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distinguished from the Lake Trout by the Indians and fishermen of Lake Superior, who often see
them side by side, it seems possible that it may claim a sub-specific rank. It was first described
in 1850, in Agassiz's "Lake Superior," 1 under the name Salmo siscowet. Herbert, in his "Fish and
Fishing," p. 17, gives the following description of its peculiarities :

"This fish, like the former species, came frequently under my eye during my late northern
tour; and I rejoice in the possession of a barrel of him in his pickled state, which I procured at
the Sault Ste. Marie, on the strength of which I can recommend him to all lovers of good eating
as the very best salt fish that exists in the world. He is so fat and rich that when eaten fresh he
is unsufferably rank and oily, but when salted and broiled, after being steeped for forty-eight
hours in cold water, he is not surpassed or equaled by any fish with which I am acquainted. Since
my return he has been tasted by very many gentlemen of my acquaintance, and by no one of them
has he been pronounced anything less than superlative. His habits closely resemble those of the
'Namaycush,' and, like him, I cannot learn that he ever takes the fly or is ever taken by trolling.
I do not, however, believe that either of these methods is often resorted to for his capture,
although there are many scientific fly-fishers about the Sault, and the Brook Trout of those waters
are principally taken with large and gaudy lake-flies. The average weight of the 'Siskawitz' does
not exceed four or five pounds, though he is taken up to seventeen. His excellence is so perfectly
understood and acknowledged in the lake country that he fetches double the price per barrel of
his coarser big brother, the 'Namaycush'; and he is so greedily sought for there that it is difficult
to procure him, even at Detroit, and impossible almost at Buffalo."

Milner states that the Siscowet lives at depths greater than forty fathoms, and feeds chiefly
upon a species of fresh-water sculpin. It spawns in September in deep water. The average size is
about four and one-half pounds. Two five-pound fish yielded respectively 2,796 and 3,120 eggs.
This species, like the Lake Trout, is for the most part taken in gill-nets.

Mr. George Barnston, of Montreal, Canada, formerly of the Hudson Bay Company, who made
an extensive natural-history collection on Lake Superior, claims that there is a third species of
Lake Trout, different from the Siscowet, on the south shore of Lake Superior, called the "Mucqua"
or "Bear Trout."

Mr. Robert Ormsby Sweeny, chairman of the Minnesota fish commission, in a letter dated
Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 19, 1880, conveys the following information concerning the Sisco-
wet, which is more precise and comprehensive than anything hitherto published:

"I have not only examined the Siskowet carefully myself and compared them with Agassiz's
formulas, but asked and consulted with traders, voyagers, Indians and half-bloods, and fishermen,
in regard to their habits, size, color, weight, etc., and all come to the same conclusion. They are
not possibly a 'Namaycush' and should never be considered the same fish. The name 'Sis-ko-wet'
is an Ojibewa word, and means literally 'cooks itself.' It is so fat that you can set fire to it and
cook it by itself. The fish when fresh is most deliciously rich, tasting like the belly of a mackerel,
.UK! with salt and potatoes to the hungry fisherman or hunter is a complete menu. The 'Namay-

P. 333, plate 1, fig. 3.

SWKF.NY ON TIII: siscoxvKT. 497

r is dry and lacks delicacy, and cannot be even fried without pork fat or lard. Some years
ago 1 spent a winter at tin- head of Lake Superior, and our diet most of the time was fish and pota-
toes; only twice din-inn the winter did we have fresh beef. At almost every meal and every day
we had lish in some of its numberless styles of preparation, and you may be sure 1 became <|iiito
familiar not only with the taste, but the appearance of both Namayeusli and Siseowet. As an
edible flish) the two are no nearer alike than fresh mackerel and sucker, but, of course, that would
not be conclusive if ihere were no other differences.

