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799,1 53w $3-95 


Why fish bite and why they 

Drawings by Ray Inghanu 

799,1 53w 
Westman^ Janes 

"Why fish bite and why they 
don^t* Drawings by Ray Ingham* 
Prentice^Hall [1961] 

llp t illus. 


D DDDI 14571432:1, ? 


is hotly debated from Maine to Alaska, 
from the swamps of Louisiana to the 
shores of California. But whether you are 
channel fishing for flounder, surf casting 
for stripers, or lake trolling for small- 
mouth bass, here is an entirely different 
kind of guide to the art and science of 
fishing in fresh or salt water. 

What makes it different? 

Dr. James Wcstman applies his scientific 
knowledge of fish to catching them. From 
theory to practice, from practice to per- 
fection, successful methods are culled 
from his varied experience of more than 
20 years in the study of species, their 
habits and their habitats. For example, he 
tells why fish are sensitive to sounds, 
smells and tastes; why they migrate to 
water levels of varying temperatures; how 
they feed and where they spawn. 




James Westman 

drawings by 
Ray Ingham 

PRENTICE-HALL, INC., Englewood Cliffs, N. J. 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 61-10318 
Printed in the United States of America. 32146-T 

To Ginger 



WHY JIM WESTMAN FISHES, by A. W. Underbill 5 









LET'S EAT 184 

INDEX 203 


Prologue: Consider a Boy With 
A Fishing Rod .... 


onsider a boy with a fishing rod and a can of worms 
as he heads for a nearby pond or river, afoot or on a 
bicycle. Imbued by the spirit of research and an eager- 
ness for adventure, he is about to engage in an activity 
that is nearly as old as Man: "What lurks in the deep 
pool at the bend of the river, and how can I catch it?" 

Science, with all its shelves of books, pamphlets, and 
treatises on the classification, life histories, population 
dynamics and management of fishes has almost entirely 
ignored this question about why fish bite in the first 


place! Perhaps the scientists have been too busy study- 
ing the less obvious mysteries about fish. Perhaps they, 
too, have taken an answer for granted and have become 
victims of tradition and dictated fashions. Or perhaps 
they have felt understandably embarrassed about being 
conspicuous with hook and line studies while operating 
on state or federal funds. The fact remains, neverthe- 
less, that fishery biologists have been professionally 
more interested in fishes than in fishing that fascinat- 
ing and mysterious relationship between man and his 
underwater quarry . . . 

Once before the boy had seen the big fish in the deep 
pool at the bend of the river. He had been peering 
down into the dark water under the tree root and had 
seen the great shadowy form undulating gently with 
the current. He had guided the worm down near the 
shadow, but the big fish had only moved atoay slowly 
farther up under the bank. 

This time the monster came out of his lair and lei- 
surely followed the worm for a foot or two as it was 
being slowly retrieved, only to turn back suddenly. 
The boy was momentarily stunned by the size of the 
great fish and by its unblinking eyes and deliberate 
movement. He had never seen or expected anything 
like it, and he felt his scalp and the roof of his mouth 
tighten and tingle as if charged with electricity, and 
his heart begin to pound violently up near the base of 
his throat. When the spasm had subsided, he noticed 
that his heart continued to beat rapidly and that he 
was possessed with an uncontrollable trembling and 
sweating. His head began to ache. 


He fished for a full hour more, but saw and felt 
nothing. He began to feel let down and a bit frustrated. 
When he had told his Uncle Charlie about the big 
fish many days ago, Uncle Charlie had put his hand 
on his shoulder and had told him that it was all a matter 
of luck and patience. But he had tried and tried, and 
what could he do? Fish eat, but this huge one had been 
given fresh worms again and again, and wasnt much 
interested. Was he always to be the unlucky fisherman? 

The boy pulled up his line and cleaned the hook 
preparatory to going home. Glancing into the worm 
can, he saw that there was only one small, stretched-out 
worm in the crusted bottom dirt. It was partly broken 
and didnt smell so good, so almost mechanically he 
emptied the can and rinsed it in the river. 

Only then did he begin to relive his recent expe- 
rience and feel a mounting inner excitement. Next time 
he would be more careful in his approach and he would 
hook the worm differently. And he would try small 
frogs, and grasshoppers, and one of those "water 
lizards"! After all, Uncle Charlie didnt catch big fish 
like this in the river. Uncle Charlie always went away 
somewhere with someone to catch them. 

The boy had never before experienced an attack of 
buck fever and he wondered what it was. He wasn't 
going to say anything about it, not even to Uncle 

Someone once said that all children are born with 
the spirit of research, but that it is spanked out of most 
by the age of seven. While this conclusion may be an 
overstatement, we must admit that the spirit of research 


does suffer a bit during the early years from such things 
as parental fears, methods of teaching, and demands for 
conformity. But the spirit often becomes only latent, 
and like Sleeping Beauty in the fable, is ready to be 
awakened by the right kiss of circumstance. The sounds 
of the surf and the crying gulls, the quiet surface of a 
lake, the scent of pine needles and wet autumn leaves, 
or the smell of smoke and the glow of a crackling fire 
all these mysteries are of the music of Nature that 
can awaken and keep us among the truly living. 

During the years, our own researches into the phe- 
nomena of why fish bite, and why they don't, have 
been met with mixed reactions. Some persons have 
condoned them as invaluable contributions to progress 
in fishery management; others have been skeptical; 
while still others have scorned or condemned them as 
dealing with a subject unworthy of science or scientists 
(as one colleague put it: "How low can you get?"). It 
remained for a newspaper editor, however, to terminate 
a comment with the entreaty: "Isn't anything sacred 

We have no desire to enter into controversy over the 
possible merits or demerits of our researches. We simply 
believe that the spirit of the boy with his fishing rod 
and can of worms, far from requiring any apologia, is 
something that should be understood, shared, and 
encouraged by all of us. 

The child is still the father and the leader of the 

James Westman 
Hampton, N. J. 

Why Jim Westman Fishes 

"by A. H. Underhill, Director, Div. Fish ir Game, 
New Jersey 


t has been said that fishing is a contemplative not a 
competitive sport. This is only partially true. There 
are certain kinds of competition between fishermen, 
and there is very real competition between fishermen 
and fish. In this book, Dr. Westman delves into some of 
the mysteries of these relationships. 

The small boy challenged and baffled by the monster 
trout in the old swimming hole has never lost that "heart 
in the mouth" feeling! More important, despite the 
disciplines of a brilliant scientific career, Dr. Westman 
has never lost the questioning, boyish enthusiasm that 
society all too soon regiments out of most of us. 

Jim Westman had to write this book. All of us who 
fish or who just enjoy fine writing are richer for that 
compulsion. In a series of delightfully written chapters 
he calls on a vast store of scientific knowledge and 
practical fishing experience to answer the perennial 
questions of why fish bite and why they don't. There 
are many good fishery biologists; some of them are 
good fishermen; a very few are good writers. I know 


of no one who blends these attributes as admirably as 
does Dr* Westman. 

His reputation as a scientist has long been established. 
This book demonstrates his skill as a writer. It would 
appear to be my pleasant duty to recall some twenty 
odd years of professional and personal association and 
authenticate his right to speak as an angler. 

Jim Westman fishes to catch fish. He almost always 
succeeds! When ordinary methods fail, the reason be- 
comes as important as the most complicated scientific 
experiment, and the answer is sought in much the 
same way. An orange head on a fluke spinner, a red 
and yellow bucktail trolled in the propeller wash for 
smallmouth, a certain twist in presenting a fly to a 
sophisticated brown produce fish in the pan while others 
are still blaming the moon or the water temperature. 
These successful techniques are developed through 
enthusiasm, imagination, love of fishing, and scientific 
training. Throughout the years the key has been an 
inquiring mind that has refused to accept the conven- 
tional approach. 

Trolling lakes in Canada, chumming blues on the 
Ridge, plugging largemouth at Sodus or coaxing stripers 
out of Cape Cod Canal, these same qualities have 
emerged. Why fish don't bite becomes a challenge. 
After the gauntlet is picked up and the dust of battle 
clears, Dr. Westman has usually stored away another 
anecdote for Why Fish Bite. , . . 


The Incomplete Angler 

The problem of ignorance is 
not so much a lack of knowl- 
edge as in knowing so many 
things that just ain't so. 

Author Unknown 


ishermen have long been regarded as a special breed 
of humanity deserving of particular compassion and 
indulgence. They are wont to be portrayed as big- 
hearted, naive, blustering and rather clumsy fellows 
whose whims must be catered to from time to time. 

Actually this is a gross oversimplification of the 
case, although perhaps a convenient one, because there 
are many sorts of fishermen. There are generous and 
selfish ones; the simple and the sophisticated; the intel- 
ligent and the stupid; the thoughtful and the thought- 
less; the vociferous and the quiet; the awkward and the 
graceful. They come from all walks of life and can be 
male or female; introverts or extroverts; "purists" or 
"meat hunters"; vegetarians or gourmets. 

The motives that prompt individuals to go fishing 
are equally varied. Some persons wish only to get out- 
doors to relax, and use angling equipment as an excuse 
or prop for the occasion. Others are motivated by the 


competitive urge in one form or other, or perhaps by 
the anticipation of some very fresh fish cooked gently 
to a turn with a further supply in the deep freeze. Still 
others find in angling a means to explore and appreciate 
the mysteries of Nature, including its eternal mystery 
of beauty. Very often it is some combination of these 
or other motives. 

Obviously, this question of motive in angling is of 
primary importance to the catching of fish: An angler 
who is satisfied with sun and outdoor exercise will 
hardly put in the effort of one who wants to catch fish 
above all else; nor will the angler who insists upon 
catching fish by one method only catch as many as an 
angler who can and will use any method that is the 
most timely and effective. This calls for a bit of honest 
soul searching on the part of the angler. What interests 
him most? Fishing? Catching fish? Meat fishing? Com- 
petition? Exploring Nature? Relaxing? Making lures? 
Club activity? Achievement? Escape? Peace of mind? 

It is this wide variety of human interests and involve- 
ments that makes angling such a unique and paradoxical 
sport. What other sport, for example, is so completely 
dominated by millions of amateurs? What other pays 
so little attention to professional knowledge, or has such 
little professional knowledge made available to it? And 
in what other sport do the ablest or most advanced 
participants the "pros" as it were shun contests, retire 
into a world of their own, and spend much money on 
their sport rather than receive much from it? Is it small 
wonder that fishermen are often considered to be "crazy 
or something"? 


Actually, all this makes sense if we realize that 
angling, in its highest form, is a contemplative sport 
rather than a contest among persons. There are fishing 
tournaments, contests and pools, to be sure, but the 
greatest competitions and challenges in angling are 
personal matters and more like those to be found in 
the pursuit of an art or a science. This is why many 
of the great artists in fishing the counterparts of the 
professionals in other sports are little if at all known 
and live in a world apart. It is often an unbelievable or 
conveniently deniable world for those who have not 
glimpsed it, but it exists and will continue to do so, 
despite all skepticism. 

Needless to say these "professionals" or complete 
anglers are not just the masters of one form of angling, 
but of all forms. Dry fly, wet fly, bait casting, bait fish- 
ing, trolling whatever the occasion demands in fresh 
or salt water they have the "know how" and are quick 
to apply it. They spend years studying the habits and 
behavior of fishes; they seek out the latest scientific 
findings, manufacture many of their own lures, and 
frequently employ methods that are completely un- 
known to incomplete anglers. Why do they do it? Prob- 
ably for the same reason that the inveterate mountain 
climber responds to greater and greater challenges 
simply "because it is there". 

We believe that many of the millions of incomplete 
anglers would like to pursue their interest much fur- 
ther, have a look into the private world of the "pros" 
and, meanwhile, gain a greater appreciation of that 
world we call "The Outdoors". So let us examine this 
problem of fishing from many angles and attempt, first 


of all, to appraise some of the more prevalent concepts, 
weaknesses and strengths of the incomplete angler. 


If there are any common denominators or failings 
characteristic of anglers- or trends toward same they 

1. A gullibility and inconsistency that can put even 
a fish to shame. 

2. An insistence upon catching the fish on his (the 
angler's) terms, rather than those of the fish. 

This gullibility and stubbornness, observations have 
shown, are not only largely responsible for the failures 
and frustrations of the fisherman but, in consequence 
of these failures and frustrations, for attitudes and 
actions that can be truly amazing. A dry fly purist, for 
example, may throw up his hands in horror at the mere 
thought of chumming a trout pool but may be the first to 
take full advantage of nature's handout in the form of a 
"hatch" of aquatic insects. Or he may take great care in 
spraying his No. 10 Irresistible or his No. 18 Black 
Gnat with the latest in silicone sprays so that it will 
float correctly, only to spend more time later trying 
to get legislation passed that will prevent his wet fly 
brethern from including any weighting material in the 
construction of their nymphs or wet flies so that they 
will sink properly. 

Other anglers may translate their frustrations or 
fondness of self-delusion into the purchase of more 
and more lures (often much more effective in catching 


fishermen than fish), or into various attempts actually 
to legislate the fish onto their hooks, sometimes with 
serious consequences. 

One of the most extreme examples of this angler 
frustration and its results is afforded by the striped bass, 
Rocous saxatilus, of the Atlantic coast of the United 
States. This abundant food and game fish is largely a 
species of the great estuaries and tidal rivers such as 
Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the lower Hudson 
River. Some of the bass of these populations migrate, 
however, and hundreds of thousands of them move up 
the coast during the spring months and return again 
in the fall to winter in the more southern estuaries of 
their range. 

Even though the species is far more available and 
catchable to salt water anglers during these migrations 
than at other times, the "striper" is perhaps the most 
difficult of all food and game fishes to locate successfully 
and to entice onto the hook. (Exception: the muskellunge 
or "muskie". ) Indeed, during the summer months, suc- 
cessful striper angling is almost entirely a matter of 
"know-how" and skill that is possessed by only a tiny 
minority of salt water anglers. And even these tight- 
lipped experts, who lurk under bridges and around 
pilings and other "hot spots" in the darkness of the 
night, seldom fish the striper with great confidence. 
Some unskilled anglers actually try for years without 
catching a striped bass. 

The result of this lack of cooperation on the part of 
the striper is that the angling efforts for the species on 
the Atlantic coast make but a small, if any, dent in the 
harvestable supplies of this fishery resource or, for that 


matter, in what probably should be harvested for good 
conservation. Contrary to popular belief, nearly all fish 
and other animal populations must be harvested up to 
a point if increased productivity is to be realized. The 
principle is the same as for the asparagus bed. The 
asparagus must be cut if more is to be produced. 

Yet it is doubtful if any other species of fish comes 
in for more effort, on the part of special angler interests, 
to have it completely reserved for their purposes only. 
These attempts to legislate the fish onto the hooks by 
seeking to ban all netting, spearing and "snatching" of 
the species have been variously termed "social legisla- 
tion," "political grab legislation," "political football," 
etc.; and unfortunately, attempts to gain realistic and 
sound compromises in the situation have almost always 
failed regardless of the sincerity and good will behind 
such endeavors. A consequence of the situation can be 
seen in the following: 

"During the past 30 years there has been a growing 
trend towards 'social' legislation in the marine fisheries 
of the several Atlantic states. Except in rare instances, 
such social legislation seeks to protect one particular 
fishery interest at the expense of another, or others, and 
in some instances seeks a monopoly for the particular 

"At least four immediate results from this 'social' 
legislation have become apparent: 

1. The legislation may damage one type of fishery 
without any measurable gain to the faction re- 
sponsible for the legislation. 

2. The legislation may tend to be nullified indeed 


its desired effect reversed by the laws of other 

3. The fishes are unable to read the law books and 
therefore cannot comply with the legislation. 

4. It may result in needless waste social, economic, 
and biological/' * 

Beneath all these attitudes and actions on the part of 
the angler, there seems to be a tendency to believe that 
the numbers of fish caught accurately reflect the quanti- 
ties of fish in the water. And since careful scientific 
studies by many persons over the years have repeatedly 
shown that a small minority of anglers nearly always 
catches the majority of fish that are taken, is it small 
wonder that Mr. John Doe Angler may conclude 
"scarcity" and wish to do something about it in the 
name of "conservation"? 

* From Twelfth Annual Report, 1953, of Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission to the Congress of the United States and to the Governors and 
Legislators of the Fifteen Compacting States. 


Actually, other scientific studies have revealed that 
the quantity of a species of game fish in the water very 
often has little to do with the number Mr. John Doe 
Angler catches; and still further scientific researches 
have shown some of the reasons why. But "J- D." is very 
often a busy man who seeks relaxation in his fishing, 
and justifiably so. Usually he doesn't wish to knock 
himself out with intellectual activity, or physical activity 
much less bothin order to catch fish. It may be much 
easier and far more pleasant to spend evenings at the 
rod and gun club, deplore conditions, and prescribe 
actions for others ostensibly to remedy the situation. 
Indeed, the means this club activity can sometimes 
become the end, and it often makes little difference 
whether or not the prescriptions are antiquated "snake 
remedies'' that have been demonstrated again and again 
to be ineffective, if not mathematically ridiculous, or 
whether or not such insistence is a source of embarrass- 
ment to the more thoughtful club members. 

Another interesting trend in angling and one that 
seems to have become increasingly popular during 
recent years is a lack of interest in keeping the fish for 
eating purposes. The animal is returned to the water, 
often with the comment (and we sometimes suspect a 
pointed one) "I don't like eating fish, I return every 
fish I catch to the water!" 

Here, it would seem, is the ultimate in angler 
sophistication and unselfishness. Yet some years ago 
we observed one such angler participating in a tuna 
tournament (rampant in the uniform of his club) which 
resulted in tons of tuna spoiling in the hot sun while 



the judges counted and weighed them. Needless to 
say, such denials of the flesh, and affectations of pour 
le sport can leave something to be desired. 

Actually, the apparent, increasing loss of interest in 
the eating of fish as a part of the angling ritual, seems 
to coincide with our ever present "busyness" and a 
decreasing art of cookery in the home. In other words, 
if a species of fish tastes good when fried quickly and 
without much care, it is a "good eating" fish. If, on the 
other hand, it does not respond to such treatment, it is 
a "poor eating" fish. Such attributes as texture and 


delicacy of the flesh now seem all but unknown. Quick 
frying, before or after freezing, now seems to be the 
sole criterion for the edibility of one of the principal 
foods of Man! 

Not long ago, less than a century in fact, the carp 
was generally considered to be an excellent game fish 
and table delicacy. Successful efforts were made, 
through the Congress of the United States, to stock it 
in many fresh waters of the nation. It still is an excellent 
game fish and table delicacy for those who know how 
to catch and prepare it; but to most persons it is an 
ugly, tasteless trash fish, and is unjustifiably accused of 
being a "spawn eater" and a fiendish competitor of bass 
and other "game" species. 

The catfish, one of the tastiest of all fresh water fishes 
and one that bites best during the caressing darkness 
of a soft summer night, is easy to clean and prepare 
by those who know how; but is now neglected by the 
majority of anglers in many areas. Even the lowly 
lamprey, which is not a "true" fish, was once considered 
a table delicacy by epicures: 

"Then a lamprey in a sauce of shrimps was brought 
in on a platter. Seeing this, the host remarked, 'It was 
caught while gravid. If caught after spawning, its meat 
is inferior. Here is the recipe for the sauce: Oil of the first 
extraction from (the town of) Venafrum; roe from the 
Spanish mackerel; native wine five years old added while 
the sauce is simmering in fact Chian is the most suit- 
able for cookingwhite pepper, and vinegar from Les- 
bian wine. I was the first to show how to blend in green 
rockets and bitter elecampane. Curtillis says to add un- 


washed sea-urchins, for the shellfish's natural brine is 
better than any processed salt." * 

But enough of these negative traits of anglers, or 
those which contribute to lost weekends! What of those 
characteristics that keep the angler an eternal optimist 
and which can offer him the keys of the kingdom? 


Of all the urges that motivate us to go fishing, the 
competitive urge, in one form or another, is perhaps 
the paramount one. We visualize the big lunker in the 
pool, the big score at sea, the spot in the lake, or the 
shadowed mysteries of the gorge. Or perhaps we are 
prompted to "beat George", or win the pool, or set a 
record. In any case, the invitation and the challenge are 
there beckoning yet indifferent. 

This competitive urge can take on some bizarre 
aspects at times. A number of years ago, for instance, 
two well-known big game anglers were standing on the 
dock of an elite yacht club on Long Island earnestly 
conversing about a porgy (scup) fishing trip a sport 
generally considered to be quite plebian and a mere 
matter of sinker-bouncing and meat-hunting. Two neo- 
phytes were standing nearby and were so astonished by 
the famous anglers' concern with porgy fishing that they 
were prompted to ask about it. 

"Ah, my friends/' replied one of the gentlemen, "I can 
see that you have never engaged in competitive porgy 

*. . . From THE COMPLETE WORKS OF HORACE, Published by 
Random House, Inc. The Modern Library, 1936. Book II, Chapter 8, "Rich 
Man Dines/* 



fishing. It's five dollars a porgy and when you're five 
porgies down, man how you can fish!" (We should 
quickly advise that there is a surplus of porgies in the 

Sometimes the competitive urge takes on a negative 
or "show me" aspect. Not long ago, one of the deans of 
the Maine guideswe shall call him "George" and not 
by his right name was fishing a middle-aged party for 
landlocked salmon. (We shall refer to her as "Mrs, J."). 
It was a fairly good day for salmon and "Mrs. J." hooked 
a number of fish, through George's knowledge, only to 
lose all of them because of her insistence upon playing 
them on her own terms. Her failures, of course, were 
blamed upon a number of circumstances, but usually 
upon George. 

This went on all day. Finally, late in the afternoon, 
"Mrs. J." hooked a fine fish in the five-pound class and 


succeeded in holding it, despite unforgivable mistakes, 
until the salmon reached the boat and turned on its side 
in the "possum act that landlocks frequently put on. 
"Mrs. J." was just putting down her rod in a "now let 
George do it" manner, when the salmon exploded from 
the water and landed in the boat at George's feet. 

Perhaps "Mrs. J." didn't realize the hard time she 
had been giving George all day, because George just 
automatically grabbed the salmon and threw it back 
into the water with the statement, "Now bring that 
fish in right/' 

By far the most rewarding forms of competition in 
angling are those which take place between the fish 
and the angler and within the angler himself. This is 
particularly true when angling becomes a means to 
explore and appreciate the beauty and mystery of 
Nature, because the search for truth is in itself a form 
of competition that can be at once humbling, rewarding, 
and memorable. When exploring the outdoors, for 
instance, and meanwhile gaining knowledge and appre- 
ciation, the angler is actually exploring the mystery of 
life itself to which he feels himself both drawn and 
attached. This is the profound, but most intriguing 
aspect of angling and the one that is most difficult to 
explain. It is involved with the spirit of the boy with 
the fishing rod and can of worms, whom we described 
earlier and with the spirit and feeling of Man that 
motivates him to silent prayer and the giving of thanks. 

Perhaps we can best convey what we mean here by 
quoting the words of a veteran angler who was moved 
to write them at the passing of his friend and profes- 
sional predecessor. The words are now cast in a bronze 


tablet on a rock beside a swiftly flowing trout stream 
where the stream winds its way through a deep and 
densely wooded gorge. Near the height of a late spring 
or summer day, shafts of sunlight will sometimes find 
the bronze tablet and illuminate the words for those 
who may be there and who may wish to read: 

"When mist and shadows rob pool and run 

of shape and substance, 
When the voice of the wood thrush stills 

and the dog trout shakes his lethargy, 
We will remember stalwart, gentle master 

of the angler's art, 
Half submerged in the smother, 
Unerringly shooting that long line, 

watchfully mending the drift. 
Nevermore will your skilled hand tempt 

the patriarchs of the flood. 
Farewell old timer"* 

When the potential blessings of angling are counted 
and weighed, it becomes obvious that they cannot be 
gained from any recipe book and do-it-yourself kit. 
Too much is involved. But to the angler who will search 
for truth with all his faculties, and who will not rebel 
when truth becomes stranger than fiction, all these 
blessings are obtainable. He can also become a master 
angler with unlimited horizons, and will be able to 
approach any fishing waters, anywhere, with a com- 
forting measure of confidence. Even that very old and 
wary bass in the cove, for instance, will have numbered 

* By Henry Schaefer, 



days, because, as Don Schulte, another angler, once 
put it: 

"On some morning when mist hides the water, or an 
evening all shot with sunset, he will catch him, too'' 

The Fish In Person 

. . . that class of vertebrate 
animals which lives exclu- 
sively in water, breathes 
through gills, and whose 
limbs take the form of fins. 
Encyclopaedia Britannica 

.any thousands of pages have been written about 
the biology of fishes their shapes, colorations, phys- 
iologies, life histories, etc. While much of this knowl- 
edge is of little, if any, practical value to the catching 
of fish, some of it can be of invaluable assistance. Our 
immediate task, then, is briefly to describe those bio- 
logical characteristics of fishes which we have found 
to be of greatest value during angling safaris. Let us 
consider these characteristics and indicate why each 
one is, or can be, a very important thing to know about. 


The "fishy eye" is something that should never be 
either underestimated or overestimated despite the fact 
that some people eat fish eyes (and we're not referring 
to tapioca pudding), 



In the first place, nearly all fishes are able to see 
objects above the water and at an angle, depending 
upon the depth of the fish in the water, the distance 
away, and the height of the object. The turbidity of 
the water, the condition of the surface (whether smooth 
or broken) and the amount of light, are also important 
factors. In the second place, most fish can see under- 
water objects at considerable distances, depending 
again upon such factors as turbidity and the amount 
of light, and have really keen sight when the object is 
quite close. In fact some species can detect a 4X leader 
(monofilament) in clear water and moderate light, 
while certain other species apparently can see well at 
night or in the gloom of deep water. Here there may be 
some confusion as to the chief means of detection. In 
other words, does the fish actually see a moving object 
under conditions of near total darkness, or detect it 
from a flight path, vibrations, or from a combination 
of these? (We have often asked ourselves this ques- 
tion when catching fish on artificial lures in deep water 
after sundown.) 

The nocturnal habits of certain fishes are sometimes 
suggested by the large, owl-like pupils of their eyes. 
The pike-perches (walleye, blue pike, and sauger), the 
snook, Centropomus undecimalis, of Florida and the 
Gulf states, and the silver hake, or whiting, Merluccius 
sp., are good examples. 

The fact that many other fishes have big eyes and 
are not known to be creatures of the night suggests 
some interesting possibilities. For example, the com- 
mon cisco or lake "herring", Coregonus artedii, of the 
Great Lakes drainage has a suspiciously large eye. This 


deep water "cousin" of the whitefish can often be taken 
in numbers by angling at certain times of year, by 
those who know how, and some experiments in night 
fishing might be worthwhile. 

Salt water fishes often have the aid of organic light- 
ing or "fire" in the water. This fire comes from myriads 
of tiny plants and animals, called plankton, and from 
certain larger planktonic animals such as jellyfishes and 
"sea walnuts." When disturbed, these organisms flash 
like fireflies in the darkness until the disturbed water 
glows with a phosphorescent hue. 

Sometimes this organic "fire" can be spectacularly 
beautiful, as when fishing for snappers in the Gulf 
Stream at night or when chumming for bluefish off the 
New Jersey coast. We recall such an occasion a few 
years ago while bluefishing at New Jersey's famed 
Shrewsbury Rocks. , . . 

It was a hot, muggy night, despite a brisk wind out 
of the southwest, and the darkness seemed to be closing 
in on the lurching skiff and its white light from the 
gasoline lantern hung on a pole amidships. Flashes of 
heat lighting were playing the horizons and would 
momentarily silhouette the distant shores. 

Within the circle of light cast by the lantern the 
heaving water was clear and blue. One could see the 
chum of freshly ground menhaden drifting away from 
the boat out into the mysterious black water where the 
baited hooks had been cast. Soon a glowing spot ap- 
peared in the dark water, and then another and another. 
A six-pound "blue" struck savagely at one of the baits 
and the action had begun. Within minutes the black 


sea outside the circle of artificial light began to blossom 
with glowing patches and comet-like streaks of phos- 
phorescent light. The four anglers in the open skiff 
their backs bare except for the straps of their Neoprene 
fishing pants over their shoulders began to sweat with 
the labor of meeting the onslaught with light tacHe. 
By now the bluefish were within the circle of light and 
one could see them prowling savagely around the boat. 
Some ten minutes later, large, slow-moving streaks 
of light appeared in the dark water. These were ground 
sharks slowly moving in on the melee, and we glanced 
at our friend Captain Otto with the faint hope that he 
might be too tired to catch one. In vain. "Cap" was 
akeady preparing his little shark rod, with a gleam in 
his eye. Soon, shark blood, chum, sharks, bluefish, the 
streaks of "fire", the wind and the flashes of lightning all 
became part of an extravaganza with the tossing skiff 
and its gasoline lantern at the center of the stage. We 
stopped fishing just to sit down and observe this spec- 
tacle of Nature's wonderland. 

The working angles and distances at which a fish can 
see objects above the water can be illustrated by some 
simple diagrams. The principle involved here is the 
refraction, or bending, of light at the surface of the 
water, and this refraction has two very important results. 
First of all, it makes the fish appear to be farther out 
from us than it actually is and, in turn, makes us appear 
higher up than we actually are, to the fish. Secondly, 
this refraction phenomenon limits the area of surface 
or "window" through which the fish can see objects 
above the water. 



Seeing a fish in the water where it isn't is nothing 
new to most of us. We know, for example, that when 
we poke a stick, or our fishing rod, into the water, it 
appears to bend where the water meets the air. Further 
if we have perhaps attempted to shoot carp with a bow 
and arrow we know we must aim at a point "this side" 
of the carp and not where we see it. 



The bowman in Figure 1 (who is obviously very 
expert in these matters ) is aiming at Position "y", where 
the fish actually is, rather than at Position **x", where he 
sees the fish. Meanwhile, the fish, which is really at 
Position "y", sees the bowman at Position V, rather 
than where the archer really is at Position "k". 

Now that all of us may be convinced, confused, or 
frustrated, we can consider Figure 2, which illustrates 
the phenomenon of the "surface window". Actually this 
is a very important phenomenon, because it explains 
why we may wish to crouch down a bit when fishing, 
particularly in a stream containing wild trout (big 
ones ) . 

The size of the surface window, through which the 
fish can see objects above the water, is apparently 
governed by (1) a fixed angle, and (2) the distance 
of the fish below the surface. Such factors as turbidity, 
amount of light, and the condition of the surface are 
again important.* 

Sometimes these careful calculations can be upset by 
mirages. In other words, the fish can occasionally see 
us even if we are beyond his horizon. This can be very 
disturbing at times, particularly when trout fishing, 
and not enough is known about the lighting conditions 
that produce it. It usually happens, however, when 
standing against the sky or without an immediate back- 
ground and casting under tree branches or into the 
shade of some other type of overhang. Even at near 

* To those readers who may wish to go into this matter and other re- 
lated subjects more deeply, we suggest they read Dr. Brian Curtis's de- 
lightful book entitled: "The Life Story of the Fish, His Morals and Manners/* 
Harcourt, Brace, & Co., N. Y. 



darkness trout can be "spooked" at almost unbelievable 
distances under such circumstances. 

Can fish distinguish colors? 

This question is frequently asked despiteor per- 
haps because ofthe great emphasis on color in so 
many fish lures. For there are many factors that can 
confuse observations on color perception in fishes, and 
thoughtful anglers have realized this. In the first place 
there is the problem of compensating for different 
degrees of brilliance and saturation of colors in under- 
water tests, as well as for the hues of these colors. In 
the second place there are the factors of shape and 
movement of the colored test objects underwater. 
Finally., there is the important matter of previous expe- 
riencesor preconditioningof the fishes used in an 

Despite all these difficulties, it has been scientifically 
demonstrated that at least some species can distinguish 
certain colors, and that there may be an order of prefer- 
ence for these colors. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, 
for example, usually show preference for red and for 


yellow, although there seems to be considerable doubt 
about these fishes' ability to distinguish red from certain 
shades of purple. 

Actually, much scientific research remains to be done 
on this matter of color perception in fishes. Meanwhile 
it is very profitable to keep in mind the three attributes 
of color brilliance, hue, and saturation and presume 
that the fish is sensitive to all three. 


These two senses are considered together, because 
it is not known just where one ends and the other begins 
in fishes or for that matter how much the two may 
overlap. Together, however, they represent one of the 
most remarkable capacities possessed by any animal 
in the world (including humans), and this is why fishes 
are often considered to possess a sixth sense. Needless to 
say, it is very important for a fisherman to know some- 
thing about this sixth sense, because it can work to 
both his advantage and disadvantage. 

