G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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unfrequently found three feet in length and ten pounds' weight. They are often found outside of


the beach in great numbers in January, coming in to the shore when the water is warm, about
February, as stated. School follows school at intervals of about four or five days, when they seem
to go northward and to be absent from the Southern coast for several months. On their return
in September, after a short stay, they gradually leave the coast until they finally disappear for the
season. Their return season by season is very regular and definite, being relied upon with much
confidence. The successive "runs" do not seem to be classified in any particular way, large and
small fish of both sexes coming in together. The colder the weather the less tendency they appear
to exhibit to come towards the shore.

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

They are said never to take the hook, and to be captured entirely by nets. Their presence is
generally made known by the schools of porpoises which follow and feed upon them. Swimming
low in the water, they make no ripple on the surface, as is the case with mullets. The time of their
capture is usually on the young flood, as in their movements along the shore they come in on the
rising tide and depart on the ebb.

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

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

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

They are used when fresh, and sent up into the small towns in the interior in large numbers.
The flesh is of an excellent quality, much superior to that of the Weak-fish, being firm, white, and
flaky, and will keep well for three or four days, unless the weather be too warm. It is sometimes
salted down for home use by the inhabitants along the coast, and much esteemed. Dr. Yarrow
estimates that about two hundred barrels were salted during the season of 1871 by the fishermen
in his vicinity. The fish bring about $3 per hundred at wholesale, and $5 at retail, this being equal
to the average for the last ten years.

Mr. Silas Stearns has recently prepared the following notes regarding the habits of the
Spotted Squeteague as observed by him in the Gulf of Mexico:

"The Spotted Trout is abundant from Key West to Mexico. In the Pensacola region it is
present all the year, although most abundant in summer. It prefers to remain in shoal waters

Till: si'OTTKD S< k H LMAGUE. 3(J7

on pi-assy bottom, where it limls small tish and sliritnps in abundance for food. It breeds in inside
waters in .Inly <>r August. Quantities of the fry aro seen in August and September. They do not
often form in schools in the bays, but in some places are so plentiful that it is not unusual to eaten
ii\ e or eight banvN :it one drag of a seine. Oue man fishing with hook and line sometimes catches
one hundred in less than n day. The Trout is an excellent food fish, and of considerable importance
to the tish trade. The demand for it would be much greater if it was not so hard to preserve in
this climate."


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

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


Next to the sword-fish, tunny, Jew-fish, and halibut, the Drum is perhaps the largest of the
food-fishes of our coast. It is most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Southern Atlantic
States, though nearly every summer a few specimens appear on the south coast of New England.
In one or two instances individuals have been observed as far north as Provincetown, Massa-
chusetts. In the Gulf it is common everywhere, even to the southern boundary of Texas;
how much farther south it goes there is at present no means of determining. Ichthyologists
formerly supposed that there were two species, one of which, of small size and conspicuously
banded with brown and white, was called the "Banded Drum," r.fasciatus, or "Little Drum."
This is now well known to be the young of the P. chromis. It seems curious that the changes
of color in relation to age, although known to Cuvier forty years ago, should have been over-
looked by American naturalists, and that the species P.fasciatus should have stood as valid until

My own observations upon the Drum have been made chiefly in Florida. Specimens of
ten and fifteen inches are abundant in the Lower Saint John, and are frequently taken at Jack-
sonville, even as high up the river as Doctor's Lake. Large ones are seldom known to pass the
bar at Mayport. The young are very dissimilar to the adult fish, though the fishermen recognize
tin- actual relations. In this respect they are more discriminating than the ichthyologist Hol-
brook, who described them as distinct species. The adult is known as the "Black Drum," the
young as the "Striped Drum." lu addition to the marked differences in color, the young has a
much more shapely body than the adult, much higher in proportion to its length. The full-grown
fish sometimes weigh eighty pounds, though the average is perhaps not more than one-quarter as
large. They are sluggish swimmers, and are especially adapted to life on the bottom, where their


long, sensitive barbels aid tbem in their searcb for buried treasures of food. They feed upon all
bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Their teeth are extremely heavy and pavement-like; their jaws
arc provided with vciy powerful muscles, by means of which they can crush with great ease the
shells of the most strongly protected invertebrates.

