G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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cated by the fact that greater numbers of spawning females are taken with the trawl, which
lies directly on the bottom, than with the hand-line a little way above it, while the males are taken
on one as readily as on the other.

" It may not be impossible that the eggs are fertilized while floating about in the water some
minutes after exclusion, and that the strong tides usually found on the spawning grounds play an
important part in distributing the germs, thus making the chances of impregnation more favorable.
Indeed it may be possible, and, if the spawning goes on gradually for several months, seems not
improbable, that the immediate presence of the opposite sexes during the act of spawning is not
necessary, but rather that the eggs are fertilized mainly by accidental contact. Observations
would seem to strengthen the probabilities of this theory; for, if the fish went in pairs, they would
often be taken on adjoining hooks of the trawl, or one on either hook of the hand-line. Such is
not usually the case, however, but, on the contrary, several of the same sex are more frequently
taken together.

"The eggs have a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.025, as indicated by the fact that they float in
salt water and sink rapidly in fresh. They may be found at the surface in common with eggs of
the Pollock, Haddock, and probably other species of the cod family, when the sea is smooth; but
when the water becomes rough they are carried to a depth of several fathoms by the current,
though the tendency is to remain near the surface. The oldest fishermen had not the slightest
knowledge of this fact, but held to the theory that the females deposited their eggs ou the rocks,



when- tlir\ \\ITC visited and impregnated h.v the males, and left to become the food of the various
animals so abundant in such localities. They hail at times noticed the little transparent globular
iMtdies in the water, Imt it had never occurred to them that they were the eggs of any fish.

"There are many ways in which the eggs may be destroyed. The principal loss is probably
the result, of non-impregnation, for unless they come in contact with the. milt of the male very soon
after being thrown from 1 In- parent they lose their vitality. Again, beingdrifted about by the winds
and tides, they are often carried long distances from the spawning grounds into the little bays and
coves, and are driven in immense numbers upon the shores, or are left dry by the tides, where they
soon die from exposure to the atmosphere, or, during the cold winter weather, are instantly destroyed
by freezing. Ipswich Bay, the most extensive spawning ground in the locality, is especially
unfortunate in this particular, for the heavy storms from the north and east sweep with unbroken
force across its surface, and each breaker as it rolls in upon the beach must carry with it many
millions of eggs.

"But such impregnated eggs as escape destruction upon the shores are subjected to the ravages
of the myriads of hungry animals living about the rocks and coves. One day in January we placed
a jelly-fish or medusid, having a diameter of but one and a half inches, into a tray of eggs in
the hatching-rpom, and in less than five minutes it had fastened seventy eggs to his tentacles,
loading some of them so heavily that they were severed from the body by the weight or resistance
of the eggs as they were dragged through the water.

"By the aid of a microscope, numbers of vorticelli were frequently found upon the eggs, in one
case forty-six being counted on a single egg. In addition a peculiar growth, thought to be minute
algae, was often noticed upon them. Just what influence these would exert, or whether they would
occur in the clear water outside the harbor, is not known. Thus, owing to the many different
circumstances that tend to destroy the eggs, probably but a very small number out of a million
are successfully hatched, and of the young fish but few reach maturity."

In the winters of 1878-'79 and 1880-'81 the United States Fish Commission successfully carried
on the work of artificial propagation of Codfish. The results of the first winter's work at Gloucester
will be found detailed in Mr. Earll's paper, from which quotations have already been so extensively

In addition to his other observations, Mr. Earll computed the number of eggs in Codfish of
different sizes. The results of his observations are shown in the following table:

Table showing the number of eggs in Codfish of different isen.


Length of flah.

Weight of Bah.







Number of troy

graina weighed

Number of eggs
in (lir portion
weighed out.

Number of egga
to the grain.

Total number f
gg in flah.


ft in.

















S 160









188. 5
































2,7*2, 1ST

1 No. 1 (a) represents a second quantity taken from the name ovary the following day, and the greater number
may ue partially accounted for by the evaporation of moutnre during the night.
1 No. 2 contained a few ripe eggs.