Perhaps we should begin by pointing out that hear- 
ing and feeling are two means of detecting vibrations. 
We humans, for instance, detect some vibrations 
(sound) through our ears, and others through our 
sense of touch. Sometimes we are aware of both hearing 
and feeling vibrations, as when a big organ is played 
in a church, or when a fog horn lets go at sea. 

Unlike humans, however, most fishes have a special 
mechanism in addition to their ears for detecting vibra- 
tions. Not only this, but they live in a medium (water) 
which conducts vibrations much more rapidly and 


efficiently than air. The result? Fishes are highly sensi- 
tive to vibrations. Indeed certain species have been 
discovered to detect sound vibrations up to 20,000 
frequencies per second (attention, Hi-Fi enthusiasts) 
while others have been found capable of distinguishing 
a half-tone interval in our musical scale! 

Now before we become too alarmed about this and 
start thinking about insulating our boats and canoes 
with soundproof material, it should be pointed out that 
fish grow up in a veritable bedlam of natural noises and 
are apt not to pay much attention to some new vibra- 
tion unless-and this is very important-they associate 
it with danger or something very attractive. (We will 
have occasion to discuss this vital matter of "learning" 
from experience very shortly). Actually, the quiet lake 
that we find so restful and refreshing is an auditory 
mirage. For as one team of investigators * has de- 
scribed it: 

"The volume of sound to which fish are constantly 
subjected is almost unbelievable. Until one has had 
the opportunity to listen to the natural noises in a lake, 
it is difficult to realize the noise level which can be 

For those who may be interested in anatomical mat- 
tersor in how the fish can be such a sensitive creature 
a very brief explanation may suffice. The so-called 
lateral line on the sides of most fishes is actually a series 
of pits or openings in the skin and scales of the animal. 
Behind these openings, and in the body of the fish, there 
runs a nerve in a sort of sheath or tube. Under each 

Henry F. Moore and H. William Newman. 



opening of the scale a tiny branch from this nerve 
extends. In other words, when we touch this lateral line, 
we almost rub the raw nerves of the fish, and it obviously 
makes little difference which way we rub them! It is 
believed by some that this special mechanism also 
serves as a type of sonar to enable the fish to detect 
objects quickly and without having to see them. 

Lest this lateral line be not enough, fish have ears. 
We don't see these ears from the outside, but when we 
dissect the head of a fish, there they are, in "capsules", 
at each side of the brain! 

Then, of course, the swim bladder in some fishes is 
connected to their ears through a special organ called 
the Webberian ossicles and acts as an additional audi- 
tory organ. These Webberian ossicles are in turn but 
shall we quit while we're ahead? 

It is at this point in our discussion of the sense of 
hearing feeling in fishes that something should be. said 
about the ancient art of guddling, or catching fish with 


the bare hands by stroking their bellies and then grab- 
bing them suddenly. Old pros, Scotsmen, and certain 
others are apt to know about guddling, but may not 
admit it because lawmakers seem at least to have heard 
of it and have seldom included the method as one of 
the legal means for catching fresh water fishes. 

Persons well experienced in the art of guddling 
and many do it just for fun and throw the fish back- 
are well aware of the lateral line in fishes and take 
great pains not to touch the sides of their quarry. Some- 
times this can be a problem, as one of our guddle-wise 
friends discovered one day when the temptations and 
circumstances of the moment proved to be too much 
for him. His confession, some years later, was not heard 
in any sacred circumstances in fact it was tape re- 
corded at a New Year's Eve party and can be reported 
here with his permission. Here is a reasonable facsimile 
with names changed (in this case to protect both the 
innocent and the guilty): 

"You remember, folks, that our son George was at 
the training base up there and you know that this base 
is right near where we catch those giant rainbow trout 
in the spring of the year. Well, we went up to visit 
George my wife, daughter, and I and after having 
a wonderful visit with him we decided to look over the 
old territory. It was just before the opening of the trout 
season and we had the streams to ourselves. It was shirt- 
sleeve weather and the hot sun was melting the remains 
of the winter snows. You could even sense its white 
heat breathing life into the gray-brown wood of the 


shrubs and trees, and everything seemed about ready 
to burst forth. 

"The streams were in beautiful condition, and as my 
daughter Jane and I walked them, we saw the tail of a 
rainbow trout in almost every hole. Then, suddenly, we 
saw the most gigantic trout tail we had ever seen up 
under some brush at the edge of a large pool. Remem- 
ber, the trout season had not opened and we had no 
rod. Yet here was a giant rainbow trout symbolizing the 
spring of the year and some other things. You know the 
old saying about how a young man's fancy turns to 
certain thoughts at this time. Well, an older man's fancy 
does this too, but it also turns to other related matters, 
and here I was gazing at this this magnificent spectacle 
under the brush at the edge of the pool! 

"Well, to make a long story short, I stationed Jane 
at the lower riffle of the pool. Then I took off my shoes 
and trousers and walked slowly into the icy water, 
toward the underbrush at the far side of the pool. My 
feet and legs became numbed with the cold almost at 
once, but my approach was successful and I reached 
down into the water and slowly, up under the over- 
hanging brush. Suddenly, I felt a belly. 

"Doc, this was no ordinary belly. It was a tremendous 
belly the biggest I had ever felt and I knew I couldn't 
get any kind of a quick grip to heave the fish out, so I 
just stroked his belly for a while, thinking about what 
to do next. As expected, the big fish didn't mind this a 
bit and just moved up and down slightly as I stroked 
him. I began to move my hand forward, very gradually, 
with the idea of trying to grab his head. Finally, 


just as I reached his throat, I grabbed and lifted all in 
one motion. I missed, and the fish showered me with 
ice water as it took off and swam madly around the 
pool But it came back up under the brush, and after I 
had cleared my eyes and stopped shivering a bit, I went 
after him again. This time I must have touched his 
lateral line or come near to it, because he took off almost 
at once, showering me with ice water again, and tearing 
madly around the pool. But he returned to the hole 
under the brush, probably because that was the only 
place to hide. I began to feel that I might be able to 
outlast this monster. 

"These events were repeated again and again until 
I was drenched with ice water and shaking like a leaf. 
I couldn't see very well and it was all I could do to keep 
my right hand from trembling when I started to guddle 
the fish. But I kept on with it. 

"Finally, I couldn't find the fish when I groped under 
the brush. I looked around. And there was Jane gazing 
at a beautiful eight-pound rainbow flopping on the 
beach at the side of the riffle. All I could think, in my 
half paralyzed condition, was Well done thou good and 
faithful daughter. This one's for the oven!' " 


Fish have a well developed sense of smell and make 
use of it in a number of ways that are of importance 
to the angler. Indeed, it is apparently through odor 
perception that species such as salmon are able to locate 
the rivers of their birth after spending a year, or years, 
at sea. 




Of great interest to the angler is the fact that fish 
not only can detect various odors, but also give off 
certain odors that can be detected by other fish. Bass, 
for example, can tell water in which minnows have been 
recently present; and in like manner the minnows can 
detect the recent presence of a predator fish. Perhaps 
of even greater interest is the fact that at least some 
fishes, when frightened, give off a fear substance and 
that the odor of this fear substance can be detected by 
other fishes. 

It has been scientifically demonstrated that at least 
some fishes can detect human odor and are repelled 
by it. It is not known just how extensive this detection 
of human odor is in fishes, but it's at least wise to keep 
the waders on when fishing for salmon and trout. We 
even know of an expert fluke fisherman in New Jersey 


who never allows his hands to touch the cut hait Per- 
haps he has something there. 

Again for the benefit of those persons who are inter- 
ested in anatomical matters or in the "how" and the 
"why" of things-some brief notes. First of all, the out- 
side of a fish's body is almost entirely covered by a layer 
of living skin that is protected by only a coating of 
slime. This is entirely unlike the human being, because, 
despite what some radio and television commercials 
would have us believe, our own skin is covered and 
protected by a layer of horny substance (corneum) that 
is "deader than the proverbial smelt/' 

In the second place, fish have glands at the surface 
of their bodies. They also possess certain specialized 
cells in their skin, called chromatophores, which have 
pigment and which can be expanded and contracted. 
And they have other cells that break up and refract 
light. Then, there is the silver or pearl essence in the 
skin of many fishes, which really is a waste product 
called guanine and which . . . but here we go getting 
technical again! 

The sense of taste in fishes varies greatly with the 
species. Some fishes, for example, have "whiskers" or 
barbels, and these barbels have so-called taste buds at 
their tips, which enable the fish to detect food on the 
bottom without having to see or smeU it. Catfish, carp, 
cod, and croakers are among the many bottom feeding 
species that have these special food detectors. 

The significance of this type of mechanism to the 
angler is perhaps best exemplified by the catfish family 
and its well known member the lowly bullhead, or 
horned pout. And we know of no one who has described 


this relationship as exquisitely as an old friend, Albert 
Bromley, writing some years ago in the New York State 

"As regards food, he is no epicure. Using his eight 
barbels, and probably his eyes to some extent, to read 
the menu along the bottom, he moves leisurely along 
engulfing nymphs and adult aquatic insects, freshwater 
mollusks, crustaceans and minnows of the slow cruising 
speed varieties. These he tops off with an aquatic salad 
of seeds and succulent greeneries from various sub- 
surface plants. This indiscriminating appetite gladdens 
the heart of the fisherman for, to quote Thoreau, 'They 
will take any kind of bait from an angleworm to a piece 
of tomato can and seldom fail to swallow the hook*. 

"If you haven't akeady met this chap on the end of 
your fish line (and the chances are extremely remote 
that you haven't) there are a few pointers to be observed 
for a proper introduction. For your contemplated call 
select a warm spring night along in May. A fine drizzle 
with a gentle south breeze is prescribed. Shortly after 
dark be on your way equipped as follows: One bamboo 
pole (anything over ten feet preferred) with 30 to 50 
feet of heavy line attached to the far end and wrapped 
spirally down the pole in such a manner as to place the 
hook in position to pierce your pants as you walk. For 
bait nightwalkers are prescribed with the No. 2 tomato 
can being the preferred carrier. Nevertheless there is a 
small group which leans to the Prince Albert tobacco 
can, several of which can be stowed on the person. This 
has disadvantages in the dark, however, if you are a 
pipe smoker. Other essentials are a kerosene lantern (the 


smoky variety is tHe most common) and a jug of tea or 
something for the marsh chill. A poll on the refreshment 
problem among bullhead fishermen in upper New York 
State showed hard cider to have a commanding lead. 

"Thus prepared, proceed to a likely marsh, pond, or 
river anywhere in the neighborhood. Having arrived (a 
triumph in itself), deposit your gear, unroll your line, 
get out your jackkmfe and cut the hook out of your 
pants leg, attach a large cork bobber and a four to six- 
ounce sinker. Such a sinker may outweigh any fish 
caught but it's essential in securing a satisfactory splash 
following a full swinging overhead cast. Bait up. No 
need to hold the bamboo schooner mast, stick the butt 
in the mud. 

"You should soon have your first bite. Walk purpose- 
fully to the pole and grasp firmly, right hand near the 
butt and left as far out as possible. Place left foot in 
front with knee bent. Now spring back, lifting mightily 
at the same time and follow through with a complete 
overhead maneuver. If this technique is fully mastered 
your horned pout will be securely grounded some 50 
feet to the rear where, with aid of lantern and matches 
he can be located eventually. 

"There's no hurry; time means nothing to bullheads." 


By all the professionally accepted standards that we 
human beings measure intelligence, the fish is a very 
stupid animal. In fact, the brain of a one-pound trout 
would scarcely fill a fountain pen and even bears some 
semblance to one. This does not mean that a fish cannot 


detect our presence by sight, sound, or feel ? or that it 
cannot possess or develop extreme wariness and 
quick responses or "learn" (become conditioned) 
through experience. It can. But the lowly nightwalker 
or dew worm, although deaf and "sightless" and with 
only a pair of tiny knobs or nerve ganglia serving as a 
poor excuse for a brain, also exhibits these characteristics 
to a marked degree as those with aching backs who 
have hunted nightwalkers can quickly testify. In other 
words, the thing we correctly call intelligence has little 
if anything to do with those characteristics of fishes that 
can make them very difficult to catch on hook and line. 

While this may seem beside the point and a mere 
matter of word quibbling, it is actually the most im- 
portant difference between the angler, on the one hand, 
and his underwater quarry, on the other. For the angler 
has been gifted not only with the power of intuition, 
but also with the unique power of reason. This means 
that while the fish is unable to study and contemplate 
the angler, the angler is able to do this to the fish. Not 
only this, but he can also study, and reflect upon, the 
studies and reflections of other anglers even of sci- 
entists. This gives or should give the angler a tremen- 
dous advantage over the fish, and the fact that it fre- 
quently does not is a matter that we have already dwelt 
upon, perhaps a bit too indelicately. 

The actions and responses of fishes that so often 
baffle the angler and fool him into believing that fish 
are highly intelligent creatures, come about in three 
ways. First, as we have seen, fish are highly sensitive 
animals even possessing a sort of sixth sense in their 
lateral line. Second, fish have many instincts or inherited 



inner promptings to action. Finally, fish can 'learn" 
(become conditioned) from experience. This so-called 
'learning" doesn't require any reasoning or big brain 
power, and it may last for as little as a few minutes or 
for more than several months; perhaps years. Some 
species, e.g. the largemouth bass, can "learn" very 
quickly, while others such as the northern pike and the 
eastern chain pickerel can be very "fierce and stupid". 
These are the characteristics of fishes the key factors 
shall we say that are used by the fish to survive, but 
which can be used by the angler to bring about its 
downfall. Let us see how they may operate in practice. 
Suppose we were to go fishing for largemouth bass 
in some farm pond or small kke that had never been 
fished before. Suppose we were to use underwater 


artificials during the afternoon and surface lures at 
dusk, and return every bass we caught to the water. 
Would we catch bass easily, day after day as long as 
we kept throwing them back? 

The answer, of course, is "No!" In fact our catches 
would probably start slowing down during a fast "open- 
ing" day, and continue to do so until it would be very 
difficult to catch a bass. In a farm pond of an acre or so 
things might become very difficult after about three 
days of fishing, while in a larger pond or small lake, it 
might require a week or longer. This is called "condi- 
tioning" from experience, but we'll just call it "learn- 
ing" however inaccurate the term may be in order to 
simplify matters. 

Field and laboratory experiments have shown that 
the average largemouth bass not only learns quickly, 
but can retain this learning for days, weeks, and per- 
haps years. One excellent example of this retention or 
"memory", was afforded a few years ago in our own 
experimental farm pond. Seventeen largemouths that 
had been trained in laboratory experiments not to take 
artificials, were stocked into the pond. For two summers 
afterward, not a bass was taken on artificials, despite a 
five-dollar reward for such a feat! This is not to say that 
none of the bass could have been taken on artificials, 
but it does indicate how quickly and thoroughly these 
fish had learned their lessons. 

Other laboratory experiments on largemouth bass 
have shown that the species can quickly become "gut 
shy". In other words, after an experience or two, the 
average bass in these experiments would not take a live 
minnow that was attached to a hook and visible leader, 


but would strike at a free minnow. Even a 5X leader 
was apparently visible in clear water. 

Sometimes it is difficult to know what a fish may have 
inherited and what it may have learned from experience. 
Bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix, and common bonito, 
Sarda sarda, both seem to be innately "gut shy", and 
rainbow trout are not above suspicion. We have ob- 
served recently stocked rainbow trout veer away from 
a 4X leader with a No. 12 salmon egg hook buried in 
an oil pack, western salmon egg, only to feed quickly 
when a free egg was tossed in. 

Mention of salmon eggs reminds us that trout and 
particularly the rainbow trout have a strong, inherited 
affinity for them. This is why salmon or trout eggs, when 
of the right type and when correctly used, are a very 
effective bait. In fact, this instinctive affinity for salmon 
or trout eggs can be used to evoke the competitive urge 
in trout by chumming with the eggs. Then, if some agita- 
tion of the water is present or added, three strong forces 
are at work simultaneously: competition, affinity for 
salmon or trout eggs, and the attraction of agitation. 
Needless to say, trout angling can be a massacre in such 

Not long ago we were discussing this matter of chum- 
ming trout in streams with a friend who is famous both 
as a dry fly purist and custom fly tier, but who knows 
all the tricks of the professional and has some genuine 
tolerance of "worm drowning/* "amateurs delight" 
(spinning) and the other more plebian forms of angling. 
The discussion had reached a point where the folly of 
passing general laws against all use of salmon eggs had 
been agreed upon and the relative merits of salt water 


grass shrimp, grasshoppers, and Japanese beetles as 
chum were under meticulous consideration. We hap- 
pened to observe that both grasshoppers and Japanese 
beetles had a strong tendency to float in contrast to 
salmon eggs and grass shrimp. Our friend, who is truly 
one of the world's great creative artists in fly fishing, 
remarked, quite simply: 

"A good wetting agent sinks them perfectly. I once 
chummed up all the trout in a big pool of the Beaverkill 
with Japanese beetles!" 

The affinity of most game fishes for agitated water is 
something that has only recently become appreciated 
by many fresh water anglers. Salt water anglers were 
trolling for game fishes in the wash of a power boat for 
years before fresh water anglers began to catch on. 
We'll never forget the thrill of the discovery, in 1939, 
that smallmouth bass, far from being frightened by a 
slow or moderately speeded outboard, were actually 
attracted by it and would strike lures trolled in the wash 
of the outboard sometimes when only ten feet from the 
propellerfar more readily than when cast or when 
trolled without agitation. Nor will we forget the thrill 
received from testing this discovery in another lake 
(Ontario) soon afterward. There were three of us 
present on that occasion, and we had to sit in the stern 
of the boat in order to slow it down. So we trolled our 
weighted streamer flies in the big foaming wave about 
30 feet behind the boat. And we caught bass after bass 
while cruising among anglers who were quietly rowing 
their boats and trolling crayfish, giving us some baleful 
and incredulous looks. 


During the past few years more and more of the 
angling fraternity seems to be stumbling upon the 
influence of competition and water agitation on fish 
behavior. This is seen in the trend toward the use of 
multiple or compound lures. Beginning with the sets of 
large flasher spoons trolled ahead of a bait (known as 
"cowbells" in some places) which were developed some 
years ago, there has been a growing tendency to troll 
two, or even three, streamer flies, and sometimes to use 
two plugs or other type of artificial one behind the 
other instead of the customary single lure. The devel- 
opment of the famous "Junk Lure" for striped bass on 
the Atlantic Coast during 1956 is another example of 
the trend. Chumming, of course, has been practiced 
extensively in salt water for many many years perhaps 

The competitive or "bullying" urges in game fishes 
can be very strong. This can be observed in the social 
hierarchies that fish promptly set up in aquaria or pools, 
and in their feeding behavior. Heavily gorged fish will 
often disgorge and continue to feed at the sight of a 
"competitor" chasing a bait fish. 

The sudden flurries of feeding activity that fishes 
undergo from time to time is also an interesting phe- 
nomenon. Sometimes just a few fish at one location will 
go into one of these flurries. At other times large num- 
bers of fish are involved over a wide area of fresh or 
salt water. These flurries may last for less than a minute 
or for several hours, and it is not definitely known just 
what causes or "triggers'" them. They appear to be 
spontaneous reactions to some stimulus, just as huge 
rafts of ducks may appear to rise from the water all at 



once. It is entirely possible, however, that some form 
of communication or lightning-fast responses are in- 

It is always nice to be around at the exact spot and 
time of these flurries. The fish are "eager beavers" and 
far easier to catch than usual. But these orgies are rare 
and unpredictable; and if we had to depend upon them 
for catching fish, our creels and fish boxes would usually 
be empty. 

Some of the more popular theories or, more ac- 
curately, hypothesesabout feeding activity in fishes 
have been put to carefully designed, scientific tests, 
but so far none of them has stood up to the tests. In- 
deed, one prominent fishery scientist discovered that 
if enough of the various fishing calendars were con- 
sulted, almost every day of the year is a good fishing 
day on some calendar! Similarly, certain hypotheses 


concerning the position of the earth in relation to par- 
ticular celestial bodies have failed to receive support 
when submitted to the objectivity of scientific tests. 

On the other hand, temperature and temperature 
changes have been scientifically demonstrated again 
and again to be important influences on fish behavior. 
The influence can be direct, such as on the rate of 
digestion of food or on the preference of the fish, or it 
can be indirect such as through "learned" associations 
with food or other pleasant experiences. In fact, some 
fishes can detect temperature differences as small as one 
three-hundredths of a degree centigrade! 

Fish have definite preferences for certain ranges of 
temperature. They also have certain ranges of tem- 
perature tolerance. Both the range of preference and 
the range of tolerance depend upon the species and, 
possibly, the strain of the species. The preference range 
can be loosely defined as that which the fish will not 
seek to leave under normal circumstances. The tolerance 
range represents the minimum and maximum tempera- 
tures that a fish can stand, more or less indefinitely, 
without passing out. 

Usually, the food demand and rate of digestion have 
been found to increase as water temperature increases, 
until at or near the upper limit of temperature tolerance. 
On the other hand, some fishes, e.g. the lake trout or 
togue, exhibit a lower rate of metabolism with rise in 
water temperature, well below the upper limit of 

Strangely enough, these ranges of preference, to- 
gether with temperature-food digestion rates, have 
been scientifically established for only a very few 


species. This does not mean that we don't know about 
temperature requirements and influences for many 
other species of fish. We do. But relatively few species 
have been put through laboratory paces for precise 
measurements. In later chapters well have much more 
to say, incidentally, about temperature and temperature 
changes as these affect fishes and their catchability. 

There is abundant evidence to suggest that changes 
in atmospheric pressure (barometer) have an effect 
upon fish behavior and particularly feeding behavior, 
but scientific tests and measurements of the phenomena 
are again few and inconclusive. A rising barometer is 
usually associated with increased feeding activity, and 
a falling barometer with decreased activity. But we 
have been confounded on so many occasions by op- 
posite behavior that, so far, we cannot go along with 
any conclusion in the matter. 

One of the great difficulties in measuring the effect 
of a natural factor -e.g. the full moon or atmospheric 
pressure upon the catchability of fish, is that other 
factors are so often tied up with the one we seek to 
measure. The full moon, for example, may mean calm 
cool weather with high pressure. If so, what is being 
tested? There is always something associated with a 
full moon or, for that matter, with no moon, or a half 
moon. It is only the incomplete angler out to convince 
himself, or the bogus authority out to convince many 
others, who goes for the "hocus pocus" stuff or who has 
the final answer about the moon and sun and gravity 
and pressure, etc., etc. The real pro looks to his lures, 
the species, the situation, and the presentation. And 
he knows, as the Good Book states, that "to him that 



hath, more shall be given/' He keeps his lamps well 
oiled and leaves but little to luck and guesswork. 

The Fish at Home 
In Lakes and Ponds 

"Into this Universe, and Why not knowing 

Nor Whence) like Water willy-nilly flowing 

Edward Fitzgerald 

_he home of all fishes is water in which there is an 
adequate supply of dissolved oxygen, some carbon 
dioxide, and a number of other impurities (chemical 
compounds) such as nitrates, phosphates, carbonates, 
sulfates, chlorides, etc. Natural sea water may have 
dozens of these ingredients some in considerable quan- 
titywhile fresh water may have relatively few and all 
these in very minute quantities. Such a thing as abso- 
lutely pure water has probably never existed, and the 
so-called "chemically pure" water of the laboratory is 
far better suited for storage batteries, developing photo- 
graphs, and washing clothes than for fish life. In fact, 
fish may die when they are placed in this "chemically 
pure" water sometimes within a short time even as 
they may die when placed in certain water that meets 
all standards for drinking. 

It is the nature and amounts of these chemical ingre- 
dients or impurities in water which, together with 



temperature, depth, and water movement, largely de- 
termine what fishes will be present where and when. 
So let's examine these and other important aspects of 
the lake and pond homes of fishes and see how they 
affect both fish and fishing. 


When water becomes impounded, either by Nature 
or Man, some interesting things occur that are of great 
importance to fish and fishermen. In the first place, 
Nature seems to abhor the pond or lake that has been 
created whether by Her or by Manand seeks gradu- 
ally to obliterate it with silt, with detritus from decaying 
vegetation, and by encroachment of plant life at the 
shores. These changes can be rapid or slow, depending 
upon the size of the impoundment and the particular 
situation. In the second place, the water doesn't just 
lie there as a uniform mass of liquid, but actually forms 
layers, or strata, of different temperatures. Unless the 
lake or pond is in the warmth of the deep South, these 
layers will form and re-form with the seasons, and their 
characteristics will have a profound effect upon fish life. 
In fact, this stratification largely determines what fish 
will be where and when. Finally, there is the matter of 
the chemical ingredients, or plant nutrients that may be 
present, and their consequent effect upon all life in the 
water, including fish. 

If this sounds a bit complicated, it is actually a greatly 
oversimplified account of what goes on in a pond or 
lake and what is important to the distribution and 
behavior of fishes. For lakes and ponds are dynamic, 


constantly changing situations, and the study of their 
physical, chemical and biological characteristics consti- 
tutes the science known as Limnology. But again let's 
avoid becoming too technical, and rather attempt to 
reduce this complicated subject to practical funda- 
mentals. Let's begin by describing the deep, "cool" 
lakes of the northern United States and Canada and 
then proceed to other types. 

Probably the best examples of the deep, cool lakes of 
our Northeast are the Finger Lakes of New York State 
and the large, deep lakes of Ontario, Vermont, New 
Hampshire, and Maine. These lakes are usually what 
the limnologist calls oligotrophic lakes: They are char- 
acterized by a very large volume of water in relation to 
their surface area, and have large areas of sandy or 
rocky bottom. Extreme examples of this type of lake 
in our Northeast are found in some of the Finger Lakes 
of New York State. Some of these lakes e.g. Cayuga 
and Seneca are more than 500 feet deep with bottoms 
below sea level. They are narrow, as their name implies, 
and their volumes are great in relation to their surface 
areas. Similarly, oligotrophic lakes in Ontario, New 
Hampshire or Maine not to mention more western 
regions may be more than 100 feet deep with only a 
few miles of surface area. Finally, these lakes are in our 
more northern latitudes and are exposed to winter 
temperatures that average well below freezing; the 
sun's rays strike them at a more oblique angle than 
farther south; and the quantity of dissolved plant 
nutrients in the water may be much less than in shal- 
lower lakes. All this means cooler, clearer water with 
more dissolved oxygen in the depths. 


Now what do these deep, cool lakes look like at 
various times of year, and what is the effect of these 
seasonal characteristics upon fish? Let's start with a 
winter picture and follow through for an entire year. 

If our lake is in Ontario, New Hampshire, Vermont, 
or Maine, its surface will be frozen over in the dead of 
winter by a foot or more of ice possibly three feet.* 
The temperature of this ice may be 32 F. or many 
degrees below zero F., and it may rumble and crack 
as it tightens in the bitter cold of winter. But the water 
in the depths will probably be 39.2 F., because water 
is at its densest, or heaviest, at this temperature and 
sinks to the bottom. 

Here we may receive our first surprise: for, the ice 
fisherman catching yellow perch as far south as New 
Jersey, the whitefish fisherman in Ontario, the smelt 
fisherman in Maine or New Brunswick, and the northern 
pike and walleye fisherman in New York or Wisconsin 
all these ice anglers may be catching their fish from 
water of the same temperature! 

When "ice out" occurs in spring or early summer, a 
profound change takes place in these lakes. As the 
surface water warms and reaches the temperature of 
the depths, convection currents are present throughout 
the lake, and the water, in a sense, becomes homoge- 
nized. This is the time that many anglers have looked 
forward to and prepared for all winter, because this is 
the time when lake trout, landlocked salmon, rainbows 
and squaretails can be taken close to the shore and at 

* The larger Finger Lakes, like the Great Lakes, have great volumes of 
water-particularly in relation to their surface and do not freeze over ex- 
cept under most unusual circumstances. 


the surface. A card, a telegram, a phone call, and these 
anglers begin packing their automobilesperhaps a 
thousand miles away! 

With the onset of summer another great change 
begins to take place in these lakes: The rays of the sun 
continue to warm the water slowly but surely and 
the water responds by forming layers, or strata, of 
different temperatures. A warm surface layer forms, 
with a second layer directly beneath it of rapidly de- 
scending temperatures. Beneath this, and all the way to 
the bottom, is a cold layer. (Limnologists have special 
names for these layers as can be seen from our illustra- 
tion). At the beginning of the summer the upper, warm 
layer, or epilimnion may be only a few inches deep, 
but by late summer it may be upwards of 30 feet deep! 
The layer of rapidly descending temperatures, or ther- 
mocline, directly beneath may be four to 20 feet deep 
and the remainder, or hypolimnion, will have little 
change in temperature all the way to the bottom. The 
temperatures in the depths? If the lake is more than 70 
feet deep, the chances are that the temperature at the 
bottom will be you guessed it 39.2 F., or not much 

Now, this division of the lake into three layers, or 





strata, of different temperatures will obviously have an 
effect upon the distribution of the fishes in the lake. 
The lake trout or togue, for example, will move into 
the cold depths and will be joined by whitefish, smelt, 
deep water sculpins, deep water sticklebacks, ciscos, 
ling or whatever of these species happens to be present 
in the lake because these are the species that prefer 
these cold temperatures. Landlocked salmon, alewife 
herring or "sawbellies", some of the smelts and ciscos, 
rainbow, brook and brown trout will usually prefer the 
temperatures in or just below the thermocline that 
intermediate layer of rapidly decreasing temperature 
directly beneath the warm water or epilimnion. 

This condition of stratification which in a sense is 
three separate lakes one above the other persists until 
late summer or fall or until the surface temperature 
descends to that of the depths. At this time convection 


currents again run wild and the lake "turns over" and 
again becomes "homogenized". And in like manner the 
species mingle with one another: the lake trout, the 
bass, the ciscos, the landlocked salmon, the perch, the 
browns, brooks, rainbows whatever is present. Then 
winter sets in with the ice conditions we have already 
described and the completion of the cycle. 

So far we have described only the general effects 
upon fishes of the seasonal behavior of this type of lake. 
But what of the specific effects upon particular species 
and how do these affect our angling success? Here we 
must divide our lakes into geographic regions more 
eastern or mote western and upon the additional basis 
of their past stocking and management. And we must 
also remember that no two lakes are exactly the same 
no matter how near to each other they may be situated 
or how close their ages may be. Perhaps our best ap- 
proach would be to consider a particular lake that may 
be representative of many other lakes insofar as our 
angling efforts are concerned. Let's begin with an 
oligotrophic lake in Maine that supports landlocked 
salmon, smallmouth bass, whitefish, smelt, and lake 
trout or togue as they are called by our downeaster 

At ice-out that rather sudden and dramatic event 
of spring which usually seems to be overdue the sun 
may be hot and the nights freezing cold. Or it may be 
just bleak and cold, period! But the tree buds will be 
swelling and beginning to burst, and the chirp of a 
robin or the flash of a warbler in the trees is comforting 
reassurance that you have judged things correctly. The 
lake water is "ice cold" which may mean anything 


from 37 F. to 50 F. But unless you are curious about 
such things you won't worry about it. (P.S. It will 
probably be about 40 F.) 

It is at this time that the water in the lake is "homoge- 
nized" after its winter of stratification, and it is at this 
time that the various fishes in the lake are wandering 
all over the place lake trout, landlocked salmon, smelt, 
smallmouth bass, and all the rest. It is a sort of upheaval 
time for water and fish, despite the fact that small- 
mouth bass are not yet ready to feed actively and 
despite the fact that smelt have something other than 
food on their mind (We are referring, of course, to 

This is also an upheaval time in the soul of the angler 
who knows about these things and who has planned 
his trip all winter. Because this is the time that the 
landlocked salmon and the lake trout can be found 
close to shore and ready to take a well presented 
streamer fly or piece of metal. The nightly romances 
of the smelt under a full moon accompanied by an 
orchestra of spring peepers and other songs of the night 
are also known to him, and he can feel like Isaak 
Walton did some 300 years before; 

"Here., give my weary spirits rest 
And raise my low-pitched thoughts above 
Earth, or what poor mortals love. 

Thus, free from lawsuits, and the noise 
of princes 9 courts, I would rejoice" 

The spawning runs of smelt into the streams, brooks, 
and freshets at this time of year provide one of the great 
spectacles of nature. In some lakes the adult smelt are 


tiny and needle-like from poor growing conditions, and 
are difficult to observe. But in other lakes they reach a 
size of six inches or larger the smelt of commerce 
and can be easily seen under the beam of a flashlight or 
even under the light of a full moon. 

In daytime the smelt remain in the general vicinity of 
the brook or freshet that they will later ascend under 
the cover of darkness. Shortly after sundown they begin 
to congregate at the entrance of the stream, and by 
nightfall the "run is on" as they push their way up 
through the shallow, running water. If the run is a large 
one, the first few hundred feet of the brooklet can soon 
become swollen with smelt, with other hordes waiting 
around the entrance for a chance to enter. So crowded 
can they become that it is a simple matter to reach 
down and pick them up with your bare hands. 

