G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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the use of line-meshed seines. North Point, Thunder Bay, is considered the best spot in that
locality for the capture of the White-fish where it ranks first in importance and one of the best
points of all the lake region. A few are caught in gill-nets in early spring, but the bulk is taken
from the latter part of September until winter, the height of runs being from the 10th to the 15th of
November, at which time they are spawning. It is thought that the number of nets has doubled
dining the last two years, and that the fish have decreased fully two-thirds since 1865. Formerly
a "rig" consisted of about one hundred twelve-rod nets: now, of two hundred and fifty forty-five-
rod nets. One rig has salted twelve hundred barrels in one eason. Mill-refuse thrown into the
streams is supposed to be a prolific cause of the decrease in abundance of this fish.

The White fish ranks first in importance in Saginaw Bay. Mr. Fitzgerald, however, says that
they are annually decreasing in the river seines, estimating the yearly diminution for each seine
at about fifty barrels. In 1878 three thousand White-fish were taken in the river, and in 187!), he
thinks, not one dozen. Seining for White-fish in the river was formerly a very profitable business.
It is still profitable outside the bay, in the lake. The best grounds are off Point Aux Barques and
eastward. Here the whole fleet of Lake Huron tugs congregate at certain seasons of the year.
They seem at this point to spawn more abundantly on the Canadian than on the American shore.
Comparatively few are taken here during early spring, the principal season being from May to
September. It is thought that the greatly increased navigation in the river has driven the White-
fish out into the lake; and even there they are not as abundant as they were formerly.


About the Charity Islands, Lake Huron, White-fish rank about third in importance. The best
time lor fishing is in October; some are taken in May and June. Gill nets take them all the
summer. About Point Sable arc the most profitable fishing grounds. The deeper the water the
more abundant the White tish appear to be. They spawn in large numbers about the islands
and at (iiavelly Point. It is thought by old fishermen of this region that since 1865 the decrease
of this tish lias been fully one-half.

In Maumee I!ay, Lake Kiie, the \\liite-tish are thought to be as abundant as they ever were,
though the facilities for capture are better and more extensively used than ever before. Within the
last two years a steaiU increase has been marked, due, it is thought, to artificial propagation.
About Toledo great numbers have been planted during the last few years, and the universal verdict
of the fishermen is that t he White-fish are on the increase in that region. In 1875 forty tons were
in one day brought into the Toledo market. The spring catch is considered as of little importance.

Between the mouth of the Detroit lliver and Toledo, Ohio, the White-fish ranks first in impor-
tance. ( >n this shore they are all said to be good-sized, mature fish. It is not thought that they
are on the decrease to any perceptible extent. From Ottawa City westward to Port Clinton the
spring catch of White tish is very light. The fall run usually commences about the first of October.
Around the Sister Islands and on innumerable reefs are excellent spawning grounds, where they
are caught in small numbers by wandering gill-netters. The catch about Port Clinton for the last
five years is said to have been very poor. Gill-net fishing during their spawning season and over-
lishing generally are assigned as the reasons for this falling off. In 1870, Matthews & Bell, of Port
Clinton, had on their warehouse floor forty-seven tons of White-fish at one time, and the next day
thirty tons more. At Locust Point and Toussaiut the White-fish are reported as scarce in spring.
They there rank about fifth in importance at that season. The runs are very irregular, some years
being fairly abundant and others very scarce.

Since 1870, in the vicinity of the Upper and Lower Sandusky Bays, the decrease of White fish
has been alarming. Its decrease, however, has been irregular, for in 1874 there was quite a large
catch. Since then the decline has been greater every year.

It is thought that the spawn is now deposited in places where it becomes a prey to larger fish.
Some of the best spawning grounds at present are on the reefs off North Bass and north and east
of Kelley's Island ; the principal portion of the reefs are in Canadian waters.

