G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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matter deposited in the skin appears to be drawn from the flesh, and I find that in proportion to
the bright coloring of the skin of the fish the flesh loses this tint. In some instances it is barely
pink-colored or almost white. After the spawning of these fish they are brightest outside and
palest inside (as far as the flesh is concerned). The average size of a number of males by actual
weight is only five pounds, and of females only three and three-quarters pounds. After death,
within half an hour the color of these fish rapidly changes about the liead and becomes a dark
olive green with bluish reflections, in some instances almost bluish-black. Among any number of
fish there is almost an endless variation in color, caused, perhaps, by some remaining a longer
time in the lake than others. Wallowa Lake is about four and 01 e-quarter miles in length by one
and a half to two miles wide. It deepens very rapidly out a few feet from the shore, and is said
to be four hundred feet deep, and more than that in places. Two small streams flow into the
lake, and these form the spawning ground proper for these fish ; and as there are falls about two
miles above the month of these streams over which the fish cannot leap, they are restricted to
rather limited quarters for spawning. The only place I saw any of these fish was on the bar near
the head of the lake, and there most of them are caught. They can be seen in schools of one
hundred or more at almost any time during the month of Augnst and later. This year the rtm
has been very light, and fishing had to a great extent stopped when 1 arrived at the lake on the
last day of August. Four fisheries had been in operation, and these had put up about twenty
thousand pounds of fish. I believe two or three years ago it had been the practice to obstruct
the entrances to the small streams at the head of the lake to prevent the fish from miming up
these streams. This year this was not done, and a number of the settlers about the lake seem to
be anxious to have the fish properly protected, and it is not at all too soon to do it, either. The
placing of obstructions in the above-mentioned streams, and perhaps this year of gill-nets on the
bar, has no doubt something to do with the scarcity of these fish. But the most abominable
things of all which I saw personally in use are several clusters of hooks tied together, so that they
form a circle with a radius of about three inches. Just above these hooks a lump of Red-fish eggs
is laid. These are covered with mosquito-netting, and by this contrivance thousands of young
Red-fish (the settlers call them "Shiners," others call them "Trout," but I am satisfied that it will
be found that they are yearling Red-fish) 5 are caught and salted as well as the full-grown ones.
Now, these fish are only about four inches long, and for every one caught two are crippled and
die. So it can readily be seen that an immense number are destroyed yearly, as some parties
make it a business to salt these down as well as mature fish.

"I examined all these modes of fishing, and when I hooked with a single hook about one out
of three in some other part of the body than the head, it can readily be understood how murderous

1 VoL iv, pp. 82-84. No doubt of it. D. 8. J.

mi: < v n INN A i SALMON. 475)

such a contrivance a- tin- above mn-.i I.e. and how many \onng lisli can !><> destroyed h\
person in a day. They bait them first, and \vlien tliey become plenty ust; their grappling hook-,.
"The fishermen at the lake complain that the Indians dcMio\ Ilie lish, Inn from personal
ohsci vation I ean'l al all agree with them. It is (rue lliat nnmlirrs of Indians come (him variuuri
pans of the eonntry to Wallowa Lake yearly to fish, and they eateh a good many. While I was
camped at the lake I examined the eateh of every Indian that passed my camp, and 1 looked at as
many as fifty Indians a day: each one had from six to twelve tish usually tied on his horse, and I
found that there was about one female to ten males, and most of these were spent fish which had
already spawned. They arc not at all particular about this, and a fish which may be all bruised
up and skinned is apparently just as well relished by them as a i>erfectly sound one. ami even
these Indians appreciated the fact that it would not do to catch too many females; at any rate tliey
told me that as a rule they let the females go, and this is a good deal more than most of our white
fishermen are willing to do. Mostly every one out here now concedes that the Ked tish is not a
lesident of the lakes w herein it is found, and I am perfectly satisfied that they are anadromous and
not land locked. The only thing 'AS yet which I can't understand is, how do they get lid of the
hooked nose and the hum]) after going back to salt water* They surely ean't all die ul'ler spawning,
and sometimes one that weighs as much as ten pounds is caught, and this fish is certainly older
than a live-pounder; and it would not be presuming too much to assert that a Salmon of that size
must have made more than one trip to sea. While in the lake they do not appear to eat anything,
and the stomachs ot several which I examined were entirely empty. I cannot understand how
they get rid of their long hooked nose and hump."



