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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, COD
LING, 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 snoudings 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 gatf, 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.
DESTRUCTION OF VERMIN.
THE preliminary measure towards the preservation of game is the destruction of vermin; without it, other efforts and expense will prove entirely unavailing; and as this end can be attained by the adoption of proper means through the instrumentality of assiduous and competent keepers, I will endeavour to explain some of the methods which I have known to have been adopted with the greatest success. I will, in the first place, commence with ground vermin, viz. common cats, polecats, stoats, weasels, badgers, &c., these being the greatest enemies of grouse, partridges, pheasants, and hares. After having disposed of these, I will invite attention to flying vermin.
Of all ground vermin, the common cat, when once addicted to prowling, is by far the worst and most destructive to game, especially to partridges when they are breeding. A keeper must therefore make a point of destroying these prowlers on the very first opportunity, as when once given to prowl, they never relinquish the habit, and prefer killing their own food to being fed at home; fortunately for preservers of game, they are easily caught. For them, as well as for all other ground vermin, no trap is superior to a common steel