G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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Captain Atwood states that in 1846 he began catching Plaice for the Boston market, in Prov-
incetown Harbor, anchoring where the keel of the smack would just clear the bottom, and anywhere
near Race Point he could catch them in great numbers, the largest weighing from ten to fifteen
pounds each. In one afternoon he caught two thousand pounds. These he carried to Boston in the



Tin-: I-I.AK !-:: ri>ni:i;ii-:s. 181

well of his smack ami tried In s.-ll, but was unsuccessful, though they were offered under the name
of Turlioi. local prejudice leing against ilu-m. In IsT'.i there were seven or cigbt boats engaged in
I In- plain- li-hery during ilic month of June, this inoiitli being the best for plaice fishing. In the
latter part of .Inly, when 1 made my olcr\ ations, all of the winter boatH had i|initei| fur the year.

The method in use here is somewhat peculiar, and merits description. The fishermen will it
"drailing for Plaice." The boat used is an ordinary cat-boat, managed by one person, and is
allowed to drift with Tree sheet before the wind, while the fisherman stands in the stern dragging
the line over the bottom, baited with a bit of squid or clam. The boat is kept as nearly as possible
over the places where the Hats are deepening most abruptly into the basin of the harbor, ojid where
the \\ater is from eight to eighteen fathoms deep. Only very large flsh, weighing ten, fifteen, some-
times even twenty pounds, are taken in this manner. The average catch is from eight to twenty
a day. In one day one man reported eight, one fourteen, one twenty-three. Some of these fish are
sold in I'rovineetown, but the greater portion is sent iced to New York, where a price of twelve
cento a pound, wholesale, is easily obtained. In Hoston there is no market for them.

On the coast of New Jersey Professor 1 laird states that in 1854 they were taken in large
numbers, by means of nets, in the deep slues along the beach. Along the southern coast they
are occasionally taken by the line fishermen, and a considerable quantity is seined by the river
lUlierincii. In the Gulf of Mexico they are rarely taken by book and Hue, and are usually
speared or jigged at night, by torchlight.

The Plaice has always been the most popular of our in-shore flat fishes, being exempt in a
certain degree from the prejudice attaching to the fishes of this family. It seems to have IHHMI a
common food-fish in South Carolina as early as 1700, and Schoepf mentions it as one of the food-
fishes of New York in 1770. In 1856, according to Gill, it was found in the New York market in
autumn, but seems to have been less in favor than the Flat Fish. At present the Plaice is grow-
ing in favor in New York, and is upon the lists of nil good restaurants, though perhaps not so
generally consumed as the Flat Fish, which comes in the winter, when the market is less lavishly
supplied

In Boston, and indeed throughout the greater part of New 'England, this, with all other
Flounders, is considered unfit to eat, and it is by no means generally popular along the Southern
coast, though in Florida its flesh is highly prized. The Connecticut fishermen esteem it greatly,
and when preparing it for their own use are accustomed to hang it in the open air for a day or
two "to dry," as they say. The wholesale price in New York varies from one and a half to six
cents, but is usually three cents a pound.

Another species of Flounder, closely related to the Plaice, is the common Four-spotted Flounder,
I'lirnlichtliys oblongtis, which occasionally finds its way to market in company with the Plaice, and
is doubtless sold under the same name. U is a small species, rarely attaining a greater length than
twelve inches and a weight of one pound. It may be readily distinguished by the presence upon
the back of four large, dark spots, elliptical in form, but these soon fade out after death.

Its distribution is much more restricted than that of the Plaice; it is most abundant, at a
depth of ten to forty fathoms, off the southern coast of New England ; it rarely occurs north of Cape
Cod, though one individual was taken by the Fish Commission at the mouth of Salem Harbor, nor
has it been recorded south of New York. There are two smaller species uj>on the Southern coast-
one, Paralichtlii/x <iitili-<>rrlliitiix, broader than I'lirnlifhtlii/x iMoni/us, also marked with four dorsal
spots, and known in the South as the Four-spotted Flounder. This species has been observed
as far north as Charleston and Fort Macon, while its western record of limit is Pensacola. Stearns
records it as common from Cedar Ke\s smith to Key West, and pronounces it an excellent food-fish.



182 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

It cauuot at present, however, be considered very important. The other species, ParaUchthys
stiymatias, occurs iu deep water (seventy-five fathoms) ofl'the coast of South Carolina, and may be
distinguished by the presence of three conspicuous spots upon the upper side of the body.

