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pulling with all his might, and bending the point of your rod below the surface of the water, and sometimes it happens that one escapes with a rod and line, and then you are obliged immediately to pursue your rod if you do not wish to lose it. If it gets into the current it is no easy matter to overtake and recapture it: but this rarely occurs, as the fish when hooked generally take a perpendicular direction, and not a horizontal one. However, whenever the "contre-temps" does arrive, it creates confusion and spoils sport.
One boat will sometimes take as many as 200 fish in one night; generally from about half that quantity to 150. The farmers and poor people who pursue this mode of fishing, salt their fish and keep them for their winter's use. The seith are by no means a first-rate fish. The small ones are, however, very good; the larger ones only fit to be salted; and the leith, both great and small, are a first-rate fish, quite equal to the whiting. I have taken them frequently of a pound-anda-half weight; but very much larger ones are sometimes caught.
To pursue this rod fishing comfortably, a pair of waterproof overalls and a light macintosh are essentially requisite, as in swinging the fish into the boat five out of six will strike against your body; and if you fish with one rod under the water, which is a mode frequently and successfully resorted to when the fish do not take freely on the surface, keeping the point of your rod down in a perpendicular direction as low as you can, in raising your rod to bring in your fish you will receive a large supply of water down the handle of the rod; against which inconvenience you can only be protected by your waterproof sleeves and overalls: and towards the morning, in the very finest weather, you will be readily accessible to cold, and to the extreme discomfort of having your clothes saturated with sea water, which would inevitably be the case without this waterproof protection. Independently of the wet, you will not find a little extra clothing through the night an incumbrance. Woollen gloves I have also found to be a great comfort in this sort of fishing.
In addition to this island at the northern end of the sound, to which I have just alluded, there are numerous others equally worthy of the sportsman's notice, which I have visited at different seasons of the year, either for fishing, shooting, or in quest of sea-swallows' eggs. Some in groups of three or four together, some singly; some near the shore, others at a distance from it; some large, some small; some with excellent pasture for sheep and black cattle, others with heather and coarse grass; and some few smaller ones almost exclusively of rock. In the immediate vicinity of all these there is good rod fishing at particular seasons of the year; the largest fish being generally taken near those which are most distant from the shore. Where the islands are parallel to one another the fishing is generally very good, the currents being strong in the channel between them and at the extreme ends. About those which are isolated the currents are not so strong and the fishing not so good, with the exception of such as are at a distance from the shore, where the tide is always powerful and the fishing excellent.
Some of these distant islands are large, and good for wild-fowl shooting, affording the sportsman, from their peculiar construction, great facilities of access to the fowl, which assemble during the winter months in very great abundance; invited and attracted by the numerous nooks and corners which are sheltered from the wind and undisturbed by the eurrent. On two or three, where the pasture is good, I have constantly found and shot wild geese, and frequently snipes, and occasionally golden plover. These islands are at a short distance beyond the southern end of the sound, and about one mile and a half from the shore, and are, perhaps, the very best of all the islands for fishing; herring, as well as large seith and leith, being constantly taken in great abundance. All three fish take the same description of fly, the herring only requiring a smaller hook; this being the only change necessary when they make their appearance.
Sometimes one person will take as many as 200 in one evening; and this is considered very successful sport with rods, although many thousands may be taken with nets; in which case the produce is estimated by barrels. The net fishermen are generally the regular professional fishermen, whereas the rod fishermen are composed of amateurs, farmers, and peasants living on the coast; but even with the rod and line many of the latter contrive to take, during the summer and autumn, sufficient fish to salt and dry for their winter's supply. In the winter many of the peasants bring the long line and hand line into beneficial requisition; the method of using which I have already fully explained.
About the end of June and beginning of July the herrings arrive from the south in very large shoals, and after remaining a few weeks, move northwards. During the time they are in the sound and in the neighbouring lochs, rod fishing is uncertain, as seith and leith, as well as fish of every description, leave their usual places of resort in pursuit of the herring's fry, which may be frequently seen in myriads; and as these are constantly in motion, being urged by their numerous voracious pursuers, they are rarely to be found long together in the same place; but as they have enemies in the air as well as in the water, in the shape of sea gulls, equally assiduous in pursuit, fishermen are generally informed to what spot they can successfully direct their operations.
As a general rule, whenever there are any herrings in any loch, sound, or by the coast, every other kind of fish is plentiful; and when they disappear, fish are scarce for a season. The herrings in the Sound of Jura, and in the contiguous lochs, are small and very inferior to those taken in Loch Fine, which are perhaps the largest and best-conditioned caught anywhere. They are taken by thousands and dispatched in boxes by the steamers to Glasgow, Liverpool, and elsewhere, a small quantity of salt being sprinkled between each layer.
THE SPLASH NET.
This net affords excellent sport; it is not so effective as a drag net, but is more manageable, demands less trouble, and requires fewer hands.