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or nets, with the exception of trawling or splashing for salmon and salmon-trout within a mile of the shore,—the exclusive right to these fish being secured by Act of Parliament to the landed proprietors contiguous to whose shore they may be found within the above-named distance; but all other fish may be taken in any way.
In some of the best lochs, turbot, soles, haddock, cod, whiting, mackerel, herring, flounders, skate, gurnet, leith, seith, and conger eels abound. There are also certain parts of some of these lochs which abound in oysters and lobsters; and fishermen have sometimes brought me scollops and razor-fish; the latter are plentiful, but the former are not so. To enjoy this sport in perfection, a good boat, nets, lines of all sorts are required, and the aid of a man who thoroughly understands boating and fishing; the latter will be especially necessary to ensure safety as well as success. Those who live in the vicinity of these lochs can alone enjoy this profitable and recreative amusement to any extent, in consideration of the numerous appliances which are requisite. I will first mention the various methods of fishing, with the names of the implements used, and then give such information as I possess upon the different modes of operation.
1st. Deep-sea trawl, for taking all sorts of fiat fish, such as turbot, soles, flounders, &c. 2nd.
Bag-net, used exclusively for salmon. 3rd. Dragnet, or trawl, used for taking salmon, salmontrout, and any other kind of fish. 4th. Splashnet, for all sorts of fish. 5th. Long line, with 500 large hooks, for cod, haddock, skate, conger eel, &c. 6th. Long line, with 500 small hooks, for haddock, whiting, codling, flounders, and gurnet. 7th. Hand line, for whiting, codling, flounders, gurnet, &c. 8th. Long leaded line, for mackerel, used either in sailing or rowing. 9th. Eod fishing with white fly, from the stern of the boat, for leith, seith, and herring.
As the water is frequently very rough in seawater lochs, and squalls come on very suddenly, a good well-built boat is essentially requisite, in order that you may carry on your operations efficiently and securely: in fine weather, during the summer months, a boat of about 12 feet keel will suffice, but in the autumn and winter months, when the weather becomes uncertain, a much larger one will be necessary,—one from 16 to 18 feet keel, with good breadth of beam, i.e. -^ of her keel; this boat will carry mainsail, foresail, and jib. If she be built of the best materials, copper-fastened, and feathered and finished in the best possible style, she will cost from 151. to 201., exclusive of four oars, the sails, and other requisites, which will amount to about 101. more. The smaller boat would cost about 11. she would require a lug sail, which she would carry well on a fine day with a moderate breeze; but the greatest caution is requisite with a boat of this size at All times, but more especially on a gusty day, as she is easily upset if not properly managed; and in all lochs you are constantly subject, even in the finest weather, to squalls, but more especially when the wind is at all in the east, or if there be any dark clouds flying about.
On no account put up a sail in a small boat, unless you thoroughly understand the management of sails; and, when hoisted, let the rope which holds the sail, i.e., the sheet, if fastened, be secured only by a slip knot, so that you can unloose it in a moment; but it is safer to have it in hand, through a ring fixed to the gunwale of the boat for the purpose. The rope which secures the sail to the beam, i. e., the halliard, ought not to be tied in a knot, but merely doubled back behind the iron pin which holds it, so that the person sitting near the mast can liberate it the instant you order him to do so, and thus let down the sail. Whenever the weather happens to be boisterous and squally, it is always prudent to have one person sitting near the mast with the halliard in hand. Be sure, also, to have sufficient ballast; this is of vital importance; without it there is no security, even if there be only an ordinary breeze, the day fine, and the sun shining on you. You
are always exposed in sea-water lochs to occasional strong blasts of wind, which you cannot always perceive arriving on the surface of the water, as they sometimes come over the tops of the mountains and descend upon you without notice; hence the danger in a small boat with sails, without skilful and prudent management.
If you apprehend danger with your entire sail, take in as many reefs as you can, lowering your sail proportionately at the same time; and if the breeze be too powerful for this reduced quantity of canvas, then luff up, down with the sail, and use your oars. Never allow your boat to be dead on the water or lose her way, by luffing her too much, i. e., turning her head too much to the wind when a squall strikes the sail, as this is a most dangerous position to be in,—but keep the sail full, easing it a little; and when you tack, never tack down wind, or you will infallibly be capsized, if there be anything of a breeze: this is what sailors call 'jibbing,' and can only be done in safety when the breeze is very slight, and then must be done cautiously, letting out the sail at the same time.
If you cannot tack cleverly, it is safer to relax your sail and use your oars, otherwise the boat may become stationary and exposed to considerable danger, in the event of a strong blast of wind arriving precisely at that moment.
ON SEA LOCHS, ETC.
Since writing the preceding chapter, so many accidents have occurred within my own immediate knowledge, involving on each occasion the loss of lives, from the incautious use of the lugsail in small boats, that I cannot refrain from adverting to some of the circumstances connected with it, in order that those who visit the Highlands, and who may be induced to venture on the sea-water lochs in a small open boat, may be on their guard whenever the use of the sail is proposed, and not be deluded into a state of false security because the day is fine, and the men employed are reputed skilful,—as the accidents to which I allude have not happened to the inexperienced, but to men thoroughly conversant with the use of boats and the nature of the lochs, and well aware of the risks and dangers they might encounter, but who were either too bold, or negligent of the most ordinary precautions.
The sea-water lochs are generally surrounded by high land, mountainous and uneven, so that the wind, by being checked in some places, comes with redoubled and concentrated force in others, thereby occasioning squalls whenever there is more than an ordinary breeze; and if a squall strikes a small boat, and there be either insufficient ballast or too much sail, she will be in great