Author of" Book of the Black Bass" "More About the Black Bass" etc.

Iadopt the name of Mascalonge for the largest and best member of the Pike family as it seems to be the accepted one with the majority of angling authors and anglers. The derivation of the name is involved in much obscurity and is ascribed to both Indian and French origin. It has been variously called Mascalonge, Muscalonge, Muskellunge, Muskallonge, Maskinonje, Maskinonge, Masquinongy. etc., etc. On the statutes of Canada it is spelled "Maskinonge," and there is a county, and I believe a village, of that name in the Dominion. Mr. Fred Mather has investigated the origin and etymology of the word to a greater extent than any one else, and he favors the Chippewa derivation of the name; "Maskinonje," as opposed to the French derivation of "Masque allonge," and its variations. But common consent and custom has decreed among the majority of anglers, as I said before, that it is "Mascalonge," and Mascalonge it will be for generations to come.

And lately there have been changes made in its scientific name, both generic and specific. For many years the Mascalonge has been known to naturalists and anglers as Esox nobilior-and a very good name by the way-but owing to the inflexible law of priority, nobilior must stand aside for masquinongy, a name supposed to have been given by Dr. Mitchill-but his original description cannot be found, though it is partly quoted by DeKay in his" Fishes of New York." On better evidence, perhaps, the generic name Esox is now displaced by the more suitable one of Lucius, so that our Mascalonge must now be called Lucius masquinongy instead of Esox nobilior.

However confusing and unnecessary, as many anglers are inclined to think is this matter of changes in fish nomenclature, they are not made without good and sufficient, and in most cases imperative, reasons. It is unfortunate when an old and characteristic name is displaced by a new and, it may be, an incongruous one, but it cannot be helped in the effort to arrive at a more perfect and permanent classification and nomenclature of our fishes. In connection with this recent change in the scientific names of the Mascalonge I might mention, as a curious instance of the irony of fate, that its scientific specific name is derived from the Chippewa, and its common name from the French.

The Mascalonge, or Muskellunge as it is usually pronounced, is a magnificent fish, truly the noblest of the pike family, being the largest game-fish of fresh waters, and the only member of the family fit for the table, though it has been much overrated in both respects. Its maximum weight is forty pounds, though it has been taken weighing fifty or sixty, and Dr. E. Sterling, of Cleveland, Ohio, states that he speared one in 1844 weighing eighty pounds!

As there has always existed among anglers more or less confusion in reference to the identification of the Mascalonge Lucius masquinongy and the true Pike or great northern Pickerel (Lucius lucius), it may not be out of place, here, to say that the different species can always be readily determined by observing the scaling of the cheeks and gill-covers, and the number of branchiostegal rays, without reference to the coloration or markings of the body of the fishes.

The lower margin of the gill-cover, in most fishes, is provided with a membrane which extends under the throat, where it meets its fellow of the opposite side in the median line. This membrane assists in closing the gill-openings; and in order that it can be open and shut readily, it is provided with a number of parallel bony rays called branchiostegals, which vary in number in different fishes. In the Mascalonge there are from 17 to 19 on each side, while in the true Pike or great northern Pickerel there are but 14 to 16, and in the eastern Pickerel [Lucius reticulatus) and western or Grass Pickerel [Lucius vermiculatus) 12 or 13.

Just back of and below the eye is the cheek {pre-operclè), and behind this is the gill-cover {operclé). In the Mascalonge the lower half of both cheek and gill-cover is entirely naked, while the upper half of both is more or less covered with scales. In the Pike the scaling of the gill-cover is similar to that of the Mascalonge, but the whole of the cheek is covered with scales, while in the eastern Pickerel and the little western or Grass Pickerel, both gill-cover and cheek are entirely clothed with scales.

I have examined specimens of the Mascalonge from the St. Lawrence; Lake Erie; Indian River, New York; the Upper Mississippi; Eagle Waters of Wisconsin; Conneaut Lake, of Western Pennsylvania; Chatauqua Lake, of Western New-York; and the heads of six specimens from the tributaries of the Ohio River (one from Tennessee River), and find that there are no important structural differences; they all agree so well in regard to the number of branchiostegals, and in the squamation of the cheeks and gill-covers, and in measurements, that they must be considered as one and the same species, with a geographical variation in coloration only.

In the Mascalonge of the St. Lawrence basin the sides are covered with roundish, dark gra\' or blackish spots, more or less distinct, on a lighter colored, greenish or grayish ground. These spots are more pronounced in the young, being then quite dark and distinct, but in the adult they become more diffused and of a grayish hue, though always more distinct toward the tail.

A few years ago it was thought that the habitat of the Mascalonge was confined to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, and that it occurred nowhere outside of these limits. As shown above, however, it is now known that its range is much more extensive. It was also supposed that in all cases the Mascalonge was always dark-spotted on a lighter-colored ground; but as already stated, while the young are always thus marked, these dark spots become more or less obscure or obsolete with age, and the largest specimens will exhibit a uniform grayish coloration, with brownish or greenish reflections. I have seen large examples from the St. Lawrence basin that were apparently identical in color with others from Eagle Waters and the Upper Mississippi of similar size and weight.