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Kansas State Board of Agriculture
First Biennial Report


Our Native Varieties.


While it is desirable to introduce into our waters better varieties of fish - shad, salmon and carp - it will not do to neglect the propagation of the varieties already found in our streams, many of which are excellent table fish.

Prof. F. H. Snow, of the State University of Kansas, has furnished the Fourth Agricultural Report (1875) a list of fishes, as found at Lawrence, from which I will mention the names of those considered worthy of our notice as suitable for propagation. In Prof. Snow's list will be found twenty-five different varieties of fish, as observed at Lawrence. I do not doubt but there are many more varieties found in our waters not mentioned in Prof. Snow's list, some of which will be considered in this report. We extract from Prof. Snow's report, as follows:

"PERCIDAE - Perch family.

"Labrax chrysops Grd. - Striped Bass; White perch; Rock Perch. In this species the upper part of the head and body are olivaceous, the sides are silvery, and the lower parts whitish. Common. Its flesh is good eating and it varies in weight from 2 to 5 lbs.

"Lucioperca Americana Cuv - Pike Perch; Wall-eyed Pike; Jack Pike; Salmon. Distinguished from the other fishes of the family by the greater gape of its mouth, and by the position of the ventral fins and anuns. The back is reddish-olive, the sides olivaceous, the under parts yellowish or whitish, with blotches of black or brown upon the back and upper portion of flanks. This fish appears in the river very early in the spring and very late in the fall. Its flesh is very palatable, and its greatest weight about 7 lbs. It has no fine bones in its body, like the common perch. Its food consists of small fish.

"Ambloplites aeneus Agassiz. - Rock Bass; Goggle-eyed Bass; Black Sunfish. This fish is rare in the main river, but not uncommon in its tributaries. The greatest weight attained is 1 1/2 lbs. Its superiority for table use, in which it compares favorably with the best New England species of this family, would recommend it as a suitable fish for 'cultivation.' A blackish spot at the base of each scale, and a very conspicuous jet-black patch near the upper and posterior angle of the gill covers, are characteristics by which this species may be distinguished.

"Pomoxys hexacanthus. - White Bass; Six-spined Bass. Similar to the preceding in form, but larger, often reaching the weight of 8 lbs. This species also is rare, not more than three or four individuals being taken in a season by a single fisherman.

"Pomotis luna Agassiz. - Western Sunfish; Moon Sunfish. Very common, differing little except in size from its Eastern representative. The largest specimens weigh one-half pound.

"ANGULLIDAE. - Eel family.

"Anguilla Bostoniensis LeS. - Common Eel. This was formerly considered as distinct from the Eastern eel, but the two forms are now regarded by the best authorities as identical. This species is occasionally taken with the hook, sometimes of 6 lbs. weight.

"SILURIDAE. - Cat-fish family.

"Amiurus atrarius DeK. - Common Horned Pout; Bull-head. This is the smallest species in the family; is rarely taken in the river, its natural home being in sluggish streams, 'sloughs,' and standing pools, called 'lakes.' It never exceeds three-fourths of a pound in weight.

"Amiurus cupreus Gill. - Great Yellow Cat-fish. In form like the Bull-head, but of a coppery-yellow color. The largest specimen weighed 188 lbs.

"Ictalurus nigricans Gill. - Black Cat-fish. Maximum weight, 45 lbs. Some specimens are uniformly black; others have light spots or blotches on the sides.

"Ictalurus furcatus Gill. - Blue Cat fish; Fork-tailed Cat-fish. This is to the fisherman the most valuable species in the river, since it is quite abundant, is frequently of very large dimensions, and is always marketable. [Prof. Snow mentions having seen a specimen that weighed 175 lbs. Last May, while at Lawrence, the writer saw one that weighed 173 lbs. - COMMISSIONER.] Tradition is positive, that in the days of 1856 a fish of this species was captured weighing 250 lbs., which required the aid of a steamboat tow-line and a yoke of oxen for its safe deposit on the river bank.

"Ictalurus coerulescens Gill. - Channel Cat; Silvery Cat-fish. This very palatable fish is taken of all sizes, from 1/2 1b. to 15 lbs. It is used by the fishermen as bait for the larger species already mentioned.

"Hopladelus limosus Raf. - Yellow or Mud Cat-fish. Very common, and distinguished by a profusion of small bluish spots upon a dingy yellow ground. Its greatest weight is 100 lbs.

