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 In Mystic Pond, there are few fish at present. The fresh-water perch, which appear in the sun like a fragment of a rainbow shooting through the water, are the most numerous. The bream are not uncommon; but their size is very small. The tomcod come to winter there, and are easily taken thus: Some ten or twelve of them gather about a small stone, very near the shore, and each makes its nose to touch the stone. The fisherman sees this unfrightened family circle quietly reposing; and he suddenly and strongly strikes the ice with an axe, directly over the unsuspecting group. The blow stuns the fish; and he quickly cuts a hole, and takes them all out! Of minnows there are scarcely any, owing to the presence of that fresh-water shark, the pickerel. Eels are taken in winter by means of forked irons, thrust into the mud through holes in the ice; and smelts are taken at the same time, in the river near Charlestown, by means of the common book. Oyster-fishing is another branch of trade carried on from Mystic River. In the early settlement of our town, oysters were extensively used as food, and they were easily taken. They so far abounded in that part of the river which is now between our turnpike river-wall and Malden Bridge that they obstructed navigation. Mr. Wood, speaking, in 1633, of these hinderances, has these words: “Ships, without either ballast or lading, may float down this (Mystic) river; otherwise, the oyster-bank would hinder them, which crosseth the channel.” This oyster-bank is one of those unfortunate institutions whose fate it has been to be often “run upon,” and on which the “draughts” have been so much greater than the “deposits” that it long ago became bankrupt; yet, like an honest tradesman, it has never despaired; and, within our memory, has made some good fat dividends. In 1770, the sludge from the distilleries was supposed to have poisoned these shell-fish. Lobsters have not frequented our river in great numbers; but, in 1854, they came up in large companies as far as Chelsea Bridge; and, in the warm month of October, more than two thousand, of prime quality, were taken from that bridge! The names of all the fishermen in Medford cannot be recovered; but, among them, there have been men of that great energy which secures success. The fish found their market chiefly in Boston; and were sometimes cured, and sent in barrels to the Southern States, as food for slaves, or to the West Indies for common consumption.
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