Catching Alewives with hooks baited with eels.
By A. R. Crittenden. [From a letter to Prof. S. F. Baird, May 10, 1884*]

While crossing the bridge over the Medomak River at Waldoboro, Maine, this forenoon, I noticed on the bank of the river below some twenty or more boys fishing with rod and line, and evidently having good luck, as about every second some one drew out a fish. The fish looked like alewives, but as I had never known them to be taken with baited hooks, I came to the conclusion that they were large smelts.

On going down to the bank and investigating I found them to be indeed alewives, and I found the bait the boys were using to be live eels, from two and a half to three inches long, which they hooked in the center of the body, leaving them to wriggle at will. In some cases the hook would hardly strike the water before an alewife would be fast to it. One boy had taken over a hundred, and the others had various stocks.

I asked the boys how they learned that they could catch them with eels, and all the answer I gained was that, "the boys told them they could." I found that the river was alive with alewives. Men were taking them with dip nets at the fish-way, in the dam just above the bridge.

I observed that hundreds of young eels were making their way up the fish-way, and when an alewife broke water among them they scattered as though frightened. Possibly this fact led the boys to think they were eating the eels, and were thus induced to try them for bait.



The alewives were decidedly frisky, some of them at times jumping several inches out of the water, whether to catch gnats or for mere sport I am unable to say. I remarked to one of the men dipping them that he was taking a good fare, and he replied that what 1 now saw was not a "flea bite" to what was taken last year, when a man and his son dipped 70,000 from that very place in a single day, he being "high liner" for 1853. This method of taking alewives with eels was entirely new to me, and thinking possibly it might also be so to you I venture to address you in relation to it.

KNOX HOTEL, Thomaston Maine, May 10, 1884.

NOTE * This letter having been referred to Hon. Theodore Lyman, he states "that on Cape Cod alewives are often taken with shrimp bait or with artificial fly." -EDITOR.