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All sorts of fish may be taken in it. At night it may be used for salmon and salmon-trout, and in the day time for mackerel and for any other fish which may be in season. To take salmon and salmon-trout with it at night, you must approach those parts of the shore either in the sea-water lochs, or on the sea coast, where any burn or rivulet empties itself, and must exercise the same caution as with the drag net, by commencing your operations as silently as possible. The net must be properly arranged at the stern. of the boat, across a plank made specially for the purpose, with the corners rounded, so that there may be no impediment to the letting your net out with speed and facility. One person can perform this operation.
In the first instance the net will require wetting, as it will not go out well when perfectly dry. A stone, of sufficient weight to keep the net fast and steady when in the water, must be fastened to the lead line at each end: the first stone must be dropped close to the shore. Take care always to have your lead line on the side you are enclosing. After the first stone is dropped, the person rowing the boat will proceed as quietly as possible, and as quickly as the lowering of the net will admit of, to the point which you intend making; when this is reached, the other stone may be thrown out as near the shore as possible. If the lead line goes down well, the cork line will generally take care of itself. Having enclosed the space you wished, you will commence rowing backwards and forwards, and making as much disturbance as possible in the water, in order to drive the fish into the net; as those fish which do not strike in the first instance will do all in their power to avoid getting into the net, either by leaping over the top or by passing by the sides, if there be the smallest possible intervening space: but the largest and best fish generally go into the net at once, and, when once in, are safe enough, provided the net be taken up properly; and this can only be done by two persons, especially when it is intended to reset the net, one taking in the lead line, the other the cork one. This must be done simultaneously, the lead line being kept a little higher than the cork one; by which means a bag is formed, preventing even the smallest fish from escaping, as in addition to salmon and salmon-trout, very fine flounders and codlings are frequently caught.
When it is intended to continue splashing during the night, the net must be taken in carefully on each occasion, the lead line being folded backwards and forwards on one side of the board, the cork line, in a similar manner, on the other side. When this is well done, the net will, on the following occasion, go out of itself as the boat advances, with merely a slight pressure of the hand to keep it in its place.
To use the splash advantageously at night, the tide and weather must both be in your favour; and you must previously, in the day time, have made yourself thoroughly acquainted with the nature of the shore where you intend to operate, otherwise you may be disappointed, and expend your labour in vain. The night must be perfectly calm and still, and, in the next place, it must be low water; and if it happens that the moon is in that quarter in which there is little tide, so much the better, you will have a longer time for your sport and a better chance. Immediately after sunset, salmon and salmon-trout approach close to the edge of the shore, in those places where the fresh water descends, especially if the tide be ebbing; so that you may then commence your operations if favoured in this respect. The larger space you can enclose with your net the better; but you must take great care not to get your net into too deep water, bearing in mind exactly how far you may venture from the shore, guided by your previous examination of the coast; as sometimes the bottom shelves off suddenly, so that if the net were dropped into too deep water, the lead would not reach the bottom, and the fish would escape under it.
In those places where you cannot have the advantage of any side of the shore to drop the end of your net upon, but are obliged to fish parallel to it, it is a good plan to drop the net in at one end in a semicircular form, and to splash from the other end, at right angles to your net, backwards and forwards. The net, in the first instance, must be dropped in as silently and expeditiously as possible, and the splashing commenced instantly you reach the end of your net, and carried on vigorously. I have frequently seen this plan adopted with great success.
In those lochs where the water is deep, and where the construction of the shore is such as to admit of no facilities of using this net in any of the ways above described, then a very much larger, longer, and deeper net is required to give you anything like a chance; and many circumstances must conspire to ensure success, especially if the neighbourhood be such as will not admit of your leaving your net out through the night with safety. The tide must be low, the night not too bright, and, if there be a slight breeze, so much the better, the net can then be placed in those parts of the loch where you know salmon and salmon-trout are in the habit of passing to the fresh water; one end of the net as near the shore as possible; a small anchor at each end to keep the net tight, otherwise the fish will not mesh. Having placed your net, you must remain at one end of it in your boat; and can examine it at the end of one or two hours, or whenever you hear fish strike. On some nights, when the fish are on the move, many may be taken in this manner; but success is uncertain, and waiting rather irksome: but in a loch of this description you have no alternative.
When mackerel are in the loch, this net may be left in all night, and visited the first thing in the morning. If a shoal happens to pass, a large quantity may be taken. From one to three hundred I have known caught and taken in one night; at all events, if in the height of the season, a score or two may be constantly secured in this manner almost every night. The net must be placed at right angles to the shore, but where there is little or no current. A small anchor, or stone, must be attached to each end, so as to keep the net tight; the end which is near the shore must be as close in as possible, so as to admit of no intervening space, as all fish pass near the shore; and this you will soon discover if your net be well set, by finding the bulk of the fish taken at this end. If you have seen mackerel playing during the day near the shore, you cannot do better than to place your net there just before sunset. The net may sometimes be left for days very advantageously in the same place, and visited at intervals; but it ought to