Leopard of the Lakes: Much Confusion in Classification of Gamy Pickerel and Pike, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-17


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- at of J j I. d - 3 - 1 - " " r " 1 " 7 j 1 : LEOPARD OF THE LAKES Much Confusion in Classification of Gamy Pickerel and Pike. Pickerel Arisit Salt AVater Ts a Voracious Feeder and Fierce Fighter. It is with some misgivings that I prepare a short article on the pickerel not because my conceptions arc not clear enough to me. but there has been in -tlie years past o much confusion in relation to its proper classification and just what its relations to other closely allied species are that there should lie a distinct line of demarkatioii made and a thorough understanding- had of this important anglers favorite, To many in fact, to tlie majority of people the name "pike" is nil embracing and includes tlie entire family of this species, when, as a matter of fact, there are strong lines of distinction, and, save in tlie general contour of body, the fisli are quite dissimilar. There is, however, one characteristic which is all-embracing and is no doubt one of the reasons why the average fisherman does not distinguish between tlie varieties, viz., the extreme voracity of all tlie family, and no matter where tlie specimen may be taken the same propensity exists. . Tlie "pike" family is one of the oldest of which man has record, and in some of the varieties is native to all tlie northern and temperate zones. Tlie most extravagant stories are extant in old volumes of the size and voracity of this i ish as well as to the extreme age to which some of the old specimens have attained; these records, however, are not of much interest save as curiosities at this date. It is rather the knowledge as to where and how this superb fisli may be obtained that claims more attention; as well as to make clear the dls-" tinctive differences which exist. Tlie family em-5 braces the muskellunge, the "banded pickerel," the "brown pickerel" or "pond pike," and the important "chain pickerel," The latter is the fish that most anglers will meet with in nearly all the Atlantic coast states; it holds the anomolous position of being a "pike" while tlie true pike is never a "pickerel." MARKINGS AND CONTOUR QF PICKEREL. The contour of body, as well as the finiassem-: binge, is identical in all tlie species with the exception of the jaws, which in the pickerel are upper and lower, almost of tlie same length; while with tlie muskellunge and tlie pikes tlie upper jaw is much the shorter and fits into a groove in the lower jaw, when closed, hi much the same manner as some of the crocodiles. Again, the markings on, the pikes are either bands or mottled effects, while on tlie pickerel .the succession of well-defined links resembling a .chain are never absent and are one of the distinguishing features. This gave rise to tlie name, and in colonial days it was given the distinguishing name of "federation pike," as these links are usually thirteen in number along the r-entral line, and are black, while the body is usu- . illy of a yellowish green shading to nearly white on the belly. i While the average angler in from a trip will say l.e has had a good day with the pike and has taken maybe a half-dozen, the chances are strong that lie lias not taken one, particularly if he has been fishing near tlie seaboard anywhere from Maine to the Gulf waters. "While pike do not exist in many of the waters where pickerel arc met with, they are so small as a rule that they are usually termed "jack" and are thrown back into the water. If the fisherman was at all observant his entire catch .vould reveal that pickerel were on his string. Another important feature belonging to this fish is that he alone of all his tribes visits salt water and that is why I have included it among these sketches. If there are any other of his relatives that have this habit I have never met with it. neither have I ever heard that such was the case. While it is regarded as strictly a fresh water fish, and can and does live where it cannot reach brackish water, still it is more abundant in streams where they empty into rivers and bays and is to lie met with far below salt water limits. This is particularly true of Barnegat Bay. I know of no stream, which empties into.., that important body of water which is not "proline of" the plekferel.. The Metedeconk River, Cedar Creek, Toms River and all the adjacent streams are at the proper season the best of localities for the sport. I have fished over all the above-mentioned waters for many years and, as a matter of fact, do not permit a season to pass without one or more trials over the grounds that have been mentioned. TONS OF FISH IN EARLY DAYS. In my boyhood days I have seen these same streams netted and tons of pickerel taken, always drawing the nets where the streams entered