« ForrigeFortsett »
latter must be gaffed as soon as they reach the surface, and lifted into the boat, there being an experienced person expressly for this purpose; for this operation must be performed cleverly and promptly, or many a fish may escape, especially the large conger eels, whose throats it will be advisable to cut the moment you get them into the boat, as they are very savage and will sometimes make a disagreeable use of their teeth. Never attempt to lift a fish of any size into the boat with the line. The person who gaf's the fish ought to unhook them immediately they are in the boat, and till this is done you ought not to proceed in taking up your line.
With this line, in a good season, you will frequently fill your boat with first-rate fish. In addition to cod, haddock, ling, and conger eel, very fine large skate are taken; and when in condition and of the first quality are an excellent fish. In cold, frosty weather these fish are considerably improved by being hung up in the open air for several days; having, in the first instance, been skinned, the bad parts cut away, the remainder thoroughly cleaned and washed. Besides skate, various monsters of the deep are sometimes taken, more curious than serviceable.
The most amusing part of this fishing is the taking in of the line, although some consider the gaffing of the large fish equally so; and perhaps it is more exciting, especially where a large conger eel is in question, as from their tortuous, rapid, and violent evolutions, they are difficult to gaff exactly as you desire, and care is necessary in depositing them in the boat, so as, in the first instance, to avoid their teeth, before they are rendered harmless, this act being immediately necessary for your security; but the person who performs this operation will find a pair of waterproof over-alls indispensably necessary, or a pair of long fishermen's boots, and also a thick pair of warm woollen gloves. In some of the lochs in the west of Scotland the cod and haddock are very fine, being weighty and of first-rate quality. I have taken the former from 20 to 30 lbs. weight, and the latter from 5 to 8 lbs.
On one occasion, having visited a neighbouring loch in company with a friend (in the month of November), with the assistance of three men, and the use of a good boat, with our long line baited with salted herrings, as we could not procure fresh ones, we made two ventures, leaving our line in, on each occasion, three hours, and caught thirty fine cod and seven or eight haddock. Many of the cod were 25 lbs. weight, and some few 30 lbs. —none less than 10 or 12 lbs. weight. The haddock were from 5 to 8 lbs. weight, and as good in every respect as the Dublin Bay ones. If we had had fresh herrings, I am convinced our success would have been considerably greater. Our line had 500 hooks.
LONG-LINE FISHING FOR HADDOCK, CODLING, WHITING, FLOUNDERS, ETC.
This line needs not be either so long or so strong as the one used for larger fish. If you have 500 hooks, which is a fair quantity, your line must be 1,500 feet in length; the snoodings on which the hooks are fastened being only three feet apart: these are three feet long; two feet of strong whipcord, and one foot of horsehair: the hooks of moderate size, the common tin ones being the best. This line can be bought ready made at any of the fishing-tackle shops in the large towns of Scotland. They are sometimes made with as many as 1,500 hooks; but a line of this size could not be baited and arranged for setting under an entire day, even if two skilful hands were employed: and two are requisite, one for the purpose of opening the mussels, the other for putting them on the hooks. For one man it would be an endless task; but a line of 500 hooks is sufficient to take a good quantity of fish, and show excellent sport; better, I have always thought, than the stronger line, as you take more fish, and a greater variety, though the weight will be considerably less.
The only bait for this line is the mussel; and some skill is requisite in opening the shell and putting the bait securely on the hooks. If it be badly opened, or unskilfully put on your hooks, even if well opened, you may lose all your baits and take no fish; you must, therefore, take care to get a person who thoroughly understands baiting the line to perform the operation. In the first place, the mussels must be taken out of the shell entire; especial care being taken not to cut the head in half, as the hook must be passed through the head, that being the only hard part capable of holding it, and then twice through the body, the latter being twisted round, so as to cover the point of the hook; with this precaution the bait cannot be taken without the fish being caught.
This line is set precisely in the same manner as the larger one, with two buoys and a stone at each end; but there is some difference to be observed as to the time of setting it, and also as to the length of time of its remaining in the water. The best time for setting this line is at day-break. If there be plenty of fish in the loch, one hour will be quite long enough to allow it to remain; if fish be scarce, then two hours; but on no account longer, as skate, large cod, and conger eels would take your whiting or small flounders, and break and damage your line, this line not being strong enough to hold heavy fish. It will hold haddock well enough; but even these, when large, must be humoured and played with as you draw them to the surface, always having some one ready by your side with the gaff, to hook and lift them out of the water.
When the line is carefully taken up and deposited methodically and regularly in the basket, it requires comparatively little time to prepare it for rebaiting and resetting; but if it be taken up in a careless and slovenly manner, and the fish not unhooked regularly, it will require hours to disentangle it. On being brought home it ought to be hung up immediately to dry, on a bar of wood placed horizontally between two poles; out of doors if the weather be fine and dry, within doors if it be damp or wet. Without this precaution it would soon become rotten and useless. When perfectly dry, it may be placed in the basket ready for rebaiting. This line, like all others, and nets, must be always kept out of the reach of mice and rats, especially when it is baited overnight, ready for setting in the morning. You cannot be too particular in this respect, the fresh mussel being an additional attraction.