Gateway to the Classics: Fish Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
Fish Study by  Anna Botsford Comstock

Fish Study

"It remains yet unresolved whether the happiness of a man in this world doth consist more in contemplation or action. Concerning which two opinions I shall forebear to add a third by declaring my own, and rest myself contented in telling you that both of these meet together, and do most properly belong to the most honest, ingenious, quiet and harmless art of angling. And first I tell you what some have observed, and I have found to be a real truth, that the very sitting by the riverside is not only the quietest and the fittest place for contemplation, but will invite an angler to it."

—Isaak Walton.

dropcap image EAR, human, old Isaak Walton discovered that nature-study, fishing, and philosophy were akin and as inevitably related as the three angles of a triangle. And yet it is surprising how little the fish have been used as subjects for nature lessons. Every brook and pond is a treasure to the teacher who will find what there is in it and who knows what may be gotten out of it.

Luckily there are some very good books on fishes which will assist materially in making the fish lessons interesting: Fishes, by David Starr Jordan, is a magnificent popular work in two volumes; American Food and Game Fishes, by Jordan and Evermann, is one of the volumes of the valuable Nature Library. While for supplementary reading the following will prove instructive and entertaining: The Story of the Fishes, Baskett; Fish Stories, by Holder and Jordan; "The Story of a Salmon," in Science Sketches, by Jordan; Neighbors with Wings and Fins, Johonnot; Half Hours with Fishes, Reptiles and Birds, Holder.

Almost any of the fishes found in brook or pond may be kept in an aquarium for a few days of observation in the schoolroom. A water pail or bucket does very well if there is no glass aquarium. The water should be changed every day and at least once a day it should be aerated by dipping it up and pouring it back from some distance above. The practice should be established, once for all, of putting these finny prisoners back into the brook after they have been studied.


"Noon time and June time down around the river."

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