Robert Barnwell Roosevelt.

Superior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc online

. (page 11 of 18)
Online LibraryRobert Barnwell RooseveltSuperior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc → online text (page 11 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" No, but he says it was your father's fault, at


least he does not say so directly, but what he does
say gives me that impression. Just think, your
father threw water over mine, and he was all mud
and dirt Avhen he reached home."

" Impossible," said Harry, with a laugh, " he must
have fallen overboard."

" Oh, no, and your father would not ride home
with him."

" How did he get home then ? he certainly would
not have walked by preference four miles, on so hot
a day as this. Imagine his half killing himself to
deprive a person of his company who wished to be
rid of him."

" Oh, it must be ; father was so angry, he told me
I should not see you again."

This response was illogical, and went far to dis-
prove itself, but was enforced by her bursting into
tears. " I have been crying ever since," she sobbed.

Harry consoled her, sure of her affection ; and
knowing that parents are a slight affair against
affection, he brought back smiles to her lips by his
comments on her account of her father's statement,
and promised her it would come right if she only
kept on obeying as scrupulously as she was then
doing. She punished him for this by flying away
in her former merry manner, leaving him to seek
an explanation at home.

" Father," he said, on arriving there and seeking
him out, "how spruce you look ; that is your best
suit. Are you going to pay a visit ? "

"I believe not, this evening; my other clothes


were soiled while we were fishing." Strictly true,
but not all the truth.

"The deacon across the way came home rather
muddy, they say. What hick did you have ? Did
it rain while you were out ? There was not a cloud
to be seen in New York."

The father felt it would be useless to evade the
question, and related the whole story, bearing kind-
ly the good-natured comments of his son, between
whom and himself there was a feeling of friendship
as well as of affection.

" And now, father," Harry began, after the recital
was over, " and now how are you going to make up ?
You will have to make the first step, because you
were not in the wrong."

"Or, more truly, because my son loves the
daughter of the person who has ill-used me. Are
you not angry at my being left to walk home this
hot day?"

" I should be, if that w^agon had not come along ;
everything depends on that wagon. You know it
was much j^leasanter than riding with an angry

" But then the dust ; my clothes are ruined ; a
new suit will diminish your patrimony, which is not

" Then I'll make you a present of a splendid suit
of black on my wedding day. I am rich, at least in
expectation, being a partner and no longer a clerk."

" To tell the truth," continued the father, drop-
ping the tone of badinage, " I did feel ashamed of


myself, and was arranging a little plan of reconcilia-
tion, when our servant girl brought word that Mr.
Goodlow had forbidden her drawing water from the

Harry looked at his father with a surprised,
troubled, and slightly angry look. The well was on
Mr. Goodlow's land, but had been used from time
immemorial by both families, as there was none other
near. He began to think the matter was more seri-
ous than he had at first supposed.

"I felt this to be unchristian," continued his
father, "and could not bring myself to make the
first advance after it."

"I can hardly believe the story, and will cross-
question the girl," rephed Harry.

It turned out to be true, however ; the girl had
been going to the well, as Deacon Goodlow descend-
ed, " all mud," as she described it, from his buggy,
and he seeing her at first seemed inclined to avoid a
meeting, but suddenly changing his mind told her
angrily never to come there for water again. With
all due allowance for kitchen exaggeration, the fiict
could scarcely be disputed, and Harry suddenly
burst forth :

" We will dig a well of our own ; I have always
hated dependence for anything, even on her father,
and then we'll see — "

What they would see was not very clear, except
that they would see the well built, for Hariy, with
his usual unpetuosity, at once set about making the
necessary arrangements, his new position enabhng


liim to supply the requisite means. He engaged the
men and selected the spot that very evening.

Next day the well was commenced and advanced
rapidly towards completion, the water for family use
heing carted in the mean time from a distance in
barrels. What the deacon over the way must have
thought when he saw the excavation progressing
and the water cart regularly every morning passing
in front of his door, no one knows ; for not a word
did he say. He could not have had an easy conscience
nor a pleasant time, however, for Harry had not put
his foot on the premises, and consequently Katy's
eyes were almost as full of water as the barrel.

