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"They seem to spawn while swimming about in the water, and their eggs, being buoyant, are
found at the surface with those of the Cod; but they may easily be distinguished from the latter
by their smaller size. The first ripe female was seen at the fish wharves October 23. November

1 In 1861 the first Pollock caine into Gloucester Harbor May 2.

8 See Report of the United States Commission Fish and Fisheries, part 5, p. 720.



11, a fe\v M-.Kxl e^s were taken, and, after impregiiati t'oiinil to have a diameter of one twenty-

fifth of an ineli. They were placed in an aquarium at the hatchery, and within forty eight hours
the fish could lie distinctly seen, though no pigment cells were visible. This proved that the
development of the eggs after leaving the parent was quite rapid, and indicated that they would
hatch in the or six days at most, with water of the ordinary temperature.

"At the time of taking these eggs no suitable apparatus had been arranged, and we did not
succeed in hatching them; and as no others were obtained during the season positive statements
cannot be made; but the eggs were well advanced before they died, and careful observations up
to this point fully convinced us that these eggs are as hardy as those of the Cod, and that they
may be successfully hatched by a similar method.

"The table gives the result of our computation of the number of eggs in individuals of differ-
ent size, from which it will be seen that a twenty-three and one half pound fish has over 4,000,000
of eggs, while a thirteen pound one has 2,500,000."

Table showing the number of eggs in Pollock of different sizes.


Length of fleli.

Weight of nab.

Weight of orarin.

Estimated weight
of ovary walla.

Net wcightof eggs.

Xnmber of grains
(trny) in part
weighed out.

part weighed out.

Number of egjpte
the grain.

Total number of
eggs in Bsh.


R. In.

3 31


2 2


Z.6. Oz.

1 727

287 8


2 8)


1 21


1 11


o 043

340 5


Captain Atwood states that in Cape Cod Bay they are caught in large numbers about the
10th or 15th of November, when going to spawn. They spawn upon the same rocky ground as the
Cod, and it is only at this time that they dare to take the hook freely. In the vicinity of Prov-
incetown the deposition of eggs takes place in November.

The growth of the Pollock is probably somewhat more rapid than that of the Cod, since
the young fish are so much more voracious, but we have no means of determining the length of
time required for them to attain maturity. The average size is probably not far from ten
or twelve pounds, but individuals of twenty, and even of thirty pounds, are by no means

USES. The Pollock is one of those species whose value as an article of food is very much
underestimated. Many persons, who have investigated the subject accurately, prefer salted
Pollock to salted Codfish, although the flesh is not so white. Its value for use in the fresh state,
we think, deserves the highest commendation. I quote from "Land and Water," December, 1866,
the following remarks upon the Pollock fisheries of the Orkney Islands, showing how highly they
are esteemed in that region. The writer signs himself "A. R. D.":

"Having observed in 'Land and Water,' of the 20th October, an article by Mr. 1 '.nek land.
on the Merlangus carbonarius, or Saith, it has occurred to me that some additional information as
to the habits and uses, and more especially with respect to the commercial value of that fish,
might be interesting.

"The Saith occurs in great abundance among the Orkney Islands. The fry, called Sillocks, are
first observed in May or June, and are very small. In July and August they are about four or five
inches long, and are caught in great numbers with flies (made with a bit of white feather tied to
the hook), by means of boats, and often from the rocks on the shore. They are much esteemed
as food, and more especially for the oil prepared from the livers. Towards winter they generally