Needless to say, laws have been passed by Maine and 
other states where smelt occur, to protect the species 
during this time of complete vulnerability. Yet, the 
temptation to pocket a few of these delectable morsels 
for the frying pan is sometimes overwhelming, as an 
old and close friend learned recently to his great embar- 
rassment. It was during a salmon safari with three com- 
panions to one of Maine's finest lakes, and we report 
his account here not only because of its vivid descrip- 
tion of a smelt run, but also because of the human 
conflict of values in which our friend found himself. 
Again, names have been changed or omitted to protect 
both the innocent and the guilty: 

"li was one of those perfect nights, when the sun 
had set clear and the spring peepers had strung up early 


and were in full rhythm. Every once in a while you could 
hear the sustained, mellow note of a common toad be- 
hind the chorus of peepers. 

"We parked the car on a dirt road where a little brook 
went through a culvert about a quarter mile above the 
lake. We then walked down a tote road that was half 
full of logs and which ran parallel to the stream about 
a hundred feet away. I was glad that I had worn my 
woolen hunting coat, because the temperature was close 
to freezing. I remember buttoning the coat as I walked 
down the tote road. 

"The road opened onto a small sand beach, and there 
was the big lake., somewhat vague under the moonlight 
but with a surface that was as still as molten metal! It 
was one of those dreambook scenes and you paused for 
a minute to take it all in. As we walked toward the 
entrance of the stream it was obvious that the smelt 
were in, because you could both hear and see them 
shower the surface along the shore as they took alarm. 

<f Arriving at the mouth of the brook, we walked up 
about 30 feet to where it was narrow and the water 
flowing, and turned on our flashlight. The little stream 
was packed solid and black with smelt! You couldnt 
see the bottom. They just lay there, undulating slightly 
with the current, layer upon layer and pushing each 
other out onto the banks! I reached down and picked 
up three or four of them in my hand and noticed that 
all but one had rough scales. Obviously these rough ones 
were males. But it was early in the evening and the 
males were flrst as usual. 

"I turned off my flashlight and began to walk up- 
stream, oblivious of my companions and flashing my 


light from time to time into the brook. The scene was 
the same: smelt and more smelt. I became curious at 
this time about the number of eggs that this great mass 
of fish might be laying, so I began to examine the stones 
and gravel on the bottom of the stream. They were 
covered by a solid mass of jelly the adhesive eggs of 
the smelt and the eggs were already layer upon layer 
at this early hour of the run. No wonder some of the 
biologists are thinking about broadening these brooks 
to increase the smelt population. Many of these eggs 
must smother themselves by their sheer mass! 

''Anyway, I walked upstream a little farther and 
noticed that the water was running faster and that 
there were fewer smelt. As you know, they cant take 
the very fast water. So I walked to the car and waited 
for my three companions. They were along in a 

At this point in his account our friend seemed to 
become a bit concerned. He began to frown slightly 
and went out to the kitchen to pour himself another 
drink. When he came back, he didn't sit down but 
paced the room slowly, holding his drink in his hand 
and looking towards the floor. He continued his story: 

know, I lean over backwards to observe the 
letter of the law in fish and game matters. Not that 
Tve always been that way in fact I used to get a thrill 
out of poaching and took great satisfaction in being 
good at it! But middle age does something to a person 
or at least it should. You begin to realize that there's 
much more to life than the old rat race, and this dis- 


covery opens new horizons for you: you can really relax 
and explore, for a change, and not worry about con- 
stantly proving your prowess. 

"It never occurred to me to sneak smelt out of this 
stream, nor did it occur to me that my companions 
might be so tempted. In fact, it was not until we were 
in the car and about halfway back to the cabins that the- 
smell of smelt made me suspect the worst. You know 
that unique, metallic odor of the smelt. There's nothing 
else like it! 

"Sure enough when we arrived at the camp, my com- 
panions began whooping it up and pulling smelt out 
of the pockets of their hunting coats. They piled the 
silvery morsels on a plate in front of me and waited for 
my reaction. 

"What did I do? 

"Hell, I just asked if we had enough butter. 9 ' 

Smelt in some lakes may spawn on bars, shoals, or 
in coves. But regardless of the actual place, the be- 
havior of these little fish is of great importance to the 
togue and landlocked salmon fishermen. For both 
salmon and togue feed heavily upon smelt and have a 
strong tendency to lurk near the smelt's spawning 
grounds at this time of year. Areas near the mouths of 
streams and freshets, the margins of ledges or even on 
the ledges themselves to within a few feet of land any 
or all of these may be productive. 

The entrances of "smelt run" brooklets are often 
difficult to locate from a boat, and here we can some- 
times receive an assist from our mischievous black 
friend the crow. Crows, like many humans, are very 


fond of fresh smelt, but have the advantage of aerial 
reconnaissance in locating smelt runs. Keep an eye 
on these crows, and when you see one emerge from 
the woods with a silvery object in its bill, mark down 
the spot. Chances are you will find a hidden brooklet 
that was the scene of much spawning activity the night 

With the passing of the days and weeks after ice-out, 
and with the formation and gradual thickening of the 
warm surface layer, gradual changes take place in the 
behavior of the fishes. The lake trout or togue, which 
prefers the cold cold water, begins to disappear from the 
shore or littoral zone along with the smelt. If whitefish 
have been seeking food in the shallows, they too join 
the offshore movement. Meanwhile, the warming and 
thickening upper layer of water the epilimnionis re- 


viving the smallmouth bass from its winter lethargy, 
and this superh game fish begins to go on the prowl. 

And the Silver King or landlocked salmon? 

Fortunately, this species is less affected by tempera- 
ture and, like the squaretail, often continues to play 
the shoreline for many weeks. Indeed, it will often break 
through the thermocline into the warm epilimnion 
sometimes until midsummer and is seldom out of the 
range of moderately light tackle. (We will have more 
to say about this in the chapters on angling methods ) . 

At this point in our account, an astute reader may 
ask, "Is it possible to catch both landlocked salmon and 
smallmouth bass at the same time of year? The answer, 
of course, is "Yes, if you hit conditions at just the right 
time." In fact we have occasionally caught landlocked 
salmon, togue, and smallmouth bass all in the same day 
on a Maine lake without changing lures and at a time 
and circumstance when all three species were legal to 
retain. And there are areas in Maine e.g. the St. Croix 
River drainagewhere excellent salmon lakes are only 
short distances from superb smallmouth resources. Dur- 
ing the first three weeks of June, for example, the angler 
who loves both species can get into a real quandary over 
just what lake to fish on a particular day! 

When the temperature of the epilimnion in our Maine 
lake reaches 60 F., its thickness may be ten feet or 
more, and the smallmouth bass begins to be stimulated 
by the reproductive urge. Male smallmouths commence 
nest building and will soon be poised over the depres- 
sions they have formed in the bottom. These nests may 
be in two feet of water or, perhaps, 12 feet. 

The hatching of the eggs in the nest requires only a 


few days, and unlike its relative the largemouth bass, 
M. dolomieu will pay no attention to the young after 
they begin to swim around. For a time perhaps two to 
four weeks the smallmouths, both male and female, 
will lurk in the shallow water before moving to the edges 
of shoals and shore shelves for bottom feeding. This 
usually takes place in late June or early July in our 
more northern latitudes. 

From midsummer to the crisp days of autumn, the 
landlocked salmon, the smallmouth bass and the lake 
trout are in special places in their home and require 
special and often not very satisfying techniques to 
catch them. This fact has often seemed to us as a bit 
unjust to the North American angler who so often 
takes his vacation during the month of August. For not 
only are the game fishes of our Maine lake more unco- 
operative at this time of year, but so also are the game 
fishes of most lakes! 

By midsummer, then, we have located the landlocked 
salmon in or below the thermocline, the smallmouth 
bass fairly deep on the margins of the ledges, and the 
togue and whitefish away down near or on the bottom 
in upwards of 60 feet of water. Of the four species, the 
smallmouth is the most cooperative to the light tackle 
enthusiast at this time of year, because the species has 
the habit of feeding in the shallows after sundown, be- 
fore sunup, and during heavy overcasts. 

With the onset of autumn and its quiet air, late sum- 
mer haze, reduced angle of sun, and glow of late 
harvest, the fishes of our Maine lake are again stimu- 
lated to change their ways. The smallmouth bass may 
begin to cruise the shallows again during the day, and 


move about much more widely in search of food. The 
lake trout and the landlocked salmon have ripening 
gonads, and sex hormones are beginning to course 
through their bodies. These fish, too, gradually move 
to the shallower areas. 

Meanwhile, the surface waters are cooling and soon 
the lake goes into its homogenizing process. The togue 
usually seek gravel or stony bars on which to spawn, 
and the landlocked salmon seek the inlets or outlets 
of the lake to build their nests, or redds, in flowing 
water. Whitefish also seek shallower areas and broadcast 
their eggs over the bottom. Finally, ice begins to creep 
over the surface of the lake and soon all is sealed over 
for the winter. Only the cold cold water species the 
lake trout, the whitefish, the little smelt and the land- 
locked salmon actively go about in search of food. 
Even the squaretail, or speckled trout, is a bit lethargic 
at 40 F. 

Not all of the deep, cool lakes of Maine have the 
same species of fish in them as the one we have just 
described. Some do not have any landlocked salmon; 
others with salmon may not have any bass or, perhaps, 
togue; while still others may have all these plus white 
perch, pickerel, and a whole host of forage fishes. As we 
have stated, no two lakes are exactly the same, and this 
is true whether we consider them physically, chemically, 
or biologically. 


When we turn our attention to the deep, cool lakes 
of the Great Lakes drainage system (we are not yet 


ready to consider "warm", shallow lakes), much that 
we have learned ahout our Maine lake can be of value 
to us when we fish any oligotrophic lake of this vast 
area. The seasonal behavior of the water will be the 
same; the behavior of the species we have encountered 
will be generally the same; and again there will be 
much rock and sand on the bottom. We will, however, 
almost have to bid farewell to some good old piscatorial 
friends, again greet some familiar faces, and be prepared 
to meet some important new ones. 

Absent, for example (except upon rare occasion), will 
be the landlocked salmon, the eastern chain pickerel, 
and the white perch. Usually present will be the togue 
(now called lake trout or salmon trout), the squaretail 
(now called brook trout, speckled trout, or native trout), 
and the smallmouth bass. Among the "strangers" will 
be the abundant cisco a coldwater cousin of the white- 
fish the delicious walleyed pike or, more correctly, pike- 
perch (called pickerel in Ontario), the great northern 
pike, and occasionally, that fabulous monster demon of 
fresh water, the muskellunge.* Let us meet these new- 
comers and see how they live in ponds and lakes. 

We have already met the Cisco though briefly- in 
person. It is one of those fishes with the suspiciously 
large eye. Remember? Ciscos sometimes called herring, 
bluebacks, greenbacks, etc. look like the famous white- 
fish except that they have terminal rather than inferior 
mouths. This terminal mouth may not have come about 
by accident, because it is in keeping with the Cisco's 

* Walleyes, great northern pike, and muskellunge are usually associated 
with "warm" waters and weedy areas. Many lakes of the Great Lakes 
system, however, are vast and combine deep, cold water with large, shallow 


habit of feeding upon microscopic animal organisms 
that are suspended in the water, rather than upon bot- 
tom organisms. Ciscos are nearly always far more 
abundant than whitefish wherever the two species 
occur, and, as we have mentioned, can often be taken 
on hook and line by anglers who have the "know-how". 

Our chief reason for formally introducing the cisco 
is the fact that in most of the oligotrophic lakes of the 
Great Lakes drainage system, the cisco rather than the 
smelt is the chief food of the lake trout. And this is 
probably why record breaking lake trout come from 
this area. In the lakes of the Atlantic coast drainages, 
for example, we hear of state record lake trout of 26 or 
perhaps 28 pounds. But these are small in comparison 
to the many lake trout of 30 to 40 pounds taken in some 
Ontario lakes, and are veritable "pee-wees" when com- 
pared to the great "siscowets" of Lake Superior, which 
have reportedly weighed in at over 70 pounds! 

Yellow perch seem to be far more important as a 
panfish and as a forage item for game fish in the Great 
Lakes drainage than in Atlantic coastal drainages. 
Yellow perch have a wide range of temperature toler- 
ance, feed actively at near freezing temperatures, and 
seem to be just as at home in 60 feet of water as in six. 

The so-called "walleyed pike" which, as we have 
mentioned, is known as pickerel in Ontario, is neither 
a pike nor a pickerel, but actually another member of 
the perch family. And like the yellow perch, it is a 
schooling fish that feeds actively at very low water 
temperatures, is superb eating, and occurs in both 
shallow and fairly deep water. Unlike the yellow perch, 
however, which lays its gelatinous covered eggs in still 


waters, the walleye deposits its adhesive eggs on gravel 
or rubble bottom in moving water. Walleyes are present 
in some of the smaller oligotrophic lakes, but usually 
only when such lakes are part of a river chain or have 
been stocked. 

The great northern pike in the Great Lakes drainage 
system also a "warmwater" species is a larger counter- 
part of the eastern chain pickerel of Atlantic coastal 
drainages. Despite its much greater size, however, the 
northern pike is not the inch-for-inch fighter that the 
chain pickerel is. In fact, the latter more closely re- 
sembles the muskellunge in both fighting spirit and 
tactics. Pike, nevertheless, are a fine game fish after 
they have reached five or six pounds in weight a size 
that is very large for a pickerel. 

The muskellunge is the largest member of the pike 
family, and seems to require "big water" and much ter- 
ritory in order to spawn and survive naturally. They 
are a solitary type of fish, and with their rather extensive 
territorial demand, are seldom, if ever, as abundant as 
great northern pike. 

The largemouth bass often occurs in deep "cold" 
lakes that have shallow, weedy coves. In areas of water 
lilies, for instance, the largemouths tend to lurk near 
"openings" in the lily pads or along the outer margins 
of the beds. 

Now, how do these "newcomers" the cisco, the great 
northern pike, the muskellunge, the yellow perch and 
the "walleye" respond to the seasonal changes in the 
lake, and where do they live at different times of year? 

With the ice-out in spring and the "homogenization" 
of the water, the cisco, along with the whitefish, may be 


distributed rather extensivelyin shallow water as well 
as deep water. 

The northern pike lurks in the lagoons and certain 
other shallow areas of the lake. Pike will soon spawn in 
these areas usually at daybreak and their eggs will 
sink to the bottom or into the vegetation. The newly 
hatched pike larvae will remain on the bottom or be 
stuck to the vegetation for several days by means of 
an adhesive organ on the tops of their heads. 

Muskellunge, when present, also spawn at this time 
of year and in the manner of the great northern pike. 

Walleyed pike, on the other hand, will seek out their 
spawning rivers or shoals and gather en masse usually 
at night. Their eggs stick to the gravel or rubble on the 
bottom, and the species is usually protected at this 

Yellow perch congregate in certain coves and lagoons, 
and their eggs appear as gelatinous masses on the bot- 
tom, or attached to submerged brush somewhat in the 
manner of frogs' eggs. 

As the surface and shallow waters become much 
wanner say about 60 K the walleyes, pike, and 
muskellunge will seek deeper regions, but seldom more 
than 40 feet. In other words they will tend to remain 
in the "warm" water. All these fishes moreover and 
particularly pike and muskellunge will tend to lurk in 
or near weed beds. 

Walleyes, as we have mentioned, are a schooling fish, 
and when a feeding school is located, they can often 
be taken one after another particularly during overcast 
days or after sundown. 

Yellow perch, also a schooling species, tend to remain 



in shallow water during the early weeks of summer. 
They then tend to move into deeper water and beds of 
submerged vegetation. 

Now what will one of these composite, or combina- 
tion, types of lakes look like in midsummer and how 
will the fishes be distributed? 

Admittedly, there are relatively few of these com- 
posite lakes large lakes that combine "cold" deepwater 
regions with extensive shallow areas of "warm" water. 
Yet there are a number of them in the Great Lakes 
drainage, including the Great Lakes themselves. So 
let's take a careful look at the following illustrations. 






Note here that there are extensive shallow areas ad- 
jacent to a deep section. Also note that the upper, 
"warm" stratum the epilimnion in the profile diagram 
is continuous with the shallow areas. In other words 
the shallow areas are only slightly stratified. 

By midsummer, the "coldwater" species, e.g. lake 
trout, rainbow trout, whitefish, cisco will be in the 
deep section of the lake: The lake trout, cisco, and 
whitefish will be at or near the bottom, and the rain- 
bow trout probably in, or just below, the thermocline. 

The "warmwater" species, e.g. the smallmouth and 
largemouth bass and other sunfishes, the yellow perch, 
the great northern pike, and the walleye will be in the 
shallow sections. The smallmouth will usually prefer 
the rocky or rubble bottom, while the others will usually 
prefer the weed beds or proximity. 

As we have indicated earlier, most of the "coldwater" 
species are loath to break through the thermocline into 
the epilimnion. The cisco and the rainbow trout, how- 
ever, will often do this during large "hatches" of certain 
insects, and even the lake trout has been observed to 
do it in certain lakes in order to feed upon yellow perch 
or the landlocked alewife sometimes called "sawbelly". 

The diurnal and nocturnal movements of some of 
these fishes are at once interesting and important. 
Walleyed pike, for instance, tend to lurk in deep water 
during bright days and invade the shallows after sun- 
down and during the night. On overcast days, how- 
ever, they will sometimes remain in the shallower 
areas particularly along the outer margins of bars 
and weed beds. 

Smallmouth bass also tend to move into shallower 



water for feeding after sundown but will sometimes 
"sun" themselves on shallow ledges on bright calm 
days. Often, yellow perch of various sizes will be 
mixed with the bass during these occasions, and ap- 
parently no effort is made by the bass to feed upon the 
perch during these siestas! Smallmouth bass are chiefly 
bottom feeders, after midsummer, in lakes that have 
an abundance of crayfish and other bottom organisms. 
The largemouth bass, like the muskellunge, is one 
of the most unpredictable of fishes. Sometimes large- 
mouths will cruise singly, or in pairs, for feeding dur- 
ing bright sunlight; at other times they will sulk dur- 

/ 2 



ing the day and feed actively at night; while on still 
other occasions they will congregate on a bar and feed 
actively during late evening. But here we are discuss- 
ing "warmwater" fishes and situations, and it's time 
to consider the shallow types of lakes and ponds. 


Probably the best way to illustrate a shallow, "warm- 
water" lake is to take the last lake we considered and 
reduce the scale of depth contours and miles. Presto, 
and here it is: 

Now some persons might consider this a pond, and 
other persons might consider a much smaller body of 
water to be a lake! But it makes little difference for 
the purpose at hand. 

One of the most interesting and important phenom- 
ena of "shallow" lakes is the behavior of the water. 
Many such lakes and particularly those north of ap- 
proximately 41 N. latitude may have poorly defined 
stratification during the summer months. In fact, some 
of them may not stratify at all. On the other hand, other 
"shallow" lakes may not only stratify, but also have a 
depletion of dissolved oxygen in the hypolimnium at 
this time. The following illustration of a New Jersey 
pond shows this phenomenon. 

Fishes, of course, cannot live for long in water that 
is deficient in dissolved oxygen. The deeper, cool water 
of a lake or pond, therefore, may be devoid of fish life 
during summer. 

Shallow lakes and ponds usually have large areas of 





200 400 

muck bottoms and weeds. In fact this muck bottom 
often accounts for "bottomless" lakes: the muck is so 
soft that it is sometimes almost impossible to determine 
when a small weight has reached the bottom. 

Large, "warmwater" lakes in Canada and in the 
northern part of United States furnish some of the best 
freshwater angling on the North American continent. 
In the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River drainages, 
there are muskellunge, great northern pike, smallmouth 
bass, largemouth bass, and walleyed pike as "warm- 
water" game species. Then, of course, there are the so- 
called "panfishes" such as yellow perch, bluegill and 
common sunfish, crappie, white or silver bass, bullhead 
catfish and the large, channel or lake catfish* 

In the shallow lakes of the North Atlantic coastal 
drainages, there are eastern chain pickerel, smallmouth 
bass, and largemouth bass. The chief "warmwater" 


game species, however, is the smallmouth bass, which 
often occurs in almost unbelievable numbers. 

The important panfishes of this area are the white 
perch, the yellow perch, the bullhead catfish (called 
"horned pout" in New England) and the sunfishes. 

Now how do these panfishes behave in the more 
northern types of shallow lake? 

Bullhead catfish tend to be night feeders, although 
they will also feed actively when the water is roiled or 
during heavy overcasts. Bullheads often congregate in 
large groups for feeding sometimes in very shallow 
water and will sometimes continue for several hours. 

The big channel catfish also tends to be a night 
feeder, but prefers moving water. Narrows that connect 
lakes or which run between islands are favorite haunts, 
at depths up to 30 feet or so. 

White perch and white or silver bass are unlike 
smallmouths and largemouths members of the bass 
family. (The so-called largemouth and smallmouth bass 
are members of the sunfish family.) White perch in- 
habit many lakes both the "coldwater" and "warm- 
water" types of the Atlantic coastal drainages, and are 
just as at home in the brackish water of river estuaries 
as in fresh water. They are a school fish and tend to con- 
gregate in certain areas of a lake. 

White or silver bass are also a school fish, but are far 
less common than white perch and do not naturally 
inhabit waters of the Atlantic coastal drainages. 

All of these panfishes are strongly influenced by water 
temperatures and seldom provide good ice fishing. The 
spawning habits of the bluegill, the pumpkinseed, and 


the crappies (called "calicos" in some areas), however, 
create excellent conditions for fly fishing: all of them, 
for instance, are nest builders in shallow to moderately 
shallow water. This takes place during spring or early 
summer, and the males zealously guard the nests and 
eggs. It is usually a simple matter to locate these nest- 
ing sites and capture a creel full of these delicious 

Ponds and lakes in the central and southern regions 
of United States frequently offer a different type of fish- 
ing situation: The waters are usually well stratified dur- 
ing the summer months, and very often there is little 
if any dissolved oxygen in the hypolimnium. The 
waters of the epilimnion are usually somewhat turbid 
from the bloom of microscopic plant life, and often have 
a brownish green cast from this bloom. 

Such lakes are nearly always "saturated" with fish life, 
but usually with the "pan" or "weed" species. In other 
words, sunfish, golden shiners, suckers, and other "non- 
game" species are so abundant that, like weeds in a 
garden, they tend to hold down the number of large- 
mouth bass, pickerel, or other game species. 

This "imbalance" of weed to game species is the fac- 
tor that is chiefly responsible for the "fishing doldrums" 
of such lakes and ponds during summer. It has the op- 
posite effect upon the sunfishes, however, because the 
crowding creates sharp competition for food. Sunfish 
bluegill, common etc. not only are nest predators of 
the largemouth bass, but also compete for space in the 
water and for foods that are consumed by young game 
fishes. This tends to hold down the number of these 


game fish. Then, after the panfishes and golden shiners 
etc. have spawned usually by midsummer there is a 
great surplus of food for the game species. 

It is difficult to exaggerate the abundance of these 
weed species. In many lakes, for example, it has been 
found that eastern chain pickerel will feed almost en- 
tirely upon sunfish even though golden shiners may be 
even more abundant. The sunfish, it would appear, are 
easier to catch! 

Fishery scientists have discovered that many lakes 
and ponds can be renovated from such a condition. 
This "home renovation" consists of poisoning all the 
fish in a lake by the use of rotenone an insecticide that 
is not poisonous to warm-blooded animals. The lake is 
then stocked with the most suitable combination of 

The maps of the homes of lake and pond fishes such 
as the maps we have just considered are one of the 
most valuable items of angling equipment. This is par- 
ticularly true when an unfamiliar lake or pond is to be 
fished. A number of states and some of the Canadian 
provinces have surveyed many, if not all, of their lakes, 
and have published these maps. Some have been done 
in great detail, with such features as types of bottom, 
shoreline, and vegetation clearly indicated. Consulting 
or obtaining these maps can be a most worthwhile in- 


No chapter on lakes and ponds would be complete 
without some special reference to the so-called "farm 


pond." We say "so-called" because now a great many 
of these ponds are estate ponds or just home ponds. 
The population shift to the suburbs and the purchasing 
of small acreage has popularized the small pond just as 
it has the swimming pool Largemouth bass and blue- 
gill are the usual fish combination, although large- 
mouths with golden shiners are often preferred north 
of the Mason-Dixon line where growing conditions are 

What can be gained from a small pond? Perhaps we 
should just quote from an outdoor column we wrote on 
this subject and which appeared in the Plainfield, N. J. 

"It doesn't have to be a large pond. A small one will 
do say an eighth acre or so and if built near the house 
it's certainly nice to lie in bed on a hot summer night 
and hear the splash of a big bass out there in the dark- 

"It's also nice when you get up in the morning and 
look out and see the quiet surface of the pond in the 
early morning sunlight. The kids will probably be fish- 
ing before nightfall, and it will be refreshing to take 
a swim in the afternoon when the air temperature will 
be about 90! 

"Then, of course, there was that late autumn dawn 
last year when the rising mist almost hid the pond and 
those four foolish mallards set in. Was it luck that you 
just happened to have the old 12 gauge handy and got 
two of them on the rise? 

"A million dollar estate? No just an abandoned farm 
with a big old house (in bad repair) which cost less 


than a small residence in a development. Work? Yes- 
plenty of it for a few years, but fun if you like it, 

"There are many other advantages in a small pond. 
If the property is not situated on a fire hydrant line, 
for instance, a small pond can drastically reduce fire 
insurance premiums. And the pond can also add more 
equity to the property than the cost of its construction. 

"Bait minnows, such as golden shiners, can usually be 
produced by the thousands in an eighth acre pond each 
year, and the retail price may be as high as 60 cents per 

"The cost of building a small pond varies greatly with 
the situation. If bedrock even soft shaleis present, the 
cost may exceed $1,500. If, on the other hand, a bull- 
dozer can do the job quickly, the cost may be less than 
$500. A lowland area with good seepage, or a spot ad- 
jacent to a small stream, are both usually well suited 
for a pond site. 

"For reduced insurance rates when away from a fire 
hydrant line, certain requirements must be met. The 
pond must contain a minimum of 100,000 gallons of 
water at all times, and a stone or other hard top roadway 
must extend to within ten feet of a spot in the pond that 
has a minimum of three feet of water (four feet is pre- 
ferred). The pond must also be within 600 feet of the 
insured buildings. 

"Then there are the frozen assets. There is the winter, 
for instance, when the bitter cold nights form a thick 
layer of blue-gray ice on the pond and the wind driven 
snow flecks its surface. This is the time when the steel 
blades of ice skates rumble and scrape in an accompani- 
ment to the sounds of children's voices. And this is the 



time when the bass are lethargic, but heavy with eggs 
and sperm in the waters beneath the ice. Indeed, this 
is the time when all of Nature seems to be resting, yet 
preparing its investment for the future. 
"The small pond is well worth the cost." 


The Fish at Home 
In Streams and Rivers 

"The pleasant'st angling is to see the -fish 
Cut with her golden oars the silvery stream 
And greedily devour the treacherous bait . . . 


. an has been deeply attracted by streams and rivers 
since his origin upon Earth; and an angler who fishes 
running water may soon forsake all other types of 
angling in order to pursue this one form of the sport. 
This is particularly true of trout fishermen, who find in 
the boiling riffles, the glistening runs and the deep pools, 
a contemplative retreat that becomes a veritable king- 
dom of heaven. 

Needless to say, this total involvement does not begin 
or end at the water's edge. It continues to haunt the 
stricken angler to the extent that he lines his den with 
stuffed fish, books on trout fishing and entomology, 
rods, photographs and other paraphernalia. His desk is 
seldom without a fly tying vise where his papers should 
be, and the remainder is piled high with colorful 
mounds of feathers, bucktail, Impala and Mongo tails, 
thread, beeswax, clothespins, tweezers, a special lamp 



etc. There may even be some empty beer bottles under- 
neath it all. For of such is the kingdom of heaven to 
this type of fisherman. 

Is it small wonder, then, that the "little woman" may 
(1) shrug her shoulders and resign, or (2) "blow her 
stack" well before the Ides of March? 

Or perhaps the L.W. loves to fish herself, feels the 
challenge of it all, and wants to be helpful. In this case 
she is apt to sneak into the den during her hero's ab- 
sence, examine his progress and take mental note of 
his errors. Her Woman's Intuition note the capital let- 
terstells her at once that Joe has erred by using yellow 
chenille for the body of that streamer when obviously 
any red-blooded fish would go for peacock herl. Of 
course she doesn't tell this to Joe. She simply fails to 
share his enthusiasm for his super-duper creation when 
he announces it, and this is enough. An inevitable con- 
versation ensues. 

"You don't like it, do you?" 

"Oh yes. I like it. In fact I think it's swell." 

"But obviously there's something wrong with it, isn't 

"I didn't say that." 

"But that's what you're thinking. Now what's wrong 
with it?" 

"I didn't say there's anything wrong with it. That's 
what you said." 

"O.K., Genius. Let's see you create and tie up a big 

"Now see here, Boy. You're the professed genius. 
You know I don't tie flies. But if you don't know enough 
to make that body out of peacock herl instead of that 



stuff you're using, you should have your head ex- 

This, of course, is the information that Joe has been 
seeking. He has been married to his favorite fishing 
companion for many years and has learned that the big 
music of happy marriage is contrapuntal as well as 
harmonic. And he has also learned that "Woman's In- 
tuition" may be rewardingly correct. So he makes a 
second streamer with peacock herl and contemplates 
the future testing with pleasure and determination. 

Not all of man's devotion and dedication to stream 
and river fishing is limited to trout anglers. There are 
other charms even to the most "lowly". In the spring 
of the year, for instance, many streams are invaded by 
the bony, common sucker, and the pursuit of these fish 
at night with spear and lantern can also be a form of 
contemplative fishing at its highest: 

"April is the month, generally, and the country boy 
knows just when. There's a half-warmth, a special tex- 


ture to the spring night air. This is the night the run 
begins! So with gas lantern and boots, gunny sack and 
spear, you are on the streamto look for swift shadows 
of elusive, running fish; to hear the spring peepers in 
the flooded grasslands, to feel the press of water against 
your legs. And there is the smell of thawing earth; of the 
fresh surging stream and of fish/' * 

But let's get back to the fish at home. 

River drainages or watersheds usually bear a great 
resemblance to one another. On a map they resemble a 
tree with many twigs, branches and limbs, and with a 
trunk that may be very wide at the bottom. Some river 
systems may be very small such as many along our 
coasts. Others may drain several states while one, the 
Amazon, may drain the major area of a huge continent. 

For practical purposes, let us consider a river system 
that is moderately large, which offers a variety of 
angling for millions of people from its origin to the sea, 
and which is destined for much future "development" 
in the form of reservoir construction. 

The illustration below is of the Delaware a river that 
has its origin in a myriad of cold trickles and seepages 
of the gray sandstones deep in the Catskills of New York 
State. These origins soon become brooks and streams 
that form two main branches the West Branch and the 
East Branch of the Delaware. Contributing to the flow 
of the East Branch are two famous brown trout streams, 
the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc, which join together 
some miles above the junction of the former with the 
Delaware. The course of the Delaware on its journey 

* Albert Bromley in the N. Y. CONSERVATIONIST. 



to the sea then involves four states New York, Pennsyl- 
vania, New Jersey, and Delaware. 

The Delaware is not a spectacular river such as the 
Columbia system of our northwest, the Fraser of British 
Columbia or, for that matter, the Mississippi or the 
Hudson. But the Delaware River system has long been 
one of the great brown trout, smalhnouth bass and wall- 
eyed pike resources of our country. And during the early 
part of the century it was the greatest shad river of them 
all, when some sixteen million pounds of these silvery 
fish were harvested each year. Unfortunately, gross pol- 
lution in the Philadelphia area all but exterminated this 
resource and only a skeleton force remains for a possible 

The gradual meeting of the Delaware with the sea 
takes place in one of the great estuaries of our Atlantic 
coast Delaware Bay. Here is one of the richest shellfish 
and finfish regions of our nation, and its adjacent salt 
marshes are both a breeding and wintering grounds of 
the waterfowl populations of our Atlantic flyway. Here, 
too, is one of the great natural harbors of our nation, 
and, like New York Harbor to the north, vessels of the 
world's commerce come and go around the clock carry- 
ing their cargoes of goods and human souls. 

