This fish, commonly called Jack-fish in Canada, is that long-snouted, somewhat repulsive fish that everyone knows; and it needs not description. Its flesh is quite edible in northern waters, but nevertheless it is never used for food by the Indians when Whitefish and Trout can be got. I caught many of those fish on spoon or minnow, and took one on the rod weighing eighteen pounds.
The Pickerel, an American species of Pike, is very similar to the above, and was almost equally common, and taken with the same lures.
The Red Sucker is very plentiful in Reindeer Lake, and in the river flowing into it, and is often caught in nets along with the Whitefish. It is used for dog-food, but only seldom for human food, although the heads cut off and boiled are often eaten by the Indians, who consider the eyes a delicacy. The flesh is white, but somewhat soft, and, if used for native food at all, is dried or smoked previous to consumption. In shape they are a broad-backed, round-barrelled fish of equal depth and width, while below the blunt-pointed snout is the puckered, toothless, circular mouth from which they derive their name. They weigh, as a rule, between two pounds and four pounds. In colour the fish is white underneath, with the under-fins tinted with shades of yellow and reddish chrome ; the back and upper sides are medium dark shades of blackish-brown with a clear pinkish tint overlying the ground colour on the full length of the middle sides ; the gills are yellowish.
In summer these fish are often seen in great shoals in the clear shallow waters of rapids, and their colours then show beneath the surface with oriental brilliancy.
The Black Sucker is very similar, but lacks the bright colouring of the Red variety. Both are fish imperturbable by any kind of lure, failing the possession of nets they may be speared in shallow water.
The Alaska Herring or Mooneye Cisco is probably the strange little fish which I saw taken for food purposes at the south end of Reindeer Lake. None were caught at Fort Du Brochet at the north end of the same lake, and the Indians declare they are known only at the first-named locality, which appears very strange. I saw many of those fish when passing on my way north, but omitted to secure specimens. And unfortunately when I returned in winter the lake was frozen, and none were procurable, though I tried.
I am unable therefore to positively establish the identity of this species, but certainly record the location so that at least the presence of this small herring-like fish, which is apparently peculiar to one particular section of water, may be noted and investigated later by others if not by myself.
Reindeer Lake is undoubtedly very abundantly stocked with fish, and one is prone to wonder if, in time, it will come to be exploited by the white race on account of their food value.
But meantime its vast expanse lies undisturbed; virgin-for one can almost discount the piscatorial activities of the handful of Indians that now live on her shores, for those are the activities of but a limited number of individuals who can make no visible impression on this inland sea. . . .
And so, of the future of Reindeer Lake one dreams, or is prone to dream, when camped by her shores when the sun is lowering in the gold-rippled, peaceful West, and the air vibrant with the churring of nighthawks. . . . And, as you muse, and night creeps in, further sounds of the wild awake and catch your acutely tuned ears, as does even the minute rustle of a mouse in the grass in the breathless intervals of overawing silence. . . . And at last, as if aware you had been waiting for it, from the shadow-filled swamp near-by arises the elf-song of the white-throated sparrow in mystic sweetness. . . . Then are you glad to cease your ponderings; glad that Time has not changed this wonderland: and that yours is the good fortune to camp on Indian hunting-ground, in the Indians' deep-shadowed land.