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1 WISH to express my sincere thanks to the 
Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Kilcoursie, the 
Bishop of Bristol, Sir Walter Phillimore, Sir 
John FoA^'ler, Mr. Arthur Fowler, Mr. Henry 
Graham, Mr. A. M. Naylor, Mr. Craven, Mr. 
Henry Ffennell, and others, for information 
kindly supplied, and for permission to make 
use of their communications. 




I. Natural History i 

11. Eggs for Grandmothers 33 

III. Tackle and Equipment 53 

IV. Boat Fishing 68 

V. Small Highland Streams . . . .96 

VI. Some Fishing Records no 

VII. Three Fishers, and some Big Fish . .131 

VIII. Poaching 157 


X. The Cookery of the Salmon. By Alex. 

Innes Shand 190 

XI. The Law as to Salmon-Fishing. By Claud 

Douglas Pennant 222 


' Slowly Towed towards the Gaff ' 

' Wading under Difficulties ' . 

'Harling' on the Tay . . . . 

A Gale on the Loch,' the Crazy Oar 
Snapped ..... 

Rig Day on the Grimersta 

A Night with a Salmon . 

Poaching .... 

< A Blank Day ' 


To face p, 56 



,, 162 





' There is a river in Macedon,' says Fluellen in 
' Henry V.,' ' and there is, moreover, a river in Mon- 
mouth ; it is called Wye at Monmouth, but it is out 
of my prains what is the name of the other river ; but 
'tis all one, and there is salmons in both.' I had 
intended to introduce this quotation as a proof that 
Shakespeare, or rather Fluellen, did not know every- 
thing, but, curiously enough, the very first page of that 
mine of information Day's ' Salmonidae of Great 
Britain and Ireland' mentions that ^lian, who 
flourished about i8o a.d., alludes to a spotted fish in 
Macedonia that in his days was captured by means 
of an artificial fly, the mode of manufacturing which 
he details Probably, however, this fish was a trout. 


and although Day reports a stray salmon captured 
off the coast of Malta, the normal distribution of the 
species is confined to the Arctic and temperate 
portions of the northern hemisphere, between latitudes 
45° and 75°. 

It is not my purpose to deal more than very 
generally with the natural history of this king of 
fishes. An exhaustive and scientific work would 
require far more space than a single chapter of a 
short treatise — and, I may add, far greater know- 
ledge and research than 1 could bring to the subject. 
My qualifications for the task I have undertaken, are 
derived from a practical acquaintance with the 
salmon in Norway, where I caught my first salmon in 
1865 ; in Scotland, where I have spent most of my 
autumns for thirty years ; and to a more limited 
extent in England, Ireland, and Wales ; many of the 
happiest hours of my life have been spent by salmon 
rivers, inilitavi no7i sine gloria^ and if I cannot 
boast such a fishing library as the late Alfred 
Denison, who collected 2,707 volumes on the subject, 
it has also been a pleasure to me to read a good deal 
of the literature of the disciples of Izaak Walton. 
Next to catching a monster myself, there is nothing 
that delights me more than to read of the success of 
others, and an armchair and a cigar with^Scrope or 


Bromley Davenport is a delightful finish to a day's 
sport. If the supply of fishing books is large, so also 
is the demand ; and if I succeed in awaking pleasant 
recollections in the minds of experts, and exciting 
the tiro to higher ambitions, my aim will be accom- 

British migratory salmonidae may for all practical 
purposes be confined to three species : — the salmon, 
the bull-trout, and the sea-trout. These three 
vary greatly in different localities, in shape, appear- 
ance, and size, and other characteristics, and many 
naturalists subdivide the genus differently into from 
two to seven species. Day enumerates eighteen 
different authorities, ranging over two centuries, from 
Willoughby's ' Historia Piscium,' 1686, to Dr. 
Gunther's 'Catalogue of Fishes in the British Museum,' 
in 1866, no two of whom arrive at precisely identical 
conclusions ; however, it matters little to the fisher- 
man whether peel and grilse, sewin and sea-trout, 
finnock and herling are local varieties, distinct 
species, or different names for the same fish. They 
are all at certain periods anadromous — that is to say, 
they run up rivers to breed and spawn in the late 
autumn in redds or beds in the gravel, their young, 
the parr, return later to the sea after acquiring the 
silvery appearance under which they bear the name of 


smolts or samlets, and come back again enormously 
increased in size to the same rivers which they left in 
their infancy. 