So let's take a careful look at this invaluable water- 

The little hilly and pasture brooklets of the Catskills 
may flow unnoticed by the average motorist. In fact 
they may be unknown to most fishermen. But to the 
countryman and naturalist who fishes for trout and 
hunts the ruffed grouse, these brooklets have great sig- 


These searchers know, for instance, that these tiny 
streams, which flow through hill and pasture are rich 
in salamanders, that little known branch of the Am- 
phibia. Also, small but brilliantly colored brook trout 
lurk under the banks, or under the watercress, or under 
brush or logs in these streams. And these searchers also 
know that these delicious little fish are timid but can 
be taken when stealthily approached. 

A closer examination of these brooklets will reveal 
that they run coldeven in the heat of summer and 
that their temperatures will seldom exceed 60 F. Such 
an examination will also reveal that another small fish 
the slimy sculpin is apt to be present. This little-known 
fish is a gruesome looking creature and a reminder that 
all life is supposed to have come from the sea. (P.S. It 
is an excellent bait for brown trout). 

As the brooks pick up inflow they become pro- 
gressively larger and become difficult to cross with a 
single leap. The water begins to warm slightly and there 
is a greater variety of aquatic insects under the bottom 
stones. An occasional small brown trout may be present, 
together with some small suckers, blacknosed dace and 
longnosed dace. 

The brook has now reached the floor of a small valley 
or hollow and has become a genuine, small trout stream. 
Here it may meander a bit through patches of meadow 
or pasture, alder swamps, old overgrown orchards, and 
hemlock woods before joining another stream of nearly 
equal size. 

While the brook trout are apt to be larger and the 
brown trout more numerous in these stretches, the 
stream is still far too small to attract much attention. 


This is unfortunate, because these situations offer a 
unique and highly rewarding form of contemplative 
angling. Many country youngsters know about this form 
of angling and many oldsters praise God have neither 
forgotten nor failed to practice it in later life. Around 
the "cracker barrel" or in front of a mellow fire it is re- 
ferred to as "dickie bird fishing", and the art is deserving 
of detailed description. 

The equipment is very simple. Procure a cheap, glass 
flyrod with plenty of guts and mount any sort of reel 
at the butt loaded with some nylon line. Attach the end 
of the line to a foot or two of six or eight pound test 
monofilament and tie this to a No. 8 or 10, short shanked 
hook. Then place a split buckshot or small clinch sinker 
about eight inches above the hook. 

Bait is also a simple matter. Dig up some garden 
hackles (worms) or catch some grasshoppers. (You'd 
be surprised how many great trout anglers use the latter 
on the mighty Madison and Snake Rivers of our north- 
west). But if you become squeamish about this, you can 
use artificials with success: Get some wet flies in No. 8 
or 10 size such as Silver Doctor, Montreal, or Parma- 
chene Belle. Better still, get some McGintys and dip 
them in a wetting agent. Then rig them as if you were 
using bait. After all, this is a dunking operation. 

Now, having rigged up without landing net or high 
waders these are superfluous put a bottle of insect re- 
pellent in your pocket and proceed to the stream some- 
time in late spring or early summer. 

Your approach to the stream must be stealthy: not 
even a shadow should -fall across the water and there 


must be no thumping from footfalls. Deer paths can 
often be used to advantage. Follow one of these and 
crouch low as you view the stream. Peeking carefully 
through your Polaroid lenses, you note a hole under 
the bank downstream which is well shadowed by the 
dense shrubs all around you. Never mind the shrubs, 
but carefully work the rod tip through a window in 
them and allow the worm or fly to drift down next to 
the hole. 

Nothing there? Ah! A darting shadow rusJies forth 
from under the bank and grabs the lure. Wait for just 
a second or so and then hoist mightily; and the chances 
are that a little stubby brook or brown trout will be 
wriggling in the shrubbery high above your head. It 
is your problem how to get it into the fern-lined creel 
and proceed to the next hole! 

As you work your way downstream you may hear 
the muffled drumming of a ruffed grouseor perhaps 
have one explode from almost beneath your feet. Or you 
may suddenly realize the silhouette of a deer skinny 
and ruddy in its early summer condition as it watches 
for your next move. 

Above and around you are the songs of birds the 
reedy notes of the veery, the staccato chatting of the 
chipping sparrow, the warbling of a vireo and, perhaps, 
the pealing tones of the hermit thrush. These are pleas- 
ing distractions as you go about your search; and if 
you are experienced in this business, you will soon have 
a number of delicious, beautifully colored trout in 
your creel. To be sure they are small, and to be sure 
you caught them in a most unorthodox manner. But 
you had the enjoyable and nourishing experience of 


meeting yourself alone in Nature's kingdom. It can be 
an experience that is unforgettable. 

As the stream becomes larger from more inflows, 
there are larger and deeper pools and the temperature 
rises very gradually. There are more and larger suckers, 
and the brown trout all but replaces the brook trout. 
Blacknosed dace become more abundant, and small 
shiners occasionally flash in the sunlight. Here is tem- 
perature at work temperature and space. For as we 
have stated, fishes have particular ranges of tempera- 
ture preference and tolerance, and space is another fac- 
tor that is important. 

The shallow back-eddies of riffles in streams of this 
type are at once important and interesting. For these 
are the homes of trout fry tiny, nervous fish that dart 
here and there over the stones and poise with their fins 
vibrating. Occasionally, brook, brown, and rainbow 
trout fry which, incidentally, look very much alike- 
can be found together in one of these small backwaters. 
But brook trout prefer much colder water than browns 
or rainbows, and relatively few Catskill streams have 
native spawning populations of rainbow trout. 

The antics of suckers in the deep, quiet pools are also 
interesting. These fish feed upon the organic material- 
algae and the tiny animal life it contains which coat 
the stones and bedrock of the stream. And when feed- 
ing, the sucker is remindful of a small, animated vacuum 

Sometimes the antics of suckers can be downright 
heinous. When fly fishing in late summer, for instance, 
and when the water is low and gin-clear, the suckers 


tend to lurk in the downstream ends of the runs. (The 
trout, of course, are at the upper ends.) Now, when the 
run is 50 or 60 feet long, it is necessary to approach the 
lower end in order to present the dry fly correctly at 
the upper end where the trout are. And just as you are 
getting enough line in the air and are about to take that 
last step or two forward, a batch of big suckers is flushed 
and proceeds to stampede up to the other end of the run 
where the trout are. The trout, of course, get the mes- 
sage and they, in turn, panic. 

Sometimes we just don't like suckers! 

The two great tributaries of the East Branch of the 
Delaware the Willowemoc and the Beaverkill are big 
trout water. No longer is the backcast a problem, and 
the rollcast is seldom used. Indeed it is sometimes a 
problem to wade these streams in order to come within 
fly casting distance of the target. 

These are brown trout streams of the highest quality. 
The temperatures in summer are in the 70's and high 
60*8, and the abundance of aquatic insects under the 
bottom rubble and boulders is something to behold. 
Wade in anywhere, for instance, and pick up a three- 
pound stone. The chances are that large mayfly or stone- 
fly nymphs perhaps bothwill run right up your arm 
as you examine the underside of the rock. Seldom in 
eastern North America do you find a stream or river 
with these conditions. Is it small wonder, then, that 
these streams, together with the Neversinkanother 
tributary of the Delaware which now does sink were, 
before World War II considered by many to be the 
most priceless brown trout resources of our country? 


And what has happened and what is happening to 
this American heritage? 

Well, in the first place, Man must have water for his 
cities, no matter how far he must go for it. So he dis- 
covers that the beautiful waters of the Catskills are also 
beautiful for municipal purposes, and he puts the bull- 
dozers to work and builds huge, beautiful reservoirs. 
When doing this, Man pays little attention to the homes 
of fishes. He builds the release works of the reservoir, 
for instance, in the hypolimnion (remember that term?) 
of the reservoir and fluctuates the releases in a manner 
that all but ruins the river below for many miles. One 
day, for example, a small quantity of water is released 
and warms quickly in the once great river bed. Then, 
perhaps in a day or two, a large volume of water at 
40 F. far too low for good fishing pours forth and 
courses down the stream bed, tearing up the algae that 
had been growing in the warm water and making a 
flume out of what was once a great fishery resource. 
Fortunately, the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc have 
so far escaped this fate. 

Is all this necessary? Definitely not. Man can have his 
reservoirs without destroying his wildlife legacy can 
have his cake and eat it, too if he is willing to utilize 
the knowledge he has available and is willing to spend 
a few more dollars to preserve the American heritage. 
But let's not get into this very deeply at this time. 

Meanwhile, there are more anglers with more auto- 
mobiles and better highways. Furthermore, many of 
these anglers now come equipped with spinning gear 
a tackle that can make a highly effective angler out of 
the rankest tyro. 


When the East Branch and the West Branch of the 
Delaware unite at Hancock, N. Y., the river becomes a 
beautiful, majestic thing which winds its way through 
the deep, narrow valleys of the Catskflls. Here it be- 
comes an excellent smallmouth bass and walleyed pike 
river: Its bottom is largely rubble and bedrock, and 
the pools and runs may cover several acres. 

It is in this section hundreds of river miles from the 
Atlantic Ocean that one encounters many visitors from 
the sea. One of them, the sea lamprey not to be con- 
fused with the so-called "landlocked lamprey" of the 
Great Lakes * is not a true fish. Rather, it is a large eel- 
like parasite of marine fishes that ascends rivers to 
spawn and to die shortly thereafter. But because it 
somewhat resembles a fish it is best to forget about its 
absence of jaws and paired fins and just consider it as 

Anyway, this creature some of them are three feet 
long is very important to Delaware fish and fishermen. 
Because after the adult lampreys make their trek from 
the sea, dig out nest depressions in the gravel, spawn 
and die, the eggs hatch out into things called larvae. 
These larvae which lack teeth and eyes dig into 
underwater mud or sand banks and proceed to grow. 
And as just about every walleyed pike fisherman on the 
Delaware knows, these 'lamprey eels" are just about 
tops as bait for walleyes. 

It requires about four years for these lamprey larvae 
to reach a length of about six inches and transform into 

* Recent evidence suggests that the lake lamprey and the sea lamprey 
are separate species, and that the latter cannot now permanently "landlock." 


the appearance of tiny adults. As soon as they do this, 
they begin their long journey to the sea, which they ap- 
parently complete in a matter of weeks or months. 
Meanwhile, the careful observer can often spot the 
presence of lamprey larvae in a sand bank from the 
habit of these creatures of poking their snouts out above 
the bottom to feed and remaining in that position for 
unknown lengths of time. 

Another spawning visitor from the sea is the Atlantic 
shad. This large member of the herring family was long 
considered to be a commercial net fish only. But in re- 
cent years, more and more anglers in other Atlantic 
coastal rivers have discovered that the shad can be 
taken on hook and line by casting or trolling and that 
it is a superb game fish. In fact it is now becoming 
known as the "poor man's salmon". Each year in the 
Spring, thousands of anglers journey to the Connecticut 
River, the Susquehanna, the Potomac and other rivers 
of our Atlantic coast to fish for shad. Yet here in the 
Delaware once the king of them all only a few adult 
shad can negotiate the block of pollution down-river, 
and only a small proportion of the young shad can do 
likewise as they journey to the sea during late Summer 
and Autumn. 

Still another visitor from the sea is the common eel- 
abundant to the extent that it is harvested commercially 
by means of a few specially constructed eel weirs. Of all 
fishes, the slimy, voracious eel has the most romantic 
and fantastic life history. Born in the waters of the At- 
lantic Ocean south of Bermuda, the tiny, glasslike elvers 
with eyes resembling black dots begin their journey to 


Europe or North America. It requires several years to 
complete the trek, but eventually they reach the main- 
lands and seek out streams and rivers to ascend. 

As they reach the estuaries and tidal portions of the 
streams, the swarms of elvers become pigmented and 
begin to resemble miniature, adult eels. And at this 
point, many if not most of the males of the species 
decide to go no farther. (After all, why push the luck 
too far?). But most of the females or so the scientific 
story goes are of the adventurous type and proceed to 
ascend the rivers into fresh water and beyond. In fact 
they will sometimes proceed for hundreds of miles, fol- 
low swamps and trickles, and even go 'cross country a 
bit on a wet night. 

At any rate, these female (?) eels not only conquer 
the Delaware River, but end up in the most unexpected 
places park ponds, farm ponds, and the like. Here, in 
fresh waters, these eels grow and mature perhaps in 
10 to 15 years and then attempt to make it back again 
to the tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The males, 
of course, which have been supposedly spending their 
time in the brackish water, have it much easier. Oh, 
well. . . . 

While the visitors from the sea may be the most ro- 
mantic of the Delaware River fishes, the smallmouth 
bass and the walleyed pike are the bread-and-butter 
items for the angler. And as the Delaware becomes 
larger and slower it forms an increasingly favorable 
home for these and other warmwater species more 
than 75 in all. Even the lowly carp breaches the surface 
of the huge, deep pools and runs, and the outboard 
motor soon replaces waders as a means to the end. 


Below Port Jervis, where three states New York, Penn- 
sylvania, and New Jersey meet powered craft are a 
common sight. 

Bass fishing in this region of the Delaware can be- 
come a rather specialized affair. One of the special baits, 
for instance, is the little stonecat a member of the cat- 
fish family that lives under flat pieces of rubble and 
boulder. We shall never forget our first exposure to the 
preferred method of procuring this bait: We saw a man 
wading along the shore and pounding stones with a big 
sledge hammer. The purpose, it seems, was to stun the 
stonecat by concussion and then pick up the fish as it 
drifted downstream. Oh, yes . . . The method was 
very effective. 

Nor shall we ever forget the interview we had many 
years ago with a native who spent many hours in his 
anchored rowboat and who caught many big small- 
mouths. He, too, had a system. "The whole secret, Son," 
he said, "is to wait long enough when they grab the 
minnow. Now some people may argue this, but I wait 
three minutes. I put my watch down on the seat in 
front of me and I time it. Yessir, it takes three whole 
minutes for that bass to get the minnow down into him!" 

The section of the river between Port Jervis and the 
famous Delaware Water Gap represents one of the most 
unusual paradoxes of our nation and times: Here, within 
two or three hours* driving time from New York City, 
Philadelphia, and the sprawling megalopolis of this re- 
gion of our country, is one of the finest and most under- 
utilized smallmouth bass and walleyed pike resources 
of eastern North America. While hordes of anglers fish 
almost elbow to elbow for recently stocked trout in trib- 


utary streams, the Delaware flows deep and wild 
through the wooded hills of northern Pennsylvania and 
New Jersey. Fishermen are few and far between. 

Perhaps it is the very bigness and wildness of this 
portion of the Delaware that accounts for the paradox. 
After all, the city angler who fishes for "put and take" 
trout next to a highway may find the spectacle of the 
Delaware far too challenging for his time, knowledge 
and desires. It could be so. 

The eastern chain pickerel becomes more abundant 
in these slower regions of the Delaware, although it 
seldom compares in size with the pickerel of nearby 
lakes. A 20-inch fish is a prize in the Delaware, while 
28-inch pickerel, weighing six pounds or more, are not 
uncommon in nearby lakes. 

The stretch of the river between Delaware Water 
Gap and Trenton, N. J., although quite picturesque, is 
not something to raise the blood pressure of the "old 
pro" angler: The river becomes almost clumsy in its 
flow, there is much mud bottom, and the evidences of 
flooding in the broad agricultural plains is apparent. To 
be sure, there are big walleyes and smallmouths and 
pickerel here, and there are many bullheads and even 
channel catfish; but there is no extravaganza such as 
exists upstream. 

Yet this stretch of the Delaware is very important to 
the angler and the conservationist. Because, before the 
cancer of pollution was allowed to strike the tidal por- 
tions of the Delaware, these waters were part of the 
spawning grounds of the striped bass that highly 
prized gamefish of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is 
unfortunate that food and game fishes such as the shad 



and the striper are unable to take it (pollution) in the 
manner of the parasitic lamprey. 

At Trenton, the Delaware River descends to tidal 
water in boiling rapids. Some anglers and conservation- 
ists who like to see symbols in such things, claim that 
the river is simply recapitulating its youth before con- 
tributing its body in the form of nutrients to a great 
marine estuary below. 

Be this as it may. The fact remains that the Delaware 
as all other rivers will be constantly reborn and re- 
plenished through the hydrologic cycle. It will con- 
tinue to be a haunt of fish and fishermen so long as man 
shall use it wisely. 

The Fish at Home 
In Oceans, Bays, and Estuaries 

The whole world is just an 
ocean barring, of course, 
some "islands" that protrude 
from the surface. 

An oceanograplier 

.Imost all maps of continents and islands portray the 
boundaries of these natural phenomena as ending at 
the water's edge. Political speeches have referred to 
the * rock bound coasts of Maine" and the "sunny shores 
of California". Even the territorial waters' limit of three 
nautical miles is based upon the effective firing range 
of a cannon some centuries ago. We are a land-minded 

Fortunately for both fishes and people, land masses 
do not end at the water's edge but extend as submerged 
land for varying distances. Sometimes the distance is 
smallless than a mile while in other instances the 
submerged land extends for more than 200 miles before 
dropping steeply into the deep abysses of the sea. These 
extensive areas are called "continental shelves", and 
our own continent is blessed with both an Atlantic shelf 



and a Pacific shelf in its more northern latitudes, and a 
third, of lesser size, in the Gulf of Mexico. 

These shallow areas of the sea are the homes of most 
of our marine food and game fishes. To be sure, many 
of the big-game fishes the broadbill swordfish, the 
tunas and the marlins are cosmopolitan and roam the 
high seas. But name the "bread-and-butter" species that 
are important to most saltwater anglers and commercial 
fishermen, and almost all wiU be found to be inhabitants 
of the shore regions or the continental shelves. 

There are definite reasons for this. In the first place, 
these waters receive quantities of nutrients particu- 
larly nitrates and phosphates from the land, which are 
transported to the ocean by rivers. And these nutrients, 
as we have seen, are vital to the production of plant 
plankton the tiny microscopic plant life in the water 
and upon which all other aquatic life depends, includ- 
ing animal plankton. 

In the second place, light, which is essential for the 
production of this microscopic plant life in the water, 
can penetrate these depths. 

And finally, the bottom and most particularly rough 
bottom is the home of many marine animals upon 
which fishes feed. The result? A highly productive situa- 
tion for fish life. 

Both the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves o 
North America begin to assume major proportions in 
the mid-latitudes of United States the former to a 
much greater degree than the latter and become more 
and more extensive toward the northeast and north- 
west. In fact, both of these shelves are so broad in their 
northern regions that they have become a subject of 


international discussions. After all, who owns what? 
Who should have priority, etc.? 

The important food and game fishes that occur in 
these vast marine areas have been grouped into three 
convenient categories: (1) groundfishes those that live 
on or very near the bottom; (2) shorefishes those that 
live in the bays, estuaries or not far from shore; and (3) 
pelagic fishes those that roam the sea without de- 
pendency upon bottom dwelling organisms. 

Now, before we consider these types of fishes and 
the particular homes and habits of many species of 
each type, we should perhaps relax a bit and try to 
prepare ourselves for the immensity of our subject. 
For we are no longer considering the trout that's here 
and there in the running stream, the big muskie in the 
cove, or even schools of walleyes, yellow perch or 
ciscos in the Great Lakes. On the contrary, we are now 
considering vast, productive areas of moving salt water 
where moving fish populations are measured in the 
millions and billions of individuals or pounds. If, there- 
fore, we were formerly thinking in terms of a six-inch 
ruler, let us now be prepared to think in terms of the 
Surveyor's tape. 

The sky derarohes here, we feel the undulating 

deck beneath our feet, 
We feel the long pulsation, ebb and flow of endless 

The tones of unseen mystery, the vague and vast 

suggestions of the briny world. . . . 

Walt Whitman 

The important groundfishes of the Pacific continental 


shelf include halibut that delicious monster flatfish 
that seems to be on the menu of most American res- 
taurants and diners flounders, cod, lingcod, sablefish, 
and more than three dozen species of rockfishes. 

The chief groundfishes of the Atlantic shelf are cod, 
haddock, flounders including blackback or winter 
flounder, fluke or summer flounder whiting, ling or red 
or squirrel hake, pollack or Boston bluefish, and rose- 
fish or ocean "perch" or red "perch". 

Perhaps the best way to describe the homes of these 
various species of groundfishes is to portray a section of 
the continental shelf of our north Atlantic coast and to 
indicate how depth and the type of bottom are impor- 
tant factors in determining where these homes are. In 
fact, in order to do this, we are using an illustration that 
has been copied from one of the most informative and 
valuable documents on fishery resources that weVe 


Now, after having examined this illustration very 
carefully, let's study the middle Atlantic section of our 
coast so that we can examine matters more closely and 
orient them to why fish bite and why they don't. 

This map shows one of the busiest commercial fishing 
areas and certainly the busiest marine angling region 
of its size in the world. In fact, saltwater angling has 
become big business in this area, where thousands of 
fishing craft carry more than a million anglers each year 
for the purpose of catching fish that bite. In addition 
there are the many thousands of privately owned craft 

* Fishery Resources of the United States. Senate Document No. 51, 79th 
Congress, 1st Session. (For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. 
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.). 


and the other thousands of surf anglers that special, 
frustrated breed of angler who carries eternal hope in 
his breast 

The waters of our middle Atlantic coast are con- 
siderably warmer than those of our north Atlantic above 
Cape God as bathers will quicHy testify. And the for- 
mer has an abundance of all three groups of fishes: the 
groundfishes, shorefishes and the pelagic group. So let's 
consider the important species of each category and ob- 


serve tow these move about and go through their life 

The important groundfishes, insofar as the angler is 
concerned, are the fluke or summer flounder, Para- 
lichthys dentatus, the sea bass, Centropristes striatus, 
the northern porgy, Stenotomus chrysops, the winter or 
blackback flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, 
the blackfish or tautog, Tautoga onitis, and the northern 
blowfish or puffer, Sphaeroides maculatus. 

The first three of these groundfishes the fluke, sea 
bass and porgy have somewhat similar migratory 
movements in the middle Atlantic region of the con- 
tinental shelf: all three move close to shore and into the 
bays and estuaries during spring, remain for the sum- 
mer, and then slowly migrate eastward and southward 
to the outer regions of the shelf. There is some indica- 
tion, however and this is one of the things that makes 
marine fisheries research so challenging and interesting 
that there may be at least a more northern and a more 
southern group or population segment of each of these 
species, and that these population segments may be par- 
tially or wholly independent of each other. (We warned 
that this subject is complicated! ) 

There are other complexities. Tagging experiments, 
for instance, have indicated that fluke, having once mi- 
grated with the seasons, tend to follow precisely the 
same itinerary the following yeareven to the extent of 
returning to the same bars. And there is evidence that 
some sea bass change their sex as they become older. 
But again . . . shall we quit while we're ahead? 

During summer, many fluke have a tendency to lurk 
on sand bars in inlets, and in the channels of bays and 


estuaries. Most, however, tend to remain at sea but 
within a few miles of shore. 

Porgies and sea bass have a great affinity for rocky 
bottoms and old, sunken wrecks at depths of 30 to 80 
feet during summer. The porgy has a tendency to lurk 
a foot or more above the bottom, while the sea bass pre- 
fers to be closer to his work. 

The winter or blackback flounder has a large number 
of populations or population segments. In fact each bay 
or estuary is apt to have its own. These fish enter these 
inshore regions during autumn, remain more or less 
dormant during the coldest part of winter, and then 
start feeding voraciously as the sunlight becomes 
brighter and the water temperatures rise a few degrees. 
Spawning also takes place at this time and the flounders 
usually conduct this operation on the bars or flats. 

As the days become longer and the waters continue 
gradually to warm, the flounders begin to move along 
the channels towards the sea. It is at this time usually 
during April and May that they can be taken in very 
large numbers, and fewif any fishes surpass the 
winter flounder in flavor. In fact, the flatfishes floun- 
ders, halibuts and soles are among the tastiest of fishes, 
and perhaps something should be mentioned about 
their strange "deformity", which takes place early in 

When first hatched from the egg, the flatfishes greatly 
resemble other fishes; There is an eye on each side of the 
head and they swim in the conventional, upright man- 
ner. But within a matter of days or weeks, a change oc- 
curs that destines the flatfish to swim on its side for the 
remainder of its life: one of the eyes begins to migrate 


over the top of the creature's head to a position along- 
side the other eye. When this takes place, the eyed side 
becomes darkly pigmented while the other remains 
white. Seems a bit awkward, doesn't it? Yet far from 
being a disadvantage, the flatfish is then the better to 
ambush and stalk its prey! In some species the left eye 
migrates over to the right side and the species is known 
as a "right eyed" one. In others it is vice versa. 

The tautog or blackfish is one of the most paradoxical 
of our marine fishes. In New England, where the former 
name prevails, it is considered an excellent food and 
game fish; southward it is usually not considered to be 
much of either. To illustrate the paradox still further, 
the species is far more common along the rocky New 
England coast than farther to the south, and such abun- 
dance usually makes the heart less fond. 

But there are very significant reasons for this state of 
affairs reasons that the freshwater angler who has 
never seen the sea may well appreciate. They have to da 
with clear blue running water and rocks and ledges; 
with islands and expanses of water shining in the sun- 
light; and with big strong fish lurking here and there, 
which are difficult to hook when they bite. They may be 
in ten feet of water or in 30. 

Contrast this with an open expanse of ocean where 
the species may be 100 feet down and when it may re- 
quire eight ounces of lead to hold the bottom. ( Shades 
of lake trout and landlocked salmon during mid-sum- 
mer!). Yet this is the contrast between catching tautog 
in New England, and blackfishthe same species in 
the open ocean to the west and south. 

And the flavor? Well, there's more to this than meets 


the taste buds of the tongue; and that which is originally 
appreciated may receive greater attention in further 

The northern blowfish or puffer is the clown fish of 
the region. This is due to its ability to swell many times 
its size with air or water. When f uUy distended, it pre- 
sents such a whimsical spectacle that one wonders about 
the cause of it all Actually, this is a defense mechanism, 
rather than any sort of jet pump for digging mollusks 
and other food out of the bottom as might be surmised. 

Blowfish are excellent table fare, despite the fact that 
many anglers who do not know the eight-second 
method of cleaning them consider the species a nui- 
sance. At the market place they are known as sea chicken 
or sea squab, and commercial fishermen appreciate 
their value. In fact, it was while on a commercial bay 
boat that we first learned how blowfish spawn, and we'd 
like to report it here for the first time: 

It was about five o'clock on a June morning out near 
the center of Great South Bay, Long Island. The surface 
of the water was a glassy sheen, and the fishing boat 
chugged along slowly as it made its way toward Fire 
Island Inlet, leaving a very long wake on the still waters. 
Every once in awhile, one could see something rippling 
the surface and moving along slowly. 

Finally, we caught sight of a group of blowfish cruis- 
ing at the top in an echelon formation. In the lead was a 
large blowfish obviously a female followed by a half 
dozen smaller fish which were apparently males. 
Nothing happened while we were able to watch this 
group, nor as we watched several other echelons. 


Then, as we observed still another group, the fish 
went into a flurry of activity. We could only conclude 
that they were spawning, with all the males trying to 
get into the act. Perhaps more than one male did, and, 
by providing more sperm in the water, assured a more 
fertile spawning. 

Blowfish move into and out of bays and estuaries with 
the seasons much in the manner of winter flounders: in 
during autumn and out during late spring and early 

Among the many shorefishes of the middle Atlantic 
coast are a number of game species. These include the 
weakfish or sea trout or gray trout or squeteague, the 
croaker, the striped bass or rock, and the bluefish. All 
of these species go through periods of abundance and 
scarcity over the years. Sometimes these fluctuations are 
far apart a decade or more and sometimes they take 
place from one year to the next. The latter instance 
usually occurs when the species suddenly becomes 
abundant from a highly successful spawning, while the 
former is usually the result of a gradual reduction from 
natural and fishing mortality. 


It seems questionable, however, whether the weak- 
fish will ever reach its former average size while under 
the present conditions of fishing pressure. This species 
spawns in the bays and estuaries of the middle Atlantic 
coast. The young that are spawned in the northern sec- 
tion migrate to the southern section particularly to the 
region of Chesapeake Bayat the end of their first sum- 
mer when they are only a few inches long. The young 
that are spawned in the southern region, on the other 
hand, simply remain there for their first winter. 

Now, if the northern spawned youngsters had any 
sense of Yankee loyalty they would certainly all return 
north after spending their first winter in more southern 
climes. But no! They usually choose to remain for just 
one more year. Perhaps the Yankee weakfish are 
merely trying to persuade their Dixie brethren to 
journey north with them, because this is just what a 
large proportion of the southern "weaks" do when two 
years old. 

Anyway, it's all too late, because during their second 
summer of life, the weakfish reach "eating size" and are 
harvested in tremendous numbers. After all, this is truly 
a case of the "bird in hand being worth two in the bush". 
And the result? While there is plenty of weakfish, there 
is not much opportunity for the species to reach the 
"tiderunner" or "yellowfin" size of several pounds, which 
it used to do so abundantly in the past. 

The croaker, a member of the same family as the 
weakfish, is a Dkiecrat to begin with and there is no 
justifiable reason for us Yankees to get excited over its 
scarcity north of Maryland. Indeed it is only in years 


of superabundance that the species "spills over" into 
New Jersey; and even during such times it is seldom 
abundant as far north as Long Island. 

As for the striped bass or striper or rock, well now, 
here we have a really difficult one. In the first place, it 
has become the symbol emotional and otherwise of 
the growing marine angling interests on the Atlantic 
coast and, particularly, the middle Atlantic coast. In 
the second place, it is an anadromous fishone that 
ascends rivers to spawn with a life history and popula- 
tion phenomena so complex that some 25 years of re- 
search by many persons and conservation agencies has 
yielded findings that only marine fishery scientists and 
a minority of anglers seem able to comprehend, believe 
and appreciate. Anyway, here is the story. 

The striped bass is born (hatched from an egg) in 
the fresh waters of certain rivers. At one time, it would 
appear, nearly all the rivers of our Atlantic coast con- 
tained striped bass, just as many of our more northern 
rivers contained salmon. But as in the case of the At- 
lantic salmon, most in fact, nearly all of these rivers 
were polluted, dammed, dredged or bulkheaded to such 
an extent that the areas necessary for successful spawn- 
ing were either seriously damaged or totally destroyed. 
Fortunately, most of the major spawning rivers of the 
striped bass, while damaged, remained in a condition 
that was adequate for the survival and abundant supply 
of the species. These include certain rivers of Chesa- 
peake Bay, and the Hudson River. Practically gone, 
however, are the spawning grounds of the mighty Dela- 

The result of all this is that probably more than 80 


per cent of the striped bass of our middle Atlantic coast 
come from the Chesapeake. The Hudson River, to be 
sure, contributes locally, but its over-all contribution is 

We now come to the second set of remarkable facts 
about the striper. Researches have revealed, for in- 
stance, that most stripers never migrate from the rivers 
of their birth or the adjacent bays and that of those that 
do, the female is more venturesome than the male, and 
travels much farther. The researches also reveal that up- 
river bass which, apparently seldom if ever see the sea, 
can be landlocked successfully. 

Finally, there is the third set of facts. When stripers 
migrate along our coast northward in spring and south- 
ward in autumn they do so rather steadily and rapidly. 
In other words, the seasonal abundance along most 
shorelines is very short-lived. When stripers "settle'' for 
the summer, they prefer sheltered areas and special 
situations rocky bottom, pilings, jetties, sounds and 
islands. And when they are ensconced in such situa- 
tions, the average surf angler is just about wasting his 
time. For when sojourning in such summer homes, the 
striper is difficult to locate and to entice. As one dedi- 
cated striper fishing friend once put it: 

"You have to discover dynamic situations, which de- 
velop within a radius of ten feet or less under certain 
conditions of time and tide usually at night. Then you 
must present the correct lure or bait in just the right 
manner sometimes again and again. But if you are able 
to do all this, you can catch them again and again!" 

We should perhaps mention here that while the 
striper is one of the greatest of our challenge fishes, its 


fighting qualities leave something to be desired. In fact, 
one of our fishing colleagues once admitted that the 
greatest fight he ever encountered while surf fishing was 
from a four foot plank that he hooked while casting at 
Montauk Point, Long Island. (P.S. He still fishes for 
stripers there). 

Of all the middle Atlantic fishes or for that matter 
of all fishesthe bluefish is perhaps the greatest. Very 
little is known about this species, but researches to date 
indicate that it is a warmwater species with a rapid 
growth rate. Where bluefish come from or where they 
go, on our Atlantic coast, is still a mystery. 

Bluefish usually invade the waters of the middle At- 
lantic during May, and there appear to be two or three 
perhaps morewaves of invasion. And by the end of 
summer, they have left an appealing calling card in the 
form of swarms of young bluefish in our bays and estu- 
aries. These young bluefish, called snappers or snapper 
blues, grow to a length of ten inches or so before leaving 
around the autumnal Equinox, and they can provide 
some excellent flyrod fishing, and eating. 

