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

Fins, Feathers and Fun, June 1917

Fins, Feathers and Fun, June 1917

Dead Fish, Buffalo Lake, Martin County, MN, Spring of 1917

Dead Fish, Buffalo Lake, Martin County, MN, Spring of 1917

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, chiefly carp and buffalo, at nearly two million pounds. There were caught and sold from the lakes of this county last season about 770,000 pounds of carp and buffalo, but several lakes were not opened for fishing by the county commissioners. The loss of fish in Martin county last winter illustrates the folly of closing shallow lakes to “rough” fishing.

The obvious question here: what do you do with 2 million pounds of dead fish? Luckily, the same issue provides some options:

Fish Recipes (from Fins, Feathers and Fur, June 1917, published by the Minnesota Game and Fish Dept.)

Fish Recipes (from Fins, Feathers and Fur, June 1917, published by the Minnesota Game and Fish Dept.)

December Redhorse Dorsal

a dorsal fin

Got out fishing in a favorite creek today, and though it’s December 2nd, for a while a long-sleeved t-shirt was too warm. For the first time in months, a sucker was caught. I’d really hoped to get one more before snow, ice and holidays derailed my fishing.

The rock bass were on fire, including one that missed becoming the new Illinois state record (1 pound, 10 ounces) by only a few ounces. Largest rock bass I’ve ever seen.

Caught: rock bass (at least a dozen), several bluegills, two green sunfish, many largemouth and smallmouth bass, a yellow bullhead and A REDHORSE! It was a golden (m. erythrurum) but with every golden there’s always the hope that it will turn out to be a black (m. duquesnei). Lateral line scale count (43) indicates golden, dorsal ray count (15) is high for a golden and at the top end for a black. Mouth could go either way, depending on how wishfully I’m thinking. But the caudal peduncle isn’t particularly skinny (if you’ll pardon the scientific jargon), and the pelvic fin ray count, as near as I can tell from the photos that show that fin, is not 10.

Spotted but not caught: several very large hogsuckers and one tiny one, two buffalo (not sure which species), quillbacks, many redhorses (of at least 2 species), several fairly large common carp, and innumerable minnows.