G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

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'grounds' at sea and in summer iu some of the bays. It probably spawns in both places, and in
June and July. The young arc often caught in Pensacola Bay. In June, 1880, 1 obtained a young



HABITS OF TIIK KF.I> GKOrPKK. 4H

one about one inch in length. The Grouper is more of a bottom fish thau the red snapper, for it
swims much more slowly ;m<l very seldom rises to (In- surface. It is very voracious, consuming,
as is shown ly ;ui examination of the contents of its stomach, enormous quantities of crustaceans
anil small fish. I.aiue horny crabs in almost perfect condition arc olteu found inside of it. Its
movements aie rather slow, and when hooked it is hauled up more like a dead-weight than like a
linc-lish. In South Florida it is extensively eaten when procurable, and at Key West it is partic-
ulaily important, since a large licet of smacks is constantly employed iu carrying lares of Groupers
to Cuba. In West Florida, where red snappers are more abundant, Groupers are not in demand
and have but a small market value. After l>eing taken from the water, the Grouper is remarkably
tenacious of life, and will live several hours, even though exposed to considerable heat. This is
one reason why the Key West licet prefer Groupers for transportation to Cuba, since they are
obliged to go a long way to market and through warm water, and no other fish of the kind would
bear crowding and dialing in the wells of the smacks. The Grouper attains the weight of forty
IHJiuids, and is an excellent food-fish."

In Cuba this fish is called by the Spanish name "Cherna." Tho name "Grouper" is a corrup-
tion of "(i.ironpa," a name given by the Portuguese to similar species. In DeKay's time, as has
been remarked, this fish was not unusual in the New York market, where it sold for from six to
twelve cents a pound, though its flesh was considered tough and not very highly esteemed. Gill,
writing cf the same market in 1800, states: "This species is sometimes sent to our market from
Key West and the reefs of Florida iu May and the summer mouths. I have never seen more thau
two or three exposed for sale at a single time; it appears to be considerably esteemed, aud is sold
at from twelve to fifteen cents a pouud."

(lenio Scott writes: "The Grouper is an excellent dinner-fish, aud when boiled and served
with drawn butter aud shrimp or lobster sauce is said to fully equal the turbot."

.THE BLACK GROUPER EPINEPHELUS NIGRITUS.

The Black Grouper, Epinephchis nigritus, called iu Florida and Texas the "Jew-fish," is at
Peusacola known by the name "Warsaw," evidently a corruption of the Spanish name "Guasa."
It was first brought to notice by Holbrook, who had received one specimen from the vicinity of
Charleston; north of that point it had not yet been observed, though it appears to be abundant
along the coast of East Florida and iu the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. S. C. Clarke has observed it iu
the India ii Eiver region, and has communicated the following notes to Professor Baird:

"The Black Grouper is resideut all the year, though not abundant. The greatest size
attained is about fifteen pounds; the average, three pounds. They pass the winter in the salt-
water rivers, living iu holes in the rocks aud under roots and snags aud about piles. They are
solitary iu their habits. They feed ou small fish, particularly mullet, aud on crustaceans, and
breed iu ihe salt rivers iu May aud June. Their spawn is very small, aud pale yellow. They are
taken with hook aud line by the use of mullet aud crab bait, aud are seldom seen except wheu
thus captured. They are much esteemed as food."

Mr. Stearns remarks that it is a cominou fish at sea along the Gulf coast, living chiefly ou the
same spots with snappers and Groupers. At some places it is found in abuudaucc iu the bays,
and lives ou the bottom, feeding upon small fishes, crabs, etc. Ou the fishing grouuds where fish
are b. ing caught rapidly it uot unusually occurs.

A very large .lew fish will follow and finally swallow a hooked lish, usually a red snapper,
with hooks, lead, line and all. If the line does not then break the fish may be hauled in with gaffs.
The .icw-iiMi attains an enormous si/e. and specimens weighing from eighty to one hundred pounds



412 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

have been caught. The smaller fish are quite choice, but large ones are too coarse ami tough to
be salable.