The prowling, savage adults also invade the bays and 
estuaries on occasion, and provide the rowboat anglers 
with some superb fishing. 

As for ocean angling, this species is without parallel: 
it strikes savagely with its razor sharp teeth, fights fero- 
ciously with great strength and unpredictable versatility, 
and never gives up until death has invaded its body. 
And it occasionally reaches a weight of 20 pounds! We 
have sometimes wondered how the great hordes of blue- 
fish that frequently haunt our Atlantic coast can pos- 


sibly survive without depleting all other smaller species. 
But they fail to do this, such is the immense productivity 
of the sea. 

It was during the month of June that an executive of 
the Great Beach park called on the phone to complain 
about the dead fish. "Doctor" he said, "the entire Beach 
is strewn with cut fish. Putting pieces of the fish to- 
gether, it seems that these are menhaden [one of the 
most prolific members of the herring family] and that 
the commercial fishermen who caught them cut their 
livers out and threw them overboard. They have now 
drifted up onto the Beach and it's a terrible mess!" 

"This is impossible" we replied. "Commercial fisher- 
men who purse seine for menhaden never cut them. 
They sell them whole to a reduction plant which renders 
them into oil and fishmeaL Sounds to me like the work 
of bluefish. There are schools of them along the Beach, 
you know" 

"Impossible, Doctor, the bluefish along the Beach are 
only about 12 inches long and most of these menhaden 
must be at least 10 inches. They are cut right in two. 9 ' 

"But have you ever seen the work of bluefish? Some- 
times they'll chase a school of fish right up onto the 
beach killing, chopping and slashing. The size differ- 
ence you mention doesnt bar this possibility." 

"You dont say, Doctor. But would you come out and 
see this situation for yourself?" 

(P.S. We did and that's just what it was.) 

The importance of the bays and estuaries of the mid- 
dle Atlantic coast should not be underestimated; for 
most of the economically important fishes of this area 


of the continental shelf are dependent upon these in- 
shore waters during some stage of their life cycles. 
Sometimes it is for spawning; sometimes as a nursery 
area for young; sometimes for both. The waters of these 
inshore resources are brackish to varying degrees, and 
are rich in nutrients from land run-off. This, together 
with physical shelter, provides an abundance of food 
and protection for these young fishes. 

The pelagic gamefishes of the middle Atlantic area 
include the Atlantic or "Boston" mackerel, the chub or 
thimble-eye mackerel, bonito, the bluefin tuna, the false 
or autumn albacore, the white marlin and the broadbill 
swordfish. Occasionally a blue marlin is seen or cap- 

Atlantic mackerel and chub mackerel prefer to re- 
main in the waters of the continental shelf, although 
both species regularly roam into the waters of the north 
Atlantic. The tuna, marlin and broadbill, however, re- 
side for the most part outside shelf waters either in the 
Gulf Stream or marginal watersand move in only dur- 
ing summer. In fact it would seem that only relatively 
small numbers of some of these species do this, and on 
a most unpredictable basis. 

Of these several game fishes, only the Atlantic mack- 
erel has a life history that is known and it is a very in- 
teresting one. The Atlantic mackerel, it would appear, 
spends the winter out near the edge of the southern por- 
tion of the middle Atlantic, continental shelf probably 
in a semi-dormant condition some distance from the 

During April the species begins to shake its winter 
lethargy and swims toward shore and then northeast- 


ward. By the middle or end of May it is ready to spawn 
in the waters of the middle Atlantic coast and then 
move on into the north Atlantic. Countless trillions of 
buoyant eggs are broadcast into the sea at this time, and 
a difference as little as two ten-thousandths of one per 
cent in the survival of these eggs into mackerel can 
account for a bumper crop or a poor one! In other 
words, the mortality of the eggs may vary between 
99.9996% and 99.9998% (or less) and this variation, it 
would appear, is due primarily to physical, chemical 
and biological conditions of the water at the time of 
spawning and shortly thereafter. Conditions can be even 
worse, when only four newly spawned mackerel out of 
one million survive for as little as three months! Is it 
small wonder, then, that the mackerel, like many other 
marine fishes, varies greatly in abundance over the 

Mackerel are plankton feeders and have special de- 
vices on the insides of their gill arches for straining 
animal plankton from the sea. This is why they are 
found in mid-water or at the surface during the warmer 
seasons. The fact that mackerel will strike and devour 
much larger organisms has nothing to do with this spe- 
cial apparatus. They also have large mouths with small 

And at approximately what depth do Atlantic mack- 
erel usually lurk at this time? Well, why not try ap- 
proximately 30 feet? 

The big-game fishes of the middle Atlantic coast 
the tuna, false albacore, white marlin and occasional 
blue marlin are not natives of the continental shelf. 
Little is known about the life histories of these fishes, 


but apparently they reside, for the most part, in the Gulf 
Stream east and south of the shelf or in closely adjacent 
waters. During summer, unknown proportions invade 
the shelf waters and come fairly close to shore for rea- 
sons equally unknown. 

This brings us to other homes of marine fishes, such 
as major ocean currents and "upwellings". The famous 
Gulf Stream, for instance, is one example of a major 
current, and the cold but equally famous Humboldt 
Current off South America is another. "Upwellings" are 
vertical currents that bring waters rich in chemical nu- 
trients from the depths up into surface waters. They 


may occur both within ocean currents and in certain 
other areas of the sea. 

Contrary to popular belief, it is the cold ocean cur- 
rents, upwellings, and adjacent waters that are the most 
productive of fish poundage. In fact, the cold Humboldt 
Current, which flows northward along the coasts of 
Chile and Peru, is probably the richest ocean current 
in the world. It is aquamarine in "color" and slightly 
turbid from plankton, in contrast to the clear blue of 
the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic. The reason again is 
the quantity of dissolved plant nutrients especially 
phosphorus in the water, and this is why the great fish 
producing areas of the world usually happen to be the 
cooler regions of the sea and where these meet warmer 
waters. The Humboldt Current, incidentally, which is 
sometimes more than four miles deep, flows close to 
shore far up into the tropics and doesn't begin to flow 
westward until it has reached a latitude of about 8 

Just as the south Pacific has its Humboldt or "Peru- 
vian" Current, so does the north Pacific have its cold 
Oyashio and California Currents, the north Atlantic 
its Labrador, the south Atlantic its Benguela, etc. And 
when these cold currents meet with warm currents or 
other warmer waters, upwellings from the rich depths 
occur with the consequent "fertilization" of the surface 

Warm ocean currents may also carry an abundance 
of dissolved nutrients in their depths sometimes more 
so than cold currents and this may raise the question 
of which comes first "the chicken or the egg?" The Gulf 
Stream, for example is rich in nutrients down deep; but 


the Gulf Stream has to travel a long way before it en- 
counters enough cold water to cause major upwellings. 
These occur, however, when this warm current collides 
with the Labrador Current of the north Atlantic. 

Upwellings can also occur from wind action, when 
deep water rises to replace surface water that has been 
blown away by winds. This is continually occurring 
from minor to major extentsin the sea, and one can 
often witness one example of it on a bathing beach dur- 
ing offshore winds: the warm surface water is blown 
seaward and is replaced by colder water. 

It might be asked at this point why the depths of the 
sea are so rich in chemical nutrients and how they got 
there in the first place? The answer is rather simple: 
when plant and animal plankton complete their short 
life cycles and die, their remains shower downward and 
decompose from bacterial action. This produces "fer- 
tilizer" just as other organic material does when it "rots" 
or decomposes. In fact the tiny "shells" of certain animal 
plankton are deposited to unknown thicknesses at the 
bottom in the depths of the sea and are called "oozes". 
Now these "oozes" . . . but here we go again! 

Returning to the Humboldt Current and adjacent 
waters, this is one of the most underutilized ocean 
fishery resources of the world. Here one can see square 
miles of yellowfin tuna; square miles of anchovies feed- 
ing upon "surface drift"; bonito in untold numbers; 
world record broadbill swordfish, black and striped 
marlin, which feed upon the abundant giant squid or 
"jibia". And as if this were not enough, the guano birds 
and gannets feed from above while the Humboldt 


penguins feed from below. Here, surely, is a fisherman's 
paradise . . . 

The little trawler with the short bow pulpit was on 
an observation trip. No one aboard had any big-game 
angling equipment and the iron (harpoon) that was 
available left much to be desired. The "dirty" water of 
the Humboldt was several miles astern and we were in 
the calm blue waters of the Pacific west of Antofagasta, 
Chile. The boat smelled like all small "draggers" any- 
wherea mixture of Diesel oil and stale fish. It can be 
a pleasant smell to those who know it. 

"Cookie" a short man of light stature was busily 
engaged in peeling onions that he pulled, one by one 
from a long string of them hanging from the outside of 
the deckhouse. We were busy watching "Cookie" at 
his work and wondering what sort of concoction he was 

Suddenly, "Cookie" looked up and his eyes became 
transfixed by something out on the ocean. "Albacora"! 
he screamed, as he leaped from the box he had been 
sitting on, "Albacora"! He started to run towards the 
bow, but his bare feet went out from under him on the 
slippery deck and he took a real spill. Undaunted, 
"Cookie" scrambled up quickly, pointed, and yelled 
again at the top of his voice. "Albacora"! 

Sure enough, we sighted the stiff, arched fins of a 
broadbill about 200 yards away. This was no 200 
pounder lolling half asleep at the surface off Block 
Island in the Atlantic. This brute was at least 500 and 
was cruising about slowly. 


Approaches were in vain. We put him down as we 
did several others. All told, we sighted 18 broadbill 
swordfish within an hour and a half, and one of these 
great fish with the saucer eyes must have weighed close 
to a thousand pounds. When he sounded, the wake was 
awesome to behold. 

Perhaps it made no difference whether or not we 
had "stuck" one on this expedition. With the type of 
keg and line we had aboard, the broadbill might well 
have sounded to great depths and have smashed the 
keg with water pressure. 

Broadbill strike a bait very readily in these waters, 
and the reason is their habit of feeding upon the abun- 
dant, giant squid or "jibia". These squid are several feet 
long and seem to lurk near the thermocline (remember 
that term?) of the sea, but they will often readily come 
to the surface. If a hook is baited with the head and 
tentacles of one of these gruesome creatures and is cor- 
rectly presented, there's a good chance of the sword- 
fish striking it. Indeed, the late W. E. S. Tuker of 
Tocopilla, Chile, once holder of the world's record for 
broadbill, told us that about one out of every two would 
strike this bait. "In fact", he said, "it was so easy that I 
began to use a rigged bonito in order to make it more 
challenging." (P.S. Are you listening out there at 

Needless to say, we have long regretted the nearly 
5,000 miles that separate us from the Humboldt Cur- 
rent and the land of violent earthquakes, wonderful 
people and fine music. But even as the far-off places 
may have a special appeal, so too, do certain places 


close to home. One of these, for instance, is a home for 
marine fishes the like of which we have never seen any- 
where, including the Humboldt Current. 

This is the area between Montauk Point, Long Island, 
and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Here we have just about 
everything that the saltwater angler can dream about 
broadbill swordfish, white marlin, tuna, bonito, mack- 
erel, striped bass, flounder, fluke, bluefish, tautog, 
porgies (scup), weakfish (squeteague), cod, tomcod, 
hake, pollack, sea bass, and blowfish. There are bays, 
estuaries, rocks, islands, sounds, and the open sea. And 
there are lobsters, blue crabs, clams (quahogs) and 

They are all there, untarnished and practically un- 
touched. And there is the "long pulsation, ebb and flow 
of endless motion. The tones of unseen mystery, the 
vague and vast suggestions of the briny world . . /*. 


The Art and the Science 
Of Fishing 

Nature,, to be commanded, 
must be obeyed. 

Francis Bacon 

.he practice of medicine whether veterinary or 
human is often described as an art based upon a 
science. The same definition applies to angling, except 
that in angling the art is emphasized almost to the 
exclusion of the science. This is why famed anglers 
are apt to be specialists for one or two species of fish, 
and often in limited situations. By devoting their efforts 
and study to such specialties, they obtain the necessary 
knowledge upon which to base their skilled presenta- 
tions. And let us be quick to acknowledge that these 
specialists can become very, very good. Our hat is off 
to them. 

But transport these anglers to a variety of situations- 
lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, oceans, bays and estuaries 
and the chances are that the proficiency will be 
absent due to lack of knowledge. In fact these anglers, 
being dedicated to a specialty, might find the entire 
proceedings quite boring. 




The same holds true for so-called "native guides". 
By spending many years on a particular lake or group 
of lakes, they gain sufficient knowledge to work out 
some fairly consistent procedures and methods for 
catching fish. Yet few have an accurate knowledge of 
the depth contours and types of bottom of these lakes, 
nor the characteristics of their thermal stratifications. 
And they may be entirely unaware of highly effective 
angling techniques that are being used in other lakes as 
little as fifty or a hundred miles away. 

Here again we have no desire to discredit. Many of 
these guides are keen, professional students of the game, 
and it can be a joy to talk shop with them and com- 
pare notes to mutual benefit. Furthermore, these crafts- 
men of the outdoors are indispensable to those many 
anglers who would be at a loss and perhaps a dangerous 
one without the knowledge and skill of these profes- 
sional guides. 

The point that we are attempting to make here is 
that there exists a great body of knowledge a science 


upon which the art of angling can be based, and that 
this science is not limited to particular situations. It 
can be used in entirely new ones even in strange 
countries and it can bring to the angler moments of 
truth that are especially rewarding. 

The trim, hydrographic yacht Vidal Gormaz, of the 
Chilean Navy had anchored in the Bay of Mas a Tierra 
the so-called "Robinson Crusoe" island of the Juan 
Fernandez pair some 300 miles off the coast of Chile. 
(Mas a Tierra is called Robinson Crusoe's island, because 
it was here that Alexander Selkirk, the prototype hero 
of Daniel Defoe's immortal story, lived in solitude for 
more than four years). 

Night had fallen and the special lights over the side 
of the ship illuminated the rippling blue water below. 
One could see a school of fish swimming lazily at the 
surface and gulping, from time to time, in the manner 
of goldfish. But these were obviously members of the 
jack family (Carangidae) and would run about two or 
three pounds. 

No casting rod was available, but we had a fresh- 
water baitcasting reel in our tackle box loaded with 
black nylon line. Attaching a leader to the line, and a 
small clamp sinker, we tied on a yellow and red buck- 
tail the forerunner of the Micky Finn paid out some 
line and, swinging the sinker in circles, threw the buck- 
tail out about 50 feet and began to bring it in hand 
over hand. A jack seized it almost immediately and we 
added one more species to the list of 30 fishes that this 
lure had taken in fresh and salt waters a lure that had 


been originally designed for smallmouth bass in Ontario 
and upper New York State! 

While this account may come as no surprise to many 
anglers, it should be revealed that the particular event 
took place some 16 years ago, or long before the broad 
effectiveness of spinning gear and lures had given rise 
to a somewhat more general approach to various game 
fishes. It might also be mentioned, in passing, that the 
chief factors responsible for the effectiveness of spin 
fishing less visibility of line and long retrieve of light 
lures were well known by a few anglers many years 
before the widespread adoption of spinning gear. These 
anglers fashioned their own, five or six-foot bait-casting 
tips and learned to cast as little as one-eighth ounce. 
Some of them even learned the importance of precision 
action in a spinner and would comb the tackle shops 
in search of such a one. In those days, of course, it was 
considered unsportsmanlike to use this type of gear in 
trout streams. 

Before considering some fundamental principles that 
can be used in getting fish to bite, a few words should 
be said about technical skill. Let's be honest about 
this. The technical command of an instrument can be 
as important to the angler as it is to the musician, the 
surgeon, or the baseball player. To be sure, such 
methods as spinning, trolling and bait fishing require 
far less manual technique than fly casting or bait cast- 
ingand are far less rewarding but technique is still 
a very important matter. Yet technique would be sterile 
without the necessary knowledge to guide it, and this 
is why we emphasize the mental aspects of the art and 


the science. As the noted angler and outdoor writer, 
Jason Lucas, once pointed out to an inquiring reader, 
the most valuable piece of equipment an angler has is 
"his head". 

In our chapter on the fish in person, certain factors 
other than hunger were described as having a great 
deal to do with why fish bite. These included competi- 
tion (including the bullying urge), conditioning or 
preconditioning, water agitation, etc. In other words, 
there are factors other than hunger that can stimulate or 
"trigger" a fish to strike a bait or lure, and these account 
for the two general approaches or philosophies in 
angling. One of these is imitation of natural food, or the 
use of it; the other is based upon exaggeration. Some- 
times both are combined often unwittingly. So let's 
examine each of these approaches and their combina- 

The best example of the imitation approach is the 
"match the hatch" method of the dryfly trout fisherman. 
He studies the aquatic insects that are "hatching" at the 
time and imitates them from a large inventory of 
exquisitely tied artificials that he usually carries on his 

The exaggeration approach, on the other hand, is 
probably best exemplified by the myriad of "gollywog- 
gle" and other brightly colored lures that one sees dis- 
played in most tackle stores. Has a fish ever seen any- 
thing like them? We doubt it. Yet some of them are 
highly effective and there is a reason. Fish, for example, 
have been shown to respond to gross exaggerations of 
certain phenomena much more quickly and intensely 
than to normal manifestations of these phenomena. The 


sexual behavior of a male fish, for example, may be 
greatly stimulated by gross exaggerations of certain 
sexual characteristics, or behavior, of the female. Gro- 
tesque distensions of the belly of a model, exaggera- 
tions of color, or posed position all these have been 
found to be particularly effective. 

Is it small wonder, then, that some of the most out- 
landish contraptions are very effective in getting fish 
to bite? Or that what may be highly effective in one 
situation may be equally so in a number of others? 

Now, before we may pooh-pooh all this or begin to 
laugh at the fish, let's consider Homo sapiens for a 
moment. For instance, let's examine the mannequins 
in the windows of our dress shops artificial models that 
display dresses designed to get the female of the species 
to bite. Measure the hips and other features of these 
mannequins. Do the measurements come out anything 
like 36-24-36? Heavens, no! In fact, if you took the 
hip measurements to an obstetrician he, or she, would 
probably either stare at them in disbelief or prepare for 
a Caesarian. 

This, of course, is a case of negative exaggeration. 
But let us absorb our lesson in humility and get back 
to the fish. 

The chief difficulty in the exaggeration approach is 
the lack of scientific determinations of what features 
should be exaggerated and the degree of the exag- 
geration. This is unfortunate, because it remains a 
fertile field for research which could bring much edi- 
fication and enjoyment to mankind. (And what other 
justification is there for scientific research? ) 

Despite this lack, however, some rhyme and reason 


have emerged from the free-for-all of lure manufacture. 
A combination of red and yellow or red and white, for 
instance, is highly attractive to most, if not all, game- 
fishes; the actions of bucktail hair, hackle feathers, and 
"Marabou" feathers (usually from a white turkey) are 
also effective across the board; and highly polished 
surfaces of metallic lures are apparently less effective 
than "scale" or dull finishes. Black or other darkly 
colored lures, including red which appears dark in the 
absence of much light are highly effective at night 
when passing over the fish; and precision action in 
spinners is also highly important, particularly to fresh- 
water game fishes. 

Here we have an interesting mystery. If, as it would 
appear, spinners are more attractive to freshwater 
gamefishes than to saltwater forms, why is this so? What 
feature peculiar to freshwater life is the spinner repre- 
senting and exaggerating? Could it have something 
to do with aquatic insects, which are not present in the 
sea? Or have spinners actually been used enough in 
marine angling to draw the conclusion in the first 

There is, indeed, need for much fascinating and im- 
portant research. 

Combining the two approaches imitation with exag- 
geration is not yet a common practice except in certain 
forms of angling such as chumming and trolling. Yet 
there is a gradually increasing awareness of the efficacy 
of this form of angling. Some anglers, for instance, have 
solved the problem of enticing large brown trout to the 
surface by combining a large "teaser" fly usually a big 
bass bug or a streamer with a dropper fly. They usually 



present and work the combination in a manner which 
suggests that the larger is chasing the smaller par- 
ticularly when a streamer is used. This competitive 
situation stimulates the trout and it strikes one of the 
flies usually the dropper unless a good streamer is 

Even surf anglers are beginning to combine two 
lures a "teaser" and another and this is just the begin- 

Perhaps the most ingenious example we have seen of 
combining the imitation principle with the exaggera- 
tion approach is a Japanese trolling contraption that is 
used by commercial fishermen on our Pacific coast but 
which has only recently been introduced on our Atlantic 
side. This device, which has been recently modified to 
suit angling gear, combines a light, wood and metal 
planer with a number of lures of soft plastic that are 
remarkable imitations of a squid or octopus. One lure 
is leadered from the line just above the planer, and 
two more below. When trolled, the planer takes the 


lures down at almost a 45-degree angle. On the Atlantic 
coast the rig has so far been chiefly employed for blue- 
fish, and "doubleheaders" and "tripleheaders" are com- 

Another example of gross exaggeration is found in 
the sets of large flasherspoons sometimes called "cow- 
bells" or "Christmas trees" that are used with some 
sort of bait chiefly for certain species of salmon and 
trout. The upper set of one to three spinners may each 
be longer than four inches and broader than one-and- 
one-half inches. A foot or so below these flashers are 
two to four more spinners. These are much smaller and 
more round in shape* Finally, a bait of some sort a 
worm, rigged minnow, or even a single salmon egg is 
leadered a foot or so behind the last spinner. It is a 
ludicrous appearing apparatus, yet very formidable for 
a number of gamefishes, including landlocked salmon. 

Fishes may be sensitive to colors and their exag- 
geration in a manner, and to a degree, that is quite 
unappreciated. The color blue, for instance, while com- 
monly incorporated in many lures for marine fishes, can 
apparently have a most negative effect upon both salt- 
water and freshwater species under some circumstances. 


The following statement, from an expert, is highly 
interesting in this regard: 

"When we knew definitely we were coming to the 
Aquarium at Coney Island we started to experiment 
with color, both for the ornaments in the proposed tanks 
and for the tanks themselves. We also experimented 
with a number of new materials. Our methods of experi- 
mentation were to prepare slabs of wood and concrete, 
stone, coral and other solid materials, coat them with 
the material to be tested and put them in the tanks in 
which fishes were living. The fishes used were all strains 
of fishes which we had had for years and of whose be- 
havior and tolerance we had a fair knowledge. Among 
the most suitable material we found for building tanks 
was fiberglass cloth and polyester resin. Colors were 
obtained for those and tanks were made and slabs of 
colored polyester resin were used, all without causing 
the fishes any trouble whatever. 

"We used this material then, when we built a number 
of tanks, especially those made of plywood lined with 
fiberglass and coated with the polyester resin. Some of 
the resin was tinted white, some black and some blue, 
all with tints and dyes which had been previously tested 
without loss of fish. After several months we noticed 
that while the fishes living in the black and white tanks 
lived for a normal expectancy, fishes living in the blue 
tanks seemed to die earlier than we expected for no 
apparent reasons, although Dr. Nigrelli could always 
find some parasite or other in them. However, infesta- 
tion was not sufficient to cause death in his opinion. 

"We tried both fresh and sea water in these tanks 


and had the same result with all fishes. When we scraped 
the blue stained resin from the tank and relined it with 
the same mix but with a black or white stain the tanks 
then gave apparently satisfactory service and the fishes 
lived to what we considered a normal age. 

"We were never able to trace any deaths to the pig- 
ment per se, but certainly the color itself seems to be 
causing the difficulty." * 

The use of bait, whether live or dead, also involves 
certain principles that can have broad application. One 
of these principles might be termed the "choice tidbit" 
approach and consists of presenting a particularly choice 
item of food to a fish that is not in a mood to bite. 
Examples of the "choice tidbit" approach can be found 
in the use of soft-shelled crayfish, hellgrammites (dob- 
sons), leeches and tiny frogs for smallmouth bass; grass- 
hoppers, caddis larvae and salmon eggs for trout; and 
hermit crabs and "shedder" crabs for many marine 
fishes. Even wormsboth upland and marine can be 
considered in this category. 

Another principle is to combine the "choice tidbit" 
approach with the exaggeration approach. This prin- 
ciple, as we have seen, can be exemplified by chumming, 
or by the set of flasher spoons with some sort of choice 
bait bringing up the rear. Even the bait itself, in these 
instances, can be rigged to exaggerate. In chumming, 
for instance, the bait can be conspicuously larger than 
the items of the chuni; and when flasher spoons are 
trolled a dead minnow can be rigged to spin far more 
violently than it ever would in life. But here again is a 

* Personal communication from Dr. C. W. Coates, Director, New York 


persistent problem in angling: just how much larger 
than the chum should the cut bait be? And just how 
fast should the minnow spin? Here, art must take over 
pending the answers of science, if they ever come. 

It is at this point that the exceptions to the rules 
always become most apparent the occasional incident 
that belies all theory. One encounters many of these 
over the years. There is the case of the neophyte angler, 
for instance, who was reported to have made his first 
surf cast, backlashed severely, yet won a tournament 
when a monster striped bass seized the plug while it 
was floating almost at the angler's feet and while he 
worked at the "bird's nest". And there's the case of the 
angler (?) who tramped down the center of the river 
pool with his rod over his shoulder and the bait dangling 
in the water some 30 feet to the rear. He is reported to 
have caught a seven-pound walleye. 

But the event that is most indelibly etched in my 
mind was the case of the solitary surf angler on a beach 
in Florida many years ago. We report it here not because 
it was an "accident"., but because it exemplifies how 
faith and patience can challenge even the latest devel- 
opments in skill and science. 


We first saw the solitary figure in dark clothing squat- 
ting on the beach his crude surf rod planted in the sand 
in early February. He was small in stature and his head 
was slightly bent over as if meditating or asleep. As we 
passed by him we noted that he was awake and alert so 
we asked him: "Any luck?" Immediately his head came 
up and his face was a wide grin. "Byrne by" he said. 

During the remainder of the month we visited this 
beach frequently either to fish, or swim, or both and 
almost always encountered the solitary figure in the dark 
clothing, squatting impassively with his crude surf rod 
anchored in the sand beside him. And each time we 
would ask him of his luck and each time the head would 
come up with the friendly grin and he would reply 
"Byrne by! 9 

February passed into March and March into April 
and still the man sat there,, catching nothing, but always 
ready with his affable grin and rejoinder: "Byrne by!" 

It was about mid-April that it happened. We had 
jogged down the beech about a quarter of a mile and 
had entered the surf to float and dog-paddle while the 
gentle, warm current carried us north. Keeping a watch- 
ful lookout for the telltale "light bulbs" of the heinous 
Portuguese Man o* War, we sighted the figure of a surf 
angler in dark clothing struggling mightily with his rod. 
We sprinted to shore and ran up the beach just in time to 
witness the little man with the grin drag a big jack 
crevaUe up from the sea. Never had we seen one as 
largeit must have weighed close to 30 pounds and we 
expected to hear something about "byme by! 9 But the 
happy little man just said "Good-bye" as he scurried up 
the beach dragging his catch. We never saw him again. 


Just as certain basic principles can be incorporated 
into the design of lures, so can others be employed in 
the presentation of these lures. Such principles take the 
form of basic techniques and can be considered under 
well known or little known terms. The term "jigging", 
for instance, is known to many anglers; but it is to be 
doubted that such other terms as "slow lift", "slow 
creep", "natural drift", "dredging", "stripping", "tighten- 
ing up", "climbing the rope", "leverage", etc. mean very 
much to most anglers. So let's consider each of these. 


This is basic technique used in bottom fishing for all 
species in fresh and salt water. A highly sensitive rod 
is essential for its proper execution. It consists, essen- 
tially, of raising the bait ever, ever so slowly from 
the bottom and then dropping back. It has two advan- 
tages: (1) it attracts fish to the bait, and (2) enables 
the angler to determine when the fish has the bait in 
its mouth. Sounds simple, but it requires much practice 
to master. 


This is an equally basic technique for fresh and salt 
water, whether used in trolling or casting. The principle 
here is to move the lure or bait just above the bottom 
and occasionally touching it very slowly yet with vary- 
ing speed. This is a more difficult technique to master 
than the slow lift. 



This is the principle used in successful nymph and 
salmon egg fishing for trout, and in persistently success- 
ful chumming for bluefish, tuna, etc. It consists, essen- 
tially, of allowing a bait or lure to drift with the current 
either at the bottom, top, or in mid-water in a manner 
that is not different from an unattached food upon 
which the fish has become conditioned to feed. 


This refers to a fish that has seized a bait, yet does 
not have the hook in its mouth. The problem is to induce 
the creature to seize all, and here again art replaces 


This term refers to the elbow room needed for strik- 
ing or "tightening up" when a fish has seized a bait or 
lure. Sometimes striking is in order; at other times, 
tightening. But leverage is very important. 


While the technique, or principle, of jigging is known 
to a multitude of anglers, there are some variations of 
the art that may "come handy", as our "downeaster" 
guides might say. Jigging is usually done vertically 
from an anchored boat or horizontally by trolling or 
casting. In either case, the appropriate action is the 


same a quick upward or forward movement followed 
by a somewhat slower, backward movement for set- 
tling. The timing of this action and the length of stroke 
can be all important. 


This is a form of jigging while retrieving a lure with a 
flyrod. The line is pulled in by the hand in a series of 
jerks with only slight pauses. When used with streamers 
particularly Marabous the technique can be highly 
effective for trout and landlocked salmon. 


This term refers to trolling a lure on the bottom, par- 
ticularly in very deep water. The technique is chiefly 
used for lake trout during the summertime when these 
fish may be at depths of a hundred feet or more. Metal 
lines ( "hardware" ) or leaded lines are often used with 
a three or four ounce sinker for sounding the bottom 
while combining trolling with jigging. 

The preparation and hooking of baits is a very im- 
portant matter for those many anglers who stoop to 
conquer. The most valuable feature to be sought here is 
rapidity of action vibration or undulation without 
spinning or rapid turnover. (An exception to this is the 
"spun minnow", which we shall discuss shortly). This 
characteristic is usually gained through flexibility which, 
in turn, can be produced in several ways. In preparing 
a whole fish for trolling, for instance, sections of the 
backbone can be delicately dissected out or it can be 


severed in a number of places without removal. In the 
case of eels, the task is much simpler. They can be 
placed in a burlap or inuslin bag and swung against a 
hard surface a number of times. An even better method 
for preparing eels is to kill them and immediately pack 
them in salt for about an hour, rinse and put them into 
the refrigerator for overnight. Then wrap and freeze 
them for future use. They will be flexible when they 
have thawed out. 

Cut bait for trolling should also emphasize flexibility. 
This can be accomplished by cutting the strip narrow 
and bevelling the head end. Splitting the "tail" for as 
much as one-third of the body length will often improve 
the action and also tend to keep the bait from spinning. 

We might mention here that our chief objection to 
many commercial lures is their lack of emphasis on 
slenderness and rapidity of action. This is particularly 
true of commercial bucktail and hackle streamers: they 
are prone to be too bushy, the hair has often had the 
"life" boiled out of it, and the hair or the hackle feathers 
are not sufficiently parallel with the body. As for com- 
mercial Marabou streamers these are apt to be atroci- 
ties. A single, well selected Marabou feather that is cor- 
rectly tied in with the body is all that's necessary. 

In the matter of the "spun minnow", we seem to be 
dealing with a bait that is almost singularly attractive to 
trout and salmon. An effective method or preparation 
is as follows: 

1. Take a live minnow and kill it with a rap on the 

2. Pass a sneUed hook one without an eye through 



both jaws from lower to upper and thread up 
onto the "gut". Then repeat so that a loop of "gut" 
is formed. 

3. Now pierce the side of the minnow with the hook 
to the rear of the dorsal fin, then run it through 
and back out again on the same side. 

4. Now tighten the "gut" between the jaw loop and 
the hook so that the posterior portion and the tail 
of the minnow are slightly bent The degree of 
this bend will determine the rate of the spin. 

The proper hooking of worms both the garden hackle 
and sea varieties is also very important. When stream 
fishing or stillfishing in fresh water, we almost invariably 
hook the worm once in the middle; when trolling fresh 
water, we hook the worm at the head end, thread it up 
onto the "gut" of the snelled hook and hook it again 
near the middle so that a loop is formed with a sizable 
portion of the worm dangling. We use this same method 
when trolling sea worms, but often use two or three at 

When fishing for weakfish (sea trout, gray trout, 
squeteague, etc.) in a tidal current, the sea or sand 
worm can be hooked in the head only. 

There remains one more technical area that can be 
of invaluable assistance to the angler. This is concerned 



with the ability to interpret hydrographic maps of lakes, 
estuaries and the sea, and the use of two or three instru- 
ments for determining temperatures. Surprisingly, this 
ability requires but little effort, homework and expe- 

As we have mentioned, many states have surveyed 
their lakes for purposes of fishery management, and 
copies of survey maps are often either obtainable from 
fish and game departments or can be consulted in cer- 
tain libraries. And United States Coast and Geodetic 
Survey charts are usually obtainable from the nearest 
office of that federal agency. 

