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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Hoy, P. R.
Fauna of Wisconsin,   pp. 134-139 PDF (2.7 MB)

Page 136

opinion these fish are more delicately flavored than the celebrated Potomac
shad; but I doubt
whether they will thrive in the small lakes, owing to the absence of the
small cruslacea   which
they subsist. The closely allied genus Argyrosomus includes seven known species
inhabiting the
larger lakes, and one, the Argyrosomus sisco, which is found in several of
the lesser lakes. The
larger species are but little inferior to the true whitefish, with which
they are commonly
confounded. The nose is pointed, the under jaw long, and they take the hook
at certain seasons
with activity. They eat small fish as well as insects and crustaceans.
     Of the pickerel family, we have three or four closely allied species
of the genus Esox, armed
with prodigious jaws filled with cruel teeth. They lie motionles  eady to
dart, swift as an
arrow, upon their prey. They are the sharks of the fresh water. The pickerel
are so rapacious
that they spare not their own species. Sometimes they attempt to swallow
a fish nearly as large
as themselves, and perish in consequence. Their flesh is moderately good,
and as they are game
to the backbone, it might be desirable to propagate them to a moderate extent
under peculiar
     The catfish (Siluridie) have, soft fins, protected by sharp spines,
and curious fleshy barbels
floating from  their lips, without scales, covered only with a slimy coat
of mucus. The
genus Pimlodus are scavengers among fish, as vultures among birds. They are
filthy in habit
and food. There is one interesting trait of the catfish -the vigilant and
watchful motherly
care of the young by the male. He defends them with great spirit, and herds
them together
when they straggle. Even the mother is driven far off; for he knows full
well that she would
not scruple to make a full meal off her little black tadpole-like progeny.
There are four species
known to inhabit this State- one peculiar to the great lakes, and two found
in the numerous
affluents of the Mississippi. One of these, the great yellow catfish, sometimes
weighs over one
hundred pounds. When in good condition, stuffed and well baked, they are
a fair table fish.
The small bull-head is universally distributed.
     The sturgeons are large sluggish fish, covered with plates instead of
scales.  There
are at least three species of the genus Acipenser found in the waters of
Wisconsin. Being so
large and without bones, they afford a sufficiently cheap article of food;
unfortunately, however,
the quality is decidedly bad. Sturgeons deposit an enormous quantity of eggs;
the roe not
unfrequently weighs one fourth as much as the entire body, and numbers, it
is said, many
millions. The principal commercial value of sturgeons is found in the roe
and swimming
bladder. The much prized caviare is manufactured from the former, and from
the latter the best
of isinglass is obtained.
     The gar-pikes (Lepidosleus) are represented by at least three species
of this singular fish.
They have long serpentine bodies, with jaws prolonged into a regular bill,
which is well provided
with teeth. The scales are composed of bone covered on the outside with enamel,
like teeth.
The alligator gar, confined to the depths of the Mississippi, is a large
fish, and the more common
species, Lepidosleus bison, attains to a considerable size. The Lepidosteous,
now only found in
North America, once had representatives all over the globe. Fossils of the
same family of which
the gar-pike is the type, have been found all over Europe, in the oldest
fossiliferous beds, in the
strata of the age of coal, in the new red sandstone, in od5litic deposits,
and in the chalk and
tertiary formations -being one of the many living evidences that North America
was the first
country above the water. For all practical purposes, we should not regret
to have the gar-pikes
follow in the footsteps of their aged and illustrious predecessors. They
could well be spared.
     There is a fish (Lola maculose) which belongs to the cod-fish family,
called by the fishermen
the "lawyers," for what reason I am not able to say -at any rate,
the fish is worthless. There
are a great number of small fish, interesting only to the naturalist, which
I shall omit to men-
tion here.

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