It is interesting to compare these with the observations made during the last century, refer-
ences to which may be found in all the standard works on natural history. Leuwenhoek is said to
have found in a Cod of middling size 384,000 eggs. Harmer found, in one weighing eighteen or
twenty pounds, between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 eggs. It was examined December 23, and was
estimated to have 294 eggs to the grain, the ovaries weighing 12,540 grains; the total number,
according to this calculation, is 3,68G,16Q. 1

THE SIZE OP CODFISH. The result of Mr. Earll's observations indicates lhat in June the
fish hatched the previous winter, or about six months old, range from one and a half to three
inches in length; while those from nine to thirteen inches long, and weighing seven or eight
ounces, were eighteen months old ; those seventeen to eighteen inches long, and weighing two to
two and a quarter pounds, were supposed to be two years and a half old; those of about twenty-
two inches, which weighed four to five pounds, were three years and a half old. He also concludes
that the male reaches maturity at the age of three, and the female at the age of four years, for the
smallest ripe male noticed during the season of 1878-'79 weighed three and one-half pounds, and
the smallest ripe female five pounds.

On pages 733-734 of Mr. Earll's report may be found the measurements of a large number
of Codfish of different weights, and with the ovaries and spermaries in different stages of develop-
ment. These measurements are interesting, since they show the relation between the length
and weight of individual fish.

I have before me memoranda relating to a large number of enormous Codfish, taken along
the New England coast at various times from 1830 to 1879. It seems unnecessary to refer to them,
excepting the cases of a few which exceed one hundred pounds in weight.

Capt. King Harding, of Swampscott, tells me that he once caught, on the eastern side of Cape
Cod, a fish weighing 101 pounds as it came from the water.

On the 22d of July, 1873, Miss Fannie Belis, of Saint Louis, while on a fishing excursion off
Eastern Point, on board the yacht " United States," caught a Cod which weighed 130 pounds.

Capt. G. H. Martin caught, off Chatham, a Codfish which weighed, dressed, 111 pounds.

Capt. Stephen Mar, of Gloucester, saw a Codfish taken on George's Banks in 1838 which, after
having been eviscerated, weighed 136 pounds.

Captain Atwood says, on the coast of Cape Cod he has never seen a male Codfish, with one
exception, which weighed more than 60 pounds; he- once saw one, however, which weighed 160
pounds. This fish was not much larger than an ordinary fish weighing 76 pounds, but was very

Captain Atwood remarks: "In regard to size, the Cod differs very widely in different localities.
When taken on the Grand Bank it usually requires from thirty to forty to make a quintal when
dried. Those caught in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with hand-lines are smaller, requiring
seventy to eighty per quintal ; in the same locality, however, Cod caught on trawl-lines require
only twenty to twenty-five per quintal, while on the coast of Labrador they are all small, and it
requires about one hundred to one hundred and ten to make a quintal."

Writing in the summer of 1877, Captain Atwood expressed the opinion that the average
weight of the fish taken about Cape Cod was in the neighborhood of ten pounds; but he informed
me that in the winter .of 1877, in two days, thirty thousand pounds of Codfish were landed from
the boats, and that there was not a fish among them small enough to be classed as a market Cod,
a market Cod weighing from six to ten or twelve pounds.

'Philosophical Transactions, Ivii, 1778, p. 287.


I have before me much information concerning the average size of the fish caught at different
seasons of the year by the fishermen at different localities along the coast, but it seems at present
hardly necessary to discuss this subject at greater length.

conclusion, it may not be amiss to quote- the remarks of Professor Baird concerning the decrease
of Codfish along our coast, and the probable causes for such decrease:

"Of all the various fisheries formerly prosecuted directly off the coast of New England, north of
Cape Cod, the depreciation in that of the Cod appears to be of the greatest economical importance.
Formerly the waters abounded in this fish to such an extent that a large supply could be taken
throughout almost the entire year along the banks, especially in the vicinity of the mouths of the
larger rivers. At that time the tidal streams were almost choked up with the alewives, shad, and
salmon that were struggling for entrance in the spring, and which filled the adjacent waters'
throughout a great part of the year.

