First of all...many of you have been e-mailing me recently about my lack of updates in the Blog. I do apologize for that; however, I had many good reasons for my absence here. Summarizing, I haven't had enough time to work on the Blog because of my painful Physics classes at Temple University...
Sincerely, I don't think my fishing season will really start until May. As you may have noticed, I didn't even bother to create a "February Fishing Sessions'" post because I only did one fishing session in the whole month of February. That's when I ended up catching the 4.05lbs Channel Catfish -- my first fish of the year.
Regardless, let's have a little discussion about last month's Quiz:
The question was: "What was the game fish that Americans hooked the most in the 1840-1870?"
And the results are below. The answer to the question is in red:
1. Schuylkill's Catfish: 4 (13%)
2. Salmon of the East Coast: 13 (44.%)
3. Native Brook Trout: 10 (34%)
4. European Carp: 2 (6%)
Fact: the Native Brook Trout was the most loved game fish for recreational anglers during the 1840-1870's! As a matter of fact, the Largemouth Bass (known at that time by Black Bass or Oswego Bass) lost in position only to the Trout and Salmon family during that period of time. The fact is that the Brookies were very ignorant due to the low fishing pressure; therefore, they were easily caught on anything that floated on top of the water! Soon enough, recreational anglers depleted the Brook Trout population by over-harvesting, especially since the Trout were one of the finest table shares at the time. The damage was so great that in order to cope with that, Brown Trout started to be imported after the 1870's.
As for the other answers...
1. Schuylkill's Catfish:
If you thought that this option was put it as a joke, think twice! Before the industrial bloom in Philadelphia, the Schuylkill was in an awesome shape -- clean and crystalline. The "Schuylkill Fishing Company" was founded in 1732 -- the first of a number of recreational groups with sprang up in Pennsylvania. A small group of settlers finally took fishing as a pastime, becoming the first "Multi-Species" group around! Mostly the folks went for Perch, Striped Bass, Catfish, and Shad, which they cooked on the riverbanks in the early evening. The ladies were permitted to fish too, and there were distractions such as singing and bird watching and bathing in the stream. Amazing, huh? =)
2. Salmon of the East Coast
The Salmon of the East Coast was highly harvested during the 1840-1870's, but rarely taken by hook. Very few recreational anglers would go for Salmon on dry flies, using techniques from Izaak Walton's "The Compleat Angler." The book itself was very difficult to obtain at the time, and only a limited number of copies were shipped overseas. Even if one had obtained the book, very few people were able to understand the English and the literature behind it.
Therefore, the Salmon of the East Coast was fished mainly for food. Most of them were taken by coarse-meshed nets through the water and out to the banks, where helpers clubbed the fish to death, barely keeping up with the hauls of the seines. Other men, covered with blood and scales, tossed the fish into wagons, where housewives with bonnets and aprons would dexterously slit and gut great piles of fresh fish. These fish were a welcome change in diet and a food supply for coming months, until hunting season took over!
4. European Carp
The European Carp was another consequence to all the over-harvesting of the earlier ages of the American fishing history. As various food fish became less readily available, live Carp were imported from Europe for personal and commercial use (farm and private ponds). Here is an interesting story, though:
One such importer was a Captain Robinson, who got his Common Carp from Holland in the 1840's and placed them in his ponds near the banks of the Hudson River, in Orange County, New York. His Carp flourished until one season when the River rose, carried away his dams and floodgates, and released the fish...
The government at the time was trying to establish the fish as a source of food; therefore, they passed a law that prohibited anyone from taking Carp from the Hudson River for 5 years! Well...if you look at our government nowadays, we have spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to eliminate Carp from American waters, using the excuse that they are destructive to the growth and welfare of game fish. Interesting, huh?
Now that you know the answer for the previous Quiz, give it a try on the March Quiz! The answer will be coming up on April 1st. =)
Long Days and Pleasant Nights,
Best of luck for all of us,