57. THE BASTARD HALIBUT.

This fish (Paralichthys maculosm Girard), writes Jordan, is known as the Halibut, Bastard
Halibut, and Monterey Halibut. South of San Francisco, where the true Halibut is not found,
the larger individuals, which really greatly resemble the Halibut, are known by that name, the
young being rarely distinguished from other "Soles." At San Francisco, where the true Halibut
is known, this species is called the Bastard Halibut, and sometimes the Monterey Halibut, as I hey
are mostly brought from Monterey. It reaches a length of three feet and a weight of sixty pounds ;
the largest seen by us weighing fifty-five pounds. A great majority of those taken weigh less than
three pounds, and it is said that large individuals are much less plenty than they formerly were.
Its range is from Totnales Bay to San Diego, and south of Point Concepcion. It is the commonest
species of its family. Although not rare at San Francisco, it forms no more than four per cent, of
the entire flounder catch. It lives in rather shallow water, the young abounding close to shore,
large ones being taken in the gill-nets. Large ones are more abundant at Monterey than farther
south. It feeds upon fishes and Crustacea, and iu its habits seems very similar to the Eastern P.
Aentatus. It spawns in early summer, like other large fishes. It is subject to the attacks of the
Hag Fish, Bdelloittoma Dombeyi.

As a food-fish, it does not rank very high, the large specimens being tough and coarse
compared to the Halibut, while the young are inferior to most of the species termed " Sole."

58. THE FLAT FISH, OR WINTER FLOUNDER.

Ne^ in importance to the Plaice comes the Flat Fish, Pneudopleuronectes americanvs, or
Common Flounder, sometimes called the "Winter Flounder," said to be known in Massachu-
setts Bay as Mud-dab, and occasionally to be sold in New York under the name of Sole. This
iish, like the Plaice, belongs to a genus unknown to Europe, but is closely related to the common
Flounder, or Fluke, of the British coast. Its range is somewhat extensive, and iu a certain
degree it replaces the Plaice along our northern coast. It has not been observed south of Chesa-
peake Bay, but northward is common in the Bay of Fundy, on the eastern shores of Nova Scotia,
and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and, as far as observations have been made, upon the coast of
Labrador.

Storer, writing in 1849, remarks: "It is probably the most common Flounder on the southwest
coast of Labrador; we met with it first, though but sparingly, at the Saint Mary's Island, and
observed it as far easterly as Bras d'Or, where it is to be found in immense numbers, the bottom
being almost alive with them, and of large size."

Flat Fish are always upon the bottom, feeding chiefly upon minute shells, such as Nucula and
Bulla, upon young crabs, or whatever they can find among the stones in the mud. Their mouths
are very small, and since they would be unable to seize and kill other fish, they never ionic
to the surface in pursuit of prey, as do the large-mouthed Flounders. They prefer sheltered bays
and harbors, and appear to be equally abundant on the bottoms of the sand, mud, or rock; when
at rest, they are usually partially embedded in the mud or sand at the bottom. 1 have observed
that, when they come to a stop, they always settle themselves by convulsive motions of the fins
und body, which has the effect of pushing them down into the soft bottom. This species is
probably a more permanent resident of the localities which it inhabits than any other on our eoast,



THE FLAT FISH OR WINTKi: I I.OIMH.i;: HA HITS. 183

unless it he i he seulpins. There is very little e\ idem-c of .1 tend. nc\ to move to itnd fiotn the
shore with a change of season. Winter and summer, they appear to l>c <>i|iiully abundant from
New York to the Hay of Clialcur. where, in the tide-way <!' Miiainichi Hivcr, they are caught in
winter through holes in the ice. In Labrador they are described as exceedingly abundant iu
suininer. but nothing is known of their winter habits. 1'rot'csxor li.md ibnnd them scarce iu
Southern New Jersey in summer, lint learned that they were veiy alinndan' in the bays in winter.
Small quantities arc brought to Washington iu winter from the month of the Chesapeake.

The spawning season occurs early in spring, in February and March on the Connecticut coast,
and is thought to be closed by the tirst part of April. Young fish of half an inch iu length are
found in July in the deeper parts of the bays aud sounds, and iu August and September, having
attained the length of one and one-half to five inches, occur in great abundance iu the coves and
along the sandy shores of the Southern New England coast, in very shallow water. Their growth
is probably rapid, though it would seem most likely that the five-inch specimens, just referred to,
were eighteen months rather than six months old. The largest that have been discovered were
fifteen inches long, and would weigh from one to one and a half pounds.

