Art Lander’s Outdoors: “America’s Bountiful Waters” Provides a Mine of Information on Fish Populations in the United States

The bountiful waters of America is a treasure trove of information on natural history, conservation, and ongoing efforts to restore and expand populations of dozens of freshwater and saltwater fish.

There are profiles of fisheries scientists and field biologists who have featured prominently in the stories behind these fish.

The bountiful waters of America

150 years of fisheries conservation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Edited by Craig Springer
Stackpole Books
Dimensions: approximately 9 x 12 x 1 inch thick, 288 pages
Release date: June 1, 2021
$ 49.95 Hardcover
ISBN 978-0-8117-3955-9

There is also a detailed history of the development of hatcheries, of the pioneering methods used to propagate, feed, and rear fish to stock size, and how wagons were equipped to transport live fish to resting sites in early years. years.

Iconic sport fish species described include grayling, trout, salmon, muskellunge, pike, walleye, river catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass , smallmouth bass, bluegill and crappie.

Edited by Craig Springer, a fisheries biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in New Mexico, the book commemorates 150 years of fisheries conservation by three agencies since 1871 – the US Fish Commission, the US Bureau of Fisheries and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Springer wrote in the editor’s notes that “America’s Bountiful Waters has the signatures and photo credits of 48 people, all but five are current or former US Fish and Wildlife Service professionals.”

The book is richly illustrated with color illustrations of fish by artist Joseph R Tomelleri, historical black and white photographs, scientific drawings and color photographs.

There is a local connection from two of the contributors.

Todd EA Larson, Ph.D., specializes in the history of American fishing and tackle and has written a number of books and several hundred articles on the subject. In 2006, Larsen founded Whitefish Press, the only press dedicated to preserving the history of fish and fishing gear in the United States, publishing over 150 books. Larson teaches history at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

The four articles written by Larsen include:

1. A history of the hook industry in America, which coincides with the rise of the US Fish Commission.

2. A profile of Marshall McDonald, a renowned fisheries scientist who served as commissioner of the US Fish Commission from 1888 until his death in 1895. His pioneering inventions included the perfection of the fishway (or fish ladder), designed to allow migrating fish to go over the barriers, and a jar to hatch fish eggs. The McDonald jar has been adapted for use with a wide variety of species, from whitefish to perch, cod and lobster. Modified versions can still be found in most hatcheries today.

3. A profile of Louella E. Cable (1900-1986), a pioneer in fisheries biology, scientific illustrator and lake trout and American shad research. In 1927, she became the first female scientist employed by the US Bureau of Fisheries.

Craig Springer Book Editor (Photo by Craig Springer)

4. A Profile of Dr James Alexander Henshall (1836-1925), a fishing writer who was often referred to as the “Apostle of the Black Bass.”

Henshall, who lived in Cincinnati intermittently for much of his life, is best known as the author of Black Bass Book, which has sold over half a million copies since its first publication in 1881.

Later in life, Henshall worked as a fish farmer and hatchery supervisor for the US Fish Commission, working with Shadows Montana at Bozeman Fish Culture Station, and later at Tupelo Fish Culture Station in Mississippi, where largemouth bass were bred for stocking. in Kentucky, other southern states and Cuba.

Originally from Kentucky, Brett Billings received a bachelor’s degree in environmental journalism and a master’s degree in biology from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

A former employee of the Kentucky Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Billings is now a video producer at the National Conservation Training Center of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in West Virginia. He is passionate about fly fishing, with a keen interest in tying aquatic insect flies.

The five articles Billings wrote include:

1. A Profile of Eugene W. Surber (1904-1974), whose invention of the same name, the Surber Sampler, allows fisheries scientists to systematically measure aquatic insects found at the bottom of streams. In 1932, Surber was appointed superintendent of the US Bureau of Fisheries National Fish Health Research Laboratory in Leetown, West Virginia, where he studied fish diseases, the effects of pesticides and hatchery techniques, publishing groundbreaking studies on DDT and fish parasites.

2. A profile of the spotted bass, the fish of the state of Kentucky, known throughout much of its range as the Kentucky Bass.

3. A profile of crappie, “The two species – the black crappie and the white crappie – were separated in the scientific literature in 1875. Many fishermen still struggle to tell them apart, especially since the two hybridize regularly, producing offspring of intermediate appearance, and that fishery managers have had to consider the two as one in most fishing regulations. Limits (Creel) are almost always an aggregate of the two. Fishery managers generally set size limits for the length that crappie will reach in its third year, ”Billings wrote.

Art Lander Jr. is editor of the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a lifelong hunter, fisherman, gardener, and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine reporter and author and is a former editor of the Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and the Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-editor of the Kentucky Afield newspaper column. Outdoors.

Crappie is found in all of Kentucky’s watersheds and in 23 large lakes.

Crappies have been reared in federal hatcheries since the days of the US Fish Commission in the 1880s, and over the decades millions have been stocked across the country.

4. A profile of the bluegill, “The quintessential first catch for many novice anglers and continues to provide reliable catches throughout a angler’s life. Bluegill Sunfish are also valued by national hatchery managers for their hardiness and tolerance to handling, crowding, and any other problems that would cause a smaller fish to sag. This hardiness partly explains why the bluegill is arguably the most common fish in the country. It filled a new niche created by an explosion of agricultural ponds across the country from the 1930s, Billings wrote.

5. A profile of the red sunfish, which “might be the most colorful of our native sport fish.” Her striking chest ranges from golden yellow or orange to vivid scarlet. Wavy turquoise lines adorn her face and a large silver blue teardrop splash to the side contrasts with her olive brown back and namesake pink blush underneath. Robin is the nickname for this red-breasted panfish, ”Billings wrote.

In The Fishes of Tennessee, fisheries scientists David Etnier and Wayne Starnes observe that the robin is “… generally more aggressive, more surface oriented, and more active in cold water than the bluegill. Red sunfish are also more nocturnal than other sunfish, making their angling in the cool evenings a way to beat the summer heat.

Crappie is rare in Kentucky, only found in a handful of streams in the upper Cumberland River watershed – Indian and Marsh creeks in McCreary County, Clearfork, Lot’s Creek in County Whitely and Clear Creek and Brownie’s Creek in Harlan County.

The bountiful waters of America is a fascinating collection of profiles of fish species, the biologists who have brought many of these fish from the brink of extinction, or by propagation, have allowed them to return to their former range.

It’s a look back at the past 150 years of fisheries management in America, with a look to the future, and the management challenges we may face in the future.

Fishermen have played a big part in these successes. By purchasing licenses and permits and paying excise taxes on fishing gear, funds are available that allow us to continue to practice the sport of angling, made possible by professional fishing management. at local, state and federal level.

Besides the fun of angling and the value of the fish we catch for food, there is a great economic impact. “For every dollar in taxes invested in the federal fisheries program translates into $ 28 in economic benefits. This equates to approximately $ 4 billion in annual contributions to
the economy of states, ”wrote Jeff Trandahl in the book’s prologue.

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