It was a long way down to the region of water,
and if truth, as is generally believed, lies so deep,
there is no wonder it is rarely reached ; but the
effort was at length successful, and when the liquid
veiu was struck the crystal fluid proved plentiful,
half filling the deep well.

The water carts ceased their journey, the work-
men were discharged. Deacon Hartley had a well of
his own, Harry felt independent ; but there was
somethins: else wanted. The latter had not exactlv
evaded Katy, who he knew was pining to see him,
but, feeling his pride hurt, had not taken as great
pains as he might to have thrown himself accidental-
ly in her way. She had felt this neglect, and now
when his pride was satisfied hers was aroused, and
she kept herself carefully in-dooi'S.

It took a week to build the well, and a week had
elapsed since — that was two weeks of misery, all


because the fish did not bite as they should have
done, and neglected scientific aUurements for less
artistic attractions. Deacon Goodlow was misera-
ble, because Katy looked unhappy and reproachful,
occasionally enforcing her reproaches with a sob or
two. Deacon Hartley was miserable, partly because
he was ashamed of himself and partly because it
went against his whole nature to quarrel ; Katy was
miserable, because her lover had neglected her, and
she had had no chance to disobey her fixther's in-
junctions not to see him; Harry was the most
miserable of the party now that the excitement of
achieving his independence was over, because he
missed the presence of his lady-love, and knew in his
heart he had vented a little of his anger by neglect^
ing her.

Harry was pining for her now in a much more
rampant way than she had previously pined for him,
and had revolved twenty impracticable schemes of
restoring matters to their condition previous to the
war. The inevitable laws of nature, however, that
had caused all these mental wounds, helped to bring
them to a crisis and finally to effect a cure. It was
Sunday morning, and Harry had resolved twenty
times he would join Katy on her way to church, for
she went before her father to teach a class of Sun-
day scholars, and twenty times resolved that he
would not. His father had convinced himself as
many times that neighborly ill-will should be cor-
rected at a sacrifice even of a little pride, and as
often that he could not make the first advance ;


when a small voice was heard at the door, and elec-
trified them both. It was not a sweet voice nor the
tone rich, in fact it might be called harsh and unre-
fined, but the sound was pleasanter to Harry's ears
than any he had heard in two weeks. The voice
belonged to the extra help of Mr. Goodlow's house-

" Please, sir, master said I mussent, but could we
have a little water from your well ? "

Harry and his father gazed at each other and then
at the girl in wonder.

"Please, sir," she continued, seeing their bewil-
dered air, and addressing herself to Harry in an in-
jured tone, "our well has run itself dry. Ever
since you built yours the water has been getting
lower, and last night it all went. Master says it's
on account of the elevation, but I say it's because
yours is further down hill."

" Do you mean to say you have no water at all ? "
said Harry.

" But I do, then, unless you call mud water ; we
managed to make tea last night by tying a new bit
on to the rope ; but wasn't it bitter and gritty,
though ? You ought to have tasted it ; but to-day
it's as thick as paste, and you know we cannot send
a water cart on Sunday."

" How did you manage for washing ? "

" That's how it comes we have no water for break-
fast. We had saved up a little that had settled
the worst down to the bottom, but we did not have
enough to wash, and Miss Katy, when she tried to


use the well water, came out all streaked, and used
up all that we had put by ; because, as she said, she
would rather go without her breakfast than go dirty.
I guess I wouldn't, though."

" But why did you not send to us before ? " said
Mr. Hartley, compassionately.

" Why, because master thought as he had ordered
away your girl, you would do the like by me ; un-
less he begged pardon, or something of that sort,
and he did not feel equal to that after your throw-
ing him overboard the day you went fishing."

" He surely never said I threw him overboard ? "

" No, but I guessed it ; how could he 'a got so
wet otherwise, and why was he so mad ? "

" Well, you guessed all wrong ; I did nothing of
the sort, and hope you have told no one such a silly

" Never mind that now," interrupted Harry.
" Mr. Goodlow is waiting for his breakfast ; so take
as much water as you want or you will be too late."