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

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

The name " Drum," as every one knows, alludes to the loud drumming noise which is heard,
especially in the breeding season, and is doubtless the signal by which the fish call to their mates.
This habit of drumming is shared by many fishes of this family, but appears to be most highly
developed in the Drum, and in a European species known as the Maigre, Scicena aquila. M.
Dnfosse has investigated very thoroughly the physiological causes of these sounds, which appear
to depend largely upon the action of the air-bladder.

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

The northern limit of the species appears to be defined by Cape Cod. In 1873 Mr. James H.
Blake captured one at Provincetown. Another, of twenty-five pounds' weight, was secured by
Vinal Edwards for the Fish Commission from Rogers' Pound, Quissett, Massachusetts, July, 1874;
another large individual, of sixty pounds' weight, was taken near Noank, Connecticut, July 10,
1874, the third instance of its capture known to the fishermen of that vicinity.

Schoepf, writing about the year 178G, says that they were at that time very rare about New
York, though he had occasionally seen them at the city market, where they met with sale, though
their flesh was none of the hardest.

The Drums captured north of Sandy Hook have been, so lar as I can learn, large adult fish
Professor Bainl found the young fish of this species very abundant in August in the small bays
along the shores of Beasley's Point, New Jersey, though few were seen in the rivers.

North of Maryland the fish is of little economical importance. In the Chesapeake region,
according to Uliler and Lugger, 2 its flesh is much esteemed, and its roe is a great delicacy; consid-
erable numbers are brought to* the Baltimore markets in spring and fall.

1 New York fishermen say that a school of these fish destroyed seven thousand barrels of oysters in Prince's Bay
in two days some years ago. FRKD. MATHER, Chicago Field, September 13, 1879, p. 67.
"Rep. Com. Fish. Maryland, reference 76, p. 99.


In the Carolina*. according to :i statement of a correspondent, the roe is considered very
deli. ions, and it is customary for the residents of the coast to salt and dry them and send them
"up country" to their friends as a very acceptable present.

They are sometimes caught in seines in great numbers and retained living in the seines until
disposed of. Their flesh is coarse, but tender, and it is thought to compare favorably with any of
the salt-water fish f the region. Drum-flshing with hook and line is one of the most exciting
exploits of the sportsmen of this region. In the Nassau River large Drum are taken with hook and
line in the spring, and are sold at Fernandina.

The young Drum are often taken in seines in the Saint John's River and sold in the Jackson-
ville market, and are excellent pan-fish, as my own experience testifies. The large fish are often
eaten, but are not so much sought after; perhaps the cause of this is that they are liable to be
infested by parasitic worms. A Drum of sixty pounds, taken at Wood's Holl, Massachusetts,
1864, was completely riddled by nematode worms, neatly encysted among the layers of muscle.
Some of them were two feet long, with heads larger than large buck-shot.

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

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

The Drum is interesting to the fishery economists less on account of any intrinsic value in
itself, than because of its destructive influence upon the oyster-beds. Concerning its relation to
the oyster-culturist, I cannot do better than to quote the words of Mr. Ernest Ingoisoll: "Knowing
the carnivorous propensity of the fish, one can easily imagine how an inroad of such a host must
aflect an oyster-ground. They do not seem to make any trouble, however, north of New York City,
and rarely along the south side of Long Island. At Staten Island and Keyport they come in every
few years and devastate tkousands of dollars' worth of property. Such a memorable visitation
happened about 1850, in July. The following summer the planters in Prince's Bay, fearing a repe-
tition of the onslaught, anchored shingles and pieces of waste tin on their beds, scattering them
at short intervals, in the hope that their dancing, glittering surfaces might act as 'scare-crows' to
frighten the fish away. Whether as an effect of this, or because of a general absence, no more
Drums appeared. In New York Bay, off Caven Point, where the old ' Black Tom Reef is now
converted into an island, one planter of Keyport lost his whole summerte work material and
labor in a single September week, through an attack by Drums. A City Island planter reported
to me a loss of $10,000 in one season a few years ago; but the East River is about the northern
limit of the Drums, at least as a nuisance to oyster-culture, so far as I can learn. The vexation of
it is, too, that the Drum does not seem to eat half of what he destroys; but, on the contrary, a
great school of them will go over a bed, wantonly crushing hundreds of oysters and dropping them
nntasted, but in fragments, on the bottom." 1

