Montauk Point ; not being caught 
I believe above Martha's Vineyard. 

The above are outside fishing spots, but Long Island Sound rivals 
them all. Among the many good places on the Sound, Pelham is 
the best. The village of Pelham is situated on a river and beautiful 
bay of that name, and is about ten miles from New York city. It 
cah be easily reached from the metropolis by taking the New Haven 
train at the Harlem depot of the New York, New Haven and Hart- 
ford Railroad. The ride along the shore and through the rich 
farms of Westchester county is a delightful one, and if made in 
August or September is pretty sure to end in a successful day's 

The flesh of the blaekfish is white and firm, and if cooked as de- 
scribed on page 226, vol. 1, of The Angler, is one of the most 
tasteful of all the salt water fishes. 


The Flounder — Flatessa vulgains. — Gill. 

When the angler's paper of America employs its artist to depicc 
the form of the first caught flounder of the summer run, and when 
it announces the results of his labors two weeks ahead, then my 
humble pen needs no excuse for treating of the flatfish in these 
essays, and I will give none. 

The flounder I fear has been much looked down upon ; it 
has been called opprobrious epithets, such as " nigger fish," but its 
broad back will bear all this abuse, and it will continue to emerge 
triumphant from the frying pan with its tail turned up in a disdain- 
ful twist. 

The flounder has one virtue not possessed by its prouder relations ; 
he is always ready to be caught. Just as soon as it gets mild enough 
for the hardiest fisherman, he has but to drop his hook over a soft 
mud-bank, and when he raises his line, lo ! there is a floundei at the 
other end. And again, when the flounder makes up his deliberate 
mind to bite he does so in a thorough manner, and when the angler 
pulls him out the flounder has by some peculiar internal mechanism 
worked the hook almost down to his tail (swallowed the hook, as the 
boys say), thus saving the fisherman that great vexation of spirit 
consequent on losing a noble fish. 

Before this is in type every reader of The Angler will have seen 
a faithful likeness of the flounder, so it is unnecessary for me to de- 
scribe his shape. In color he varies, from an instance of one white 


on both sides (one side is always white), through all shades of mot- 
tled brown. 

The big fellows (known to many local fishermen as tide runners) 
are a deep, rich brown or black — frequently, like the blackfish, marked 
with spots of gray. Often the color changes after they are caught. 
The young ones and the smaller kinds are lighter in tint, when very 
small being translucent. I don't mean to say you could read a news- 
paper through them, but holding them up to the light you can see 
the arrangement of the bones and fins. 

It is a curious physical fact that the young of the flounder, the 
fry, when first hatched are shaped like other fish, with an eye on 
each side of the head, but through a process of adaptation, as the- 
fish matures the eye, strangely enough, slips around the head, andi 
takes up its station permanently near the other. I have never seem 
this done, but it is a fact. 

The flounder is caught from April to November, and is in the 
best condition at the extremes of the season. They run of alL 
weights. I have seen them that didn't weigh anything, (they were 
the translucent ones) and others that would make the index point ta 
six pounds ; these last being popularly termed flukes. If we count 
in the halibut, then say 250 pounds as their highest limit. The 
flounder has the habit of lying in the mud, being, fitted for this by 
nature, and so well is his back simulated to his surroundings that it 
takes a pretty old crab to tell where the flounder ends and the mud 

The peculiarity of flounder fishing is, that you seldom know when.^ 
you have a fish on. He nibbles softly at the bait, or very slowly^ 
sucks it in. In fishing for flounders let the sinker terminate the- 
line ; then above this rig on three or four more hooks, small but 
strong. Let the lead find the bottom and every now and then lift 
it a foot or so. It is claimed that this manoeuvre makes the fish for- 
get his usual calmness and dash at the bait. The best bait is sand 
wojms, and the best tide during which to fish is the first of the flood,, 
just as it turns. 

Flounders are a great deal misunderstood. People buy theni' 
" nine days old, " and then find they are not good to eat ; but. 


take a fresh odc right out of the water, and cook him as he should 
be cooked, and he will prove himself a fish not to be despised. 

The best place to catch flounders is in general everywhere ; in 
particular, Rockaway Beach, North River, Harlem River, Sands 
Point, Westchester Creek, Pelham and Berrian's Creek. 


The Sea Bass. — Centropristis atrarius — Linn. 

The sea bass, a coast fish that never exceeds three pounds, is rarely 
caught nowadays except in the ocean. It used to frequent the es- 
tuaries and bays about New York, but now is seldom seen there,* 
and when they are taken are very small,, averaging about half a 

The sea bass has many different colors scattered over its body. 
The prevailing tint is blue and black-blue ; the gills are a bright 
scarlet and the inside of the mouth lined throughout with a brilliant 
yellow. The deep blue of the dorsal gradually merges into a 
lighter blue on the ventral region. 

All along the coast these sea bass, like the kingfish, are getting 
scarcer and scarcer, whether as one of the results of the bluefish at- 
tacks I do not know. As I have said, they are rarely caught by 
New York fishermen ; when I have taken them it has been at the 
end of the summer fishing in the coolish days of October and 

The sea bass makes less resistance to capture than any salt water 
fish I know of. Even the flounder will curl himself up until he be- 
comes like an umbrella, coming up through the water wrong side up, 
but the sea bass allows himself to be drawn right along, and when 
once in the boat dies very quickly. One would expect from his 
great stretch of fins a stout fighter. The sea bass has a very large 
mouth and big eye, and a heavy coat of large scales covers his body. 

Although generally small it sometimes reaches the weight of 
three pounds, and is caught of that size off Montauk Point, Long 


Island. Though not a very prominent fish on the list of the salt 
water angler, Kilburn, the artist, has included a beautiful copy of 
him in his wonderful series of game fishes, and I would refer my 
readers to that work for a just idea of the glorious coloration of the 
salt water fishes. 

The sea bass is a bottom fish, swimming about and living on the 
crustaceans that inhabit the rocky bed. So, in fishing for sea bass, 
the sinker should be kept not more than a foot above the bottom. 
The best bait is sandworms and clams, and the best tide is at the 
flood. The sea bass is not very good eating unless just from the 
salt water. Like the weakfish, if kept, it has a tendency to grow 
oft and insipid. 


The Bergall — Tautogolabrus adspersus: 

This fish has earned, and deservedly, much opprobrium on a good 
many accounts. It is a very small fish, only in very rare instances- 
reaching a pound's weight. The general color is blueish on the dor- 
sal, merging into a greenish hue beneath. Different size* vary 
greatly in color. Some bergalls are brownish, some blue,, some 
green ; the largest have an orange tint about the gill covers. The- 
eye is not large and the mouth, in which there is a plentiful supply 
of sharp teeth, is small and bordered with thick lips like the black- 
fish. In the dorsal fin are several very sharp spines likely to inflict 
a severe wound unless the angler is careful. 

The strong scales of this fish are almost impossible to tak^ off it 
once allowed to dry. A dip in sharp vinegar will render the task 
of dressing the bergall easier. The bergall is a vicious looking 
little fish ; has a mean face. 

This fish is very plentiful about New York, and is caught about 
rocks and sunken timbers. The bergall is an invariable co-dweller 
<vith the blackfish ; his great delight, and, indeed, it seems to be the 
only purpose in life, is to steal as much bait as he can swallow, and 
f am inclined to believe that when he is unable to eat any more he 
takes the bait off the hook in mere wantonness and throws it away^ 

I would advise all anglers who have caught a lot of bergalls in 
their day's outing not to go to the trouble of taking them away and 
cooking them, unless of more than usual size. The best thing to do- 
is to cut them up with the bait knife and throw them overboard 
(what fishermen call " baiting the spot "), thus serving as aa a.ttrac- 


'tion to other and better fish. As a food fish the bergall is not very 
good, the small ones frequently being muddy. 

I do not suppose that anyone would think of going out especially 
for bergalls, but if the fisherman really wants to catch the sly fel- 
low, let him rig a " gang " of very small hooks, having a big bend 
and extremely sharp points; put on a microscopic piece of bait, and 
as soon as the line is down give rt a sharp jerk upward. I have often 
tried this method with success. The hooks catch everywhere, in the 
tail, the belly, on the back and in the head. The bergall bites 

^eagerly at low tide. 

The Tomcod — Microgadus tomcodus — Gill. 

The tomcod is a small fish, a member of the cod family, and i» 
caught in large quantities about New York wharves in summer and 
fall. The tomcod seldom reaches a weight of half a pound, (?) attain- 
ing its maximum growth about the time of early frost. It is a 
lively little fish and gives great sport to the small anglers about the 
metropolis. It has the exact shape and form of the codfish, only in 
coloration and marking it is far handsomer. I have taken a tomcod. 
from the clear waters of Harlem Kills in the month of September^ 
which, when it was landed on the float at my feet, had a bright, 
golden color with a tinge of red. The eye of the tomcod is promi- 
nent and reddish in color. The fins are large, excessively so con- 
fiidering the size of the fish, and are as soft as wet paper. 

He is a gamier fish than his deep sea cousin, and if in large quan» 
titles gives great enjoyment. The largest " tommy " I ever caught — 
and it was the biggest one I ever saw — was about twelve inches long^ 
and weighed a little over half a pound. The tomcod is not such a. 
bad fish to eat as some would suppose who had bought them fronii 
gome fishmonger's stall where the ice had taken the flavor out of 
them days before. Like all soft-fleshed fishes the tomcod must be 
cooked and eaten immediately on taking it from the water. 

The very large ones are not so good as the little ones, and when 
an unusual catch has been made and the fish dealers are anxious to- 
dispose of the perishable stock, they give the tomcod other names^, 
such as " frostfish " and "London trout," and often impose upon.thft 


unwary. They are totally different from " f rostfish," these latter 
being a very tasteful fish indeed. As for " London trout," that is 
a very good name to entrap countrymen with. The best time of 
the year to go fishing for " tomcods " is September, and I know of 
no better place than along the docks of the North River, from 110th 
street to Spuyten Duyvel. 

The rig is the same as is used in flounder fishmg, and it is best to 
fish with a gang of hooks fastened above a hollow round sinker, 
which must be light. Sand worms are the best bait, and the ebb 
tide I have always found to be the most successful stage of the 
water. There used to be in Harlem Kills an old float and boat- 
house kept by " Sandy " Gibson, and from that float, which was 
anchored directly over the once famous striped bass spot, the 
"Willows," I enjoyed the most successful pan fishing I have ever 
had. It was a great place for tomcods and flounders, and off of it 
I took the big tomcod mentioned above. Tomcods will take the 
baited hook when they are no bigger than the little finger, and bite 
from early April to December. The smaller they are the better they 
are to eat. 


The Cobfish. — Gadus morrhua. — Linn. 

Does anyone who revels in black bass literature ana 'orooK trouo 
history wonder why, nay, indignantly inquire, what business the 
" low-down " codfish has in such company ? The New York City 
angler can tell him. "What one of that noble fraternity has not 
gone to the " Cholera banks " after codfish, and what one of that 
aforesaid fraternity has ever caught one ? 

Though to fishermen who are joined to their idols in the shape of 
a six-ounce bamboo joss and a mystic brass wheel, quick-revolv- 
ing, termed a reel, the codfish is the lowest of the low, yet it is the 
most important food fish, with the exception of the little herring, 
known to our age. Whole communities live by catching and selling 
the codfish, and the right of fishing for them in certain regions has 
been made a clause in international treaties. 

The codfish multiplies more rapidly than any other salt water fish, 
and lives on the small Crustacea that inhabit the depths of the ocean. 
It is found in the salt waters of New York and New England States, 
but its home and stronghold is at the fog- shrouded banks of the 
Newfoundland. There they are caught by the thousands of tons, 
by means of set lines, consisting of hundreds of feet of line, havmg 
a hook at every interval of three feet, baited with small pieces of 
fish or clam. These lines, heavily leaded, are sunk in the ocean sup- 


ported by a float on the surface and are left out during the night, 
pulled in in the morning, baited again, and once more visited during 
the afternoon. 

Then again there is dory fishing for codfish (the dory is a slim 
and long skiff, sharp at bow and stern, and as light on the waves as 
a cork). This is the most exciting and dangerous kind of fishing 
that can be indulged in. A fising smack starts for the " banks " and 
on reaching them anchors. Then such of the crew as may be chosen 
are sent out in dories with an allowance of water and a little some- 
thing to eat. These hardy fishermen row away over the waves 
(each one of the great rollers rising higher than the total length of 
his light craft), and soon lose sight of the schooner. Reaching his 
appointed grounds each man anchors, bows on to the ocean swell, 
having an anchor at bow and stern. A moment in the trough of the 
sea would be instant destruction. Standing up in his tossing boat, 
with a line in both hands, surrounded by the shifting fogs and thick 
mists, the toiling fisherman must give constant attention to the lines, 
straining his muscles with pulling in great halibut, haddock and cod- 
fish. The fog is close about him, when suddenly the vast, faintly 
outlined form of a New York-bound Cunarder passes within stone- 
throw of his dory, or the air grows chill by the nearing presence of 
some huge iceberg. Such is the life of the cod-fisher, and many are 
those whom the returning sloop reports as " missing." 

The New York angler knows codfishing in a different aspect ; lie 
sees a notice in his Sunday journal that the commodious, sumptu- 
ous, etc., etc., palace, etc., etc., steamboat will take a party ot gen- 
tlemen to the " fishing banks " at such and such a time. Excursion 
ticket one dollar; lines and bait furnished. Well, he goes; why 
not ? After heaving a coarse cotton line and a pound or so of lead 
an hour or two, he turns from the fishing banks to the fishing bar, 
calls for a glass of — water, and comes home disgusted with things 
in general. The bait on these occasions is chopped fish or clams. 
The codfish, when hooked, makes two or three lunges and then comes 
up like a log. I have said too much about the codfish — he is an ugly 
gray fish in my opinion, good neither to eat nor to catch. In the 
fall along the Jersey coast codfish are sometimes taken by skittering 
with a piece of red flannel as a lure. 



The Haddock — Morrhua agleferivs. — Gill. 

This fish, though not properly an angler's fish, still for the same 
reasons as the codfish, ought to be included here. It is a big and 
heavy fish, with peculiar fins looking as if they had been trimmed. 
Its mouth has numerous teeth and its eyes are large. There is a 
strange story conaected with the haddock. The tribute-takers of Ca- 
pernaum demanded tribute of Simon x*eter and the Lord. The 
apostle was told by the Lord : 

" Go thou to the sea and cast an hook and take up the fish that 
first Cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt 
find a piece of money, that take, ard give unto them for me and 

The apostle did as he was directed, and caught, according to the 
tradition, a haddock, and while taking Lhe coin out of his mouth he 
grasped it between his finger and thumb, and to this day the had- 
dock bears the marks of the impress of the apostle's thumb and 
forefinger. They are two black marks about the size of a three- 
cent piec6 immediately behind the head, just where an angler to-day 
would grasp a fish to extract the hook from its jaws. 

The haddock has a distinct black line running along its sides; the 
same lateral line in the codfish is white. As regards coloration the 
haddock is darker than the codfish. It is a more tasty fish also, and 
is usually smoked before being brought to market. A celebrated 
kind of smoked haddock comes from Scotland and they are known 
as " finnan baddies." The haddock is caught prmcipally in winter 


by professional fishermen in the neighborhood of Cape Cod, though 
the extent coastwise of the haddock run, is from Delaware Bay up 
to northern Maine. The baits used are chopped herrings and some- 
times salted menhaden. 


Tbb Menhaden — Alosa menhaden — (Gill.)^ 

This seemingly worthless fish is one of liie most important of all 
the salt water fishes. There is not one of us, be he a fisherman or 
not, who is not interested in the mossbunker. They swarm all along: 
the coast, even some distance up the rivers every summer, and upon> 
the regularity and perpetuity of that migration depends to a great 
extent the fish supply of the Eastern Coast cities. The magnet 
that draws the great armies of bluefish to our waters is the vast 
shoals of menhaden that precede them. The best bait for stripedi 
bass in surf -fishing, and, in fact, the material of all chumming, i* 
the mossbunker. I have seen great collections of these menhadem 
ascending the Sound, and next day following a school of porpoises, 
rolling, tossing and diving in merry style through the water. 

The great use the menhaden are put to is in making fish oil, and 
right here lies a very threatening danger to our coast fishing. Seine- 
nets are made that cover acres, fast-sailing steam tugs scour the 
shoal waters of the coast at all times and seasons, and with one haul 
of the nets, worked by huge engines, countless thousands of the 
defenceless menhaden are taken. The fish are then either ground 
up and subjected to the process of rendering for oil or are sold to the 
shore farmers for manure. There are fleets of these steam tugs- 
sent out by rich corporations, not to speak of smaller and less am- 
bitious vessels. In this way, in season and out of season, thousands- 
ipon thousands of the most important bait fish that swims are ruth. 


iessly slaughtered to serve the pleasure and avarice of greedy capi- 
lalists among whom it would be safe to bet there is not one angler. 

As a result of this system of wholesale depletion the mossbunker 
is steadily decreasing and threatens to become scarce and finally to 
become extinct. If this should ever happen there would be an im- 
mediate falling off in our fish supply, and, unless the hand of 
Providence interposed, a total failure of it. But there is no reason 
why the capture of menhaden should be stopped altogether, but 
there is every reason why the menhaden fishermen should limit their 
destructive trade to certain periods. To secure this it behooves the 
Assemblies of the States bordering the Atlantic to pass an act lim- 
iting the catching of menhaden with seine nets to an open season 
and have the rest of the year close. This would allow the menha- 
den time to multiply and would secure the future of the fish markets. 