As is well known, the erection of impassable dams across the streams, by preventing the
ascent of the species just mentioned to their spawning grounds, produced a very great diminution,
and almost the extermination, of their numbers; so that whereas in former years a large trade
could be carried on during the proper season, now nothing would be gained by the effort.

"Of late the attention of the legislatures of the New England States has been called to this
fact, and to the importance of restoring their fisheries, and a great deal has been already accom-
plished toward that end. Unfortunately, however, the lumbering interest in Maine, and the
manufacturing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, are so powerful as to render it extremely
difficult to carry out any measures which in any way interfere with their convenience or profits;
and notwithstanding the passage of laws requiring the construction of fishways through the
dams, these have either been neglected altogether, or arc of such a character as not to answer
their purpose. The reform, therefore, however imperatively required, has been very slow in its
progress, and many years will probably elapse before efficient measures will be taken to remedy
the evils referred to.

"It would, therefore, appear that while the river fisheries have been depreciated or destroyed
by means of dams or by exhaustive fishing, the Codfish have disappeared in equal ratio. This
is not, however, for the same reason, as they are taken only with the line, at a rate more than
compensated by the natural fecnndity of the fish. I am well satisfied, however, that there is a
relation of cause and effect between the present and past condition of the two series of fish ; and
in this I am supported by the opinion of Capt. U. S. Treat, of Eastport, by whom, indeed, the
idea was first suggested to me. Captain Treat is a successful fisherman and dealer in fish on a
very large scale, and at the same time a gentleman of very great intelligence and knowledge of
the many details connected with the natural history of our coast fishes, in this respect worthily
representing Captain Atwood, of Provincetown. It is to Captain Treat that we owe many experi-
ments on the reproduction of alewives in ponds, and the possibility of keeping salmon in fresh
waters for a period of years. The general conclusions which have been reached, as the result of
repeated conversations with Captain Treat and other fishermen on the coast, incline me to believe
that the reduction in the cod and other fisheries, so as to become practically a failure, is due to
the decrease off our coast in the quantity, primarily, of alewives; and, secondarily, of shad and
salmon, more than to any other cause.

"It is well known to the old residents of Eastport that from thirty to fifty years ago Cod could
be taken in abundance in Passamaquoddy Bay and off Eastport, where only stragglers are now
to be caught. The same is the case at the mouth of the Penobscot River and at other points along


the coast, where once the fish came close in to the shore, and were readily captured with the hook
throughout the greater part of the year. That period was before the multiplication of mill-dams,
cutting off the ascent of the alewives, shad, and salmon, especially the former. The Saint Croix
River was choked in the spring with the numbers of these fish, endeavoring to ascend; aud the
same may be said of the Little River, the outlet of Boyntou's Lake, about seven miles above East-
port. The lake in question is one of considerable size, and was visited by immense numbers of
alewives, which could be dipped out, to any extent, on their passage upward, while the waters of
the adjacent bay were alive with the young fish on their return.

"The fish themselves enter the waters of the streams in May or June, and return almost
immediately after spawning to the sea. But they may be taken by the drift-nets along the
shores as early as March and April; and, indeed, it is quite probable that the whole period of
their abode in the salt water is spent adjacent to the rivers in which they were born. The young
come down from the ponds in which they are hatched, from August to October, keeping up a
constant stream of the young fish. In this way a supply of alewives was to be met with
throughout the greater part of the year, and nearer the coast they furnished every inducement
for the Cod aud other ground fish to come inshore in their pursuit.