"CYPRINIDAE. - Sucker family.

"Bubalicthys Bubalus Agassiz. - Buffalo Fish. Very abundant; ordinarily weighing from 4 lbs. to 20 lbs.; maximum weight, 40 lbs. This fish, on account of its abundance, is much eaten, though not of the most delicate flavor. It has a very tender mouth, so that it can hardly be taken into the fishing-boat without the aid of a net.

"Moxostoma oblongum Agassiz. - Chub Sticker, often called Carp. This species never exceeds one-half pound in weight.

"Ptychostomus aureolus Agassiz. - Red Horse. This fish varies from 6 oz. to 8 lbs. in weight. Several other species occur in this family, among which may be mentioned the White Sucker, the Blue Sucker, (both of which are considered excellent eating), and the Willback or White fish.

"CLUPEIDAE. - Herring family.

"Hyodon turgisus LeS. - River Moon-Eyes; Hickory Shad; Missouri Herring; Fresh-water Herring. Color yellowish or whitish, with metallic reflections; body much compressed laterally. This species is common, and is excellent in flavor, but is little eaten on account of the multiplicity of its small bones. Greatest weight, 2 lbs."

Our native fish, many of which are excellent table fish, if propagated and protected by stringent laws, will reward the fish culturist in replenishing our depleted streams with fish in which there can be no question as to their adaptability.

BLACK BASS (Grystes nigricans.)

This fish is, in the opinion of your Commissioner, the king of the finny tribes of fresh water - the noblest of them all, the gamiest - all the angler could desire - free biters, and for courage and endurance they have no equal - fighting to the last moment, coming from the water with fire and defiance in their eye, determined to "die game." "It is a well-known fact to those who have studied the habits of fish, that all varieties of bass push out into sloughs during the months of May and June to deposit their spawn. The parent fish guard their nests faithfully, keeping away all intruders until the young brood are hatched, thus insuring, in most cases, a larger increase than most other kinds. This fish is found quite abundant in Iowa and Missouri streams. In Kansas, there is difference of opinion. My impression is that they are found in some of our small streams. Prof. Snow, in reply to my inquiry on this subject, says: - "I have no evidence of its occurrence in Kansas. The fishermen here call the Black Sunfish (No. 8 of my list) by that name, which no doubt gives rise to the erroneous report."


The following letter from Judge John T. Morton, in answer to an inquiry upon the subject of Black Bass in Kansas, is so interesting that I will take the liberty to give it, as evidence in favor of Black Bass vs. Black Sunfish:

"TOPEKA, Kansas, June 19, 1878.

"HON. D. B. LONG - Dear Sir: - In answer to yours of the 13th inst., just received on my return from Jefferson County Court, I will say, that you correctly understood me to say that I have caught black bass in the Wakarusa, twelve miles south of Topeka. They are quite plenty in that stream, and first appeared there about 1868, evidently coming up the Missouri and Kansas, and locating in the clear water. I have the authority of Uncle Joe Irwin, in enthusiastic fisherman of Leavenworth, that they appeared in the Stranger, in Leavenworth county, a year or two before. They do not seem to have reached any tributary of the Kansas above the month of the Wakarusa. That they are the genuine 'black bass' there is no doubt. They bite only at 'live bait,' minnows. There are plenty of black bass in the Marais des Cygnes, and even in Dragoon creek. in Osage county, and I believe also in the Neosho. I think the Lawrence dam will prevent their coming up the Kansas, and, indeed, they never will stay in the Kansas river. They prefer clear and still water. But they will undoubtedly flourish if put in the Delaware, the Soldier, the Vermillion, and the Blue.

"Another fish, the 'crappie,' has made its appearance within three or four years in the Wakarusa. This fish is very prolific, and is a fine panfish, but rarely exceeds a pound or a pound and a half in weight. Its slang name in the West used to be the 'Campbellite,' because it made its first appearance in the tributaries of the Ohio about the time Alexander Campbell first began to achieve a reputation. It has been moving steadily north since, reaching Quincy, Ill., about 1848, I think this fish only bites at minnows, and small minnows are the best bait. Last Fourth of July, Colonel Holliday and I caught about a dozen fine black bass in the Wakarusa, and about sixty 'crappies.'

"If I can give you any other items in regard to fish, shall be glad to do so; but am more of a hunter than a fisherman, and get but very little time to attend to either department.


  "In haste, yours truly, JOHN T. MORTON."