For the angler who wishes to "go all out" in this area, 
certain electronic instruments have been recently devel- 


oped to satisfy this desire. Thermisters (electronic 
thermometers) for instance, are now available. These 
enable an angler quickly to determine the thermal strati- 
fication of a lake without the labor of a hand pump or a 
reversing thermometer. And portable, sonic depth 
finders are also on the market, which can be used from 
a rowboat or canoe. 

It is now possible for many anglers to spend many 
pleasant evenings poring over maps, making lures, and 
preparing for successful safaris to strange and far-off 


The Art and the Science 
In Fresh Water 

To shorten the time between 
bites. Sportfishing Institute 

-he geography of the North American continent, 
together with strange and forbidding aspects of the 
sea, persuade most American and Canadian anglers to 
do their angling in fresh water only. Early introduction 
to angling in nearby lakes and streams may have taken 
well and the unfamiliar dimensions of the sea, or its 
distance away, may be discouraging. Then, of course, 
there is the prevalent misconception that all saltwater 
angling must be done with heavy rods and big hunks of 

An interesting result of this angling focus has been 
the elevation of certain freshwater gamefishes into 
great prominence. The smallmouth bass, for instance, 
becomes known as "inch for inch and pound for pound 
the gamiest fish that swims", and probably more words 
are written about angling for trout, smallmouth bass 
and largemouth bass than for all other species com- 





"Under such circumstances it may seem presumptuous, 
if not a grave immodesty, to suggest techniques for 
catching these and other freshwater fishes. Surely the 
best methods must now be known and well established, 
and surely there is but little rootn for further study. 

Yet this is one of the most challenging aspects of fish 
and fishing. Mere custom and practice are, in them- 
selves, no guarantee of validity, and the ultimate an- 
swers on how to get fish to bite at any time and in any 
quantity will, weVe sure, always remain under a veil of 
mystery. To paraphrase, "We'll never be able to fool 
all o the fish aU of the time/" 

But progress can be made, and if any of the observa- 
tions contained in the notes that follow serve "to shorten 
the time between bites" for any other angler, then they 
will not have been recorded in vain. So let's start with 
the smallmouth bass, one of the finest of gamefishes 
eveix though not "inch for inch" etc., the gamiest that 


THE SMALLMOUTH BASS (Micropterus dolomieu) 

Prefers large, fairly cool lakes and rivers with large 
areas of stony bottom. Frequents weed beds on occa- 
sion. Begins spawning activities when water reaches 
about 60 F. Males prepare depressions in sand or 
gravel for nests, and guard these until eggs hatch. In 
some lakes, nests may be in as little as two feet of water, 
in others as much as 12 feet. Will often run up tributary 
streams a short distance to spawn. Fish tend to remain 
in spawning regions of lakes for several weeks after 
spawning or until second or third week of July. In many 
lakes particularly when spawning regions are quite 
shallow smallmouths can be taken in large numbers 
on popping bugs and certain other surface lures, buck- 
tail and Marabou streamers, small jointed plugs, certain 
spinners and small metal spoons. 

In such situations, try large, flyrod mouse of deer 
hair; dress well to keep it floating and just twitch it 
every few seconds; cast frequently and keep moving 
slowly. Try Nos. or 1 Mepps * in brass finish with and 
without red and yellow bucktail; retrieve steadily. Try 
Wobblerite in scale brass finish. Try Marabou streamers 
in orange or Black Ghost patterns. Try Mirrolures in 
"MM" and "OOM" series. Try small bottom lures of 
head, eyes, and stubby fuzz of nylon with hook turning 
up and use "slow creep". 

If fish are in water over five feet in depth, troll 
certain lures in propeller wash from 25 to 60 feet astern. 

* Mentions of this and other brand name products in this book are made 
without solicitation or commercial sponsorship of any kind. 


This is probably the most effective over-all method for 
taking smallmouths on artificial lures that has yet been 
discovered. Keep lures close to bottom and don't lean 
over gunwales of boat, or use oars or paddles. Troll at 
a speed of about three or four miles per hour. Try 
jointed Mirrolures of "OOM" series in natural finishes or 
in brown and yellow finishes former during overcast 
days and evenings and latter in bright sunlight. Vary 
speed of Mirrolures ever so slightly with hand. Try 
No. or No. 1 Mepps in brass finish with and without 
red and yellow bucktail; never allow bucktail to spin: 
if torque is too great, try other brass spinners with the 
bucktail. Should have precise action and bucktail should 
be sparse and streamlined on a No. 5 to 7, long-shanked 
hook with straight eye and curved in one plane. Try 
Marabous in orange or Black Ghost patterns. These, too, 
should never spin. Keep at least one proven lure as a 
model and compare its appearance and action with 

When smallmouths have moved into deeper water, 
trolling may be highly effective only on overcast days 
and during evenings. Lures may need to be weighted 
slightly. This applies to rivers as well as lakes. Bass 
can sometimes be located by trolling at mid-day in 
these situations (small fish may strike) and then ap- 
proached by the "choice tidbit" method. 

For this method use anchored boat and "slow lift" 
technique. Fish may be in as much as 30 feet of water. 
Fish bottom and just above with worms, tiny frogs, 
hellgrammites, soft-shelled crayfish and leeches. When 
fish takes bait, it usually swims very slowly. Don't strike 


for about ten seconds or more and then strike hard. If 
too soon, wait for as long as a half -minute. This seldom 
is necessary unless fishing with live minnows. 

Fish jumps with its mouth open, so keep tension. Will 
dig suddenly when close to boat. (Watch this.) When 
fish goes under boat to other side, put rod under water 
to prevent fouling. Fish can be "horsed", and can often 
be prevented from jumping by putting rod under water. 
(This is not considered sportsmanlike.) Will usually 
regurgitate food from stomach while fighting. Tre- 
mendous willpower; strong; good staying quality; a 
deliberate fighter with a rather stereotyped pattern of 

THE LARGEMOTJTH BASS (Micropterus salmoides) 

Unlike the smallmouth, prefers warm, weedy situa- 
tions and shallow water. Spawns when water temper- 
ature is about 65 F. and guards newly hatched young 
for several days or until decides that they are good to 
eat. This disperses fry. 

For most effective angling results, must be considered 
in three general zones: (1) northern XL S. and southern 
Canada, (2) central U. S. and (3) southern U.S. Fish 
in southern zone grow more rapidly and all year round 
may reach 20 pounds while fish in northern zone may 
be in old age when they reach three pounds. Central 
zone is in between. Bass in northern zone easiest to 
catch with southern zone second. Central very difficult 
due to heavy fishing. Tends to be a nocturnal feeder. 

In northern zone, try casting with "bass bugs" and 


popping plugs near lily pads or in "holes" within the 
lily pads any time of day or night, but particularly 
during evenings and after dark. Try black Jitterbug 
after dark and frog-pattern Jitterbug during the day. 
Try casting within a foot or two of shore during evenings 
or at night. Try different types of retrieves from long 
waits to steady. Also try Mepps spinners with and with- 
out bucktail, Mirrolures and other plugs such as Dying 
Quiver and Lazy Ike. Try plastic ("rubber") worms 
with "slow creep" technique. 

In central zone, with its wide variety of situations 
and heavy fishing pressure, large bass can become al- 
most immune to capture. Most effective method is live 
bait, and even this fails to catch the nine and ten pound 
fish that are present in some states of this zone. Try 
large golden shiner or medium sized calico (crappie) 
hooked in the jaws and hung on a maximum of eight- 
pound test monofilament about three feet below a 
conspicuous bobber. Pay out 100 feet or more of line 
and troll (paddle, row or power) very slowly. When 
live bait begins to jump out of water, take rod in hand 
and wait. If fish grabs bait, allow to run, stop, and 
run again; then strike very hard. (P.S. You probably 
won't hook him.) 

Southern zone is more susceptible to various methods, 
including "rubber worms" retrieved by the "slow creep" 
technique. Largest fish, however, are nearly always 
taken by live bait and in the manner previously de- 

One of the greatest of challenge fishes: Learns quickly 
from experience; fights well, but not as well as the 
smallmouth; reaches much greater size in central and 


southern zones. Its weedy habitat often prevents "clean" 




Prefers cold, oligotrophic lakes and has seldom been 
introduced outside of northeastern United States and 
eastern Canada. Considered by many to be the king 
of freshwater game fishes. Spawns in autumn in inlets 
and outlets of lakes; eggs are buried in redd as in the 
case of others members of the trout and salmon family. 
The landlocked salmon is a strain or subspecies of the 
great, sea run Atlantic salmon. 

For several weeks after ice-out, and sometimes for as 
long as two months, landlocks can be taken at the sur- 
face on bucktails, streamers, metal, and certain types 
of plugs. These can be trolled or cast; latter requires 
considerable skill and "know how". Try red and yellow 
bucktails, red and yellow hackle streamers (the red 
outside the yellow), Marabou streamers in orange and 
Black Ghost patterns. Also try orange Flatfish, small 
pearl wobblers, Wobblerite, Sidewinder, and other 
spoons in dull brass finish. 

Troll one streamer lure just under surface about 25 
feet astern in propeller wash or paddle swirls, or try 
streamers in tandem on each line one about two feet 
in front of, and slightly below, the other on separate 
leaders; another set about 80 feet astern. Move up to 
four miles per hour, vary speed; work drop-offs of ledges 
and shoals, and occasionally work over shoals. Jig 
streamers every few seconds. 

Cast over ledges and shoals and employ stripping or 


uneven retrieves. Salmon will follow lure, from side to 
side; is a "nipper", so small tail hook usually pays off 
if well hidden in streamer fly. Scent seems also to be a 
factor, so coat streamer from time to time with slime of 
live minnow. 

Fish is a sudden "flurry feeder", and quits just as sud- 
denly; is lightning fast and a spectacular jumper 
"gleaming like a newly minted silver dollar". Jumps 
with mouth shut, so relax tension on line for an instant 
when fish comes out of the water. After brief fight, fish 
swims to boat and may lie on side as if finished; don't 
be fooled, because things just begin at this point; will 
jump and shower you with water; occasionally will jump 
into boat. If fishing alone and close to shore, salmon 
can often be towed out a bit with power after first 
flurry, and fought under more favorable circumstances. 

As lake stratifies significantly, landlocks "go down" 
and are difficult, if not impossible, to entice to surface. 
Locate depth of thermocline and troll flasher spoons 
such as Sebago and Dave Davis, with wonn or spun 
minnow, near upper margin of thermocline. (Use a 
No. 1 to 3 hook that is snelled without eye). 

A great challenge fish and fighter; an aristocrat that 
cannot be hurried. 

THE LAKE TROUT OR TOGUE (Salvelinus namaycush) 

Prefers very cold water and cannot survive even 
moderate temperatures for more than a few minutes. 


This destines the species to live in the hypolimnion of 
oligotrophic lakes during summer. Seems to prefer 
about 40 to 48 F. From late autumn to perhaps mid- 
spring, fish may be at any depth and even close to 
shore; hence can often be taken at, or near, surface on 
light tackle for several weeks after ice-out. At this time 
try Mirrolures of the "OOM" types, Wobblerite and 
larger metal lures. In some lakes, short-shanked flies 
of the Edson Dark Tiger pattern with small brass spin- 
ners are effective; bucktails and Marabous may also 
score. Troll lures 60-90 feet astern; weight them if 

During summer, lake trout must be "dredged" at 
depths of 50 to 150 feet. Fish is usually on or near 
bottom. This requires heavy line metal or metal-filled 
or very heavy sinker. ( Not much sport but good meat) * 
Best deal may be 20 or 30 pound test Monel metal line 
up to 500 feet with four-ounce sinker and saltwater 
or special reel for wire line. Use HarneH glass rod with 
pulley tip. Terminate line with three-way swivel and 
sinker, and run four or five-foot leader to spoon prefer- 
ably a Huntington Drone in Nos, 2 or 2% (in strange 
lakes). This spoon "rides up" and will not readily foul 
bottom. Troll slowly, jig, and sound bottom every ten 
seconds or so. When fish strikes, it will fight for a few 
seconds and then line will be limp. Keep cranking, 
because fish is usually on. When line is vertical, under 
boat, keep on cranking. Fish will usually begin to fight 
again when it hits thermocline; doesn't like change in 
temperature. Take care here and nurse fish slowly to top. 

A good, strong gamefish when caught on light tackle, 
but little more than "a rubber boot with fins" when 


dredged. (P.S. Tastes much, much better than rubber 

THE BROOK TROUT (Salvelinus fontinalis) 

Prefers cold waterusually less than 63 F. and is 
natively a creature of upland brooks, cold meadow 
streams and cold lakes. Is not nearly as well adapted to 
warmer, cascading streams as the rainbow trout or 
introduced "brown". Generations of hatchery breeding 
have taken wildness out of the "brookie". 

In streams (wild fish), try brightly colored flies 
both wet and drysuch as McGinty, Silver Doctor, 
Parmachene Belle, Montreal, Bee, etc. McGinty is 
usually sure fire; fish it dry or wet. Approach stream 
quietly and don't let shadow or yourself be seen. Flies 
can be used like bait. 

Many baits are effective, from worms to grasshoppers. 
"Brookies" like to lurk under logs and in holes under 
banks. Allow bait to drift down into these situations. 

. In cold lakes, particularly small ones, "brookies" can 
usually be taken on a number of well presented 
lures and baits; Daredevils, Mepps, brightly colored 
streamers, June Bug spinners with worms, etc. These 
can be trolled or cast, but allow to sink into the cold 
layer of water. 

A beautiful, vulnerable fish; a "squirmer" when 
hooked, and delicious eating. In northern wilderness 
country, often difficult to catch large ones because 
eagerness of small ones. (P.S. Blackflies and native 
"brookies" seem to go together; use face net or drench 
with repellent.) 


THE RAINBOW TROUT (Salmo gairdneri) 

Prefers cold lakes, and cold streams and rivers of the 
"cascading" types. Big adults ascend streams (from 
lakes) in spring to spawn; return to lakes soon after- 
wards. Progeny tends to remain in stream until about 
10-12 inches and then descends to lake; then usually 
lurks in or just under thermocline during summer strati- 
fication. Must be fished here, under such circumstances, 
and this can be difficult. 

In streams, try wet flies in gray patterns such as Gold 
Ribbed Hare's Ear; also gray and pale yellow patterns; 
also try pale yellow, or black, alone. In streamers, try 
Black Ghost, in Marabou, particularly during early part 
of season. Reduce size of fly as season progresses. 

For dry flies, try light and dark Cahills, Irresistibles, 
Female Beaverkills, Adams, Black Gnats, and Yellow 
Mays; also brown or gray bivisibles. As season pro- 
gresses, use smaller flies particularly bivisibles up to 
No. 20. Use 11-foot leaders tapered to 6X with latter. 

Rainbows like metal and are suckers for the "choice 
tidbit" approach; also are attracted by certain types of 
small plugs. In streams, try Mepps Nos. and 1 in the 
nickel finish, Wobblerites, and Phoebes. Try Mirrolures 
in the "MM" and "OOM" series; cast these across stream, 
start them with surge, and retrieve fairly rapidly. 

For "choice tidbit" approach in streams, try oil-pack 
salmon eggs if legal; if not legal, try Velveeta cheese 
molded into balls the size of salmon eggs. If this is also 
not legal for some strange reason the development of 
excellence in fishing, in our society, is prone to penalty- 
try grasshoppers. (As far as we know, laws have not 


yet been passed against grasshoppers except for "fly 
stretches"! ) 

Here's how: Present any of these as if fishing with a 
nymph. In other words, use a leader at least nine feet 
long and tapered to 3X, 4X, or even 5X. Then use a 
No. 10 or 12, short-shanked hook and bury it in one 
of the baits. The bait should be cast up and across 
stream and allowed to sink gradually as it is carried 
down by the current. (Some weight may be necessary 
such as BB split shot or a piece of strip lead. ) When it 
has been allowed to go downstream about 50 feet, 
allow it to 'liold" about ten seconds, and then retrieve 
it slowly for a repeat performance. Chumming will 
often help. 

In this type of angling, a strike may seldom be felt: 
the line may only twitch slightly. This calls for alert and 
sensitive attention. A big advantage can be gained by 
use of Polaroid glasses; drugstore variety is a help, but 
custom ground jobs are a real optical instrument. 

When line twitches, don't strike; just "tighten up". 

In lakes during summer try sets of flasher spoons 
("cowbells") trolled in, or just under thermocline, with 
worm, spun minnow, or salmon eggs, but be sure to 
check law books each year just as the baseball pros check 
ground rules before each game. Otherwise, pleasure 
can be spoiled. 

In lakes during autumn a beautiful time to angle 
for these fish try small bucktail streamers and we 
mean sparse and streamlined! Even try pale blue with 
a red tail and tinsel body. Troll or cast these at surface 
or just below. Also try red and pale yellow. 

For a sinking fly-line, use Dacron in the size that is 


suited for the rod. For a floating fly-line, use nylon in 
the same manner. 

An exquisite game fish; lightning fast and a fine 
jumper. Possibly only a notch below the "Silver King" 
(landlocked salmon). 

THE BROWN TROUT (Salmo trutta) 

One of the most perfectly suited exotic animals ever 
introduced to the North American continent: The brown 
trout has thrived in thousands of miles of moderately 
warm streams particularly in eastern United States 
ever since its introduction. Much better suited for these 
streams than the native brook trout; ( Indians never had 
it so good). Also, like the pheasant, it is basically a wild 
animal despite artificial rearing and selection. 

Prefers streams and rivers in the high 60's and low 
70's; also lakes that are suitable, where they will grow 
large and grotesquely "fat". Doesn't need these lakes, 
however: Will also grow huge but usually less fat- 
in streams and rivers. In both situations it becomes a 
sulky, temperamental "cannibal". Learns quickly from 
experience and becomes very difficult to catch. Very 
few if any anglers are its master. Like rainbow, how- 
ever, has grave weakness to "choice tidbit" approach. 
This is unfortunate; possibly the greatest dry-fly fish in 
the world. In fact, many books have been written about 
dry-fly fishing for browns. We can add nothing except 
for the neophyte, in this area. 

In streams, try wet flies in brown to gray patterns, 
such as March Brown and Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear. Try, 


also, a light colored fly about 18 inches behind a dark 
colored fly. Cast these upwards and across stream and 
hold tension for awhile without retrieving; then twitch 
as if one were chasing the other. Practice this technique, 
because correct presentation is the secret for catching 
brown trout. 

Bucktails and streamers can be very effective for 
catching large fish. Locate "home" of large fish first, if 
possible, and then go to work evening after evening 
or morning after morning. Overcasts after the begin- 
ning of a rain are also favorable. Try small bucktail, or 
squirrel tail, or Marabou streamers with tinsel body and 
red tail. These are usually good enough. If in pool of 
stream with overhanging rock or bank, draw streamer 
past these with acceleration on the curve followed by 
slow, steady retrieve or rapid stripping. Do this again 
and again, evening after evening. 

If in large pool of unknown depth, bucktail or Mara- 
bou can be weighted, paid out and jigged from head 
of pool, then paid out again. It is usually a matter 
of "byme by". These "dog-trout" as they are often 
called, are a "breed of their own". 

Great weakness of the brown trout is its vulnerability 
to a well-presented worm at daybreak, a live, slimy 
sculpin in the darkness, or a beautifully presented 
nymph early during a rain. In fact, a worm can also be 
very effective when Nature begins to cry. Of these, the 
nymph is the most "sportsmanlike" approach. Cast the 
nymph well upstream and across and allow it to drift 
down with the current and tumble over the bottom. 
Watch for the twitch in the line and tighten. (P.S. 
Chances are it is bottom.) 


Brown trout can also be taken in lakes by trolling a 
live or spun minnow in thermocline. 

A great challenge fish but not a great fighter (big 
ones will sulk) but a "natural" for dry-fly fishing per- 
haps the greatest of angling arts. 


A native of the Great Lakes drainage and other 
northern watersheds. Prefers "warm" weedy waters. 
Very abundant in Canada, where it was once considered 
a trash fish or "snake" by native guides, and something 
to be thrown overboard. Official gamefish status in 
Canada acquired only during recent years as result of 
American tourist attraction to big fish. 

Spawns during spring in shallow water. Eggs adhere 
to vegetation or sink to bottom. 

To catch: cast or troll Daredevils or brass spoons 
along margins of weed beds. If casting, allow spoon to 
sink and then jig during retrieve. When fish strikes, 
will fight initially and then give up. 

A fierce creature of the north. When over five pounds, 
makes excellent fish chowder. 


Another member of the pike family, but with more on 
the ball; a representative of the Atlantic coastal drain- 
ages from Canada to Florida. Also prefers weedy situa- 
tions and also a fierce, "stupid" creature; but fights 
better than northern pike. 

Try Daredevils and other wobbling spoons, including 


Wobblerite. Also try spinners with bucktails; also Mir- 
rolures in the "MM" and "OOM" series. Then try Mepps 
in Nos. 1 and 2, with and without red and yellow buck- 
tail. If this does not work, shift to live bait, "skitter/' or 
go home. You've probably had it for that day. 

Skittering is done with very long, old-fashioned 
bamboo pole with a line about 10 feet long. Hook is 
attached to end of long cut bait of pickerel belly. Cast 
into hole or pocket in weeds and give slithering, eel- 
like action to bait. When fish strikes, make him "climb 
the rope" before setting hook. After playing fish, pull 
in rod and line hand over hand. 

An excellent "bread and butter" game fish. Fights 
much longer than the great northern pike and jumps 
often. Is usually smaller (a large one weighs three 
pounds and a monster is six). 

THE MUSKELLXJNGE (Esox masquinongy) 

Largest member of the pike family reaches a weight 
of 60 pounds or more. Also fights a bit like eastern chain 
pickerel sometimes, that is. A solitary fish with ap- 
parently much territorial demand. You locate them if 
you wish to go to work. Weedy situations, as usual, but 
with more depth. This is a challenge fish. 

Try the unorthodox small lures as described for 
eastern chain pickerel and troll these in the wash of a 
propeller about 60-80 feet astern, as well as casting, but 
operate for the most part along deep drop-offs that have 
weed beds. When the "big boy" strikes and he usually 
does eventually if youVe gone about it correctly don't 
be disappointed. You can easily whip a 15 pounder with 


very light tackle. The challenge is in obtaining the 

As for the big, monster muskies, these are much like 
monster largemouths: almost immune to capture. 

THE BLUEGILL SUNFISH (Lepomis macrochirus) 

Called "brim" in the south. One of the gamiest 
pansters that swims, and delicious to eat. A good fly 
fish. Prefers warm "rich" water, spawns in guarded nest 
during spring and summer. Try gradually sinking flies 
with twitch, or Nos. and 1 Mepps. If all fails, try 
plastic "bubble" with small piece of worm, or fly, about 
two or three feet below. Move this gradually after cast- 
ing, with initial, quick jerks. Work in three to ten feet 
of water, near shore. Also try dropper-fly about 18 
inches ahead of Mepps. For fly, try Royal Coachman, 
No. 8, with large "wing" of Impala. 

THE BROWN BULLHEAD (Ameiurus nebulosus) 

Called "Tiorned pout" in New England; a delicious 
eating fish that is usually nocturnal. Forget about arti- 
ficial lures, but consider the romance of a warm summer 
night in a pond or lake. Bait with worms, and fish bot- 
tom with the "slow lift". Fish can often be chummed 
with an onion bag filled with crushed mussels, chicken 
guts or other meat. Fish near bag. Try different spots. 

THE CHANNEL CATFISH (Ictalurus punctatus) 
One of the biggest deals in North American catfishes: 


10 pounders are common. Also the handsomest of cat- 
fishes, with its forked tail and streamlined body. Prefers 
large lakes and big rivers. Recently "discovered'' in the 

In lakes such as large ones of the Great Lakes drain- 
agelook for moving water, such as in narrows between 
lakes or between islands, or between islands and main- 
land where water runs deep. Creature is most vulnerable 
at night, in Great Lakes drainage, and can be a real 
challenge . . . 

The little rowboat with the outboard had passed 
through the channel between the islands on several 
occasions. There was a rock close to the middle of the 
channel and you veered around it as you went through. 
We had done this many times on our way to fishing 
grounds, and so had countless other boats. On this oc- 
casion, Bert, one of our two fishing companions, seemed 
particularly interested in the channel. "You know" he 
said, "the water is deep and moves here. I'll bet you 
can catch channel cats off this rock. Let's stop on our 
way back and give it a try this evening!' We agreed. 

We returned to the rock late in the evening, after a 
mediocre day with walleyes, and were relaxing with 
some bottles of beer that we had thoughtfully brought 
along. We "beached" the boat at the shallow end of 
the rock, waited for darkness, and baited up the fly- 
rods with worms. 

Sure enough, we began to catch channel catfish two 
pounds, three pounds, four pounds. 

Then Bert hit a real one and began to worry. "You 
know" he observed, "I don't think I can Jiandle this 


brute without some light,, and certainly not without 
another beer" 

"O.K" said Art, our other companion,, "here's a beer 
and Til pour a bit of gasoline on the rock and light it" 

We fed Bert the beer and began to offer him encour- 
agement when the rock exploded in flame. Art had 
over compensated in the darkness. We all dove into the 
water and quickly pulled the boat away from the blaz- 
ing rock. 

It was well on the way home before anyone spoke. 
Finally, Bert said in a quiet voice: "I couldn't have 
caught him anyway. He was too damned big for the 

What more can be said about channel cats? Jug 
fishing for them like snapping turtles? Other encounters 
in the north? Or catching them in late autumn near the 
condensor flows of a big generating plant in the Del- 
aware River? 

Let's just say it's a big fish, a lot of fun, and good 

THE YELLOW PERCH (Perca fiavescens) 

One of the most abundant of the panfishes, with a 
wide range of temperature tolerance and depth. Tends 
to be a school fish. Food preferences also vary widely 
with situation and time of year. Tends to chase bucktail 
streamers, with spinner, during spring and early sum- 
mer; are "nippers", so hang small tail hook that is well 
hidden in hair or hackle. For baits, try "perch bugs" 
(dragonfly nymphs), white grubs, heUgrammites, tiny 


minnows, and worms. Try drifting, or slow trolling, 
with these behind June Bug spinner. When a perch is 
caught, work area over and over again. A favorite of ice 
fishermen; try small, live minnows. 

(Stizostedion vitreum) 

Often called pickerel in Ontario; is a member of the 
perch family. Prefers large lakes and rivers. Tends to be 
a school fish and nocturnal in its feeding habits. Tends 
to move inshore during late evening and on overcast 
days, from deep water. Try slow trolling, near bottom, 
or off ledges or weed beds, with Mirrolures in the "OOM" 
series, or with June Bug spinner with worm or live min- 
now. Also try drifting with spinner and bait. Fish is 
susceptible to teasing often in deep water up to 50 
feet or more during day. When one fish is caught, work 
over area again and again. Casting can also be effective 
with lure deep. For Delaware River, try lamprey larvae 
behind June Bug spinner. 

A favorite with ice fishermen, and one of the best 
eating of freshwater fishes. Not much of a fighter. 

THE Cisco OR LAKE HERRING (Coregonus artedii) 

Lives in cold waters of oligotrophic lakes. Will some- 
times come up into warm surface layer to feed during 
heavy "hatches" of mayflies usually in early summer; 
also in autumn, before lake "turns over", to feed upon 
lake shiners. Can often be taken on wetflies during 
former occasions, and on tiny, jigged spoons during 


latter. Jig spoon at 16 to 35 feet. Can be trolled in 
liypolimnion in summer with small spinners. Try Nos. 
and 1 Mepps in nickel finish about 10 to 20 feet from 
bottom; also jig tiny spoons. 

Resembles whitefish, except mouth is terminal rather 
than inferior, and fish are usually smaller. Unlike white- 
fish, seldom, if ever, present in Atlantic coastal lakes. 

THE WHITEFISH (Coregonus clupeaformis) 

Lives in cold waters of oligotrophic lakes but, unlike 
the cisco, is a bottom fish. Can be trolled in hypolimnion, 
close to bottom, in summer and in the same manner as 
ciscos, but spinner trolled steadily seems most effective. 
A favorite of ice fishermen who bait "holes" with cooked 
barley, rice, tiny salted or frozen minnows, etc. at depths 
up to 100 feet or more. Easy method to lower this bait, 
or chum, is to use paper bag with stone. Lower slowly 
to bottom and then jerk several times. Bag will break 
and release chum. For baiting hooks, try tiny minnows, 
pieces of frozen sea scallop that has been thawed, pieces 
of shrimp, etc. White grubs etc. may also be effective. 

One of the best eating of all freshwater fishes. 

THE SHAD (Alosa sapidissima) 

A marine species of the herring family that ascends 
rivers to spawn during spring. Is abundant on both 
coasts and has recently become a popular game fish 
in certain coastal rivers of the middle Atlantic region 
where it is often called "the poor man's salmon". 

Can be caught by casting or trolling during spawn- 


ing run, but casting in rapids below dams is top sport. 
Use minimum of eight-pound test line, because fish must 
usually be brought in against current. Spinning tackle 
is preferred by most shad anglers. 

Lures consisting of colored beads of red, white, and 
yellow and strung just above a small "gold" hook are 
very effective. To prevent fouling on the bottom and to 
obtain most suitable weight one-fourth to one-sixth 
ounce tiny, haired jigs in red and white and red and 
yellow, with hook turned up (see illustration) are 

Cast up and across current and keep line tight as 
lure begins to arc across current in pendulum action. 
When directly downstream, hold for about eight sec- 
onds before retrieving and casting again. Shad usually 
strikes when lure is at "four or five o'clock". 

A strong, tireless fighter that often jumps well. Has 
a weak mouth, so should be handled gently. 

For trolling, use same lures, move slowly, and fish 
just off the bottom. Jig lure slightly from time to time. 

THE CABP (Cyprinis carpio) 

A giant minnow from Asia that was once considered 
in the highest esteem by most peoples throughout the 
world, including Americans, Has since fallen in Amer- 
ican esteem, except by minority, but has held reputa- 


tion elsewhere. Cause probably due to change in eating 
and culinary habits and change in perspective. 

Prefers warm water and soft bottom with weeds, but 
cannot endure "acid" water. Is prevalent in clear, clean 
waters of Finger Lakes and Great Lakes as well as in 
muddy ponds and lakes. One of the wariest and 
strongest of freshwater fishes. Has been called "the 
bonefish of fresh water". Spawns in late spring or early 
summer in shallows. Eggs are adhesive, and young 
grow rapidly. 

The first step for a successful carp safari, is to select 
a good location. This may be a sloping shore on a river 
or lake that contains big carp. One can bait the ground 
a day or two before with canned, "whole kernel" corn 
if he chooses. 

Two rods should be used. These can be freshwater 
bait casting rods or spinning rods. A line of at least 
eight pound test is recommended. This is to assure a 
good chance against "the monster", should he be en- 

Because successful carp fishing requires complete 
stillness on the part of the angler, it is suggested that a 
portable radio be taken along. The angler can then 
better relax by listening to the ball game while watch- 
ing his rods. 

Each line should be equipped with a small "dipsy" 
sinker and two hooks. These should be short-shanked, 
strong, and about No. 4 in size. Two forked sticks 
about two feet long and a large landing net complete 
the equipment. 

Preparing the bait, or doughball, is a ritual that takes 


place the night before. A cupful of whole, stoneground 
cornmeal should be placed in a saucepan. Boiling water 
with a teaspoon of brown sugar "per cup" is then added 
a small quantity at a time and stirred into the corn- 
meal, while heat is on, until the meal can be readily 
formed. The dough is then fashioned into a ball placed 
in a flour bag, and pressed tight by twisting the bag. 
The whole business is then put into the refrigerator. 

There is no need to set the alarm clock. Carp, like 
middle-aged anglers, feed readily during late morning 
hours, afternoons, and evenings. 

After a leisurely breakfast you take the doughball out 
of the refrigerator, pack your gear and proceed to the 
place. Here you approach cautiously and try to see 
whether carp are feeding. A ripple of water or the 
movement of vegetation is a good sign. If there are any 
signs of carp, be very careful, because carp "spook" 
very easily. 

A piece of doughball about the size of an aggie 
marble is molded around each hook in a manner that 
completely buries the hook. The baits are then cast 
lightly out onto the carp ground and the rods placed 
into the two forked sticks. A slight sag is left in the 
lines and you take up a comfortable position within an 
arm's reach of the rods. 

Now comes the motionless wait. This may last for an 
hour or more while you watch for the slight twitch of 
the line that signifies a carp. It may be a small carp, or 
it may be "the monster". 

