The Fallfish or White Chub

by Fly Fisherman

The Fallfish or White Chub
(Semotilus coporalis)

ORIGINAL HABITAT AND PRESENT RANGE.—The native habitat of this particular fish is somewhat confined to the eastern United States and southern Canada. Although it is reported found in only twenty-two of the forty-eight states it no doubt enjoys a much wider range, as some of the Western states, where it is found, report it as native.

FAMILY.—Since it is a member of the minnow family, which includes more than two hundred different species, it probably has not long been recognized as a fish to furnish sport.

GENERAL LINES.—The general lines of the body are very similar to those of the trout. And the fins, all of the soft-ray type, are the dorsal, pectoral, ventral, anal, and caudal. The general silvery color of the body is overmarked with various colors which produce a brilliant color effect.

SIzE.—It often attains a size of eighteen to twenty inches in length, but the average size is much smaller—about six to ten inches. It inhabits the rivers and creeks in either cold or warm water. Usually found in small schools, this fish is rapidly becoming more popular as one to catch with rod and line. Some states are now engaged in artificial propagation of fallfish to furnish fly-fishing sport where the trout will not thrive ; also to supply the streams with a food for other fish.

FOOD AND FEEDING HABITS.—It feeds toward evening by taking insect life from the surface of the water. At this time the fly fisherman has plenty of chance for some good sport. Its chief food consists of small aquatic insect life of the larval and mature stage, small crustaceans, terrestrial insect life, worms, grubs, and plant life. As a general rule it feeds only during the day although it has been taken at night on flies.

USUAL WATERS INHABITED.—This fish may be found in the bass streams or the lowland trout streams. It prefers to remain in the swiftest part of the stream where it awaits any food of its choice.
It is not uncommon to find this fish at the head of an extremely swift pool, where it seems to remain with all ease. When the fallfish is feeding in this particular area there is ample opportunity for the fly fisherman to have plenty of sport in swift water.

SPAWNING.—The spawning period usually occurs in June.
This fish has a peculiar habit of piling up large pebbles, ranging in size from an inch to an inch and a half in diameter,
for a nest. The fish carries the pebbles in its mouth. The nest may be from three to four feet wide and ten or more inches high and is located in the swift water. When this tedious task is completed the female deposits the eggs, which may number from 1,000 to 4,000 according to the size of the fish. The eggs are adhesive and stick to the stones on the spawning bed. They hatch in about seven to ten days. The nest is protected during the incubation period but after hatching the baby fish are deserted.

ARTIFICIAL PROPAGATION.-At the present time the artificial propagation of this fish is very largely in an experimental stage. To date it has been somewhat of a failure insofar as production is concerned; however, some progress has been made. Almost all other fish which are artificially propagated are confined to still waters, but this is not suitable for the fallfish. Since this fish demands swift water in which to build its nest it is necessary to prepare methods which will speed the water enough to meet its natural demands. A sufficient supply of gravel also must be supplied with which it can build its nest. Unless this is done the fish soon develops a sore mouth as the result of attempting to secure sufficient gravel, which usually results in death of the fish.

VALUE AS F0od.—For food this fish does not rank very high although many people enjoy it in preference to other fish. The flesh is firm and very fine-grained. If not dressed almost immediately after catching—unless kept on ice—it becomes very soft and will be unfit for human consumption in a short time.

VALUE TO OTHER Fish.—The true value of this fish and all other minnows is as a forage fish for other fish. Nature intended the minnow family to be a food supply for other fish, and to some extent for fishermen to use as live bait for fishing. However, the careless use of live bait by fishermen and commercial dealers has depleted the minnow supply in many of our streams; and the drought periods have helped, too.

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