" Give my respects to Mr. Goodlow," added his
father, " and say he is welcome to water from our
well at any time, and that I regret it has injured

" Yes, and you can add that father will call on
him this evening, and now be off; I'll draw the
water for you." This was very polite in Harry, but
respect for woman, even in the humblest ranks, is
ever the attribute of an American, and — it is possi-
ble Harry may have wished to send a message to
Katy. " Leastways," as the girl would have said^


Katy was hardly out of sight of her front gate when
she heard a step she well knew.

" Oh, Harry," she said, turning a pair of sorrow-
ful eyes upon him, that shot reproachful torments
into his very heart. " How could you ? "

The sentence was incomplete in its construction,
but complete enough in its effects ; it Avas enforced
with a little sob and made Harry about as con-
temptible a wretch, in his own esteem, as if she had
rehearsed a set speech of an hour's duration, depict-
ing his enormities.

" I am so sorry, Katy. Do you forgive me, T have
been wretched ? " This was a good tack, and being
borne out by his appearance and evident contrition,
went a long way towards securing his pardon.

What exactly was said, the tones being low and
the faces close together, will never be discovered,
but light came back to Katy's eyes, color to her
cheeks, and a smile, if nothing more, to her lips ;
and ere the church was reached a happier couple
could not be found within it. Joy is doubly blessed
if preceded by sorrow, and only those who have
known its want can appreciate happiness.

That Sunday evening, as had been his custom,
unbroken for many years till the last two weeks,
Harry presented himself at Mr. Goodlow's gate and
entered unannounced. It can hardly be said he
was wholly undisturbed, but outwardly exhibited
perfect composure, prepared to meet and deter-
mined to exhaust the worst. Courage disjjels dan-
ger, and there was nothing and nobody to meet


more terrible than Katy herself. She was in splen-
did spirits, full of fun, rendered more touching and
gentle on account of the recent estrangement, and
charmed Harry with the renewal of her former
witchery. He gave himself up to the mere enjoy-
ment of her presence, following her every motion
with unwearying admiration, and never removing
his eyes from her loved form. He seemed as though
drinking through his eyes her graceful beauty, and
experienced all those charming sensations that love
alone bestows.

He had almost forgotten, basking in present joy
and dreaming hazily of future happiness, there was
an angry father in existence, when the latter gentle-
man appeared at the door. A gleam of surprise
crossed his features, but Harry at once stepped for-
ward and was in the act of boldly justifying his
presence, when he saw another figure in the door-
way — that of his own parent.

Mr. Goodlow slowly advanced, and extending his
hand frankly to Harry, said :

" I am glad to see you, and hope you will forget
the errors and weaknesses of humanity, and forgive
me the annoyance my foolish and unworthy quarrel
has caused."

"And you, Katy," said Mr, Hartley, "must do
the like by me ; we have been guilty of wrong, and
should only do worse by being ashamed to own it
before our children, whom our example is most
likely to affect."

Harry felt as though he had escaped from a build-


ing on fire, and at once recovering his elasticity, re-
plied :

" 'No 'y. in quarrelling Katy and I never intend to
follow any one's example. Do we, Katy ? "

" We only regret," she continued, evading his
gaze, "that a shadow should have come between
those we love so dearly."

" I hope, never to return," replied Mr. Goodlow,
" and that these weeks of folly and punishment may
not be lost upon us all ; but let us speak no more of

" We have something more serious still to men-
tion," resumed Mr. Hartley, gaily. " We have been
settling your wedding-day, and, Katy, you should be
very grateful, for I named an early one." He took
her affectionately in his arms, for she had always
been like a daughter, and kissed her warmly while
she hid her blushing face.

" That is right, father," burst forth Harry, enthu-
siastically. " I suppose you went on the j)rinciple,
' If 'tis well done, when 'tis done, 'twere well 'twere
done quickly.' "

"No, Harry, on an entirely different one," said
Mr. Goodlow, laughing heartily. " On the principle,
that ' All's well that ends well.' Though that is but
a dry joke, as far as we are concerned."