There is another fish which is also called "Jew-fish," or "Warsaw," and "Black Grouper," of
which only enormously large specimens have beeu obtained, and which is entered upon our cata-
logues under the name Promicrops guam. It is a fair question whether this great fish be not the
adult of the common Black Grouper or some closely allied species, the appearance of which has
become somewhat changed with age. A large specimen, weighing about three hundred pounds,
was taken near the Saint John's bar in March or April, 1874, by James Arnold. It was shipped by
Mr. Hudson, a nsh-dealer in Savannah, to Mr. Blackford, who presented it to the Smithsonian In-
stitution. A fine cast of this specimen in papier-machcS graces the cast-room of the National
Museum. Professor Poey, by whom this species was named, states that in Cuba it attains to the
weight of six hundred pounds. An old Connecticut fisherman, who was for many years engaged
in the Savannah market fishery, states that the Savannah smacks often catch Jew-fish. They are
so voracious that when put into the well with the Groupers they would do much damage. The
fishermen have therefore found it necessary to sew their jaws together before placing them with
other fish.

THE SPOTTED HIND EPINEPHELUS DRUMMOND-HAYI.

The Spotted Hind of the Gulf of Mexico, Epintphelus Drummond-Hayi, has been but recently
discovered, and has been observed only in the Gulf of Mexico and at the Bermudas. It was
observed at the Bermudas in 1851 by Col. H. M. Drummond-IIay, of the British army. Specimens
were sent to the National Museum in 1876 and 1877 by Mr. Blackford and Mr. Stearns. It is one
of the many important species which have been brought to notice by the labors of the United
States Fish Commission. Although it is an excellent food-fish, it is even now 7iot well appreciated.

Mr. Stearns records the following facts concerning its habits: "The Spotted Hind is common
in company with the Grouper and the Jew-fish, and is most abundant in South Florida about the
reefs. Off Pensacola it lives in the deep fishing grounds, in seventeen, nineteen, and twenty-two
fathoms. It swims close to the bottom, and is of sluggish movements. I have not known of its
occurrence in the bays, and believe that it spawns at sea. Specimens weighing fifty pounds have
been caught, but that is fully four times the average size. It is seen daily in the Key West
market and sells readily, but at Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans it is hardly marketable. Its
color varies very considerably with the ditferent colored bottoms on which it lives."

The Coney, Upinephelus apua, of Key West, the Hind of Bermuda, is an important food-
fish which occurs throughout the West Indies. Specimens have been sent by Mr. Stearns, who
recorded that it is common in South Florida among the reefs, and is often seen in the Key West
market, where it is readily sold.

THE BANDED GROUPER EPINEPHULUS STRIATUS AND OTHERS.

The common Grouper of Bermuda, Epinephctus striatus, one of the most important food-fishes
of those islands, is sure to be found in the vicinity of Key West, and will probably prove to be
one of the important fishes of our own southern coasts. About Key W T cst and in the Gulf there
are several species of the sub-genus Myctrroperca, which may be grouped together under the name
"Rock-fish," the name by which all fishes of this genus are also known in Bermuda. They are
large fishes of excellent food quality, similar in habits to the others of the family which have
already been discussed. The material at present on hand is not sufficient to admit of satisfactory
identification of all the species. The "Bhick Grouper "of Pensacola, which has been variously



<;i:oi i-Ki.-s or THE GULF OF MEXICO. 413



named Mi/i-ti-ropi-n-ti hniiiiii'ii, M. .iiirrnl<-i>ix. ,niil ,V. Htomitu, \s said by Mr. Stearns to be common
in company with tin' I .Yd Grouper. although not so abundant. It spawns in June and July, at
sc.i and in tin- inlets. As a food-fish it is considered superior to the Red Grouper, although it is
not more readily sold. It attains a weight of titty pounds. Professor Jordan is of the opinion that
tin- I'onii rewntly described by Goode and Bean as M. atomiaa is the adult of that previously char-
acterized I iy thriii under the name M. microlepit.

The Rock fish of Key West, which has not yet been identified, is said by Mr. Stearns to be
very common, and is sold almost every day in the market. The average weight is four or five
pounds, the maximum twenty-five to thirty. There appear to be, from Mr. Stearns' notes, at Key
West, as well as in Bermuda, various local forms closely related to this, one of which is known by
tin- name ''Gag"; another fish of this genus, Mycteroperca falcata, is called at Pensacola by the
name "Scamp." It is common off the Florida coast, living near the bottom in company with the
other secies of Groupers. It is found on the coast all the year round, and is caught with hook
and line. It seldom exceeds the weight of twenty pounds, and the average size is much smaller.
It is considered an excellent table fish.

Several of these fishes, whose relations have not yet been determined, have been taken along
the Atlantic coast, particularly at the mouth of the Chesapeake and at Wood's Holl, Massachusetts.

There are several other species belonging to this family which have been observed, none of
which, however, are of any economic importance.