In lsi; Mr. Anthony was hired by Dr. Ackley, of Cleveland, to convey a party of students to
the famous Toussaint marshes for a hunting and fishing expedition. To their surprise, they hauled
up in their seine some White-fish. Further attempts were made by Mr. Anthony, aided by two
Frenchmen, and in the morning, after a whole night's work, he had taken nearly fifteen hundred
line White tish. They had never been caught on this ground before. The fish were taken to San-
dusky, but the people \\onld not believe that they had been taken near their city. In the next
year a forty-rod seine was lilted out, and with it White-fish amounting to twenty five hundred
barrels when salted were caught; this was repeated the next year with a similar success. In l*l'.t
the first pound (twelve feet dec))) was set, and the result was so successful that the seine was dis-
carded. Alter four years' successful fishing they moved to the south ]K>int of Bass Island and set
in thirty feet of watx>r; this attempt was successful. At that time the season lasted from Septem-
ber 15 to winter; now, at the same place, it only lasts for a few days in spring.

During the best fishing da\s of the season in the fall in the vicinity of Huron, Ohio, a ton
of White-fish is sometimes taken from ten nets; this is above the average. They are thought to
have decreased fifty per cent, since 1S7.~>. P.efore isiis they appeared to be on the increa.-e; after
that year their decrease has been continuous to the present time. The diminution in their


abundance is attributed to over fishing. In heavy weather these fish leave for deep water. In
the vicinity of Vermillion, Ohio, the White-fish have no spawning grounds. A great decrease in
their abundance has taken place during the past few years. In 1879 thirteen nets succeeded in
taking but three tons of this fish.

InBrownhelin Bay, Lake Erie, and at and in the vicinity of the mouth of Black River, White-
fish rank fourth in importance. They were more abundant in 1877 than during many previous
years. Between Black River and Dover Bay is a small spawning ground, on a rocky-bottomed
reef. During spawning time no White-fish are taken at Black River or Brownhelm Bay. They
are most abundant in this part of Lake Erie during southwest winds, when on their way from the
shore to deep water they are caught in the pounds. At Brownhelm Bay a great number are taken
in the spring at a point just above Beaver Creek. At Black River but few can be taken, because
the nets can be set but a short distance out from the shore; farther to the westward, however, the
nets can be set at a greater distance from the shore, by which means the catch is greatly increased.

In the neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, and in Dover Bay the White-fish are not very
abundant, ranking about fourtl| in importance. The runs are irregular, the largest ones occurring
in the spring, that of 1879 being the most abundant ever known up to that time. The fishermen
there say that on approach of a wind storm they will run into deep water; if they are frightened
when feeding or spawning they will not return to their grounds for a long while. They are taken
only in mild weather. In the waters off Conneaut and Ashtabula, Lake Erie, it is supposed that
White-fish are not one-third as abundant as in 1870, but since 1876 the annual decrease has not
been perceptible. Near Painesville, Ohio, no spawning or feeding grounds for the White-fish have
been found; but on a shoal some miles to the east the gill-netters take a great many during the
spawning season.

Toward the east end of Lake Erie, around Dunkirk, New York, the first run of White-fish
takes place early in the spring. In June, July, and the early part of August also, large hauls of
these fish are made; the best time is, however, from the latter part of September until November,
when a larger grade of fish, and one which is preferred for freezing, is taken. Lately (in 1880) six
thousand pounds from forty nets and thirty-five hundred pounds from twenty-five nets are reported-
The largest haul in 1879 was nineteen hundred pounds from one gang of nets.

At Port Ontario, on Lake Ontario, White-fish rank first in importance. Near Oswego this fish is
far from being common, and never enters the river. White-fish, up to the year 1807, have been on
the increase since 1855 in the vicinity of Port Clinton, especially so during the years 18G5, 1860,
and 1867. Since that time they have decreased in numbers to a small extent. This decrease is
largely merely a supposition, arising from ignorance regarding the movements of this fish, and the
application of the latest and best methods in fishing. Probably it is true that the decrease is in
the number that is caught, not in the number that might be taken. In 1859, forty-nine thousand
White-fish are said to have been taken at one haul; many were small and young; fully a half of
this catch were thrown away before the net could be hauled in. At Stonington Beach it is claimed
that seventy-five thousand fish have been taken ashore by one haul of the seine. At Chaumont,
where the White-fish ranks second commercially, there has been a great decrease during the
past twenty years. Now, there are no spawning grounds in the bay, the fishing necessarily being
carried on outside in the lake. Formerly, in this locality, sixty to seventy men, taking three to
. five tons a day, were engaged in this fishery; now, sufficient fish cannot be caught to pay the men
for their time and labor.