The flesh of the Flat Fish Is solid, white, and of excellent flavor, and deserves a more general
popularity than it has yet attained. It is, and has been for the last century, largely consumed in
New York in winter. Schoepf, writing in 1776, mentions it as occurring in the market iu spring;
later, writing in 1818, he states that small numbers were found iu the stalls in January and
February, takeu with spears while searching for eels. These were not very inviting, owing to
their mangled appearance aud frozen state, but, with the disappearance of ice and the approach of
spring, their numbers increased, and in March the stalls were well filled with them, cheap and fre*k
aud good. They were only used as pan-fish; Gill wrote, in 1856: "This is the most common species
of flounder that is brought to the city markets in the winter and spring months ; it is seldom sold
at a higher price than eight to ten cents per pound. Flounders are chiefly sold by the weight;
occasionally they are strung through the branchial apertures on twigs and nominally sold by the
bunch."

The Smooth Flounder, or Christmas Flounder, Pleuronectea glaber, is very similar in habits and
appearance to the Flat Fish, and is still closer to the Flounder of Europe, being a member of the
same genus. It may be distinguished from the former by its smooth skin, which has given to the
species, iu some localities, the name " Eel-back." Its distribution is extremely limited, it having
been recorded as only found in Salem, Massachusetts, Portland and Belfast, Maine, or within the
limits of two degrees of latitude. Its range may in the future be extended farther to the north, but
it is certain that at present none occur south of Salem. In Casco Bay they are very abundant iu
summer, and the Fish Commission secured great quantities of them in water three or four fathoms
deep in Bluelight Cove. They have never elsewhere been observed, except in winter, about Christ-
mas time, when they come into the harbors to spawn. At Salem they are, on this account, called the
Christinas Fish. Considerable quantities are caught every year by spearing them upon the sand.
At this place they arc also called " Fool Fish," because, in their anxiety for fowl, they w ill bite at
any kind of bait, even at a rag. The spawning season is short, and they soon retire into deeper
water. At Portland, and in the vicinity, considerable numbers are takeu in the winter fishery in
company with the Flat Fish, and with them are sent to New York and neighboring markets. In
one instance a quantity was ottered for sale iu the markets of Washington. The spawning season
on the coast of Maine is slightly earlier than that of Massachusetts, beginning as early as the
middle of December, while in Penobscot Bay they ate taken at the very beginning of the month, full
of spawn. In Penobscot Bay they aie taken in daps, or " Hieis," as the fishermen call them, shaped



1 84 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

something like lobster-traps and baited. The young Smooth Flounder may be taken in summer on
the beaches. The largest females observed weighed twenty-three ounces, the weight of the spawn
being seven ounces. Too little attention has hitherto been paid to this fish, but it seems more
than probable that in the future it will greatly increase in favor.

59. THE FLAT FISHES AND SOLES OF THE PACIFIC COAST.

By DAVID S. JORDAN.
THE STARRY FLOUNDER PLEURONECTES STELLATUS Pallas.

This species is known, wherever found, as the " Flounder," all others being considered as Bas-
tard or False Flounders. At San Francisco the name Flounder is rarely used in a generic sense,
but only as a special appellation of this species. It reaches a length of nearly three feet, and a
weight of fifteen to twenty pounds, larger individuals being found northward than southward along
the coast. The average length in the market is about fifteen inches, and the weight two or three
pounds. Its rate of growth is probably rapid, but we have no certain data in regard to it.

It ranges from San Luis Obispo to Kamtchatka, and from San Francisco northward it is by
far the most abundant species. It probably constitute/I half, by weight, of the total annual catch
of Flounders on the Pacific coast. It enters the mouths of rivers, and considerable numbers are
taken in the salmon-nets on the Lower Columbia. It is found in water of moderate depth, and is
taken in seines and gill-nets, and sometimes with the hook.

Its food is Crustacea, mollusca, and such fishes as it can swallow, its month being compara-
tively small. It spawns in summer. Nothing special- is known of its breeding habits. Jt has no
especial enemy that we know of, with the exception of a tetradecapod, known as " fish-louse,"
which is very frequently found attached to the fins, gill-membranes, and gills of this and other
species of flounders.

As a food-fish this species is held in rather high esteem. The flesh is firm, and although
coarser than in the so-called Soles, is of fair flavor in the young. The very large individuals
(eight to twenty pounds) are sold at a lower price, and are considered poor eating. A considerable
portion of those in the San Francisco market come from Hnmboldt Bay.