In form the menhaden resembles the shad. It has the same shape 
and contour of body. It is a bright silvery fish, and so far as I 
know, has never been taken with a hook. One of the most useful 
purposes the menhaden serve is in the lobster fisheries; the fish are 
salted before being used for bait. The menhaden are almost all of 
one size — about twelve inches long. The farmers of Long Island 
sometimes eat the mossbunker. It has an oily, rather rancid and 
"fishy "taste. 

It is necessary that every angler should use his best influence to 
secure some protection for the menhaden, else they will become ex- 
.tinct and with them a great branch of salt water fishing. / 


The Lafayette, or Spot — Liastomus ohliquus. 

This fish is said to have first made its appearance in any numbers 
on our coast simultaneously with General Lafayette in the year 1824, 
and from that fact it has taken its most popular name. It is a very 
small silvery fish with a big spot on the back, and it seldom reaches 
a weight of eight ounces. It swarms on the eastern coast during 
the hot months of July and August, and is caught even in Sep- 
tember . 

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 keep up a constant 
nibblmg 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 fre- 
quently hooked in the back, sides or tail. But there is this differ- 
ence 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, have 
a lot of fine, sharp hooks, put four on your line above a light sinker 
bait with small pieces of clam or sandworm, 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 Snapping Mackerel — Genus temnodon — (De Kay.) 

The snapping mackerel is a small rakish looking fish, swift in his 
movements as an arrow, dai-ting about in' schools, near and some- 
times on the sm-face of the water. It is claimed by some that they 
are the young of the bluefish, and though this assumption seems 
substantiated by the shape, color and habits of the " snapper," yet I 
do not believe it is an established fact. 

In foiin, the snapping mackerel is long^ tapering and trisa, much 
like the bluefish in shape and disposition of his fins. The eye 
is quite large and the mouth armed with teeth. In color it presents 
every shade of metallic blue, deeper on the dorsal, lightening to 
frosted silver on the ventral. 

The snapper makes his ai^pearance in August and does not take 
any lure after September. The fish gives great fun to the angler 
and affords considerable room for skill. He can be taken only in 
stiU water, and I have never caught one in a tide-way. At the toj) 
of the tide is the time, giving, may be, two hours' fishing, during 
which a hundred or more can be landed if there are many snappers 

A light and flexible rod is required, a very smooth running reel, 
and thin line and swivel sinker. The hook, which may be quite 
large, is fastened to about a foot of gut and baited with shedder 
-crab, or if it is found that this is wasted too rapidly, any bait lure 


is just as seniceable. The leader is cast out about forty feet, and 
while the bait is kept about three feet below the surface is rapidly 
reeled in. The sna2:)per makes a dash, and is caught and reeled in as 
fast as possible. 

The snapper very frequently escapes by his quick movements, often 
jumi^ing- the hook. Although a small fish, rarely exceeding a pound, 
he resists stoutly and comes toward the boat with a soi-t of fluiTy and 
splash very exhilarating to the fisherman. I have alway taken them 
most successfully on bright, clear days, and only on the last two 
hours of the flood tide. It is a strange fact that under the operculum 
of almost every snapper is found a fish louse, generally half an inch 
long; I have naver seen them m any other fish save the small striped 
bass. Besides being so gamy and exciting a fish to catch, the snap- 
ping mackerel is very palatable. 


The Shad — Alom aapidiadma — (Wilson — Storer.) 

The fish this paper treats of makes up the tail end of the amateur 
angler's list, and yet the capture of the first shad in the North River 
is heralded in all the Metropolitan journals. The fish itself is re- 
ceived in Fulton market by a deputation of citizens, then decorated 
with ribbons and hung up to the admiring gaze of hundreds. 

The shad does not, however, possess the same interest for the fish- 
erman as does the mossbunker. 

The shad is found all along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to- 
Newport; in fact the fish is seen all over the world; in European 
livers and in China waters. 

The migration of shad commences in Spring at the Florida coast, 
and as the fish move northward they increase in size and in flavor. 
Those which first reach the New York market come from the shores 
of the CaroHnas. The first North River shad was caught and taken 
to Fulton market April 10. From that date onward to July 1st the 
fish are taken by thousands and get to be very cheap. At the close 
of the run Connecticut River shad are brought in and bring fancy 
prices, as they have a far more delicate flavor than those called 
Southern shad. 

The shad run in from the ocean up to fresh water to deposit their 
spawn, and advantage is taken of this great movement to take them 
in huge nets set across the current. Seine nets, stake nets, drift nets. 



and pomid nets are all used successfully at the mouth of the Dela- 
ware, at the Potomac Falls, in the Hudson, and at the mouth of the 
Connecticut River. 

In appearaace the shad is a heavy and broad fish, with rather 
small head and mouth, large eyes, forked tail and small fin develop- 
ment. His body is covered with a heavy coat of large scales rather 
loosely held on, and when he is first drawn from the water his scaly 
armor is resplendent with every tint, but this beautiful coloring 
soon fades. 

But the chief wonder about the fish only comes to light when you 
eat him It is his prodigious amount of bones. Some one once 
said that if all the bones of a six pound shad were placed end to end 
in a continuous straight line they would go twice around the world, 
and if they were jailed up in a heap, it would form a pyramid two 
feet taller than the pyramid of Cheops. But it is very apparent 
that these statements are largely exaggerations, evidently induced 
by a sharp attack of bone in the throat. Still the shad has more 
bones in comparison with equal weight of other fish than any four 
other salt water fish taken together. Shad is one of the many fa- 
vorite dishes of the bluefish, and it has always been a standing mar- 
vel to me how the bluefish could eat him and not choke to death. 

,The interest that the shad has for anglers lies in the tact that he 
is a surface biter, and will take the artificial fly. Fishermen who 
have caught the shad in this way name the following flies as the 
most successful: a white miller, a red fly with red wings, a scarlet 
fly with mottled-brown wings. The hooks used are numbers one, 
two or three. Limerick. The rod and reel are the same as are used 
in striped bass fishing of the lighter variety. This applies, of course, 
also to the line, which should be a least one hundred feet in length. 
The best fly-fishing for shad can be enjoyed on the Connecticut 
River in early June. It is the correct thing to cast the lures in 
some deep and silent pool at the base of a rapid, or in the rapids 

The shad run in weight from two to twelve pounds, the average 
being about four pounds. As I write this at the beginning of the 
shad run, I learn that they are drawing a seine net every morning in 


the North River at the foot of 125th street. As it is done at three 
in the morning I have not verified the report, but there is little doubt 
that it is true. 

There is a celebrated method of cooking the shad which I will 
mention here. This dish is known everywhere as "planked shad." 
A large fish is taken and split along the belly from head to tail, it is 
then fastened with the meat side outward to a smooth oak plank and 
slowly roasted before an open coal fire. It is then, when nicely 
cooked (and right here lies the delicacy and success of the opera- 
tion) served up with lemon, on a hot dish, having been previously 
buttered and seasoned. The great place for the " planked shad " 
lised to be Gloucester Island in the Delaware River, nearly oppo- 
site Philadelphia. 

Enthusiasm in fly-fishing for shad has to a great extent died out^ 
principally because where it can be enjoyed, striped bass, the mon- 
arch of the salt waters, are also to be caught, and again because the 
shad is not very gamy; not as gamy as you might expect from his 

In closing this essay on salt water fishes of the North Eastern 
Coast, the writer cannot have been free from error and omission 
in such a brief notice of so many fish. But I trust that all matters 
of interest to anglers, and such little information as lays in my 
power to give that may assist any of the angling brotherhood, have 
been at least clearly set forth. Of course it would be impossible for 
any one man to have a wide and accurate knowledge of every salt 
water coast fish, or even of the game fishes, and wherever my own 
acquain*;ance with the facts has been small or wanting, I have not 
he«itat»>-i to seek the standard authorities for verification, or to draw 
from t'*^ columns of The American Anglee, such new points as. 
were a > once interesting and authentic. I do not lay down my pen 
without asking both the indulgence and kindly criticism of salt 
water anglers. 



The Crab — Calinectus hastatus — (Ordway.) 

. In the months of June, July, August and September, along the 
Southern coast in early summer, later in the Delaware and on the 
Jersey coast, and toward the close of summer in Long Island 
Sound, in the upper bay and its estuaries, and along the New England 
coast the crab advances from deep water in vast numbers. I do not 
hesitate to assert that in the crab season there are three crabs caught 
for every fish brought to market. In New Jersey, on the banks of 
the Shrewsbury River, there is an immense crab farm whence thou- 
sands are shipped to the markets of New York and Philadelphia. 
The little creeks and streams that run in Long Island Sound make 
the body of water a perfect paradise for the pugnacious crab. But 
of all places to catch crabs the best is in the Harlem River, and in 
New Jersey, Salem Creek. 

The reason why the crab is included in these essays is that every 
salt-water angler goes crabbing, and if he goes once he will go 
again. Even people who do not care for fishing proper will go 
crabbing, probably because they think the yield is paying them for 
their time. Yes, the crab is a game "fish," but, strange to say, his 
fighting qualities do not assert themselves until he is in the basket, 
or just before you put him in. In fact, he is so game that I have 
seen a blue crab seize a finger of some incautious angler and then 
jump out into the water forty feet away. This occurrence, which 
.^y the way is not very uncommon, took so little time that it is now 


impossible to say whether the crab yelled and jumped himself, or 
whether the angler uttered the Indian war whoop and threw the crab» 
The latter is the most probable. 

Crabs begin to swarm into the shallow bays and creeks of the 
coast about the first of June. When they have reached their sum- 
mer home they all remain quiet for a space. Then each crab selects 
some spot best suited to his taste and becomes motionless, and soon, 
his upper shell shows signs of swelling about its back After 
a time this edge becomes wholly freed, and now the crab must free 
his claws and legs from the hard shell. This he is enabled to do by 
an opportune softening of the muscles. The crab withdrawing 
from his shell settles down in the soft mud or sand and does 
its best to escape observation, for it is now in a helpless condition. 
Where there is a great deal of eel-grass and sea-cabbage, as in the 
Harlem River, the crab will cover himself in it and it will take a 
practiced searcher to spy out his retreat. Along the Harlem mud 
flats at low tide the boys go "treading for soft shells," and gener- 
ally get more cuts on their feet from old bottles and tomato-can& 
than soft shell crabs ; though a dozen are often taken in this way on 
one tide. About twelve hours after it has cast its shell the soft skin 
with which it was first covered has become like writing paper, 
crackling like it when compressed. 

Twelve hours or so after, this skin has become like buckram in 
texture, and on account of this the crab is called a " buckram," as 
before it was called a " paper " crab. In all those stages the crab is 
helpless, but after the lapse of forty-eight hours he is again able to 
take care of himself. 

The above are approximately the periods in which this strange 
transformation takes place, but it is dependent to a certain extent 
upon the weather. A disagreeable spell will retard it for days. The 
best of all crabs to eat are the soft shells ; they are fried in butter, 
having been previously rolled in cracker crumbs. 
* Now as to catching the wary fellows. This is best done in shal- 
low water not over ten feet in depth, and from a skiff. A round- 
bottomed boat on a crabbing expedition will only prove an incon- 
venience. Have about a half dozen lengths of cord not more than. 


fifteen feet long and tie one end of each about some pieces of lean 
meat ; let this sink to the bottom, if it will not sink put on a lead 
sinker or any other heavy thing that is handy. When the bait has 
found bottom you will know when a crab has taken the bait by the 
straightening out of the line. Now haul up the bait slowly and 
evenly ; the gluttonous crab will still cling to it, and just when you 
can see the bait dimly through the water and the crab waving his 
claws about it, lower the scap net from one side, gradually working 
it under the crab. As soon as he sees you he will let go, but if the 
man with the scap net is quick and steady the crab will go into the 
net every time. 

The best bait of all is a sheepshead with the skin taken off, 
and to secure one you will have to speak beforehand to your butcher. 
The next best bait is meat without any fat, else you will have trou- 
ble sinking it, and when you are unable to get either of these baits 
fish heads make an excellent substitute. The bigger your hand-net 
the better for use ; have the handle not over five feet long for boat 
fishing. Paint net and all sea-green. The best stage of the tide to 
catch crabs is while the water is rising. At the first of the flood tl • 
crabs come in on the flats from the channels. As the season draws 
to a close the crabs improve in flavor. 

Even if the angler is indifferent on the subject of crab-fishing, 
what would he do if he had not that bait of all baits, the shedder- 
crab, by which is known the crab just ready to cast his shell. You 
can readily detect a shedder-crab among a lot of hard fellows by 
pinching the under side of the two side joints. If these are very- 
weak and break easily, you can take off all the shell and find a thin 
blue skin underneath it. I advise every one who can to go crabbing, 
it is great fun, and if the crabs are plentiful you are apt to catch, 
more than you can carry home. 

The Lobster — HomainjjS americanus — (Edwards.) 

Are you surprised, indulgent reader of the angler's craft ? Well, 

I don't wonder that you are. Faith! I would be myself if I were 

you. You have read of the peaceful crab and how he is caught — 

but the lobster, among the game fishes of the coast ! what next ? A» 


for being a catchable inhabitant of New York water and all the way 
northward, that he is. Few New York angler's know that within 
thirty minutes ride from their offices they can have delightful sport 
lobster fishing. But from Port Morris all along the beautiful shores 
of Long Island Sound, in the quiet little coves and bays that indent 
its either shore, lobsters can be caught in season by the following 

You first want a sound, trustworthy skiff, next two anchors, one 
for the bow and one for the stern. The most important thing is 
the lobster net. This should be made of stout linen cord; the ring 
of quarter inch wrought iron six feet in circumference. This ring will 
cost, if you go to some friendly blacksmith, about twenty five cents ; 
to this ring the cord should be netted until the net is two and one 
balf feet deep. These nets are very expensive if bought in a tackle 
store, but the fisherman if he takes real pleasure in his art will net 
his own lobster net ; it will cost him then about a dollar and a half. 
The next thing is the bait. This consists of two salted menhaden 
(another exemplification of the manifold uses of that fish) which you 
can buy of some fisherman on shore, either for love, or, that failing, 
for five cents apiece. Tie across the net a string diameter; tie to 
this central string the two mossbunkers ; now put about ten 
.pounds of stone in the bottom of the net; this don't weigh much 
■when in the water, and is necessary to take the net down. Now 
have about one hundred and fifty feet of light strong rope ; fix this 
to the net in the same manner in which the small boy ties his kite 
string to the "belly-band" of the kite. Go out where you see lob- 
ster pot floats (be careful to keep out of range of the professional 
lobster fisherman who owns them), at the first of the flood or at 
the last two hours of high tide, let down your net in ninety or a 
hundred feet of water, and while you wait to haul up the net, cut 
half a dozen little wooden pegs, about an inch long, and put them 
in a convenient place. 

After the lapse of ten or fifteen minutes haul up the net ; if it has 
a lobster in it it will be a heavy job, and if it has not it will also 
be a heavy job. Suppose you have one; bringing the net over the 
iboat take the bottom of the net and turn lobster and all out on the 


bottom of the boat. There must, be two on a lobster-catching trip, 
for this reason : the lobster immediately on being released from the 
folds of the net rises on his tail, waves his massive claws in the air 
and makes a vicious attack on the nearest man. He must coolly 
await it, and just when the lobster is going to seize his leg quietly put 
a foot on each claw. Hold the lobster prisoner thus while your as* 
sistant takes a wooden peg and drives it behind the socket cf the 
claw, thus rendering this formidable weapon harmless ; let him 
fasten the other claw in the same way and now the lobster can do 
no harm ; by this time the net ought to be pulled up again. Where 
there are lobsters this sport is exciting and very profitable. 

I remember one such trip I made in August years ago with a 
neighbor. We went out from Port Morris in a little red skiff, the 
the bottom of which had been worn completely through by the 
rubbing of the heel against the stretchers. Through these holes the 
clear water of the Sound bubbled up like a gushing spring, and we 
had for bailer a cigar box lid. In the intervals of bailing we kept 
s. lookout for the boatman on shore, who was known to be the 
possessor of a long range shot gun, and he would have used it if he 
had known we were lobster fishing near his pots. Well, we caught 
three lobsters and lost both anchor ropes. The lobsters made up 
for it, however, as one of them weighed six pounds and a half, the 
largest one I ever saw. One of the others weighed four and a half 
pounds and the other two ; so this was not a bad score. It could 
not be duplicated to-day, however, in the same waters, as the infernal 
blasting over the supposed wreck of the " Hussar" has settled all 
the Port Morris fishing. But at Pelham and from there up to 
Maine, lobster fishing can be had in profusion. There is only one 
more thing to be said, and that is to caution lest the heavy net pulls 
the fisherman overboard, and moreover, put all lobsters under ten 
and one half inches long back in their element as the law directs. 




The coasts of the peninsula of Florida afford a great variety^ 
of species of fish, and probably a greater variety of valuable food 
fishes than can be found in any one region in the United States. 

We find some migratory species that are common on the Northern 
coast, suet as the striped bass, sea bass, bluefish, sheepshead, weak- 
fish. There are others whose range is not usually farther North 
than the capes of Delaware ; as the black and red drum. Others, 
which are local and stationary in their habits ; such as the groupera 
and snappers. And others again, of a more tropical character, which 
only appear on the Florida coast in warm weather, and whose home 
is in more southern latitudes ; as the tarpum, cavalli and ladyfish. 