An alarming decrease is reported from Sacket's Harbor, where they are taken inside only
during their spawning season. The fish caught here are usually large. In 1876 an immense
school of small ones came into the harbor.




The name "Whiting" is said by Prescott to be applied to this fish in New Hampshire. It
occurs throughout the lakes of Northern New England and Northern New York, and in the Great
Lakes. It is, however, not generally abundant except in the Great Lakes. It attains a smaller
size tban the White-fish, those seen by us rarely weighing more than a pound.


The Moon-eye or "Cisco" of Lake Michigan has thus far been noticed only in Lakes Michigan,
Erie, and Ontario. It is the smallest of our White-fish, rarely weighing over half a pound, and
it is seldom taken in shallow water. It has, from its small size and rare occurrence, little economic

value. Nothing distinctive is known of its food or breeding habits.



This species is almost universally known as the "Lake Herring." The name "Cisco" is also
often applied to it, especially about the smaller lakes, and in many regions also the name "Michi-
gan Herring." The Lake Herring is one of the most abundant fishes of the Great Lake region,
probably second only to the White-fish in importance as a food-fish. It goes in large schools, and
is taken in great numbers in comparatively shallow waters. It occurs also in the lakes of British
America, and probably in Northern New England and New York. Its usual length is little more
than a foot. Its mouth is much larger than that of the White-fish, and its range of food is doubt-
less greater. It spawns in November and December, coming into shallow water for the purpose.
It exists in most of the small lakes of Northern Indiana and Eastern Wisconsin (Tippecanoe,
Geneva, Oconomowoc, etc.), where it is known as the "Cisco." In these lakes it usually remains
in deep water until the spawning season, when great numbers come near shore to spawn. As a
food-fish the Lake Herring ranks high, although considerably inferior to the White-fish.


This species is known as the "Blue-fin" or "Black-fin." It has thus far been taken only in
the deeper waters of Lake Michigan. At times it comes in considerable numbers to the Chicago
market, but it is in general a rare species. It reaches a much larger size than the Lake Herring,
which species it very closely resembles. Nothing distinctive is known of its food or breeding


This species is occasionally taken in the Upper Great Lakes, where it is generally considered
a hybrid between a White-fish and a Lake Herring, hence the name of "Mongrel White-fish." It
is a rare fish in collections, and nothing distinctive is known of its habits. Its range is probably
to the northward.


The only name which I have heard applied to this fish is that of "Meuomonee White-fish." The
name of "Round-fish" is given to it by Richardson, and that of "Shad Waiter" (Winnipiseogee
Lake) by Prescott. It is found in the lakes of New Hampshire, Northern New York, the Great
Lakes, and northward to the Arctic Seas. In the Great Lakes it is much less abundant than the


commou White-fish. Its size is less than that of the White-fish. I know nothing of its com-
parative value as food. The stomach of one specimen examined by me contained small Limncea-
like shells. Nothing definite is known of its breeding habits.


This species is usually known as the White-fish ; in Utah as the "Mountain Herring." It
reaches a length of a little more than a foot, and a weight of about a. pound. It is found through-
out the Rocky Mountain region, in cold, clear lakes. It is abundant in Utah Lake, Lake Tahoe,
and in most of the lakes of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It is frequent in the market of
Salt Lake City, and sometimes comes into the San Francisco market. It spawns in October and
November, running from the lakes into the small streams for this purpose. As a food-fish it ranks
high, being similar to its Eastern relative, C. quadrilateralis.


