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REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS.
To His Excellency, GOVERNOR RICHARD J. OGLESBY:
We beg leave to submit herewith our report as Board of State Fish Commissioners, from October 1, 1886, to September 30, 1888:
Since our last report we have encountered adverse, as well as favorable seasons, for our work. The high water early in 1887, and continued high water in 1888, has afforded opportunity for demonstrating the flexibility of our methods, as well as the fact that nature has provided ample means for re-stocking our streams with fishes indigenous to them, without recourse to artificial means of re-production. In spring of 1887, the water was out of river banks early, and as it quickly receded, left only the spawn to hatch. As a consequence the pools, lakes, etc., were filled with young fry only, when our work of taking them for distribution commenced. But few mature fishes were found in the shallow waters. The spring of 1888 opened with plenty of rain, and unusually high water, not only in the rivers, but in all the streams throughout the State. The water in the Mississippi river going over its banks early in the spring, and reaching the highest point, but one, known in forty years.
An immense area of land was, of course, submerged, and, as a consequence, every slough and hole along its banks were filled, and the fishes, seeking spawning grounds, filled them to repletion.
With this immense quantity of the product of the overflowed ponds available, we desired to utilize as nearly as possible the supply, having had some correspondence with the United States Commissioner on the subject of native fish distribution, and knowing him to be greatly interested in the work, we applied to him for assistance. He responded by placing at our disposal the use of two of the United States Fish Commission cars, with their respective crews, for the purpose of making our distribution. But, owing to the continued high stage of water, which on July 15 was still ten feet above low water, we found that the bass, croppies and other native fish, instead of depositing their spawn and going back at once, as is the case where water rocedes quickly, had taken advantage of the situation and remained until their young were of sufficient size and age to be taken back with them into deeper water. As a consequence, when the water commenced to fall, they returned to the river proper, or nearest deep water.
However, our work was only delayed by this circumstance, as the river, after falling about four feet, again began to rise, and with the rise these holes and sloughs were again filled with fish, larger than those we had saved in previous seasons, and when water was low enough for us to proceed with our work, we had for the greater proportion of our supply, breeders, or mature fish, to distribute. And while, from their size, it was impossible to carry anything like the usual number, yet, in point of fact, the interest of the waters was thus better subserved, in that, the smaller streams having been practically depleted, they would be the more speedily repopulated by planting with fish which would, by the next season become reproductive, than would have been possible by planting the usual number possible to transport, of small fish. Having secured the use of the cars, it was found impracticable to continue our former methods of gathering our supply, viz.: by means of small boats and crews; and some method which would insure greater quantities in less time, was a necessity. So, with the consent of the authorities, we procured a small steamboat, one we had used in former seasons,--the "Hannibal Eagle." The cost of the boat was about $400, and up to date, she has not only done our work, but has placed to the credit of our fund over onehalf her cost, -which will be found properly credited in financial statement and we think that before the season is ended, she will nearly have paid for herself. We built a barge, or live box, so constructed that, by use of gates, covered by a wire gauze, the barge could be, at any time, filled, and a current of water put through it, or when being towed, could be made water-tight, and towed up the river to point where fish were to be taken. The barge was twenty-five feet long, eight feet wide, and four feet deep, and when filled would contain as many fish as could be carried in a car, with safety.
The cars of the United States Commission, placed at our disposal, were built for the purpose of transporting trout, white fish, shad and carp, by the United States Fish Commission, and are used as well, for hatching white fish and shad, in their seasons, consequently had to be re-arranged so as to admit of tanks being placed in them for the purposes of the native fish distribution. Twenty tanks, calculated to contain about 80 to 100 gallons of water, were fitted into the larger tanks in the car, and with a crew of five men in each car, to care for them, the fish were taken to the various streams in the State. A car load contained from 4,500 to 6,500 fish, according to their size and condition, and the state of weather. These cars
were at our disposal from July 15 to October 5. The crews and men were maintained by the United States Fish Commission.
The transportation of these cars throughout the State was the next question to consider, as it would have been simply impossible to pay for it from our appropriation and perform the other work devolving on us, of taking and caring for the fish, etc. The Board ordered a circular letter prepared and sent to the various railroad managements, setting forth our necessities and asking their aid. A number of the roads promptly responded, and we were thus placed in a position to prosecute our work, without which assistance we could have reached but a small portion of the territory which their liberality has enabled us to cover. And in justice to the railroad managements, we wish to say now, that to their liberality we are indebted for the success of our work. More than this, the assistance given us has been cheerfully rendered, and it would be impossible to have had any better facilities, any kinder attention, or greater assistance from managements or employes had we been paying full rates for every mile we traveled, instead of being transported, as we were, free of expense. We have never asked a favor that was not granted; never desired à particular train that we were not given it, and water when needed, with every attention possible cheerfully accorded us.
To the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and Wabash railroad managements, however, are we especially indebted, as from the location of our headquarters (Quincy, Ill.), we have been compelled to get out over one or the other of these lines, and have required a great deal of shifting of cars, etc. Not one word of complaint has ever reached us.
We feel warranted in saying that the State is certainly indebted largely to the United States Fish Commission and our railroad managements, for the success of our work, and we think that our people should understand it.
We publish herewith the list of railroads granting us transportatiou for the cars and many favors:
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy R. R. Co.
Rock Island and Peoria R. R. Co.
INCREASE OF NATIVE FISH.
The practical results obtained by our mode of saving and distributing native fish are evident in almost every portion of the State.
At several points in the Mississippi river, above and below Quincy, have been taken, in large numbers, fine specimens of the wall-eyed pike, the product of our planting four, five and six years ago. The spawn was obtained at Green Lake, Wis., and after it was hatched, the fry was distributed at various points throughout the State and in the Mississippi river at a number of points.
During the seasons of 1887 and 1888, wall-eyed pike were taken from the river at Quincy in greater numbers than ever known before, and of a variety not common to the river, being unquestionably the product of the plants of 1880, 1881 and 1882. Some specimens taken weighed 51 pounds, and two were taken which weighed 67 and and 63 pounds, respectively. In taking the young
64 fish from the drying pools, thousands of young pike, one and two years old, were gathered, and with the rest of the products of such ponds, distributed through the State.
At Rockford, on Rock river, the catch of this fish has been remarkable this season (1888.) These were two and three years old, and are undoubtedly the product of the plant by the commission in that river, and give evidence of a very great increase since they were put in the river.
From Charleston, on the Embarras river, Mr. Weiss, Secretary of the Charleston Protective Fish Association, writes that there has been a great increase in the game fish in that stream, and that the catch of black bass, croppie, etc., has been remarkable. In Fox river, we are assured by those interested, that the increase of the finer qualities of tish, is noticeable. This is also true of
*Although out of the State, they generously tendered the use of their trains when the car was sent to pointe south of East St. Louis, thus avoiding lay overs and saving time.