These species are abundant in their season, and many of 
them are of the best quality on the table ; for instance, the 
pompano, which takes its place among the three best fishes of the- 
American Continent ; the other two being, in my judgment, the sal- 
mon of the East coast and the whitefish of the great lakes. Tastes- 
differ, and some may dissent from this opinion, but having eaten of 
these fish on the shores of their native waters, I give this as my^ 

Nowhere in our broad country can the angler find greater variety 
of game, or more or better sport than on the coasts of Florida. la 


an experience of more tho.n fifty years as an angler, reaching from. 
Canada to Florida and from Massachusetts to Colorado, the writer 
has found no region where fish were so abundant as on this coast. 
This abundance has existed from the earliest period in which Florida 
^was known to Europeans. 

Jean Ribault entered the St. Johns River on the first of May, 
1562, and on that account called it " The River of May." He writes; 
^* We found it as we went, to still increase in depth and largenesse, 
boyling and roaring through the multitudes of all kinds of fish." 

Again : " It is a country full of havens, rivers and islands, of such 
fruitfulness as cannot by tongue be expressed, and so many sortes of 
.fishes that ye may take them without net or angle so many as ye 
will ; also great abundance of pearls, which they'take out of oysters, 
whereof is taken along the river side and on the marshes, in so mar- 
velous abundance as is scant credible." 

The fish and oysters remain to this day, but the pearls are not 

Among the natural productions of Florida, Ribault mentions the 
orange; this is worth recording, as most modern writers assert that this 
tree was introduced by the Spaniards. It was probably the wild orange 
tiiat these voyagers found, as vast groves of the bitter and sour va- 
rieties formerly covered thousands of acres of the peninsula, much 
of which have been removed. It was appropriate that in this fa- 
vored land the sour orange should be placed near the fish atd oysters, 
for which its juice affords the proper sauce. 

Captain Bernard Romans, an engineer oflicer, who was employed 
by the British Government during their occupation of Florida^ 
1765-80, in surveying this coast, in his " Concise Natural History of 
Florida," New York, 1775, thus writes of the fisheries : 

*' The whole of the west coast of East Florida is covered with 
fishermen's huts and tiakes ; these are built by the Spanish tisner- 
^nen from Havana, who come annually to this coast to the number 
of thirty sail, and one or two visit Rio d'Ais, or Indian River, and 
other places on the east coast. The principal fish here, of which the 
Spaniards make up their cargoes, is the red drum, called in East 
Florida a bass They also salt a quantity of fish which they call 



pompanos, for which they get a price three times as high as for other 
fish. A few soles, sea trout, and the roe of mullet and black drum 
make up the remainder of their cargoes. These roes are dried and 
smoked, and used instead of caviare by the Spaniards, who are very 
fond of them." 

It may be added that these mullet roes are still prepared for sale 
on the east coast, being much used by the Spaniards and Minorcans 
of St. Augustine. My host at Halifax Inlet, B. C. Pacetti, prepares 
many of them every summer, and I have found them to be a savory 
relish for my lunch when out fishing. 

Captain Romans says of the Indian River : 

** It abounds so mucn m fish, that a person may sit on the bank 
and stick them with a knife or sharp stick, as they swim by. i have 
frequently shot from four to twelve mullets at one shot ; nay, our 
boys used to go alongside the vessel in the boat and kill the catfish 
with a hatchet. In St. Augustine the fishermen used to allow people 
who brought a real (12^ cents) to take as many fish as they pleased 
out of the boats." 

Romans has the peculiarity of using the small letter i, to express 
the personal pronoun. We give the following list of the fishes of 
the Florida coasts : 
" Kingfish, barracouta, tarpom,bonito, cavallos, pompanos, silverfish, 
jewfish, rockfish, groupers, porgys, red, gray and black snappers, 
grunts, mangrove snappers, hogtish, angelfish, morgatefish, dog-snap- 
pers, yellowtails, muttonfish, mullets, murray, parrotfish, sproats, red 
and blackjdrum, bonefish, sharks, stingrays, and an immense variety 
of others, all excellent in their kinds, and we may with safety eat of 
of all fish caught on the Florida shore, unless it be hogfish taken on 
the outer reef, fori have heard of one of this kind having sickened 
8ome people; but i have always eaten that delicate fish with safety." 

With the west, or gulf coast of Florida I am unacquainted ; but I 
have passed two or three months of twelve winters on the south-east 
coast, and have been out fishing in my boat nearly every day in 
company with one of the oldest and best fishermen of that region, 
Mr. B. C. Pacetti, some of whose knowledge I may have picked up,. 
In my first season I used a hand-line^ like the patives, but soon aban- 


doned it for the rod and reel, -which if it does not take more fish, 
certainly affords more sport. 

Having no market near Mosquito Inlet, where I lived, we never 
cared to take more fish than could be used in one family. If we did, 
they were fed to the dogs, pigs or poultry, all of which live princi- 
pally on sea food. So to use sheepshead, a fish which brings from 
twentj-five to fifty cents per pound in New York, seemed at first 
wastetul; but at tne inlet they are so abundant m tneir season that 
from fifty to one hundred might be killed in a day by a single line, 
if the fisherman seriously sets himself at work and v/as fishing " for 

Fish of^most kinds being most abundant near the shore where the 
bottom is covered with snags and roots of the mangrove, the hooks 
often get fast and are lost. In many places the bottom is paved 
with oyster shells, which cut off a fine line. Therefore silkworm 
gut is not suited for this fishing, nor is it necessary for these bold 
biting fish. Sharks cut off many lines, and rays break them, so that 
a line of 100 yards long is generally used up in one season. 

We lose five or six hooks daily, on an average, and some sinkers. 
for red bass, salt water trout, groupers, snappers, and cavalli, I 
use New York bass hooks, Nos. 1 and 2. For sheepshead, the Yir- 
ginia pattern, Nos. 6 and 7 answers best, being made of thick wire 
which resists the powerful jaws of that fish — the same hook for the 
drum. For small fish, such as blackfish^ whiting, pigfish, etc., I 
use the Virginia hook Nos. 6 and 7, which are strong enough to hold 
a good sized bass. As the numbers and sizes of hooks vary, I remark 
that these figures are taken from the catalogue of a fishing tackle 
house in New York. 

A Cuttyhnnk Knen line, 15-thread, 300 feet long, will hold and 
kill most of the fish encountered on this coast. Of course a 600 
pound jewfish, a tarpum six feet lowg, or a ray six feet across, wil 
get away with the tackle. Reel, a multiplyer, of brass or German 
silver, to bold 100 yards, provided with a drag to increase resistance. 
Thumb stalls of heavy knitted yam are necessary, to save cut and 
bruised fingers in a fight with a runaway fish. 

I find that a bamboo rod eight and a-half to nine feet long, in 
three, or better in two pieces, will stand the hard work of three or 



four winters in Florida; it is light and handy, costs only four or five 
dollars, and will last as long and kill as many and as big fish, as a 
rod costing twenty-five dollars. Other necessary tools are a landing 
net for sheepshead and small bass, and a large gaff hook with a 
handle four or five feet long. A pocket revolver for shooting sharks 
and big rays, I have seen used in a boat. 

As most of the fishing is done from a boat in shallow water, a 
light flat bottomed skiff ten or twelve feet long and from two and 
a-balf to three feet wide, is most conveniej^t. 

For rod-fishing, one angler is enough in a boat, the stern "being 
the only comfortable place to fish from. Of hand-line fishermen 
three or four could be accommodated in the same space. The most 
essential thing of all, is to have a boatman who is handy with a cast- 
ing net; for on this depends your supply of mullet bait. Your boat 
should be anchored at bow and stern, so as to hold her in position 
against wind and tide ; a few feet one way or the other often makes 
great difference in the catch. 

I extract from my journal, kept for ten years in Florida, the fol- 
lowing record of my catch of different kinds of fish. In some seasons 
one Kmd may be scarce, in the next it may be plenty. These years 
show about the average. 



Sheepshead. . ..109 436 lbs 

Red Bass 40 202 " 

Salt water trout 6 24 *' 

Snappers 6 18 *' 

Cavalli 6 22 " 

Groupers 7 28 " 

Catfish 24 120 ** 

Sharks and 

Rays ,. 5 150 " 

Total 213 1006 *' 

Taken in 27 days with 
hand line. 



Sheepshead 90 340 lbs 

Red Bass 60 

Gronpers 9 

Snappers 7 

Salt water trout 15 

Pigfish 44 

Whiting 98 

Black fish ....125 

Cavalli 4 

Rays, Sharks, 
Catfish, &c. 40 

22 " 


71 •• 


Total . 

.679 I 339" 
Taken in 37 days with rod 
and reel. 

Sheepshead. .. 37 

Red Bass 25 

Groupers 5 

Snappers 5 

Cavalli 6 

Lady fish 4 

Salt water trout 8 
Black fish and 

Bluefish. ... 25 

Whiting 32 

Catfish 62 

Sharks and 

Rays 3 



128 '• 

21 '• 
16 ♦♦ 

22 •• 

ID '• 

33 " 





Total 213 862 '• 

Taken in 21 days with rod 
and reel. 

In writing of the fishes of the Southern coast, we at once meet 



with the difficulty attending a confusion of names. Every spesies 
has its local name, and the same is often in different places given 
to different species. For instance Megalops thrissoides \v, sometimes 
called jewfish , m another locality it is called tarpom ; the first 
name belonging to a gigantic perch, the latter to a monster herring; 
while in a third place tlie name jewtish is applied to the rock- 

Except the incomplete work of Dr. Holbrook on the Fishes of 
South Carolina and Georgia, I have not been able to find anything 
on this subject, save a catalogue by Dr. Gill, and another by Dr 
Storer, both I think ref ering to South Carolina. Some of these spe- 
cies are mentioned in the great work of Cuvier, of others I have 
found no description. 

Some species which occur along the coast from Cape Cod to 
Florida, figure under different names at almost each degree of lati- 
tude ; such as the striped bass or rockfish, the bluefish, horse mack- 
erel, skip jack, or tailor fish. To add to the confusion, it is the 
fashion of late to alter the scientific names of the whole animal 
creation. Our well known and valuable sheepshead was formerly 
Sargus ovis ; the new school of naturalists call him Archosargus 
prohatocepalus — a name long enough for a whale. Therefore, in the 
absence of any well recognized standard names, either scientific or 
trivial, we can only give the one in common use where the fish occur?-. 


The Channel Bx^s.—Scvsenops oscellata.~-Gi]l. 

Oalled red drum on the Virginia Coast; spotted bass or spot, in South Carolina 
red bass or channel bass, in Georgia and Florida; red fish, in New 

It is a stoutly built, thick bodied fish, with large head ; color va- 
nes with the water it inhabits, those taken in the ocean surf are of 
a golden hue on the sides ; back, reddish brown ; belly, white; 
taken in or near fresh water they are copper red j all have the 
black spots near the tail, sometimes three or four in number. 
Scales, lajge, on a twenty pound fish the size of a nickel coin and a 
hoe is often used to remove them. These scales are used to some 
extent in Florida for ornamental work. 

In size the red bass runs from one pound weight to fifty; the 
largest being taken in summer and autumn. Those of four to six 
pounds usually run in schools of a dozen or more, and are called "school 
bass." The larger specimens from twenty to forty pounds are com- 
monly found singly or in pairs, and go by the name of " channel 
bass." In the list of fishes collected at Wood's Holl, Mass., the red 
bass do s not occur, though some southern forms have been found 
there. Captures of this fish have been reported at Barnegat Bay, 
which is perhaps the northern limit of its summer migration. 

In the winter and spring we find this bass coming into the bays 
and inlets with the tide and rangmg along the shores and on the flats 
in search of food, which consists of small fish, principally mullet, 
moUusks and Crustacea. It is a fish of omnivorous and huge appe- 
tite, a bold biter, and has none of the shyness of the striped bass, 
frequently taking the bait alongside the boat. ^ When anchored 


on the sand-flatB near the inlet, fishing for the schools of .bass as 
they come in "with the tide, I have noticed that they will appear to 
be curious about the l)oat, they will approach and swim around it 
as if to examine it. At such a time nearly the whole school may 
be taken, and when a bass is being on the rod others will follow it 
nearly to the boat. 

During the cold northerly winds which sometimes prevail for two 
or three days in winter on the Florida coast, the bass retires to deep 
holes, and cannot be induced to bite until a change of weather oc- 
curs. It is a warm weather fish, and in the summer appears on the 
coast in immense numbers and of large size. As the fishermen say, 
" the surf is red with them." At this season it is in its best condi- 
tion for the table, being firm of texture and well flavored; one of the 
best of the coast fishes, either boiled, broiled in steaks, in a chowder 
or fried as is the usual method of cooking. A fish of ten or fifteen 
pounds 18 about the best size ; the large ones are rather coarse, the 
small ones have less flavor. 

As a sporting or game fish the rank of the red bass is high. A 
strong and persistent fighter when hooked, making long runs in open 
water, and not coming to gaff until exhausted, it is the favorite 
object of pursuit to anglers on the Florida coast. - From its open 
Jvay of fighting, if the angler has one hundred yards of good line on 
his reel, and is not impatient, he is pretty sure of killing his fish, up 
to forty pounds. The hand-line fisherman who works by main 
.. '.rength is apt to lose the big ones. 

The same sort of tackle that is used in Northern waters for striped 
bass, answers well for the red bass, except that a sinker of one or 
two ounces weight is used here in casting from the reel, and it is un- 
necessary to use gut or delicate tackle, and gut is more apt to be cut 
by the oyster shells which cover the bottom in the best places, than 
a length of line which we use for a snood. 

A bafls of twenty-five to forty pounds will consume from twenty 
to forty minutes in the capture with rod and reel, the old rule of 
one minute to the pound holding good with this fish. The writer 
has taken some hundreds in various ways — on the bottom, with a 
float at mid-water, and on the surface with spoon or feathers — and 


conKider8 that from its abundance, its free biting, and its method of 
fair fighting when hooked, the red bass is on the whole the most 
valuable of the Southern game fishes. 

Twenty-five to thirty red bass have been killed by one rod in a 
day en the Halifax River, weighing in the aggregate some 200 to 
350 pounds., The largest bass ever taken by the writer weighed thir- 
ty-seven pounds, and the struggle lasted about forty minutes. It 
was taken from a boat, and the fish towed us nearly a hundred yards 
before it came to gaff. Its mate, weighing over twenty-five pounds, 
was soon after taken by my boatman. The next in size captured by 
me weighed thirty pounds, and its mate, weighing twenty-eight 
pounds, was hooked directly after by my companion in the boat, 
also a rod fisher, and the contest went on for thirty or forty min- 
utes at each end of the boat. The mouth of the red bass is tough, 
requiring a smart stroke to fasten the hook, but once fastened the 
hold seldom gives way. I have never fished in Florida waters in 
summer, when the bass run largest, but the hand-line fishermen of 
those parts tell of catching them at that season not unfrequently of 
the weight of fifty pounds. 

At the Indian River Inlet bass and all other fish of these waters 
are found in great abundance, and of larger size than we find them 
in Halifax Inlet. In the year 1870, while fishing in the Indian River 
we found the fish so plenty that wo turned loose four-fifths of our 
catch, the other fifth amply supplying our wants. 

In April and May, when the sea water is warm on the beach, I 
have found pleasant sport in wading out into the surf, or near it, 
and casting my mullet bait into a depression or slough which runs 
along the shore just inside the surf. Here the bass come in to feed 
at certain times of tide, and I found that they would make a harder 
tight than in the river inside the inlet, though of about the same size, 
from four to six pounds. Sharks are plenty in the surf, but do not 
often come into the sloughs, for fear of being left high and dry, so 
that one can safely enjoy the combined pleasure of angling and 
bathinor. There are some old wrecks of vessels imbedded in the 
sand on this shore ; the tides have washed out deep holes about 
these wrecks, where bass, sheepshead and trout are found. 

Bands of roving hogs live on the beach and in the adjoining 


scrub, which I found very ready to steal any fish that I left exposed ; 
and once I found a couple of marsh ponies devouring my bass. In 
this region man, beast and bird all live on the fruit of the sea, and 
there is enough for all — those destructive engines, the pound nets 
and the mile long seines, not having been introduced. 

The red bass spawns in August and September in the inlets and 
bays, as I am informe^i by Florida fishermen, and deposits a large 
amount of eggs, making it a prolific species. It is a roving fish, and 
must be sought for among its haunts, which are various ; deep chan 
nels, mud flats, oyster beds, and along the marshy shores, all of 
^hi^h it yifiVt^ at different times of tide. 

[Since writing the above, I have received a copy of Jordan and Gilbert's " Sy 
nopsis of the Fishes of North America," from which I take the following descrip- 
tion of the above species :] 

Sciana ocellata — Gthr. Channel bass — red bass. Grayish silvery, iridescent ; 
scales with dark spots forming faint irregular undulating stripes ; upper part of 
base of caudal with an oval black spot as large as the eye, bordered by white or 
orange; this spot is often duplicated.* Body rather elongate, not much elevated, 
compressed behind, an almost even curve from snout to base of dorsal; preopercle 
distinctly serrate ; eye large ; one and a-half in snout ; five and a-half in 
bead; gill rakers short and thick ; mouth large ; maxillary nearly reaching the 
posterior margin of the orbit ; caudal truncate ; second and spine rather strong, 
two-thirds as long as first ray ; pectoral fins veiy short, not reaching half-way to 
anal ; lower pharyngeals narrow, with conical teeth. Head three and a-third ; 
depth three and a half. D.X.I. 25 ; A.H. 8. Lat. . 50. Cape Cod to Mexico. 
Common Southward. 