"The amateur is likely to confound the Namayeusli with the Siseowet, but when the differences
are once pointed out, no confusion of the two again arises. The fishermen recognize them before
taken from the water when hauling in the nets; even the Indian children know them at a glance.
The head of the Siseowet is shorter and broader in proportion, eyes nearer the end of nose and are
ider apart; the whole osseous structure of the head lighter, more delicate and flexible, particularly
the sub niaxilliiries, which in the Namayeusli are heavy, rigid, and rounded. I intended to send you
some Namayeusli heads for comparison, but all of those procurable have had tongues and gills
removed, so that the heads are in consequence unnaturally compressed and their characteristic
appearance altered. The only variation from Agassiz's description that I find is in the lingual
teeth; sometimes there is a furrow or a groove in the tongue, and between the 'pair of lateral
rows' a V-shaped row is found, but this is so inconstant in occurrence as to be the exception. The
coloring varies in different specimens considerably, according to locality from whence taken. The
spots or markings are unlike those of the Namaycush, more even in size and shape, and more
decided and stronger in color, and I can clearly see in some specimens that the spots are compound or
an indistinct quincunx arrangement. The Nauiaycush spawn only in the fall, beginning in October.
We have just taken half a million eggs. The Siscowet, I am told by the fishermen and Indians,
are always spawning, or that ripe females are taken at all times of the year. At first I thought this
an exaggeration, but I find it so very universally reported and by reliable men that I give it
credence. They are very rarely found at the lower parts of the lake. They begin to be more
plentiful as La Pointe is reached and most plentiful along the north shores and Isle Koyale, but
still they are a rare tish, comparatively. If one barrel of Siscowet to fifteen Namayeusli are caught,
they are said to be very abundant. They are so much prized that they bring a higher price, and
it is rare that we get them here unless in winter time, when they are frozen and brought down
fresh. A peculiarity I have noticed is, in winter when pulled out on the ice they puff up like a
pouter pigeon full of air around the pectoral region, and when frozen can be instantly distinguished
at a glance. They rarely exceed thirty pounds in weight and thirty six inches in length, I am told
by those very familiar with the fishes of the lake. On the same authority 1 learn that Namaycush
reach ninety pounds' weight and six feet in length sometimes. I have just had a talk with a man
from the lake, and he says this season they are catching about five Siscowet to the one hundred
Namayeusli only. Another fact: Siscowet are never caught alone, but always among Nainaycnsh;
but sometimes no Siscowet are seen or caught for weeks, and then they appear and disappear
without disturbing the movements of Namaycush. You will find it impossible to keep Siscowet in
alcohol, but I think the camphor water and glycerine will do it. I have succeeded with salmon
thus, although in alcohol they fall to pieces as if they had been boiled."


The following chapter is a reprint of Mr. (mode's essa\ upon the Speckled Trout, in Scribner's
"Game Fishes of the United States":

The Speckled Trout must have been discovered at a very early day by the first settlers of
32 P


North America, yet, strangely enough, the only allusion to it in colonial times is in the 'Remon-
strance of New Netherlaud,' addressed by that colony to the States General in 1049. It was first
brought before the world of science in 1814, when Professor Mitchill named it Salnw fontinalis, a
name which lias become almost classical, and will be regretfully set aside lor the more recent one,
SaJrelinus fontinalis.

DISTRIBUTION. The Speckled Trout has its home between latitudes 32 and 55, in the lakes
and streams of the Atlantic watershed, near the sources of a few rivers flowing into the Mississippi
and the Gulf of Mexico, and in some of the southern affluents of Hudson's Bay. Its range is limited
by the western foothills of the Alleghanies, and nowhere extends inore than three hundred miles
from the coast, except about the Great Lakes, in the northern tributaries of which Trout abound.
At the south they inhabit the headwaters of the Chattahoochee, in the southern spurs of the Georgia
Alleghanies, and tributaries of the Catawba in North Carolina. They also occur in the great
islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence Anficosti, Prince Edward's, Cape Breton, and Newfound-
land. Temperature is of course the chief factor in determining the distribution of the species, and
since few observations have been made in the field, our conclusions must needs rest on a study of
the species in domestication, an instructive though not entirely reliable method. The experience
of Messrs. Green, Stone, and Ainsworth, indicates that Trout cannot thrive in water warmer than
68 Fahrenheit, though they have been known to live in swift-running water at 75. Fishes hatched
in artificial ponds may probably be inured to greater warmth than wild fishes can endure, and it is
doubtful whether the latter are often found in water warmer than 60 or 65. At the Oquossoc
and Cold Spring hatching establishments the water ranges from 45 to 49 throughout the year.
Below 30 Trout are torpid and refuse to feed, and instances are on record of their reviving after
being frozen stiff'. The remarkable variations in the habits of Trout in different regions are easier
to understand in the light of these facts. The identity of the Canadian Sea Trout and the Brook
Trout is still denied by many, though the decision of competent authorities has settled the question
beyond doubt. This being admitted, let us compare the habits of the Sea Trout and the Salmon.
Both inhabit the ocean a part of the year; both ascend rivers to spawn; both change their sea-
garb of silvery gray for the gorgeous crimsons, purples, and bronzes of the pairing season. Some
Salmon, detained by barriers or by their own preference, become permanent denizens of fresh
water, where they reproduce their kind, relinquishing their gray coloration, and assuming a brighter
dress peculiar to themselves. Does not the analogy still hold out, and do not our Brook Trout
correspond with the Land-locked Salmon? In the Long Island region Trout live in salt water in
the coldest mouths, when its temperature is below 50. North of the Bay of Fundy, at the
entrance to which the water barely registers 50 in midsummer, they inhabit the ocean abundantly,
except at the spawning time. South of New York the coast reaches of the rivers appear to present
a barrier of warm water which the Salmon do not seek to penetrate from without, and which
immures the Trout in their homes in the hill country as closely as would a mountain wall.

