« ForrigeFortsett »
before sunset, draw their boats up on the rock, prepare their flies, chat, and smoke their pipes till the wished-for moment arrives, when there is a simultaneous movement towards the boats, and in a few minutes they are all afloat. This moment, most exciting to those who are fond of the sport, must be witnessed to be appreciated. At the time of the sun's disappearance below the top of one of Jura's mountains to the west, the smooth and glassy intervals between the currents present an unbroken, speckless, mirror-like surface, when, after an interval of about ten minutes, the golden track of the sun's descent being no longer visible, in an instant, as if by magic, a thousand bubbles and small circles are perceptible, indicating the arrival of a host of fish at the surface; and to these spots all the fishermen speed their way, rowing backwards and forwards through them at a gentle pace; and if the fish be in good humour for taking the fly, which is generally the case if the evening, or rather night, be fine, each person who has the management of the rods will have continuous occupation, excitement, and sport till half-past ten, eleven, or even sometimes as late as twelve o'clock; following the fish from one favourite spot to another, as every now and then they disappear from one place and exhibit themselves in another; so that the rowers have as much excitement in the pursuit as the man at the rods, in the taking of the fish. At eleven or twelve, when the first act is over, the boats retire to the island, and await the morning's fishing; which is as good as the evening's, only not so durable, as it commences at two and finishes about four—i.e. half an hour before sunrise. When the fish take freely, I do not know any kind of fishing more exciting than this nocturnal rod-fishing; as it will constantly happen that you will have a fish on each rod at the same time, 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.
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 despatched 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. All sorts of fish may be taken in it. At night it may be used for salmon and salmon-trout, and in the daytime 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, with the same caution as is required in the use of 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 for the purpose, with the corners rounded, so that there may be no impediment to the letting out the net 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 he 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 must be done by two persons, especially when it is intended to reset the net, one taking in the lead, the other the cork line. 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 daytime, have made yourself thoroughly acquainted with the nature of the shore where you intend to operate, otherwise you might 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