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ice in the winter time, though a depth of over thirty fathoms is more favorable for their capture."

Milner made the following remark: "Pound-nets have not made extensive inroads upon their
numbers, and none but mature fishes are taken."

In Green Bay alone does it appear that small-meshed gill-nets have interfered with the
abundance of the fish by capturing their young.

The best study of the habits of this species, as an inhabitant of the Great Lakes, was that
made by Milner, in 1871. He observed that in Lake Michigan, except in the spawning season,
they remain in the deepest parts of the lake. In their autumnal migrations they do not ascend
the rivers, and although they are known to exist in a few small inland lakes, connected with the
main lakes by rapids, there is no knowledge that they have ever been seen or taken in the outlets.
In the northern parts of Lake Michigan they are caught in depths of fifteen fathoms in small
numbers by the gill-nets, and more plentifully through the ice in winter, chiefly at a depth of more
than thirty fathoms.

FOOD. They are ravenous feeders. In Lake Michigan, where a careful investigation into the
nature of their food was made, it was found that they were preying upon the cisco (Coregowis
Hoyi), a well-known fish closely resembling the white-fish. Mr. Milner was inclined to combat the
generally accepted theory of the fishermen that they are large consumers of young white fish,
stating that for a great part of the year they live in much deeper water than is resorted to by the
yonng white-fish, though Tront straying into shoal water, or migrating upon shallow spawning
grounds, would undoubtedly prey upon the smaller white-fish as readily as they would upon any
other species.

It is not uncommon for a Trout to swallow a fish nearly as large as itself. One measuring
twenty-three inches was brought ashore at Two Rivers, Wisconsin, from the mouth of which some
three inches of the tail of a fish ( Lota maculosa) projected. The " lawyer," when taken from the
Trout, measured about seventeen inches. "Their exceeding voracity," writes Mr. Milner, "induces
them to fill their maws with singular articles of food. Where the steamers or vessels pass, the
refhse of the table is eagerly seized upon, and I have taken from the stomach a raw peeled potato
and a piece of sliced liver, and it is not unusual to find pieces of corn-cobs, in the green-corn

Kumlien'3 observations led him to believe that large Trout feed, to some extent, upon white-
fish, while the smaller ones cnp'nre the herring. In Green Bay the fishermen say that the Trout
leave the white-fish spawning beds in autumn before the spawning season begins, but that they
are not accused of being troublesome spawn-eaters, though otherwise extremely voracious, and
especially hurtful to tin- white-fish and herring. The fishermen of Port Huron informed him that
it was no unrsnal occurrence to obtain white-fish two or thr e pounds in weight from the stomachs
of large Trout. Captain Dingman, of Beaver Island, informed him that the Trout do not come
upon the white-fish reefs during the spawning season, and that they do -;ot trouble the white-fish at
that time. In that vicinity they are thought to prefer herring to any other kind of fish. A twenty-
pound Tront was caught off Beaver Islands which had in its stomach thirteen herrings and was
caught biting at the fourteenth. They are as omniverous as codfish, and among the articles which


have been founil in their stomachs may be mentioned an open jack-knife, seven inches long, which
had been lost hv a fisherman a year before at a locality thirty miles distant, tin eans, rafts, raw
potatoes, chicken and ham hones, salt pork, corn cobs, spoons, silver dollars, a watch and chain,
iind, in one instance, a piece of tarred rope two feet long. In the spring wild pigeons are often
found in their stomachs. It is thought that these birds frequently become bewildered in their
Might over tin- lakes, settle on the water, and become the prey of the Trout.

In the review of localities already given mention has been made of many large individuals;
the only estimate of average accessible is that by Milner, who remarks: "The smallest ones that
are taken in any numbers arc- fifteen to eighteen inches in length, and these are not very numerous.
The average weight of the Lake Trout taken in the gill-nets is nearly five pounds. It is claimed
that in years past they averaged much higher. They are quite frequently taken weighing fifteen
pounds. A specimen of a female was obtained last summer at Shoal Island, Lake Superior,
weighing twenty-four pounds. One taken at ({rand Haven, Michigan, in the nn nth of June, 1871
a female weighed thirty-six pounds and one-half. After the gills and entrails were removed it
weighed twenty-nine pounds. It measured three feet six and one-half inches in length.