1 The great schools in which these fish go are illustrated by the following records from contemporary newspapers:
On Monday last John Earle and sons caught, at one draught, in Bristol Ferry, 719 Drum-fish, weighing upwards
of fifty pounds each. Niles' Weekly Begitter, July, 1833, also says : " Some days ago a haul was made in Great Egg

24 F



This species is in the Great Lakes always known by the name of Sheepshead. In the Ohio
River it is usually called "White Perch" or "Gray Perch," often simply "Perch." In the lakes
of Northern Indiana it is called "Crocus," evidently a corruption of "Croaker." In the South-
ern States the name "Drum" predominates; that of "Thunder-pumper," also used for the bittern,
Botaurus lentiginosus, is heard along the Mississippi River. Southwestward, in Louisiana, Texas,
and Arkansas, it is always known as the "Gaspergou." These names, "Croaker," "Drum,''
"Thunder-pumper," etc., refer to the croaking or grunting noise made by this species in common
witli most Sciaeuoids. This noise is thought to be made in the air-bladder by forcing the air from
one compartment to another. Another name used in the southwest is "Jewel-head."

This Drum is very abundant in all large bodies of water throughout the Western States, from
the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande. It seldom enters small streams. It feeds largely upon crus-
taceans and mollusks, but sometimes swallows other fishes. It is rather a bottom fish than
otherwise. Its value as a food-fish depends on the water and food, and, unlike most fishes, its
quality seems to improve to the southward. Although from its size and abundance it becomes an
important market fish, it cannot at best be considered one of high quality. Its flesh is tough and
coarse in fiber, and often of a disagreeable shark-like odor, particularly in the Great Lakes, where
it is never eaten. The flesh of partly grown specimens is better than that of the adult.

This fish reaches a length of four feet and a weight of forty to sixty pounds. Those usually
seen in market are much smaller.

Nothing special is recorded concerning its breeding habits. It is apparently not at all

This species in the Lakes often contains numerous parasitic worms.


The Lafayette, or " Spot," Liostomus xanthurus, is found along our coast from New York to the
Gulf of Mexico, and is known in New York and elsewhere as the " Spot," on the coast of New
Jersey as the "Goody" and sometimes as the "Cape May Goody," in the Chesapeake region also
as the " Spot" and the " Roach," at Charleston, South Carolina, as the " Chub," in the Saint John's
River, Florida, as the " Masooka" this name being probably a corruption of a Portuguese name,
"Bezuga" and at Pensacola as the "Spot" and " Ghopa blanca.'' The name "Lafayette" was
formerly used for this fish in New York, though seldom heard at the present day.

Although they sometimes enter the large fresh waters of the South (such as the Saint John's,
which they ascend as far as Jacksonville), Giinther is by no means justified in his remarkable
statement that this is "a fresh-water fish inhabiting the rivers of North America."

Like the other bottom-feeding members of this family, their food consists chiefly of the smaller
inollusks and crustaceans. Little is known about their breeding habits in the North. Mr. S. C.
Clarke states that at New Smyrna, Florida, they spawn in the bays and inlets in November and
December, while Stearns remarks that they spawn in the lower bays and inlets about Pensacola

Harbor Bay, near Bcasley's Point, Cape May, at which 218 Drum-fish were caught, their entire weight being from
8,000 to 9,000 pounds. This is said to bo the largest haul of that deseription of lish ever made in that bay."

