1. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    North American fish question...?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by BayView, Aug 6, 2016.

    I have a character who was blindfolded and fed fish. (just go with it).

    I want him to use the type of fish as a way to narrow down his location. Ideally, I'd like to place my story in the Great Lakes region of North America (write what you know!).

    Is there a kind of fish that would only be found in a great lake, not in a smaller lake or river? Would someone reasonably be able to identify this type of fish by taste?

    (If it matters, the story is currently set in late spring, but I could be flexible about that. Not winter, but any other time of year could work).

    Thanks for any help, fisherfolk!
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not even sure if that's possible. Being from western Nova Scotia, I immediately thought (if it were set there) that rainbow trout would be the way to go, but those are found all over the country, maybe even all over the continent (or the world). And any lake fish found in the Great Lakes would likely be found in just about any other lake as well.

    Still, I could be way off (fish are not an area of specialization for me). In your Googling, did you happen across this list of Great Lakes fish? Perhaps by process of elimination you can zero in on something... or just extrapolate and make that sucker up (a sucker is a type of fish, BTW). ;)
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I found the list, but couldn't find one that wasn't also a regular lake fish.

    If I set the book in Nova Scotia, how would the rainbow trout be a useful clue? Just because they taste distinctive and aren't ocean fish?
     
  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    How about a fish that isn't necessarily unique to the Great Lakes, but very common? Could he maybe make a presumption from that?

    Had a quick look around online, and while I'm no fish expert I think you're going to struggle to find a fresh-water fish unique to a specific lake. Fresh water is fresh water.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
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  5. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, if there was a fish that was common in the Great Lakes but not in smaller lakes in the same area...

    I was thinking about Atlantic Salmon? I think they go into the small lakes at different seasons, so maybe I could figure something out based on that.
     
  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  8. Eaveah Tail

    Eaveah Tail New Member

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    You might want to make some phone calls or write some e-mails to professional people that deal with this sort of thing. I don't live in the U.S and don't know how things work there but my guess is that near any type of big lake/park area there is some sort of office that has knowledge about this. Maybe even one of the bigger institutions that deal with fish and their patterns. They might be able to give you a more precise and correct answer than any of us could. Unless of course there is one such person here. That's my advice anyway.
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I asked a former Michiganite. He suggested bluegills or steelhead pike, but not with the offer of any guarantee that you wouldn't find them plenty of other places.
     
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  10. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I doubt there are any fish that humans would eat found exclusively in the great lakes. You could consider backstory that places your character at the great lakes at some point in his life. He eats fish there and notes a particular flavor.

    Alternatively, sea lampreys pose a threat to many fish in the great lakes. Fish who have been damaged by lampreys are easily identifiable by the large circular wounds. perhaps the fish fillets have telltale circular wounds? This is, admittedly, a stretch. If the fish is being served raw as a torture, then this may be more feasible. If cooked and cleaned, it probably won't work.

    A downside to the lamprey approach is that sea lampreys, as you may imagine, also live in the sea.
     
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  11. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe he reads the label from under his blindfold, reads sardines of Canada, or recognises the blend of tomato sauces, also a ringpull device or a tin-opener? All clues to location and time.
     
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    There's a huge difference between the taste of farmed trout and wild trout from the brook I used to fish in as a kid. It could be that all wild trout tastes the same no matter where it comes from, but...

    I thought of something that could shed a whole different light on this.

    Beer tastes different depending on where it's made. For instance, I drank Keith's in Nova Scotia and, a few years after moving to Calgary, it became available there, too. But it didn't taste the same. I found out it was brewed and bottled in Alberta under license rather than being 'imported.'

    The beer tastes different because the water tastes different and that's because the mineral content of the land varies depending on where you are.

    So, it's possible that fish would pick up flavours from the water as well, flavours that your character's discerning tongue could pick out.
     
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  13. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    And one more thing...

    It may not matter what species of fish it is if the water-added flavour is distinct enough.
     
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  14. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    The taste of Lutefisk (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk) which is bizarrely popular in some parts of Minnesota is not to be mistaken for anything else from what I've heard.
     
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  15. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Set it in greenland. Feed him Hakarl. Problem solved.
     
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  16. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    You could try Asian Carp. They aren't necessarily exclusive to the Great Lakes, but as the map shows, they're pretty confined to the Midwest area. They dominate most of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and are continuing to migrate. They aren't native to the US and are very destructive to local wildlife, so most people who know fish know where Asian Carp have been popping up.
     
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  17. theamorset

    theamorset Member

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    I don't think these suggestions are of fish that are unique to the Great Lakes. Menominee, a delicate white fish, might work. They have a small, fragile jaw. We caught them using little spawn bags and tiny hooks.

    Most fish in the Great Lakes require a fair amount of skill, time and water depth, to catch. I caught my state award fish with 280 feet of line out on a fully rigged charter with sonar, downriggers and drift anchors. That might not fit in so well with a story.

    Steel head are a type of trout stocked in some locations in the Great Lakes. They only run at specific times of year. We went for them in November. Might not fit in to your story's timeline.

    Walleye (pike perch) are an often big, desirable fish on the Great Lakes. But not unique to the Great Lakes. And not easy to catch.

    But if those force feeding the fish were pressed for time or in a cheap mood, they might stop at a creek that goes under the road and just hand catch some buffalo fish or other suckers (red horse, etc.) which have runs up the streams at key times of the year(spring, early summer only). They're some of the dumbest, easy to catch and most unpleasant-tasting fish around. More suited for torture than nutrition. They taste like mud.
     
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  18. theamorset

    theamorset Member

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    Lutefisk is made from cod, an ocean fish. It's shipped to Minnesota.
     
  19. theamorset

    theamorset Member

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    Bluegills are widely distributed (everywhere) and steelhead pike isn't a thing.

    Oh, and Menominee has an incredible, delicate texture. You wouldn't even have to taste it to identify it. It has a unique round, long body shape and fin placement.
     
  20. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Right. Which I why I quoted the post about using a regional recipe for fish, not necessarily where the fish is native to.
     
  21. theamorset

    theamorset Member

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    I know, but it's also shipped to a lot of other places, too, like California. I can get it here (not Minnesota or California).

    It has to be rehydrated through long soaking and rinsing. It's shipped dried out.
     

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