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^rounds at the north end of Green Bay, White Bass are known only as stragglers. Farther down
the bay, about Cedar River, they are rare, but are more common on the shoals between Menom-
onee ami IVshtego. They are taken principally in September, are important, and command a
ready sale. They do not frequent deep water. Between Peshtego and Lougtail Point, including
the fishing points at Maple Bend, Peusaukee, Gail's Point, and Oconto Bay, White Bass are rather
common, and important during August and September; at other times they are seldom taken.
They are caught in the pound-nets, are much sought for early in autumn, and are shipped princi-
pally to Saint Louis.

The White Bass is a beautiful, clean-looking fish, presenting a fine appearance and bearing
shipment well. At Green Bay City, the southern extremity of Green Bay, this species is abundant.
On the eastern shore of Green Bay, bordering upon the counties of Door and Kewaunee, and
as far north as Saint Martin's Island, they are taken in small quantities in autumn, but are not
abundant enough to be shipped.

At Jacksonport, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, a few White Bass are taken in autumn.
At Two Rivers they are not rare in September. A couple of dozen may be found among one or
two thousand pounds of fish, and then may be entirely absent for a long time. At Manitowoc
they are often taken in some numbers in September, when large runs sometimes occur, and then
none are taken, perhaps, for two or three years. During the last three years very few have been
taken. Mr. Patterson, of that district, thinks the bass family is increasing in the vicinity of
Manitowoc.

At Milwaukee White Bass used to be so abundant that they were largely caught on hooks off
the piers, but now only a few are taken in the pound-nets. At the south end of Lake Michigan
\VliiteBasscorae in great numbers in April and September, entering the river, but not being
taken to any extent in the pound-nets. The principal fisheries of that region are those of New
Buffalo and Michigan City. Here they run small, and are of no commercial importance.

White Bass are .abundant on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, between New Buffalo and
Saugatuck, making their first appearance during the warm days of May or June. At this time they
strike in from the lake in great numbers. They remain about the mouth of Saint Joseph's River
till September, and sometimes October, and even ascend the river several miles. After September
they work out into the lake again. They associate with the Black Bass in schools. They are not
sufficiently abundant, however, to be of any commercial importance, as no seining is done; if that
kind of fishing were carried on, almost any number might be taken. The White Bass is considered
one of the " game" fish. Specimens have been taken weighing over three pounds. When coming
in from the lake to the river they are very light in color, but become darker during their stay.
Mr. 1 1 a i rli has put specimens in his fish ponds, the bottom of which is of black muck, and these
have become black on the back.

Along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, from Allegan County to Leelenaw County, they are
reported as quite common, especially about Manistee, Ludington, and Point au Sable, but as
having been less abundant this year (1880) than usual. At Grand Haven they are plentiful and
of a large size. About and in Grand Traverse Bay, Little Traverse Bay, and Fox Islands, they
must be of great rarity, the first instance of their occurrence known to Miller, in this region, having
been in Little Traverse Bay during the summer of 1880. Off the shores of Emmet, Cheboygan,
and Presque Isle Counties, Michigan, which coast line includes the northeast portion of Lake
Michigan, the Straits of Mackinaw, and the northwest portion of Lake Huron, White Bass are by
all pronounced rare. Captain Coats reports the capture of three in 1880, and thinks they are



430 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

decreasing in abundance; and Captain Dingman says he has not taken half a dozen in fifteen
years' fishing. Some report them as more plentiful about river mouths and bayous. At Alpena,
Thunder Bay, Mr. Case knows of but four or five White Bass having been caught.

On the fishing grounds of Saginaw Bay, including also those of Charity Islands, a very few
White Bass are occasionally taken in May and the first part of June. They were never abundant
in this region. South of Saginaw Bay, on the western shore of Lake Huron as far as Port Huron,
White Bass are not at all abundant, and are now far less abundant than formerly. Those now
taken are captured principally in the Saint Clair Eiver, though they occur, sparingly, however, on
both the American and Canadian shores of the lake between Point aux Barques and Port Huron.
From Toledo to the mouth of the Detroit Eiver, Lake Erie, they are now rather rare, so much so
as to render them of no commercial value. Formerly they were plenty. In Lake Erie, about the
mouth of Manmee Bay, White Bass are not so abundant, as they once were. They now occur
principally iu the bay, ascending the Maumee River until prevented by obstructions. At present
they are not taken in sufficient numbers to be of any commercial value. No reason can be
assigned for their sudden decrease in this locality. In 1865 a catch of from ten to thirty tons was
an event of no rare occurrence, and now it is seldom that more than one to two hundred pounds
are taken at a lift.