The Southern Weakfish. 

S4LT Water Trout — Spotted Sea Trout — Gynoscion carolinen- 
sis (Gill). — This species is allied to the weakfish or squeteague of 
the western coast, but it is a handsomer and better fish. Color, sil- 
very sides, darker above, with rows of black spots above the lateral 
line. Belly silvery. Head small, mouth large and well supplied 
with sharp teeth ; in form and color much resemblng the lake trout 
of northern New York, but wanting of course the adipose fin. Pre- 
dacious in habits, takes a mullet bait eagerly, fights hard on the 
hook, and gives good sport with rod and reel, though I think it is 
less enduring than the red bass. 

This fish does not well bear keeping, but eaten fresh from the 
water is sweet and well flavored. It is largest and most abundant 
in summer and fall, when it may be heard on a still night snapping 
along the shore in pursuit of small fish. I have taken them weigh- 
ing from two pounds to six, at Halifax Inlet in winter. Very large 
specimens are taken in Mosquito Lagoon, south of New Smyrna, 
weighing, as I am told, as much as twenty pounds. It takes a bait 
on the bottom, at mid-water or on the surface, and I have killed 
them in fresh water while trolling for black bass, in Spruce Creek, 
a tributary of the Hdlitax. They were of small size, about two 
pounds, and were taken with a spoon, and I believe they would take 
n fly in swift water. This species spawns in J uly and August, in 
the bays and inlets ; is not as abundant as the red bass. The same 
tackle may be used for this fish as for the . red bass. The common 


bait for this fish is cut muilet, but from the habits of the trout I 
have no doubt that live bait would prove more attractive, as it is 
found to do with the red bass. Probablr also to the sharks, which 
abound in these waters, and make trouble by cutting off lines and 
taking the fish from the angler's hook as he plays them. 

This is also a roving species, and is taken on the same grounds as 
the bass — preferring, however, tideways and rapid currents. We 
seldom take more than four or five salt water trout in a day's fitih 
ing, together with other species. One great pleasure in angling 
along this coast is the variety of fish which one encountej-s, and you 
can never predict whether your next capture will weigh one pound 
or twenty. 


Cynoseion m%catti w— (Mitchell, Gill). — Spotted sea trout. Bright silvery, 
darker above ; back posteriorly with numerous round black spots as large as the 
pupil ; both dorsal and caudal fins marked with similar somewhat smaller spots 
much as in a trout ; anal dusky. Maxillary reaching to posterior edge of eye ; can) 
ines moderate. Longest dorsal spine not quite half the length of the head ; cauda 
lunate. Head, 31^ ; depth 5. Eye large, about 6 in head. D.X — I, 25 ; A. I. 
10 ; Lat. I ; about 90. Virginia to Mexico ; very abundant southward. 


The Red Groupeb. 

Red Grouper. — Epinephelus morio — (Cuv. Gill). — I give to this 
well known and valuable food fish of the Florida coast the name af- 
fixed to it by scientists, as I suppose, though I have not identified 
the species. Jordan and Gilbert in their Synopsis write of the 
groupers, that the synonomyof the species is much confused, and the 
name to be adopted uncertain. Their description of E. morio seem 
more like the common grouper than that of any other which they 
describe. Holbrook in his Fishes of South Carolina describes it 
under the name of 8erranus erythrog aster. 

The name " grouper" is found in Roman's List of the Fishes of the 
East Florida Coast. How far north it occurs I do not know, but it 
is abundant and large along the island of Cuba, as I am informed. 
It is a thick-set, robust fish, of the perch family, with hard spines in 
the dorsal fin ; large head and mouth, with many sharp teeth. Color, 
light olive, mottled with darker lines, like tortoise shell. Fins tipped 
with blue ; inside of mouth red. 

The grouper is taken on the bottom in deep channels and holes, 
near the roots of the mangrove trees, under which it makes its strong- 
hold. It is never found far from this fortress, to which it retreats 
when alarmed, or when hooked. The usual bait is mullet, either cut 
or whole ; the latter being more attractive, and taking the larger 
specimens. In size it runs from half a pound to fifteen pounds, and 
is seldom or ever taken with the <!ast net. It is voracious, but shy. 


and easily alarmed, and after one has escaped from the hook, or after 
the capture of two or three, the others seem to take fright and will 
seldom take a bait in that place for some days. When hooked — 
and it is always near its hole that a grouper takes a bait — it makes 
straight for the roots, and can only by main force be kept from get- 
ting under them, so that only those of moderate size can be taken 
with rod and reel — say up to five or six pounds weight. The larger 
ones can only be landed with a heavy hand line. It is a trial of 
strength between the man and his tackle and the fish; the latter, if 
of large size, often proving the stronger, and breaking line or hook, 
or reaching its fortress, from whence it cannot be dislodged, the re- 
sult being loss of tackle and of patience. The rod fisher loses half 
the number of groupers that he hooks. I think I I'.ave never been 
able to kill on a rod a grouper over five pounds in weight. I have 
hooked many large ones, but they always got the better of me. 
Other rod fishers may perhaps have been more fortunate or skillful. 
A friend who was fishing near me in the Halifax River killed a pair 
of these fish at once, weighing four and five pounds, but I think the 
two ran different ways to their respective holes, and so pulled against 
each other. If they had both made for the same hole I think they 
could not have been stopped. As is well known to anglers, the first 
rush of a strong and heavy fish cannot safely be resisted, and the 
grouper makes only one. If he would only fight in open water likft 
the red bass, he could be tired out ; but he gives the angler no 

The best day's sport I ever had with the groupers was in the Hali- 
fax River, I think iu April, 1875, with B. C. Pacetti, a very skillful 
fisherman of that coast. He took me in his skiff to a deep hole in 
a creek among the Mangrove Islands, which he said had not been 
fished for a long time, and for an hour the sport was fast and furious. 
The groupers were hungry and took our mullets eagerly. I killed 
three of 3, 4, and 5 pounds, and lost three still heavier by the break- 
ing of my line. My companion, who used a cod line, killed four of 
5, 6, 6| and 7 pounds, and had his line broken once and his hook 
once, by monsters which he could not handle. Seven groupers from 
one hole was uncommon luck, but the survivors were so much 



alarmed that I think they deserted the spot ; at any rate, I have often 
Ined the place since without getting a bite. 

The flcpb of this species is fine, rich and well flavored, and is highly 
prized, perhaps partly on account of the scarcity of the fish and 
difficulty of taking it. To my taste it much resembles the red bags 
when in good condition. 

Epinephelus morio — (Cuv. — Gill). Red grouper, brownish, marked with ash ; 
salmon color below soft parts of the vertical fins margined with blue ; body oval, 
compressed above ; profile oblique gently curved; mouth terminal, large, some- 
what oblique ; maxillary reaching beyond eye ; eye about as long as snout. Head 
2>^ ; depths. D. XI. 17 ; A. HI. 9 ; Lat, I. 106; caeca 28. Atlantic coast, 
chiefly southward. 



The Rook Grouper, — The Pom pa no. 

TiiK Rock Grouper — So called by the Florida fishermen. I ha'- 
Tiever seen any account of this speces, scientific or otherwise, h 
differs from the common grouper in many particulars. It is a thick- 
set, heavily built fish, with a large head. Inhabits rocky bottoms 
ind deep holes; rather sluggish, though a strong and hea.vy j>uller. 
Color, dark brown with lighter marks and lines; scales small. Aver- 
age weight five or six pounds, and has been taken in the Halifax River 
jreighing twenty-eight pounds. It is easier handled on a rod than 
*iie common grouper, not running to a hole like that fish, but fight- 
ing in open water. 

It is a rich and well flavored fish, superior, in my opinion, to the 
last named spocies. Some years this species is quite common, so 
that some are taken every day. In other years they may be scarce, 
and this we find is the case wnth many species on the Florida coast. 
On the northern coast we know that the same thing occurs, and there 
it is often attributed to the effects of pound nets and seines and over- 

On the Florida coast there have been few^ of these destructive 
engines, and the cast net is the only net used, and that merely for 
the needs of the scanty population of those shores. Except in the 
neighborhood of St. Augustine and Jacksonville, the amount of fish 
taken by man is very small. Marine birds and fishes of prey are the 
principal destroyers of food fishes. In fact, the waters are almost 





in a state of nature ; and yet this abundance and scarcity of many 
species occurs here from year to year. The rock grouper is taken 
with mullet bait, on the ground. 

Since writing the above, I find on consulting Professor Jordan's 
Synopsis, a species there described under the name of Bhypticus ma- 
culatus^ which much resembles the rock grouper. 


Olive brown above, with scattered whitish spots ; below, pale slate color Back 
regularly arched from snout to caudal fin. Mouth large, maxillary extending be- 
yond orbit ; lower jaw longer than upper, and projecting much beyond it in closed 
mouth. Pre-opercle with two stout spines ; opercle with three. Pectorals rather 
large. Vertical fins high. Dorsal spines slightly connected with the soft rays. 
Head 3 1-3 ; depth 3. D, II, 25 ; A. 15. North Carolina to the West Indies. 
Common name, soapfish. 

PoMPANO — PoMPEYNOSE. — Trachynotus caroli7ius. — (Linn. — 
Gill.) — On the South Carolina coast this species is called "Crevalle;" 
in New Orleans and Mobile, pompano or porapeynose; the same 
name is given it in East Florida, and it is often confounded with the 
previously described species, which it much resembles in appearance, 
t.hough not in habits or in quality. , The general form is that of the 
oavalli^ but deeper in proportion to Its length, with a more obtuse 
•snout, a smaller mouth with few or no teeth, color, a brilliant frostpd 
Sliver below, above dark blue, changing to green and jellow. It is 
.a bottom fish, living entirely on muUusks and Crustacea, as I believe 
— which probably give it the delicacy and flavor which distinguisn 
it above al) other species in the salt water. The fish which more 
resembles the pompano in these particulars, the whitefish of the Great 
Lakes, Gorregonus sapidlssimus (Ag.), has also been found to sub- 
sist upon Crustacea exclusively. 

The sheepshead, which lives upon similar food, has also a similar 
richness and delicacy of flesh, though in a less degree than the pom- 
pano, which wherever it is known, takes precedence over all other 
food fishes of our waters. Like all other delicacies it finds its way 
to New York, but probably loses much of its excellence on the way 
— all fish should be eaten on the shores of their native waters. The 
Enj^lish epicure crosses the Atlantic to eat the canvas-backed ducks 

12Q risbES or the east Atlantic coast. 

in Baltimore, and the pompano is to the fish gourmand worth a. 
journey to the Gulf coast. 

The pompano is taken on the ocean beach of East Florida in the 
summer months with the cast net, in size from one pound to six, 
average, two pounds. It spawns in March, as I learn from the Flo- 
rida fishermen. 

While fishing for sheepshead in the Halifax River in 1870, I cap- 
tured a pompano with rod and clar^ bait. Its action on the line was 
peculiar, and different from that of the cavalli; it ran in circlee, and 
fought vigorously for a long time, and Bartolo Facet ti, who was 
with me, one of the oldest and most experienced fishermen on the 
coast, said that was only the second instance he had ever known 
of taking the pompano with the hook. My specimen weighed two- 
and a-half pounds, and being cooked and eaten within three hours, 
of his capture, he was all my fancy painted him. 

In Jordan and Gilbert's Synopsis, four species of Trachynotus 
are described as occurring on our coasts, and the description of 
the above species is as follows : 


T. carolinus — L. (Gill.) — Common pompano. Uniform bluish above, sides sil- 
very, golden in the adult, without bands ; fins plain silvery or dusky. Body ob- 
long ovate, elevated, profile forming a gentle curve from the middle of the back to- 
the snout, where it descends abruptly. Dorsal and anal falcate, their lobes 
reaching when depressed nearly to the middle of the fin ; pectoral reaching to 
opposite the vent. Gill rakers short, slender in the young, becoming thick in the 
adult. Head4; depth 2 1-3. D. VI-i, 25; A. Il-i, 23, L. 18 inches. 
West Indies, north to Cape Cod. The most valued food fish of our Southernti 


The Cavalli, or Crevalle. — The Mangrove Snappeu. — The Crab 
Eater, or Sergeant Fish. 

Cayalli, or Crevalle. — This is a Carangus^ but which of 
the species described by naturalists as visiting our coasts, I 
am unable to say. It is, however, a valuable fish for sport, 
but of only moderate quality on the table; the flesh being some-«^hat 
oily, with black streaks, like that of the mackerel. 

The cavalli usually appears at Mosquito Inlet, on the east coast of 
Florida, in April in large schools, and is discovered by the commo- 
tion it causes among the small fry, especially mullet, which it hunts 
and devours incessantly, often driving them on shore. In the Indias 
River and further south it occurs all M'inter. 

In form the cavalli is deep and compressed, with a long double 
dorsal fin extending to the tail, which is deeply forked. The colors 
change rapidly after the fish is taken, like those of the dolphin, 
green and yellow predominating. Eyes large, mouth ditto, with 
sharj) conical teeth. Grows to the weight of ten or twelve pounds, 
averaging perhaps three. Very strong and active, and fights to the 
last on the hook, dying as soon as it leaves the water. It is very 
voracious, taking all sorts of bait, on the bottom, at mid-water, or 
on the surfa(^e — cut mullet is commonly used. I have taken it while 
trolling with a spoon, and I am told that it will rise to a fly. A ca- 
valli of four or five pounds must be very carefully handled on a rod, 
as its movements are rapid and unexpected ; leaping out of the 


w^ter, running under and around the boat, and conducting itself in 
th<' ixamest fashion. Spawns in May, in the ocean. 

One spring day, while at Halifax Inlet, being attracted by the 
feighv of great schools of cavalii chasing the mullet along the shores, 
I went out with my rod, and found at the mouth of a creek the shore 
shining with the silvery bodies of small mullet and menhaden, driven 
up high and dry by their ravenous pursuers, while a number of 
brown pelicans were filling their pouches with them, and various 
gulls and other sea birds were also feeding on them. The river 
fairly boiled with the rushing hosts, and attaching a bright spoon to 
my line I cast it into the current. Directly it w^as seized by a ca- 
valii, which in due time I secured, and afterward several others. 
While the schools of mullet and cavalii remained near, tiie sport was 
good, but soon the crowd of pursued and pursuers passed by up the 
river with the tide. 

Jordan and Gilbert describe eight species of Caranx on the coast 
of North America, of which C hippus^ (Gunther) the horse crevalli, 
is most abundant, and probably our fish. 


Olivaceous above ; sides and below silvery or golden ; a distinct black blotch on 
opercle, and one on lower rays of pectorals, the latter sometimes wanting ; axil of 
pectoral dusky ; anterior edge of dorsals black ; upper edge of caudal peduncle 
dusky. Body oblong, lue anterior profile very strongly arched. Head large and 
deep. Mouth large, low and nearly horizontal below axis of body ; lower jaw 
included ; maxillary extending to nearly opposite posterior border of eye. Teeth 
teeth ; teeth in lower jaw in one row, i distinct canine on ea side of symphysis 
in upper jaw in a broad villiform band ; an outer series of large wide-set conical 
villiform teeth on vomer, palatines and tongue. Lateral line with a wide arch ; its 
length three-fourths that of straight part ; plates not covering all of straight part. 
Dorsal spines short, rather stout ; procumbent spine obsolete. Gill-rakers stout, 
not very long, fifteen below angle. Occipital keel sharp. Eye not very large, 
longer than snout, 4 in head. Pectoral falcate, longer than head. Breast naked; 
with a small patch of scales in front of ventral only. Caudal lobes equal. Heai 
lYz ; depth 2^'^ ; Lat. i (scutes) about 30. D. VIII-i, 20 ; A. II-I, I7- ^*P® 
Cod to West Indies ; common southward. 

Mangkove Snappeu — Lutjanus aurorubens. — Professor Jordan's 
description is like our South Florida fish, except as to canine t?et,h. 


1 find the name " mangrove snapper" in Capt. Roman's list, and it 
is a significant one, as this species lives in holes among the roots of that 
tree. Jordan places it in the same genus with L. blackfordii, the 
red snapper, which is an ocean fish of different habits. 

. Like the grouper, the mangrove snapper is stationary, seldom ven- 
turing far from its retreat, in which it takes refuge when alarmed. 
It is one of the most shy and cunning fishes of this coast, and long 
casts from the boat are necessary to beguile it. No doubt fine tackle 
would be more successful than the coarse hand lines commonly used, 
but the snapper has very sharp teeth, and silk worm gut would stand 
no chance. It makes for its hole with- a rush as soon as it feels Xhe 
hook, after the manner of the grouper, and is a more active fighter 
than that fish, though, perhaps, not stronger. Cut mullet is generally 
used for bait. Cast as far from the boat as possible, into the a deep 
channel near the snags; let the bait rest gently on the bottom for 
five or ten minutes, and as soon as the bite is felt get the snapper 
away from the bank — otherwise fish and hook are gone. 