When Trout have no access to the sea they still contrive to avoid a change of temperature
with the seasons. In midsummer they lie in the bottoms of lakes cooled by springs, in the chan-
nels of streams, or in deep pools, hirking behind rocks and among roots. In spring and early
summer they feed industriously among the rapids. At the approach of cold weather in autumn
they hasten to the clear shallow water near the heads of the streamlets. It is at this time that
they deposit their eggs in little nests in the gravel which the mother-fish have shaped with careful
industry, fanning out the finer particles with their tails, and carrying the large ones in their
mouths. After the eggs are laid, the parent fish covers them with gravel, and proceeds to exca-
vate another neat. The same nests are said to be revisited by the schools year after year.


SPAWNING IIAIUTS. Of tin- Trout Mr. Milncr writes: "His whole wooing is the most
polite attention ;m<l the gentlest of persuasions. Ho moves continually to and fro before his mate,
parading his bright colors, while she rests quietly, with her head up stream, vibrating her flns
just sullicicutly to keep her from floating down. At Waterville, Wisconsin, 1 had the opportunity
of watching their habits. A pair of large Trout had selected a spot near the bank of the stream,
where the water was about ten inches deep. The female had fanned the gravel with her tail and
anal lin until it was clivm and white, and had succeeded in excavating a cavity. They were fright-
ened away as 1 came to the edge of the bank. Concealing myself behind a willow bush, 1 watched
their movements. The male returned first, reconnoitering the vicinity, and, satisfying himself
that the coast was clear. s|>ent a half hour in endeavoring to coax the female to enter the nest.
She, resting half concealed in the weeds, a few feet away, seemed unwilling to be convinced that
the danger was gone; and he, in his full, bright colors, sailed backward and forward from the nest
to his mate, rubbing himself against her, and swimming off again in a wide circle close along the
bank, as if to show her how far he could venture without finding danger. She finally entered the

The spawning season begins iu New England in October, continuing from three to six
months, ami during this peiiod the fish should be protected by stringent laws. Mr. Livingston
Stone observed that in his |M)nds at Charlestown, New Hampshire, spawning began October 12,
and ended early in December; at Seth Green's establishment, near Rochester, New York, it began
on the same day, and continued until March. At the former station spring water, with a uniform
temperature of 47, was in use, while at Caledonia the eggs were kept in brook water, which is
colder in midwinter, retarding development.