The able author of the Badminton volume on 
fishing writes of the great progress of our knowledge 
on the subject during the last two decades. No 
doubt some problems have been solved by experi- 
ment and observation, but I incline to ^rather a 
modest view of the advance made, and to dwell upon 
the difficulties still unsolved, rather than upon the 
additions made to our stock of positive information. 
Let me take old Izaak Walton's ' Complete Angler,' 
published in 1653, to see what was known at that 
time by that not very accurate compiler and observer, 
premising that most of his information was what 
lawyers would call ' hearsay ' only, and that it is not 
certain that he ever saw a live salmon in his life. It 
is true that he makes a casual allusion to having 
caught them ; but he gives no account of his 
adventures with them ; and they did not haunt his 
usual hunting grounds. 

' The salmon is accounted the king of freshwater 
fish, and is ever bred in rivers relating to the sea. 
He is said to breed or cast his spawn in most rivers 
in the month of August, some say that then they dig a 
hole or grave m a safe place in the gravel, and then 


place their eggs or spawn after the melter has done his 
natural office^ and then hide it most cunningly and cover 
it over with gravel and stones, and then leave it to 
their Creator's protection, who by a gentle heat which 
he infuses into that cold element makes it brood and 
beget life in the spawn, and to become samlets early 
in the spring next following.' 

In this passage the inaccuracies and mistakes are 
not very great. The salmon, of course, does not 
spawn in the month of August, but from October to 
January, or even later. The hen fish does not 
deposit her spawn 'after the melter has done his 
office,' but the two fish go to the spawning beds 
together, where the redd is constructed, and the male 
sheds his melt on the eggs and fecundates them after 
they are deposited by the female. The process of 
making the redd and spawning usually takes from 
eight to twelve days ; but is more hurried when the 
salmon have been prevented from ascending the river 
until late by want of floods, or other causes. The 
male fish fight for the possession of the female almost 
as stags do for their hinds. It is still a debated ques- 
tion whether the redd or trough is made by the male 
or female fish, but the better opinion seems to be 
that it is mainly the work of the latter. It certainly 
cannot be the case that the peculiar hook or beak 


that grows upon the male salmon at this period is 
used for making the redd. Its position on the lower 
jaw of the fish with its immovable neck would render 
such a use impossible. It is more probable that, as 
has also been suggested, it is provided as an offensive 
weapon for fighting like the horns of the stag. The 
eggs are ' hidden most cunningly and covered with 
gravel ' to some feet in depth — and the young fish is 
born after a period varying from 80 to 114 days, or 
even longer, according to the temperature of the 

The young fish of course in its early stage of exist- 
ence is a parr, and not, as Walton says, a samlet or 
smolt. This was really settled decisively as long 
ago, at any rate, as 1824 by the experiments detailed 
by Scrope in his ' Days and Nights of Salmon Fishing.' 
It is as well to be on sound ground for once, and I 
hardly think this point can be contested by any 
naturalist or sportsman of ordinary observation 
and candour ; but even recently I have heard it 
questioned or denied. This, however, only proves 
the vitality of error : there are still people who per- 
sist in believing the Claimant to be Sir Roger Tich- 
borne, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the con- 
trary and his own confession, and I have known 
keepers who would go to the stake for the faith that 


is in them that cuckoos turn into sparrow-hawks in the 
winter, that the hairs of cows' tails are transformed 
into eels, and other and even stranger delusions. 

Izaak Walton goes on : ' The salmon having 
spent their appointed time and done their natural 
duty in the fresh waters, they then haste to the sea 
before winter^ both the melter and spawner ; but if they 
be stopped by floodgates and weirs, or lost in the 
fresh waters^ then those left behind grow sick and 
lean and unseasonable, and kipper, that is to say, 
have bony gristles grow out of their lower chaps, 
not unlike a hawk's beak, which hinders their 
feeding ; and in time such fish so left behind pine 
away and die. 'Tis observed that he may live thus 
one year from the sea ; but he then grows insipid 
and tasteless, and loses both his blood and strength, 
and pines and dies the second year. And 'tis noted 
that those little salmon called skeggers which ahou?id 
in many rivers relating to the sea are bred by such 
sick salmons that 77nght not go to the sea, and that, 
though they abound, yet they never thrive to any 
considerable bigness.' 