In form the mangrove snapper resembles the small-mouthed black 
bass. Color, a reddish brown, with golden reflections. Hard spines 
in dorsal fin. Head, small, with wide mouth furnished with sharp 
teeth. Canines very large, with which it snaps savagely when cap- 
tured. Eye very large and bright, with golden colored iris. Scales 
largo. The large eyes seem to indicate nocturnal habits, confirmed by 
the fact that the snapper feeds more freely at night, and on dark 
days. The fishermen say that when placed in a car alive with 
other fish, the snapper will mangle and devour them. It is not soli- 
tary, but is often found in considerable numbers together in deep 
holes, and is thus captured with the cast net. 

"Size in Halifax River, from halt a pound to five pounds. In the 
Indian River I have taken them of seven to eight pounds in weight, 
and it makes a vigorous resistance when hooked, showing good sport 
if kept away from its hole. Is of excellent quality on the table and 
keeps well. 


L. amorubens—{Cnv.—Y?i\).—M?,x\gxo\e Snapper. Vermillion-red above, rosy 
below : sides with oblong irregular yellow spots ; dorsal and pectoral fins red ; 


ventral and anal lighter. Body, oblong — elliptical, moderately compressed, not 
•levated. Mouth, moderate, without distinct canines ; tongue with a large oval 
patch of teeth, besides which are five or six smaller patches ; nostrils round, near 
together. Preopercle finely serrate, its notch obsolete. "^Gill-rakers very long and 
slender. Dorsal spines rather slender; 2d. anal spine a little longer than 3d.; 
caudal fin lunate, its lobes not attenuate. Head 3>^ ; depth 3. D. XH , 11 ; A. 
Ill, 8 ; Lat I. 54. L. 1.54. West Indies, North to S. Carolina and Florida." 

Crab-Eater, or Sergeaxt Fish. — Elacate Canada. — (Linn. — 
Gill.) — The trivial name " sergeant fish," comes from the dark stripe 
on the side, resembling that on the trowsers of a non-commissioned 
officer. In shape the crab-eater resembles the pike of fresh water, 
Esox — being long and cylindrical, with a similar formation of head 
and jaws. Its habits also are similar to those of the pike, lying under 
weeds and banks, waiting to seize upon smaller fishes. I have not 
met with it in the Halifax River, but have found it abundant at the 
Indian River Inlet, where it averages three feet in length, weighing 
live or six pounds. Takes i^iullet bait eagerly. In game qualities 
and value of flesh it is perhaps equal to the pike — not very high 

E. canadensis— {V inn. — Gill ) — Crab-eater, Cobia. Olive brown ; sides with adis- 
tinct broad band of darker, and a less distinct band above and below it ; below, 
silvery. Head much depressed ; mouth moderate, the short maxillary reaching 
front of orbit. Pectorals broad and falcate ; caudal deeply emarginate, the upper 
lobe the longer. Lateral line wavy and irregular, descending posteriorly. Head 
4^ in length ; depth 5 2-3, D. VIII-i, 26 ; A. II, 25. L, 5 feet. In all warm 
«eas, occasional on our Atlantic coast in summer. 


The L>j>.ii h, oh r>o-.'i: Fihh. — The Jewfish. — The Tarpum, 
OR Tarpon. 

Ladyfish — Skip Jack — Boxe Fish — Albula conorhynchx 
(Block — Schneider.) — My description is'as follows of freshly caught 
specimens : Length, one to three feet. Body, slender andcylindical. 
Head, 1-5 the whole lens^th ; eyes very large, iris yellow ; mouth 
large ; teeth small; labials long and large, with fine teeth on edges. 
Scales small. Fins all soft rayed ; dorsal high in middle of the 
back, 18 ; pectoral 16 ; anal 10 ; tail deeply forked. Color of back, 
dark blue ; sides and belly silvery ; head greenish. 

iHe ladyfish, though not valuable for food, it being a mass of 
bones and fat, like a menhaden, is so active and vigorous on the line 
that it affords more sport than any other species on the coast. * No 
sooner is it hooked than it begins to throw itself from the water in 
successive and lofty leaps, then darting round and round the boat,, 
under it and over it till exhausted, or till it escapes by casting out 
the hook, or cutting the line with its sharp labials. The mouth 
being tender, the hook does not take a firm hold, and one-half the 
number hooked usually escape. I know of no species which equals 
it in activity ; even the grilse, or young salmon, makes fewer leaps, 
and is less rapid in its play. Like the cavalli, it feeds both at the 
bottom and on the surface, and could probably be taken with the 
fly or spoon. It appears in the Halifax River in April in schoolfl in 
chase of the mullet and other small fry. 


Jewfish— - •:/i*«'(?/>iOcro/>5 guasa — Gill. — This is a giant perch, 
resembling in outline a much magnified tautog or blackfish. It 
grows to the weight of five or six hundred pounds, and of course 
:it is only the smaller specimens that can be taken with rod and 
iroel. I was once present at the capture of a young jewfish, weigh- 
jing about twenty pounds, and it gave a fight of half an hour's du- 
jration. When brought to table it proved to be a rich and well 
tiavored fi^h. 

It is afish of great strength, and the large ones will break hooks 
and lines which are large enough to capture good sized sharks; this 
I have myself seen in the case of a shark hook one third of an inch 
in diameter. I have myself hooked a large jewfish, how large 1 
never knew — ail 1 saw was the sweep of a huge tail a foot broad, 
and away went my tackle. 

The jewfish has the habit of floating along on the surface with 
he tide, apparently asleep, and it is then sometimes shot. One wa 
killed in this way in Spruce Creek, a tributary of the Halifax River, 
a few years ago, by Mr. B. C. Pacetti, a fisherman of those regions 
who supposed it to weigh 600 pounds, and he was familiar with this 
iish, having captured many of them. He once fastened to a large 
jewfish which he found floating near St. Augustine, and it towed 
his boat off seawards till he was joined by several other fishing 
boats, and among them they managed to capture it; when they ^ot 
it to town there were no scales in St. Augustine that could weigh 
it whole, so they cut it up, and it weighed over 500 pounds. 

Even a specimen of that size is said to be good eating, so that 
this species must furnish perhaps the largest of edible fishes. A 
plaster cast of a jewfish weighing probably forty or fifty pounds, 
was shown in the fisheries department of the Centennial Exhibition 
in Philadelphia- 
How far north this species occurs I am unable to say, but it ap- 
pears to be a stationary species, found on both coasts of Florida, 
and abounding in tropical seas. Found in deep holes and channels 
in the salt water sounds and inlets. Takes mullet bait. 

Jordan and Gilbert's synopsis describes only this one species of 
Promocrops, as follows: Yellowish olivaceous, wilh numerous 


"brown spots. Body more compressed above than below. Mouth 
large, maxillary reaching beyond the orbit; preopercle feebly ser-i 
rated; opercle with three flat points; fins all very low, candal round-' 
ed. Head 3 1-6; depth 4. D. XL, 16; A. III., 8. West Indies, 
north to Florida; reaches a weight of 400 or 500 pounds. 

TAiirT'Af — ^AKPOM. — Meffalops t/trissoides. — (Gunther.) — Captain 
Romans includes this species in His list of the fishes of East Florida, 
and spells the name with the o. Imagine a herring-shaped fish, five 
or six feet long, with brilliant silvery scales, the size of a half dollar, 
in schools of a dozen or twenty, leaping from the blue surface of a 
summer sea. This is all that the angler usually sees of the tarpum. 
Sometimes one of these glittering* rushing monsters takes the hook. 
What follows ? The line runs out with great speed till it has all 
left the reel, where it parts at its weakest point, and the fish goes off 
leaping, seaward. When hooked on a hand line similar results fol- 
low. No man is strong enough to hold a large tarpum, unless he is 
provided with a drag, or buoy, in the shape of an empty keg attached 
to the line, which may retard or even stop the fish, after awhile. 
Aided by a buoy the tarpum is sometimes taken with a harpoon, or 

I have heard of one instance of this fish being killed on a hand 
line. As usual, the line was snatched from the hands of the fisher- 
man in the first rush, and the tarpum went leaping down the river, 
but the heavy leaden sinker struck it on the head and stunned it, so 
that it was picked up by means of a boat. This happened in the 
Halifax River. One was killed a few years ago in the Indian River, 
as I am credibly informed, with rod and reel by an angler from 
Philadelphia, after a contest of some hours. The fish was over six 
feet long and weicrhed more than 100 pounds — certainly one of the 
greatest angling feats on record. It is a fish as much more power- 
ful and difficult to handle on a rod than the salmon, as the galmon is 
more powerful than the black bass. This may perhaps be thought a 
rash assertion, but it is gathered from my own experience. Twice 
I have hooked a tarpum, and twice I lost my tac kle, without c^^ck- 


138 FiaHEw Of tul: east atla^^tiu coast. 

ing the fish in the slighteHt degree — and 1 have killed a twenty-four 
pound salmon, fresh run from the sea. 

t Those anglers who have exhausted the pleasures of salmon fishing 
and sigh for new worlds to conquer, may betake themselves with 
their heaviest rods and two hundred yards of line to the Florida 
coast in spring ; there, at the mouth of the St. John, or at Halifax or 
Indian River Inlet they will find foemen worthy of their steel. 
Should they succeed in killing a tarpnm, let it be stuffed and hung 
up as the choicest trophy in their museum. 

The brilliant scales of the tarpum are used in Florida for the man- 
lufacture of ornamental jewelry. The fish itself is said to be good 

^ Of the genus Megalops Messrs. Jordan and Gilbert write : " The 
species are of very large size, the largest of the Clupeoid fishes, found 
in all warm seas. The name comes from a Greek word, meaning 
" large-eyed.*' 


Af, thtissoides — (Block and Schneider — Cunther.) — Tarpum. -Uniform brilliant sil- 
very; back darker. Body elongate, compressed, little elevated. Head 4 in length, 
depth 34-5. D. 12, A. 20; Lat i, 42 ; B. 23. Dorsal filament longer than 
head. Atlantic ocean, entering fresh waterj common on our Southern coasts, 


The Deum. — The Hogfish, or Pigfish. —The Sailor's Choice. 

Drum. — Pogonias chromis — (Linn). — Fishermen believe that 
there are two speci e.s of drum on the Florida coast, one large and 
light colored, weighing up to seventy-live or eighty pounds, the 
other dark colored and smaller, weighing from three pounds to ten, 
the larger being much the better fish. Professors Jordan^ and 
Gilbert only describe one species, so that the smaller is proba- 
bly the young fish. We find these latter associating with the 
sheepshead, which they much resemble in appearance and habits, 
feed on the same moUusks, and are taken with the same bait. The 
large ones, say from twenty to forty pounds weight, appear in April 
or May in large schools in the bays and rivers, announcing their 
presence by the peculiar grunting or drumming noise which they 
make under the water, which can be heard a long distance, though 
it is difficult to locate the sound. These big drum are taken withi 
strong hand lines, usually at night, with a whole crab upon the 
book. Of course a fish of forty pounds can make a strong resistance. ' 
It is a dead pull between fisherman and fish. In St. Augustine the 
large drum is considered a good fish, and sells well. Where fish 
are more abundant and various, as at Halifax or Indian River Inlets, 
no one eats drum. To my taste, the flesh is rather coarse, but of 
good flavor. The smaller ones, which are often taken while rod 
fishing, make a strong fight, similar to a sheepshead, surging to the 


"bottom, and throwing their weight on the rod and line, one of which 
18 liable, in the hands of an inexperienced angler, to be broken. 

P <r/in7wij— (Linn)— Drum. — Grayish silvery, with four or five dark vertical 
bars, which disappear with age ; fins dusky ; body oblong, much compressed ; pro- 
file very steep, its curve uneaven ; ventral outline little curved. Mouth moderate, 
maxillary scarcely reaching middle of orbit. Scales large, those on breast much 
smaller. Fins large, pectorals reaching beyond tips of ventrals, nearly to vent ; 
second anal and spinal more than half length of head. Head above scaly, except a 
triangular space on snout. Head 3 1-4 in length ; depth 2^. D. X, 20 ; A. II, 6; 
Lat. I. 50. Cape Cod to West Indies ; abundant southward 

HoG-FisH — PiG-PisH — perhaps Lachnolmmus falcatus of Jordan 
and Gilbert's Synopsis* At any rate a fish of fine quality, rich and 
delicate. At Halifax Inlet it usually weighs about a pound, and in 
some seasons quite abundant, in others rare. It gives good sport on 
a rod, takes mullet bait and is found in deep channels. Color gray- 
ish ; profile steep, form compressed ; teeth projecting similar to those 
of the sheepshead. 

Sailor's Choice — Pomadasys fulvomaculatu^ — (Mitchell). Are 
excellent pan fish, very abundant in the bays and sounds of Florida ; 
in size from two ounces to a pound. Resembles in form the scup 
of Northern waters. A very strong and active fish for its size, 
making fine play on a light rod. The Synopsis gives it a length of 
one foot, which is double the size of any that I have seen. 


Light brown, silvery below, sides with numerous orange colored and yelloir 
spots ; those above the lateral line in oblique lines, those below in horizontal rows ; 
vertical fins with similar spots ; head blueish with yellow spots ; angle of mouth 
and gill membranes with orange. Body oblong, compressed, not much elevated. 
Head long ; snout conic ; mouth low and small, the maxillary hardly reaching to 
the nostrils ; outer teeth slender and rather short ; eye high, 4^ in head, nearly 
midway in its length. Dorsal and anal entirely naked, with a sheath of scales 
at base ; anterior spines of ^ dorsal higher than the posterior; spines, gradu- 
ated; pectoral moderate. Head 2% ', depth 3. D. XII., 16 ; A. III., 12 ; Lat. 
I. 75. L. I foot. Atlantic coast from New York southward— a food fish of 
some importance. 




The Salt Water Catfish. — The Conger Eel. — The Silver, or 
White Mullet. — The Yellowtai, or Silver Perch, 

Salt Water Catfish — Gaff Topsail. — ^lurichthys nyiarinys 
— (Mitchell). — This may be set down as a game fish, being strong, 
active, and enduring in fight. Its play is much like that of 
the channel bass or redfish of the same waters, and it takes the same 
baits. In the spring it comes into the inlets and bays in great num- 
bers, and becomes rather a nuisance to the angler, being an unpleas- 
ant fish to handle on account of its slimy covering, which besmears 
the hands and the tackle, and its long barbed pectoral spines inflict 
painful wounds on the incautious angler. It is a handsomely formed 
fish, with a forked tail, long dorsal fin, and barbels depending from 
the mouth. Color steel blue above, below silvery ; from three to ten 
pounds in weight. _ Flesh white and firm, and well-flavored, as I 
have found from experiment, though it is not often eaten. The 
eggs of this species are golden yellow, and of the size of grapes, 
which they much resemble, in bunches of ten or twelve. The fish- 
ermen say that this cattish carries its young, when hatched, in its 

Conger Eel — Murmna ocellata — (Agassiz). — I have never seen 
the common eel on the Florida coast, but the conger is found in cer- 
tain localities. If one goes near nightfall or on a dark lowery day 
to a certain deep channel about a mile from the mouth of the Halifax 
River, he may capture one or more of these ferocious fishes. At 
the breaking out of the Secession war there was at this place 


a quantity of live oak timber belonging to the United States 
government. Some of this was burned by the Confederates, and 
the rest of it thrown into the river, where it still lies on the bottom, 
affording hiding places for groupers and conger eels. 

The angler who has with difficulty played one of these congers, 
weighing from four to ten pounds, and got him alongside the boat, 
will find that he has caught a Tartar. The conger has an immense 
mouth, filled with long and sharp teeth, and if you turn him loose 
in the boat he comes at you open-mouthed, like a mad dog. I know 
that the first one I caught would have driven Pacetti and myself 
overboard if he had not luckily disabled it with an oar. After that, 
P. always held the conger outside the boat with a gaff -hook, while 
he cut off its head with a big knife. We got five of them that day, 
weighing from four to eight pounds, and when we took them home, 
although the meat looked white and delicate, the good woman of the 
house declined to cook them, saying that she " had no use for 

In early times in England, the conger was considered a delicacy, 
and history tells us that one of the English Kings died of a surfeit 
of this fish. 

MuLLLET — Mugil lineatm — (Cuv. and Val.) — Silver or white mul- 
le^r-^-M. hrasiliensis — (Ag.) — Although the mullet is not a game fish, 
yet being indispensable to the angler as bait, it should find a 
place among the game fishes. 

All along the Southern coast, in the inlets, bays and rivers, the 
mullet is found in immense numbers, and being mostly in shallow 
water, is easily captured with the cast net, an implement so useful to 
the coast people that they could scarcely live without it. Its use re- 
quires some strength of arm and considerable skill and practice ; 
with it a man can almost always procure a mess of fish — not always, 
for in a cold norther all fish will betake themselves to deep water, 
where the cast net is useless. 

In winter the mullet is small and ill-flavored for human food, 
though it is always good for fish bait ; but in summer and fall it is 
large, fat, and so well flavored as to be the favorite food fish of the 
natives. At this season it is salted and packed for winter use for 


the people of the interior, taking salt well, and being as a pickled 
fish next in value to the mackerel, though at some distance behind. 
The roe of the mullet being salted, dried and smoked, is a rich and 
palatable food. The mullet has a gizzard -like organ for grinding up 
the small Crustacea and mollusks which it takes into its stomach with 
the mud, which seems to be its principal food. Itself is the food 
of all carniverous fishes and birds, as well as of mankind, so that 
but for being a very prolific species, it would be in danger of exter- 
mination. Size, from half a pound to six pounds. 