"A specimen of a White-fish was taken in Chief Mountain Lake, writes Milner, at the eastern
edge of the Rocky Mountains, by Dr. Elliott Cones, U. S. A., surgeon and naturalist of the
Northern Boundary Commission. This specimen is very different in its type of form from any
species hitherto described from this continent. In Giinther's arrangement of the species of Core-
gonus, it would be placed in group (a), with the upper jaw produced into a cutaneous appendage.
In this particular it resembles Coregonus oxyrhynchus Liu. and C. Lloydii Giinth. Unlike these
species, it is an elongate fish, the proportion of height to length being much the same as in C.
Williamsoni Gir. and C. quadrilateralis Rich. ; it also resembles this tvpe of form in the narrow
supplementary bone of the maxillary, and the former species in the shape of the maxillary.

"The only previous reference to a fish supposed to be of Ihis genus, from the Saskatchewan
River, is in some remarks appended to the description of G. labradoricm in the "Histoire Naturelle
des Poissons." Valenciennes refers, in the most undecided manner possible, to a fish which he
believes to be a salmonoid, and makes his diagnosis from a drawing. There is, in fact, no direct
evidence in what he says to prove that the specimen was in his possession. He admits that he is
"notable, to determine with certainty the genus"; and, after stating that "my first impression
was to make it a Coregonus, since I have placed the design by the side of the other species of the
same genus," ends this most uncertain and undecided effort to determine its relationship, with the
question, "Could one name it Coregonus angusticepsT"

"It may be that the specimen at hand is a fish of the species indicated in the above name, the
ascribed locality heightening this possibility ; but there can be no consideration of the matter that
will decide it, and the name is consequently passed over. The character given of fifty-five scales
in the lateral line is very far from agreeing with Dr. Coues's specimen, and, in fact, with any
description of a Coregonus we have seen, and may indicate that the author was right in his hesi-
tancy to decide upon the genus.

"The most marked feature is the extensive prolongation of the snout, which protrudes far
beyond the opening of the mouth. The head narrows regularly toward the anterior of the frontals,
where two strong angles are found narrowing the head abruptly at the point where the short
supraorbitals join, and the frontals and nasals continue forward in a narrow, blade-like extension.
The supraorbitals form a bold prominence at the anterior of the orbit. The maxillary is short,
dilated at its posterior portion, and has a narrow supplementary bone. The premaxillaries are
somewhat retroverted, and have very little width, making the muzzle thin and narrow, as it is in
C. quadrilaterals and C. Williamsoni. The adipose fln is large, attached to the body almost to the
posterior extremity, and is ensheathed in scales for a considerable distance from the dorsal line.


The greatest height of Ixwly is equal to tin- length of the head. The least height of tail is
equal to the length of the snout. The lengths of the caudal j>eduncle, of the snout, aud of the
mandible are equal to each other. The width of the interorbital area is equal to the length of the



The Smelt is found along our Atlantic coast from the Raritan River, latitude 40 30 7 , to the
Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The northern limit of its range has not been precisely defined, although
it is known to be extremely abundant along the northern shores of New Brunswick. It is also
found in many of the fresh-water lakes of Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, where they
have become Innd-locked, and iu some instances, as in Belgrade Lake, Maine, seem to have rather
been improved by the change from salt to fresh water.

The European Smelt, O. eperlanus, which, though very similar in form to our own, differs from
it in the size of its scales, is found in Southern Sweden, as far north as Christiania Fjord district,
latitude 02, and south as far as the entrance to the river Loire, latitude 47, ascending the Seine as
high as Rouen. It is the "Stint" and the "Spearling" of Germany, the "Smelt" or "Sparling"
of England, and the "Spiering" or "Spearling" of Holland. It is found in the Baltic, and,
entering the Gulf of Finland, becomes a member of the fauna of Russia, and is found land-locked
in cool lakes, especially those of Norway, and also in many of the lakes of Northern Germany,
and even as far south as Bavaria.

The Smelt enters our rivers and brackish bays during the winter months for the purjwse of
spawning, and at this period is caught in immense quantities in nets and by hook and line John
Smith wrote in 1622: "Of Smelts there is such abundance, that the Salvages doe take them up the
rivers with baskets, like sives"; while Josselyn, fifty-five years afterward, remarked: "The Frott-
fixh (O. mordax) is little bigger than a Gudgeon, and are taken in fresh brooks; when the waters are
frozen they make a hole in the Ice, about half a yard or yard wide, to which the fish repair in great
numbers, where, with small nets bound to a hoop about the bigness of a firkin-hoop, with a staff
fastened to it, they take them out of the hole."