138. THE SERRANOID FISHES OF THE PACIFIC COAST.

By DAVID S. JOBDAN.
THE JEW-FISH STEREOLEPIS GIGAS.

This species is everywhere known as the "Jew-fish." It is also sometimes called the "Black
Sea Bass." It reaches a weight of five hundred pounds, being the largest food-fish on the coast.
It ranges from the Farallones to below San Diego, and is generally abundant in deep water about
the islands, but from its great size is seldom taken. It feeds upon smaller fishes, and is voracious.
It is often taken by swallowing a white-fish when the latter is on the hook. Its flesh is of excellent
quality, and those small enough to be available always bring a very high price in the market.

THE CABRILLA SEBRANUS OLATHRATUS.

This species is called at Monterey, where it is not common, the " Kelp Salmon"; farther South
it is known to the "Americans" usually as "Rock Bass," and to the Italians and Spaniards as
''Cabrilla," a name applied to other species of Serranus in the Mediterranean. The Chinese call
it "Locke* Cod" ( Rock Cod). It reaches a length of eighteen inches and a weight of about five
pounds. It ranges from San Francisco to Cerros Island, being very abundant about the Santa
Barbara Islands, where it is taken in large numbers. It lives in water of no great depth, chiefly
about the rocks. It feeds on sqnid, Crustacea, and small fishes. It is an excellent food-fish, similar
in quality to the related Atlantic species.

THE JOHNNY VERDE SERRANUS NEBULIFEB (Grd.) Steind.

This species receives the name "Rock Bass" nud "Cabrilla" with the other species. The
distinctive Spanish name of "Johnny (Juan) Verde" is also in frequent use, especially at San
Pedro. It reaches a length of twelve to twenty inches and a weight of about five pounds. Most
individuals seen are, however, small, not averaging two pounds. It has been taken at Monterey.
but it is common only from San Pedro southward to Magdalena Bay. So far as known to us, it
agrees in habits and value with the preceding.



414 NATURAL HISTOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

THE SPOTTED CABKILLA SERVANTS MACULOFASCIATUS Steindachner.

Tliis species receives the same names, "Eock Bass" and " Cabrilla," as the others. It agrees
with the preceding in value, distribution, and habits, so far as known. Its a rather smaller size.
It is au excellent food-fish, and from its great abundance about San Diego it may become of
considerable economic importance. Its range extends southward to Mazatlan, it being one of the
very few California fishes which extend their range to the south of the Tropic of Cancer.

139. THE YELLOW PERCH PERCA AMERICANA.

"Wherever found," writes Jordan, "this species is the Perch par excellence," the name Perch
being elsewhere wrongly applied to various Serranoid, Sciaeuoid, Centrarchoid, and Embiotocoid
fishes. The descriptive names "Yellow Perch" and "Einged Perch" are in common use. The
Perch is found throughout the Great Lake region, the rivers of New England and of the States
east of the Alleghauy Mountains as far south as Georgia. It occurs in some tributaries of the Ohio
in the northern parts of Ohio and Indiana, and of the Mississippi in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but
throughout the lower basin of the Mississippi and the west slope of the Alleghanies it is entirely
absent. The Perch is one of the common market fish of the North and East. Its usual length is
about a foot, and its weight generally less than two pounds. It is a fish of fair but not excellent
quality. It is a carnivorous fish, feeding on minnows, etc., and usually freely taking the hook. It
spawns in spring. Dr. Steindachner, of Vienna, has recently attempted to demonstrate the
identity of the American Perch with the similar species in Europe, but this I cannot admit, for
they are no more alike than various of our species of Lepomis, Amiunut, etc. It is true enough
that the distinctive characters noticed by Steindachner are unreliable, but, so far as I have seen,
they differ strongly in gill-rakers, pseudobrauchise, position of first dorsal, etc. Of course, no sane
man doubts their community of origin, but different " species" they are now, or at least sub-species."

The following observations with regard to the abundance of the Yellow Perch, in the Great
Lakes have been made by Mr. Ludwig Kumlien and others:

On the eastern shore of Minnesota, and especially about Duluth and vicinity, these fish are
common. On the southern shore of Lake Superior, r.s far east as Keeweeuaw Point, and about
the islands included such as the Apostle Islands, Sand, York, and Eock Islands they are also
common. In this region they have been on the increase for the last ten years, being quite rare as
lately as 1870. They are, however, never shipped to the large markets, being used for home con-
sumption. In the small bays running southeast from Keweenaw Point Yellow Perch are very
abundant; in this locality they are not found plentifully at a great distance from shore. In
Marquette Harbor a few are taken in the herring seines, but none are caught in the pound nets.
The yellow-perch fishery is of no importance between this point and Sauk's Head.