If, as it has been aflirmed, the mullet will sometimes rise to a fly, 
it might give good sport, being a strong and active fish, capable of 
leaping out of the water like a trout. 

In engaging boatmen and guides for Florida waters, it is impor- 
tant to select those who can use a cast net. I knew a party of 
anglers from Canada who came to camp out in southern Florida one 
winter, who, neglecting this qualification, found their trip a failure 
— they could get no bait. 


Mugil fl'/^w/fl!— Striped mullet — Body rather elongate, little compressed, sub- 
terete; snout not broad, moderately depressed ; mouth moderate, lips thin, the max- 
illary not covered by the preorbital ; angle made by the dentary bones obtuse, or 
nearly at a right angle. Scales comparatively small, a few on the dorsal and anal 
fins. Pectoral fins placed little above the axis of the body. Coloration dark blue- 
ish above, sides silvery, with conspicuous darker lateral stripes ; a dusky blotch at 
base of pectorals. Head 4 1-3 ; depth 4; D. IV-i, 8 ; A III, 8 ; scales 42 — i-^. 
Atlantic coast of the United States ; very abundant southward, where it is much 
valued as a food fish. 

Yellow-taxl — Silver Perch — Scioena punctata — (Linn.) — This 
is a pretty little fish, quite abundant in some parts of the Florida 
coast, which affords good sport on a light rod^ and is a well-flavored 
pan-fish. In Halifax River it seldom weighs half a pound. Color 
greenish above, below silvery ; tail yellowish. 

Besides the above described species, which belong to Southern 
"Waters, we find on the Florida coast in winter some species which 


go North in summer, such as the sheepshead, bluefish, kingfi8h7 or 
whiting, blackfish, and Lafayette, or spot^all abundant, but of small 
gize. Sheepshead, from half a pound to six pounds, can be taken in 
numbers which would astonish a New York angler — say from twenty 
to fifty in a tide, and they afford good sport on a rod with clams or 
crabs for bait. Bluefish from two ounces to two pounds in weight 
are sometime* abundant, the same ferocious, snapping, greedy fish 
which on the Northern coast affords so much sport to the fisherman, 
and which chops up such multitudes of small fish. Blackfish seldom 
go over a pound, but are abundant, and " excellent meat," as father 
Walton says. Whiting run from three ounces to a pound, and af- 
ford fine sport with light tackle, being a very strong and active fish. 
The Lafayette, or spot, is abundant but small — average four ounces. 
All this seems to show that these species are hatched in Southern 
waters ; and go North in summer to feed and grow. 

*In addition to these valuable food and game fishes, we encounter 
others which might be called the obstructive, or dangerous species — 
those which destroy our tackle and give us trouble and annoyance. 
Such are the sharks, the rays, the sawfishes and the congers. • 


The Sharks. — The Sawfish. 

Sharks. — Several species are found on the Florida coast ; the 
common brown, or dusky shark, the shovel-nose, the hammer-head, 
the sand shark, the nurse shark. In warm weather most of these 
are abundant, ferocious and troublesome. They cannot bear cold 
weather, and it sometimes happens in the spring, when a warm spell 
has brought the sharks from the Gulf Stream to the coast that a sud- 
den fall in the temperature destroys many of these delicate mon- 
sters. The common brown shark grows to the length of eight or 
nine feet, and destroys great quantities of fish. When 'abundant,, 
they, like the wolves, take courage from their numbers, and become 
bold and aggressive, although usually they are cowardly for creatures 
of their size and strength. At such times they will take large bass 
and other fish away from the angler as he plays them.. They are 
sure to take the bait if they see it, and when hooked the shark takes 
a turn near the surface, and usually cuts off the hook, unless it is- 
fixed where the teeth cannot touch it. In that case a shark of good 
size can be played and killed on a rod, I have killed several of five 
feet long, and they did not make so long a fight as a red bass of half 
that size. I once killed a shark five feet long weighing perhaps fifty 
pounds, in half an hour ; when gaffed it was found to be hooked 
on the outside, near the pectoral fin ; so that the fish could exert all 
its strength. When catching red bass on the sand shoals near the 
Inlet, I have known the sharks to collect about the boat in such 



numbers, and become so bold, thac we thought it prudent to change 
our ground. When a captured shark is brought alongside the 
boat he will sometimes show fight, and bite a piece out of the planks 
of the boat's side. He is easily killed by a blow on the head with 
a club, or with a pistol ball in the same place. I have occasionally 
gone out shark-fishing with strangers who have a curiosity to see 
that sport. We go towards night to some sand-bank on the channel, 
and near the Inlet, drive a stout stake into the sand, to which we at- 
tach the end of a half-incfi rope 100 feet long, armed with a big 
book and four or five feet of chain. This hook baited with a three 
pound fish is taken with a boat and dropped in the channel ; the 
line is coiled up on the shore, and we wait for results. When a shark 
:finds the bait, which may be in. ten minutes, or an hour, the line 
slowly moves off ; when time is given for swallowing the bait, (there 
is no nibbling in this kind of fishinc;) we give a strong pull 
to fasten the hook, and all hands lay hold of the line to bring the 
captive • to the shorts. ' The sport is lively for a few minutes, as a 
shark of eight feet long will drag three or four men to the water's 
edge, when we have to give him line. Ten minutes of this work 
will tire the shark, which is dragged ashore and knocked in the 
head with "an axe — but beware of the sweep of his tail, and trust 
not yourself near his head ; either end of him is dangerous. 

^The first time I went shark fishing, we caught seven, from six to 
eight feet long, in an hour's time. A man who was planting in that 
neighborhood came with a large boat and took them away for his 
compost heap. The livers contain from one to three gallons of oil, 
excellent for leather dressing.. jC C. Pacetti during the war made 
a business of catching sharks for their oil, which he sold to the tan- 
ners at one dollar per gallon. He had a windlass at the land- 
ing near his house, with which big reel he could handle a shark 
alone, or if too large, his wife could help him land the monster. He 
used to set his line at night, and usually found a shark on it in the 
morning, unless, as sometimes happened, a bigger shark would eat 
him up, all but the head. He once found in the stomach of a large 
shark, half of an alligator five or six feet long when living — the 


shark's teeth had cut him in two, spite of his scale armor. What 
chance would a man have in those terrible jaws ? 

Fortunately, the sharks on this coast feed so freely on fish that 
they do not care to attack mankind. I have heard of no well- 
authenticated instance of human beings eaten by them. The bodies 
of some drowned persons have disappeared, which may have been 
devoured by sharks, but there is no evidence of it. Mr. Pacetti, 
iirho has been among them all his life, and has caught hundreds of 
them with nets and hooks, tells me th it he was never attacked but 
once by a shark He was fishing on the beach with a net in the 
night, and wading in the surf a shark seized him by the leg. Having 
thick canvass trousers on, he escaped unwounded, and he thought 
the shark hardly knew what it was he attacked. Never having 
seen, what is commonly afiirmed, that the shark must turn on his 
baclt to seize his prey, I asked Pacetti what his experience was in 
the matjter. His reply was, " A shark lays hold like any other fich, 
and he would have to go hungry if he had to turn over to bite, 
— most any fish would get away from him." 

'A^^ other question is, how large do they grow? I have seen in the 
Indian Ocean, a leopard shark fully twenty-five feet long and as wide 
as the ship's long boat. It kept about the ship on a calm day with 
smooth water, for some hours, but would not touch a bait, which 
was fortunate, for no tackle that we had on board would have held 
such a fish. The mate struck at it with a harpoon, which bounded 
off from the tough and elastic hide, and the shark left us. It was 
covered with light colored spots on a darker ground — a terrible look- 
inof creature, which could have swallowed an ox. 

The Shovel-nose Shark is a much more active species ; when 
hooked, it never stops to be played, but goes off like a locomotire, 
taking the tackle with it. 

The Hammmek-head, or Ground jshark, is a strange looking 
creature, with the headset at right angles with the body; the eyes at 
the extreme points of the head, and the mouth underneath like other 
sharks. This species rarely appear on the surface of the water; it 
is said to be one of the most ferocious and dangerous of th© shark 


family. I have killed small ones of three feet long, on a rod. 

The Nurse Shark — ScylUum cirratum — (Cuv.) — This is a sluggish 
species of shark, reddish brown in color, eyes small, barbs depending 
from the mouth, teeth very small, ^but strong. I have seen notches 
bitten out of a knife by this fish, in cutting out a hook; lives on tbe 
bottom, and when it takes a hook gives no play at all, but hangs 
like a dead weight. From five to ten feet long, according to Pro- 
fessor Jordan, and inhabits warm latitudes. 

Sawfish. — Pridis antiquorum — (Latham-^"^-' Belongs to the Se- 
lachians, or shark family, and resembles a shark in form and arrange- 
ment of fins, with a long bony protuberance extending from the 
uppej jaw. This is about one-quarter to one third the length of the 
fish; has at short intervals -sharp spines projecting from eacli side, 
like the teeth of a comb, making a fearful weapon, with which the 
saw-fish strikes and kills its prey, consisting of mullet and other fish. 
The mouth is large and toothless, and is situated, like the shark's,^ 
beneath the snout ; into this the fish which are killed by the saw 
are received. It is sluggish, lying usually on the bottom, waiting 
for its prey, and when disturbed by a passing boat will, if of large 
size, strike powerful and dangerous blows with the saw, which has- 
a lateral motion. 

Between the saw-fish and the shark are frequent battles, and as 
the latter is very fond of its cousin, the saw is often found on the 
beach, the wearer having been devoured. This species grows to the 
length of fifteen feet, and are then formidable to encounter. The 
liver contains much oil, for which the saw-fish is sometimes har- 
pooned *• I have taken the smaller specimens of three or four feet 
long with rod and reel ; they take the bait quietly, so that you thmk 
your hook is fast to the bottom ; after long pulling, up comesfirst a 
savage looking saw, striking right and left. To disablf* this fish 
strike it a heavy blow with a club at the junction of the saw with 
the head; by this it is paralyzed and can be handled with impunity. 
The islanders of the Pacific ocean mount this saw upon a handle 
and use it for a sword. 


The Eays. 

To the class of Selachians the rays also belong, and many species 
of them are found on the Florida coast, from the enormous devil- 
fish, which reaches a width of eighteen or twenty feet, to the little 
skate, or old maid, one foot in length. 

« That which we principally meet with, the stingray, although not 
properly a game fish, yet as it often affords the angler considerable 
sport, although involuntarily, we must include it in our list, and 
under the name of stingray, stingaree, or cliim-cr2icker-rJ)as7/atis 
centrums — (Mitchell.) It is thus described : " Disk a little broader 
than long, its anterior angle obtuse. Tail relatively stout, about 
one-third longer than the disk. Width of mouth about half its dis- 
tance from the tip of the snout. Caudal spine one and a-half times 
width of mouth. Spiracles very large. Color uniform brownish. 
Length eight ieety— Jordan and Gilberfs Synopsis. 

To this I should add that the stingray has a pavement of enam« 
bled teeth, with which it can crush clams or oysters, and a bone five 
or six inches long attached to the tail, one-third the distance from 
its extremity ; this bone is barbed like a fish-hook along its sides, 
and can be erected or depressed by the fish. When the ray strikes 
its enemy it draws the long whip-like tail aoross the object, the 
bone tears through the flesh making a fearful wound, the danger of 
i«rhich seems to be aggi-avated by the poisonous nature of a black 
fllimy matter which covers the bone ; however this may be, the 
-wound is exeremely painful, and very dangerous, often producing 


lockjaw. The fishermen dread the stingray, and with reason, ; s it 
is often /"ound lying on the flats and sand bars, where the net is cast. 
My friend Pacetti has been several times struck by the rays, an^ 
onc« he came near losing his leg from the wound. 

In fishing for bass and sheepshead the angler will sometimes find 
his hook apparently fast to the bottom, and on pulling on it, the line 
will move slowly away with irresistible force — this for thirty or forty 
yards, when it will stop for ten or fifteen minutes and then move on 
again, in the same slow, resistless way, as if a yoke of oxen were 
hitched. If the angler wishes to kill the fish he must raise his an- 
chor and follow wherever the ray may lead him. In this way, if the 
ray is of moderate size, say fifty or sixty pounds, he may in an hour's 
time bring his fish to the gaff. But this must not be attempted 
rashly, for as soon as the ray is touched with the gaff, it strikes an 
accurate blow with its long whip towards the gaffer. The staff, or 
handle should be four or five feet long, and the arm that holds it 
strong, otherwise it will be wrenched from its grasp. If the boat- 
man understands his business he will [insert the gaff near the head 
of the ray and quickly turn the fish upon its back alongside the boat,^ 
then with a heavy and sharp knife stab the ray several times in the 
throat. If properly done, the blood will gush forth as if with the 
strokes of a pump and quickly exhaust the powers of the fish. When 
dead, if the sting is wanted for a trophy, tow the carcass to the 
shore and cut off the tail, which much resembles one of those long 
black leather covered waggon whips, used in the S^uth. Set the 
carcass adrift on the tide, and if there has not been a shark seen that 
day, in five minutes two or three of those ugly brutes will be tugging 
and tearing at the carcass of their cousin, the ray. Thex-e is no 
better bait for a shark than a chunk from a ray's fin; and indeed the 
flesh is white and delicate in appearance, and is considered a delicact 
by many nations less fastidious than Americans. The principal food 
of the ray is shell-fish, and I have often seen it when dying vomit 
forth a pint or more of small mollusks. 

I once hooked a ray up the river about half a mile from home and 
undertook to drive it to the landing. It towed me about the river 


for an hour, and I had got my team well in hand, when it sulked and 
stopped on the bottom. The boatman would punch it with a pole 
and start it again. Finally it got the boat into deep water where the 
pole could not reach it, and as we lay there anchoied in the channel 
n schooner came up the river before the wind, and to avoid being 
run down we had to cut loose from our fish. 

New-comers to Florida, and especially those fror^ the West, who 
hav ? never seen anything larger than a catfish or pickerel, are at 
first much interested in the capture of sharks and rays, but after a 
while the sport loses its zest, and we are glad to cut loose from these 
unmanageable monsters, with as little loss of time and tackle as 
may be. 

The largest stingray I ever saw captured was taken by a young 
native fisherman of twelve years old, with a hand line. It was ten 
and a-half feet lonsc, and must have weighed 150 pounds. I have 
killed them of sixty or seventy pounds, on a rod. 

The whipray, or eagleray — Rata aquila — (Linn.) — Is about the" 
same size as the stingray, but a much more active fish. When 
hooked it is impossible to check it at all- -away goes fish and tackle. 
It is often seen sporting on the surface and leaping from the water. 
Tail very long and slender. Food like that of other rays, principally 
raollusks. It also goes by the name of clam-cracker ; is much less 
abundant than the stingray. 



^ \^Megalops thrissoides.] 


For life I can't help scribbling once a week 

Firing old readers, nor discovering new, 
In youth I wrote because my mind was full 

And now because I feel it growing dull. 

But " why then publish ? " — There are no rewards 
Of fame or profit when the world grows weary, 

I ask in turn, — why do we play at cards.? 

Why fish ? Why read ? — To make the hours less dreary. 

In journals devoted to sports of forest and stream, we frequently 
notice references to the lordly salmon, the noble striped bass, the 
plucky " bronze backers," and the speckled beauties — but the tar- 
pon, "the Noblest Roman " ot them all — the game fish joar excell- 
ence of American waters is seldom noticed. When the acrobatic 
performances, and the fighting qualities of this noble fish become 
known, a new revolution will present itself to those who can enjoy 
true piscatorial sport. In a recent communication published in one 
of your contemporaries, that accomplished writer " S. C. C." referred 
to the fighting qualities of the tarpon ; and in writing comparative- 


ly of like qualities in the salmon, black bass, striped bass and brook 
I rout, he rated the first at five and the four latter at one. 

This fish is common in Florida, its habitat extending from Texas 
to the Georgia line, and possibly further north. At the mouth of the 
St. Johns River it is known as the jew fish ; at some points as the 
silver fish. By Captain Romans, the orthography used was tarpum, 
and this has been adopted by " S. C. C ; " and I find it spelled tar- 
pum in the report of the United States Fish Commission for 1880. 
This fish is very common on the South West Coast of Florida where 
it is known as tarpon. It was- deemed advisable to change the name 
of Salt Spring, a tributary of the Anclote River, and owing to the 
great number of this fish visiting it, it has been named Tarpon 
Spring. The authority for the use of the word tarpum is as old as 
Captain Romans ; but, in my wanderings in this State, I found the 
fish called tarpon and not tarpum, and I use the former term, claim- 
ing that the most common name in use should be adopted. 

In its habits, the tarpon differs in different localities. In the St. 
Johns River they put in an appearance in June, and leave in October* 
for warmer waters and pastures new. It is probable that they follow 
the coast line to the southward in the autumn, and winter among the 
Florida Keys. They can be found at all seasons in the streams of the 
.southeast and southwest portions of the State. A friend who spent 
the last two winters collecting in Estero Bay, informed me that they 
entered the bay on the flood and left it on the ebb tide. In many of 
the streams of Southwest Florida, they seem to be residents, and do 
not visit the lower and salty portions. A majority oi these fish 
summering in the St. Johns River, enter the stream on the flood, and 
leave it on the ebb tide, probably spending a short time between 
the tides, about the bar or the shoals at the mouth of the river. Mile 
Point one mile above Mayport, Shell Bank below Mount Caroline, 
and the Back Channel east of Uames Point Light, seem to be fa- 
vorite haunts of the tarpon, that do not leave the river on the ebb 

On one occasion, I was anchored over-night near Mile Point, and 
an immense number of moss bunkers had collected in the eddy astern 
of my boat. It appeared to me that hundreds of tarpon had gather- 


ed and resolved upon the destruction of the bunkers. At about 10 
p. M., the tarpon commenced jumping and slashing, and the noise 
made by the fish prevented me from sleeping. Midnight arrived, 
and as " Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep" would not visit me, I 
baited my tarpon line, and permitted my bait to float with the tide 
to the point where the vaulters were feeding : I, like " p itience 
seated on a monument," fished and waited ; but as I could not secure 
a bite, I retired to my blankets at 2.30 a. m., and if not a wiser, I 
was a madder man than at turning in time the previous evening. 