It is to bo regretted that no one has made careful observations upon the beginning and close
of the breeding season of this species at different points along the coast, but the spawn appears
to be deixxsited, generally, late in the winter and early in the spring. The smelt fishery is increas-
ing yearly in importance, owing to the greater facilities for the transportation of fish in ice. As
long ago as 1853, Storer stated that in Watertown, Massachusetts, alone, about 750,000 dozen were
annually taken in scoop-nets from the 1st of March to the 1st of June. Perley, writing in 1852,
stated that on the Gulf coast of New Brunswick large quantities were used every season as manure,
while at the fishing stations in the Bay of Chaleur it was taken in the seine and used as bait for
cod. At the present time, however, there is an enormous shipment of Smelt from this region to
the United States, forty car-loads sometimes being received in New York in the course of one
winter. As early as 1864, according to a note from Mr. J. Matthew Jones, quantities of Smelt were
packed at Halifax for shipment to the United States.

The Smelt feeds, for the most part, on shrimps and other small crustaceans.
Although on account of their great abundance they sell in the markets at a low price, they
are among the very choicest of all our food-fishes. The "green" Smelts, as they are called, or
those which have never been frozen, are much tin' more highly esteemed, especially those which
come from the Raritan Bay and other points in (lie nrifrliUorhood of New York.



"This species," writes Jordan, "is known as Smelt, especially in those parts of the coast where
the Atherinopsiit or California Smelt is unknown. It reaches a length of six to eight inches. It
ranges from Monterey to British Columbia. It does not occur in such abundance as the Surf
Smelt and the Eulachon, and it has not been noticed in fresh water. Nothing is known to us of its
breeding habits. It is the prey of the various predatory fish, the larger flounders, salmon, etc. It
is not brought into the market in large quantities, and, being a soft-bodied fish, is not in good
condition when kept long. It has, therefore, little economic value.


This species, according to Bean, occurs around the shores of Kamtschatka, and has been ob-
served by him at Port Clarence, and by Messrs. Turner and Nelson at Port Clarence. It is similar
in size and appearance to the Atlantic Smelt. It is of much importance to the Eskimos, and is
dried in great quantities for use in their boat voyages. A similar species, perhaps identical, is
that described by Pallas under the name Osmerus spirinchus. This, it is thought by Dr. Bean,
may prove to be an emaciated form of 0. dentex.


"This species is known as the 'Smelt,'" writes Jordan, "and sometimes as the 'Surf Smelt.'
It reaches a length of about a foot. It ranges from the Bay of Monterey to Alaska, being especially
abundant in Puget Sound and not common about San Francisco, although occasionally brought into
the markets. They feed upon worms and small Crustacea, and are eaten by all the large flounders
and other predatory fish. They are found at all seasons, but in the mouth of August they go in
great schools near the shore. They spawn in the surf along the shore. The females are thought
to come first, and then the males. As a pan-fish this tine oily species is unsurpassed."


DISTRIBUTION. This species inhabits the North Atlantic and North Pacific. It does not occur
much south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and never approaches near the shores of New England, but is,
notwithstanding, of great importance to New England fishermen. It abounds on the shores of New-
foundland and on the coasts of Labrador, and during the month of July occurs in great numbers
near the Virgin Rocks, the only portion of the Grand Banks above water. It is found, also, near
Greenland, and about Iceladn and Spitsbergen, and the entire length of the Scandinavian coast,
from Varanger Fjord south to Christiania Fjord, latitude 58; the species touches Denmark, but does
not appear to have been observed around the British Isles. It is the "Lodde" of Norway, where it
bears so important a relation to the cod fishery. According to Richardson, it has been found very
far up in Carnation Gulf and Bathurst Inlet, latitude 70 north, longitude 125 west. It occurs on
the arctic coast of North America, and it seems probable that its range extends also into the icy
sea of Siberia, completing the circuit of the Arctic Seas.

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 92 of 146)