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Till-: HICKORY SHAD. 607

observed to eat, and ;i few davs latt-r they were all vigorously engaged in pursuit of food.
While tin- ratio of mortality was large, some of the lish survived lor six weeks, the last Kju'cimen
having attained a length of considerably more than an inch, and a weight many times greater
than that at birth.

From these experiments we deem it altogether probable that under natural conditions the
Copepoda. which are abundant in the I'otomac in places frequented by the young Shad, are their
natural food during the early stages of their existence. Although we are able to obtain from the
river late in the season young Shad which are two and a hah' to three and a half inches in
length, 1 am not aware that such examinations have been made upon the contents of their
stomachs as to show the character of their food. In order to take observations upon the food
of the Shad at the stages indicated above, I procured from the Potomac a number of young
Shad, two to three inches in length, which were placed in the basin under the dome of the United
Suites National Museum. These were tempted with various kinds of fowl; oysters, liver, stur-
geon, and beef finely chopped were offered successively to them, but they declined to take the food.
In some eases they would seize particles, which having held for an instant they would eject
from their mouths with evident expression of disgust. I then tried them with the white of hard-
boiled eggs. This, much to my gratification, they devoured readily. As soon as tho part ides
reached the surface of the water, the fish rose vigorously and seized them as they sank through
the water, but, strange to say, in no case did I observe them take the food after it had touched
the bottom. This would seem to show that their food under natural circumstances is taken
swimming, and consists probably of swimming crustaceans, or allied forms of life found in salt
water. Later in the season, in consequence of my absence from the city, these fish were neg-
lected and fed irregularly. By way of experiment, I had also placed in this basin a number of
young California salmon, and, to my surprise, I discovered that the young Shad were pursuing
and eating them. In several cases I noticed the Shad with the salmon in their mouths half
swallowed. Finally the salmon disappeared, and the presumption was that they had all been
eaten by the young Shad. It is possible, therefore, that Shad in their early lives vary their
food with minnows and the young of other species of fish. Indeed, from the stomach of a Shad,
taken in oi-e of the pounds at Saybrook, 1 found an undigested minnow two or three inches in
length. In the fresh-water life of the mature Shad, the fish do not seem to take. food at all.
Repeated observations of the contents of the stomach show no food whatever. Occasionally,
however, they can be induced to rise to a fly dexterously cast on the water. This fact is pre-
sumptive evidence that the desire for food, although subordinated to the impulse of reproduction
(which brings them into the river), is not wholly lost.


NAMKS. This fish, C. mediocris, Mitchill, was first brought to notice in 1815 in Mitchill's paper
on the fishes of New York, wherein it was described under two names, being called the "Staten
Island" Herring, C. mcdiocris, and the "Long Island" Herring, C. mattoicacca. The latter name
was adopted by Storer for the species, but more recent authorities, guided by a rather question-
able interpretation of the rules of priority, have substituted the name C. mfdiocris, because it was
printed on the page preceding the other. Mitchill stated that the "Long Island" Herring occu-
pied a middle station between the Shad and the "Staten Island" Herring, but it seems strange
that so accomplished an ichthyologist should not have at once perceived the identity of the two.
The name "mediocris" was founded upon small specimens. The names given this species are as


varied as those of the river Herriiigs. The name "Mattowacca" is of Indian origin, and is per-
haps to be preferred. It is said by De Kay to have been derived from the Indian name for Long
Island, Mattoiraka or Maltowax. De Kay also gives the names of "Fall" Herring and "Shad"
Herring, and states that in the Connecticut River they are called " WeesicAr," a name which from
personal knowledge we can state as having been long in disuse in that locality. The name "Hick-
ory" Shad is applied to this species on all parts of the coast from Cape Cod to Florida. It is used
in the Chesapeake and in the Albemarle regions, and on the Ogeechee, Savannah, and Altamalm
Rivers, where it is familiarly called " Hicks." In the S;riut John's River the name " Hickory" Shad
is also used, and in the Alabama River it is applied to this or to some closely related species. The
derivation of the name "Hickory" Shad cannot easily be traced. It may be that the word "Hick-
ory" is used in a derogatory sense, but a more reasonable explanation is that it refers to the
striped markings on the fish, which resemble those upon the coarse cotton fabric linown in the
South as "Hickory," and frequently used by the fishermen.

