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I have never tried a worm in the lochs, but in burns it may be successfully used; in fact, on certain days, is much more killing than a fly; and there are numerous pools, which are in such difficult positions, that it is impossible to throw a fly cleverly across them; and as in these there are frequently the greatest number of fish, the worm is the only alternative. These burn trout, although very dark-coloured, are very sweet and good. Their average size is one-eighth of a pound.
TRAWL, OR DRAG NET, FOR SALMON AND SALMON-TROUT.
This net is used after sunset, and through the night, if the weather be fine and suitable; it is most effective for taking salmon and salmon-trout. The best time to commence operations is when the tide is beginning to flow. Four men are required to draw the net ashore. The spots in the loch resorted to by salmon and salmon-trout, at the rise of the tide, are those close to the shore, where any burn or rivulet empties itself; and these must be approached in your boat as silently and cautiously as possible, so as not to alarm or disturb the fish. Two men will get into the water on one side, near the shore, with one end of the net, one having the upper, the other the lower rope; you will then row to the other point which you wish to make, and let the other two men down with the other end of the net; all parties will then commence simultaneously dragging the net ashore. You will very soon know whether you are successful or not, by the leaping and splashing of the fish enclosed. The person remaining in the boat, as there must be a fifth, will follow the net as closely as he can, in order that he may be ready to lift it off any stone or sea-weed with which it may chance to become entangled.
Before commencing this sport, it will be necessary, during the day, to reconnoitre perfectly the scene of your intended operations, so as to be thoroughly conversant with the nature of the shore; by which means you will know exactly where you may let your men down into the water; and sometimes it will be necessary to remove branches of trees, and other obstacles, which may have been brought down accidentally by the fresh water, as these, although small, if allowed to remain, might not only defeat your manoeuvres, but tear and damage your net. Do not attempt, to enclose too large a space, or commence in too deep water, as the fish might escape by the sides before you have time to enclose them. A bottle of whisky, to regale the men after each draught, will be found to be not without its advantage.
This net may be used most effectively for other fish during the day, in fine, warm, sunny weather. For salmon, I believe, it is now illegal; in fact, trawling for even herrings is prohibited. Whether this restriction is necessary or not, for the protection of the herring, is a contested point.
LONG LINE, FOR COD, HADDOCK, CONGER EEL, &c &c.
This line is productive of excellent sport in any loch where cod and haddock abound. The season for these fish commences in November, and extends through the winter months. As the season advances these fish gradually approach the mouth of the loch and proceed out to sea as far as the nearest bank, where they may be as easily taken as in the loch, subject of course to the suitableness of the weather. In the loch, in ordinary weather, a small well-built boat of from ten to twelve feet will be perfectly safe, especially if built expressly for this purpose; but in the open sea a much larger and stronger boat will be requisite. The long line may be from five to six thousand feet in length; one of six thousand feet would take five hundred hooks, and these must be twelve feet a part. The lines to which the hooks are attached are called snoodings, made of strong whipcord three feet in length; the hooks the ordinary size sold for cod fishing. The best bait is fresh herring. If you cannot get these, then salt ones, after being well soaked, will be a tolerable substitute. One herring will make three baits. The head must never be used.
It will require time and trouble to bait this line and arrange it properly in a basket for setting. Two buoys will be wanted, one at each end of the line, attached by a separate cord. The best time for setting this line, if fish are abundant, is at break of day, allowing it to remain in about three hours; if, however, fish be scarce, then it may be set in the evening and taken up the first thing in the morning. You cannot be too particular in this respect, as you may have taken some large conger eels; and although they may have remained perfectly quiet till morning, yet as soon as daylight appears they commence their endeavours to liberate themselves; in which -attempt they are very
likely to be successful, greatly to the prejudice of your line.
Having ascertained the best place for setting your line, and having it baited and properly arranged, with your two buoys with a cord to each end of a hundred feet in length, or more, according to the depth of the loch, and two good-sized stones of sufficient weight to keep your line steady when set, you will proceed with your boat with two men, as one man would not suffice if there were anything of a sea. When arrived where you intend commencing, you will set one of your buoys afloat, it having been previously well filled with air and attached to one of the cords; to the extreme end of which you will fasten one of the stones and the end of the line, letting the same gradually down till it reaches the bottom, when the men may commence rowing the boat in the direction you desire as fast as the letting out of your line will admit of, taking care to keep the line tight during this operation. When you reach the other extremity of your line, you will fasten the other stone, and, after having attached the cord to which the other buoy is appended, you will let the stone gradually down, and then as you row off you may set the other buoy afloat; it will soon find its proper position.
If the two stones are of a proper weight, the line will lie steadily between its extreme points, s