In many of the streams of the southwest coast there exist broad 
and shallow reaches of water, the bottom being covered with a dense 
growth of grass. The tarpon enter the grass, and approach the shore 
as closely as possible without exposing their backs, their object being 
apparently to bask in the sunshine. If a boat should approach close 
enough to disturb them, they rush for the deep water with lightning 
like rapidity. This peculiar trait, I have more especially noticed on 
the Hora'>sassa River, and at Gordan's pass and Lagoon. This prac- 
tice of " laying up," I have not noticed on the St. John's River. In 
some of the streams of South Florida they seem to live in fresh 
water, as in the upper portions of the Homosassa, Calloosahatchee> 
Rogers, and Harneys Rivers. On the Calloosahatchee, above the 
islands, the water is scarcely brackish, and at this point, these fish 
exist in immense numbers. When I ascended this stream in 1875, at 
the point referred to, the fish were so plentiful tnat one or more 
could be seen breaking the water at all times. To the fisherman who 
has been accustomed to the depopulated streams of the north, this 
may seem a "fish story," but unles* they visit the streams of South 
Florida, they cannot form the faintest idea of the immense quantity 
of fish to be found in that section. 

In outline, the tarpon somewhat resembles a striped bass. It is 
covered with large ivory-like scales ; about one-third of the s^lrface 
of each scale being ornamented with a coating resembling frosted 
silver. One of the smaller scales in the way of a piscatorial visiting 
card I enclose for the inspection of the editor. 

I enquired of many persons if this fish was edible, and could not 
obtain any information. Possessing ichthyophagous tendencies, in 


July last I rt'solved upon determining this matter and cut some 
steaks from a specimen weighing 128 pounds. I had them fried, and 
upon testing them I arrived at the conclusion, that as an edible fish 
the tarpon rates next to the pompano. To me it resembles a spring 
chicken in flavor. Several gentlemen tasted the fish and confirmed 
my opinion. Since that time the flesh of this fish has been sold ia 
this market at ten cents per pound. The flesh is very tender and of 
a light walnut tint. To many the color of the flesh would be aa 

As a vaulter the tarpon is unequalled, and his aerial feats " must be- 
seen to be appreciated." On one occasion ray friend G. and a com- 
panion, were rowing through Salt River (a tributary of the Homo- 
sagsa) in a sixteen-foot Whitehall boat. A tarpon was sunning him- 
self in the grass, and being disturbed made for deep water. Find-^ 
ing the water shallow, and the boat in the way, he endeavored to 
clear it at an angle. The head of the fish came in contact with the 
side of G's companion, which contact deflected him from his course> 
and he passed under one of the boat seats. A pocket knife was used 
to '* settle his hash," but it would not penetrate the ivory-like armor 
of the fish. Oars were used to dispatch the prisoner, but it wa» 
found that if he was interfered with the boat would suffer from the 
vigorous blows of his head and tail. G. seated himself in the stern,, 
and his companion in the bow and for the nonce the fish was 
awarded the post of honor unmolested. When peace was declared,, 
the gentlemen resumed their oars, but the one who deflected the silver 
king in his course, found that he could not "paddle his own canoe," 
for several of his ribs were fractured. G. rowed the boat to Jones* 
Landing on the Homosassa, and the tarpon was weighed, tipping the 
scales at 153 pounds. Some of your readers will probably pronounce 
this a " fi«;h story," but if they could see a tarpon rush through the 
water, and form a just estimate of the momentum of a moving fish 
of this weight, they would not question the correctness of the above 

Several years since, the side wheel river steamer Water Lily wa» 
en route from Jacksonville to Mayport. The captain was seated on 
a chair in the centre of the forward deck, with his back to the for- 


ward house. As the boat was passing St. Johns Bluff, a small 
frisky tarpon leaped from the water, cleared the guards, and landed 
in the captain's lap. The juvenile vaulter was secured, and weighed 
sixty-eight pounds, being the smallest specimen that has been cap- 
tured in this river to my knowledge. 

About a year since a party was sailing a boat in Clear Water 
Harbor, and a frolicsome tarpon amused himself by jumping over 
the boat, and in his course stuck above the boom, and in an instant 
the old sail was in tatters. 

Some years since a man was fishing for channel bass, in an ancient 
dug out near the mouth of Trout Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns 
River. A jovial tarpon vaulted in the air, landed in the canoe, and 
the bottom was knocked out of the machine. The fish escaped, the 
■fisherman caught a ducking, and was rescued by parties anchored 
near by. 

When in a vaulting mood, I have hundreds of times seen large 
tarpon clear the water with their tails from one to four feet. On 
*Dne occasion my friend P. was fishing at Mile Point and a large 
frisky tarpon jumped near his boat, rounded the sand bar and re- 
peated his aerial feats fifteen times. In Sept. '81 I wa« fishing at 
the same point for these fish, using a large cork float, for tackle a 
gang of large Virginia hooks, and for bait two halves of a mullet, 
'^rhe float disappeared, and instantly there appeared in the air, the 
largest tarpon I ever saw. He left the water at an angle, and, as 
improbable as it may appear to the uninterested, he landed at least 
twenty feet from where he left his native element. Whilst in the 
air he opened his capacious mouth, shook his head like a terrier 
shaking a rat, and my gang of hooks went flying tiirough the air. 
On many occasions I have had these fish seize my bait and run with 
lightning like rapidity for twenty or a hundred yards, then leap into 
the air, shake their heads and expel the bait. 

It has been my lot to capture many varieties of fish in various 
portions of the United States, and in different oceans of this world, 
but I never found anything tO' even approach the liglUniDg-like 
dashes of the tarpon. On one occasion my fnenu i^. yyu^ ...^^mg 
opposite the old Light House at Mayport for channel bass. Bites 


were few and far between, and B. reclined backwards on the stern 
sheets of the boat holding the line between his finger and thumb. 
One of these fish seized his bait and started off, and before he could 
clear his finger from the line it was cut to the bone. During the 
summer it is common to meet amateur fishermen on our streets, 
o-nd they will exhibit their scarred fingers and laughingly reply 
«I hooked him but he left." 

For vaulting exploits tarpon cannot be equalled by anything in- 
habiting ocean or river. Among the colored people in the neighbor- 
hood of Trout creek they have the reputation of throwing sinkers 
at the fishermen, and when one of these gentry is fishing for channel 
bass, and hooks a tarpon, he reclines on the boat seat, and permits 
the silver king to vault and rush unmolested. The lead-throwing 
notion is the result of the jumping proclivities of this fish. Several 
years since, a representative of the colored persuasion hooked a large 
one, and attempted to land him by "Scotch navigation." When the 
fish neared the boat, he went through one of his aerial performances, 
and his head was high above the boat. The darkey kept a taut line; 
the hook tore out; the traction of the fisherman caused the sinker to 
come in-board, and the darkey's pate came in contact with a heavy 
piece of lead. From information obtained I have reason to believe 
that in the. southern portions of the State these fish vault in the air, 
when they are in a frolicsome mood; but in all my wanderings in 
that portion of the State I never witnessed the performance, but 
have frequently seen them break water like a bluefish. 

I'he capture of a tarpon with a hook and line is a difficult under- 
taking. Every summer many are hooked, but few are landed. Dur- 
ing the past season in this section but five have been captured, the 
smallest weighing 125 and the largest 198 pounds, or an average of 
147 pounds. We frequently read of the excitement attending the 
capture of a bronze backer or a speckled beauty, but those who give 
their experiences should hitch on to a tarpon, and they would dis- 
cover " music in the air " worth recording ; for the capture of a sil- 
ver king is a bright spot in a fisherman's existence, and a fact worth 
referring to at a camp-fire. 

The other day my friend Dr. Q. informed me that during one 


forenoon in August last, at Mile Point, he had ten tarpon bites and 
failed to land a fish. The inside of the mouth of this fish is like 
gutta-percha. The tongue resembles that of a calf, and with it they 
seem to eject the bait. The lower jaw points upwards, and on the 
upper are two moveable plates, armed with minute teeth. With 
these armed plates they seem to cut the line. 

The tarpon takes the bait near the surface or at the bottom. At 
times, after taking the bait they will instantly appear in the air near 
the boat; and at others they wdll run with lightning-like rapidity 
ior a long distance, and then indulge in their acrobatic performances. 
It seems that they hold the bait in their mouths, and when they 
jump and are in the air, shake their heads and eject the bait. It is a 
•common thing for them to retain the bait until they jump, and to 
the astonishment of the fishermen when they reach the water the 
bait is clear and the fish is off at a tangent. 

Over tvo years since I prepared a tackle which I fancied would 
c-ircumvent the silvery beauties. I attached three of Job Johnson's 
"No. 2 drum hooks to a stout cotton snood. I lapped the hooks one 
above the other, so that the snood was not exposed. I then passed 
the three ho'yks through a half mullet, and was rewarded with a 
bite. I '' yanked," and the performance commenced. My line was 
600 feet in length, and after a half hour's vaulting and lightning- 
like rushes the fish succumued. I requested the boatman to up 
anchor and row for shore. The fish quietly followed the boat, but 
before I reached the beach the snood was cut off with his scissor-like 
jaws. Upon examining my tackle I found that he had swallowed 
the bait, and the unprotected portion of the snood had been cut by 
the moveable maxillary plates of the fish. 

'J'o give your readers some idea of the strength of the tarpon, I 
ghall merely refer to two instances illustrative of their prowess. On 
one occasion I was fishing for channel bass, and McMillen, the boat- 
man, requested permission to put out my tarpon line. I baited the 
gang of hooks mounted on piano wire. On a board was wound 
700 feet of line. I requested McMillen to unwind all the line and 
coil it on the bottom of the boat, and if he hooked a fish, to pass the 
line to rae. Very soon I saw a tarpon vault in the air, and on reach- 


ing the water cut and slash in an unusual manner. I yelled to Mac 
to "give him more lino," and as my back wag towards the boatman 
1 could not understand why he did not obey instructions. I turned 
round and found that he had not unwrapped the line. He had 
braced his feet against a seat and had a death grip on the board on 
which the line was wrapped. The result was a heavy cable laid cot- 
ton line parted. 

Some years since several of my friends were casting in the surf at 
Pellican Island for channel bass. In the party was an ardent fish- 
erman, a boy of fourteen. To secure it, he had fastened one end of 
his line around his waist. He baited his hook and threw it as far as 
practicable from the shore, and hooked a fish. In-cmtly the boy 
started for the coast of Africa, struggling and yelling. The gentle- 
men rushed into the surf, rescued the boy, and landed the parae 
moving power at the other end, which proved to be a tarpon weigh- 
ing eighty-three pounds. 

After testing various kmds of tackle, I have adopted a barbarous 
and possibly an unsportsmanlike rig for the capture of this noble 
fish. I take the heaviest piano wire obtainable, and make three 
joints, four inches long, and three, six inches in length. The joints 
of the links are made by heating the ware in the fire, bending each 
end, allowing half an inch for soldering. Before soldering, I polish 
each piece of wire with emery paper, and tin it to prevent rusting. 
To the upper link I attach a strong brass swivel two and one-half 
inches in length. I wrap the ends of the wire below the loops with 
fine copper wire, and finish the job with common solder. I use hooks 
two inches from tip to shank. To each of the three lower links I 
solder two hooks at a right angle. When completed, the hooks are 
in two lines. For bait I cut a mullet in half from mouth to tail. I 
l)ass one hook through the eye, one amidships, and the other near the 
tail. Three hooks pass through the bait, with points exposed, and 
the three others pass beyond the edge of the bait. In addition, I 
tSKC a packing needle and fine twine, and tie the links to the bait. 
By adopting this course I make an attractive and armored bail, with 
hooks partially concealed, and an almost invisible snood. Tackle 
rigged in this way possesses great strength, for the last time I was 


iishing at Mayport I captured two sharks, one seven and the other 
nine feet in lenajth, on my tarpon rig. 

In August last, 1 was fishing near my friend P., and hooked a 
large tarpon, and after a long and exciting tussle the fish was dis- 
posed to yield. I requested P. to come on board and. use the grains. 
lie complied, and as I was cautiously bringing the silver beauty to 
the side of the boat the hooks tore out, and he settled to the bottom 
like a log. P. left me; I did not break a commandment, but seated 
myself in the cockpit of the boat, held my peace, filled my pipe and 
indulged in a smoke. 

P. returned to his boat, and soon after shouted that he had "made 
a discovery." I questioned him regarding it, but he told me " to 
wait and he would make a tackle to capture the artful dodgers." A 
few days later he visited me and exhibited "his new rig," which 
consisted of a dog chain two feet long. To the links of 
the chain he had fastened seven copper wire loops, and to each 
of the loops he soldered a hook. He proceeded to Mile Point, 
opened a large mullet from vent to gills, passed swivel end of 
chain out of mouth of bait, a/id to it attached his line. The 
balance of the chain he stowed away in the belly of the 
fish, leaving the points of the hooks protruding fr^m the incision, 
and to keep everything ^V^ situ he took a number of turns around 
the body of the fish with strong thread. The bait was appropriated 
by a tarpon, and during the head-shaking process the end of the 
chain escaped from its place of confinement, twitched about the 
fish's head, and the lower hook entered on the outside below the 
gills. After a struggle P. beached a tarpon weighing 125 pounds. 
An examination established the fact that one of the upper hooks had 
taken a slight hold in one lip, and had held long enough for the 
" skirmishing hook " to enter. 

P. tried another experiment, that of attaching four piano wire snoods 
eighteen to twenty-four inches long, to a swivel, and to each snood 
was attached a large sized hook. He opened a mullet as above ; 
passed swivel through mouth of bait, and stowed the hooks in belly 
leaving points exposed, and secured the hooks by wrapping bait Tirith 
thread. He was rewarded with a bite, and landed a tarpon six feet 


eleven inches in length, weighing 198 pounds. It was found that 
one of the hooks had a slight hold in mouth, and that one of the 
<< skirmishers " had switched round and entered the back of the fish 
below the head, and held him. Tarpon fishing is in its infancy, and 
we trust that some of your piscatorial experts will invent appropriate 
tackle, try tarpon fishing, and teach us greenhorns how to capture 
th*^^"* Thpv offpr a fine field for '^xprnment.. 

Tarpon seem to confine themselves to a fiflh diet, and I have yet 
to hear of one noticing a crab bait. The bait universally used is a 
portion of, or a whole, mullet. On one occasion my friend. Dr. F. , 
was fishing for large mouthed bass at the head of the Homosassa 
Hiver, and as they would not rise to a fly, he used a minnow for 
bait. He soon ascertained that he had about six lineal feet of tar- 
pon at the other end. At first the fish paid no attention to the trac- 
tion of a light split bamboo trout rod, but he ultimately started off 
at lightning speed, the reel humming as it never did before, and tl • 
Doctor was minus a leader. He rigged his line again, used a min- 
now as bait, made a cast, got a strike, and, to his astonishment and 
disgust, another tarpon had appropriated the bait, and in an instant 
he was minus his tackle. From that time to the present the Doctor 
has refrained from using minnows for bait where tarpon exist. 

Nearly two years since your valued correspondent, "M.," was 
trolling with a spinner near Sannibal Island for channel bass, and 
toward evening he found that he had hooked a larger fish than he 
bargained for. After a tussle the fish was landed, and it proved to 
be a tarpon weighing thirty-eight pounds. Last summer, I had a 
large and strong spoon bait made by Hill & Co., of Grand Rapids, 
Michigan. I only used it on two occasions but failed to secure a 
strike. Next summer I propose testing it again, for I feel assured 
that the silver king cannot resist such an attractive lure. 
^The capture of the noble tarpon is worthy of the notice of experts, 
and if they wish an exciting experience, a new revelation, I would 
advise them to visit southeastern or southwestern portions of the 
State during the winter, or the lower St. Johns during August and 
September. If they should engage in tarpon fishing in this river> 
whilst waiting for a bite they can indulge in the capture of channel 



l>;^^.>. wc'ighiiig Irom lueiily lu sixty puiinds ; or if they fish at the 
Jetties they can kill time by landing sheepshead, cavalli, sea troutl 
and medium-sized bass. 

As yet, no one in this section except myself has attempted uie cap- 
ture of a tarpon with a ro^ and reel ; and thus far I have been so 
fortunate as not to hc^k one with tuis description of tackle. Anothe 
summer, I will destroy several first-class heavy bass rods or capture 
one of thesilvei Sgs with rod, reel, and Cuttyhunk line. 