Tront eggs are usually three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, although varying greatly, and
are colorless, red, or orange-lined. The quantity yielded by a fish is in direct proportion to its
size, the average being from tour to six hundred. Mr. Stone took sixty from a half-ounce fish, and
eighteen hundred from one which weighed a pound. The eggs having been laid, their time of
development depends strictly on the temperature of the water. According to Mr. Ainsworth, they
will hatch in one hundred and sixty five days with the mercury at 37, one hundred and three at
41, eighty-one at 44, fifty-six at 48, forty-seven at 50, thirty-two at 54, etc. Seth Green's rule
is that at 50 they hatch in fifty days, every degree warmer or colder making a difference of five
days. After the eggs are batched the yolk sac is absorbed in from thirty to eighty days, and the
young fish begin to lead an independent life. Now the rate of growth is determined by the amount
of food consumed. Some two-year-old fish weigh a pound, some half an ounce, as Mr. Stone's
experiments show. In domestication growth is more even. Mr. Ainswortli's estimate allows an
average of two ounces for yearlings, a quarter of a pound for two-year-olds, half a pound for three-
year-olds, and a pound for four-year-olds. Wild fish often grow much faster. One of a large
number of Rangely Trout, tagged by Mr. George Shepard Page in 1871, and caught in 1873, was
found to have grown in two years from half a pound to two pounds and one-quarter. All two-
year-old Trout and some yearlings can reproduce their kind.

SIZE. The sixe attained varies in different regions. Brook Trout seldom exceed two or
three jtonnds, and a five-pounder is thought a monster. Saint Lawrence Sea Trout usually weigh
two and one-half pounds, though they are not seldom caught weighing six or eight. A famous,
locality for large tisli is the headwaters of the Androscoggin Kiver in North western .Maine. Pro-
fessor Agassiz in 1860 obtained one of them which weighed eleven pounds. The well-known speci-
men taken by Mr. George Shepard Page in 1867, in Rangely Lake, weighed ten jtounds after three


days' captivity, and was thought by experts to have los' a pound and a hall' in transit from Mimic
to New Jersey, where it died. Its length w;is thirty inches, and its circumference eighteen.
Another, from Mooselncmaguntic, weighed eight and one-half pounds, and measured twenty -live
inches. The Nepigon River claims still heavier fish. Ilallock mentions one said to have weighed
seventeen pounds.

VARIATION. There are many local races of Trout; the same stream often contains dissimilar
forms, and those bred in different hatcheries may easily be distinguished. Whoever has seen the
display ut the April opening of the trout season at Mr. Blaekford's, in Fulton Market, New York,
can understand the jKtssibility of almost infinite variety in form and tint within the limits of one
species. Fish inhabiting swift streams have lithe, trim bodies and long, powerful tins; those in
quiet lakes are stout, short finned, and often overgrown. In cool, limpid brooks, with sunlight,
much oxygen, and stimulating food, their skins are transparent and their hues vivid; in dark, slug-
gish pools they are somber and slimy, and are called " Black Trout." Agassiz noticed that those of
the same river varied accordingly as they haunted its sunny or shady side. They have the power
of changing their tint at will. The influence of the nerves over color was neatly demonstrated by
M. Pouchet, who produced a white side in a Trout by destroying the eye of that side. In the sea,
for reasons unexplained, both Trout and Salmon lose their gay colors and become uniform silvery
gray, with black spots. In the sea, too, the flesh assumes a reddish color, due no doubt to the
absorption of the pigments of crabs an.! shrimps eaten by the fish, lied flesh is also found in
-nine inland races.

CHARACTERISTICS. Our Trout are strong feeders, but are dainty rather than greedy. They
consume moderate quantities of food, and it suits their capricious appetites to seize their prey
while living. They take objects at the surface with an upward leap instead of downward from
above like the Salmon. Of all foods they prefer the worms washed out of the bank, then gayly
colored flies, water insects, little fishes, larva;, and the eggs of fishes. Those in domestication are
usually fed on the heart, liver, and lungs of animals killed for the market.

Their daintiness, shyness, cunning, and mettle render them favorites of tlie angler, who lures
them into his creel by many sly devices. The most skillful fisherman is he who places before them
least obtrusively the bait which their momentary whims demand, or a clever imitation thereof.
Trout are always in season from April to August, and in some States for a longer period.

CULTURE. They have always been the pets of fish-culturists; indeed, the experiments of Dr.
Garlick and Professor Ackley, who inaugurated in 1853 the practice of this art in America, were
made with this fish. They become thoroughly domesticated, and are as much under the control
of their owner as his horses and cattle. They have been acclimatized in England since 1808, and
are always on exhibition in Frank Buckland's museum of fish-culture at South Kensington. The
"Domesticated Trout," by Livingston Stone, and "Trout Culture," by Seth Green, are books which
give full information concerning the practical details of trout-breeding.