On the fishing grounds of Ottawa City, Toussaint, and Locust Point, White Bass are now quite
rare and of no importance. Formerly they were very abundant. On the reefs off Port Clinton
they are still taken in some quantities with the Black Bass. On these reefs no driving is possible,
but the leads are buoyed up across the reefs, and the heart and pot stakes are set in the mud oft
the rocks.

In the vicinity of the Huron fisheries and Sandusky Bay, White Bass have decreased very
much within a few years, and in fact are now rather scarce. At present, in early fall and late
spring a few are taken ; some years, almost none. They occur at all the fisheries, without any
apparent choice of locality. They are a good market fish, bnt do not keep well during warm
weather; are sold fresh, if possible, but a good many are salted. Bank higher than the herring.
This species is now almost extinct on the same grounds where they were once fairly swarming.
The following is said to be true, and many prominent men of Sandusk'y offer to corroborate it,
unlikely as it sounds: In May, 1855, off Marble Head light-house, with a twenty- two-foot net,
sixty rods leader and old-fashioned funnel, were taken out, at one lift, forty tons of White Bass!
This was at that time the only pound between Huron and Marble Head. On the same ground,
from March 28 to May 4, twelve hundred dollars' worth were taken in one net. For many years
they were considered the most abundant fish in the vicinity of Sandusky. It is also thought that
they were the most destructive of all fish to the white fish. Mr. Anthony says he saw in 1848, on
the Ottawa beach, the white-fish eggs driven up on the shore inches deep after a heavy gale, and
it was well known to the fishermen that in spring the White Bass swarmed on the spawning
grounds of the white-fish for the purpose of devouring the young fish. No one seems to have any
theory about their sudden and mysterious decrease. It is also remarked that simultaneous with
the disappearance of the White Bass the herring and blue pike increased. The fishermen
consider them so destructive to other fish that their decrease is welcomed with satisfaction.

The white-bass fishery was very important at Huron, Ohio, some years ago, but the fish
have decreased, and now the catch is almost nominal. At Vermillion, Ohio, White Bass are not
very abundant; they are canght principally early in spring and during the first few days of autumn
fishing. They average less than one pound in weight. Formerly they were more abundant and
of a larger size. A few are salted. Between the mouth of Black River and Brownhelm Bay



THE WHITE BASS FISHERY OF OHIO. 431

White Bass are taken in considerable numbers in the small pounds, close inshore; most of the
pound-nets are set in water too deep for this fish. Until two years ago they were abundant, and
after that time (1878) few were taken until the fall of 1879, when they again appeared in consider-
able numbers. The average weight in these localities is about one pound. They are graded as
"soft" fish, but have an excellent sale, and if sold separately bring a higher price than soft fish.
They are said to spawn close inshore during the latter days of May. Between Black River and
Vermillion there are now only three nets set in water shallow enough to take them in abundance.

At the Cleveland and Dover Bay fisheries White Bass are quite plentiful, much more so than
the Black Bass. There is a great difference in the average size in different years, although in those
years when they are small they are none the less numerous. The "runs" occur early in spring.
They are classed as "soft" fish. At Conneaut and Ash tabula they are considered a rare fish.
They do not frequent deep water, and consequently are not taken in the gill-nets. On ihe Lake
Erie shore of Lake County, Ohio, White Bass are quite common. About five tons were caught at
I'.iinrsvillc in the autumn of 1879. They are generally large fish, and are caught at all seasons
during calm weather, but strike for deep water during wind storms. Off Erie, Pennsylvania, Mr.
Olds says he has known of the occurrence of one very large school, but they are generally consid-
ered quite rare.

