Copyright
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 2 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 2 of 18)
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pardoning power without making any inquiry. I
should determine without waiting to hear a single
fact that the man was convicted hf means of perjury.
There is a plain reason for all this. A genuine
sportsman must possess a combination of virtues
which will fill him so full that no room can be left
for sin to squeeze in. He must be an early riser —
to be which is the beginning of all virtue — ambitious,
temperate, prudent, patient of toil, fatigue, and dis-
appointment ; courageous, watchful, intent upon his
business ; always ready, confident, cool ; kind to his
dog, civil to the girls, and courteous to his brother
sportsmen."

To constitute a sportsman, therefore, it is not suf-
ficient merely to be able to catch fish ; although a
very important element in the angler's composition,



20 GENERAL REMARKS.

it is not all that is required, nor will it alone entitle
him to full fellowship with the fraternity. He must
have higher aspirations and nobler gifts ; he must
look beyond the mere result to the mode of effect-
ing it, regarding, perhaps, the means more than the
end. Any unfair trick or mean advantage he must
never take, even to fill a vacant creel or empty
pocket ; he must never slay the crouching bevy,
huddled in terror before his pointer's nose ; he
must never resort to the grapple or the noose, no
matter how provokingly the wary trout, lying mo-
tionless in the clear water, may disdain his choicest
flies ; and, when the nature of the fish pursued
induces it to accept the imitation, he can use the
natural bait, only in extreme cases and at great risk
to his reputation. The noblest of fish, the mighty
salmon, refuses bait utterly, and only with the most
artistic tackle and the greatest skill can he be
taken ; the trout, which ranks second to the salmon,
demands an almost equal perfection of both, and in
his true season, the genial days of spring and sum-
mer, scorns every allurement but the tempting fly.
The black bass prefers the fly, but will take the
trolling-spoon, and even bait, at all seasons ; whereas
the fish of lesser station give a preference to bait, or
accept it alone. This order of precedence suffici-
ently proves what every thorough sportsman will
endorse — that bait-fishing, although an art of intri-
cacy and difficulty, is altogether inferior to the
science of fly-fishing ; and that the man who merely
follows it without higher aspiration, and uses a



GENERAL REMARKS.



21



worm equally for the beautiful trout and the hideous
cat-fish, cannot claim to be a sportsman. Occasion-
ally there is a person who will use the bait with
wonderful ability, and entice the reluctant fish
against their will to an unwished-for meal ; but he
never experiences the higher pleasures of his pur-
suit — his enjoyment in making a neat and killing fly,
his satisfaction at its success, his delight in putting
it properly upon the water, and his gratification
when with it and his frail tackle he shall have over-
come the fierce and stubborn prey. Therefore to
his many other qualities, the true sportsman must
add a thorough knowledge of fly-fishing, and only
can the use of artificial fish or fly, or casting the
menhaden bait for bass, be termed supeeior fishing.




TUB! FIRST VEIL.



22 LAKE SUPERIOR.



CHAPTER I.

LAKE SUPERIOR.

Don Pedro is descended from one of what we in
our young country call tlie old and highly-respecta-
ble families, and having been nurtured amid the
refinements and luxuries of life, is one of the most
gentlemanly men imaginable. At the public rooms
of a hotel, in the halls, on the piazza, in the saloon
of a steamboat, he can never pass a lady, though she
be a perfect stranger, without in the most defer-
ential manner removing his hat. To this reverence
for the fair sex he adds an easy elegance towards
his own, that at once commands attention and
respect.

Never having taken an active share in the world's
affairs, his abilities, which are far above the average,
have lain dormant or run to criticising art or com-
mitting poetry ; and he is rather apt to discuss very
small matters with a minuteness and persistency
that important ones scarcely merit.

He had travelled Europe, of course, had shot
quail and taken trout in Long Island, fired at croco-
diles on the Nile and jackals in the desert ; and
although probably the greatest exposure of his life
had been damp sheets at a country inn, and his



LAKE SUPERIOR. 23

severest hardship the findmg his claret sour or
being «ompelled twice in one day to eat of the same
kind of game, he was now seized with a sporting
mania, and determined to rough it in the woods.
An unsafe companion, perhaps, the reader may-
think ; but it is not always the roughest men who
have the most pluck, nor those accustomed to the
commonest fare who grumble the least when offered
still coarser, and there is truth in the words of wor-
thy Tom Draw : " Give me a raal gentleman, one
as sleeps soft and eats high, and drinks highest
kind, to stand roughing it."