The Trout can scarcely be considered a market fish; still, about five thousand pounds of
them, mostly domesticated, are brought to New York market each year, principally in April and


Like the Red-spotted Trout of North America, the Saibling belongs to the division of the same
family known to the English as "Chars," a group confined, for the most part, to fresh- water lakes
and streams, and distinguished from the true Salmons by a peculiar arrangement of teeth on the

THE SAll'.UXG. 501

little triangular bone in the roof of tbu mouth known to anatomists ns the " vomer," from its
resemblance, in shape to a plow^li.nr.

The Chars are also distinguished from the Salmon by their very small scales, ami usually by
numerous crimson or orange colored spots, which are especially conspicuous in the breeding season.
The Saibling is, in its habits, perhaps more similar to the well-known Blue-backed Trout or Oquasrn
Trout of Kangely Lake, Maine, than to our Brook Trout. The Chars of Kurope are, as a rule, lake
tishes like the Saibling. On the other hand, the Chars of North America are usually found in
streams and rivers, although the Oquassa Trout, just mentioned, and the Lake or Mackinaw Trout,
which is apparently nothing but a giant Char, together with the closely related form the "Sisco-
wef," resemble in their habits the Chars of Kurope.

VARIATION. There is probably no group of lishes in which individual specimens and commu-
nities inhabiting certain areas of water show more tendency to variation in color and form than they
do in the salmon family. Dr. Giinther has very justly remarked: "We know of no other group of
tishes which otters so many difficulties to the ichthyologist with regard to the distinction of the
species as well as to certain points in their life-history. Although this may be partly due to the
unusual attention which has been given to their study, it has revealed rather a greater amount of
unexplained fact than a satisfactory solution of the questions raised. The almost infinite varia-
tions of these tishes are dependent upon the age, sex, and sexual development, food, and the
properties of the water."

No one who has ever sevu the remarkable display of Brook Trout at the annual trout opening
at Blackford's in New York can fail to have been impressed by the wonderful d i tie re i ices which
exist between individuals of the same species from different localities differences which lead an
untrained observer, or even an ichthyologist who has had no experience in the study of this group-,
to decide at once that several species were represented among the hundreds of specimens lying OD
the marble slabs.

The tendency of modern ichthyology, with its more exact methods, and with access to
better and more comprehensive material for research than was formerly available, has led to the
rejection of many of the nominal species formerly recognized. Out of the forty-three species of
Salmon ten years ago l>elieved to exist in North America, only thirteen or fourteen are now
recognized. In Giinther s catalogue of "The Fishes in the British Museum," published in 18M,
thirty-one species of Chars were mentioned, while in his lately published "Study of Fishes" the
same author ventures to enumerate only thirteen, all others being regarded as insufficiently
characterized. In his treatment of the Chars of Europe, Giinther is, notwithstanding, one of
the most conservative writers, for he catalogues eight species of these fish, while most other
European students, following the lead of the great German ichthyologist, von Siebold, regarded
them as members of one polymorphic species. As for American ichthyologists, our sympathies are
naturally with the school of vou Siebold. It is difficult to believe, in the light of our own obser-
vations upon the salmon family in America, that every little lake or group of lakes in Europe
possesses a well-characterized species of tish, and for the present it seems safer to consider the
Chars of Europe to be of a single well-marked species which undergoes numerous variations
under the influence of changes in temperature, elevation, fowl, and light, and that the Saibling of
Bavaria and Austria is one and the same thing with the "Ombre Chevalier" of France and
Switzerland, "Salmarino" of Northern Italy, the "Torgoch" of Wales, the fresh-water "Herring"
of Ireland, the "Char" of England and Scotland, the "Roding" of Sweden, and the "Kulmund"
of Norway.


DISTRIBUTION. This fish, whether it be regarded as a single species or several related species,
is distributed over all of Northwestern Europe, aud possibly also over a portion of Asia, although,
since the Asiatic representatives of the genus have not been sufficiently studied, it is impossible
yet to make this generalization. They are, emphatically, cold-water fishes, thriving at a temper-
ature little above the freezing point, and in their period of greatest vigor and perfection at the
approach of winter, as is indicated by the fact that at this time their spawning takes place.

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 85 of 146)