This paragraph is, of course, extremely inaccurate. 
Salmon certainly do not go back to the sea before 
the winter, merely leaving behind those unfortunate 
companions who are stopped on their return by 


floodgates and weirs, or ' lost in the fresh waters ' ! 
The bony gristle not unlike a hawk's beak is not a 
mark of sickness common to both sexes, but the 
ordinary and annual adornment of the male, and 
does not ' hinder his feeding,' if indeed he feeds at 
all to speak of in fresh water ; and ' skeggers ' — if by 
this word Walton means to designate samlets — are 
young salmon in their silvery or smolt stage, and 
not exclusively or at all the offspring of salmon 
which do not go to the sea. I am inclined to 
think from the context that the author means to 
include sea-trout with smolts under the general 
designation of skeggers, as he makes no allusion to 
them as a separate species. In the only other refer- 
ence to skegger in his work, he is, however, un- 
doubtedly referring to smolts : ' In divers rivers, es- 
pecially that relate to or be near the sea, as Win- 
chester or the Thames about Windsor, there is a little 
trout called a samlet or skegger trout, in both which 
places I have caught twenty or forty at a standing, 
that will bite as fast and freel}' as minnows ; these be 
by som.e taken to be young salmons, but in those 
waters they never grow to be bigger than a herring.' 

The bony hook which grows on the salmon's lower 
jaw is still a puzzle to the student. Walton says that 
'if the old salmon gets to the sea, then that gristle 


which shows him to be kipper, wears away, or is cast 
off as the eagle is said to cast his bill^ and he recovers 
his strength and comes next summer to the same 
river.' This is, after all, a fairly accurate statement, 
and although the hook, which is formed of connective 
tissue, is absorbed and cannot be shed, much later 
observers than the father of angling make mistakes 
upon this point. A writer in the 'Field' in 1884, 
quoted by Day in a note, states, that ' when the fish has 
reached a certain stage in the kelt state, the hook 
gradually loosens at what seems, on examination, to 
be a kind of joint just where the point of the nose 
should be in the fish ; a slight tap when it has arrived 
at this stage, or slight pressure on the gravel will dis- 
lodge it.' Although this excrescence is usually dis- 
tinctive of the male, small knobs frequently, and large 
ones occasionally, are found even in gravid females. It 
is still a moot point whether salmon breed annually, 
or every second or third year — opinions differ — 
and no definite conclusion can safely be arrived at. 

To revert to our author, he next quaintly observes 
that the salmon, having recovered his strength, comes 
next summer to the same river, if it be possible, to 
enjoy the former pleasures that there possessed him : 
'for, as one has wittily observed, he has — like some 
persons of honour and riches, which have both their 


winter and summer houses — the fresh rivers for 
summer and the salt water for winter, to spend his life 
in ; which is not, as Sir Francis Bacon hath observed 
in his " History of Life and Death," above ten years. 
And it is to be observed that though salmon do 
grow big in the sea, ^^ yet he does 7iot groiv fat but i?i fresh 
rivers^ and it is to be observed that the farther they get 
from the sea they be both the fatter and better. '' ' This 
last statement is indeed a staggerer, and the exact 
reverse of the truth. vSalmon come up fat from the 
salt water, and subsist mainly in the rivers upon the 
fat they have accumulated in the sea, where food was 
abundant. It has been frequently contended that 
they do not feed at all in fresh water, and a recent 
author states dogmatically that it is impossible that 
they could feed in the rivers, as if they did they 
would destroy everything in them. This seems to 
me to be an extravagant proposition. It is possible 
to feed without making it the main business of life ; 
and it would seem that grilse and salmon, during 
their fresh-water stage of existence, ' take the goods 
that God provides them,' without going out of their 
way to search for nourishment. Their digestive 
organs dwindle and shrink ; but food is frequently 
found in their lower intestines. Setting aside, for the 
moment, the well- authenticated instances of food 