At the principal points on the New York shore of Lake Ontario the occurrence of White Bass
is thus noted : At Oswego they are not abundant. They occur principally in the lake, but are also
found in the river. At Port Ontario only one or two specimens have been known. At Cape
Vincent they are rarely caught, and are of no commercial importance. Those consumed are
brought, for the most part, from Canada. At Chaumont a very few are occasionally canght ; the
fish here are of no importance. At Sacket's Harbor very few occur. They have slightly increased,
rather than the reverse, in abundance.

144. THE YELLOW BASS ROCCUS INTERRUPTUS.

This species is. so far as known to us, always known as the Yellow Bass. It is found through-
out the lower course of the Mississippi, ascending the tributaries which are deep and sluggish, bnt
not running past rapids or into the upper courses of the rivers. Jordan states that its range
extends up the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash or beyond, thoagh it does not seem to be common
anywhere except in the Lower Mississippi. It pfobably enters salt water, but of that wo have no
certain information. It is taken in considerable numbers in the regions where found, and is graded
with the White Bass, which it much resembles in size and color. Little is known in regard to its
habits. The criterion by which it may be distinguished from the White Bass is the low membrane
connecting the two dorsal fins. Its color is yellow, not silvery, and the black stripes are very
prominent.

146. THE WHITE PERCH-ROCCUS AMERICANUS.

Next in importance to the Striped Bass is the so-called White Perch, Roccus americanux. This
fish occurs in brackish water in the mouths of rivers, and even, in many instances, in fresh-water
ponds, where it had become land-locked, and all along the coast from Georgetown, South Carolina,
to Nova Scotia. Dr. Yarrow states that it abounds in the Tar and Neuse Rivers, North Carolina.
In the Chesapeake and tributary streams it is exceedingly abundant. It also abounds in the
lakes and streams of the Saint John River, New Brunswick, and in the vicinity of Halifax, Nova
Scotia. It has been claimed by certain observers in Florida that White Perch were formerly
abundant in that region, and the market-men of New Orleans state that they were common in Lake



432 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

Pontchartrain until the "Bonnet Carre" crevasse" changed the water from salt to fresh. Mr. Stearns,
having investigated the subject, is of the opinion that they are mistaken. 1 The habits of this fish
have been but little observed ; in fact, it has been the custom of nearly all writers on our fishes to
speaks lightiugly of it. It found an earnest advocate in Mr. Thaddeus Norris, who, after protest-
ing strenuously against the statement of various writers that it is rarely brought to market for
food, that it is only fit for chowder, that it is not of sufficient importance to merit particular notice,
and so on, goes on to state, what is undoubtedly true, that in season the White Perch is the pan-
fish, excelled by none of the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk, and Richmond markets;
and he might have added, had he been writing at the present time, of the New York market also,
for there is, probably, no fish of its size which is more universally popular throughout the Eastern
States than the White Perch. In a single paragraph Mr. Norris, who, though he made no profes-
sions of scientific skill, has been one of our best observers of fishes, has given almost the only
reliable information which has ever been collected regarding this species. "Its most natural
habitat is in fresh tidal rivers, where it is found on flat clay and muddy bottoms, and in shallow
water. It is frequently found far above the terminus of the tide, and is often more abundant in
fresh than in brackish water in the season of the year when sought for by anglers. This fish, when
found in salt-water creeks, is darker in color, but there is no specific difference. The White Perch
is a congener of the magnificent Rock-fish, and is frequently found feeding in the same place and in
his company. Its average length is eight or nine inches; it is not often more than twelve, though
in rare instances it is found fourteen inches long.

" White Perch hibernate in the deep waters of our bays, and ascend the fresh tidal rivers soon
after the ice and snow-water have run off. They feed greedily on the spawn of other fish, particu-
larly that of the shad ; on insects, crabs, minnows, and on the migratory schools of young eels
which are found in the months of April and May in great numbers at any rapid or dam obstruct-
ing the upward flow of the tide. Perch usually spawn in May and then resort to deeper waters to
recuperate, and all summer long are found by the angler ever swimming around the deep-sunk
pier or the timbers of the rickety old bridge, snapping at shrimps or chasing the minnows ; at
flood tide high up amongst the water-lilies, and never refusing a bait, if of the right sort and prop-
erly presented."*