Tarpon fishing will open a new field worthy of the notice of pis- 
catorial experts. At present, this sport is in its infancy, but it ia 
probable that the time will arrive, when we shall succeed in captur- 
ing the silver beauties in greater number than in the past. What is 
required for the successful capture of these fish, is a double spring 
hook, eighteen inches in length, and so arranged that the hooks can 
be closed ; a half mullet securely attached, and when the bait is 
interfered with, a catch or ring shall be displaced and the hooks sep- 
arated to a distance of at least eighteen inches. With such a rigr 
these fish can be captured ; and the question arises who will inven^ 
and make a spring hook adapted to tne capture of the silver kings 
The southwest coast will soon be opened up by railroads and steam_ 
boats, and, as many fishermen will visit that section, tackle for tar. 
pon fishing will be required and it should be supplied. 

As a game fish, the silver kings have no equal ; in their lightning- 
like dashes for liberty, they excel anything wearing scales, and as 
vaulters they cannot be equalled. I write eulogistically of the tar- 
pon, for he and I have had more than one tussle. In an article in a 
recent number of a contemporary, a gentleman offered to pay for an 
excursion ticket to Florida, and three months hotel bill, to any bne 
who would land a tarpon with a rod and reel. My impression is, that 
the gentleman making the offer " has been there," and had his " fing- 
ers burnt." In Orvis and Cheney's new book entitled '' Fishing with 
a fly," Dr. Henshall informs us that " the capture of the salmon is an 
epic poem, and the taking of the trout an idyl," but we opine that if 
he found a seven-foot tarpon on the end of his line and succeeded m 
landing the vaulter, that he would describe the operation as a tragic 
to poem. 

CHAl TIE xin. 



By T>R. C. J. Kenwoithy. — Al Feesco. 

In Florida, as elsewhere, almost any hotel and boarding-house 
keeper who resides near a creek, river or lake refers in laudatory 
terms to the fishing. The majority of such statements should be re- 
ceived cum grano sails. As a rule, good fishing cannot be secured 
near large cities or where fishermen use seines and cast nets. 

Jacksonville is the objective and distributing point of the State, 
but fishing near by is poor, very poor. At the mouth of St. John's 
River *twenty-five miles below Jacksonville, fair fishing can be se- 
cured. Ten days since my friend. Col. H., spent a day at this point. 
He used an eight-ounce split bamboo and landed 210 sea trout, bass 
and sheepshead. He fished again on Monday and landed sixty. On 
Friday last Arno and his partner (professional fishermen) caught, 
with Japan cane rods, 130 strings of fish, and on Saturday 110 
strings. A " string " of fish in this market consists of one or more 
fish weighing about four pounds. 

As yet no ohc has tried fly fishing for sea trout and channel bass 
in the creeks emptying into the lower St. J ohn's River^ but we are 
of the opinion that they will seize the feathery lure as well as on the 
southwest coast. Fair accommodations can be obtained at Mayport 
and Pilot Town at two dollars per day or ten dollars per week. In 
some of the creeks tributary to the St. John's River, between Jack- 
sonville and Sandf ord, bream, large-mouthed bass and pickerel can be 
caught in great members. In January and February the bass will 
take a spoon or fly. In the upper St. John's (above Enterprise) and 


its tributary streams and lakes, the fisherman will soon be surfeited 
in capturing large-mouthed bass. But as there are no hotels and 
l)oardhig houses, and as the water is generally bounded by broad 
marshes, persons will be compelled to use a boat large enough for 
camping purposes. 

At St. Augustine there are a number of excellent hotels, but the 
fishing is poor when compared with streams further south. At New 
Smyrna the fishing is fair, and for further information I will refer 
the reader to the interesting articles in The Angler by ** S. C. C." 
At this point there is a new hotel and several boarding-houses; 
board from eight to sixteen dollars per week for permanent boarders. 

Indian River can be reached at Sand Point or Rock Ledge by 
steamers on St. John's River, and a short trip overland. Twice each 
month Captain Henderson will make trips from this city to Indian 
River with his new, comfortable and safe sharpie, sixty-five feet 
long and nearly fifteen tons measurement. I have not fished the 
lower end of the Indian River, but from reliable information ob- 
tained from many friends I am convinced fishermen will not be dis- 
appointed if they visit this locality. If disappointed, it would be agree- 
ably so in finding such a great variety of fish and in such immense 
numbers. At Lake Worth, a few miles further south, in the lake or 
at the inlet, excellent fishing will be found. Fair accommodations 
can be secured at various points on the river, but the best course 
that can be adopted by fishermen would be the chartering of a sail- 
boat, with a good captain, at Sand Point or Rock Ledge. This could 
be avoided by taking passage with Captain Henderson on his 
Sharpie. I have reason to believe that a steamboat is, or will soon 
be, running on the Indian River. 

If a fisherman wishes to^capture large-mouthed bass until he is 
surfeited, let him visit Kessemmee City, secure a boat, descend the 
Kessemmee River, and he will isoon be surfeited with the *' big- 
mouths." But if the angler expects to meet with the pluck and 
fight of the small-mouthed bass of the North he will be mistaken. 

If the fisherman is disposed to enjoy a sail and explore the interior 
of the State, let him ship a suitable boat to Kessemmee City by 
steamboat and ralroad ; launch the boat, doscend the Kessemmee 


River, iskirt the southwest shore of Lake Ochechobee ; enter and 
pass through the canal to the Cullowahatchin River and descend 
this stream to Charlotte Harbor, 

In the streams along the coast between St. Marks and Cedar Keys 
the fisher will find a piscatorial incognito. The coast is shoal and 
can be navigated in a small boat. The streams are numerous, and 
excellent camping-grounds will be found on their banks. The shoals 
waters along the coast abound with ducks, the shores with beach 
birds, and the land with deer and turkeys. All the streamy abound 
with black bass (southern trout), channel bass, cavalli, sheepshead, 
bream and sea trout. On these streams a fly rod would be found 
very useful. As the coast referred to is not inhabited, parties visit- 
ing it must provide for the inner man. 

At Cedar Keys fair fishing can at times be obtained. On one oc- 
casion during a forenoon I landed 383 pounds of sea trout at this 
point. Alfred Jones, formerly of Homosassa, has opened 'a house 
at Scale Key, distant tw^o or three miles from Cedar Keys. At Car- 
digan's Reefs, a short row from the house, fair channel bass, sea 
trout, sheepshead and blackfish fishing can be secured. The able 
New York steamer Eliza Hancox, Captain Post, has been placed on 
the route between Cedar Keys and Tampa, and travelers will be 
pleased with the accommodations on this able boat. 

Homosassa, the sportsman's paradise, has been patronized in the 
past by hundreds, but the old building has been destroyed by fire. 
The fishing is good, but Mother Jones' table and her clean soft beds 
are wanting. A new hotel has been erected at Anclote, and much 
has been written about the salt water fishing at this point, but I 
must confess that I could not find the "superior" part of it. Lake 
Butler, a f-hort distance from the hotel, affords good fishing for black 
bass. On several occasions I endeavored to find good fishing at 
Clear Water Harbor, but failed. At St. John's Pass I found fair 

Much has been written about the superior fishing at Tampa Bay 
but I was disappointed. At the oyster bank off Point Gadsden, nine 
miles from Tampa, f air sheepsheading can be secured. At the mouth 
of the Hillsboro River at Tampa, on the young flood, sheepshead 


and pea trout can be captured. When I fished at this spot, wind 
bait and tackle were wrong, and I failed to capture a scaie. A.t 
the wreck of the steamer BL M. Cool, opposite the mouth of Old 
Tampa Bay, fair fishing, more especially for grouper, will be found. 

At Long Boat Inlet, Sarasota Bay, good fishing will be found. At 
the mouth of Sara<^ota Pass, channel bass and sheepshead can be 
captured. My friend Dr. Ferber informed me that he fished a pool 
in Billy Bow-Legs Creek (a tributary of this bay) and hooked ca- 
yalli on tte fly at every cast. Three years since a friend captured 
a great number of Spanish mackerel, trolling with a spoon, in Little 
Sarasota Bay. At Casey's Pass, the southerly outlet of the last- 
named bay, good sport can be obtained in the way of catching 
grouper, channel bass and sea trout. 

South of Casey's Pass is Kettle Harbor, a point where sawfish do 
most congregate, and ihe piscator can amuse himself catching the 
sawyers. In addition he will find quantum svfficit of sea trout and 
sheepshead. At Little Gasparilla Pass, Charlotte Harbor, the fish- 
ing will be found A. 1. On the young flood at the nortliorly point 
of Little Gasparilla Island, cavalli, channel bass, sea trout, and bone- 
fish can be captured in immense numbers. At this pouit I iiave 
hooked these fish at every cast and reeled them in until my arms 
a.ched. Within twenty yards of the entrance will be found a bluff, 
shelly shore, which extends to the south for over a hundred y.irds 
-and at this place at any stage of tide sheepshead ranging from two 
to four pounds can be landed as fast as hooks can be bailed. Cruis- 
ing about on the sand bar on the southerly side of the pass I noticed 
large channel bass. I waded out to where the water Was knee-deep, 
cast my bait near the fish, and instantly the music would commence 
In the centre of this island is a fresh water lagoon, where excellent 
drinking water can be obtained. 

At any of the passes at Charlotte Harbor excellent fishing will be 
found. At Punta Rassa, which can be reached by steamship fronr 
Cedar Keys, fair accommodations can be secured at the residence 
of the telegraph operator or at Jacob Summerlin's house. The dock 
at this point is the paradise of "sheepsheading." At this place your 
correspondent "M." lauded fifty-six sheepshead in sixty minutes. This 


may be considered a "fish story," but to do away with the improba- 
bility I may remark that "M." had a man to bait his lines and un- 
hook the fish. Those who know "M." will receive his statement 
unquestioned ; but to doubters I will say that my friend Dr. Lewis 
of Philadelphia, stood by and timed our mutual friend "M." 

If the fisherman is disposed to try conclusions ^rith large game, 
be can fish from the end of the dock and hitch on to large jewfish and 
shark. TV ith a boat and spinner large numbers of channel bass can 
be captured by trolling. At this point "M." hooked on spoon bait 
and landed a juvenile tarpon weighing thirty-eight pounds. 

By ascending the Calloosahatchie River above the islands the fish- 
f^rman will reach the heme of the cavalli and tarpon. If the fisher- 
man is disposed to lay the foundation for a camp-fire yarn, let him 
provide himself w ith a harpoon spear, ] 00 yards of whale line and a 
staunch boat. By keeping his eyes open he will see devil fish from 
fourteen to twenty feet in width sporting in the bay. They can 
be approached and harpooned. If struck the ball will open, and 
the occupants of the boat will enjoy a ride without raising an 
ashen breeze. 

South of Punta Rassa is Estero Bay, where, in addition to the 
small fry previously referred to, tarpon and sawfish revel in all 
their primitive ignorance of fishermen, steamboats and artificial 
baits. Those who visit this bay should not fail to ascend Cork- 
screw River and enjoy the fishing, and deer and turkey shooting. 
In this river tarpons, the silver kings, exist in countless numbers. 

At Gorden's Pass twenty-eight miles south of Punta Rassa will 
be found a sportsman's paradise with fish galore; good oysters, 
ducks, beach birds, deer, and bear. South of this point to North 
Cape Sable any of the inlets, rivert?, or creeks, will furnish unequal- 
led piscatorial sport. From reliable information and actual obser- 
vation, I have no hesitation in asserting that for number and variety 
of fish, the lower Indian River, and many points on the southwest 
coast of Florida excel any other portion of the world. 

In many of the interior lakes large mouthed bass and bream exist 
in great numbers, but they afford but poor sport. After the first 
effort the former give up, and come in like a log of wood. In the 


lakes and streams of the central portion of the State, war-mouthed 
perch from one to three pounds will be found, and for fighting 
qualities they can be recommen:led. My only experience in fishing 
in the western portion of the State was at Apalachicola in 1844, 
when I captured my first channel bass ; at that time the fishing wa& 

To properly enjoy fishing on the southwest coast, a party of 
from two to four should charter a small sloop or schooner of 'from 
five to six tons burthen at Cedar Keys. The cost of the craft will 
be from five to six dollars per day; and this will include the cap- 
tain with man or boy, one small boat, stove, crockery, cooking 
utensils and bedding. Party chartering boat to provide provisions. 
If party consisted of four, the expense should not exceed ten dollars 
per day. 

I cannot refrain from making a few remarks regarding fly fishing 
in Florida and will quote from my article published in " Fishing with 
the Fly." 

" The votaries of the rod and reel have overlooked an important 
field for sport; for, in my opinion no portion of the United States 
offers such advantages for fly fishing as portions of Florida during 
the winter months. The health of the Stale is beyond cavil or dis- 
pute; the climate is all the most fastidious can ask; there is almost 
a total absence of insect pests, and last though not least, a greater 
variety of fish that will take the fly, than in any other section of 
the Union. My friend Dr. Ferber, on his return from the south- 
west coast in April last visited me, and stated that he had caught 
on that coast with artificial flies eleven distinct species of fish ^ 
and I can add five species, making sixteen which can be captured 
with the feathery lure." 

"Instead of wading icy-cold and over fished brooks, tearing 
clothes and flesh creeping through briars and brush, and being sub- 
jected to the sanguinary attentions of the mosquitoes, and black 
flies, in bringing to creel a few fingerlings, in Florida, the angler 
can cast his fly from a sandy beach or boat inhale an invigorating 
atmosphere, bask in the sunshine, and capture specimens of the 


finny tribe, the weight of which can be determined by pounds 
instead of ounces." 

With regard to tackle, I may remark, that the game fish of 
Florida are uneducated, and make no distinction between a mist- 
colored leader and a clothes line. The great desideratum for Florida 
fishing is strength of tackle — stout lines and large hooks. A heavy 
bass rod is all important; if fly fishing is indulged in the rod should 
not be less than eight ounces. As the fish are not particular, ex- 
pensive flies need not be used. On the southwest coast spoon bait 
are used to a great extent; I have tested many spoons and spinners, 
but those made by L. S. Hill & Co. of Grand Rapid Mich, suit 
me best. These baits should be purchased from the manufacturers, 
and they be requested to add stronger hooks to the small sizes, and 
nstead of treble to apply double hooks. For fisliing in this State, 
I would recommend No. 1, 2, 2| and 3. For sea trout, Hill's " trout 
and bass fly" would be found an attractive bait. For hand-line 
fishing, resident experts, use cable laid cotton, and braided cotton 
lines. Unless for fly fishing strong and cheap tackle is all that is 
required. Lines and hooks suitable for ordinary fishing can be 
purchased in this city. 


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THE AMERICAN ANGLER.— A weekly journal devoted solely to fish, fish- 
ing and fish culture, is published oji Saturday of each week. Subscription $3.00 a 
year. Ten cents per copy. 

rORTRAITS OF FISHES— Printed on tinted Bristol boards 7 x 11 inches. 
They are sixty in number ; twenty-three are engravings of those killed in fresh 
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paid, $2.00 ; salt water, $3.50 ; whole series, $5.00 ; single copies, 10 cents. A 
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FISHES OF THE EAST FLORIDA COAST.— In pamphlet form, twelve 
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THE ANGLERS' SCORE BOOK.— With blanks and stubs for recording 
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wind and weather Paper cover, 10 cents ; cloth, 25 cents post paid. 

The American Angler, 

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and congi-atulations and says he is greatly pleased that his prize has been awarded to an Ameri- 
can and one whose rods are so favorably and generally known as yours. 
,To B. F. Nichols, Esq.. Boston, Mass.' * W. N. COX, U. S. Fish Commission. 

[Copv letter received October 31.] Send for catalogue, with Massachusetts Fish and Game 
Laws— FREE. My Goods are sold in New York City by HAWKS & OGILVY, 3oo Broadway.. 

Split Bamboo Bass and Fly Rods, Flies and Fly Books, Artificial Bait, 

Bait Boxes, Hooks, Etc. 


W^^K '" /iH^ 



Water-proof Silk, Linen and Cotton Lines,Reels, Floats, Bnskets.Si'Ti leers. Leaders 




Fishing Tackle. | 




For Brook, River, Lake 


Salt Water 


William -Wurfflein, 

208 NOrt)i Second strojt, Philadelphia, Pa., 



J Reels, Lines, Files, 
Hooks and Bait 


Of the Latest and Most 

Improved Styles, in 



jftS="Send for Price List. 
Mention American Angleb. 



manufacturers of 

FlsMng Rods, Lines, Reels and. Tackle of Every Description. 

Outfits for Florida and Other Sea Fishing a Specialty. 

. 6, 750 Fish Hooka are pronounced by "Al Fresco the best hook for 

Our No. 
made. We make a specialty of 

sea fishing 

Hand-made Fishing Rods. 

Manufactured from the celebrated Bethabara Wood, they are stronger than the Split Bamboo, 
and as tough and elastic aa tempered steel. 

J^" We are making an improvement on Gimp Snells. Every Fisherman has experienced the 
difficulties attending the use of Gimp, Linen or Gut for this purpose. This Snood, being a 
combination of braided Linen and non-corro.^ive Flexible Wire, etfoctually prevents it from 
twisting around the line, and makes it the and most durable Suell in the market. 
Priceperdoxen on best quality Hooks for, 7o cents. Pickerel, 6o cents. Sea Bass, 
6o cents. Fishing Rods and Tackle can bo sent by mail at Ic. per oz., and registerod, if de- 
sired, at lo cents additional. G.5-pago Illustrated Price List of Fishing Tackle sent by mail for 

lo cents in stamps. A. B. SHIPLEY &, SON, 503 Commerce Street,