This, according to Dr. Bean, is one of the most widely distributed littoral fish known to exist,
ranging in North America to the mouth of the Colville and Anderson Rivers on the arctic coast.
It enters extensively into the resources of Alaska, being the largest and most abundant of its kind
in that region.

A related species, P.glaoialis, is especially abundant in Northern Alaska, occurring plentifully
as far south as Saint Michael's. Although small, its great abundance and fine flavor make it
important as an article of food. Traveling parties of Eskimos generally have a supply of this fish
in their bidarras. They are usually eaten raw.

THE ROUGH LIMANDA LIMANDA ASPERA (Pallas) Bean.

This species, according to Dr. Bean, is smaller than its Atlantic relative, Limanda ferruginea,
which it closely resembles, and its range is rather limited. It is found about Unalashka and has
been taken at Sitka, W ran gel, and other localities in the Gulf of Alaska. Its flavor is fine, and it
is used extensively for food by Eskimos and Indians.



THE DIAMOND I l.( >1 NDKI;. 185

THE DIAMOND FLOUNDER. HYPSOPSETTA GITTTULATA (Girard) (Jill.

In the neighborhood of S;m l-Yam-isco this speeies in known as the "Turbot," many of tho
dealers stoutly averring Unit it is identical with the English lish of that name. South of Point
Concciiciiin the name Diamond Flounder is in use. This refers to the rhombic form of the fish,
and the name seems an appropriate one. It reaches a length of eighteen inches and a weight of
four pounds, but as usually seen in the market its length is about one foot.

The geographie range of this species seems to be from Cape Memlocino to Magdalcna Hay.
It seems in lie more plentiful in the bays of Tomales and San Diego than elsewhere, apparently
preferring shallow water and sandy bottoms. It is one of the more abundant species, forming
perhaps two per cent, of the catch of Flounders in the neighborhood of San Francisco.

Its food consists inninly of Crustacea and small mollusks. Nothing special is known of its
breeding habits. Its enemies are those of all Flounders, and no diseases have been noticed. As
a food-fish it ranks high. It is one of the most firm-fleshed of the Flounders.

THE "SOLES" OF CALIFORNIA.

LEPIDOPSETTA BILINEATA (Ayres) Gill.

This species has no other distinctive name than "Sole." It reaches a length of twenty inches
and a weight of five or six pounds. Its average weight in the market is about three pound.-. It
ranges from Monterey to Alaska, and its relative abundance steadily increases as we go north-
ward from Monterey to Vancouver's Island. In Puget Sound it makes about thirty per cent, of
the flounder catch; about San Francisco barely two ]ter cent. It lives in rocky places in deep
water, and most of those taken about San Francisco come from the neigh borhood of the Farallones.
It takes the hook more readily than any of the other small- mouthed Flounders, and considerable
numbers are taken by the Chinese on their set-lines, especially at Monterey. They feed chiefly OH
crustaceans and small fishes.

Nothing special is known of its breeding habits, and nothing distinctive of enemies or
diseases. It is perhaps more subject to the parasitism of the fish- louse than any of the other
species.

Dr. Beau found this fish abundant in Alaska, and one of the most important of the flat fishes
in that territory. It is there regarded as an excellent food-fish. The natives spear it as it lies
entirely concealed in the loose sand along shore, where it comes at eventide to feed on small
crustaceans.

PAEOPHBYS ISCHYEUS Jordan and Gilbert.

Four specimens only of this species have been seen. These were taken with a seine at Seattle.
It resembles the preceding in appearance, and probably in habits. Those seen were about eighteen
inches long, and weighed about three pounds.

"This is a coarse, rough fish in its general appearance, greatly resembling the Flounder, I'leu-
ronectea stellatus, but differing from it in the ctenoid scales, and in the presence of an accessory
lateral line, characters in which it agrees with the next species. It has hitherto been found only
in Puget Sound, and reaches a length of about eighteen inches." Locl-i>ii/t<i.

PAROPURYS VETULUS Girard.