In the Potomac the species is called the "Tailor Shad," or the "Fresh-wcter Tailor," in con-
tradistinction to the blueflsh, which is called the " Salt-water Tailor." The comparison between the
bluefish and this species is doubtless due to a fancied resemblance between their jaws, those of
the "Tailor Shad" being very long and strong. The "Ta'lor Shad" may be distinguished from the
common Shad and from the river Herrings by the extreme projection and thickness of the lower
jaw. This species is in some rivers called a "Forerunner," from the fact that it makes its appear-
ance shortly before the Shad.

It is the opinion of Mr. Perley ' that the so-called " Quoddy " Herring, taken in Passamaquoddy
Bay and vicinity, belongs to this species a rather questionable decision and one which needs

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The " Hickory Shad " is most abundant in the region
between the Chesapeake Bay and Altamaha River and intermediate waters, ascending the rivers
as high as the Shad. In the Saint John's River it is somewhat abundant, making its appearance
the first or second week in November, and shortly before the Shad. North of New York it has
not been observed to enter the rivers in any great numbers, and there is no record north of Cape
Cod of its having been seen in fresh water. In the fall small schools of them occasionally enter
the brackish estuaries and tideways of Cape Cod. Hickory Shad are taken to some extent by
the mackerel gill-net fishermen of Maine, together with young Shad and Blue-Back Herring, and are
doubtless found off 1 the mouth of the Bay of Fundy ; although, as has already been stated, their
identity with the "Quoddy" Herring is by no means proven. There is no record of their presence
in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

ABUNDANCE. In the Altamaha River, Georgia, the catch of " Hickory " Shad is equal to that
of " Common " or ' White " Shad, and in the markets they sell for more than one-half as much. In
the Saint John's River they are not exceedingly abundant, and two "Hickory" Shad are equal in
value to one " White " Shad. In the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers the proportion of the catch
of the " Hickory " to that of " White " Shad is about one to four. All taken here are used for local
consumption, and are sold at prices equal to about one-half of the White Shad. In the Albemarle
they are less abundant than farther south and are of less value. Here they are sold with the her-
ring for local consumption, two of them counting for one herring, or are used for manure. In the
Chesapeake region they are not highly esteemed, although great quantities are sold by hawkers,
especially in the cities, where people are not well informed, under the name of "Shad." At the

1 FiHheries of New Brunswick, 1852, p. 209.


beginning of the season hundreds of men may be seen going about the city of Washington with
strings of these fish, which they cry for Shad, and which with great insolence they press upon such
would-be purchasers as are inclined to question their genuineness. In the pound-nets of the Ches-
apeake in the beginning of the season they are caught in immense numbers, aud are shipped to
the markets with the true Shad until their price falls below three cents apiece, after which they are
sold with the Herring, one counting as two Herrings. The "Hickory" Shad are occasionally seen
in the full and winter in the New York market. M it Hi ill. writing in 1814, remarks : " Some call
this fish the 'Shad' Herring and some the 'Fall' Shad. He is reckoned to be almost equal to the
Shad as an article of food." Storer states that in Massachusetts it is a lean fish, and not used for

Concerning the "Qnoddy" Herring, Perley writes that in flavor and excellence it ranks only
second to the best Shad of the Petitcodiak.

SIZE. Mitchill states that the length of this fish is frequently twenty to twenty-four inches,
its depth is often four aud a half to six inches, and that it sometimes attains a weight of four or
five pounds. At the present time, however, the size of the fish is much less than that described
by M itHiill. The largest full-roed specimen observed by Colonel McDonald cannot have exceeded
three to three and a half pounds in weight.

REPRODUCTION. No observations have been made on the breeding habits of this fish, but it
is almost certain that it spawns in spring, like the other members of the family, but whether in
salt or fresh water has not been ascertained. It seems more than probable, however, that it
spawns in fresh water under the same conditions as the Shad, at a little earlier period.