Dr. C. C. Abbott has added some important observations. He found female fish heavy with
apparently ripe ova as late as June 10. The largest specimens of White Perch taken in the Del-
aware weighed, respectively, one pound nine ounces, one pound thirteen ounces, and two pounds
one ounce. These were caught in a shad net in May, 1865, at the fishery opposite Trenton. The
average adult fish may be said to measure eight inches and weigh from seven to nine ounces. He
continues : " I believe, for reasons to be given, that the growth of the young is very rapid, and
that the August Perch are young hatched late in the preceding May and April ; in June these
August Perch measuring about two and a half to three inches in length. . . . I should judge
that spawning occurred between May 10 and June 10, usually nearer the former than the latter
date. This is based on the fact of having gathered very young fish, the age of which I guessed
from the general condition and amount of development of the specimens. After the middle of
June the White Perch are found in localities widely different; even waters with a dense growth of
lily and river weed are found to contain them in apparent health and vigor spots where the Rock-
fish could not live a day. Still later in the summer, as the young Perch become quite strong and

1 Certainly the Bonnet Carr6 crevasse never drove the White Perch ont of Lake Pontchartrain. That like now
contains small Sharks, Trygon, Pogoniat Bairdiella, and hosts of fish of salt-water habits, with legs liking for fresh
water than the White Perch. D. H. JORDAN.

'American Angler's Book, p. 90.



HABITS OF THi; \\ I! I IT. I'KUCH. 433

of some size, the river, although in and above tide- water, fairly teems with them. At this season
they go in schools, sometimes of large sizo. I have kiown of twelve, tifleen. and twenty dozen
August Perch being taken with a line in as short a time as from three to five hours. Fishing in
this way a line with half a dozen hooks is used, and worms, sturgeon spawn, or live minnows are
used as bait. These schools of small Perch I supposed to be broods of the preceding May, and
that they kept together until late In November. They pass down to the saltwater and there
separate. Larger adult fish are not as restless as these smaller ones, and are found in deeper
water, and usually in the tide-waters. In their feeding habits the White Perch agree very closely
with the rock-fish. In all their habits, in fact, the two flsh are much alike, and in the Delaware
they are always associated, the most noticeable difference in their habits being the ability of the
Perch to remain and thrive in warmer waters than the Hock-fish is ever found frequenting." 1
So much has been said by the standard authorities in past years regarding the inferior quality
of this fish as an article of food that it seems worth while to recur to this point, and to state that
at the present time there is no fish found in the markets of our seaboard towns which is more
generally a favorite for frying, or, as the phrase goes, as a pan-fish, than the White Perch.

148. THE BLUEFISH FAMILY POMATOMID2E.
THE BLUEFIS POMATOMUS SALTATRIX.

NAMES. This fish, which on the coast of New England and the Middle States is called
the Bluefish, is also known in Rhode Island as the "Horse Mackerel"; south of Cape Hatteras as
the "Skipjack"; in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland it is said to be called the "Green-fish."
Young Bluefish are in some parts of New England called "Snapping Mackerel" or "Snappers";
about New Bedford "Blue Snappers"; to distinguish them from the Sea Bass they are sometimes
spoken of as the "Bluefish." About New York they are called "Skip Mackerel," and higher up
the Hudson River "White-fish." In the Gulf of Mexico the name "Bluefish" is in general use.

DISTRIBUTION. This species is widely distributed in the Malay Archipelago, Australia, at
the Cape of Good Hope, at Natal and about Madagascar; in the Mediterranean, where it is a
well-known and highly-prized food-fish in the markets of Algiers, though rare on the Italian side.
It has been seen at Malta, at Alexandria and on the coast of Syria, and about the Canaries. It has
never been seen on the Atlantic coast of Europe, and, strangely enough, never in the waters of the
Bermudas or any of the Western Islands. On our coast it ranges from Central Brazil and the
Guiauas through the Gulf of Mexico and north to Nova Scotia, though never seen in the Bay of
Fundy. From Cape Florida to Penobscot Bay, Blaefish are abundant at all seasons when the
temperature of the water is propitious. It is not yet known what limits of temperature are the
most favorable to their welfare, but it would appear, from the study of the dates of their appear-
ance during a period of years in connection with the ocean temperature, that they prefer to avoid
water which is much colder than 40. It is possible that the presence of their favorite food, the
menhaden, has as much influence upon their movements as water temperature. It is certain that
few Bluefish are found on our Middle and Southern coast when the menhaden are absent; on the
other hand, the Bluefish do not venture in great numbers into the Gulf of Maine at the time when
menhaden are schooling and are at their greatest Jibundance. Their favorite summer haunts are
in the partially protected waters of the Middle States, from May to October, with an average tem-
perature of 60 to 75. The menhaden, or certain schools of them, affect a cooler climate and
thrive in the waters of Western and Central Maine in the months when the harbor temperatures
are little above 50 and 55, and that of the ocean considerably lower.

