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Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine
Browns Bank. This bank lies in a northeastern direction from Georges and is separated from it by a gully 15 miles wide, in which the depths range from 100 to 450 fathoms. Its area is about 2,275 square miles. The greatest length, from SE to NW, is 63 miles and the greatest width is 43 miles. It is situated between 64° 52" and 68° 29" west longitude, and 41° 50" and 43° 02" north latitude.
There is a small rocky shoal on the northern part, on which, it is said, there is not 9 to 15 fathoms. The bank slopes away from the shoal, S. and E. to depths of 55 to 75 fathoms, but at a distance of 12 or 15 miles off, it again rises to 30 to 50 fathoms. This area of shoal water, within the 50 fathom limit, is 50 miles long and has an average width of 15 miles. North of the shoal the water deepens suddenly to 70 and 80 fathoms. The bottom is largely coarse sand, gravel, pebbles, and rocks and is rich in animal life. The area of the bank is approximately 1,370 square geographical miles.
Tides here are quite as strong as on the eastern side of Georges Bank, the ebb having an average strength of 1 1/3 miles an hour and the flood is somewhat stronger. The greatest strength of the flood tide sets W. the ebb in nearly an opposite direction.
Haddock, cod, cusk, halibut, pollock and hake are the principal food fishes procured from this bank, ranking in volume in the order named. In value, however, halibut takes third place in the list. Cod are plentiful here in winter, though fewer vessels fish here than on Georges Bank, at that season. At other seasons the codfishery on Browns Bank compares favorably with that of other banks in the vicinity. Cod are present the year around, in May and June feeding in depths of about 40 fathoms, going into 80 fathoms in August, and into depths of about 100 fathoms in cold weather.
Haddock, also, are present all the year, the period of greatest abundance being usually January and February. In March and April they are most abundant in 27 to 30 fathoms; at other seasons they are in 50 fathoms and deeper, especially in winter, when generally they can be found in 80 to 100 fathoms. Cusk are present in the deep water all the year.
Older reports say (1880-81): "Halibut were formerly found here in abundance, but at present the fishery is limited to an occasional trip off the southern and western edge." It will be noted that a fair amount of halibut was taken here during 1923, when this bank ranked third in volume of halibut taken, which seems a good showing when the comparatively small size of the ground is considered. Fairly good catches have been made SW from the Northwest Peak of Browns, about 66° 50' west longitude and 42° 40' north latitude, along the 100-fathom curve and following eastward to the southward of La Have and beyond, perhaps to 63° west longitude.
The Southeast Peak is perhaps the most productive of the halibut grounds here, "setting" off from the shoaler parts into the narrow deep-water channel between this and Georges perhaps 20 miles distant.
A considerable part of the fish listed under the heading "Miscellaneous" are swordfish, which come upon this bank during their summer wanderings.
It will be noted that the number of otter-trawl fares from this ground is small. It is only in recent years that this method of fishing has been employed here, the bottom having been thought to be too rough for the successful operation of gear of this type upon it.