The family Dorosomatidce is represented on our Atlantic coast by a single species, the "Mud-
Shad," Dorosoma cepedianum, which is abundant in brackish waters along the coast from Delaware
Bay southward to Mexico. In the Chesapeake region it is known as the "Mud-Shad," " Winter
Shad," or "Stink Shad"; in North Carolina as the "Hairy -back" or the "Thread Herring"; in the
Saint John's Eiver as the "Gizzard Shad," " Stink Shad," or "White-eyed Shad."

The names "Gizzard Shad" or "Hickory Shad" refer to the peculiar muscular stomach, which
is of about the size of a hickory-nut and is shaped like the gizzard of a fowl. The fish is found in
brackish waters, or in the sea, for the whole length of our coast. It enters all streams after
becoming land-locked in ponds, and throughout the whole Mississippi Valley it is permanently
resident in large numbers in the larger streams and reservoirs. Since the construction of the
canals it has appeared in force in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan.

This fish is extremely abundant in many localities, particularly in the Saint John's Eiver,
Florida, where it becomes an annoyance to the fishermen by getting into their nets, several hundred
bushels being sometimes taken in a shad net. They are also sometimes annoying to fishermen
using gill-nets for catching mullet. In the Potomac they are abundant and attain a maximum
size and weight. Their flesh is coarse and not delicate in flavor, but they are by no means
unpalatable, and on the tributaries of the Chesapeake they are extensively eaten by the negroes.
In the Saint John's Eiver they are made into guano. A factory for this purpose was in existence
in 1874 at Black Point, above Palatka. They breed in summer, and are supposed to feed, like the
Menhaden, to a great extent upon the bottom mud, from which, after swallowing, they separate
the organic contents.

In the Great Lake regions the Gizzard Shad is sometimes split and salted as "Lake Shad," but
it probably meets with little sale, owing to the inferior quality of the flesh and the presence of the
vast number of small bones that make up the skeleton. It is usually thrown away by the fisher-
men, and when brought to market it is only bought by the poor or the ignorant. It is not infre-
quently seen in the markets of Washington in spring. In the West it is sometimes seined by
farmers in winter in still places in the rivers and peddled about the towns.


In our waters the most important member of this family is the Tarpuin, Megalops thrissoides,
an immense herring like fish, which occurs in the Western Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico,
ranging north to Cape Cod and south at least to Northern Brazil. It is somewhat abundant in the
West Indies, and stragglers have been taken as far to the eastward as the Bermudas. This
species attains the length of five or six feet, and is covered with enormous circular scales of one
inch to two inches and a half in diameter, the exposed portions of which are covered with a
silvery epidermis. The fish, when alive, presents a very brilliant metallic appearance, and the
scales are much prized by curiosity hunters and for fancy work in the Florida curiosity shops.
They are a staple article of trade, selling for from ten to twenty-five cents each, the price paid to

.the fishermen being about fifty cents per dozen.


The sailors' name for this fish, by wliicli same mime it is also known at Key West, Bermuda,
Brunswick, Georgia, and elsewhere, is "Tarpnin" or "Tarpon." In Georgia and Florida it is com-
monly called the "Jew-fish." a name also applied by the fishermen of South Florida to a species
of pcrcoid which has already been discussed. It is the "Silver-fish" of IVnsacola, the " Grande-
ficaille" (Large-scale fish), or " Graudykye," as it is pronounced and sometimes spelled, and the
"Savauilla" of Texas.

The species can hardly be said to bo common on our Atlantic coasts, though from fifty to one
hundred specimens are doubtless taken every year between Florida and Cape Cod. In 1874 and
1875 none were caught in the Saint John's River, though several had been brought iu during the
previous winter. In the Indian River region these fish are sometimes harpooned.

Mr. Stearns contributes the following notes upon the fish, as observed by him:

" The Silver-fish, or Grande Ecaille, is common everywhere on the Gulf coast. It is an im-
iiii-nse and active fish, preying eagerly upon schools of young fry, or any small fish that it is able
to receive into its mouth, and in pursuit of which it ascends fresh-water rivers quite a long distance.
During September, 1879, 1 saw large numbers of Silver-fish eight or ten miles up the Apalachicola
Ki ver, and am told 4hat that was not an unusual occurrence. They go up the Homosassa River in
Florida, and several of the Texas rivers, so I have subsequently learned. The Tarpuui will take
a baited hook, but it is difficult to handle and seldom landed. The Pensacola seine fishermen
dread it while dragging their seines, for they have known of persons having been killed or severely
injured by its leaping against them from the seine in which it was inclosed. Even when it does
not jump over the cork-line of a seine, it is quite likely to break through the netting before landed.
I have secured several specimens, the smallest of which weighed thirty pounds and the largest
about seventy-five pounds."

