Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Voices from the Past: Wholesale Slaughter of Fish by S.H. Vandergrift (1891)

The following blurb came from the November 1891 American Angler magazine. It shows just how early conservation sympathies developed in America, and how outraged many anglers were at the wholesale slaughter of fish in places like Lake Champlain. The idea of dynamiting a reef until all fish are dead is truly outrageous, then and now…

Law Breaking at Rouse's Point, N. Y.

In the last issue of your esteemed magazine I noticed a report from the fish commissioners of the good work they had been doing in New York State in checking illegal fishing. I am always glad to hear of the punishment of these "pot fishermen" who fish for weight and number with any murderous contrivance they can buy or invent.

During the past summer I spent nearly two months on Lake Champlain and the "Richelieu," and found that nearly every one living about these waters fished illegally. Of course the officers have no jurisdiction over the "Richelieu," but if they would direct their attention to the northern end of Lake Champlain it would not only prove a great benefit to all anglers, but would be remunerative to the counties.

Among the numerous stories told me by the different guides was one that not only was wrong, but, in my opinion, was criminal. This was about a man who, during the early spring, shipped on an average of three barrels of bass per week from Rouse's Point, N. Y. Another case is that of the open spearing from the bridge at Rouse's Point and over the arms of that northern portion of the lake. As you are probably aware, the bass run large, and are game from the start, in that district, and it seems wrong to have them "murdered."

Nothing seems to satisfy these fishermen unless they can bring in bass by the boat load. Dynamite is used even recklessly, and some reefs have been entirely cleared of all fish; Isle le Motte Bridge, Pointe au Tongue and the reef at the head of Isle le Motte being the points dynamited oftener, on account of the few residences in the vicinity. I am firmly convinced that illegal fishing is carried on in a most bold and open way, and think the matter should be stopped as soon as possible, especially the taking of bass off the spawning beds, which is carried further than anything else.

I have written at greater length than I in tended, and hope you will excuse this rambling, though important (in my estimation) information.

Allow me to congratulate you on the recent edition of your paper. I was sorry when I learned that it was to lie changed to a monthly magazine, but since seeing the new Angler I am satisfied that it will be even more entertaining than the old form. I have been taking your paper, through a local dealer, for about six months, and anxiously look for each number to appear. -- S. H. Vandergrift

-- Dr. Todd

No comments: