The varied selection of minnows shown in the colored plate are indigenous to the entire northern continent of America. They are but a small portion of those available for planting or breeding purposes. In the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie, minnows and other natural fish food is ample and sufficient, indeed they are so plentiful that large supplies could be withdrawn for planting elsewhere. It is the smaller, much fished lakes and streams that need the earliest attention. To continually capture small fish from recently stocked water, where food is scarce, is the height of folly, and vain efforts to mend matters by continued restocking has little or no results. If we feed the young fish, they will grow and restock themselves. The situation is apparently so simple and plain that fish culturists either do not study it, or are hampered to such a degree as to be helpless. They must be aware that seventy-five per cent of streams and lakes are of no service to the community, being almost entirely barren of edible fishes. The question will be asked, "Why is it so, and what is the remedy?" The reason and remedy is lack of food. Provide it and plant it. Then edible fish will thrive. There is no water on the face of this broad continent, of high or low temperature, running or still, muddy or clear, but what will breed some species of food-fish of great value to the people at large, from eels, catfish, carp, perch, sunfish, pickerel to bass, trout, and salmon. Minnows are far more prolific and abundant in the South than they are in the North, which is due to climatic conditions that allow breeding throughout the year where they may be found plentiful in small muddy ditches of water at a high temperature.
Minnows And Young Of Other Fish That Game-Fishes Consume As Food.
In the North conditions are not so favorable because they lie dormant in the mud during severe cold. In the Catskill region, while waiting for snow and ice water to run off, I can judge to a day when the brown trout begin to rise by the appearance of minnows and redfins as forerunners of them. Before snow-water runs off, the stream side is absolutely bare of fish and insect life. The average date when they appear is the 3d to the 7th of May.
It is not possible here to describe how to breed minnows in captivity. It has been and is being successfully done at the Beaufort Hatchery, North Carolina, and in other places, according to the bulletin previously mentioned. Aside from breeding, if intelligent efforts are made in the transfer of minnows from places where they do breed that are devoid of game-fish, to where those fish need them, the result will be found to be very advantageous at far less cost than propagating game-fish fry, the greater part of which goes to feed adult fish of some kind or other.