"It is true that the sea-herring is also an attraction to these fish, aud probably but for their
presence our pollock, haddock, and hake fisheries would be greatly diminished. Nevertheless,
the alewife appears to be more attractive as a bait, and furthermore the sea-herring are less
constantly on the coast, especially inshore, occurring as they do at stated intervals, when they
come in from the deep sea to spawn. It is possible, too, that they are less easily captured by the
Cod, since they swim nearer the surface than the alewives. Corroboration of this idea is furnished
in the testimony of Mr. W. B. McLaughliu, of Southern Head, Grand Manan. This gentleman
informs me that the only stream in the island which ever furnished alewives to any extent was
Seal Cove Creek, which discharges to the east of the southern extremity of Grand Manan, and
into which these fish entered in immense numbers in the spring. At that time Cod, Haddock,
and Pollock, as well as halibut, were taken in great abundance in Seal Cove Sound, between
Harwood Cove, on Wood Island, and Indian or Parker's Point, on the main island. They were
to be met with during the greater part of the year, especially from May to January; and the
fishery in the channel-way within a quarter of a mile of the shore was really more productive
than on the banks much farther out to sea.

"Although still a young man, Mr. McLaughlin recollects the capture of these fish; and,
indeed, as a mere boy, enjoyed the sport within a very short distance of his father's house. Soon
after that time a dam was built across this stream about two hundred yards above its mouth,
cutting off entirely the upward passage of the alewives, and by a remarkable coincidence, if it
be nothing more, the cod fishery in question diminished very soon after, and in a very few years
ceased almost entirely, so that up to the present time there are not enough Cod in those waters
to repay the experiment of attempting to catch them. A few alewives still find their way up to
the foot of the dam, but in such small numbers as to make it often doubtful whether there are any
there or not.

"The other fishing grounds about Grand Manan are farther out to sea, at the northern end
of the island, where there are no alewives, and where herring appear to be the principal food,
although the variation in the abundance of these in different seasons appears to have an important
bearing upon the number of Hake and Cod.

"If these conclusions be correct and I am quite satisfied of their general validity we
have, for the efforts made to establish fish ways in the rivers of Maine, New Hampshire, and


Massachusetts, a much more weighty reason than that of merely enabling a few salmon to enter
thf streams in order to permit their rapture while on their way.

"Whatever may be the importance of increasing the supply of salmon, it is trifling compared
with the restoration of our exhausted cod fisheries; and should these be brought back to their
original condition, we shall find, within a short time, an increase of wealth on our shores, the
amount of \\hich it would be difficult to calculate. Not only would the general prosperity of the
adjacent Slates In- enhanced, but in the increased number of vessels built, in the larger number
of men induced to devote themselves to maritime pursuits, and in the general stimulus to every-
thing connected with the business of the seafaring profession, we should be recovering, in a great
measure, from that loss which has been the source of so much lamentation to political economists
and well-wishers of the country."


THE ATLANTIC TOM COD. The Atlantic Tom Cod, Microgadua tomcod, is found only in the
Western Atlantic, ranging from New York at the south to Cape Sable at the north. It is
ordinarily known as the Tom Cod, but in the Bay of Fumly, and in various places south of
Cape Cod, it is known as the Frost Fish, owing to the fact that it becomes most abundant in
the early part of the winter, when it approaches the, shore and even ascends the rivers and creeks
for the purpose of spawning. Dr. DeKay states, on the authority of Dr. Yates, that Tom Cods
sometimes appear at Albany in abundance, while I am informed by the Rev. Dr. F. Gardiner
that they are taken in winter in the Kennebec, sixty miles from its mouth, and far above the reach
of the tide. They ascend the Charles River to Watertown, where they are taken in dip-nets and
l>y i he hook from the wharves and bridges. Although most abundant near the shores and in the
streams in early winter, they are found along the coast at all seasons of the year. In form the
Tom Co<l is the miniature of the Codfish, rarely exceeding ten or twelve inches in length, and
there is much difficulty in distinguishing the young of the two species. The Tom Cod, however,
varies even more in its color than the Cod, and several varieties have been described under
different names. When these fish approach the shores in winter they are taken in great quantities
with nets, and are esteemed in many localities as a great delicacy.