"In Alaska and Kamtchatka," writes Jordan, "this species is known as the 'King Salmon,' and
as 'Choweedia' or 'Tchawytcha,' a name easier to pronounce than to spell, to the Russians. In
Fra/er Kiver it is called by the Mnsqnam name of 'Sah-Kwey'; in Puget Sound it is called the
'Columbia Kiver Salmon,' or in the Chinnook 'jargon 'Tyee.' On the Columbia Kiver the name
'Chinnook Salmon' is in universal use. Farther south the name 'Salmon' is applied to this species,
while the others receive specially distinctive names. The Quinnat Salmon reaches a weight of sixty
to ninety pounds, being the largest of the salmon family. The average weight is, however, much
less. On the Columbia River the average is twenty-two pounds each ; on the Sacramento River,
about sixteen. It is probable that the individuals of about twenty pounds' weight are four years
old, and the larger ones occasionally taken are older, having probably lived through one or more
spawning seasons. Those which enter the river late in the fall cannot ascend far before the
necessity for spawning comes, and such may be able to return to the sea, and thus escape the
death which overtakes all that spawn far inland.

"In all streams having their rise in the snows this species begins running as early as March,
and the run continues with various interruptions until the spawning time in the fall. When a
freshet occurs in spring, the run for a time after is much increased. In regard to this sjiecies and
the 'Blue-back,' it would appear that they, when adult, enter the streams whenever cold fresh
water comes in contact with them in the sea. After entering fresh water they do not feed, and
they continue their ascent until the season for spawning actually overtakes them. Often they
ascend hundreds of miles, until they are almost worn out, and after the spawning act all that have
thus ascended die. Those streams which do not have their source in the melting snows have no
spring run of Salmon, and in them the Quinnat runs only after the fall rains have set in.


"The distribution of the Quinnat is from Ventura River, where individuals occasionally run in
the winter, to Kamtchatka. It also occurs in the rivers of the corresponding latitude in Asia
The abundance of this species has probably not yet materially diminished in the Columbia. More
than a million and a half have been canned on the Lower Columbia dining the present season
(April, May, June, July, 1880), a greater number than has ever been taken before. In the
Sacramento the numbers have doubtless been reduced by overnshing, and a systematic process
of keeping up the supply in the Columbia by means of hatcheries will very soon be necessary.

"The Salmon take no food in fresh water. In the headwaters of the rivers, in the clear water,
they (at least the males) will sometimes take an artificial fly. In the ocean they take a trolling
bait readily. They then feed on anchovies, herring, smelts, sand launces, shrimps, and in general
on any living object. Even at the time of first entering the rivers in spring the stomach is found
empty and contracted.

"The enemies of the Salmon are, when very young, the chubs, suckers, and other small fishes,
which prey upon the eggs and young fish. In the ocean their chief enemies are the seals of
different species, who bite out their throats and destroy very great numbers of them all along the
coast. No diseases were noticed by us, except those produced by the accidents and great exertions
accompanying the spawning season.

"The economic value of this species at present exceeds that of all others on the Pacific coast
combined. It is brought fresh to the markets of all the cities, and the flesh is canned for export
to the East and to other countries, especially to England."

NAMES. The first scientific name by which this fish was commonly known was Salmo quinnat.
This name is generally reputed to be derived from a river, called the Quinuault, where a partic-
ularly good variety of this Salmon was found. This the writer is quite positive is an error. The
common name of the Salmon, at least among the Columbia River Indians that lived near the inouth
of the Willamette, was "Quiunault," of which Quinnat is a conuption, and the scientific name was
undoubtedly taken directly from the Indian name of the fish. The river might have been named
after the fish, but it is not likely that the fish was named after the river.