So we discussed matters over a comfortable din-
ner, with the aid of a couple of bottles of claret,
one of champagne, and a little brandy ; and Don
concluded he would as lief eat salt pork as wood-
cock, and ship biscuit as French rolls. He was
anxious to examine my list of camp articles, and was
quite ready to do away with a large part of them ;
but finally determined to leave that matter to me,
holding me strictly responsible for carrying any
unnecessary effeminate luxuries. The discussion
was not a short one, but this happy decision being
arrived at, I was perfectly satisfied.

We met by appointment a few days later at the
Angler House, in that thriving, active town of Cleve-
land, which seems to be drawing to itself the busi-
ness of the other cities of Lake Erie, and, cannibal-
like, to be growing fat on their exhausted lives. It
is a thoroughly American city, and, like all our
cities, doubtless has the handsomest street in



24 LAKE SUPERIOR.

the world, for so we were assured by the citi-
zens.

A large part of the trade of Cleveland is with the
mines of Lake Superior, and steamers leave almost
daily for that region, carrying a miscellaneous as-
sortment of the necessaries of life, and returning
laden with copper and iron ore. Not content, how-
ever, with this unexciting freight, these vessels pro-
pose to carry excursion parties round the lakes, and
are all, if their advertisements are to be believed,
supplied with brass bands, and every luxury of the
season.

In Cleveland we intended to purchase such ardent
sj)irits as we might require, and Don commenced :

" Now as to this question of liquor, I should like
to have your views concerning kind and quantity ?"
^ " Well, I expect we will be in the woods twenty
days, and have made my computations on that basis ;
so we will need a case of liquor, and as you prefer
brandy, brandy let it be."

" No, no ; by no means," responded Don ; '' do not
let my predilections influence you ; besides, a dozen
bottles seems a good deal. If we were gone twenty-
four days it would be just a pint a day, or a half-
pint apiece — rather severe, considering we expect
to rough it."

" You know we have to give the men some occa-
sionally, and then we will meet other parties and
have mutual good-luck to drink. It will not be an
over-supply, though we can make it less if you say
so ; I myself drink little when in the woods."



LAKE SUPERIOR. 25

" I believe that," replied Don, ironically ; " and
considering how well I know you, it was hardly
worth while to mention it. But this is a serious
question, for we can get nothing drinkable after
leaving Cleveland; and if we have to do what
you say, do you not think we shall run short?
I want plenty of everything, and it would be
better to take a dozen and a half, if there is a
doubt."

" There is no doubt ; but if "

" If you say there is no doubt, that is sufficient ;
but I am surprised you should give the men expen-
sive brandy, when they would probably prefer a
coarser article."

" Of course, we will take a common whiskey for
the men ; but occasionally while using the flask our-
selves we will naturally pass it to them."

" Ah, yes ; I understand. But, really, I am not
satisfied it should be all brandy ; you must not ex-
pect to have the same comforts you would in the
city, and if you will take my advice, you will have
at least part whiskey."

" But you prefer brandy, and one is as easy to
carry as the other."

" Really, now, you must not consult my wishes ;
in fact, although I admit a slight preference for
brandy, many persons prefer whiskey. Before you
decide, it would be well to examine the matter tho-
roughly ; and as we are now at the store, you must
make up your mind promptly."

This conversation had taken place as we were
2



26 LAKE SUPERIOR.

walking from the hotel to an establishment that
had been recommended to us.

" Kemember," continued Don, " you must act for
the joint interest, and there are several ;points well
worth considering. In the first place, whiskey is
much cheaper ; then it is probably purer than the
brandy you buy here ; if a bottle should be broken
the loss is less "

" Certainly ; if you would be equally content, I
should arrange it difierently."

" How often must I tell you not to consider me,
and I am decidedly pleased at your change of views.
Now, putting aside any supposed preference on my
part, what proportions would you suggest ?"

"Nine of whiskey to three of brandy."

" Ah," gasped Don, losing his breath at the sud-
denness of this response, " have you given the mat-
ter sufficient consideration? You have not even
ascertained the price ;" and then turning to the
clerk, he asked : " How do you sell your best whis-
key ?»

" Eight dollars a dozen, and brandy two dollars
a bottle."