Professor Baird has published in the First Report of the United States Fish Commission an

> Report U. 8. Fih CommU., part ir, 1878, p. 375.
28 P



434 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

exhaustive account of the habits of the Bluefish which will be quoted from freely in this chapter.
The presence of quotation marks will be sufficient to indicate the source of the paragraphs taken
from his essay without further reference to his name.

"MOVEMENTS AND MIGRATIONS. The Bluefish is pre-eminently a pelagic or wandering fish,
and like many others, especially of the Scombridai, is apparently capricious in its movements,
varying in numbers at particular localities with the year, and sometimes disappearing from certain
regions for a large fraction of a century, again to return as before. The cause of this variation it
is impossible to explain, being due ill some instances, probably, to the disappearance ot its favorite
food in consequence of its own voracity, or for other undetermined reasons.

"They occur during the summer throughout the entire range indicated for the United States,
but are much larger in size and in greatest abundance from the coast of New Jersey northward.
From New Jersey southward, in the season mentioned, with the exception of an occasional
wandering school, they are generally only about eight to twelve inches in length, representing,
therefore, in all probability, individuals of the second year's growth.

"They appear to have a regular migration along our coast, presenting themselves later and
later in the spring, the farther they are found to the north, and disappearing in the inverse order
from the same regions in the autumn. First noticed on the Carolina coast as early as March and
April, immense schools of them, bound eastward, are seen off the coast of the Middle States from
the middle of May to the middle of June, 1 and in October similar bodies, perhaps embracing fewer
individuals, pass to the southward. It is possible, however, that in the autumn some schools
move well out to sea, and are, therefore, less likely to be observed. They leave the northern coast
about the middle of October, and about the middle of November appear in vast numbers off the
coast of North Carolina, where, from Nag's Head, in Curritnck County, to Cape Lookout, there is
a very extensive fishery prosecuted, which furnishes Bluefish for the Northern markets. It is
estimated that at least one hundred and fifty crews are engaged in this fall fishing, which lasts
generally until late in December. At this time individuals may be taken weighing fifteen to
eighteen pounds, although their average size is about ten.

"Their occurrence in autumn off the coast of North Carolina is preceded and first indicated
by the vast schools of menhaden, which they follow in, several miles from the sea, and by the
usual accompaniment of flocks of gulls attending them to take a share in the feast. Of the par-
ticular mode of fishing in this neighborhood we shall take occasion to speak hereafter.

"According to Dr. Yarrow, the Bluefish are first seen in spring on the North Carolina coast
(the smaller ones first) in March or April, when, however, they are much less in size than the
specimens referred to as occurring in the fall. The precise time of their appearance at most of the
points farther north has not yet been ascertained. Whether they actually migrate from south to
north, and rice versa, or merely come in from the outer seas in regular order, as is believed to bo the
case with the shad, etc., has not been settled, although the former supposition appears the more
probable. They reach the New Jersey coast some time in the early part of May, and usually
appear at Newport and in Vineyard Sound (the time varying with the season) from the middle of
May to the first week in June. They are expected at Edgartown from the 25th to the 30th of May;
but I am informed that, on their first arrival, they feed at the bottom, and sometimes for a while
are not seen at the surface at all, seldom being taken with the hook, but caught in large numbers
in pounds aud with the gill-net, usually along the lower edge of the net. According to Dr. Yarrow,



*In the Chesapeake, according to Dr. Wilkins, at Hunger's Wharf, Virginia, the Taylor is one of the most



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 74 of 146)