Not long ago Professor Jordan, after a critical examination of the fish, pronounced it to be
not correctly a Salmon, but an Oncorhynchus, and rechristened the fish Oncorhynchus quinnat,
which mime it held till last summer (1880), when Professor Jordan discovered that the fish
had probably been described by Walbaum, in 1792, under the name of Salmo chouicha, and
\ ielding to prior authority restored its original name, by calling it Oncorhynchus chouicha,
which name it will now probably retain until a more captivating successor presents itself. The
small fish which were called by Girard, Suckley, Jordan, and Copeland by the appellations Fario
argyrew, Salmo argyreus, and Salmo Warreni were without doubt the young of the Oncorhynchus
chouicha, and the names will now be given up.

DISTRIBUTION. The distribution of this Salmon is quite limited, being at present restricted
to the Pacific slope of North America, between the neighborhood of the bay of Monterey and the
Alaska border, although if it is the same as the "King Salmon" of the Yukon and the Alaska
Rivers its range extends as far north as the Arctic Ocean.

The California Salmon is taken in the largest quantities in the Sacramento and Columbia
Rivers, these being the largest rivers on the coast, but is also found in considerable numbers in
the smaller rivers of California, Oregon, Washington Territory, and British Columbia, notably in
the Eel, Russian, Klamath, Rogue, and Frazer Rivers.

The adult fish vary widely in size. The smallest mature fish on record was caught in the
McCloud River, California, and weighed about four pounds. The largest on record was caught in


the Columbia River, and weighed eighty-three pounds. The writer has seen one on the Columbia
that weighed sixty-seven pounds.

The California Salmon is easily caught with hook and line in the fresh-water tributaries,
where it goes to deposit its eggs. It does not readily take a fly, but becomes an easy victim wlirn
tempted with salmon roe, which is the most effective of all baits for catching thin iNh. When
prime it very much resembles in appearance the well-known Atlantic Salmon (Salmo nalar) in the
same condition, with this exception, that it has on its back and sides nearly black, star-like spots,
while the Atlantic Salmon has none, when fresh from the ocean.

The California Salmon is a remarkable fish, and has had an extraordinary career. Fifty
years ago it was hardly known, except to students of natural history. Now it is known and eaten
almost all over the world, for there is hardly a port in the worid where ships have not carried the
canned Salmon of the Columbia, which is the same flsh under a different name; and not only has
this tisli, in the form of food, traveled nearly all over the world, but the living embryos of the
California Salmon have been transported to England, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark,
Russia, Australia, and New Zealand, so that there is probably no one fish inhabiting a limited
locality which is known over the world in so many different places as the California Salmon.

This magnificent fish is deserving of its career. If splendid proportions, of unsurpassed vigor
and spirit, it has no equal in external attractiveness among the race of fishes, except its own cousins
of the Atlantic and other oceans, while as regards the quality of its flesh and its marvelous abun-
dance in its habitat, it has but few equals in the world. As to the quality of its flesh, it closely
resembles the highly-prized Salmon, Salmo salar, of Great Britain and the Atlantic coast of
North America, which has no superior, and as to its abundance I need only say that nearly two
hundred million pounds have been caught in the Columbia River alone during the last six years,
without producing, according to the most recent testimony of the Columbia fishermen, any serious
diminution of the river's stock.

