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The Household Cyclopedia

The Editor is indebted to Mr. Freas, editor of the Germantown Telegraph, for the following valuable articles:


Among the lakes, rivers and brooks of our country, the lover of the "gentle art" has rare opportunities for indulging in his favorite amusement. Yet how few there are, comparatively speaking, that feel an interest in it. Considering that angling, and trout-fishing particularly, usually leads us among the wildest and most beautiful scenes of nature, it is indeed, remarkable that this delightful recreation is not more generally indulged in. It is not our intention, however, to enter into a treatise upon this manly sport, but merely to embody within the limits of a single article information, that may be useful to an unpractised hand, in regard to fish which properly come under the angler's notice.


In the United States there is but one distinct species of the salmon. He is a bold biter, a sly and handsome fish, and, on account of his strength and build, possesses great leaping powers. He is a voracious feeder, and may be taken by the angler with his favorite food, minnows, the sea-sand eel, or any small and delicate fish, but the surest bait is the common red worm. The rivers of California, Oregon, and Washington Territory, are the only streams within the limits of the United States where the salmon is numerous, and the angler can have good sport. They may also be taken with rod and line in considerable numbers in nearly all the streams which flow into the St. Lawrence from the north, below Quebec, and those which empty into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and into the Atlantic, along the coast of Labrador. Anglers usually take the salmon with the artificial fly and use an elastic-pointed rod, about 18 feet in length, with reel capable of holding from 300 to 500 feet of twisted hair and silk line. The fishing season in Canada and New Brunswick commences about the 10th of June, and in Nova Scotia about one month earlier.


This beautiful fish, with the exception of the salmon, is the most superb game-fish in the world. There are several species. In nearly all the pure cold-water streams of the Northern, Middle and Eastern States the speckled trout abounds. The best bait, in early spring, is the red dungworm, but in June and July the fly is probably the most killing. In many of the States a very proper law is in force for the protection of the fish, allowing them to be taken only during the spring and Summer months. Of the artificial flies the "red hackle" is usually preferred. The outfit of the trout angler should consist of a light, elastic rod and small reel, with 50 or 60 feet of plaited hair and silk line, and a silk worm "leader" 6 feet in length attached. At the end of this, when bait is used, fasten a long-shanked Kirby hook of small size, and, if the current should be very swift, attach a split buck-shot to the leader about a foot above the hook. Put a whole live worm on the hook, allowing the head and tail to be free, so that it will make as natural an appearance as possible in the water. A small woollen bag pinned or buttoned to the pantaloons is the best receptacle for worms. As it is usually necessary to wade the streams, a large and easily-fitting pair of shoes with nails projecting 1/4 inch from the soles to prevent slipping, should be worn. Trout are usually found beneath falls, in eddies, or in portions of the brook where the current is not very swift. The stream should be waded very cautiously, and the fly or bait thrown as far as possible, as the trout is the most timid of all the finny tribes. When you feel the fish biting, draw the line slowly towards you 2 or 6 feet, and if it seems to be securely fastened draw him directly out of the water if small; when otherwise, allow him to remain in the water, giving him as much line as he desires until sufficiently exhausted to be drawn to the shore and lifted out. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland trout are but seldom caught exceeding a pound in weight. In a day's sport in the most favored localities in these States, the weight of fish in the angler's reel would not exceed 1/4 lb. each. In New York and the Eastern States the run of trout is much larger. In many of the lakes and tributaries of Maine they are exceedingly numerous and of very large size. On certain days they will not touch the most tempting bait, while at other times they rise savagely at any kind of artificial flies, and the angler frequently kills 3 at a cast weighing 2 or 3 lbs. each. They are often caught weighing as much as 8 lbs., and are most numerous in Maine, in Moosehead, Memfremagog, Mubagog and Sohudic lakes, and their tributaries.

The most agreeable months to visit these lakes are August and September. Earlier in the season black flies, gnats and ticks are very annoying. Even early in the spring, before the snow has melted from the mountains, they trouble the angler. Insects of any kind, however, may be kept at a respectful distance by covering the hands and face with a preparation consisting of 1/3 oil of pennyroyal and the remainder sweet oil.

The Salmon-trout is a fish of much larger growth than the speckled trout, and is less appreciated as an article of food, but nevertheless affords the angler capital sport. They are numerous in many of the lakes of New York and Maine, in Lake Superior and in the Straits of Mackinaw. The same tackle used for salmon fishing could be advantageously used for the salmon-trout or for the speckled trout in Maine.