" Nine bottles of whiskey would be six dollars,"
I calculated aloud, " and six for the brandy, make
twelve. Have them packed and delivered on board
the City of Cleveland promptly at half-past seven,
because she leaves at eight,"

" But are you satisfied ?" cried Don in an agony
of horror at such a want of discussion ; " have you
examined all the bearings of the change ? Can it



LAKE SUPERIOR. 27

be packed in time ? You know whiskey does not
go as far as brandy. Are you sure you have
enough ? Is there no question about that being
the best proportion? "Would you not prefer all
whiskey ? In case of Sickness, may we not need
more brandy ? What is the best mode of packing
it ? Is it sure to be at the boat punctually ?"

" That is the clerk's affair ; if it is there it will be
paid for, and if not it won't. Let's look at the
town ; come," and I dragged him off just in time to
avoid a dozen new propositions, and as many unan-
swerable questions, leaving the clerk, bottle in hand,
looking the image of despair at the avalanche of
mqairies that had burst upon him.

After strolling about for several hours we reached
the boat, and found the case of liquor waiting for
us, and proceeded to select our stateroom. This
matter rose at once to a serious question in Don's
eyes. I resolved to leave it entii'ely to him, confi-
dent that his elegant manner would impress the
steward. He at once devoted his entire attention
to it, flitting from place to place in the forward and
after cabins with the steward at his side, pointing
out defects here, suggesting changes there, popping
in and out of doors, describing his foreign expe-
riences and the prime necessity of comfortable quar-
ters, turning down the sheets, peering into cracks,
feeling the pillows, casting a suspicious eye upon
blankets, dissatisfied with all, and finally resolved
to take one which could not be examined at the
time for want of the key, but which the steward,



28 LAKE SUPERIOK.

who had been a respectful and sympathetic listener,
assured him had none of the defects he had pointed
out.

The immaculate stateroom was engaged, the boat
pushed off, the key was obtdined, and lo and behold !
if it had none of these specified defects, it had ano-
ther — one of the wooden supports, a huge beam
eighteen inches broad, passed directly up through
the foot of both the berths, reducing them to four
feet six inches in length. When Don made this
discovery his face was a study for his friends the
artists ; anger could not do justice to the occasion ;
des-pair, bewilderment, horror, astonishment, seemed
blended, with a lurking suspicion that the sympa-
thetic steward had been making game of him. He
rushed to the office, could find nothing of the stew-
ard, but was informed that all the other staterooms
were engaged.

However, after supper, the officials relented and
gave us another room, enjoying mightily their joke,
as I always believed it to be, although Don never
could be brought to admit that they could by any
possibility have dared to make fun of him, and in-
sisted it was a blunder of that " stupid steward."

We reached Detroit by five o'clock of the follow-
ing morning, and as the boat for some wise reason
remained there till two in the afternoon, we strolled
round the city. It is a promising place, and has the
finest street in the world, so the citizens assured us,
called Jefferson Avenue. The market was well sup-
plied with fish, and among them sturgeon, cut into



LAKE SUPERIOR. 29

slabs of yellow, flabby flesh ; pale Mackinaw salmon,
and darker ones from Lake Superior ; white fish,
the best of which were sold for six cents a pound ;
lake mullet, black and white bass, yellow and white
perch, sun-fish, northern pickerel, suckers, pike-perch,
cat-fish, and lake shad or lake sheepshead, called in
French Bossu^ or humpback — a very appropriate
appellation. These fish had been for the most part
taken in nets ; but black bass are captured abun-
dantly with the rod in the small lakes near Detroit,
and in Canada opposite. The principal articles sold
in the market, however, were strawberries and
hoop-skirts ; the latter being so numerous that Don
remarked incidentally that the inhabitants absolutely
skirt the market. This he evidently intended as a
joke.

A few miles beyond Detroit is situated its pre-
tentious rival. Port Huron, which is also a flourish-
ing town, and has the handsomest street in the world ;
and opposite Port Huron are Sarnia and Point Ed-
wards, the termini of the Grand Trunk and the
Great Western railroads of Canada. We touched
at Point Edwards at about eleven o'clock in the
evening.