The Tom Cod feeds upon numerous species of crustaceans and mollusks, and also ujton the
young of many other kinds of fishes.

THE PACIFIC TOM COD. Professor Jordan gives the following notes upon the closely related
species, Microgadus proximus, found in California, and there known as the Tom Cod:

"The English at Victoria know this species by the name 'Whiting.' Elsewhere on the coast
the name of 'Tom Cod' is universally applied to it. In the restaurants at San Francisco, it is
usually served under the name of Smelt. It reaches the length of a foot and a weight of about
half a pound. It ranges from Monterey to Puget Sound and northward, being everywhere very
abundant, and taken in great numbers in seines and sweep-nets, both outside and in the bays. Its
food is small fishes. Nothing special is known of its breeding habits; it is apparently abundant
at all seasons. It is one of the important food fishes of the coast, always abundant and always
meeting a ready sale. Its flesh is, however, watery and tasteless, and cannot be rated high."


DISTRIBUTION. The Haddock. .!/-/*/ HOI/I-HUIIIIII.* it-ijlilinnx, is found only in the Atlantic. Its
wanderings are more limited than those of the foil. It is not found nearly as far to the north;
while its southern range is no wider. Haddock are probably found in company with Codfish on all


the northern fishing grounds, as far south, at least, as the Capes of Delaware, though concerning
their occurrence in southern waters there is dearth of information. In winter and spring they are
taken in Fisher's Island Sound and outside of Fisher's Island, on the coast of Eastern Connecticut ;
and also in great quantities on Nantucket Shoals by the smacks, and are carried thence with
Cod into New York market. In 1871 it was estimated that the catch of Haddock here was
nearly equal to that of Cod, although the latter usually predominate. They abound north of Capo
Cod, in the Gulf of Maine, and in the Bay of Fundy, in the Basin of Minas, on the coast of Nova
Scotia, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and in the Bay of Chaleur. In the Gulf of Saint Lawrence,
according to Captain Atwood, they are not very abundant, but the individuals taken are very large.
They are taken on the western coast of Newfoundland in winter; their northern limit appears to
be marked by the Straits of Belle Isle, latitude 52 N. The researches of Dr. A. S. Packard on
the coast of Labrador failed to bring this species to light, and fishermen of that region told him
that in the course of forty years' experience thay had never seen a Haddock. In 1863 and 1864
they were found in abundance on the southern border of the Grand Bank. Capt. E. H. Hurlbert
states that he has seen them in great abundance in May at Louisburg, Cape Breton, playing at
the surface among the reefs, but that they are not so frequent on the Grand Bank as on the
Western Bank, and, in turn, less common there than on George's Bank.

In the Eastern Atlantic the range of the Haddock is somewhat wider, for they are found in the
seas of Iceland, the whole length of the Scandinavian coast to East Finmark and Varanger Fjord,
and on all the shores of Great Britain, and in the North Sea, where they are particularly abundant,
though rarely or never entering the Baltic. There is no evidence that they are found to the south of
the English Channel. De La Blauchere states that they are caught in considerable numbers on the
coast of Manche. In the Eastern Atlantic, then, they are found between the parallels 48 and 66 ;
in the Western Atlantic between the parallels 38 and 53.

NAMES. The Haddock is often called " Dickie" by Connecticut fishermen. Hadot and Hadou
are old French names for the same fish, though the species is now usually known by the name Egrefin.
In Scotland the name is said to be pronounced almost in the same way as in France, and is often
varied to Haddie. It is the Schellfisch of Germany. Concerning this fish many of our fishermen
entertain the same idea, which with them can hardly be called a superstition, that the black spots
upon their side are due to the impression of the thumb and finger of Saint Peter when the apostle
took the tribute money out of the month of a fish supposed to be of this species, the fisherman's
mark having been continued among its descendants ever since. This notion is prevalent also in
England, and in Southern Europe is attached to other fishes, particularly to the John Dory, Zeus
faber. It is needless to say that no member of this family occurs in the Sea of Galilee.

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 40 of 146)