Inconnu (Stenodus Leucichthys MacKenzii) In Great Slave Lake and adjoining waters
Fuller, William A.L.
The inconnu, Stenodus leucichthys mackenzii Richardson, is a fish found in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of North America, and in some of the rivers which flow into it. It has been known to science since 1823 when Richardson first nublished a description of specimens caught in the Mackenzie basin. Even before this time, however, it was well known to the French-Canadian fur traders who spoke of it as a "poisson inconnu". Mention has also been made of this fish in the narratives of Mackenzie (1801) and Hearne (1795), the latter being the first to record its presence in Great Slave Lake. Although the.fish has been known and used as food for more than 150 years, very little has been learned concerning the details of its life history. Published accounts have dealt mainly with the distribution. Some details of taxonomy and life history were given by Dymond (1943). The inconnu made up about 5 per cent of the commercial catch in Great Slave Lake in 1945 and 1946 and is of considerable importance to the native population, therefore when the Fisheries Research Board of Canada undertook an investigation of the fresh water biology and fisheries of Great Slave Lake, one of the problems chosen for special investigation was a study of the inconnu. The survey occupied three seasons of approximately four months duration. Each season routine examinations of inconnu were made. This included the recording of fork and standard lengths, weight and sex, examination of stomach contents, collection of parasites and taking of scale samples. In October of 1945 individuals returning from the spawning grounds on Big Buffalo River were examined by Mr. P. A. Larkin whose notes have proved to be very valuable. In 1946, measurements and counts of body parts of a number of inconnu were made, and the writer, accompanied by .R. E. McFadden, made a trip by canoe to Big Buffalo Lake which was thought to be a spawning ground of this fish. These data were suplemented by a daily census of the catch of individual fishermen carrying on commercial fishing operations, and by concerning the native population. The latter source provided information concerning the domestic consumption as well as information and misinformation concerning certain phases of the life history.