The white perch is a bold biter and a decidedly pretty fish. It is found in nearly all the rivers of the Atlantic coast, from Boston to Norfolk. In the Delaware, Susquehanna, and Potomac, they are particularly numerous, and give the angler rare sport. On the Delaware a contrivance for catching them called a bow-line or deepsea, is much used. Usually about eight small sized hooks are attached to it. It can be obtained at the fishing-tackle stores. This style of fishing requires no skill whatever, and is much less interesting than angling. Along the edge of the water-brooks which skirt these rivers, or in among the leaves of the plants, when the tide is sufficiently high, fine sport may be had during the summer month, with rod and line. Dung-worms are the best bait for white perch; but they are often caught of large size with the minnow. This fish, when cooked an hour or two after being taken, in our opinion, is unsurpassed in flavor by any, with the exception of the salmon and shad. It is but seldom killed in the rivers by anglers, exceeding a pound and a quarter in weight; although in ponds, canals, and inlets fed by the rivers, it frequently attains a much larger size. Like the salmon, shad, and herring, they are a migratory fish; and when enclosed in fresh water ponds they never propagate, and often become emaciated shortly after the migratory season. Those that survive the first year usually grow to a large size.

The yellow perch, although a pretty fish and a strong biter, is considered rather inferior as an esculent. It inhabits nearly all the rivers and large ponds of the Eastern and Middle States. They bite at almost anything. Indeed, we were informed by a fisherman residing in a cabin on the banks of a beautiful pond, in Pike County, Pennsylvania, that he has caught them with a whortle-berry attached to a hook. This fish frequently attains a weight of from three to four pounds.

Black Bass.

This superb member of the finny tribe is peculiar to the West and South. It is found in the greatest numbers in the tributaries of the upper Mississippi, in nearly all the lakes of New York and Canada, including the great lakes, with the exception of Superior, and in the river St. Lawrence. He is a fierce biter, and, unlike the trout is not a timid fish. He is particularly fond of romantic streams and dilapidated mill-dams. He bites freely at the red worm, rises readily at the fly or minnow, and may be taken as early as April and May, according to location.


This superb game fish, also known as the Striped Bass, is found in all the rivers from the Penobscot to Savannah, but is most numerous along the shores of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. Block Island, within four miles of the Rhode Island coast, is considered about the best locality. Just after a heavy gale is the most opportune time to troll for them, as the largest fish then come near to shore. Trolling from a boat with a rod, is the usual style of angling. For a bait, the skin of an eel attached to a "squid," is usually used. For still river fishing, minnows or the roe of any kind of fish, is most killing. The rock frequently attains a weight of 100 pounds.


This savage creature is considered the longest lived of all fresh water fish. In this country, as in England, it is also known as the Pickerel, but reaches its greatest perfection here. A peculiarity of this fish is its great voraciousness, about which there are many anecdotes told. He is not very particular in regard to food, but it usually consists of fish and frogs. He inhabits nearly all the lakes and inland waters of the Northern and Middle States. A simple and good equipment for pike fishing is a stout rod and reel, a strong linen line, a brass leader, a sharp Kirby hook, and a small landing net. For still fishing a live minnow is excellent bait, and for trolling a small "shiner" should be used. In the winter, when the lakes and ponds are frozen, by making an opening in the ice very fine pike are frequently taken with live minnows. For this purpose the bait should be obtained in the summer or fall and kept alive in springwater. Pike often attain the weight of from 50 to 60 lbs.


This fish belongs to the pike family, and usually weighs from 20 to 40 lbs. It is a favorite with anglers on the great lakes, the upper Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and along the shores of the Ohio and the Tennessee. He is very fierce in his nature and attacks almost every species of the finny tribe. Small fish are excellent bait.


These well-known members of the fish family are, with one exception, fond of muddy waters, and are numerous North and South. There are several varieties. The white catfish when not exceeding a pound or two in weight is excellent eating. He is usually found in streams affected by the tides, and is fond of clear water. He can be propagated, however, in all the Northern streams and ponds. The yellow catfish, we believe, inhabits ponds, lakes, and rivers in every portion of the Union. In the Mississippi they grow to the weight of a hundred pounds, but elsewhere they don't often exceed ten pounds. They may be taken with various kinds of bait. The white catfish prefers a piece of minnow or the soft portion of clams.


This beautifully colored fish is familiar to almost every school boy. They are usually found in shallow water, are very strong biters and tolerably good eating. They show great intelligence in constructing nests for the reception of their spawn. In the shallow streams of Maryland they can be taken in immense numbers. They are not very particular in regard to bait, but prefer either grasshoppers, crickets, or young bees. To catch them with the greatest satisfaction, a short rod, a light line with float, and small Kirby hook, are necessary. The sunfish but seldom exceeds a pound in weight The largest are taken in August and September, and can be as readily captured with the artificial fly as with bait.