At the first sign of a twitch, you sneak your hand 
over to the rod and get ready. Then, if the line becomes 



taut you strike the fish. Be prepared to see a lot o line 
disappear. A 20 pound carp can strip a reel if he has 
enough room. 


The Art and the Science 
In Salt Water 

In saltwater angling, the ele- 
ments of certainty and uncer- 
tainty are both greatly mag- 
nified. An Angler 


ae seas that surround us, as we have seen, are 
abundant in fish life: Fish are abundant in the estuaries, 
the bays, the coastal waters, the waters of the con- 
tinental shelves and of the great ocean currents. They 
move about and come and go with the seasons, and at 
least one species is usually present at any time to 
attract the angler. Often there are many. Not only this, 
but many fish of edible size are usually ready to bite. 
These facts greatly enhance the angler's chances of 
coming home with something for the pan or oven, 
winter or summer. 

But even as the element of certainty is magnified, so 
too, is the element of uncertainty. A 50 pound codfish, 
for example, may take it into his head to bite a bait 
that was designed for a much smaller fish; a 40 pound 
bluefin tuna may decide to strike a lure attached to a 
baitcasting rod; and a 30 pound striper may suddenly 



consume a streamer that was cast from a flyrod. This is 
the element of uncertainty in saltwater angling. You 
never know when "the monster" will strike. 

Perhaps this is one reason why most saltwater anglers 
use far too heavy gear. They wish to rack up a big score 
on the abundant fish, and don't wish to be broken up if 
a monster should strike. Other reasons can be found in 
the history of saltwater angling a sport that mush- 
roomed in popularity during the early 'thirties'. In those 
days, the hordes of anglers that entrained to the ports 
of embarkation of commercial sportfishing boats knew 
little about freshwater angling and particularly about 
its finer points. Freshwater rods and reels were not de- 
signed for the corrosive action of sea water, and cer- 
tainly not for cranking up a fish while elbow to elbow at 
a crowded rail. And meat in those times, while cheap at 
the marketplace, couldn't compete in price with what 
could be boated during the many workless days. In- 
deed, the early traditions and customs of saltwater 
angling were set by the "meat hunter". 

Since World War II, a veritable revolution has taken 
place in saltwater angling, and the development of 


spinning gear, monofilament line, glass rods, new reels, 
small craft and powerful, efficient outboard engines are 
but a part of this rapid change. There has also been the 
tremendous surge of interest in outdoor participation 
sports and the "do it yourseF* philosophy. 

Needless to say, the newness of saltwater angling is 
wearing off and more and more people are discovering 
that marine food and game fishes are not only among 
the sportiest of all, but also can be had on surprisingly 
light tackle. For example, we now see more and more 
anglers using six-pound test line (practically unheard 
of in the "old" days) for striped bass, bluefish, and 
bonito; and as little as ten-pound test to meet the 
express-train strikes and runs of 30 pound tuna and 20 
pound albacore perhaps the "gamiest" of all fishes. The 
secret if that is what it can be called is in the length 
of line rather than its strength and in a rod that will 
not take a "set" after many hours of bending. 

It is in keeping with this trend, therefore, that the 
notes which follow do not include such species as the 
broadbill swordfish and the spearfishes marlin and 
sailfish. These are still largely in the hands of the pro- 
fessional boatman and his mate or "striker" on special 
fishing cruisers. But we shall consider a number of 
marine food and game fishes that are available to the 
new class of anglers and what may induce these fish to 
bite. If our notes deal with Atlantic coast species almost 
exclusively, it is due to the fact that our experience and 
study extends more than 20 years in this area as op- 
posed to much less time in the Pacific. The angling prin- 
ciples involved, however, are applicable to both coasts, 


even though modifications of technique may sometimes 
be desirable. 

One such difference can be found in the technique 
of chumming. On the West coast, for example, chum- 
ming with live fishusually anchovies or sardinesis 
practiced extensively. This is a highly effective tech- 
nique in both Pacific and Atlantic waters. In the latter 
region, however, ground and chopped bait is usually 
adequate, and supplies of large quantities of live bait 
are not as readily available. On the other hand, chum- 
ming with live grass shrimp is extensively practiced in 
certain regions of the Atlantic coast. 

When interpreting the notes that follow, considera- 
tion should be given to the difference between the basic 
principles involved, on the one hand, and the particular 
manner in which these principles are applied, on the 

THE BLTJEFISH (Pomatomus saltatrix) 

Prowls the East coast of United States from Florida 
to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and sparingly northward. 
Prefers water over 60 F. Spawns during late spring and 
early summer in coastal waters. Newly hatched young 
invade bays and estuaries and grow to length of ten 
inches or more during first summer of life. These are 
called "snappers" or "snapper blues". 

Adult blues are present the year round in Florida but 
only during the wanner part of year much farther 
north; appear in middle Atlantic region during late 
spring and usually remain in numbers until mid- 


autumn. Trolling, casting, and bait fishing-with or 
without chummingare effective. 

When trolling with spoons, try Sparky and Hopkins 
luresthe former in the six to eight inch sizes at differ- 
ent depths and at varying speeds up to six miles per 
hour; jig lures while trolling. For trolling deep try 
monofilament line with three or four ounce sinker, and 
six foot leader to lure; or use wire line to obtain desired 
depth. Heavy, Canadian lake trout lures in dull nickel 
finish, Huntington Drone and Tony Acetta spoons may 
also be killers; troll these at the slower speeds, with 

When trolling feathered or bucktailed lures, try red 
and white, red and yellow, blue and white, and red and 
white and blue. Japanese plastic lures in squid and 
octopus types, with or without planer, may also be 
deadly; two or three trolled simultaneously with planer 
will often result in "doubleheaders**. 

Casting can be done from beach or boat. For surf 
fishing, try Hopkins lures about 18 inches to two feet 
behind red and white "teaser" lure of some type; experi- 
ment a bit with latter. Cut bait, or whole or live small 
fish can be used even freshwater species such as golden 
shiners. Locate fish by action of birds or other anglers. 

Casting from boat should be done in concentration 
areas such as inlet jetties. Bird action will usually reveal 
these. Very light tackle can be used. Try Mirrolures in 
the "OOM" and series, Hopkins lure, metal spoons 
and jigs, and bucktail jigs such as Barracuda, Snookums, 
and Upperman Bucktails. Try the spoons and jigs with 
porkrind and tail hook. If blues begin to bite swivels 
and sever line, don't use any swivels or try black ones. 


Chumming for blues can be a fine art. First important 
item is the chum, which should be fresh either freshly 
ground from fresh fish and kept well refrigerated, or 
freshly ground from freshly frozen fish and kept in the 
same manner. Menhaden, or moss-bunkers, Brevoortia 
tyrannis, mixed with some sharply cut pieces of butter- 
fish, Poronotus triacanthus, and whole spearing, Meni- 
dia menidia, is about tops. Don't skimp on the chum 
(commercial fishermen never do). 

Keep a quantity of whole fresh butterfish and whole 
frozen menhaden for cut bait. Partially thaw latter only 
before cutting. Butterfish should be cut cleanly with 
sharp knife into elongate pieces. Elongate pieces should 
be cut cleanly from backs of partially frozen menhaden. 
Cut only a few baits at a time and keep these under 
damp cloth or on ice. Cut more as needed. Bury hook 
( attached to heavy "gut" or fine wire leader about two 
feet long) as much as possible in bait with hook near 
tail end. Do not fray the edges of the bait in any man- 

Allow bait to drift back and sink at the same rate and 
in the same manner as the chum. Do this by stripping off 
two or three feet of line. at a time. Hold for a few sec- 
onds every ten feet or so and then continue up to 70 
feet. Then reel in slowly so as not to make bait ragged, 
and repeat. Ragged baits should be replaced at once. 
Watch slack in line and when fish strikes allow him to 
take slender rod tip down a bit; then tighten up. 

Use same chumming method at night; a bright light 
does not seem to bother fish. ( See Chapter 2 ) . 

Young ("snapper") bluefish can be taken by the cast- 
ing and trolling of artificial lures in addition to the con- 


ventional bait methods. Try trolling very small metal 
lures that do not spin too rapidly; Thomas and very 
small Sparky are excellent. Troll in the wash of the out- 
board about 30 feet astern and at surface. Jig occa- 
sionally to allow lure to skip. Stop the boat when fish is 
hooked and, after landing fish, cast lure quickly; chances 
are good for catching another by this method. Then pro- 
ceed with trolling. 

A superb game fish that fights savagely with varied 
pattern: sometimes jumps and sometimes doesn't. Ap- 
parently is more angry than afraid. Because of its abun- 
dance and behavior, is usually taken on far too heavy 
tackle in order to run up big scores. These big scores are 
then often recorded in local newspapers and this, in 
turn, encourages even bigger scores. Too bad. 


Also called gray sea trout and gray trout; this species 
should not be confused with the spotted weakfish or sea 
trout of our southern Atlantic coast. Prefers bay, estu- 
aries, and inshore ocean waters; migrations described in 
Chapter 5. 

Casting and bait fishing are most effective for cap- 
ture. For casting, try southern "clothespin" type of plug, 
Mirrolures in the "66M" and "003VT series, and Hop- 
kins with strip of squid or porkrind. Cast lures well up 
and across tide and allow to sink, then retrieve when 
lure is directly across tide. Speed of Mirrolures of the 
"OOM" series should be varied slightly; the other lures 
should be jigged sharply during retrieve. Keep lures 
within two or three feet of the bottom. Red and white 


patterns in the "clothespin" and Mirrolure "66M" seem 
most effective. Will also readily strike red and yellow 
"pompano" plugs and haired "squids" of the Snookums 
and Upperman Bucktail types with strip of squid or 
porkrind. Can also be taken on bucktail and Marabou 
streamers. Try red and yellow or red and white. Drift- 
ing and jigging with above lures can also be effective. 

Chumming with live grass shrimp is probably most 
effective method of bait fishing. Shrimp are thrown into 
tide a few at a time, and hook is baited with either a 
sea worm (sand worm) or several of the shrimp. Hook 
worm at head end only and strip off line two or three 
feet at a time. Mark distance behind boat where strike 
is obtained and fish at this distance. Fish strikes very 
savagely and hard; has weak mouth, so handle gently. 

One of the hardest striking of fishes, a squirmer, and 
a fairly good fighter. 

(Cynoscion nebulosus) 

The ranges of the northern and southern weakfish 
overlap from New Jersey to Georgia; but only in a very 
narrow range are both species equally abundant and 
only during short periods. 

Spotted sea trout are susceptible to the angling 
methods described for the northern weakfish, but are 
perhaps more vulnerable to the casting techniques. Try 
attaching No. 1 Upperman Bucktail about 18 inches be- 
hind "52M" Mirrolure. 

A beautiful gamefish that is often considered to be 


slightly inferior in eating quality when compared with 
the northern species. 

THE STRIPED BASS (Roccus saxatilus) 

Getting this fish to bite is always a challenge that 
usually requires knowledge and experience. When not 
migrating in spring or autumn, tends to bite only during 
certain conditions of time and tide in certain situations 
and only when acceptable lure or bait is correctly pre- 
sented. First problem is to determine striper situations 
and then work out other conditions and the problem of 
presentations. In rivers and estuaries, on the contrary, 
bait fishing may be simple and effective. Let's start off 
with bays and estuaries and then consider other areas. 

Probably the best method of locating and angling for 
stripers in bays and estuaries is to troll sea worms or a 
rigged eel behind an outboard during evening or night. 
Hang treble hook about 18 inches behind large June 
Bug spinner, and loop a sea worm onto each of the three 
hooks so that two-thirds length of worm is trailing. 
Troll slowly in midwater or near bottom. For rigged eel, 
prepare in manner described in Chapter 5 and rig as 
illustrated below. 

This trolling method is also effective in ocean waters, 
but so are some others. Try striped bass plugs one at 


surface and one weighted for midwater or near bottom 
60 to 150 feet behind boat during evening, night, and 
early morning. 

Casting can be considered under two general situa- 
tions: (1) surf casting from ocean beaches, and (2) 
casting near jetties and other rock formations, inlets, 
pilings, etc. 

When stripers are migrating during spring and 
autumn particularly the latter they are much easier to 
catch by surf casting than at other times. But even dur- 
ing these periods, fish tend to lurk in sloughs, "pockets", 
patches of rocky bottom, etc. The eye needs practice for 
spotting these situations, and a good time for study is 
when the tide is near low. Look for eddying currents 
and other signs of bottom irregularity. 

Surf casting with bait (sea worms) during spring is 
usually the most effective, but shedder crabs and soft- 
shelled crabs, which are available in late spring and 
summer, are among best of baits. Baits can be better 
held on the hook with a few windings of dark red 
thread, and soft-shelled crabs can be held to the hook 
with a hairnet. 

During autumn runs of stripers, surf casting comes 
into its own: "popping" and "flap tail" surface plugs, 
underwater plugs, metal "squids" and spoons, feathered 
or bucktailed "squids", eelskins, rigged eels, etc., etc. 
all come into play. Is difficult to prescribe just what to 
use. When stripers are actively feeding, popping plugs 
can commit mayhem; but fish can also be frequently 
coaxed to surface by so-called "flaptaiF plug when there 
is no sign of feeding. The chief problem is to find the 
haunts of this fish and then find the best time and stage 


of tide. When these have been discovered, one can go 
to work with excited anticipation. 

For casting near jetties, etc., try hucktail haired 
"squids" or Snookums and Upperman Bucktail types 
with and without porkrind. During daytime, allow to 
sink, and jig occasionally during retrieve; at night, use 
"slow creep". Correct presentation is very important. 

Bait fishing from boat can be effective in bays, inlets, 
estuaries and tidal rivers. Chumming with live grass 
shrimp can make bait fishing very productive. Live bait, 
(including shrimp), shedder crabs and soft-shelled 
crabs are very effective. Whole or cut shrimp (fresh or 
frozen) and sea worms may also score. 

A great challenge fish; strong and runs well but not a 
spectacular fighter; excellent eating when caught in un- 
polluted waters. 

THE SNOOK (Centropomus undecimalis) 

A superb gamefish of the brackish waters of Florida 
and the Gulf states. Often runs into adjacent fresh 
waters. Occasionally reaches a size of 30 pounds or 
more. Prefers cover such as brush, bridges, pilings, logs 
and mangroves. Tends to be a nocturnal feeder. 

In Everglades, casting of artificial lures can be very 
effective; this often requires considerable skill in order 
to get lure under overhang. Fish seems to prefer pale 

Try Mirrolures in the "52M" and "66M" series, 
streamers about three inches long in yellow with built- 
up head of black, and black body (about four long 
hackle feathers are needed). 


Retrieve with darting action either by uneven jigging 
or by stripping and jigging. 

Bait fishing with live shrimp among bridge pilings is 
popular method. 

When monster snook are seen lying on the bottom 
like cordwood during day in inlet or elsewhere, return 
in late evening with live bait preferably a "goggle eye" 
or other fish that will swim deep. Bait up and wait for 
results. They can sometimes be spectacular! 

One of the greatest of all gamefishes. Fish under 15 
pounds often great aerialists, although larger ones sel- 
dom jump. Delicious eating. In fact, has about every- 
thing, including a unique and mysterious challenge. 


Has a close relative in the Pacific bonito (Sarda chili- 
ensis) of our West coast and the coastal waters of Peru 
and Chile. Species look remarkably alike and both are 
vulnerable to trolled feathered jigs, Japanese squids of 
plastic, spoons, etc. Mention is made of Atlantic bonito, 
because it can often be chummed with ground men- 
haden and is "gut shy". When this occurs, use a maxi- 
mum of six-pound test monofilament and bury small 
hook completely in bait. 

One of the gamiest of fishes and excellent table fare. 


The same species as in the Pacific, but Atlantic blue- 
fins grow much larger and behave differently. Our re- 
marks will be confined to "school fish" up to 100 pounds. 


Can be trolled, jigged, and occasionally chummed. 
When trolling, try feathered "squids" and Japanese 
plastic "squids" in the wash and outside the wash from 
outriggers. In the wash, try a short line (about 20 to 30 
feet) with lure just under surface and in "boil", and an- 
other, longer line (up to 80 feet) in "slot" between 
"boil" and streak of foam. Outriggers can troll surface 
and a bit below in still water. 

If this fails, slow down a bit and take out inner lines; 
replace one with cedar "squid". Then drop back a Hop- 
kins lure or Huntington Drone spoon or heavy Canadian 
lake trout lure on steel or Monel metal line preferably 
the latter. Permit lure to sink about 30 feet and jig 
with variation while trolling at speed of about three or 
four miles per hour. Vary speed, once in a while, to give 
other lures a chance. 

If tuna are obviously feeding near surface and this 
doesn't mean playing at surface like porpoise try to 
determine target and try to match same. 

School tuna can sometimes be chummed with ground 
menhaden. When this happens, mix cut fish liberally 
with chum, with occasional whole fish. For bait, try 
whole butterfish, cleanly cut pieces of butterfish, balls 
of ground chum, or pieces of cleanly cut menhaden. 
Allow these to drift back and sink in precisely the same 
manner as the chum and with as inconspicuous a leader 
or line as possible. If bait sinks too rapidly, put small 
pieces of split cork on line about five feet above bait. 
Pay out gently by stripping line from reel, or with hands 
from previously stripped coil. Pay out as much as 150 
feet before retrieving and starting all over again. 

For balls of chum, try double or treble hooks with 


hank of thread for wrapping. Double hooks are easier 
to handle. Replace chum ball frequently. 

Possibly the gamiest fish that swims, along with alba- 
core and bonito. Extremely fast and strong, but with no 
aerial acrobatics. Keeps fighting until death invades 
cells of body. 

(Euthynnus alletteratus) 

An Atlantic tuna that reaches a weight of about 20 
pounds and which is fairly common along our Atlantic 
coast. Invades the middle Atlantic region in late sum- 
mer and autumn often in large numbers. Is susceptible 
to trolling and chumming, but is highly underestimated 
by the average angler, probably because he doesn't 
realize that it is a species of tuna and just as good eating 
as the bluefin. 

When trolling, use methods described for bluefin 
tuna, but also try some modifications: Try large buck- 
tail streamers in red and yellow up to 150 feet astern 
and at slower speed. Also try cedar plugs at varying 
speeds and distances. 

Many anglers consider this fish to be "inch for inch 
and pound for pound" truly the gamiest fish that swims. 
It is most unfortunate that its eating qualities are but 
little known. ( See following chapter. ) 

(Paralichthys dentatus) 

An abundant species in the middle Atlantic states. 
Has close relatives in the southern fluke Paralichthys 


lethostigma, the Gulf fluke, P. albigutta, the California 
"halibut", P. californicus, and the lenguada of Chile and 
Peru, P. chiliensis. Movements ancl migrations have 
been described in Chapter 5. 

Drifting with live or cut bait is popular method in 
middle Atlantic region, although slow trolling with cut 
bait particularly when tide is not swift is usually more 
effective. Strips of cut bait four to ten inches in length 
from white or dark side of fluke (try both) with split 
tail and prepared in the manner described in Chapter 6 
are very effective. Hook these at anterior end only, 
about 18 inches behind small June Bug spinner. An 
orange or red bead at head of spinner may increase ef- 
fectiveness. Experiments with large tandem spinners 
have failed to show any superiority and are clumsy. 
Never allow bait to spin and. keep it within a foot of 
bottom. Jig bait slightly every ten seconds or so. 

When fluke strikes, wait until he "climbs rope" before 
striking. This requires much practice and is still a 
tantalizing affair. 

Casting with bait or lures can also be effective. Try 
clothespin and pompano type plugs, or Mirrolures in 
the "52M" series. Red and white or red and yellow seem 
to be the most effective. Allow these to sink and jig them 
along bottom during retrieve. With bait, use "slow 

(Pseudopleuronectes americanus) 

A great favorite of rowboat anglers of middle and 
north Atlantic coast during spring and autumn when 


it is abundant in bays and estuaries. Seasonal move- 
ments and spawning habits have been described in 
Chapter 5. 

For fishing locations, try the margins of channels- 
particularly in tidal eddies formed by islands etc. If 
first spot doesn't produce after 15 minutes, pull anchor 
and try another. Use two flounder hooks separated by 
a spreader decorated with orange beads. Fish will bite 
pieces of sea worms (sand worms), blood worms, soft- 
shelled clams, hard clams, etc. Many experiments in 
many localities have indicated that sea worms are al- 
most always preferred, but that the other baits will be 
taken readily when no choice. Use "slow lift" technique. 

To shorten the time between bites, use onion or 
orange bag containing freshly crushed mussels or clams 
and large stone. Lower this to bottom and shake occa- 
sionally. Also fasten a "plumber's helper" to long pole 
and churn bottom from time to time. Flounders are at- 
tracted to both and seem unafraid. Every 15 minutes or 
so, raise chum bag, crush mollusks again with foot, and 
lower once more. 


A family relative of the California sheepshead and the 
pejeperro of Chile and Peru. Prefers mussel beds and 
rocky regions where it will work its way into caverns, 
sometimes on its side. Shores of New England are tops 
for this strong species, where 12-pounders are common. 
Seems to be completely without "gut shyness" and 
strictly a bait fish. 

Use small, strong hooks and work "spots" in the bot- 


torn where sinker goes a little deeper. Use "slow lift" 
technique and allow for just a bit of "rope climbing" 
before striking. 

Probably best bait of all is hermit crabs, although a 
half or quarter of green crab or a clump of shrimp or a 
mussel or a section of sea clam may also score well. Can 
usually be readily chummed with live grass shrimp. 


These include just about all other bottom dwelling 
families or "deep sea" species that are readily available 
to the angler the grunts, porgies, sea basses, snappers, 
codfishes, rockfishes, etc. The three chief angling prin- 
ciples to be remembered with these fishes are (1) the 
"slow lift" or "slow creep", (2) possible "gut shyness" 
and (3) the "choice tidbit" approach. Little else is 
needed unless one wishes to do it the hard way. 

And as for the choicest tidbit? 

Well, the hermit crab certainly deserves considera- 


Let's Eat! 

Better a sprat than no fish at 
all. Aesop 


t may seem strange that in certain highly civilized 
parts of the world, any use of ice with fish is frowned 
upon by many consumers. This disfavor, however, is 
nothing new. The ancient and highly civilized Greeks, 
who prized fish as a great culinary delicacy, even pro- 
hibited the use of fresh water on fish, and their attitude 
was well founded. 

The concern is involved with the true freshness of the 
fish or, more accurately, the shortness of time between 
the removal from the water and the offering for sale. In 
our country, for instance, the product offered as "fresh 
fish" may have been in crushed ice for several weeks or, 
perhaps, have been frozen for months, thawed, and 
kept on ice for another week or so. This does not render 
the product unsafe to eat. It simply permits the "aging" 
process, so desirable for red meat, to take place in fish. 
And tenderized fish is far inferior to firm, fresh fish. 

Lest anyone question the accuracy of this account, 
what did the "fresh mackerel" you saw at the store last 
time look like? Was it gleaming iridescent silver with 



solid black lines in deep rich green? Were the eyes 
bright and the gills blood red? The flesh firm? Was there 
only a slight fishy odor? We doubt it. And this is why 
the ancient Greeks objected to glazing with fresh water 
and why many moderns suspect aging when a fish is on 
ice. In short, that which can be of invaluable aid in 
preserving the freshness of fish (chilling) is prone to be 
commercially abused. 

We mention all this here, because we have long sus- 
pected that many anglers who are not interested in eat- 
ing the fish they catch are suffering from psychological 
scars gained from an early introduction to the average 
"fresh fish" at the American marketplace. It is to be 

Outside on the stone terrace of the old New England 
cottage, the gasoline stove breathed mightily to heat the 
big pot of fresh sea water with its clumps of floating 
rockweed. Faint rustles in the giant paper bag next to 
the stove were comforting assurance that the lobsters 
were still alive. 

In the kitchen next to the terrace there was great ac- 
tivity. Some of the guests were stripping the newly 
picked corn while others were rinsing the soft clams. 
Next to the stove and ready to go into the pan was a 
heap of freshly cleaned snapper bluefish that had been 
caught that morning. The hostess was putting garden 
fresh lettuce, red ripe tomatoes and sliced cucumbers 
into a wooden salad bowl before adding the chilled 
meat of freshly cooked blue crabs. The host was mixing 
highballs, checking the lobster kettle, and making sure 
that the vintage Sauterne was chilling correctly. 



As the twilight descended upon the blue waters of 
the nearby estuary, all was ready the steaming hot lob- 
sters, the melted butter with a touch of garlic, the corn, 
the crabmeat salad > the clams with cups of hot broth, 
the ice cold Sauterne, and the snapper bluefish fried to 
a golden brown. 

All ate and drank their fill save one guest who had 
had distasteful exposures to "fresh fish' early in life. 
Being a gentleman, sportsman and fine angler, however, 
he ate his hamburgers, corn, and salad (minus crab- 
meat), with zest and a sense of genuine good will to- 
wards his fellow man. 

Pending a much needed betterment and grading of 
fishery products at the marketplace, the angler can use 
his enviable position of quality control to great advan- 
tage. Absent, for example, is the need for any "doctor- 

LET'S EAT 187 

ing" with strong sauces and poaches, and the true flavor 
goodness can be carefully guarded. 

One of the most important characteristics of fishes 
that has to do with their eating quality is their^tendency 
to take on the flavor of their environment. This accounts 
for the "muddy" or algae taste of some fish from warm, 
weedy ponds and also accounts for the "oily" taste of 
fish taken from harbor waters or from polluted rivers. 
These flavors do not affect "safeness" for eating, but 
they can be very distasteful. 

Another factor that affects the flavor of fishes is the 
chief foods that they feed upon. Hatchery reared trout, 
for example, are inferior to wild trout; and rainbow and 
lake trout that have been feeding heavily upon alewife 
herring ( "sawbellies" ) are inferior in flavor to trout that 
have been feeding chiefly upon other aquatic life. 

The color of many fishes, and particularly members 
of the trout family, is also affected by their diet. The 
bright external colors of certain trout, for instance, or 
the yellowish or orange pink of their flesh and eggs is 
due to a pigment that occurs in the "shells" of insects. 
It is the same pigment that makes lobsters, shrimp, etc., 
turn red when they are boiled. 


The first problem in quality control is what to do 
with the fish immediately after it is caught. The ideal 
procedure, of course, would be to bury it in crushed ice, 
but this is usually impossible or impractical. Indeed 
there are so many types of situations that no hard and 
fast rule can be recommended. 

188 LET'S EAT 

When fishing a stream, we greatly prefer the cloth 
and mesh creel to the old-fashioned basket. We simply 
drop the fish into the creel and allow evaporation to aid 
in keeping the fish cool. From time to time we quickly 
dip the mesh part of the creel with the fish into the 
stream in order to aid the desired evaporation. We have 
learned that among the worst things we can do is to 
bury the fish in ferns or partially clean it. 

When on a boat, and when a special fish box with ice 
is not available, we prefer a coarse-meshed bag such as 
an onion or orange bag, or a fruit basket, or the special 
wire basket used by commercial fishermen. This is again 
to allow for evaporation. With certain oily fish, such as 
mackerel and bluefish, ice is almost a "must". 

The gutting or partial cleaning of a fish may do more 
harm than good. Most gamefishes, for instance, in con- 
trast to most game mammals, are highly predaceous and 
have short intestines. And the food they consume 
doesn't quickly "ferment" and cause bloating as is the 
case with a deer or a rabbit. On the other hand, the di- 
gestive juices of a fish, the contents of its kidneys, and 
its partially digested food should not be allowed to spill 
onto the muscle flesh without early and thorough wash- 
ing. It's almost always best to leave the internal organs 
of a fish, including its gills, strictly alone and intact 
until a thorough job can be done. 


After much trial and error, we have come to the con- 
clusion that the preparation of fish both for cooking or 

LET'S EAT 189 

freezing should be done in exactly the same manner- 
minus, of course, the packaging for the deep freeze. In 
other words, the fish that comes out of the package and 
is thawed should not require any further cutting. This 
brings up our first problem of personal preference 
(there will be many more) which might be entitled: 
To Skin or Not to Skin. 

Possibly no angler whether a Democrat or a Repub- 
licanwould ever strongly oppose the skinning of eels 
or catfish. Indeed it is questionable whether any objec- 
tion would be extended to the skinning of tautog 
(blackfish). But here agreement probably ends and we 
are in trouble. Some persons, for instance, insist upon 
skinning yellow and white perch, bluegills, walleyed 
pike, cod, flounders, etc., while others wouldn't even 
dream of such a "desecration"! Needless to say, we have 
no desire to enter this controversy, even though we 
happen to belong to the "not to skin" school of thought. 

The point we should like to make here, however, is 
that it's much easier to skin or scale a fish shortly after 
it has been removed from the water than later on, and 
particularly before freezing. This brings us to the next 
problem, which might be entitled: To Fillet or Not to 

Here again is a matter of preference, depending upon 
the most desirable product for the table. The size of the 
fish is also a factor. One would hesitate, for example, to 
fillet a yellow perch, a small brookie, a sailor's choice, a 
bluegill, or a snapper blue. These call for whole frying. 
But fillets of larger fish for broiling, frying, poaching, 
baking, or chowder are often called for, and if filleting 
is to be done, then "'twere well it were done quickly". 

190 LET'S EAT 


Correct packaging and quick freezing are the secrets 
of quality control in storing fish in the deep freeze. First 
of all, however, be sure that all traces of kidney, heart, 
liver, gills, etc. are removed. The kidney, which lies just 
beneath the backbone, is sometimes difficult to clean 
out thoroughly because of pockets between bones. Use 
the tip of the knife for this. 

After rinsing the fish in cold water it can be double- 
wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and freezer tape. An- 
other excellent method, and one that we prefer, is to use 
regular plastic vegetable bags and cardboard boxes 
(quart size) and freeze the fish in water. The plastic 
bag is packed while standing in the box, enough cold 
water is added to cover, the air is sucked out of the bag, 
and the bag sealed with a rubber band. 

When placing the packages in the freezer compart- 
ment of the deep-freeze, be sure to allow space for air 
to circulate around each package. In other words, don't 
pile them into a solid heap until after they are thor- 
oughly frozen. 

Oily fish such as mackerel, bluefish, and trout do not 
maintain their flavor as long as the non-oily species, and 
it may be preferable to use the former within a three 
month period. 


This is the most controversial subject of them all due 
to the wide variety of tastes among people. In the simple 
matter of frying, for instance, some persons prefer but- 

LET'S EAT 191 

ter, others prefer bacon fat, while still others insist upon 
the fat of salt pork. (P.S. We use corn oil) The nature 
of the dip would appear to be equally controversial: 
white flour, cracker meal, bread crumbs or cornmeal. 
And as for cornmeal, some prefer the regular yellow 
while others will use nothing but the whole, stone 
ground product. (On this one we dare not comment.) 

But for shallow pan frying we do have the temerity to 
suggest a fairly hot fire, a very light sprinkling of onion 
salt or onion powder, and some fresh lemons. 

As for deep or so-called "trench" frying surely a mis- 
nomera law should certainly be passed against it. In 
fact we know of no more horrible custom than the 
American one of putting even aged fish to such a final 
insult. And, as if this were not enough, injury is added 
to insult in the form of a pasty thick batter. 

But, seriously, deep frying can produce a magnificent 
product in the form of "fish 'n chips" if it is done cor- 
rectly; so let's venture our first recipe on this one. Many 
fish can be used cod, haddock, walleyes, great northern 
pike, etc. Here are the ingredients, and the amounts 
should depend upon the number and characteristics of 
the consumers: 

1. Potatoes (Idaho or Green Mountain vari- 

ties preferred) 

2. Thick, skinned fillets of fish 

3. Fresh eggs 

4. White flour 

5. Salt, onion salt, and pepper. 

Cut fish into chunks about the size of walnuts, and 
cut peeled potatoes into pieces about two or three 

192 LET'S EAT 

inches long and one-half inch thick. Put flour, salt, and 
some onion salt into paper bag. Break an egg or two 
into dish, add one tablespoon of cold water per egg and 
beat into uniformity. 

Heat saucepan of corn or cottonseed oil, with wire 
basket ready, until the oil begins to smoke slightly. 
(Drop in a potato chip and see whether it will cook in 
20 seconds. ) 

Dip the chunks of fish into the egg and water mix, 
put into paper bag with flour, etc. and shake. Then 
place two layers of fish chunks into basket and lower 
into hot oiL (If oil threatens to boil over, lift out every 
few seconds until this threat ceases.) 

