BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. VOL 3 1883
Notes on the Fisheries of Gloucester Mass. June 4 - August 2, 1883
By S. J. Martin. [Letters to Prof. S. F. Baird.]
The amount of fish landed here during the month of May was as follows:
105 arrivals from George's Bank, with 2,098,000 pounds of salt cod
and 68;550 pounds fresh halibut; 41 arrivals from Western Bank, with
1,846,000 pounds salt cod and 194,000 pounds fresh halibut; 26 arrivals
from Grand Banks, with 750,000 halibut; 18 arrivals with 357,000
pounds haddock; 33 arrivals with shore fish. Of these last there were 252,000 pounds cod, 126,000 pounds hake, 118,000 pounds haddock, and
8,000 pounds cask. There were 12 arrivals with salt pollock, a total
of 484,000 pounds. These were caught with seines off Chatham. Ten
vessels arrived with 358 barrels of salt mackerel; these were taken in weirs
in the vicinity of Gloucester. Fifty barrels of fresh mackerel were
GLOUCESTER, MASS., June 4, 1883.
The mackerel fleet has returned from its southern cruise with poor
results. Three vessels which left here April lst did not catch a mackerel.
They were hard to catch. One vessel set a seine 74 times, and
BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. Page 173
yet caught no fish. The difficulty in catching them is charged to the
unusual transparency of the water. Captain Cohart says that he lowered
a towel to the depth of 20 fathoms, and then could see it plainly.
Captain Coas says he could see the purse-weight on the seine when it
was 20 fathoms down. They all say, it was impossible to seine fish in
such water. The large mackerel have gone east, and many are being
taken in the weirs at Barrington; N. S. There are small mackerel from
Cape Cod to Mount Desert. They are large enough for No. 2's, but are
of a different school from the mackerel caught last year.
Pogies are abundant in Boston Bay. Five barrels have been taken in
the traps at Kettle Island, and a vessel caught 40 barrels with seine
this morning. They are of small size. Last year there was one pogy
caught. Yesterday they were schooling close in to the shore of Norman's Woe.
Capt. Robert Douglass was in this business twenty years,
and he says that he saw as large schools yesterday as he did twenty
years ago. It has been so long since pogies were here that people are
not prepared to catch them; but some of the small vessels are getting
their seines ready. A telegram was received here this morning stating
that the weirs at Hyannis, on Cape Cod, were full of pogies.
A large fleet has been at Cape North after cod. They are coming
home with full fares. One vessel, which had been gone seven weeks,
arrived this morning with 140,000 pounds of cod.
GLOUCESTER, MASS., June 6,1883.
Mackerel are scarce. Vessels have been from Cape Cod to Cape Sable
and the Bay of Fundy, and yet found no mackerel. All the large mackerel
have passed down the Nova Scotian coast. They have been caught
in traps at Cape Sable for the past three weeks. The schooner Polar
Wave arrived this morning from the Grand Banks, and reports sailing
through mackerel in large schools to the eastward of Sable Island, and
that they seemed to be going northward. Those on the New England
coast are small. Six barrels of them were sold today for $8 a barrel.
Last year at this time they would have sold at $4.
Pogies are plentiful. Salem Harbor is full of them, and 160 barrels
were seined off the mouth of the harbor. Three large salmon have been
taken in the traps at Kettle Island, weighing 22 and one fourth, 20, and 18 and one half pounds,
Six vessels have left here for Greenland after halibut. On George's
Bank fish are scarce at present. The Cape North fleet has returned
with good fares, and vessels are doing well on the shore fishing-grounds,
catching cod, hake, and cusk. Thirty sail have gone to the Grand
Banks after cod, and 3 have started for the Bay of Saint Lawrence
after mackerel. A large fleet will go there after July 4 if there are then
no mackerel on this coast. Half a barrel of squid was caught in a trap
in the harbor here last night.
I inclose the following newspaper item on the steam menhaden fisheries:
"NEW BEDFORD, June 5.-The greatest week's work at this time in
the season was made by Messrs. J. Church & Co.'s steam fishing fleet
last week. The Joseph Church, Jemima Boomer, A. M. Hathaway, and
George W. Humphrey nearly every day were loaded almost to the
water's edge. The George W. Humphrey brought in 2,200 barrels on
Saturday, and the A. M. Hathaway the same number. The catch was
made in the Seconet River. The first of last week this gang were fishing
back of Long Island Sound, but as the fish worked this way the
fleet followed them to Seconet River. The catch last week amounted
to about 19,000 barrels, and the Narragansett oil works at Portsmouth
are consequently running day and night. While the George W. Humphrey
was coming up from below Long Island on Wednesday night,
loaded hold and deck, she encountered a heavy sea which swept her
deck load of 800 barrels of menhaden into the water, which probably
was the means of saving the steamer."