The subject of the protection of fish demands
the consideration of every' political economist, as
well as of every sportsman in our country, or we
shall soon be reduced to the condition of France, and
forced to repopulate our deserted streams and lakes
and furnish to the people, with great labor and at
high piice, one of their chief articles of food. In
olden times, during the epicurean days of Rome,
and later during the reign of the Catholic fast days,
the utmost attention was bestowed upon the preser-
vation, protection, and improvement of fish ; enor-
mous revenues were invested in immense tanks
where they were fattened, and different species were
transported to countries where they were unknown,
and domesticated in unaccustomed Avaters. With
the advent of the Roman Catholic religion, several
foreign varieties were introduced into England,
among others the fat carp and the lean pickerel ;
and fish ponds were invariably attached to monas-
teries and convents.

Although the religion that ordains fish-eating to
be fasting, having shrunk from its gigantic reach and
extent, is confined in our land to a small sect, and
the inhabitants of the waters are no longer a reli-
gious institution ; fish must always constitute a con-


siderable portion of the diet of the poor, and an
acceptable change, if not permanently agreeable, to
the rich. Whatever serves for food to the people,
above all to the lower class, deserves the attention
of the statesman, and any practice that will tend to
diminish its price demands the assistance of the
philanthropist. Consider if the price of fish were
suddenly to double, how far the injury would ex-
tend, and how much suffering w^ould follow. When
a gradual change takes place in the cost of any arti-
cle of food, man adapts himself to altered circum-
stances, and the loss, though equally great, is not so
perceptible as when the advance is sudden.

That the supply of this food can be exhausted,
and its quality easily reduced, is painfully apparent ;
streams in the neighborhood of New York that for-
merly were alive with trout are now totally desert-
ed. The Bronx, f mious alike for its historical asso-
ciations and its once excellent fishing, does not now
seem to hold a solitary trout, or indeed fish of any
kind. The shad that a few years ago swarmed up
the Hudson River in numbers incomputable, have
become scarce and quadrupled in price during the
last decade. Salmon, most nutritious and noblest
of fish, which in ancient days paid their yearly visits
in vast numbers, if early historians are to be be-
lieved, to our principal rivers as far south as the
Delaware, are at present taken nowhere to the
southward of Maine, and in but limited quantities
even in that wild region.

On every portion of our sea-coast, in spite of re-


plenishment from the mighty ocean, the same dimi-
nution is visible, while many of our confined inland
waters are absolutely depopulated. The insatiable
maw of New York market swallows alike the trout
from Maine, the bass from Lake Erie, or the white-
fish from the Sault Ste. Marie, while the parvenus
that have acquired sudden fortunes in that wonder-
ful city, endowed with the instincts of neither gen-
tlemen nor sportsmen, think it magnificent to devour
trout in Autumn and black bass in Spring, judging
by their extravagant price that they must be rare
and therefore good. The rapidity with which a
section of country can be fished out by energetic
pot-hunters where the law places inadequate re-
straint, aud often in spite of the law's restraint, has
been remarkably evidenced in the history of Sulli-
van County. When the Erie Railroad was still in-
complete, and the tide of explorers had just com-
menced to penetrate beyond Goshen, and only occa-
sional stragglers reached the land of jDromise a,nd
performance beyond Monticello ; the swamps were
alive with woodcock and the streams with trout.
But as the railroad advanced aud gave improved
facility of travel, so-called sportsmen poured over
the country in myriads, following up every rivulet
and ranging every swamp, killing without mercy
thousands of trout and hundreds of birds, boasting
of their baskets crowded to overflowing, and count-
ing a day's sport by the hundred ; till Bashe's Kill,
where the pearly-sided fish once dwelt abundantly,
was empty, and the broad Mongaup, the wild Calli-


coon, and even the joyous Beaver Kill, with its in-
numerable tributaries, were exhausted. The wood-
cock disappeared from the cold black mud of the
springy swamps, the trout no longer broke the sur-
face of the noisy rills of that picturesque region,
and the hunters and fishermen turned their atten-
tion and carried their clumsy rods, bait-hooks,
cheap guns, and case-hardened consciences, else-