tlie salt water bodies. Of course, in those days there were no restrictions on netting and the slaughter of these fish was at times prodigious; and I would not be lit all surprised that if close observation was made it would be found the same conditions prevailed in many of tlie coast states besides New Jersey that is, that many of tlie streams emptying into the arms of the sea hold innumerable numbers of these fish. I would not argue, however, that. they run to the ocean proper. I have no knowledge; that they do; but they do trade down and into, brackish water when opportunity affords and it is at those points where they are met with in the best of condition. Tlie pickerel is not at all fastidious as to what lie may get to eat and when hungry will strike at almost any moving object. Any of the smaller fish which come within his range of vision- is legitimate and welcome prey as well as young ducks, frogs and a groat variety of other objects. In tlie stomachs of large specimens rats have been found and hunger seems to be at all times the paramount issue with them. I was once fishing -with a friend in a. lake adjacent to the ocean when he caught a large pickerel which had gorged a cat- -fish. Its sharp spikelike rays were extending through the sides of the pickerel, and would seem to have caused such suffering that no desire for food would have been present; but there was tlie evidence which could not be doubted, the fish was feeding while in this deplorable condition. In my early days I lived where these fish were most abundant and had many opportunities to be a witness of their marked traits and habits. They apparently enjoy lying concealed behind some cover .such as a bunch of water grass, spatter-dock or 1 lily pads, or when they are to be found watching motionless for any unsuspecting thing to approach, when with tlie swiftness of light they will flash out , and gather in the quarry. The victim has little chance for escape, once the murderous teeth : are fastened into its flesh. I have often seen the largest fish lie in such quarters absolutely mo- i tionless, save the occasional almost unporeeivuble , motion of tail or fin, just enough to keep their , position and frequently with the head just at the i surface of the water, and while yet in my teens I , often shot them in thafposition. HOW TO CATCH BIG- PICKEREL. Tlie pickerel -ias always been an object of eager pursuit to the angler anil many methods are fol- lowed in taking them. "Skittering" with a bam- boo pole and just enough line to handle nicely is one plan, either walking along the bank or cast- ing from a boat, keeping it just far enough from the bank or lily pads to make action easy and using a piece of pork rind or other lure to attract the fish. Tills is at all times laborious work and does not partake of the finesse of still-fishing, which is more in vogue at the present time. Tlie require- ments are u good bait casting rod such as is used in black bass fishing, a small but free running multiplying reel and a rather fine line, a 4-0 Carlisle hook of the best quality. The hook should have the gut snell wrapped with tlie finest of wire to prevent tlie ravages of the teeth, as they are necdlelike and most formidable, and Just enough lead Should be used to carry down the bait, which should be a good-sized live minnow. A small barrelshape cork float is in order, as it offers less resistance to the water when the Strike is made than is the case with the ordinary oggshnpc float. In tiiis manner of fishing the pickerel rarely takes tlie bait with a rush; more generally toying with it as if in play, and it is necessary to allow the fish full play with its whim, as to strike at once would be to permit tlie complete escape of the fish, Even when the float has entirely disappeared it is well to allow u few moments to elapse before making the strike, as the pickerel invariably turns the bait around so it can be gorged head foremost. AVhen the strike is made it should be firm but not : rapid; tlie rod should be brought up and, when re- sistunce is felt, then drive the hook home. AAith tackle such as described the sport is of high order, as the pickerel puts up strong "resistance and makes runs to"right and left in rapid order, springing from i tlie water frequently and. withal, making an in- ter.sting fight. Ordinarily the best time for a trial ; at these fisli Is early in the morning or between sunset and dark, as it is during these periods that they take the honk freest. L. Hullt in Forest and Jtreaui. ; t 1 . L t I 1 1 : , ! ; ; I ! , , , . , , 1 " , J . 4 -I -1 4 4 s u s I. f t 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 K 3 s C ti A -r 1 II J" " e " J1 ei 11 R M M I T K N k

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1910s/drf1919021701/drf1919021701_2_4
Local Identifier: drf1919021701_2_4
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800