This slippery fish inhabits nearly all the lakes, rivers and ponds of the United States. It is a singular fact, however, that the great Mississippi is destitute of it. When not exceeding 1 or 2 lbs. in weight they are capital eating. The most rapid way of catching them is with the "bob," composed of large earth-worms, strung together. For this purpose waxed homespun thread, with a long needle, should be used. Pass the needle and thread through the entire length of the worms, until a string about 6 feet in length is formed, which should be doubled up with loops a few inches in length, securely tied together, and fastened to a strong stick 5 or 6 feet in length -- an old broom-handle would answer very well. Keep the worms on the bed of the stream, and when the eels pull at them quickly jerk them up into the boat, or upon the shore, wherever you may happen to be. Frequently 4 and 5 fish are taken at a single haul. With rod and line a piece of minnow is excellent bait. Young eels, a few inches in length, are a very killing bait for perch, pike and rock.


Throughout the Eastern, Northern and Middle States this pretty fish is very numerous. He is a hold biter, and is often found in trout streams. He takes the fly readily, and is decidedly a game fish. Like the trout he is very shy, but for eating purposes is quite inferior. He sometimes weighs as much as 5 and 6 lbs.


Of this rather clumsy fish there appears to be two varieties. Those inhabiting cold water streams are more slender and more comely shaped than those found in rivers and ponds. The former are a better flavored fish than chub, and maybe taken with the red worm in deep water at any season. They are poor biters, but often show considerable fight after being hooked. A full grown fish weighs from 3 to 4 lbs.


This is the most numerous of all the migratory fish in the United States. He will take the red worm or shad-roe, and on clear days, with a southern wind, will jump at a gaudy fly or piece of red flannel fastened to a hook. For eating purposes, after going through a course of "curing," he is a very palatable fish. He don't often exceed a lb. in weight.


This fish is found in nearly every portion of the United States; is a fair biter, but the poorest of all as an esculent. He don't usually exceed 1/2 lb. in weight, and may be taken at any season with a little piece of dough attached to a small hook.


This pretty little fish, we believe, is scarcely noticed in any of the works on angling. He frequents many of the streams in the northern and middle portions of the United States, but grows large in cold-water brooks, and is often taken alongside of the trout. He but seldom exceeds 7 or 8 inches in length, and is an excellent pan-fish. Very light tackle, small, long-shanked Kirby hook, and red worms for bait, should be used. He bites only during the spring months.

Salt-water Fish.

We have given a brief account of all the principal fresh-water fish of the United States that are of interest to the angler. Of the salt-water fish, those that are most fished for, are the sheeps-head, Spanish mackerel, weakfish, bluefish, black-fish, croaker, flounder, porgy and sea-bass. Fishermen along the seaboard usually use the hand-line, but the true angler should fish with a strong rod with reel, and stout flax line with large hooks. The usual baits are soft-shell crabs and clams, large shrimps, fiddlers, young crabs and muscles The fishing season extends from June to October.



Is the name of a new and very important art destined, we believe, ere long, to hold a conspicuous place in human interests and pursuits. The extent to which Nature may be aided by artificial methods in the breeding of fishes, is a truly wonderful discovery. That eventually, and at no distant day, it will become the means of adding largely not only to the quantity but the variety also of those supplies for man's sustenance and luxury, admits scracely of a doubt.

Fishes, whether in the freedom of nature or in artificial receptacles, show plainly enough the approach of spawning. The belly of the female becomes distended and yields readily to pressure. There is a fluctuation under the hand, which shows that the eggs are free from the ovary and easily displaced. This being the case, take up in your left hand a female fish, and hold it suspended by the head and thorax over a flat-bottomed vessel containing clear water. Then with the right hand passed from above downwards, squeeze the loosened eggs through the anal opening. A male fish is then taken, and the milt is expressed in the same way, though often it flows by the mere act of suspending. This substance, white and cream like, soon gives to the water the appearance of whey. To insure effectual fecundation, the mixture in this state should be gently stirred with the hand, or with a soft brush. It requires but 2 or 3 minutes to accomplish the fecundation.

The subsequent processes may be carried on upon the spot, or the impregnated eggs may, like those of the silkworm, be packed and transported to other places, there to be hatched.