Another still larger, noticed an a great haul of Dniin-lish: "On Wednesday, Juno 5, 1804," says the postmaster of
Oyster Ponds, Long Island, "one seine drew on shore at this place at a single haul 12,250 fish, the average weight of
which was found to be thirty -three pounds, making in the aggregate 202 tons 250 pounds. This undoubtedly is the
greatest haul of this kind ever known in this country. A hundred witnesses are ready to attest tbo truth of the
abovo statement. They are used for manure." (The fish, I suppose, and not the Witnesses. INGEKSOLL.)


laic in tin- fall, while, tin; young of all sizes are very abundant in the spring. Concerning this
species Professor liainl writes:

"Of tli- smaller pan-lish of onr coast, in excellence of flavor none is considered superior to
thai known as tin- -Lafayette.' Its precise eastern range is not well ascertained, although it is
occasionally taken in great numbers oft' Long Island and the coast of New Jersey. It is most
plentiful oft' the coast of Virginia. The name of Lafayette was given to it by the New York fisher-
men in consequence of one of its periodical reappearances in large numbers in that region having
been coincident with the arrival of Lafayette in this country in 1834. It had been known before
that time, but only in scattering numbers.

"According to Dr. Holbrook, it is not much esteemed for food at Charleston, owing to a want
of flavor. In the case of this species, as in many others, it is probable that the colder waters of
the North impart a superior flavor and excellence to the flesh. This is well known to be the case
witli the sheepshead, as well as many other 8j>ccies.

"At Beasley's Point, New Jersey, where I have had an opportunity of studying its habits, it
makes its appearance in large numbers in August, the first school being composed of small fish,
larger ones following them. A short time later they ascend the creeks in great numbers and are
taken there in company with the white perch. Their usual size in New Jersey is about six inches,
although occasionally measuring ten inches. They do not make their appearance in the New York
markets in any abundance until towards the 1st of September, and remain until the end of October,
when they disappear. I did not succeed in finding any very young fish, and am unable to state
whether they actually spawn on the New Jersey coast, or whether the supply found there and
farther north consists of a Tun' from the more southern waters of fish migrating northward,
perhaps to escape the increased heat of the southern coast."

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

There is a rare species which has been recorded only from Charleston, South Carolina, and
Saint George's Island, Texas, known by naturalists under the name Stelliferwi lanceolatus. It is
found in deep water, and is not sufficiently abundant to have acquired a common name.

The following biography of the Bed Drum. Scitena ocellata, is quoted in full from the text pre-
pared by the writer for the illustrated work on "The Game Fishes of the United States," recently
published by Charles Scribuer's Sons, of New York:

The Southern Ked Fish is among the important species upon the coast of the United States
from the Chesapeake to the Mexican boundary. Abundant as it is in the Caroliuas, in Florida,
and in the Gulf of Mexico, the limits of its range appear to be very sharply defined, there being
little tendency on the part of individuals to stray away from their wonted pastures. Although
the species is often found in the Chesapeake, I am unable to find any record of its capture north of
( ape Charles. Mitchill and DeKay refer to it in their treatise on the fishes of New York, but their
descriptions are based upon market specimens, probably brought from more southern localities.
Professor Baird did not obtain any specimens when he explored the New Jersey coast in 1854, nor
are they to be found in Professor Webster's collections from the Atlantic .-itle of the east shore of
Virginia. Its range to the south seems to terminate with equal abruptness. Mr. Silas Stearns
gives the result of his observations in 1880: 'From Tampa Bay and northward to the Mississippi
River it is one of the most common edible fishes, while west of the Mississippi River it is more


abundant than any other sea-fish, evidently increasing in numbers as the Texas coast is approxi-
mated.' On the Texas coast it is taken in greater quantity than all ottier species combined.

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 64 of 146)