The Tarpum is sometimes eaten, and is said to be very palatable. 1


The "Big-eyed Herring" or "Ten-pounder," Elops aaurus, was described by Linna-us from a
Carolina specimen sent to him by Garden. It occurs all along the coast from Martha's Vineyard
southward, but only in the summer in the northern part of its range. It is cosmopolitan in its
distribution, occurring throughout the West Indies, on the coast of South America, on both coasts
of Mexico, at the Cape of Good Hope, iu East Africa, Arabia, and China. At Fort Macou it is
known as the "Horse Mackerel." It is rarely or never eaten in the United States, its flesh being
said to be dry and bony.


A species of Anchovy, Stolepltorw Brotcni, is extremely common about Fort Macon, where it
is known as the " Sardine" and occurs in large schools. Specimens of this and of an allied species
(8. Mitchilli) are occasionally taken in the vicinity of Wood's Holl, Massachusetts, and in greater
abundance in New Jersey.

The presence of a true Anchovy in America was first announced by Professor Baird in 1854.
A species was noticed by Mitchill, but its relations to the Anchovy of Europe were not recognized.
In his Keport on the Fish of the New Jersey Coast, Professor Baird remarked of 8. Browni: "The
Anchovy made its appearance early iu August in the shallow waters along the beach, though of
very small size; it subsequently became more abundant, and towards the end of the month, while
hauling a large net in the surf, many were taken, measuring over six inches in length ; as the

'See statement of W. II. Hurrull, Forest and Stream, ii, 1874, p. 324.


meshes of the net were large, a great portion escaped, but with a seiue properly constructed
enough could be secured to eupply the American market. I procured several specimens of this
fish in 1847 at the residence of Mr. Audubon, on the Hudson River above New York."

There is little reason to doubt that this species of Anchovy might be prepared in salt or in
paste, like that of Europe, and that the results would be equally satisfactory ; as an actual fact,
however, most of the Anchovies put up in Europe do not belong to this genus at all, but are
simply pilchards or sprats preserved in a peculiar manner, the name "Anchovy " having come to
be descriptive of a peculiar method of preparation rather than of the fish which is prepared.
Our Anchovy has recently been sold in considerable numbers in New York under the name
"Whitebait," although the fishermen distinguish it from the true "Whitebait," the young of the
herring, calling it "Spearing."'


The Anchovy of the Pacific coast is reported by Jordan to be of little economic value. The
commonest form is what he calls the California Anchovy, Stolephorus ringens, and which is thus
described by him :

"This species is everywhere known as the Anchovy. It reaches a length of about six inches.
It ranges from British Columbia to Chili, and is probably found on the coast of Asia also. It is
found in sheltered bays, and is everywhere extremely common, but rather more abundant south of
San Francisco than northward. It serves as food for the larger species to a greater extent than
any other single species. The salmon, bonito, mackerel of all sorts, barracuda, sea-bass, the
larger flounders, and, in fact, a majority of the larger fishes make a large percentage of their food
of Anchovy. At San Francisco it is occasionally brought into the market. Some attempts have
been made to pickle them with spices for the trade, but this amounts to little as yet. A great
many are salted by the Chinese, who use them as bait for the flounders and rock-fish. Two
other species of Anchovies, Stolephorus compressus (Grd:) and Stolephorus delicatissimus (Girard),
abound south of Point Concepcion. They have no economic value."