set in to the Sbetlaud bays iii immense aud closely congregated shoals, from which they are swept
ashore by nets in enormous quantities, and are often bought by the farmer for the dunghill. At
this season they fall off in quality as an article of food, but are still eagerly purchased by the coun-
try people on account of the oil, which suits better for their cottage lamps than any other kind.
Next year, when nine or ten inches long, they are called Cooths, or Cuths, and are caught with the
fly in the months of May, June, July, and August. In June and July they are in perfection for
eating, and are cooked without taking out the entrails, after being rolled iu salt and flour, or oat-
meal, and done on the gridiron; but unless used within an hour or two after being caught, the fine
flavor and curdy quality of the fish quickly disappear. If used next .day they are somewhat coarse
eating. It is a singular circumstance that they will not take the fly except an hour before or an
hour after sunset and sunrise. In the third summer they become larger, and are called Cuttims, or
Cuddons, iu which state they betake themselves to deeper water, and are comparatively seldom
caught. After this, when full grown, they are known by the name of Saith, and become an
important object of fishery. The fishing commences in May, and continues till September. In
July and August they are in their best state, and are sought after with great assiduity. They
chiefly occur in very rapid tideways, where there is much broken water, and the fishing is not
unattended with danger, several fatal accidents having occurred within my recollection by the
boats having been swept by the current into the breakers. The fish average from fifteen to
twenty pounds, but many specimens are met with weighing much more. When cleaned and
thoroughly dried on the rocks, about seventeen will weigh one hundredweight, and yield three
gallons of oil, which is equivalent to 340 fish and sixty gallons of oil to the ton. The dried article
sells at market for about 12 per ton, when Codfish fetch 20 per ton, but the extra quantity of oil
in the former far more than compensates for the difference in price, and consequently when a
shoal of Saith sets in, the fishermen invariably desert the cod-fishing in favor of the other. Dried
Saith are perfectly well known in the market, and are tolerably good eating, though inferior to
Cod. The oil is chiefly used by tanners, and is in good demand. In the fresh state they are
extremely good eating, firm and curdy, if cooked within an hour or two after being caught, but if
kept some time they lose their flavor and become coarse. The inhabitants of Fairisle, which lies halt'
way between the Orkney and Shetland groups of islands, pay their rent exclusively by saith-fishiug."

Pollock are more highly prized in New Brunswick than anywhere else on the Western Atlantic
coast, and the pollock fishery was in 1850 pronounced by Perley the most valuable and extensive
of the deep-sea fisheries of the Bay of Fundy. 1 It is stated by this authority that directly after
the spawning season the fish is lank and almost worthless, but that it becomes in good condition
again in August and improves as the season advances.

The liver of the Pollock yields a great quantity of oil, proportionally much more than that of
the Cod. It is probable that most of the cod-liver oil in the market is more or less adulterated
with pollock-liver oil. No one has yet demonstrated that its medicinal properties are inferior.
The eggs of the Pollock are very large, and great quantities of them have been in past years
salted and exported to France.

THE ALASKA POLLACK, PollacMus chalcogrammus (Pallas) J. & G. 2 The Alaska Pollock is
thus described by Professor Jordan : " This species is known as Pollack to those who have seen

'1877. NEW METHOD OF CAPTURING POLLOCK. For sunn' dayH past the schooner "Matchless," of Harrington,
has been fishing for Pollock with a purse-seine in the vicinity of Cape Sable, and doing very well at the business,
which is a kind of experiment, as the purse-seine, we believe, has been used hitherto in taking only mackerel, herring,
and such small fish. On Monday of last week the crew of the " Matchless" caught at one haul about 130 quintals
of Pollock, an immense catch, which took the men over twenty-fours hours to dress and salt. Cape Ann Adcertaer.
August 17, 1877.

9 Gadus chalcogrammus Pallas. Zoogr. Ross. Asiat., iii, 198. Gadus periscopni, Cope. Proc. Am. Philog. Soc., 1870.


the Atlantic species. It is possibly identical with tin- lU-slmw' of the Makah Indians, the 'Coal-
fish' of the English settlers northward, a deep-water fish noted for its rich, fat flesh. It reaches a
length of about two feet. It ranges from Monterey to Behring's Straits. It is taken with hook
ami lino in deep water, and is never plentiful south of Cape Flattery. It feeds upon anchovies
and the like. Nothing is known of its breeding habits, enemies, or diseases, and, unless it be the
'Beshow' above noticed, it is not sufficiently abundant to attract any notice as an article of food."


The Cusk, Srosmiug brosme, is a deep-water species, inhabiting rocky ledges in the North
Atlantic. It has not been observed south of Cape Cod, but ranges northward to the banks of
Newfoundland and of Greenland. It occurs in let-land and Spitzbergen and along the entire length
of the Scandinavian Peninsula, bat is not known on the coast of Germany, while Faber states
that it just touches the most northern part of Denmark at the Scaw in Jutland, and that it is occa-
sionally taken in the Frith of Forth and brought to the Edinburgh market. It is also plentiful
alioiit the Faroe Islands. Its range in the Western Atlantic is from latitude 42 to latitude 65,
or beyond ; in the Northeastern Atlantic to latitude 80, and south to latitude 55.

