One of the most interesting of sights is to see one of the schools of minnows that fairly abound in Lake Tahoe. In the clear and pellucid water one can clearly see them swim along. As they pass a rocky place a trout will dart out and catch his prey. A flutter at once passes through the whole school. Yet, strange to say, the trout will sometimes swim around such a body and either stupify them with fear, or hypnotize them into forgetfulness of their presence, for they will float quietly in the center of the mass, catching the minnows one by one as they need them without exciting the least fear or attention. The minnows generally remain in fairly shallow water, and keep so closely together that a line of demarcation is made between where they are and outside, as if it had been cut with a knife along a straight edge, and in some mysterious way the fish dare not cross it, though it constantly moves along with their movements.
It will be obvious that necessarily there is much market-fishing in Lake Tahoe and its surrounding lakes. Indeed there are large numbers of fishermen—Indians and whites—who supply the various hotels both of the Lake region and in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and adjacent cities, and even as far as Denver and Salt Lake City, eastwards, and Los Angeles to the south. These fishermen are very persistent in their work, keeping at it from early morning until late at night, though their catches are supposed to be officially regulated.
The amount of fish caught and shipped by these market-fishermen is remarkable. In 1911 the report shows that over 22,000 pounds were sent out by express, over half of which were sent from Tallac alone. And this does not take any account of the amount caught and eaten by private residents around the Lake, by the visitors or by the hotels.
The fish that are to be shipped are not, as one might naturally suppose, packed in ice. Experience has demonstrated a better way which is now universally followed. At Tallac the hotel has a large place devoted to this process, which is practically as follows: Each boatman has a fish-box, numbered to correspond with his boat. These are kept in the water during the season, and if the catch of his “fare” for one day is not sufficient for a shipment it is placed in the box. When a sufficient number is on hand, they are taken out by the boatman, carefully cleaned and hung up to dry in fly-proof, open-air cages. When perfectly dry inside and out they are packed in sweet-smelling Tallac Meadow hay, and shipped by express.
Many visitors cannot understand why there are no fish in some of the lakes that, to their eyes, seem just as well adapted for fish as others that possess an abundance. Even old timers do not all know the reason. If a lake is shallow, when the deep snow falls it soon sinks below the surface in a heavy mushy mass that presses down upon the fish and prevents their breathing. Then, if a severe frost follows