"The tradition of the largest Trout taken is preserved at each locality, ranging from fifty to
ninety pounds. One that I am satisfied was authentic, from having taken the testimony of those
who saw it weighed, and having the story confirmed by Father Peret, of Mackinaw, was taken at
that place in 1870, and weighed eighty pounds." '

KXKMIES. "There are no species of fishes in the lakes," writes Milner, "sufficiently formidable
to be considered enemies of the Trout after they mature. The spawn and fry probably suffer to
some extent from the same causes that the ova and young white-fish do. They are troubled with a
few parasites, especially a tape- worm that is found rery numerous iu the intestines of some of them.
Solitary individuals, known among the fishermen as ' Racers,' are found iu the summer time
swimming sluggishly at the surface. They are easily token with the gaff-hook, and bite readily at
any bait thrown to them. They are always very thin in flesh. Dissection of the few that I have
taken failed to find any adequate cause for their condition. The parasites were generally present,
but not in any larger number than in healthy fish. The fishermen on the north shore of Lake
Michigan generally keep a few hogs. The ofl'al of the white fish is fed to them freely, but they are
very careful to allow no trout oftal to be thrown in their way, asserting that the hogs, after eating
Trout, frequently become crazy and die. The only plausible explanation of this fact, if it is a fact,
is that some entozoon of the Mackinaw Trout passes through one stage of its development in the
hog, and occasions disturbance of the brain, having much the same habit as the cystic Ccenurus
does in the sheep. Dr. Bannister informs me that the opinion prevailed among some of the
Russian residents of Alaska that a tape-worm was occasionally produced in the human subject by
eating the Chaiicicha, Salmo orientals Pal., the largest species of Salmon common in that country.
The fact that it was quite a common practice to eat fish frozen, or dried, or salted, without cooking,
would favor the introduction of auy parasite existing in the body of the fish."

The livers of Lake Trout are thought by the fishermen to be poisonous. Mr. James Patterson,
of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, cites an instance, which occurred not many years ago, where all the mem-
bers of a family were poisoned by eating trout livers, and were a long time in recovering from
the effects.

CULTUUK. "The Lake Trout has for years been the subject of attention on the part of the
New York State commissioners, and their agent, Seth Green, who every autumn collects mil In. us

MII.NKK : Fisheries of the Great Lakes.


of eggs from the fisheries on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario to be hatched at Caledonia, New
York, for distribution to the lakes in the interior of New York. The experiment has lately been
made of planting the young fish in running water, as the Susquehanna, etc.; but it yet remains
to be seen how they will thrive. The Lake Trout is eminently worthy the attention of States
along the Great Lakes, since, with the white-fish, it constitutes by far the most important element
in the great fisheries." *

In the fall of 1857 and 1858 a large number of eggs of Salmon Trout were obtained for Salton-
stall Lake, in Connecticut, from Lake Ontario. A considerable number of this species, obtained in
Lake Ontario, was introduced into Newfound Lake, New Hampshire, in 1871, by the State com-
missioner. The enterprise is referred to more fully in the report of the United States Fish Com-
mission. 1

A minor experiment in hatching Salmon Trout, or Mackinaw Trout (Salmo namaycush), was
made by Mr. Samuel Wilinot, of Newcastle, Canada, in 1868. He also obtained a hybrid between
a male Salmo solar and a female 8. namaycush. The next published records we have of experi-
ments are by Seth Green and by N. W. Clark in 1870. Mr. Clark's was with but a few eggs. In
an address before the legislature of Michigan he refers to the fact of having young Salmon Tront
on exhibition. The quantity of eggs taken by Seth Green that year and hatched was very large,
and the fish proving to be a great favorite among the people of the State he has continued to breed
it on a large scale, and it has been widely distributed throughout the State. The greatest draw-
back in the culture of this species is the difficulty and danger attending the procuring of the eggs.
The spawning places of the fish in the region of the hatching houses are in the open lake, and
the time when the ova are ripe is in October, when there are frequent storms, so that going out in
an open boat to the nets is a task of hardship and danger, and has resulted, in a late instance, in
the loss of six men, one of them Marcellus Holton, an accomplished fish-culturist and the inventor
of the Holton hatching-box. There are, however, points on the lakes accessible by steamer, though
not contiguous to the breeding establishments, where the salmon-trout spawning grounds are near
the shore, and even entirely land-locked from wind and sea. 2