The Massachusetts fishermen tell me that these fish are usually found in considerable abun-
dance on newly-discovered ledges, and that great numbers may be taken for a year or two, but
that they are soon all caught. Sometimes, after a lapse of years, they may be found again abun-
dant on a recently-deserted ground. From these facts it has been reasoned that the Cusk is very
local in its habits and rarely changes from one locality to another.

On the " Broken-ground Ledge " Cusk are said to be abundant at any season, and also on
" New Ledge," and Captain Atwood says that they inhabit deep water in rocky localities, not hard,
smooth, rocky bottoms, but large, angular rocks. About Cape Cod they are quite rare; ho has
seen a few to the eastward of and near Cape Cod, but they are more commonly found farther
north ; at a rocky spot near the eastern portion of the Middle Bank, between Cape Cod and Cape
Ann, large numbers had been taken prior to 1866, and in that year 400 quintals, or probably 00,000
pounds of Cusk, had that year been taken by one Provincetowu firm. Off Wells Bay, in Maine,
about Cape Porpoise, and on Cashe's Ledge, he had also observed them in large quantities.

The food of the Cusk doubtless consist chiefly of mollusks and small crustaceans.

Concerning its spawning habits nothing is known, except that, according to Faber, it spawns
in April and May on the coast of West and South Ireland.

The Cusk is considered a very excellent fish, especially for boiling, but there is a very limited
demand for it, and most of those which are taken are salted. On account of their low prices,
fishermen shun them, and they are hardly in better favor than dogfish. In the spring of 1878
they were worth in Gloucester from twenty to fifty cents j>er hundred, and in August of the same
year about one dollar per hundred. One of their peculiar habits, eel like, renders their capture
difficult, and frequently canses the destruction of the fishing-tackle; it is said that after they have
taken the hook they curl their tails round the angles of the rock and cling to them with such
strength that it is impossible to dislodge them. Fishermen say that when they are brought to
the surface the skin rises from the body in great blisters. This they regard as a favorable sign, as
showing that the fish are "thrifty," or healthy. The name "Tusk," used for this fish in New-
foundland, is now never used in the United States, although it seems to have been in use a century
ago, a well-known fishing ground in the Gulf of Maine being known as the "Tusk Rock."



DISTRIBUTION. We have five species of the genus Phycis. One, P. Chesteri, recently discov-
ered by the Fish Commission, occurs off the coast from Cape Ann to Cape Hatteras, at a depth of
from seventy-five to three hundred fathoms. It lias been collected in great numbers with the deep-
sea trawl-nets used by the Fish Commission and the Coast Survey, and appears to be extremely
abundant. It is, at present, of no economic importance. It may be distinguished by its exceed-
ingly long fin-filaments.

Another species, the King Hake, P. regius, occurs in deep water with the preceding, and
has also been found near the shore in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras, in Chesapeake Bay, and at the
eastern end of Long Island. A specimen was obtained many years ago at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In the Chesapeake, according to Major Ferguson, it is very abundant.

This fish attains the length of twelve to fifteen inches. Concerning its habits little is known,
except that it has the power of communicating strong electric shocks. It may be distinguished
by the low first dorsal fin, unprovided with a filament and black at its tip, and by the peculiar row
of white spots along the lateral line. P. Earllii occurs only on the coast of South Carolina.

The two species which have a commercial value are P. chuss and P. tennis. These species
are very similar in appearance, and it is with difficulty that they can be distinguished from each
other by the trained eye of the zoologist. The most tangible distinction may be found in the
number of scales, which are much smaller in P. tennis, there being from one hundred and thirty-
five to one hundred and forty oblique rows between the bronchial opening and the root of the
caudal fin, while there are about twelve rows between the lateral line and the region of the first
dorsal. In P. cliu*s there are only one hundred rows in the lateral line and nine rows above the
lateral line; in the former the ventral does not ordinarily reach quite to the vent, in the latter it
extends beyond the vent. This character, however, could not always be relied upon.

