Gar Peril! Iowa, 1912

A man with a fish stuck in his eye.

Browsing old newspapers for interesting fish stories, I uncovered a very brief item of massive importance and interest. That this has remained hidden so long may be evidence of a cover-up (though there is, as yet, no way to know how high this goes). There are, in this single sentence, more stories than young Edward himself might have wanted us to find. If you have ever seen Jeremy Wade get so worked up over the… Continue reading

Black Horse, Blue Sucker

 The following was first published, in an abridged form, in American Currents, (http://www.nanfa.org/ac.shtml and see my post about AC and NANFA here) Vol. 40, no. 1 (January, 2015). This online version will evolve as I find new information, new images, and additional sources. Fishing in the Public Domain Unlike features such as scale or ray counts, the names of fishes—scientific and common—are susceptible to the same forces as any human creation. What initially seem like… Continue reading

1917’s Sweet Smell of Spring in Minnesota: 2 Million Pounds of Dead Buffalo & Carp

DEAD FISH, BUFFALO LAKE, MARTIN COUNTY, SPRING OF 1917. Estimated 175,000 pounds smothered in this lake alone last winter. Game Warden Altenberg of Fairmount made a careful survey of the lakes of Martin county and found loss of fish in twenty lakes, the following, Martin, Charlotte, Cedar, Buffalo, Fish, North Silver, Iowa, Tuttle, Susan and East Chain, suffering most heavily. Mr. Altenbergy estimated the total loss from smothering of fish in Martin county last winter,… Continue reading

Mapping the Paddlefish (because someone had to do it) [updated Sep. 2016]

I needed a map showing the range of the Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula, also known as spoonbill catfish, among other things), one of North America’s most striking animals. Despite a lot of searching (online and in books), however, I couldn’t find any map that was both up-to-date and of sufficient quality. I also couldn’t find any single listing of the species’ current status in all states where it is found, nor the regulations governing if/how it… Continue reading

Like native fish? Check out NANFA.

The North American Native Fishes Association (http://nanfa.org) is dedicated to native fish conservation, science, education, promotion, and appreciation. It publishes American Currents, a full-color quarterly journal (of which I am an editor as of a couple issues ago) that is mailed to all members. The annual convention, held in a different part of the country each year, brings together scientists, anglers, photographers, aquarists and other fishy people for several days of collecting fish, snorkeling with… Continue reading

Cowardly pike, sportless walleye, evil gar, holy trout & virtuous whitefish

Looking for Insults I tend to get pretty angry when I find anti-sucker (and other roughfish) sentiment on the web or in current publications. By now, shouldn’t everyone know better? In older sources, however, I make a point of looking for insults, dismissals, diatribes and condemnations of the fish I like. It’s fun to read. While I wouldn’t expect old books aimed at a popular audience (how-to-fish manuals, fishing guidebooks, memoirs of fishermen) to cover… Continue reading

The Boy’s Own Guide to (sucker) Fishing (1894)

The boy's own guide to fishing, tackle-making and fish-breeding (cover)

Here’s a first: A book that doesn’t malign suckers and doesn’t just mention them in passing or as bait but has an entire chapter about sucker fishing gives suckers pride of place with the first chapter recommends fishing for suckers recommends eating suckers and says they’re as good as trout instructs the reader on proper methods of worm cleaning There are some slights against suckers, but nothing major and far outweighed by the positives. Plus,… Continue reading

Suckers, eels and other vermin

Title page of an old book showing fishing gear

From page 217 of The Book of Fish and Fishing by Louis Rhead, 1917: For big trout, lying low in deep pools, more particularly the brown trout, the worm should be sunk to the bottom; it is sure to be taken quick, if the worm is actively alive. Of course, suckers, eels, and other vermin are liable to take it, if left in one position for any length of time. To prevent such annoyance, keep… Continue reading