At the north end of Green Bay Yellow Perch are not abundant. They are found chiefly in
the mouths of the small bays included in Green Bay, and are said to be rare about the islands;
they are not taken in the pound-nets at least. Toward Cedar Eiver this fish is not plentiful,
being taken almost entirely in the shoal-nets. A little farther south, about the mouth of Meuom-
onee Eiver, there is a greater abundance of them; here also they are taken in some quantities in
the inshore nets. They are shipped from here with the -'dory," but complaint is made by the dealers
if there is too large a proportion of Perch. When shipped separate they command a low price.
Writing on September 24, 1880, Mr. Kumlien remarks: "I have seen a good many that were taken
near Menomonee Eiver within the last few days and was surprised at their small and uniform size;
few of them would exceed eight inches. The fishermen inform me that there has been a run of
these small Perch since last winter in excess of anything ever known in previous years."



YKLLO\V IT.I.VII IN TIII-: CKKAT I.AKKS. 415

Tin- fishermen are under the impression that lYn-h instead of white lisli were hatched out inul
deposited here by the State Fish Commission.

lletwecii the Menoinoiire River ;iii(l Oconto Bay this fish is coiiiinon, but of little importance.
It lirin;;s M li>\v price ::nd is not sought after. It is caught inshore in tho sloughs. At the southern
i\;i\ ::iity of Green Toy the Yellow Perch is abundant. All along tho eastern shore of Green Bay
it is very plentiful; there has been a greater abundance of it during the past year (1880) than
ever before.

Along the western shore of Lake Michigan, as far as Mauitowoc, the Yellow Perch is extremely
rare, except about Two Rivers and Manitowoc, at which two points it is common and meets with a
ready sale. Between Manitowoc and Port Washington the Yellow Perch occurs very sparingly,
especially in the vicinity of Cedar Grove. The other lishing grounds between the above-named
points are White Fish Bay, and Sheboygan.

I n the vicinity of Milwaukee this fish is extraordinarily abundant, and was especially so during
Is7!>. In less than ten fathoms they are sometimes caught in the gill-net; the majority, however,
are taken on hooks. They are of considerable importance in this locality and meet with a ready
sale. At Racine a great many, and of a large size, are caught. At Watikegan, a little farther
south, they are especially abundant in June and July. They were more plentiful in 1879 than
they hal ever been before.

At tho southern end of Lake Michigan, about New Buffalo and Michigan City, they are
abundant, being caught on hooks and sold in large numbers to the railway baggage-men, who
piddle them on the cars. They have been more abundant this year (1880) than ever before. The
finest specimens are caught as far out from shore as fifteen miles, but the smaller ones do not go
out so far. Many are shipped to the Chicago market.

Around the docks of Saint Joseph, at the southern end of Lake Michigan, the yellow perch
fry fairly swarms. In the summer of 1880, two hundred hooks were set two miles out from shore;
e.ich hook had a Perch, some weighing as high as two pounds. From Saint Joseph Yellow Perch
are often shipped with white-fish and trout. They are chiefly caught in gill-nets, several miles
from shore.

On the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, about Ludiugtou and Mauistee, they were as plentiful
as ever before in 1880; some years they are less common, and then come on again. At Grand
Haven they were less abundant than usual, and are seldom taken at this point at any great distance
from shore. About Little and Great Traverse Bays and the Fox Islands they are generally
common, but were less plentiful in 1880 than ever before. They are occasionally taken in the
pound nets, and even in the gill nets, but are of no commercial importance.

The Yellow Perch is reported as common at the northeast end of Lake Michigan, through the
Straits of Mackinaw, and down the western shore of Lake Huron to Thunder Bay. Captain
Dingman, who appears to be well informed as to the fisheries of that region, says they are not
one-tenth as numerous as they were in 1879. If this be true of the northeastern shore of Lake
Michigan, it may account for their being unusually numerous on the opposite (western) shore of
that lake. Near the Les Cheueaux Islands a large variety is reported as having been caught.
Yellow Perch are more common about these islands than generally along the shore. They are not
often taken in the deep pounds but are quite abundant in shallow water and in the small lakes.