DEVELOPMENT. The Salmon begins life as a bird does, in an egg. When the egg first leaves
the parent fish it is about one-fourth of an inch in diameter and of an orange tint. In a few days
there can be seen in the egg a fine dark line, which is the first visible beginning of the future
salmon. In nineteen days, in water at 55 Fahrenheit, the black pigment of the eye logins to show
through the translucent shell. In thirty-five days in the same water the young Salmon is hatched.
When it first emerges from the shell it is about an inch long, and carries under its body in a little
round sac the yolk of the egg it came from, on which it lives by absorption for about a month
longer, till its mouth is sufficiently completed to take food and its other organs to dispose of the
food it takes. When it first hatches it is a clumsy-looking and an awkwardly-moving object,
being about as graceful and efficient in its attempts to swim like a flsh as a human beginner's
attempts are to ride a bicycle. After it has lived in its sac a week or two it develops a disposition
to dive and hide under something, which it does with a pertinacity which is both characteristic of
the full-grown Salmon and prophetic of the tenacity of purpose it will show in ascending its
breeding rivers to spawn. This irresistible instinct to dive and hide takes it still deeper under
the gravel and rocks in the bed of the river which formed its birth-place, and it stays here in the
crevices of the rocks and gravel, as snug as possible, until the sac of food which nature
started it in life with is gone, and it is obliged to work for a living or starve. It would not be safe
for the little helpless creature now to venture out of the rocks and gravel where it was born, for it
would undoubtedly pay for its rashness by becoming food, while yet alone, for the larger fishes
above. So like the early Christians in the catacombs, it spends a large portion, if not all, of its
earlier life in or close by the under-world where it was born. As it gets larger it ventures out and
31 v


takes its chances for life in the world of waters above it, usually, I think, going up some brook or
keeping near some rocks, or close iusiiore where it can quickly retreat to a place of safety when
alarmed. It feeds now voraciously on whatever it can find in the way of smaller fishes and insects
and other auiiual life in the water, and in a few mouths, probably not over six or seven, it joins
the host of its comrades, of about the same size, which are preparing to go to sea, and forming a
school which, without doubt, gathers myriads of recruits as it proceeds, it hastens with all its
might down the stream. It is now a beautiful silvery fish from four to six inches long, and in a
1V\\ days finds itself in the midst of the allurements and dangers of the great unknown ocean
which it was so eager to seek.

Strange as it uii y seem, very little, almost nothing in fact, is known of its ocean history.

We know that the Salmon leave the mouths of the rivers at stated times and return to their rivers

at other stated times, but where they go, or how they fare, or what motives guide their course in

their mysterious ocean sojourns, no one knows. From analogies derived from our knowledge of
the history of the Atlantic Salmon, we suppose that they go into deep water when they leave the
rivers, and seek the best feeding places they can find, but that is about all one can say of their
ocean history. The few facts that we know of this portion of their existence are pretty much
confined to the following:

They are found to have deep-sea fish in their stomachs when they first make their appearance
near enough to the mouths of the rivers to be captured, which points to the deep sea as their ocean
feeding ground. They are also caught by the fishermen at Monterey Bay, which shows that they
go as far south as Monterey, but does not show, what some claim, that the course of their migration
is southward, for there may be hundreds of unknown places to the north where they could be
caught if the fishermen were there. It only proves that some California Salmon go south to
Monterey. One thing more is known about their ocean life, and that is that they are often caught
with marks of seals' and sea-lions' teeth upon them, which shows that they are preyed upon in the
sea by these enemies, though, perhaps, it is only in their journey to the rivers' mouths that they
have to run the gauntlet of seals and sea-lions, for they probably have a capacity for standing
deeper water than their just mentioned enemies.

THK RIVEE ASCENT. But if their ocean history is little known, their inland career, if I may
use the expression, is interesting enough to make up for it. From the moment the Salmon enters
the river, which it is sure to seek once in one or two years, its progress is one of interest. It first
proceeds, at its leisure, to the head of tide-water. Here it stops awhile and seems to play about
between the fresh and salt water. Whether it shrinks from encountering the sudden change from
salt water to fresh, which is probably the cause of its dallying, or for other causes, it usually spends
two weeks or more hovering about the border line between sea water and river water. When it
has overcome its apparent repugnance to making the change to fresh water, it makes a rapid
charge up the river for the clear gravelly streams which its instinct or sixth sense tells it to seek.
Now, paradoxical or unreasonable as it may seem, it stops eating. If it is caught a short distance
above the head of the tide, the undigested remains of what it ate iu the salt sea water are some-
times found iu its stomach, but after that nothiug, absolutely nothing, is ever fouud inside of the
California Salmon to show that it has eaten a particle of food in fresh water. As a proof of this
statement I may mention that out of a great many thousand specimens that have been examined
no food has been iu the stomachs of any.