America is a great place ; the people are upright,
virtuous, honest, enterprising, energetic, brave, in-
telligent, charitable and public spirited; they are
the finest race of men and the most beautiful and
cultivated women in the world, but they do not know
how to dine. To gobble down one's victuals, regard-
less of digestion or decency, is not eating like Chris-



80 LAKE SUPERIOR.

tians but feeding like animals ; to thrust one's fork
or spoon into the dish appropriated to holding food
for all, is uncleanly and offensive ; to eat peas with
a knife is bad enough, but to use it immediately
afterwards to cut butter from the butter-plate is
absolutely disgusting. No one who does these
things is either a lady or a gentlemen ; and no one
who cannot keep his arms at his side while cutting
his meat is fit to eat at a public table.

There was one gentleman, as he would claim to
be considered, who sat near us, who, although he
had a proper silver fork, endeavored religiously to
eat his peas on a knife that happened to have a small
point. This operation, always difficult and danger-
ous, became, from the formation of the blade, almost
impossible ; the peas rolled off at every attempt, and
the unfortunate rarely succeeded in carrying to his
mouth more than one at a time, till finally reduced
to despair, he seized a table-spoon, and with it de-
voured them in great mouthfuls.

The dinner was quite a lively scene ; the ladies,
although there was plenty of room, were smuggled
in clandestinely before the gong was sounded, and
the men, dreading the horrors of a second table,
rushed for the remaining chairs, standing behind
and guarding them religiously, but politely waiting
till the ladies were seated. There was plenty of
food, but each man immediately collected such deli-
cacies as were near him, and he imagined he might
need, and transferred them to his plate or a small
saucer. There was abundance of time, no one hav-



LAKE SUPERIOR. 31

ing the slightest prospect of occupation after dinner,
and yet every man, woman, and child set to work eat-
ing as though they expected at any moment to be
dragged away and condemned to weeks of starvation.
The waiters, like all Americanized Irishmen, were
independent if not insolent, and we overheard the
following discourse between one of them and an
unhappy wretch who had come in late and could
obtain no attendance. The suffering individual
began rapping' on his plate with the knife tiU he
attracted the notice of a passing waiter:

Waiter. — " Well, what are you making that noise
for?"

Starving Individual. — " I should like to have
something to eat."

Waiter. — "Isn't there plenty to eat all round you?"
Individual. — " But I want some meat."
Waiter. — "Why don't you ask for it, then?
What do you want ?"

Individual. — " What kinds are there ?"
Waiter. — " Why there's beefsteak, to be sure."
Individual. — " I would like to have some beef-
steak."

Waiter. — "Why didn't you say so, then, at first ?
Give me your plate if you expect me to get it for you."
It was their habit to empty the water left in the
glasses back into the pitchers, and when I asked
one for a glass of water, he drank out of it himself
first, and then handed it to me. On another occa-
sion he helped Don by giving him the tumbler a
stranger had just used.



82 LAKE SUPERIOR.

These little peculiarities all round encouraged
sociability ; you could hardly refuse to know a man
when you had drunk out of the same glass and
eaten from the same dish with him, and a lady
naturally felt at home with a gentleman whose ribs
she had been punching for half an hour. The pro-
gress of the meal, however, was somewhat checkered,
not a few of the guests clamoring for their dessert
ere the others had finished their soup. The only
explanation of this haste was from the graceful,
stewardess, who was the redeeming feature of the
boat, and who said the waiters were in a hurry so
as to have it over as soon as possible. It might
aptly be said of the Americans : " They eat to live."

Beyond Lake St. Clair the land on both sides of
the river is low, and, especially on the Canadian side,
adorned with cultivated farms and dotted with pic-
turesque country houses. A half mile barely sepa-
rates the two nations ; and, in case of war, with our
present improved artillery, the intervening river
would hardly form an obstacle to mutual destruc-
tion, till the once smiling fields and happy homes
would be one vast scene of desolation.

Emerging into Lake Huron we began to perceive
the efiects of the cool water and consequent conden-
sation of the warmer atmosphere ; a heavy fog lay
upon the surface, at first not higher than our upper
deck, but creeping up as the night advanced. On
one side a beautiful fog-bow with faint and delicate
colors, spanned the sky, while on the other a bril-
liant ring of sparkling silver surrounded the moon.



LAKE SUPERIOR. SB

The water that was an opaque, milky white at
Cleveland, had been growing darker, greener, and
clearer, attaining perfect purity ere we reached
Lake Superior, and exposing to view objects many
feet below its surface,.