In Thunder Bay Yellow Perch are abundant, and an- taken principally in the pound-nets in
spring. Mr. Case thinks they are increasing. Very few are shipped from this point ; during 1879
not over five hundred, in which year the ruu was very large.

lu the rivers running into Saginaw Bay Yellow Perch are abundant, but not so much so as



416 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

formerly. Mr. Biker thinks they have left the rivers for the bay, during the last few years, to a
great extent. From places on this bay they are shipped as soft fish. Down from Saginaw Bay
to Port Huron, the reminder of the western shore of Lake Huron, Yellow Perch are very abun-
dant, as also in the Saint Clair Eiver; Mr. Canham thinks that they are on the steady increase.
From this region few are shipped, the demand being principally local, but outside markets are
springing up. A good many are taken on the lake shore in the bait-nets.

On the fishing grounds at the west end of Lake Erie, from Toledo to the mouth of the Detroit
River, including the pound fisheries of the last named locality, Yellow Perch are said to be very
abundant and on the increase. They are usually dressed (skinned) and sent to inland towns.
There is a great demand for them by the peddlers who supply the farms.

About the vicinity of Maumee Bay and Toledo, and in Maumee Bay, Yellow Perch are very
abundant at all times. In late autumn and winter a few are shipped to New York City. East of
Port Clinton the pounds do not catch any, though they are very abundant in the Sandusky River
and small bays adjacent. About Toussaiut and Locust Point a few are caught in spring in the
pounds, but are thrown overboard.

In Saudusky Bay, Upper and Lower, and in the lake between Ottawa City, onCatawba Island,
and the Huron fisheries, Yellow Perch are very abundant in early spring and late fall. At San-
dusky they are very abundant, and it is thought that the offal thrown into the lake helps
to keep them in that locality. They are usually counted as "rough" fish and sold with the
herring, but are sometimes counted as "soft" fish early in the season. A very large variety is
taken outside of Sandusky Bay in the lake, and Mr. Stoll, one of the authorities of that district,
affirms that the lake and marsh varieties are distinct. About the islands of this region Yellow
Perch are common, and, according to Mr. Anthony, from five to ten tons have been caught there,
several years ago, at one lift.

In the fishing grounds at Huron, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie, this species is abun-
dant. Six or seven years ago few were taken in the lake pounds in comparison with the numbers
taken in them at the present day. About nine tenths of those now taken are thrown away. A
few are shipped to New York City in late autumn, and a few are frozen. Yellow Perch, in this
locality, are not even graded as a soft fish, and seldom bring more than do the sheepsheads.

Yellow Perch are very abundant at Vermillion, Ohio. Ten tons have been caught iu a day
and set at liberty for lack of demand. A few tons of the late autumn catch is generally frozen.
Here they do not even count as a soft fish, but sell separately, and rarely for a higher price than
the sheepshead. The Yellow Perch are here of a uniform size, averaging about three-fourths of
a | M HI in I apiece.

At Black River and Ainherst this species is very common; they are classed as soft fish, but
are not considered a "good" soft fish. They are most abundant in the spring usually in April
but unimportant. At these points the Yellow Perch average a large size.

This species is very abundant during some years at Cleveland and Dover Bay, Ohio, and
again for some time but few are taken. They are most plentiful in spring, during which season
of the year as high as two or three hundred pounds are taken in a day. When abundant, they
have a poor sale, but when a few only are in the Cleveland market they command a fair price.
They are of uniform size, and average about three-quarters of a pound.

At Conneaut and Ashtabula Yellow Perch are abundant and quite important. They are
taken iu gill-nets in winter as far as eight miles from shore. In May. when they spawn, few are
caught over a mile from shore. At Painesville Yellow Perch are not so common as east and west
of that place. At Dunkirk and Barcelona, New York, this species is very abundant, and especially



YELLOW PERCH IN THE GREAT LAKES. 417

so at Erie, Pennsylvania, where it is considered as of great importance. Off Erie Bay a very
large grade of this tish occurs. Many are taken in gill-nete. At Oswego, Port Ontario, Lake Viu-
rent. I'haiiniont. and Sacket's Harbor, and other points on the southern and eastern shores of
Lake, Ontario, Yellow IVrdi arc very abundant. At Port Ontario they are of some commercial
i in PI ii i a IKT and are more highly prized as a food-fish than is usual, as is also the case at Lake
Vincent, when- they are more highly prized than the sun-fish. From Chaumont they are shipped
in spring and winter as "Perch." At Lake Vincent they are known as "Striped Perch." At
Sacket's Harbor they are of no special importance.



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 71 of 146)