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Catalog Number KSc032791
Collection NY Historical Society
Object Name Letter
Dates of Creation 1847/09/15
Scope & Content Stony Brook, Sept. 15th, 1947
My dear Lanman,
I fear I shall not be able to give you that information on Fish and fishing which you desire. I am but little acquainted with the historical account of them, their habits etc. All I can do, is to give you an account of the different kinds of Fish taken here, and the mode of taken them.
The first fish taken with us is Flat fish, with hook and line (clam bait, in deep water and muddy bottom), commencing the first of March, and sometimes as early as Feburary, and continue until first of May, after which time from some cause unknown to us they will but seldom bite at the hook owing perhaps to more abundant food as the season grows warmer; they then make their appearance on a sandy bottom, when we walk into their affections with the spear, as you may have witnessed. Flounders are frequently taken with the line, also with spear after the first of May until in the fall. Flounders feed upon the heads of soft clams, that accounts for so many clams found dead.
Porgee's are taken with the hook in our harbours and bays about the first of June, and so on as late as October. Black fish are taken with the line (when dog wood is in bloom) and continue with us until late in the fall, where ever there is a rocky shore to be found. Mr. Thomas S. Griffen took a black fish last season off Crane's Neck point, north of Stony Brook, weighing nine pounds. Three Gents from the City
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took sixty weight of black fish (from one to four pounds each) at the above Point, the third of July last. The bait used was soft clams. Fiddlers are sometimes used but not always with success.
Blue fish are taken by troling, and now and then we hook a striped Bonito. Striped Bass are taken here in the seine. Mossbonkers in the same way in large quantity. Drum fish, Sturgeon, Ray Skate, and Sharke are taken here with the spear or harpoon.
Trout are taken in many of the streams and ponds of the Island. Occasionally, Pike, White and yellow perch are also here. A white perch was taken out of Stony Brook Mill Pond last spring,weighing three pounds five ounces. If you will allow me to speak of eels, one was taken some years since in Stony Brook harbour by Capt. John Oaks, weighing 21 pounds, and was presented by him to one of the N.Y. Museums, and received a ticket of life membership.
Fish taken here with hook and line and with soft clam bait, are Flat fish, Flounders, Black fish, Porgee, Weak fish, the banded Gurnard, or flying fish, Swell fish, Black sea bass, Sheeps head, and King fish. The common Bergall are omnipresent. The tail part of the Swell fish are eaten by some but they should be skinned.
I believe many other kinds of fish visit us, if we understood the proper methods of taken them.
The Banded Gurnard (Sea Robbin, or Grunter, as they are sometimes called) are taken here in great abundance; they bite most voraciously at the hook, seldom stop to nibble and on that account no skill is required in bringing them
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in, and consequently not much sport is had in taken them.
They have never been prized very highly, but when boiled and mixed with butter and vinegar, or made into a chowder, there are but few better Fish to my liking. When I prepare them for cooking in this way I usually skin them, which is done very readily by cutting the fins from the back and belly with a sharpe knife, then cut on the belly towards the head and under the fins in like manner until that part is severed from the boddy, then take out their entrails and commence skinning on the back which easily comes off with less trouble than the usual way of cleaning them.
I have been led to make the above remarks from seeing a work on Fish which stated they were "seldom eaten as food," which remarks I have no doubt has induced many a fisherman who has fished more for his dinner than amusement to throw them away, when he might have made a good meal out of them. They are far better than Porgees, and I think equal to Black fish, prepaired in the manner above stated. You will please give the Grunter a reputation.
Ruth, by Page, from your description I should like to see her. "The Greek Slave" I have had the pleasure of seeing. Your remarks about the background are to the point. When
are you coming to see me? I may possibly be in the City about the first of October.
I thank you for the "Art news."
Yours very truly,
Charles LKanman Esqr.
Wm. S. Mount

Dear Lanman, It runs in my noddle that if you should feel disposed to publish a chapter on spearing flat-fish-the breed will be used up and I shall have to mourn the pleasures of the past.