Having reached Detour, which is a growing place
and will soon have the finest street in the worlds at
eight o'clock at night, and the channel through Lake
George being intricate, the captain announced we
could proceed no further that evening, and the pas-
sengers generally went ashore to explore the coun-
try. The land is low around Detour, though there
are clusters of pretty islands, and here for the first
did we see the rocky northern formation and the
evergreen trees.

Lake George, which is at the head of Lake Huron,
or more properly a part of it, is shallow and muddy.
A channel, narrow and of but twelve feet in depth,
has been dredged and marked out with stakes ; it is
crooked, and will scarcely admit of two vessels pass-
ing abreast. The shoal mud-flats were visible in
every direction, and our wheels stirred up the bot-
tom as we passed.

It was with a feeling of relief that we escaped
from this lake into the deeper and rapid waters of
the river Ste. Marie, whose eddying current and
bold shores were a pleasant sight, to our eyes wearied
with the sameness of lake travel. We had been
three nights and almost three days caged in our
floating home, and were delighted at the near
approach to our destination. We had not heard
2*



34 LAKE SUPERIOR.

the band mentioned in the advertisements, but sup-
plied its place with a crazy piano strummed by
amateur performers ; we had not partaken of all the
luxuries of the season, but had appreciated with
sharpened appetites the substantials that were fur-
nished ; we had not enjoyed the company of fair
excursionists from Cleveland or Detroit, but had
formed the acquaintance of one or two kind beings
in crinoline ; we had not had an exciting trip, but
had been transported safely and slowly, and at
eight o'clock that morning we reached the Sault
Ste. Marie.

A weary waste of waters lay behind ; our track
lengthening into the dim distance, stretched out to
many thousand miles ; we had crossed deep streams,
had burrowed through high mountains, had darted,
along broad meadows, had swept across majestic
lakes, had ascended mighty rivers ; less than a
hundred years ago many months would have been
expended in completing this same journey ; serious
difficulties would have had to be overcome and dan-
gers encountered ; we had condensed a year of our
grandfathers' lives into three days ; we had spanned
one-half our great continent, fled from the metropo-
lis of civilization to the native haunts of the savage ;
'in :^ct, gone back from the nineteenth into the
eighteenth century. We had been carried by steam
upon the track of iron or in the moving palace ; in
future we were to embark in the voyageur's bateau,
and be propelled by oars or sail. Heretofore the
unnatural wants of civilized life had been indulged



LAKE SUPERIOR. 85

and gratified ; hereafter, tlie commonest home, the
simplest covering, the j)lainest food, was to be our
lot ; hitherto we had been in the land where gold
was the talisman that commanded ten thousand
slaves ; henceforth we were to trust ourselves to
kindly nature and our own capabilities. Glorious
were our anticipation^ from the change. Our ves-
sel, the unromantic City of Cleveland^ which, from
the beginning, had been lumbering along at the
moderate rate of ten miles an hour without ever
being betrayed into the slightest evidence of enthu-
siasm, seemed overjoyed at her approaching arrival,
and dressed herself in her gala costume of variegat-
ed bunting. She whistled merrily to announce to
the inhabitants that once more she was to bless their
sight, and tried to get up a little extra steam for a
final burst. The travellers' crowded her decks, the
natives collected along shore ; the former waved
their handkerchiefs, the latter, probably having no
handkerchiefs, swung their hats ; and amid all this
excitement we came merrily up to the dock.

The Sault, or Soo, as the name of the village is
always pronounced, is not a large place, but proved
to be larger than I expected ; our dull plodding east-
ern people can hardly imagine how rapidly the
west is growing in wealth and population ; already
our little western brother is claiming to be a man,
and if we are not careful will be too much for us
some day. This newly planted village, almost at
the extreme northwest of American civilization, in-
cluded an excellent hotel, a dozen stores, and at



S6 LAKE SUPEEIOR.

least a hundred houses and workshops. Already
the belles of lUinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minne-
sota were congregating at it to enjoy its cool tem-
perature and invigorating atmosphere, and ere many
years are passed it will be a fashionable watering-
place, thronged with the elite of western society.
Its principal hotel, the Chippewa House, is admir-
ably kept, and doubtless is the pioneer of an infi-
nitely more gorgeous affair.

Don, however, who is rather particular and not
much accustomed to the free and easy mode of
country life, was somewhat disappointed with our


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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 2 of 18)