Story from John Vonderlin
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Milbrae. If the tests and analysis prove satisfactory, overtures will be made to the
Spring Valley Water Company for a supply. It is known that the Pilarcitos water is singularly pure and free from every kind of deleterious matter, and that the company spends a good deal of money in keeping It so, but it has not yet been shown that it has those peculiar properties for which Burton is renowned. All the Spring Valley Company’s reservoirs will be tried in turn, and the Englishman’s opinion is that among so many splendid bodies of water it will not be difficult to get what be desires. If so there will be more capital invested in California very shortly. It is probable that Lake Pilarcitos will be
the water cbosen, provided that the Spring Valley people come to terms.”
Two Lakes Stocked With
AN EARLY MORNING VISIT.
At 2 O’Clock This Morning 100,000
Small Fishes Were Placed in
Lakes Merced and Pilarcitos
. Between 1 and 2 o’clock this morning Lake Merced and Lake Pilarcitos were stocked with over 100,000 choice Muskellunge, which arrived here yesterday on the overland from Lake Chautauqua, New York.
This is the first time that a carload of small fish has ever been brought clear across the continent. This was in the nature of an experiment, and proved entirely successful. At 1 o’clock the special train, consisting of an engine, the United States Fish Commission’s private car and a Southern Pacific caboose, reached Ocean View. In the Government car were Colonel G. Lambson and five assistants, 100,000 Muskellunge and Deputy State Fish Commissioner Babock.
The fish were brought here in large cans about the size of the ordinary milk can. A
wagon was in waiting at the station at Ocean View, and a little over half of the
fish on the car were transferred to the wagon and taken down to Lake Merced, a
distance of Iess than two miles. Before emptying the contents of the can in the lake the temperature of the water was taken by Colonel Larnbson, and found to be about right for the reception of the young fish.
The latter are but 8 days old and wee small things not much larger than the point of a sharp leadpencil. Each can contained a thousand or so of the minute creatures, and in all, sixty cans were emptied into Lake Merced. The work was done quickly, because it had all been admirably planned before hand. At three different places within a distance along the shore of less than a mile the cans were emptied.
When the work was done there the party returned to their car and the special train
ran speedily to Millbrae, where the remaining cans were conveyed about seven miles in a wagon to Lake Pilarcitos. About the same process was gone through there, the cans being emptied at different places where the water is shallow and much warmer than it is farther out. The temperature of the water was also taken by Colonel Lambson and found to
be the same as that at Lake Merced. The work was done very expeditiously and in a manner that caused Colonel Lambson to compliment the State Fish Commission and express the opinion that it could not have been done better.
It was about midnight when the Government’s special fish-car arrived at Fourth and Townsend streets, where it was boarded by a Call reporter, who accompanied the party on their early morning fish-stocking excursion. The car itself is built specially for the transportation of young fish. On both sides of the aisle that runs through the car from entrance to entrance are the tanks, or wooden receptacles, for the cans containing the fish. These receptacles are covered over, and on their covers are a dozen or more
During the overland trip from New York no artificial heat was needed, Colonel Lambson says. There are several thermometers in the car, but they managed to keep the. mercury in these about right by opening and shutting the windows. There are bunks in the car that let down the same as in a Pullman sleeper, and in the rear end is, besides more water tanks, a miniature kitchen and larder that suffices amply for the culinary needs of the party.
“We had a very pleasant trip,” said Colonel Lambson. “and were quite successful in the transportation of our cargo. A few of the fish died while crossing the mountains, but their number is really too small to consider seriously out of a total of over 100, 000. “Yes. we found enough work to do on a trip like this. We have the water to change every day or oftener, the temperature to keep just so, and fresh air to admit and exclude at different times and a whole lot of that kind of attention to bestow on these tiny young creatures.
“They are pretty small now, but if they do as well out her as they do in Lake Chautauqua and other places in the East they will grow to weigh as much as thirty five and forty pounds. I have seen many of them at the latter weight.
“We carry the water with us and ice as well. The weather has been so even on
this trip, though, that we have not used much of the latter. In these tanks here
we have about 2000 gallons of water, and we had a ton of ice aboard when we left
“What is the hurry in getting the fish into the lakes to-night? Well, this is the first experiment «t the kind made by the Government, and we are not going to waste a moment or leave a stone unturned that might make toward success. “So far we have been very successful, and I have no doubt that the fish we have put in to-night will thrive as well here as in their native waters.”
It is calculated that when full grown the imported muskellunge will kill off the myriads of worthless carp with which Lake Merced is now infested. This is said to be the chief reason for bnnging the muskellunge out here, though in themselves they are a very gamy fish f’or sportsmen and their flesh is choice when properly cooked. It might be supposed by the uninitiated that there was danger to these young muskellunge from the fierce and warlike
nature of the carp, but this is not so “The carp is a vegetarian,” says Colonel Lambson, and will not eat these young fish. When they get a little bigger they will be more than a match for the carp. They can be depended upon to clean out the carp entirely in due time, for they are a fish of prey and fight like lions for tlieir food.
All slothful and useless fish the muskellunge prey upon, and will in time drive out
of ‘the waters. “I will probably visit the lakes we have stocked to-night in a day or two. again and then proceed to Monterey with this car. Here we expect to make a collection of native fish for the government fish exhibit at the World’s Fair. Yes; we will work pretty fast at Monterey, and hasten back to Chicago as speedily as possible.
The muskellunge— some authorities call it muskinonge— is the most beautiful
than the pickerel or pike.
But the meat of the muskellunge is compact, white, tender and particularly delicate and rich in flavor, without partaking of any taint of extraneous substance, such
as decayed wood and bark, which so commonly affect the flavor of pickerel and even
trout. “In Canada the muskellunge often attains a length of seven feet and weighs as
high as from 60 to 70 pounds. But when so large they are not so richly flavored as
those weighing 30 or 40 pounds. The favorite way and the best way to angle for these fish is with a troll and reel. A feathered squid is the best bait. You will find these fish very gamey. They will fight against capture up to the very last moment, and a certain degree or skill is necessary to land them successfully.”
Colonel Lambson accepted the hospitalities of Deputy Babcock this morning when his special car reached the city, and today he will have a consultation with the members of the State Fish Commission.”
Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy Mitchill
“The largest of the pike family (Esocidae), the muskellunge is native to the United States east of the Rockies and central and eastern Canada (where it is called the maskinonge). It is a highly predacious fish and the respected quarry of specialized anglers.
93,000 muskellunge fry were received from Chautauqua Lake, New York, and planted in Lake Merced (California Fish Commission Report for 1893–94, p. 29–30, 75; Smith 1896, p. 437–438).