Neither the Mackinaw Tront nor the Siscowet are game fishes in high esteem, though the
latter is taken by trolling with a bright-colored fly, with a minnow bait, or a spoon-hook. It does
not rise like the Brook Trout, and its play is likely to be sluggish and sulky. It is also taken with
a bottom line on grounds which have been previously baited. The Indians of the Sault Ste. Marie
display great skill in spearing the Mackinaw Trout through the ice, luring them within reach by
means of decoy fishes of wood or lead. By far the largest quantities are taken in pounds and gill-
nets in the Great Lakes.

In Lake Superior Lake Trout are caught principally in September, October, and November in
ponnds and gill-nets. Formerly they were fished for with hooks only, but of late years this
practice has been abandoned by professional fishermen. In the Green Bay region large Trout are
caught principally with hooks, though in the western part of the bay and in Oconto Bay many are
taken in gill and pound nets in deep water. Those captured in the gill-nets are thought by the
fishermen to be meshed' for the most part, while these nets are being lifted ; the Trout dart after
the other fish which have been gilled and thus become entangled. In Lake Hurofi they are
caught entirely with gill-nets. They may be taken with hooks baited in the ordinary way, but
can hardly be said to afford sport to the angler, since they allow themselves to be pulled to the
surface as easily as codfish do.

'Professor BAIRD: Report, United States Fish Commission, part ii, p. Ixiil.
'Report, U. 8. Fish Commission, part ii, p. 534.


The Togue or Lunge of our northeastern boundary is held in much higher fuvor by the angler.
Hallock states that the young fish rise freely to trout flies in rapid water, while the adults are
extremely voracious, particularly in May and June, when they can be taken near the surface.

Prof. Arthur L. Adams, in "Field and Forest Rambles," gi\vs a vivid picture of the habits of
this peculiar type: "It repairs to shallows to feed on Trouts, smelts, and the like; indeed, the last-
named flsh would appear to constitute its favorite winter subsistence. It preys extensively, also,
on eels and cyprinids, and is in fact a tyrant with an appetite so voracious that quantities of twigs,
leaves, and fragments of wood are constantly found in its stomach. The great monster will some-
times rise to spinning tackle, but in so sluggish and undemonstrative a manner that the troller
may fancy ho has caught a water-logged pine or stone. In this way I had my line checked in
Schoodic Lake, when, striking gently, I found I had missed a large Togue, whose trenchant teeth
had mtvde a series of deep furrows in the chub with which the hook was baited. It is naturally
sluggish and inert, and apparently much of a bottom feeder. As we glided along the shore of one
of the islets, composed more or less of granitic bowlders, our attention was directed by the guide
to a large black object on the bottom, among a mass of stones. This he asserted was a monster
Togue, which, if such was the case, must have exceeded three feet in length; moreover, he showed
us two notches on the side of his canoe, representing the dimensions of an enormous individual
which an Indian had speared in the same waters during the spawning season, the admeasurement
being no less than four feet five inches."

TROUT IN THE GREAT LAKES. The following facts concerning the abundance of the Lake
Trout in different parts of the Great Lakes were gathered by Mr. Kumlien in 1880:

"In the western part of Lake Superior, according to common testimony, the Lake Trout is
second in importance to the white-fish; they constitute about one-half of the catch of the gill-nets.

"In the vicinity of Whitettsh Point the Lake Trout is more abundant than any other species.
The average size is from ten to sixteen pounds. About the Apostle Islands they are abundant at
all times and in all places; one was caught at Oak Island weighing fifty -seven and one-half pounds
when dressed. In the fall the best fishing grounds are off Isle Royale, and nearly all the gill-nets
are fishing there; it is not unusual for a single net to take one or two barrels at a setting. In
Huron Bay and vicinity Lake Trout are abundant everywhere, except in the most shallow bays,
especially about Stanard's Rock. On this reef, in 1880, one Mr. Egerton caught with one hook
enough Trout to weigh, after dressing, six hundred pounds. In the winter of 1878 one specimen
was caught through the ice, in a gill-net, at Porte Centre, that weighed seventy-four pounds.
Thirty-five and forty pound flsh are common on the off-shore shoals. On the southern shore of
Lake Superior, from Grand Island to Sauk's Head, this species is more abundant than any other.
They are caught principally in September, October, and November. In the vicinity of Grand
Island, in the opinion of Mr. Parker, a local authority, there has been no marked decrease in
numbers during the past fifteen years. Individuals weighing from forty to fifty pounds are by no
means unusual, and much larger ones are reported.

