The American shad, Alosa prmstabilis of naturalists, one of the most esteemed fishes which frequent our waters, gives profitable employment to a large number of fishermen both on the New York and New Jersey sides of the Hudson river, and constitutes a much more important branch of piscatorial industry than is generally supposed. These fish, leaving the ocean every spring, in vast numbers, penetrate most of the North American rivers which flow into the Atlantic,for the sole purpose of breeding and spawning in fresh water, after which they return, thin and poor, to recuperate their strength in the briny deep. The further South we go, the earlier in the season are they found to make their appearance. The period of the first arrival of shad in the Hudson river, varies somewhat according to seasons, or as old fishermen believe, with the state of the moon. The very first fish, which always sell at fancy prices, are generally caught during the month of April. By the end of June the last of the stragglers has found its way back to its salt water home. We are indebted to three brothers, James, Samuel,and John Ludlow, of Weehawken, N. J.,—who have been regularly engaged in shad fishing for more than thirty years, and whose father, James, and grandfather, Anthony Ludlow (an old soldier of the r$volu4ion)v'before them, followed the same profession,—for a cossffiBerable portion of the account we publish, of/the usuali manner of catching this excellent fish. Everyone, who during the early months of the year, has crossesto or from NeWTork, to -Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Bull's ferry, etc., or. who has had occasion to travel up or down the North, river, must have noticed long lines of poles running across the river and projecting above the surface of the water, and on inquiry will have learned that these were shad fisheries. In general from 30 to 40 poles in a row constitute one fishing stand. In deep water, however they are less numerous. These poles are placed 30 feet apart. Their length varies from 20 to 90 and even 100 feet, this great hight being obtained by firmly splicing several pieces together; their lower ends are often from 12 to 18 inches in diameter, and 15 feet of the bottom end are tapered off to a point, so as to enable them to readily penetrate into the river bed. They are made of hickory or white oak, and when of large size do not cost less when set, than twenty dollars apiece. The mode of driving in the poles is illustrated in the following diagram, Fig. 1. Two boats C and C are placed parallel to each other. One of them, C, is made fast by means of a guy line B, to a post, or fixture of some kind, the second boat, C is held in its place by means of two anchors, A A, as shown in the figure. Two poles, D and D, are then placed crosswise over the top ot the boats and the pole, E, destined to be sunk in the river, is laid across them. This last pole is now tilted up, so that its sharp pointed heavy lower end will sink in the water at the bow end of the boats. When it touches bottom, it is hauled up and down, a certain number of times, by main force, so as to make it take a firm hold, after which a cross beam called a "ridingstick," Fig. 2, is firmly attached to it. On this riding stick, four men now stand up and by repeated measured jumps, drive the pole into the silt as far as it will go, often causing it to penetrate to a depth j of 25 feet below the bed of ' the river. This firm attachment is indispensable in order to preclude the possibility of passing vessels drawing out the poles. As soon as one pole is in its place, the guy line of the boat, C, is attached to it, the boat, C, again anchored out at a short distance, and anothe r pole sunk in the same manner as was the first. The same operation is repeated until the whole row is " planted." The nets wliich are spread between each pair of poles are from 20 to 25 feet in depth and their upper portion is generally situated at a depth of from 15 to 20 feet below the water surface, so as to avoid being caught by propellers, ships' rudders, etc. Over each pole is slipped a hoop, A, Pig. 3, to the bottom of which, by means of a fifteen fathom line called the "foot rope," B, is attached a heavy stone, C. The net is attached by one corner to the hoop and above to an " arm line," D, 15 fathoms in length. This arrangement as will be seen, allows of the passage of fish both above and below, as well as on the sides of the nets, when they are bagged by the tide. The following diagram gives an idea of this arrangement. The planting of the. poles, as well as all repairs to the nets, is made at low water slack. The meshes in shad nets vary from 4, or even less, to 6J inches. The best fishermen employ only these last, and derive a larger profit through the Bale of fewer but larger fish, than could be realized from a greater number of small and inferior ones. The nets are hauled up at every high water slack. Shad is a very tender fish,which in warm weather is generally dead before being taken oat of the net, but in cold weather it is much longer lived. The deplorable fact is but too manifest to-day, that the shad fisheries of the Hudson river, through unpardonable legislative negligence, are rapidly declining, so much so indeed, that unless some energetic measures be resorted to without delay in order to protect both fish and spawning grounds, not many years will elapse before this fine fish will have entirely disappeared from our river. Less than fifty years ago, shad were so abundant in the North River that they sold regularly at seven dollars per hundred : this year they brought from 30 to'40 dollars, and averaged 30 dollars. Thirty years ago the great porgie, the striped bass, and many other fine fish were caught in abundance a long way up this river, but at present they have entirely disappeared from it, as have also the sharks which in the olden time were a terror to the bathers of the metropolis. The shad, if not looked after will in less than twenty years be " a thing of the past." Not one half of the number of shad that went up the river twenty-five years a,gp do so at present, but the greatest falling off has taken place during the last five years. This is attributed not so much to the continually increasing steam navigation of the river which scares the timid creatures, as to the license allowed the kerosene refineries and gas works to poison the water with their residues, as is clearly proved by the fact that some years back fish could be kept alive for our markets for weeks at a time in tanks filled with the river water, whereas to-day they die within a very few hours after being put into it. The next reason for the rapid decrease in the number of shad is due to the fact, that this fishery in the Hudson is perfectly free and uncontrolled, that no regulations of any kind exist in regard to it, and that no laws hava been passed protecting the future interests of the community from the thoughless cupidity of present fishermen.