When fish is cooked to light brown, place on pan in 
warm oven and cook second batch. Then fry the po- 
tatoes and place these on flat paper bag or paper towel- 
ling and sprinkle with salt. (P.S. A tossed salad and a 
chilled Rhine wine go nicely with this. ) 


Now that we have broken the ice on a very simple, 
but delicious dish, let's try another. This one is tradi- 
tional to America, despite our use of some modern 
products. In other words, this is our version of New 
England fish chowder. The ingredients: 

1. Some white onions 

2. Some potatoes (Green Mountain or Idaho 

preferred ) 

3. Some fillets of fish (white perch, yellow 

perch, smallmouth bass, walleye, north- 
em pike, cod, haddock, tautog, etc.) 

LET'S EAT 193 

4. Evaporated milk (cans) 

5. Salt, pepper, etc. 

6. Butter 

Peel and cut potatoes into half -inch cubes and slice 
one onion for every two potatoes. 

If open pot is used,, cover onions and potatoes with 
water and boil for ten minutes without lid before adding 
fish. Boil another ten minutes with the fish, then add 
evaporated milk, salt and pepper as desired. Also add 
big lump of butter. Simmer, then serve. 

If pressure pot is used, cook potatoes, fish and onions 
all together for about three minutes. Then add milk and 
butter, simmer and serve. Sprinkling paprika well over 
surface, before serving, may be desired. 


Broiling can be done alone or combined with baking. 
It also can be combined with poaching; and this is 
where matters can become very complicated. Broiling 
in the strict sense, of course, means cooking either under 
or over a direct open flame or other heat. In other words 
there is no intermediate agency of heat transfer. 

Quite frankly, we have long since given up on the 
pure broiling of fish except for fresh swordfish steaks 
over charcoal. We almost always combine broiling with 
baking, and often with a bit of poaching. Rather than go 
into laborious details here, let's just offer a recipe for 
"broiled bonito". Ingredients: 

1. Split bonito or "boneless" fillets 

2. Butter and vegetable oil 

194 LET'S EAT 

3. Salt, onion salt, pepper and fresh milk 

4. Fresh lemon 

5. Chopped parsley and paprika 

Place bonito skin side down in oiled broiling pan, 
brush with oil and dot with butter. Sprinkle lightly with 
onion salt and pepper, and sprinkle more heavily with 
salt. Place about six inches under broiler flame or elec- 
tric unit and partially close oven door about three- 
fourths of way. When fish begins to turn slightly brown, 
pour milk or court-bouillon over fish to a depth of about 
one-quarter inch in pan, close oven door and set to 350 
degree temperature. Baste every few minutes. Add juice 
of lemon shortly before fish is cooked and keep basting. 
Turn back to broil or return fish to broiler during last 
moment if crispy brown is desired. Pour juices from pan 
over fish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and paprika, 
and serve with fresh lemon wedge. 

This recipe, needless to say, is also applicable to 
mackerel, bluefish, "finnan haddy", trout, salmon and 
almost any other fish. We prefer it, however, only with 
the "oily" and smoked fishes. With others, we usually 
eliminate the poaching. 


Here is a real challenge. A six pound bluefish, lake 
trout, striped bass or walleye, stuffed correctly and 
roasted to the correct shade of brown is as much a tri- 
umph as a successfully roasted suckling pig or ribs of 
beef. Here is what we suggest: 

LET'S EAT 195 

1. Put fresh or freshly thawed fish (with head 

and tail intact, of course ) upon table and 
estimate amount of stuffing needed to fill 
body cavity without bulging unnaturally. 

2. Pour out packaged stuffing of choice into 

bowl in the estimated amount. 

3. Peel and chop one large onion and add to 

stuffing, and moisten to desired degree 
with orange juice. 

4. Stuff fish and sew up with needle and 

thread. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 
onion salt. 

5. Place in greased roasting pan and place in 

hot oven (450 degrees) without lid. Pour 
on a cup of vegetable oil. 

6. When skin is seared, reduce temperature 

to 400 and begin to baste every ten min- 

7. Pour two cups of white dry wine over fish, 

when skin begins to turn brown, and re- 
duce temperature to 350. Maintain this 
and keep basting. 

8. Squeeze juice of two lemons over fish at 

three-quarter mark and keep basting. 
Sprinkle with onion salt. 

Serve whole on platter with parsley and lemon 

Ice cold Reisling, Moselle or dry Sauterne go very 
well with this dish. Also summer squash, tossed salad, 
wax beans and fresh corn-on-cob. 

196 LET'S EAT 


We've already partially gotten into this subject with 
the milk and court-bouillon. Court-bouillon, inciden- 
tally, is very simple to prepare. Just cut a bunch of car- 
rots, a head of celery and some onions and drop these 
into enough boiling water with some salt, peppercorns 
and bay leaves. Simmer for a day or so and then strain 
off the "court-bouillon". 

Milk, as we have seen, is also a poaching agent, and 
so is white wine. We prefer to use the latter only with 
"oily" fish and here's a method. The ingredients: 

1. Fish fillets 

2. White wine (dry) 

3. White onion or chives 

4. Salt and pepper 

Soak fish in enough wine to cover for about a half- 
hour and with some finely chopped onion. Place in 
poaching pan and bake in oven (350) for about an- 
other half hour. Serve. (P.S. We're sure you may not 
like it.) 


This approach is rather special. It is often used by 
those who prefer a bland fish flavor. Here is a recipe for 
steamed cod with egg sauce. 

1. Take a whole, or section, of cod and steam 
for about ten minutes per pound. ( Sprin- 
kle lightly with onion salt, salt and pep- 
per beforehand.) 

LET'S EAT 197 

2. Prepare white sauce and add an abundance 
of finely chopped, hardboiled eggs with 
a sprinkle of paprika and chopped pars- 
ley. (P.S. The same thing can be done 
with a skinned tautog. ) 

Steamed or boiled fish is also delicious for use when 
chilled. This is one of the "lost tastes" of North Amer- 
ica and one that should surely be revived. We had to 
travel a long way, for instance, to discover that steamed 
and chilled mullet was a delicacy. And when we en- 
countered Congrio Colorado in Chile, our mind and 
taste were truly stimulated. 

Perhaps this is why we appreciated carp in aspic 
when we returned to the homeland. Here is a method: 

1. Scale freshly caught carp, clean and re- 

move gills. 

2. Cut into sections, with head intact, salt 

lightly, and put into refrigerator over- 

3. Next day, place all in saucepan and cover 

with water; add a finely chopped onion, 
bring to a boil but simmer for a half hour. 

4. Remove from stove and place in refrigera- 

tor for overnight without pouring out the 

Next day you will find a delicious fish "in aspic" 
with excellent flavor and texture. (P.S. Some beer and 
crackers go very well with this dish! ) 

198 LET'S EAT 


Barbecued fish is a delicious product but involves 
certain difficulties in the cooking. The chief difficulty 
is the strong tendency for the skin of the fish to stick 
to the grill Even liberal and repeated applications of 
shortening may not solve the problem. Another 
stumbling-block is the tendency of many fishes to fall 
off skewers while cooking. Wooden sticks seem superior 
to metal, and, if an outdoor grill is equipped with a 
rotating skewer, a wrapping of fine wire will often help* 
Some fish, such as swordfish steaks, offer no problem. 


The home canning of certain fishes is a rather simple 
procedure that yields a product of superb quality. The 
species include ocean bonito (called "skipjack" on the 
West coast and "watermelon" bonito on the Atlantic 
seaboard), bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, albacore, and 
the little tuna or false albacore of our Atlantic coast. 
The last named species incidentally, while having 
slightly darker flesh than the others, yields a product 
that is every bit as good. 

Actually, the commercial emphasis on "light" meat, 
"white" meat, etc. is very misleading. For the dark meat 
or "streak", which is present in the sides of all tuna and 
tuna-like fishes is always carefully removed before 

The equipment and ingredients needed for nine pints 
or 18 half -pints of the canned product are as follows: 

LET'S EAT 199 

A pressure cooker of the home-canning type. 

Nine pint or 18 half -pint Mason jars with self- 
sealing lids. 

A stout knife, well sharpened. 

Approximately 25 pounds of whole fish. 

Five pounds of salt. 

A pint of vegetable oil such as cottonseed, soy- 
bean, "salad" oil, etc. (The use of oil is op- 
tional., but is greatly preferred by many. ) 

Skin and fillet the fish as soon as possible after being 
caught. If it is not possible to can it within two days, 
wrap the fillets and place them in the deep-freeze. 

Prepare a brine of one cup of salt per gallon of cold 
water, add some pieces of ice and soak fillets for at least 
four hours; overnight if more convenient. Then rinse 
thoroughly in running water and remove "dark streak". 
With false albacore this is facilitated by dipping fillets 
in scalding water for a few minutes so that the dark 
streak will become more conspicuous. Trim off meat of 
belly wall, rather liberally, because this is quite fat and 
of inferior quality. 

Cut large pieces of fish from the fillets as large as 
can be conveniently fitted into the jars and pack firmly. 
Smaller pieces are used to fill spaces after the first two 
or three large pieces have been put into the jar. Pack 
the jars tightly to within about three-fourths inch of 
the top, but no more, and then add one level teaspoon 
of salt per pint jar. 

If oil is to be used, enough should be added to fill any 
spaces within the pack and just to cover the fish. In 


order to allow the oil to run into the spaces, an ordinary 
table knife can be inserted between the glass jar and 
the fish, and manipulated until the spaces are filled. 

Before capping the jars, make sure that their sealing 
edges are not chipped and then wipe these edges with 
a cloth so that they are clean and smooth. Dip the metal 
cap into hot water for about ten seconds or keep some 
in hot water until used and place it on top of the jar. 
Then, keeping the cap in position, screw down the metal 
band. Tighten firmly, but avoid "heavy persuasion". No 
further tightening is necessary at any time! 

The jars should then be placed into the cooker ac- 
cording to the manufacturer's directions. Process them 
for 100 minutes at a pressure of ten pounds. (The hun- 
dred minutes are counted from the time the ten pounds 
of pressure has been reached.) 

When this cooking period is over and the pressure 
cooker has been cooled and exhausted in accordance 
with the manufacturer's directions, carefully remove the 
jars and place them, right side up, on folded towels or 
newspapers. Dorit place them on hard, cold surfaces, 
and dont tighten the lids any further! 

When the jars have cooled completely, they should 
be tested for "seal" by tapping the lids lightly with the 
handle of a table fork or spoon. If sealed, the lid will 
have a musical or ringing tone rather than a thud or 
dead sound, and the jars may be put away for storage. If 
in doubt about any jar^ put this in the refrigerator and 
use within a week or so. 

In fact it is always desirable to have one jar fail to 
seal. Because this prompts an early tasting of the effort 

LET'S EAT 201 

and an opportunity to decide whether or not it is su- 
perior to the "boughten" product. 

Needless to say, there is much more to cooking fish 
than we have mentioned here. There is the matter of 
herbs, for instance, and the blending of different fishes 
into one recipe. And there is the matter of exotic sauces, 
etc. But it is our position that when truly fresh fish are 
involved, it is a question of how to let the fish speak for 
itself in flavor and texture amidst other fresh sur- 
roundings and refreshed memories. Only the wine need 
be old. 


Adams, 152 

Aesop, 184 

albacora, see broadbill swordfish 

albacore, 169, 179, see also false 

alewife herring, 54, see also yel- 
low perch 

Alosa sapidissima, see shad 

Amazon River, 83 

Ameiurus nebulosus, see brown 

Amphibia, 86 

anchovies, 118, 170 

angleworm, 37 

animal plankton, 99, see also 

Antofagasta, Chile, 119 

aquatic insects, 37 

Atlantic bluefin tuna, see bluefin 

Atlantic bonita, 114, 118, 120, 

121, 169, 179 
discussed, 178 

Atlantic coast, 11, 44, 66, 67, 74, 
85, 92, 96, 103, 110, 113, 
117, 129, 156, 162, 169 

Atlantic continental shelf, 98, 99, 
101, 104, 114 

Atlantic mackerel, 114 

Atlantic salmon, 148 

Atlantic shad, see shad 

autumn albacore, see false alba- 


Bacon, Francis, 122 

bait casting, 9, 125 

bait fishing, 9, 125 

barbels, 36, 37 

barley, 162 

barometer, 47 

Barracuda, 171 

bass, 35, 41, 55, 64, 70, 94, see 

also largemouth bass and 

small mouth bass 
bass bud, 128 
bass plugs, 175 
Bay of Mas a Tierra, 124 
Beaverkill, 43, 83, 90, 91 
Bee, 151 
beeswax, 80 
Benguela Current, 117 
Bermuda, 93 

blackback, see winter flounder 
blackfish, see tautog 
Blackflies, 151 

Black Ghost, 144, 145, 148, 152 
Black Gnat No. 10, 10, 152 
black marlin, 118 
blacknosed dace, 86, 89 
Block Island, 119 
blood worms, 182 
blowfish, 121 

discussed, 107, 108 
blueback, see cisco 
blue crabs, 121 

bluefin tuna, 114, 115, 167, 180 
discussed, 178-180 




bluefish, 24, 25, 42, 108, 112, 113, 
121, 130, 169, 185, 190 

discussed, 170-173 
bluegill sunfish, 73, 74, 76, 189 

discussed, 158 
blue marlin, 114, 115 
blue pike, 23 
"bonefish of fresh water," see 


bonita, see Atlantic bonita 
Boston bluefish, see pollack 
"Boston" mackerel, see Atlantic 


Brevootia tyrannis, see menhaden 
"brim," see bluegill sunfish 
broadbill, see broadbill swordfish 
broadbill swordfish, 99, 114, 118, 

119, 120, 121, 169 
Bromley, Albert, 37, 83n 
brook trout, 52, 54, 55, 62, 64, 65, 

88, 89, 154 
discussed, 151 

brown bullhead, 36, 37, 96 

discussed, 158 
brown trout, 6, 20, 54, 55, 85, 88, 

89, 90, 128, 151 
discussed, 154-156 

bucktail, 6, 144, 148, 157 
butterfish, 172, 179 

caddis larvae, 132 
Cahills, 152 
calico, see crappie 
California, 98 
California Current, 117 
California halibut, 181 
California sheepshead, 182 
Canada, 6, 51, 71, 76, 146, 148, 

Canadian lake trout lures, 171,, 


Cape Cod, 103, 121, 170 
Cape Cod Canal, 6 
Captain Otto, 25 
Carangidae, see jack 
carbonates, 49 

carbon dioxide, 49 

carp, 16, 36, 94 
discussed, 163-166 

Catskffls, 83, 85, 89, 91, 92 

catfish, 16, 36, 74, 95, 189 

Cayuga, 51 

Centropomus undecimalls, see 

Centropristes striatus, see sea bass 

channel catfish, 73, 96 
discussed, 158-160 

chenille, 81 

Chesapeake Bay, 11, 109, 110, 
111, 112 

Chian, 16 

Chile, 117, 119, 178, 181, 182 

Chilean Navy, 124 

chipping sparrow, 88 

chlorides, 49 

"Christmas tree," see flasherspoon 

chromatospores, 36 

chub mackerel, 114 

chumming, 10, 24, 25, 42, 44, 
128, 132, 162, 170 

Cisco, 23, 55, 65, 67, 70 
discussed, 161, 162 

clams, 121 

"climbing the rope," described, 

Coates, Dr. C. W., 132n 

cod, 36, 101, 102, 121, 189 

codfish, 167, 183 

Columbia River, 85 

"come handy," see jigging 

common bonita, see Atlantic bo- 

common eel, see eel 

Coney Island Aquarium, 131 

Congress of the United States, 16 

Congrio Colorado, 197 

Connecticut River, 93 

conservation, discussed, 12, 13 

Coregonus artedii, see cisco 

Coregonus clupeaformis, see 

corneum, 36 

"cowbells," see flasherspoon 

crappie, 73, 75, 147 



crayfish, 43 

crayfish, soft-shelled, 145 

croakers, 36, 108, 109 

crow, 60 

crustaceans, 37 

Curtillis, 16 

Curtis, Dr. Brian, 27n 

cusk, 102 

Cynoscion nebulosus, see spotted 


Cynoscion regalis, see weakfish 
Cyprinis carpio, see carp 


Dacron, 153 
Daredevils, 151, 156 
Dave Davis, 149 
deer, 88 

Defoe, Daniel, 124 
Delaware, 85 
Delaware Bay, 11, 85 
Delaware River, 83, 85 y 92, 94, 
95, 97, 110, 159, 160, 161 

East Branch of, 83, 90, 92 

map of, 84 

West branch of, 83, 92 
Delaware Water Gap, 95, 96 
dew worm, see nightwalker 
"dickie bird fishing," described, 


"dipsy" sinker, 164 
dobsons, see hellgrammites 
dog trout, see brown trout 
"double headers," 130, 171 
doughball, 164 

how to prepare, 165 
dragonflies nymphs, 160 
"dredging," 137 
dropper fly, 128 
dry fly, 9, 42 
Dying Quiver, 147 

eastern chain pickerel, 65, 73, 76, 

discussed, 156-157 

Edson Dark Tiger, 150 

eel, 92, 94, 138, 175, 189 

elecampane, 16 

electronic thermometers, 141 

elvers, 93, 94 

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 22 

entomology, 80 

epilimnion, 53, 61, 62, 70, 75 

Esox lucius, see great northern 

Esox masquinongy, see muskel- 

Esox niger > see eastern chain 

Europe, 94 
Euthynnus alletteratus, see little 

Everglades, 177 

false albacore, see Httle tuna 
Female Beaverkills, 152 
Finger Lakes, 51, 52n, 164 
"finnan haddy," 194 
Fire Island Inlet, 107 

biological characteristics cl, 

canning of, 198 

color perception of, 28 

detection of water temperature 
differences by, 46 

effect of atmospheric pressure 
on, 47 

fear substance of, 35 

feeding activity of, 45 

feeling of, 29 

general behavior of, 39ff 

hearing of, 29 

"learning" of, 40 

memory of, 41 

preparation of, 191-201 

sense of smell of, 35 

sixth sense of, 29 

approaches to, 128 

as an art and science, 122ff 



fishing (Cont.): 

fresh water, 142-166 

legislation of, 12 

salt water, 167-183 
fishery biologists, 2, 5 
Fishery Resources of the United 

States, lOln 

"fish *n chips," recipe for, 191 
Fitzgerald, Edward, 49 
flasherspoon, 130, 132, 153 
flatfish, 148 

deformity of, 105, 106 
Florida, 23, 133, 156, 170, 177 
flounder, 101, 121, 189 
fluke, 35, 101, 104, 121, 180 
fluke spinner, 6 
fly casting, 125 
frogs, 3, 132, 145 
frogs eggs, 68 

gannet, 118 

garden hackles, 87 

Georges Bank, 102 

Georgia, 174 

giant squid, 118, 120 

"goggle eye," 178 

golden shiners, 75, 76, 77 

goldfish, 124 

Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear, 152, 154 

"gollywoggle," 126 

grasshoppers, 3, 43, 87, 132, 151, 


gray sole, see sole 
gray trout, see weakfish 
gray sea trout, see weakfish 
Great Beach, 113 
great brown trout, see brown 

Great Lakes, 52n, 64, 65n, 66, 67, 

69, 71, 92, 100, 156, 159, 

Great Lakes drainage, 23 

great northern pike, 65, 65n, 67, 

70, 73, 157 
discussed, 156 

Great South Bay, 107 

greenback, see cisco 

green crab, 183 

groundfish, 100, 103 

grouse, ruffled, 88 

grunts, 183 

guanine, 36 

guano bird, 118 

guddling, 32-34 

Gulf fluke, 181 

Gulf of Mexico, 99, 177 

Gulf Stream, 24, 114, 116, 117 

"gut shy," 41 


hackle feathers, 128 

hackle streamers, 148 

haddock, 101, 102 

hake, 101, 121 

halibut, 101 

Hampton, N.J., 4 

Hancock, N.Y., 92 

Harnell glass rod, 150 

"hatch" of aquatic insects, 10 

hellgrammites, 132, 145, 160 

hermit crabs, 132, 183 

hermit thrush, 88 

herring, 93, 113, 162, see also 


Hopkins, 171, 173, 179 
Horace, The Complete Works of, 


horned pout, see brown bullhead 
"horsed," 146 

Hudson River, 11, 85, 110, 111 
Humboldt Current, 116, 117, 118, 

119, 120, 121 
Humboldt penguins, 118 
Huntington Drone, 150, 171, 179 
hypolimnion, 53, 72, 75, 91, 162 

"ice out," 52 

Impala, 80, 158 

incomplete angler, concepts of, 

Irresistible No. 10, 152 




jack (carangidae) family, 124 

jack crevalle, 134 

Japanese beetles, 43 

Japanese squid, 178 

jellyfish, 24 

"jibia," see giant squid 

"jigging," described, 136 

Jitterbug, 147 

Juan Fernandez Islands, 124 

June bug spinners, 151, 161, 175, 

"Junk Lure," 44 

Labrador Current, 117, 118 

lake catfish, 73 

lake "herring," see cisco 

lakes, "turn overs" of, 55 

lake trout, 46, 52, 54, 55, 60, 62, 

66, 70, 106, 150 
lamprey, 16, 92, 92n, 97 
"lamprey eels," 92 
lamprey larvae, 161 
"landlocked lamprey," 92, 92n 
landlocked salmon, 52, 54, 55, 60, 

62, 63, 65, 106, 130, 154 
discussed, 148-150 
largemouth bass, 6, 28, 40, 41, 63, 

67, 70, 71, 73, 77, 158 
discussed, 146-148 

larvae, 92, 93 

lateral line, 30, 31, 39 

Lazy Ike, 147 

leeches, 132, 145 

lemon sole, 102 

lenguada, 181 

Lepomis macrochirus, see bluegill 


Lesbian wine, 16 
"leverage," described, 136 
Life Story of the Fish, His Morals 

and Manners, The, 27n 
light, refraction of, 26 
little tuna, 114, 115 
discussed, 180 

limnology, 51, 53 

ling, 54, 101, see also cod 

littoral zone, 61 

lobsters, 121, 185 

Long Island, 17, 107, 110, 112, 


longnosed dace, 86 
Lucas, Jason, 126 
lures, discussed, 128ff 


mackerel, 115, 121 
Madison River, 87 
Maine, 51, 52, 55, 57, 62, 63, 65, 


Maine, Gulf of, 102 
mallards, 78 

Marabous, 150, 152, 155 
Marabou streamers, 144, 145, 148 
March Brown, 154 
marlin, 99, 169 
Maryland, 109 
Massachusetts, 170 
"match the hatch," 126 
mayfly, 90, 161 
McGintys, 87, 151 
menhaden, 24, 113, 172, 178 
Menidia menidia, see spearing 
Mepps, 151, 157 
Mepps Nos. and 1, 144, 145, 

152, 158, 162 
Mepps spinners, 147 
Merluccius, see silver hake 
Micky Finn, 124 

Micropterus dolomieu, see small- 
mouth bass 
minnows, 37, 41, 78, 130, 132, 

161, 162 

Mirrolures, 144, 145, 147, 171 
Mississippi River, 85 
mollusks, 37, 107, 182 
Monel, 150 
Monel metal line, 179 
Mongo tail, 80 

Montauk Point, 112, 120, 121 
Montreal, 87, 151 
Moore, Henry F., 30n 



mossbunkers, see menhaden 
muskellunge, 11, 65, 65n, 67, 68, 

71, 73, 100 
discussed, 157, 158 
mussels, 158, 182 


native trout, see brook trout 

"natural drift," description of, 136 

Neoprene, 25 

netting, 12 

Neversink, 90 

New Brunswick, 52 

New England, 74, 106, 158, 182 

New Jersey, 24, 35, 52, 72, 85, 

95, 96, 110, 174 
Newman, H. William, 30n 
New York, 51, 52, 83, 85, 95, 125 
New York Aquarium, 132n 
New York City, 95 
New York Harbor, 85 
New York State Conservationist, 

37, 83n 

nightwalkers, 37, 38 
Nigrelli, Dr., 131 
nitrates, 49, 99 

North America, 90, 94, 95, 142 
northern blowfish, see blowfish 
northern pike, see pike 
northern porgy, 104, see also 

nymphs, 10, 37, 153, 155, see also 

dragonfly nymphs 

ocean "perch," see rosefish 
octopus, 129, 171 
oligotrophic, 51, 54, 55 
Ontario, 43, 51, 52, 65, 66, 125, 


"oozes," 118 
oxygen, 49, 51, 72 
Oyashio Current, 117 
oysters, 121 

P. albigutta, see Gulf fluke 

P. californicus, see California hali- 

P. chiliensis, see lenguada 

Pacific, 96, 129, 169 

Pacific bonito, 178 

Pacific continental shelf, 99, 101 

Paralichthys dentatus, see fluke 

Paralichthys lethostigma, see 
southern fluke 

Parmachene Belle, 87, 151 

peacock herl, 81 

pejeperro, 182 

pelagic fish, 100, 103 

Pennsylvania, 85, 95, 96 

Perca flavescens, see yellow perch 

perch, 55, 66 

"perch bugs," see dragonfly 

Peru, 117, 178, 181, 182 

"Peruvian" Current, see Hum- 
boldt Current 

pheasant, 154 

Phoebes, 152 

phosphates, 49, 99 

phosphorus, 117 

pickerel, 40, 64, 65, 67, 75, 96, 

pike, northern, 40, 52, 66, 67 

pike-perch, see walleyed pike 

Plainfield, New Jersey Courier, 77 

planer, 129 

plant plankton, 99, see also plank- 

plankton, 24, 115, 117, 118 

plug, 44 

poaching, 59 

pollack, 101, 102, 121 

Pomatomus saltatrix, see bluefish 

"poor man's salmon/' see shad 

porgy, 17, 18, 104, 105, 121, 183 

Poronotus triacanthus, see butter- 

Port Jervis, N. Y., 95 

Portuguese Man o' War, 134 

Potomac River, 93 



preference range of fish, 46 
Pseudopleuronectes americanus, 

see winter flounder 
puffer, see blowfish 
pumkinseed, 74 

quahogs, see clams 


rainbow trout, 32, 33, 42, 52, 54, 

55, 70, 89, 151 
discussed, 152-154 
redds, 64 

refraction of light, results of, 26 
red hake, see squirrel hake 
red "perch," see rosefish 
research, spirit of, 3 
rice, 162 
Ridge, the, 6 

"Robinson Crusoe" island, 124 
Roccus saxatilus, see striped bass 
rock, see striped bass 
rockfish, 101 
rosefish, 101, 102 
rotenone, 76 

Royal Coachman No. 8, 158 
"rubber worms," 147 
ruffed grouse, 85 

sablefish, 101 

sailfish, 169 

St. Croix River, 62 

St. Lawrence River, 73 

salamanders,. 86 

Salmo gairdneri, see rainbow 

Salmo salar y see landlocked 


Salmo trutta, see brown trout 
salmon, 19, 34, 57, 110, 130, 148 

salmon eggs, 42,, 130, 132, 152, 


salmon trout, see lake trout 
Salvelinus fontinalis, see brook 

Salvelinus namaycush, see lake 


sand worms, see sea worms 
Sarda chiliensis, see Pacific bo- 


Sarda sarda, see Atlantic bonito 
sardines, 170 
sauger, 23 

sawbelly, see yellow perch 
scallop, 162 
Schaefer, Henry, 20n 
Schulte, Don, 21 
sculpin, 54, 86, 155 
scup, see porgy 
sea bass, 104, 105, 121, 183 
sea chicken, see blowfish 
sea lamprey, 92, 92n 
sea squab, see blowfish 
sea trout, see spotted weakfish 
sea-urchins, 17 
"sea walnut," 24 
sea worm, 175, 182 
Sebago, 149 
Selkirk, Alexander, 
Seneca Lake, 51 
shad, 85, 93, 96 

discussed, 162, 163 
Shakespeare, 80 
sharks, 25 

sheddar crabs, 132, 176, 177 
shiners, 89, 147 
Shrewsbury Rocks, 24 
shrimp, 16, 43, 162, 170, 174, 178 
shorefish, 100, 103 
Sidewinder, 148 
silver bass, 73, 74 
Silver Doctor, 87, 151 
silver hake, 23 

Silver King, see landlocked sal- 
"siscowets," 66 
skipjack," see Pacific bonito 
Sleeping Beauty, 4 



"slow creep," description of, 135 

"slow lift," description of, 135 

small mouth bass, 6, 28, 43, 55, 
56, 62, 63, 65, 70, 71, 73, 74, 
85, 92, 94, 95, 96, 125, 132, 
142, 143, 144, 146 

smelt, 36, 52, 55, 56, 57, 64, 66 

Snake River, 87 

snapper blue, see bluefish 

snapping turtle, 160 

"snatching," 12 

snook, 23, 177, 178 

Snookums, 171, 174 

Sodus, 6 

soft-shelled crabs, 176, 177, 182 

soft-shelled crayfish, 132 

sole, 102 

sonar, 31 

sonic depth finder, 141 

South America, 116 

southern fluke, 181 

Spanish mackerel, 16 

Sparky, 171, 173 

"spawn eater," 16 

spearing, 12, 172 

speckled trout, see brook trout 

Sphaeroides maculatus, see blow- 

spinners, 125, 128, 144 

spinning, 42, 125 

spoons, metal, 144 

Sportfishing Institute, 142 

spotted sea trout, see spotted 

spotted weakfish, 173 
discussed, 173, 174, 175 

sprat, 184 

"spun minnow," 137 

squaretail trout, see brook trout 

squeteague, see weakfish 

squid, 129, 171, 173 

Stenotomus chrysops, see porgy 

stickleback, deep water, 54 

Stizostedion vitreum, see wall- 
eyed pike 

stonecat, 95 

stonefly nymphs, 90, see also 

streamer, 128, 148, 155 
striped bass, 6, 11, 44, 96, 97, 
108, 110, 111, 112, 121, 133, 
167, 168 

discussed, 175, 176, 177 
striped marlin, 118 
stripers, see striped bass 
"stripping," description of, 137 
suckers, 75, 82, 86, 89, 90 
sulfates, 49 

summer flounder, see fluke 
sunfish, 73, 74, 75, 76 
Superior, Lake, 66 
surface lures, 144 
"surface window," 

illustration of, 28 

phenomenon of, 27 
Susquehanna River, 93 
swordfish, see broadbill swordfish 

tautog, 104, 106, 121, 189 
discussed, 182, 183 

Tautoga onitis, see blackfish 

teaser fly, 128 

thermister, see electronic ther- 

therocline, 53, 54, 62, 63, 70, 
120, 149, 152 

thimble-eye mackerel, see chub 

Thomas, 173 

Thoreau, quoted, 37 

Thunnus thynnus, see bluefin tuna 

"tiderunner," see weakfish 

Tocopilla, Chile, 120 

togue, see lake trout 

tolerance range, of fish, 46 

tomcod, 121 

Tony Acetta, 171 

Trenton, N. J., 96, 97 

"tripleheaders," 130 

trolling, 9, 125, 128 

trout, 20, 28, 39, 80, 85, 87, 100, 
125, 130, 142, 148 

trout eggs, 42 

trout fly, 89 



Tuker, W. E. S., 120 

tunas, 99, 121, 169, see also blue- 
fin tuna 

Twelfth Annual Report, 1953, of 
Atlantic States Marine Fish- 
eries Commission to the Con- 
gress of the United States 
and to the Governors and 
Legislators of the Fifteen 
Compacting States. 


Underbill, A, H,, 5, 6 
United States, 51, 146, 154 
United States Coast and Geo- 
detic Survey, 140 
Upperman bucktails, 171, 174 
"upwellings," description of, 116- 


veery, 88 

Velveeta cheese, 152 
Venafrum, 16 
Vermont, 51, 52 
Vidal Gormaz, 124 
vireo, 88 


walleyed pike, 23, 52, 65n, 67, 68, 
70, 85, 92, 94, 95, 96, 100, 
133, 159, 161, 189 

Walton, Isaak, 156 

"watermelon bonito," see Atlantic 

"water lizard," 3 
water stratification, 50ff 
weakfish, 108, 121, 139 

discussed, 109, 173, 174 
Webberian ossicles, 31 
Westman, James, 4, 5, 6 
wet fly, 9, 10 
white bass, 73, 74 
whitefish, 24, 52, 54, 55, 61, 63, 

64, 65, 66, 70 
discussion of, 162 
white grabs, 160, 162 
white hake, see hake 
white marlin, 114, 115, 121 
white perch, 64, 65, 73, 74, 189 
whiting, 101, 102, see also silver 


Whitman, Walt, 100 
Willowemoc, 83, 90, 91 
winter flounder, 102, 104, 105, 

182, see also flounder 
Wisconsin, 52 
Wobblerite, 144, 148, 150, 152, 


wobblers, 148 
World War II, 90, 168 
worm, 130, 151, 153, 155, 161 
"worm drowning," 42 

"yellowfin/* see weakfish 

yellowfin tuna, 118 

Yellow Mays, 152 

yellow perch, 70, 71, 68, 100, 189 

discussed, 160, 161 
yellowtail flounder, 102