"In Green Bay, Lake Trout are reported to be far less common than formerly. In the
southern part of this bay, in the vicinity of Bay City, they are now rare; somewhat more
abundant from Oconto to Peshtigo, though not taken to any considerable extent, and north of
Meuornonee they are less plentiful than about Oconto. Seven to ten years ago, at Washington
Island, it was not an unusual thing for men trolling for Trout to fill their boat in a short time, but
this cannot now be done. The decrease is accounted for, by local observers, by the injudicious
use of small-meshed pound-nets, which are supposed to capture great quantities of young Trout.


The largest individuals on record from this locality relate to one specimen, .caught in 1864 at
Grand Haven, which weighed eighty-eight pounds, and one taken at Oconto in 1876 weighing
forty-five pounds. At the north end of Green Bay they are reported as very abundant at all
seasons, though less common than the white-fish. They are most common about Saint Martin's
and Gull Islands. In the fall and spring they are less abundant towards the heads of the bays.
About Milwaukee they are abundant, particularly at the spawning season, though not so plentiful
as formerly. A little farther north, in the vicinity of Manitowoc, they are plentiful. In 1855 Mr.
Patterson caught one that weighed fifty-seven and a half pounds, dressed. Capt. J. Gaguon says
that he has often taken a dozen at a single lift which would average twenty-five to thirty pounds
in weight ; these were taken in ninety fathoms of water, about fifteen miles from shore, off Two
Rivers. The "Salmon-fleshed" and " White-fleshed" Trout are both found, but the former is f;ir
the more abundant and sells much more readily. At Racine they are very abundant and of con-
siderable importance. During spawning time they are taken plentifully on a reef a short distance
north of the city, but it is thought that they are decreasing in numbers. At Waukegan they
are abundant in June and July and in the fall months, but, since the pound-nets are taken up in
September, few are caught late in the fall. The fishermen claim to be able to tell from which
locality any fish has been obtained, those from the clay bottom being short, thick, and fat, resem-
bling the Siscowet. Individuals have here been caught which weighed sixty-five pounds. The
common weight for a " Racer" is twenty-five pounds, and from this up to forty pounds.

"In the vicinity of Chicago, according to Nelson, Lake Trout are common in spring and fall.
They commence running in the middle of April, and are taken at that time with set lines at a short
distance out from the shore. "They are taken most plentifully in spring," continues Kumlien,
"when the fishing first begins and before the runs of white-fish come on; at this time they are
caught in from twelve to sixteen fathoms. Later they retreat into the lake, where, at a distance
out from seven to nine miles from shore, they are found at all seasons."

"At New Buffalo and vicinity the Trout make up about one-fourth of the entire amount of fish
taken. Fourteen years ago fish of from fourteen to twenty pounds' weight were obtained at every
lift of the nets, but now they are much smaller. The largest ever kuown here weighed sixty-two
pounds dressed.

"On the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the Lake Trout is next in importance to the white-fish.
At Ludingtou, Manistee County, they are very abundant. The runs begin early in May, but they
decrease in number until July, after which none are taken until October. Gill-net fishermen
obtain them throughout the winter in deep water. At Grand Haven they are said to be equally
common all the year round, possibly because there are no spawning grounds in the vicinity.

"In the vicinity of the Straits of Mackinaw, in the northern part of Lakes Huron and Michigan,
Mackinaw Trout is considered, next to the white-fish, the most important species. There is, how-
ever, a general opinion among the fishermen that they are much too numerous, for they are thought to
be very destructive to young white-fish. As many as nine thousand pounds have been packed for
shipment at Mackinaw in one day. They were formerly bought by the " count," as they ran, at three
cents apiece. On Spectacle Reef, according to Captain Ketchuin, two men lifting their nets every
two hours, have caught thirty-six hundred pounds in one night. In the vicinity of Spectacle
Reef Captain Coats reports them as even more abundant than the white-fish, though he thinks
that at least eight times as many white-fish as Trout are shipped from Mackinaw. It is believed
by the fishermen of Grand Traverse Bay that, when the moon is full, the Trout are much more
abundant than white-fish.