Our Hakes are all quite different from the Forked Beard, P. blennioides, of Great Britain, some-
times called the Hake's Dame, which is a member of the same genu^. 1 Owing to their great simi-
larity, Phycis chuss and P. tennis are usually known indifferently by the name " Hake" ; the former,
however, is sometimes called the Old English Hake, and the other, Phycis tennis, the Squirrel
Hake or White Hake. In the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Bay of Chaleur, and also south of
Cape Cod, they are invariably called Ling. There has been much confusion both in the names
and descriptions applied to them by fishermen and ichthyologists. Their geographical range
appears to be essentially the same. The young of one or both species are frequently taken swim-
ming at the surface, on the southern coast of New England, in midsummer, and numerous
individuals have been found off Block Island and Watch Hill, seeking shelter between the valves
of a large species of scallop, Pecten tenuicostatus ; the majority appear to belong to the species of
P. chuss. About sixty were obtained from a single trawl-full of Pectens taken off Watch Hill,
September, 1874, where they were found in one out of every three or four shells taken. Their
companions in the interior of the shells were a species of Pinnotheres, related to the oyster crab,
and a species of lump-sucker, Liparis lineatus.

One or both species are frequently taken by the cod-fishermen, on the shoals south of Cape
Cod, but they are there considered to be of but little value. They are more or less abundant in
Massachusetts Bay, in the Bay of Fundy, and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Large specimens of
one or both species have been taken at a depth of three hundred fathoms as far south as Virginia.

The Hake of Europe is a different fish, more closely related to the Silver Hake or Whiting of the New England
coast, Aferluciut Irilinearis.


HABITS. Captain Atwood gives this account ot the Hake in Capo Cod Bay: "It is a ground
fish, found close to the bottom, and rarely comes to the surface. They are much more inclined to
t:ikc the hook by night than by day : are found on muddy bottoms, during the whole summer and
autumn, along the coast of Maine and Massachusetts. They yield a large quantity of oil, which
is used for the same purpose as that of the Pollock and Cod. The autumn finds them in the best
condition, and, if prepared with care, they are a tolerably good table fish." Captain Atwood has
known them to grow to the size of forty pounds, but the average in summer is only five to ten

Perley remarks that they are taken largely on muddy bottoms, both in the Bay of Fundy and
in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, chiefly during the night, at which time they feed on the smaller
Crustacea; their stomachs are then generally found to be filled. Hake are frequently taken, in
the (Julf especially, measuring three feet in length.

The Hakes appear to be bottom-loving fishes, and rarely change locality. They feed on
crustaceans, and occasionally indulge in a fish diet. One taken at Gloucester, in July, 1878, had a
menhaden in its stomach.

It is believed that they spawn throughout the summer, for the young fish are found during
all the summer months, while specimens taken at the depth of thirty-seven fathoms, August 18,
1878, off Ipswich, at a temperature of 41 F., contained well-developed ova, and were apparently
ready to spawn.

USES. An extensive fishery is carried on from Cape Ann for these fish in winter, and there are
sometimes as many as fifty vessels engaged. It was estimated in 1878 that the total quantity
landed at Gloucester was not far from 5,000,000 pounds. The fishing is carried on almost entirely
at night with the use of trawls, which are about the size of those used in the capture of Haddock.

Hake are salted and dried in the same manner as Codfish, and are often sold under the name
of Codfish. Before the introduction of boneless fish it was sometimes difficult to sell them on
account of the difference in appearance, but at the present time great quantities of Hake are put
up in boxes under the trade name of "boneless fish," the qualifying word "Cod" being usually
omitted from the brands and labels. Hake are rarely eaten fresh.

The air-bladder, or sound, of the Hake is of great commercial value, being used extensively in
the manufacture of isinglass ; great quantities of sounds are sent from the British Provinces to
the United States annually, sounds from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence being considered much better
than those from farther south. In 1880 New England produced 253,698 pounds of dried sounds,
worth $178,808. Massachusetts had eight isinglass and glue factories, employing one hundred
and eighty-two men and a capital of $315,000, and producing $450,000 worth of ribbon isinglass
and glue in 1879. These sounds were for the most part derived from the Hake.

Capt. Epes W. Merchant gave me the following account of hake-fishing at Gloucester in 1818:
"Hake used to come in September, October, and the first half of November, and then we would
get ready to go haking. Father would say, 'Go down, get your pork, and put on your squid-jig.'
We were always sure of bait; the boy would catch enough bait for three men; the squid were in
great schools. We used to lay out two nights and get fifteen or twenty quintals of Hake. These
were worth fifteen shillings per quintal, and we sold them in Boston for the West Indies trade."



