Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

of peal (both very different from the sea-trout, which also haunts the stream we have mentioned), the largest, called the pug-peal, run from two to eight pounds, and ascend the river from the sea during May, June, and July. The harvest-peal are from six ounces to a pound and a half, and do not commence their ascent for six weeks after the larger sort, but both are in the river at the same time during part of the season. The salmon come in later still, and all return to the sea about the same time, together with the graveling or smoults, in the floods of early spring. But we cannot here devote greater space to this important and interesting subject. Our primary object for introducing it has been already stated, namely, to assist in removing an unjustifiable excuse for the wanton destruction of diminutive fish.

The trout is in best season from April to October, when the general spawning begins. The period for commencing fly-fishing varies in different localities and in different seasons. On most May

1

trout species.” We have no doubt of the existence of this diminutive species in most trout streams, but it is not easily distinguished from salmon-fry of the same size previous to assuming its migratory dress, and therefore our caution against the capture of all small fish, in rivers frequented by salmon, becomes the more important.

fly rivers it does not take place much before the appearance of that insect in the end of May, while in many localities the height of the fly-fishing season has passed for weeks before that period. No specific date, therefore, can be generally applicable.

The trout partakes somewhat of the habits of the salmon in migrating up the stream on the approach of the spawning time in autumn, but not to the same extent. The object, in both cases, is to arrive at a spot which instinct teaches them is best suited for spawning - that is, in pure, shallow, running water, towards the spring head. The trout of the main stream ascend towards its source, and into the smaller streams which contribute to it; and those in the latter push upwards and into the still smaller brooks with which the tributaries also have communication, selecting on their way the proper places for their

proper places for their purpose. The important operation of spawning is thus described by Mr. Mudie, in his interesting work, “ The British Naturalist: “ The eggs or ova are first deposited, and then the milt over them, and they are then wholly or partially covered with sand or gravel. The bottom of clear running water is the best adapted for the purpose, and this is the kind of ground which the trout instinctively

choose for their operations. Four or five weeks are supposed to be sufficient for the hatching of the eggs, but that depends a good deal on the situation and the weather— the eggs in a shallow mountain stream, which is apt to freeze, being supposed to remain unhatched till the ice be cleared away in the spring. When the young fish first make their appearance they are not wholly detached from the egg, but have a portion of the yolk attached to the lower part of their bodies, which is understood to constitute their first nutriment. It does not appear that the eggs can be hatched in water that is distilled, or in any other manner deprived of air, or in that which is impregnated with lime, or any other ingredient that is deleterious to the fish in a grown state. Some have even said that they have seen the young trout, still attached to the remains of the eggs, upon a shallow sand bank, poking their little heads above the water; but, though we have looked for this, we have not found it, neither have we found the trout adhering to the place where the spawn had been deposited. We have seen it in the case of the salmon, and thus can have no doubt that it also happens with the trout. About a week or ten days after the first bursting of the egg, the fry are entirely clear of it, and begin to

seek their food with avidity - preying upon very minute insects and larvæ, though there are some larvæ which are said to prey, in turn, upon them, while they are also the prey of all larger fishes, even those of their own species.”

A new theory of the spawning of salmon, and we suppose of all other fishes - a theory totally at variance with all received and time-honoured notions of the economy of this interesting portion of creation (not, perhaps, the better for being time-honoured) — has recently been propounded by Mr. Stoddart.* This gentleman is of opinion that fishes do not differ from land animals in their manner of copulation; that impregnation of the female takes place in the usual way, by actual contact of the sexes, immediately after spawning; and that this is the chief purpose for which the male fish seeks the female at the spawning bed, instead of that of shedding his milt upon the excluded ova.

“ It is not,” says he," an impregnation of the shedded or flowing ova that takes place, but an impregnation of the ovaria after spawning; and this for the purpose of endowing

* See The Angler's Companion to the Rivers and Lakes of Scotland. The author of this work is an excellent writer on piscatorial subjects, besides being a powerful poet, and a very able and enthusiastic “ brother of the angle.”

or fructifying the next year's deposit.” Mr. Stoddart supports this opinion with much ingenuity and force; but being merely theoretical, it must only be received with caution by those who may be disposed to regard it favourably; while, like every innovation upon established system, it has not escaped pretty general opposition, nor the severest criticism of opposing writers.* In spite of all this, however, Mr. Stoddart is more than ever convinced of the correctness of his opinion, the result of further observation by himself and others; and in a private communication with which we have been favoured, he expresses the hope and belief that he shall shortly be enabled to present the public with an overwhelming mass of indisputable evidence in confirmation of his views.t

* See

North British Review, for May, 1848 † Mr. Stoddart will assuredly fail, if the experiments of Mr. Andrew Young (the well-known manager of the Duke of Sutherland's salmon fisheries), detailed in Ephemera's Book of the Salmon, were fairly conducted and are faithfully recorded : “ He [Mr. A. Young] 'took a female salmon, exuded by manipulation a portion of her ova, and having simply done so, he buried it beneath the gravel of one part of an artificial spawning-pond. From the same salmon he exuded another portion of ova; but before he covered it over with the gravel of another portion of his spawning-bed, he impregnated it by pressing milt from the

« ForrigeFortsett »