"On the Michigan shore of Luke Huron, about Thunder Hay, Lake Trout an- very uliuudaut
in August, ami cs|,eeially about Thunder I'.a.v Island, whore the men employed ut the life saving
station -ained quite a revenue by fishing for them. The best and most productive grounds in this
vicinity are near Harrisonville and southward along the coast for a few miles. There are some
fishing grounds north of North Point where all the Trout are said to be very large. In the vicinity
of Saginaw Hay they are abundant, but will not rank commercially higher than fourth or fifth.
Not many are taken in the pounds in Saginaw Bay, but the deep-water pounds, especially those
about the Charity Islands, obtain a few. In April few fish other than Trout are taken in the gill-
nets. In the vicinity of Port Huron they are very abundant, and it is the prevailing opinion
among the fishermen that they are increasing in numbers, more being taken now than ever before.
Very few enter the Detroit River. In the western part of Lake Erie, about Toledo, they are
exceedingly rare, and unknown to many of the fishermen at Port Clinton. No instance of their
capture is on record, and at Locust Point they occur only very rarely. About the islands off
Sandusky they have in two or three instances been captured, and at the other fisheries in this
vicinity local authorities do not think that more than five or six are taken in the course of a year.
About Huron and Vermillion, Ohio, they are also very rare. It sometimes happens that one or two
are taken in the course of a year's fishing; those which are here taken are always small, scrawny,
and sickly. The same statements are made concerning Black River and Cleveland. Some are
taken at Cleveland, but never more than three or four in a year. About fourteen years ago four
were taken in Browuhelm Bay, but none since. They have never been taken at Black River; a man
who has fished there for twenty-five years has never seen one. In the vicinity of Couneaut, Ohio,
a few are occasionally taken in the spring. At Painesville, Ohio, they are rare. In 1869 only a
single specimen was taken, and in 1878 only six. The wandering gill-netters who fish oft" Paines-
ville sometimes capture a few in deep water. The only locality in Lake Erie where they are
at all abundant is at Barcelona, New York, where there is said to be an extensive spawning
ground five or six miles long, and about three miles from the shore. Some years ago the fisher-
men used to load their boats with Trout, sometimes as many as eighteen hundred pounds of
dressed fish being taken with a small gang of nets. At Conneant a few are taken in the spring.
In the eastern end of Lake Erie they are caught to some extent, especially in the very deep water
off Erie Bay, though they are not very plentiful. Off Dunkirk they are much more common, and
in I860 a specimen four and one-half feet in length, weighing seventy pounds, was captured. The
fish dealers of Erie, Pennsylvania, claim that the Trout here taken are very different from those
of Lake Superior; as a rule, only those with white meat are found.

"In Lake Ontario, especially in its eastern portion, about Cape Vincent, they are very abund-
ant, and in the headwaters of the Saint Lawrence, as far down as Alexandria Bay ; they enter the
river only in winter and for the purpose of feeding. In abundance they rank far below the white-
fish, three times as many white-fish as Trout being usually taken. In Chaumont Bay they are
becoming less common, and at the present time are not very abundant, ranking sixth in importance,
while at Cape Vincent they are third. The Trout handled at Chaumont are almost entirely from
Canada, and the dealers do not depend upon the supply from American waters. At Oswego they
are caught in the lake, though not entering the Oswego River. They are not plentiful at Port
Ontario, although they have been in some seasons past. Since alewives came few Trout have been
caught. The alewives are now so abundant that the Trout do not come near the shore to seek for
food. In 1860 thirteen hundred pounds were caught in one night on five hundred hooks."



The Siscowet, or "Siskawite," is a form of Lake Trout which, according to many authorities,
is a distinct species, and which has been observed only in Lake Superior. Having never seen the
fish in a fresh condition, I cannot express an opinion as to its distinctness from the Lake Trout, but
good ichthyologists assure me that its peculiarities are very slight, consisting chiefly in the smaller
size of the head, teeth, and fins, and in its having a stouter body. Since, however, it is always

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 84 of 146)