NAME. The first name applied to the American Burbot was Gadu* lota. This was used by
Pennant. Walbaum established the name Oadm lacwitrig for the Matitemeg, or Land Cod of Pen-


n, HI i . This fish has, however, proved to be a cattish, and the name lacustris is untenable for the
Burbot. In 1817, Le Suenr described a Burbot from Lake Erie under the name of Oadus maculosus,
and another species from Northampton, Connecticut, as Oadus compressus. The name maculosus is
the oldest available specific name for the American species. In 1818 Mitchill described a Oadus
lacustris in the "American Monthly Magazine," evidently not knowing that the same name had
been previously applied by Walbaum. In 1819 Le Sueur redescribed Oadus compressus under the
name Molva Huntia. In 1842 De Kay described Lota inornata from the State cabinet at Albany,
lu 1844 D. H. Storer set up the Wiuuipiseogee Lake Burbot as Lota brosmiana. From this it will
appear that six specific names have been applied to the American Burbot, and that the form from
Hudson's Bay was considered identical with the European species. All of these names following
Oadus maculosus are considered synonyms of maculosus. The name compresm was retained
longer than any of the others, but it is now known that the compressed form is simply an indi-
vidual variation.

Giinther, in his " Catalogue of Fishes in the British Museum," volume iv, 1862, places all the
names applied to the American Burbot in the synonymy of Lota vulgaris, believing that we have
only one species, and that identical with the European. Even if his view be correct, he should use
the name Lota maculosa, which, dating from 1817, has priority over vuJgaris. The combination
Lota vulgaris was not employed, as far as I know, by any author until Jenyns used it in a Manual
of British Vertebrate Animals in 1835. It is not, however, established that the European and
American Burbot represent the same species. The number of vertebra? seems to be smaller in the
European. Giinther gives it as twenty-one abdominal and thirty-eight caudal vertebra?. In two
skeletons examined by myself the abdominal vertebrae were twenty- two to twenty- three, and the
caudal thirty -eight to thirty-nine. There seems to be no other important difference. For the
present it may be best to consider the European Burbot as varietally distinct from the American,
and we should call it Lota maculosa, variety vulgaris.

POPULAR NAMES. In the Hudson's Bay region, according to Pennant, the Burbot is known as
" Marthy "; according to Richardson, as " Methy." In Alaska, according to Ball and Turner, it is
known as "Losh"; in Canada, as "laLoche." In Vermont it is called the "Eel-pout" (Thompson);
by which name also it is known in Mohawk River, New York, according to Loomis ; in Massa-
chusetts (Storer); in Connecticut (Wood), and in Bighorn River, Montana (Brackett). It is
known as the " Dogfish" in Lake Erie, according to Le Suenr. Commander L. A. Beardslee says
it is called "Chub-eel," also, in Mohawk River, New York. It is known as the "Ling" in Lake
Ontario (Professor Baird), lakes of Western New York (Baird and Blackford), and New York
market (Blackford). It is the "Lawyer" of Lake Michigan, according to Earll; "Lake-cusk" in
Lake Winnipiseogee (Davis) ; "Fresh-water Cod" (Baird). It is called "Burbot" in New York
(De Kay), and in the Bighorn River, Montana (Brackett). Professor Jordan gives the names
"Aleby-trout" and "Mother of Eels" as in use in the Upper Great Lake region.

The above list is incomplete, both as to names and geographical range. The name "Bur-
bot" is the one which should come into general use. The first four will hardly be adopted by
English-speaking people. "Chub-eel" is a mere off-hand name given to the species by a fisher-
man who supposed it to be a hybrid between an eel and a catfish; this name is known to very
few persons. The remaining names, except "Burbot," are preoccupied and well established for
marine species, as follows: "Eel -pout," Zoarces anguillaris; "Ling," Molva vulgaris; "Lawyer,"
Lutjanus caxix; "disk," BrosMius brosme; "Cod," Gadw morrhua; "Dogfish," Mustelus canis. The
European variety, Lota maculosa, variety vulgaris, is called "Burbot," a name which has never
been applied to any other species than the one under consideration, so far as I can learn. This

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 42 of 146)