GLOUCESTER, MASS., June 14,1883.
Since my last letter mackerel have come on the coast in considerable
numbers. During the past week there have been thirty-five arrivals
with 4,840 barrels of salt mackerel. On last Thursday and Friday
(June 14 and 15) there were thirty-one arrivals in Boston with 4,000
barrels of fresh mackerel. The mackerel are small--smaller than those
of last year. Most of them have been caught from 20 to 40 miles east
southeast of Thatcher's Island. Two vessels came in last night from
the southeast part of Cashe's with 460 barrels--most of them larger
mackerel. Mackerel have got through spawning; among 100 barrels
of them landed at the canning factory I saw no spawn. The weather
has been unfavorable for fishing during the last four days--mostly thick
fog; with fair weather there would have been a good catch. Mackerel
sold to-day for $6.25 a barrel--with the barrel out of pickle, and no
Pogies are abundant along shore. The small boats catch enough in
their nets for bait, which is what they have not done before for five
years. The weirs at Portsmouth were full of pogies last Monday; and
they have been caught as far east as Portland.
GLOUCESTER, MASS., June 21, 1883.
The amount of fish landed at Gloucester during the month of June
was as follows: George's Bank cod, 1,579,000 pounds; George's halibut,
4,550 pounds; Western Bank cod, 3,525,000 pounds; Western Bank
halibut, 95,000 pounds; Cape North cod, 2,200,000 pounds; shore fish,
consisting equally of cod, cusk, and hake, 1,355 `000 pounds; fresh halibut
caught on Grand Banks, 924,000 pounds; mackerel landed, 12,755
pounds. Two hundred and niuet,y-five barrels of pogies were caught in
seines at the mouth of Gloucester Harbor , and 88 barrels of them were
taken in weirs in the harbor; 78 barrels of mackerel were caught in
BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. 175
weirs in the harbor, and 220 barrels of herring were caught among the
mackerel in seines.
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 1, 1883.
I will give a few notes on mackerel: On June 24 large mackerel were
plentiful on Cashe's Bank. They lasted for two days there, then they
disappeared and have not been seen' there since. The vessels which
were on Cashe's did well, some of them catching as much as 200 barrels
in the two days. Small mackerel came along the coast, from Cape Cod
to the Bay of Fundy, about June 30. They are numerous but very small,
averaging about 6 inches long. On July 2 a school of large ones appeared
in Boston Bay. The traps at Kettle Island and Gloucester caught 200 barrels
of them, but after one night they disappeared. Ten
vessels have gone to the Bay of Saint Lawrence after mackerel, though
no mackerel of any account have been caught there yet. One vessel
was there a fortnight and caught none. I think mackerel will be caught
soon on our coast. The harbor here was full of small mackerel which
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 8, 1883.
On July 5 and 6 a school of small mackerel was in the harbor. The
weirs, eight in number, caught 500 barrels, 1,200 fish to a barrel. On
the 13th and 14th a school of still smaller mackerel came into the harbor.
It takes 2,000 of these fish for a barrel. The weirs in the harbor
to-day have an average catch of 50 barrels. There are 4 barrels of large
mackerel to 50 barrels of the remainder.
James Tarr & Bros. bought all the mackerel in the weirs at $1 a barrel.
They intend to salt them round, as they do herring, for an experiment,
and try to find a market for them.
Large mackerel are scarce, and the vessels are doing poorly. Fifteen
sail have gone to the Bay of Saint Lawrence after mackerel, but the
news from the bay is not favorable. Small mackerel are plentiful from
Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy, inshore as well as offshore. It seems
too bad to kill them. The vessels set their seines around a school of
mackerel and catch perhaps 100 barrels. They then pick out 10 barrels
of them and throw the rest overboard. Some vessels which had been
gone four weeks returned with but 40 barrels.
The mackerel fleet is spread along the eastern shore from Cape Cod
to Cape Sable, and they report nothing but small mackerel. At Kettle
Island, Manchester, and Gloucester, within a-distance of 10 miles, there.
are 17 weirs set. This morning they averaged 50 barrels of small mackerel
apiece, and some of the weirs were very full.
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 15, 1883.
The vessels which went to George's Bank for cod have done well. A
large school of cod has been on the western part of this bank. The
fishermen call this the "squid" school, because the fish are full of squid
176 BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION.
when caught. Vessels have been supplied with squid from the weirs
at Sandwich and Barnstable Bay. The squid caught this year are of
the same kind as those caught at Newfoundland, having no bones in
them. They are the first of that kind caught on this coast for 10 years.
Vessels catch some with a squid-gig on the Bank. Some of the vessels,
took as much as 50,000 pounds of large cod in six days, using squid for
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 15,1883.