After the Salmon cross over the line into the fresh water above them they begin a strange and
almost inexplicable journey. In the case at least of the Salmon that go up the McCloud River,
they begin a journey which is a long fast, and ends only in death. If they could be credited with


a knowledge of what lies before them, none of the martyrs of Christendom could elaim greater
merit than these devoted Salmon that march on unflinchingly to inevitable death. From the time
the Salmon leave the border land, so to speak, of tidewater, they pursue their upward con me
towards the rivers' sources with an inflexible pertinacity. Nothing can now check their upward
career, except an obstacle positively insurmountable, and nothing whatever can make them turn
back. They steadily pursue their way through the deeper and stiller waters of the lower portions
of the rivers. They dash furiously up the rapids, halting awhile usually before they enter them
to recruit their strength, and continue to rush on and on through the swiftest, shallowest, and
roughest waters until they reach suitable places for depositing their spawn. The earliest runs,
that is, those that enter the rivers first, usually go farthest up the stream. Those that come in next
seem to take their places belo^v them, and so on down the river, so that there is a series of sets of
spawning lislies, extending from the head of the river down as far as suitable spawning grounds
are to be found ; the set highest up the river spawning first, and so on down the river in regular
order. If the Salmon on their way up a river meet with anything that frightens them, like a
bridge for instance, they usually stop and cautiously examine it until they are satisfied that they
can risk the venture, and then they all together, as if by a given signal, make a swift rush past it.
When they come to a fall they show more perseverance than Robert Brace's famous spider, for
they try innumerable times to jump it, and never give it up until they have found it to be a
hopeless case and are completely worn out with the exertion.

I said nothing can turn them back. When thoroughly frightened and panicked, however,
they act like stampeded cattle and can be driven down the river in droves. The Indians take
advantage of this weakness of the Salmon in one of their methods of capturing them. They
build a trap nearly across a river that is not too deep for the purpose, and then great numbers of
them wading into the stream a mile or two above the traps form a line across the river, and with
sticks, poles, and branches of trees, use their utmost exertions to frighten the Salmon, till at last
the fish, too astounded and panic-stricken to know what they are about, turn around, and heading
down the river, rash with all their speed into the traps that are waiting for them.

In their course up the river it does not discourage them if the water is shallow. They will
push on where the water does not cover their backs, and crowd together in doing so, till, as some
one has jokingly remarked, they hardly leave room for the water.

There is something amazing about these pilgrimages of theirs up the rivers. The wonder is
not so much that the Salmon go without food for so long a time the black bass does the
same nor that they make such great exertions in getting up the rivers, for other creatures
make greater exertions in getting their food, but the marvel is in the combination of these two
facts, viz, in their making these exhausting efforts without taking any food to keep up their
strength. It seems incredibly contradictory to nature's laws of life and offers-a puzzling problem
to biologists to discover where the fuel comes from which does this immense amonnt of work,
accompb'shed by the migratory Salmon between leaving tide water and completing the season's

SPEED OP ASCENT. Their rate of progress up the rivers varies between very wide limits.
The earlier runs are the longest time on their way up the river. The latest runs make the journey
most quickly. The fish seem to regulate their speed according to the forwardness of their eggs.
When their eggs are very small or almost wholly undeveloped, as is the case with the earliest
runs that is, those that enter the mouth of the rivers first they seem to be in no hurry, but
loiter along as they please, and probably spend a great deal of time between the ocean and the
fresh-water line; but when their eggs are nearly ripe, as is the case with the Inter runs, they


advance as if they had no time to lose, as indeed they have not, and hasten, apparently at the top
of their speed, to their spawning destinations. This is illustrated by the fact that it is six or seven
mouths before the early runs of the Sacramento Salmon, which enter the Golden Gate in November
and December, reach the sources of the river at Mount Shasta, four hundred miles from the river's

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 82 of 146)