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again. You will readily perceive when you have a bite, as the mackerel are strong for their size, and bite sharply. The resistance offered by the advancing of the boat, at the same time that it hooks them, adds very sensibly to their weight.
When your fish is hooked, draw him in gradually, not allowing the line to become slack, and then lift him gently and perpendicularly into the boat, as he is less liable to become unhooked in this position. On a good day each line may take several dozen. If there be no wind, so that the sail cannot be used, you can then have recourse to the oars; but you must not expect as good sport as with the sail; though you may take a few.
If you have no mackerel for a bait to start with, you can try a white fly, or a bit of red cloth; with both of these I have frequently taken them. If you do not see any mackerel playing anywhere on the surface of the water, observe where the gulls are hovering, and try under them, as both gulls and mackerel will be in pursuit of the young herring, and consequently not far distant one from the other.
Mackerel generally come into the sea-water lochs in the West of Scotland in the month of July, and are very abundant till the middle of the month of September, when it is supposed they take their departure; but their movements are regulated by the young herrings, which they invariably follow in large shoals. When fishing for mackerel in this manner, you will frequently take gurnet and codling, especially the former, as they, like the mackerel, are also constantly in pursuit of the young herring.
I must not omit to mention that the best bait for this fishing, next to a piece of mackerel, is a piece of the belly of the gurnet; and in one respect it is the better bait, inasmuch as one piece will sometimes last for several days. It is so tough that it never tears, especially if it be kept for a day, and dried before it is used; whereas the bait made from part of the mackerel is soon destroyed, and requires replacing by a fresh one.
The way to prepare the gurnet for a bait is to clear away all the flesh from the white skin of the belly with a sharp knife, and then lay it on a board to dry; when it may be cut, either with a sharp knife or pair of scissors, into pieces in the shape of a small fish, about two inches in length, and a quarter in breadth. After being dried it becomes so tough, that you cannot get even the point of the hook through it without making an incision with the point of a sharp knife. I have tried white leather; which will not answer the purpose, as it soon becomes dark-coloured in the salt-water; whereas the gurnet skin becomes more white by use.
When engaged in this sport, be sure to have plenty of ballast in your boat—rather too much than too little, as you are always liable to a sudden breeze in a sea-water loch, no matter how fine the day may be; and without this precaution you may be upset in a moment, with the sun shining upon you at the time.
SEITH AND LEITH FISHING,
WITH ROD AND LINE, WITH WHITE FLY, BT NIGHT, IN THE SOUND OF JURA.
At the northern end of the Sound of Jura, which is about eight or nine miles in breadth and twelve in length, there is a small rocky island, lying north and south, nearly midway between Jura and the south-eastern part of North Knapdale, and about five miles from Crinan, in the immediate vicinity of which there is excellent rod fishing, for seith and leith, during the months of May, June, and July, whenever the weather may be favourable. May and June are, however, the best months, as the seith and leith occasionally, during the month of July, desert their usual places of resort in quest of the young herring. This sport commences about ten minutes after sunset; and if the moon be at the full, or thereabouts, and the night fine and calm, may be carried on till eleven o'clock, and sometimes as late as even twelve; and be recommenced at about two o'clock in the morning, and continued till half an hour before sunrise, when the innumerable multitudes of fishes, which have enlivened the surface of the water, simultaneously disappear, and the sport ends.
The island in question is almost a barren rock, rising in the centre some twenty feet above the surface of the water. The sides, in many parts, slope down to the water's edge; thus affording an easy access to small boats, especially as the sea is perfectly calm at the sides, the current being diverted by the opposing ends of the island, as the tide flows north and south, flowing to the north, and ebbing southwards. The upper part of the rock is rough, rugged, and uneven, with a few straggling tufts of grass here and there, intersected by hollow spaces holding water. This spot is the resort of innumerable sea-swallows and seagulls. The former, which are not visible during the winter months, make their appearance in this vicinity on the 15th of May; and as they commence breeding in June, and select islands of this description for the purpose, their eggs may be found in great abundance, two or three together, in any small cavity on the surface of the rock, without scarcely any semblance of a nest. The eggs are about the size of a golden plover's egg, and somewhat similar in appearance, although not so uniform and regular in size and colour. When boiled hard, they are almost, if not quite, as good to eat. I have sometimes found on two small islands as many as 200 in one day, and as many more after an interval of four or five days.
The island of which I have commenced the description as the scene of piscatorial operations is about 150 yards in length, and from 25 to 30 in breadth. From its tortuous and irregular construction, it forms several small nooks or bays at the sides, excellent for boat fishing with rods, in addition to the tranquil spots between the currents at each end of the island. As in the immediate current, at the moment of either the tide's flux or reflux, two men can scarcely row against the stream, and at the very highest tide I question whether even four men could do so, it is essentially necessary, even in the very finest weather, to have two skilful and powerful rowers to keep your boat whilst you are fishing within the intermediate spaces, in the centre of which there is scarcely any current; but which commences, and gradually increases, as you approach the sides. And as these sports, from the narrow