So it has been and wall be everywhere, unless the
people and the real sportsmen take the matter in
hand ; the farmers, who are after all to be the salva-
tion of our institutions, lose by the destruction of
game one of the greatest attractions of their lands,
and are interested in preserving for themselves and
their city friends the wild dwellers in the lakes and
brooks from wanton and ruthless destruction. Law-
givers are concerned in the passage of proper laws on
account of public interest, and the increasing neces-
sity of cheap food that a rapidly, augmenting popu-
lation engenders. Sportsmen have the greatest
stake, for if they would retain for their old age and
leave to their children the best preserver of health,
a love of field sports, they must protect game-birds
and fish. They should discourage, by their conver-
sation and example, all infringement of the law or
any cruel or wasteful prosecution of what should be
sport. If they find a man who destroys, for the
purpose of destroying, they should not only shun
but expose him ; if they meet with a case of palpa-
ble infraction of the law, they should enforce punish-


ment ; by these means, and the enactment of judi-
cious statutes, the beautiful wild creatures that form
so pleasant an addition to the charms of country
life, may be preserved in undiminished numbers for
all time.

The first necessity, however, is that proper and
uniform enactments should be passed in every por-
tion of our extensive nationality. If the close times
differ in adjoining states, fish will be killed in one
and sold in the other ; it is useless to attempt to for-
bid the catching of trout in Maine, if they can be
eaten in New York. Pinnated grouse, killed on the
western prairies where they are fast being extermi-
nated, are sold openly in New York markets in con-
sequence of their omission from the game law, during
the entire spring, until the heat of the weather pre-
vents their transportation. Black bass are frequent-
ly exposed on the hucksters' stands heavy with
spawn, and pike-perch are hardly regarded as desir-
able in any other condition.

The universal rule should be comprehensive and
simple, as the habits of the fresh water fish are sufii-
ciently well known ; protection should be given
during the spawning season, and for such a period
before and after as to prevent the annihilation of
those who have survived the numerous dangers that
surround them, and are ready for the duties of par-
turition, and to allow them to recover from the
exhaustion resulting from the operation.

No trout should be killed except from the first of
March to the first of October ; no lake trout except


from the first day of February to the first day of
November, and no black bass or mascallonge from
the first day of January to the first day of June.
These times may be restricted for certain localities
where greater protection is necessary, but should,
under no circumstances, be enlarged. Trout spawn
from the middle of October to the latter part of
November, and do not recover their condition till
the opening of Spring. Lake trout spawn about the
same time, and mascallonge and black bass in
March, April, or even as late as the early part of

None of these fish should be taken in nets, nor by
spearing, and no fykes, seines, or gill-nets should be
used in the waters which they inhabit. Stringent
regulations to this effect are necessary, as it has
been the habit of the market fishermen of the
northern section of our country to use a net with
meshes small enough to catch yearling trout, and
which they frequently throw to one side and leave
to perisli miserably. This net fishing is continued
all winter, so that not only are thousands of large
fish destroyed in the act of spawning, or just after
doing so, but millions of the young, the seed of the
harvest, are slain without profit, being left on the
ice to freeze.

Spearing is also terribly fatal. None can escape
the sharp eye of the spearsman, and although many
more are wounded than killed they rarely recover, for
their natural enemies, the eels, are ever on the alert
for such occurrences, and fastening themselves upon


the wounded spot snck out the little life that is left.
There are many streams of New Jersey which, by
persistent gigging, as it is called, have been divested
of every swimming thing, so that they are abso-
lutely uninhabited. Not only trout, but catfish, eels,
and suckers, have met the same untimely fate, and
now boys and men search vainly for their prey.

By fair fishing no stream or pond can be entirely
exhausted ; when trout have the privilege of biting
or not, they will exhibit sufficient circumspection to
perpetuate their species ; but when they can be fol-
lowed during the hours of darkness to their retreats,
and exposed by the glare of the jack, are liable to
death by the fatal spear, or in case they may be
enveloped by the all-devouring net, they have no
defence or escape, and must soon disappear entirely.
Their numbers, instead of helping them or delay-
ing the catastrophe, excite the cupidity of the
poacher, and accelerate instead of deferring their

Interested parties in various sections of the coun-
try, endeavor to convince themselves and others
that trout change their nature in these favored

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryRobert Barnwell RooseveltSuperior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc → online text (page 11 of 18)