your operations if favoured in this respect with a prospect of success. The larger space you can enclose with your net the better; but you must take 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 may be placed at right angles to the shore, 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 be taken out every third day, and be thoroughly dried, and remain out at least for twenty-four hours, as if constantly allowed to remain in the water it would soon become rotten and useless. At the end of every season it ought to be well soaked in bark and catechu, and when thoroughly dried, hung up in a perfectly dry place; by this means, and with proper care, a good net will last for two or three seasons. A good net of this description will cost from 31. to 51. When this net is not in use, it ought occasionally to have the benefit of the air on a fine dry day, this being essential to its preservation; and when hung up within, ought to be out of the reach of rats and mice, as they would seriously damage it if they could get access to it; and a precaution of this nature is necessary, as rats abound by the sea shore, where houses and farm-buildings are contiguous.


The fresh-water lochs in Scotland abound in trout, and afford excellent sport to those who are fond of fly-fishing, and who prefer numbers to size; as the trout are generally numerous, but small, so that many dozen may be taken on any favourable day.

In some of the largest and deepest lochs, trout of three, four, and five pounds may be taken; but these large fish are neither so abundant, nor are they so easily taken; in fact, they are rather difficult to take, except with a particular fly, or by trolling. The fish are of excellent quality, although their exterior is very dark. The lochs containing these superior fish are so very rare on some moors, that perhaps out of a dozen, eleven will contain only small fish.

If you are not contented with the productiveness of the rod, you may try a more wholesale implement, called an Otter. This is made of wood or cork; the latter material, however, being decidedly the better of the two for the purpose. Its length may be from one to two feet, and half that measure in depth; breadth, one inch; the shape, that of a boat; a piece of lead screwed into and along the bottom, so that it may move perpendicularly. On one side you must have a small strong wire rail, about four inches in length, projecting about one inch. On this there must be a small ring, to which you will attach your line; by which means you can draw the otter to either the right or left. The end of your line ought to consist of three or four yards of strong gut. To this you may attach your flies, at intervals of from two to three feet; a dozen or more flies, as you may think proper. Your gut end must be attached to a good line, which you can manage with a strong rod and multiplying reel. To work the otter effectively, there must be a slight breeze; the moment it is afloat, it will move off spontaneously, and may then be directed as you desire, as you walk slowly, by your management of the rod and reel; so that you may fish either at a distance in the middle of the loch, or by the sides, as you judge best. You will readily perceive the fish rising and hooking themselves, and can bring your otter in whenever your line is sufficiently loaded, and you are in a good position for the purpose.

Experience will soon teach you the most effective manner of using this wholesale implement.

On some waters the use of it might be considered unfair and poaching; but on these Highland lochs a benefit is conferred by the removal of these small trout, as their very superabundance is the occasion of their being so diminutive. It is useless attempting to fish with the otter on a

« ForrigeFortsett »