This species is always called Sole by the fishermen. It is one of the smallest species, reaeh-
ing a length of about fourteen inches and a weight of about two pounds. Those usually seen in



186 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

market average less than half a pound. It is found from Santa Barbara to Alaska, and from Sail
Francisco northward is extremely abundant. In number of individuals taken, this rpeeies is
exceeded only by Plcuronevtes stelhttvs. In number of pounds it probably ranks below Hippoylos-
soides Jordani. It forms about one-fifth the whole flounder catch of the coast. It lives near the
shore, and is taken in gill-nets and seines. It feeds on Crustacea and the like. As a food-fish it
meets with a ready sale, but its flesh is rather poor and tasteless. It spawns in spring. Nothing
further is known of its breeding habits, and nothing of its enemies or diseases. It is often found
in the stomachs of larger predaceous fishes.

Its flesh is softer than that of other Flounders, and it does not make an attractive appearance
in the market. It always readily sells, however, and the quality of the flesh is probably better
than that of some of the other kinds.

PABOPHRYS ISOLEPIS (Lockingtou) Jordan and Gilbert.

This species, too, is a Sole to the fishermen. It reaches a length of about fifteen inches and a
weight of about two and a half pounds. Its usual length is about ten inches, with a weight of
half a pound. It ranges from Monterey to Puget Sound, inhabiting rather deep water and
becoming larger in size and more plentiful northward. About San Francisco it is mainly taken
by the paranzelle fishermen, who obtain it in great numbers, but it forms less than one per cent, of
the flounder catch of the coast. Its food is mainly Crustacea and inollusks. It spawns in spring,
at which season the largest catches of it are made.

Large specimens of this species are sold with the best Soles (Psettichthys), which they greatly
resemble. Small ones rank with Olyptocephalm pacificus and the like, and often cannot be sold.

CiTHABiCH'J HYS soEDious (Girard) Gthr.

This species is often known as the "Plaice" in Puget Sound. About San Francisco it
becomes, like the others, a "Sole." It is one of the smallest species, reaching a length of fifteen
inches, and a weight of two pounds. Its average weight in market is little more than half a
pound. It ranges from San Diego to Puget Sound, being rare south of Point Conception, and most
abundant about Monterey. It lives in comparatively deep water, and is considered distinctively
a deep-water species by the fishermen in, Puget Sound. It takes the hook very readily, and great
numbers are taken on set-lines by the Chinese, to dry for market. It probably makes about eight
per cent, of the entire flounder catch of the coast. It feeds on small fishes, the anchovy being
one of its special anicles of food.

PSETTICHTHYS MELANOSTIOTUS Girard.

This species is everywhere a Sole, and at Sau Francisco it is considered to have a better
claim to that title than any other species. It reaches a length of about twenty inches, and a
weight of four or five pounds. Its average length is about fifteen inches. It ranges from .Mon-
terey to Wrangel, Alaska. It lives at no great depths, and is about equally abundant the entire
length of the coast. Although never found in large numbers, it is always present in the markets,
and forms some five per cent, of the entire flounder catch of the coast. It feeds upon fishes and
ortutacea.

Nothing special is known of its breeding habits, enemies, or diseases. As a food-fish it is
considered the best of the family by those who distinguish it from related species.



Till: rAl.iroKNIA "SULKS."

Hll'l'oiil.OSSOinKS JOUDANI Lockillgtoll.

Tliis species is known nniversalh as tln> "Sole." I have also heard tin- Italian name "Soglia"
applied to it more often than to related species. It reaches a length of eighteen inches, and a
weight of six or eight pounds, the' average being about three. It ranges from .Monterey to I'ugct
Sound. being coni|)aratively scarce north of Cape Mendocino, lint in Monterey Hay the commonest
species, and Conning probably fifteen ].cr cent, of the Flounders in the market of San Francisco.
Great numbers are taken by Chinamen on set lines baited with anchovies. It lives in water of no
{Treat depth. It feeds u pou anchovies, shrimps, and all sorts of small fishes and Crustacea. It
spawns in early summer. Nothing especial is known of its breeding habits. Its enemies ami
diseases are similar to those of other Flounders.

It is one of the best of the Flounders as a food-fish. Great numbers are dried yearly by the
Chinese, who suspend them by strings on a frame placed on the roofs of the houses, as they are
too fleshy to dry well on tables. Here they rustle in the wind, and, striking together, produce a
sound like the wind among the leaves.

It appears strange," remarks Lockington, "that this common species should have escaped
the notice of naturalists until last year. In the markets of San Francisco it abounds throughout
every month of the year, and in Monterey Bay it is the most abundant of its tribe. Professor
Jordan informs me that about five hundred pounds' weight of this fish are taken daily at Monterey



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 34 of 146)