Large mackerel are scarce, but small ones are plentiful all along the
coast. Some vessels arrive with only 30 or 40 barrels after being
absent for three weeks. A large fleet has gone to the Bay of Saint
Lawrence after mackerel, and two vessels went there to fish for mackerel
with hooks. Two vessels have left mackerel-catching and gone
after cod, while two other mackerel vessels belonging to Boston have
hauled up. The schooner J. J. Clark arrived home with 230 barrels of
mackerel caught 120 miles to the eastward (east by south) of Thatcher's
Island. They were all caught in 10 days, after which the school disappeared.
Large mackerel.have been caught on the coast, and it is.
hard to tell where they have gone.
Some think they are at the bottom. The schooner Maud F. Leighton, fishing
for cod on the northwest part of George's Bank, caught a large No. l mackerel
on a cod-hook in 45 fathoms. The captain states that some of the large cod had two or
three large mackerel in them when caught. My opinion is that as we
have had heavy rains for the last three weeks, this has sunk the seed
which the mackerel eat into deep water, and so they leave the surface
to feed on it. Four years ago things looked as badly for the mackerel
fishermen as they do now, but the vessels did well after August 1.
mackerel bring a high price. They sold yesterday for $16 a barrel for
a small lot of mackerel, large rimmed.
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 22, 1883.
Yesterday there were eight vessels in from Grand Banks, with 822,000
pounds salt cod; ten vessels from George's, averaging 35,000 pounds;
four from Western Bank, with 110,000 salt cod ; four from the shore
grounds, with 80,000 pounds of mixed salt fish; and one from Grand
Banks, with 20,000 pounds halibut.
A large school of big cod is on the western part of George's Bank, in
from 35 to 75 fathoms. It is the first time for twelve years that coct
have been caught on George's Bank. in 40 fathoms. Generally they have
been caught in deep water duringJune, July, and August. Strange to say,
there are no dogfish on the western part of the Bank. The George's,
fishermen make the trip in twelve or fourteen days; one vessel came in
this morning with 40,000 pounds of salt cod, after having been gone but
seven days. The Grand Banks vessels are usually gone about seven
weeks for a trip.
A few large mackerel are being caught in the weirs in the harbor
BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. 177
Vol. III, No. 12. Washington, ID. C. Aug. 31, 1 SS3.
I inclose a couple of newspaper slips relating to the fisheries:
"Wednesday morning, July 18, the menhaden steamer Annie L. Wilcox,
of the Wilcox Company, Mystic, made an immense haul of edible
fish. The seine was set off Amagansett, about 15 miles to westward of
Montauk light, and the haul resulted in the capture of about 30 tons of
weakfish, that would average three pounds apiece. It took about an
hour and a half to get the fish on board the steamer, and the haul was
without any difficulty. It was the largest cargo of fish ever taken to
" The report of W. Z. King, surveyor of customs at Greenport, L. I,
shows that for the quarter ending June 30, 44,000,000 menhaden were
rendered at the fish factories, 1,375 barrels of oil made, 4,400 tons of
fish-scrap made and 230 tons of edible fish marketed. The number of
menhaden rendered does not include several millions taken in pounds
and shore seines and not taken to the factories. The yield of oil is the
smallest ever known for the quantity of fish rendered, averaging but
1.12 gallons per 1,000."
GLOUCESTER, MASS., July 24, 1883.
During the month of July 123 vessels arrived in Gloucester with salt
mackerel, amounting to 14,566 barrels; 1,853 barrels of small mackerel,
and 124 barrels of large mackerel were caught in traps. The mackerel
catchers also landed 300 barrels of small mackerel. One hundred and
forty barrels of large herring, caught with seines on the Seal Island
grounds, were landed at Gloucester. One hundred and thirteen vessels
from George's brought 2,118,000 pounds of cod and 35,710 pounds of
halibut. Twenty-six vessels from the Western Banks brought 1,321,000
pounds of cod, 13,850 pounds of salt halibut, and 1,000 pounds of fresh
halibut. Twenty-five vessels from the Grand Banks landed 2,762,000
pounds of salt cod and 37,000 pounds of salt halibut; 21 vessels from
Grand Banks landed 487,000 pounds of fresh halibut; 32 shore fishing
vessels landed 180,000 pounds of salt cod, 99,000 pounds of salt cusk,
50,000 pounds of salt hake, and 800 pounds of salt pollock. Five hundred
quintals of dried fish (mixed) were brought from Maine by freight.
The papers report that very large catches of menhaden were made by
the Long Island fish steamers last week. "The fish were along the
coast covering hundreds of acres. The factories at the east end of the
island were choked with fish and have been running day and night.
The bay fishermen have also done better than any previous time this
season. At the Newport factory 2,000,000 fish were received and rendered
in three days. The menhaden were never before known to be so
GLOUCESTER, MASS., August 2, 1883.
Bull. U. S. F. C., 83-12