In the first case, the water with the eggs in it is poured immediately into the hatching apparatus. This may be very simple. Mr. Coste tells us that he has often used a long and narrow wooden box lined with zinc or lead, with a fish box of earthenware. In the laboratory of the colleges of France, the troughs used are of potter's enamelled ware. The eggs are spread, upon a movable frame or grate composed of glass rods, about one-tenth of an inch apart. It seems to be a condition of Nature that this operation of hers, like the great water lily of the tropics, can go on well only in running-water. The water which supplies the hatching-trough must have a constant flow.

Double sieves of wire gauze set in floating frames, which keep them immersed, but near the surface, have been used for hatching fish in ponds and rivers; but the mud is apt to gather in them, incrusting the eggs and making it necessary to remove them for the purpose of cleaning. Such changes retard the process of incubation. Even after they are hatched, the young fish are apt to chafe the umbilical vesicle by coming in contact with the wire, an injury which generally proves fatal.

In preference to the above M. Coste recommends the use of a wooden box with hinged ends and cover, in all of which are openings for the water, protected by wire gauze, and containing also a fourfold frame of glass rods for the accommodation of the spawn.

In the course of a few hours after the process of fecundation, a change may be seen in the eggs. At first they become opaque, but soon resume their transparency. A small, round spot next appears, which gradually extends until one end takes the shape of a tail, and the other that of a spatula-shaped head. Two black points upon the sides presently turn into eyes. It is not long before the young animal gives sign of life by motion of the tail. As the eggs open the head and tail first emerge, and then the umbilical vesicle attached to the belly of the fish, and there retained for some time, as the only source of nutriment.

In case the eggs in the hatching-box become covered with film from the impurity of the water, they should be cleansed with a feather, or with a fine brush of badger's hair.

The eggs may be transferred from one vessel to another by means of a glass pipe, the stem of which is closed by the finger. The egg is made to enter the tube by removing the finger.

The young fish very soon displays differences of nature and instinct. Some, like the pike and perch, quickly free themselves from the umbilical vesicle and shoot about with great vivacity. Others, as the salmon and trout, retain their provision bags longer, seem more sluggish, and huddle together in dark corners. Some kinds are so bold and hardy that they require but little care. The pike, for instance, and the trout, may very soon be put into ponds and rivers, where they will look out for themselves. But others, more delicate and often more valuable, must be kept in artificial basins until they have acquired strength to resist the destructive agencies that await them in the ravenous waters.

In a box less than 2 feet long, 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep, Prof. Coste has sometimes reared to a sufficient size for removal, no less than 2000 salmon at a time.

The basin used at the College of France may serve as a model for the receptacles above named. It has different compartments for the fish of different ages. The wall is built waist-high, that the fish may be conveniently overlooked. Here and there, on the gravelly bed, are small heaps of rounded pebbles. Little shelters of earthenware are scattered about, that the fish may have dark places in which to hide and rest. A few aquatic plants are added to complete the conditions which would be found in nature.

The salmon, the trout and the eel, are fed upon boiled beef or horse-flesh, which is prepared for them by pounding in a mortar. These delicate morsels are eagerly seized by the young fish. After 8 or 10 days the boiled flesh is exchanged for raw, which is pounded and given in little pellets. At Hummingue, salmon and trout are fed with the flesh of other and cheaper fish, which is prepared for them by pounding. Small earthworms and the minute crustacea of stagnant waters are sought with avidity by these young fry.

For the proper acclimation of fishes, and for other reasons, it is often desirable to transport the eggs to a considerable distance. When the eggs are free and separate, with a tough covering as in the case with the salmon and the trout, pine boxes are used. These are filled with sand or moss, or fragments of sponge, or with some aquatic plant, in the moist folds of which the eggs are ranged in layers.

The eggs, which come in agglutinated clusters, with tender envelopes, such as the spawn of the carp, the roach, the perch, etc. cannot be conveyed so easily. The best method is to put them into jars three-quarters filled with water and containing some aquatic plant. There is another class of eggs which are deposited upon grass or small sticks. Let these, with the objects to which they adhere, be wrapped up in a wet cloth, and then be put into a box or basket.

The young fish also are often transported to great distances in bottles containing water and some living aquatic plants. The water must be renewed from time to time. To keep up the supply of air, which fishes must have, no less than animals which live in it, an ingenious apparatus has been devised by some fishermen of the Vosges. The vessel which holds the fish is swung at the back in the style of the ragpicker. A bellows, like that of the Scotch bagpipe, worked under the arm, sends at pleasure its current of air through the water that contains the fish. An accasional squeeze of the bellows keeps the fish in good breathing condition.