* We earnestly commend this subject to our representatives. Eegulations should be passed strictly forbidding the catching or vending of shad before the first of March, or after the 25th of May, and also prohibiting the use of nets whose meshes arc less than 51 inches. ? A fine of $500 for each violation of the law, with $100 of it for the informer, would soon replenish our stock of shad.and all would eventually be gainers by it. The genuine fishermen of the North river, will, we know, be the first to sustain our views, and none but hungry poachers off the National domains will be found to oppose them. * The laws existing in regard to our North Eiver fisheries have become a dead letter to the fishermen, who are ignorant of their very existance, and unless the States of New Tort and New Jersey act jointly in the matter of new regulations, not much goodwill be done, even wliile stocking the Kiv-er through the process of artificial incubation, as commissioner Green is at present attempting to do, near Coeyman'8, some 150 miles up the Hudson. GOOD strong tea, cooled with ice and flavored with lemon, with the addition of a very little sugar, is an excellent drink tor hot weather. The Grape-Berry Moth. (Penthina vitivorana, Packard.) Scarcely a year passes but some new insect foe suddenly makes its appearance amongst us; and were it not for the fact that the ravages of others are at the same time abating, the destruction which they unitedly would cause would be intolerable. The insect which forms the subject of this article may be cited as an illustration of such a sudden appearance in many different parts of the country, for until last year no account of it had ever been published, and it was entirely unknown to Colors—(a) deep brown, pale bufl and slaty; (i) olive-green or brownish, science. It had, however, been observed in Ohio, for three or four years, and in Missouri and South Illinois. It has gradually been on the increase, and was never so numerous as last year. We found it universal in the vineyards along the Pacific and Iron Mountain railroads, in Missouri. It was equally common around Alton, in Illinois, and we were informed by Dr. Hull, of that place, that it ruined fifty per cent of the grapes around Cleveland, Ohio. It also occurs in Pennsylvania. Its natural history may be given as follows : About the 1st of July, the grapes that are attacked by the worm begin to show a discolored spot at the point where the worm entered. Upon opening such a grape, the inmate, which is at this time very small and white, with a cinnamon colored head, will be found at the end of a winding channel. It continues to feed on the pulp of the fruit, and upon reaching the seeds, generally eats out their interior. As it matures it becomes darker, being either of an olive-green or dark brown color, with a honey-yellow head, and if one grape is not sufficient, it fastens the already ruined grape to an adjoining one, by means of silken threads, and proceeds to burrow in it as it did in the first. When full grown it presents the appearance of (Fig. 1) 5, and is exceedingly active. As soon as the grape is touched the worm will wriggle out of it, and rapidly let itself to the ground, by means of its ever-ready silken thread, unless care be taken to prevent its so doing. The cocoon is often formed on the leaves of the vine, in a manner essentially characteristic. After covering a given spt with silk, the worm cuts out a clean oval flap, leaving it hinge'4 on one side, and, rolling this flap over, fastens it to the leaf, and thus forms for itself a cozy little house. One of these cocoons is represented at Fig.. 2, b, and though the out is sometimes less regular than shown in the figure, it is undoubtedly the normal habit of the insect to make just such a cocoon as represented. Sometimes, however, it cuts two crescent-shaped slits, and, rolling up the two pieces, fastens them up in the middle as shown at Fig. 3. And frequently it rolls over a piece of the edge of the leaf in the manner commonly adopted by leaf-rolling larvae, while we have had them spin up in a silk handkerchief, where they made no cut at all. In two days after completing the cocoon, the worm changes to a chrysalis. In this state (Fig 2, a), it measures about one fifth of an inch, and is quite variable in color, being generally of a honey-yellow, with a green shade on the abdomen. In about ten days after this last change takes place, the chrysalis works itself almost entirely out of the cocoon, and the little moth represented at Fig. 1, a, makes its escape. The first moths appear in Southern Illinois and Central Missouri about the 1st of August, and as the worms are found in the grapes during the months of August and Sep- tember, or even later, and there is every reason to believe that a second brood of worms is generated from these moths, and that this second brood of worms, as in the case of the Codling moth of the apple, passes the winter in the cocoon, and produces the moth the following spring, in time to lay the eggs on the grapes while they are forming. THE REMEDY. This worm is found in greatest numbers on sueh grapes as the Herbemont, or those varieties which have tender skins, and close, compact bunches; though it has also been known to occur on almost every variety grown. As already stated, there can be little doubt that the greater part of the second brood of worms passes the winter in the cocoon on the fallen leaves; and, in such an event, many of them may be destroyed by raking up and burning the leaves at any time during the winter. The berries attacked by the worm may easily be detected, providing there is no " grape rot " in the vineyard, either by a discolored spot or by the entire discoloration and shrinking of the berry, as shown at Fig, 1, d. When the vineyard is attacked by the " rot," the wormy berries are not so easily distinguished, as they bear a, close resemblance to the rotting ones. Many wine makers are in the habit of picking up all fallen berries, and of converting them into wine. The wine made from such berries is but third rate, it is true; but we strongly recommend the practice, as upon racking off the juice ol tained from them, countless numbers of these worms are found in the sediment, while unseen hosts of them are also, most likely, crushed with the husks. Those who do not make wine should pick up and destroy all fallen berries.—.. fflitmnologist.
This article was originally published with the title "The Shad Fisheries of the Hudson" in Scientific American 21, 6, 84-85 (August 1869)