The Lady-fish, Albula vulpes, occurs in the West Indies, in the Gulf of Mexico, on the Atlantic
and Pacific coasts of North and South America, and stragglers have been found in the Western
Atlantic as far north as Cape Cod. It is also found about the Bermudas and Cape Verde Islands,
in the Indian Ocean, the Eed Sea, and on the coast of Japan. With us it is usually called the
"Lady-fish"; in the Bermudas the "Bone-fish," or "Grubber." At the Bermudas large schools
are taken, and there considered most excellent food-fish. From personal observation I can testify
that their reputation is by no means a false one. The "Lady-fish" doubtless occurs about Key
West, although the National Museum has as yet received no specimen from that locality. The
species is found in some numbers in San Diego Bay, on the coast of California, where it is taken
with the mullet. On account of its beautiful color it sells readily, but is not especially esteemed
as a table fish.


Three species of this family are known by the names of "Moon-eye," Hyodon tergisus Le Sueur r
"Toothed Herring," Hyodon alosoides (Raf.) J. & G., and "Silver Bass," Hi/odon selenops Jor. &
Beau. The first-named species is abundant throughout the Lake region and the larger tributaries

1 J. C. Brevoort states that while trolling in August, 187:i, uear New York light-ship, every bluefish captured wa
gorged with the American Anchovy. The Anchovy is preserved by salting or by griudiug into line paste with salt.
They may be caught with tine puree-nets.

THE MOON 11 VI.. 613

of the Mississippi; the second is ton ml iu the Ohio Valley and northward to the Upper Missouri
and Saskatchewan ; the third is confined to the rivers of the Southern States. None of the
species occur east of the Alleghanies. They are little valued as food.


The Moon-eye is a handsome and gamy fish, taking the hook readily, and feeding upon minnows,
crustaceans, and insects. It reaches ft weight of one to two pounds. In Lake Pepin, according to
Dr. D. C. Estes, "in some seasons they seem to be quite plenty, and at others but very few are
seen. On the whole, I have always regarded it as a rare fish. They are vigorous biters, aud are
as gamy as the striped bass (Roccus saxalilis). They take freely the minnow or fly, and are one of
tin- smartest of fishes. They will come up, taste of a fly, let go and be gone before the angler has
time to strike. Therefore, to be a ' Moon-eye ' fly-fisher, one must be very sharp and not read a
book while casting, as I once knew a man to do. As to his being a food-fish there is not a single
doubt. I ate one this very morning for my breakfast, and it was excellent, the bones being far
less in number and of larger size than in the herring."



The members of this family, known as "Suckers," "Mullets," "Red Horse," "Buffalo fish," etc.,
are extremely abundant in all fresh waters of the United States, no stream or pond containing
fish at all being without them. As all of them reach a length of more than a foot, and are found
in the markets, all must be considered as food-fishes. In all of them the flesh is coarse and flavor-
less, and the number of small bones is provokingly great. They are therefore always the cheapest
of fish-food, while from their great numbers they form a large percentage of the food supply of
the country. Their value is no more than the cost of catching, and often less. The Suckers feed
on mollusks, insects, entomostracans, fish-spawn, and some of them chiefly on mud. They rarely
catch other fishes. Like the Cyprinidce, they form a large part of the food of the larger carnivorous
fishes. The Suckers spawn in spring, many of the species ascending small streams for that purpose.
At this season great numbers of them are speared or snared on shallow rapids. The distribution
of the different species can be ascertained by reference to the check-list, and only a few of the most
important need be mentioned here.


The " Babbit-mouth," "Hare-lip," "Split-mouth," or "May Sucker" is found in abundance in
many rivers of Tennessee and in some streams in Ohio. It reaches a length of about eighteen
inches, being one of the smaller species, but its qualities as a food-fish are said to be better than
usual in this family.


The common "Bed Horse" or "Mullet" abounds in most streams westward and southward of
New York. It reaches a length of two feet, and is a market fish of importance. Its coloration is
attractive, but its flesh is tasteless and coarse. Numerous other species closely related to the Bed
Horse, belonging to the genera of Moxostoma, Minytrema, and Placopliarynx, are found in the waters
of the West and South, all going by the general names of Bed Horse, White Sucker, and Mullet.
All are alike poor as food-fishes.


The "Chub Sucker," "Sweet Sucker," or "Creek-fish" is one of the most abundant and widely
diffused of the Suckers, being found from Maine to Texas. It is one of the smallest species, reach-
ing a length of little more than a foot. It is not essentially different from the rest as food. A

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 103 of 146)