Editor The Star: There's a very odd kind of fish around the San Juan Islands. These fish are called tom cods because, although they have somewhat the appearance of a codfish, they really have the habits and instincts of a cat—and also a cat's head.
Tom cods won't bite at a fishhook. Some fishermen say the best method is to train dogfish to catch them. Others declare that bullheads make the best catchers.
An Irishman, by the name of Ben Swansen, has had better success catching tom cods than any other fisherman on the islands. Swanson uses a ten-penny nail, bent in the middle and tied on the end of a long silk cord, which, in turn is suspended from a bamboo pole.
On the nail is fastened a small sponge soaked in cream. When the tom cod begins to suck this sponge, nine bullets must be immediately fired into the fish's head. Two revolvers are sometimes found necessary for this operation unless a large magazine gun is used.
If only eight bullets take effect, the tom cod would still get away with one life left. This is generally a discouraging situation, but patience must be cultivated and marksmanship thoroughly mastered.
These fish are highly prized by fashionable New Yorkers and are served at nearly every exclusive luncheon on Fifth av. The largest toms bring about $15 apiece.