being discovered in the stomachs of salmon taken in 
fresh water, I should have thought that the experience 
of the angler was conclusive on this subject ; granting 
that some other cause than the gratification of the 
appetite may be assigned for Salmo salar's predilection 
for a ' Jock Scott ' or a ' Blue Doctor,' as to which I 
have something to say later on, surely the fact that he is 
often caught with worms, minnows, dace, prawns and 
such natural baits, is proof positive that he is not averse 
to an occasional relish when in his fresh- water 
habitation. Some go so far as to advocate the 
destruction of kelts on the ground of the mischief 
their ravenous appetites do to the young fry, and 
although I have no desire to keep or eat anything so 
nasty, I doubt if much advantage results from rod 
fishers being compelled to put them back. 

Walton next states quite correctly that ' though 
they make very hard shift to get out of fresh water 
into the sea, yet they make harder shifts to get out of 
the salt into the fresh waters to spawn or possess the 
pleasures that they have formerly found in them.' 
He describes how they force themselves over flood- 
gates, weirs, or stops in the water, to a height above 
common belief, and quotes Gunn as speaking of such 
places as 'being above eight feet high above water.' 
This estimate of eight feet as the extreme height of a 


salmon's direct leap is not, I think, far from the mark. 
Scrope, whose opportunities of observation were very 
great, combats Yarrell's account of their power of 
leaping ten or twelve feet perpendicularly, saying that 
he has never seen a salmon spring out of the water 
more than five feet perpendicularly. He mentions 
having measured the fall of the Leader into the Tweed, 
which salmon could never surmount, and determined 
it to vary from five and a half to six feet, according 
to the level of the flood. He adds that large fish can 
leap higher than small ones, and that deep water gives 
them a better opportunity than shallow. ' They rise 
rapidly, from the very bottom to the surface of the 
water, by means of rowing and sculling, as it were, 
with their fins and tail; and this powerful impetus 
bears them upwards in the air, on the same principle 
that a few tugs of the oar make a boat shoot onwards 
after one has ceased to row.' This is a better method 
of accounting for the height of a salmon leap than old 
Izaak quotes from Michael Drayton's ' Polyolbion ' \— 

'and stems the watery tract 
Where Ti\y falling down makes a high cataract 
Forc'd by the rising floods that there her course oppose, 
As tho' within her bounds they meant her to inclose ; 
Here when the labouring fish does at the foot arrive. 
And finds that by his strength he does but vainly strive, 
His tail takes in his mouth, and bendinsr like a bow 


That's to full compass drawn, aloft himself does throw, 
Then springing to his height as doth a little wand 
That, bended end to end, and started from man's hand, 
Far off itself doth cast ; so doth the salmon vault.' 

Mr. Day, in his book already quoted, gives a clear 
jump of six feet as probably as much as a salmon 
under ordinary conditions could accomplish, but 
quotes, in a note. Swift's 'Travels in Iceland,' who 
declared, that from personal observation he knew that 
they were able to dart themselves nearly fourteen feet 
perpendicularly out of the water, and Professor 
Landmark, who in 'Nature,' August 16, 1885, stated 
that he had witnessed their jumping sixteen feet per- 
pendicularly. I have certainly myself never seen a 
salmon jump more than six feet direct, if as much. 
There are two curious snapshot photographs of 
salmon leaping at a fifteen-foot fall, reproduced in 
' Scribner's Magazine' for September 1897, but it is 
obvious these leaps are at the head of a rapid, and 
not directly perpendicular. 

' His growth is very sudden : it is said that after 
he is got into the sea, he becomes, from a samlet not 
so big as a gudgeon, to be a salmon in as short a time 
as a gosling becomes to be a goose. Much of this 
has been observed, by tying some riband or some 
known tape or thread, on the tail of some young 


salmon which have been taken in weirs as they have 
swarmed towards the salt water, and then, by taking 
a part of them with the known mark, at the same 
place, at their return from the sea, which is usually 
about six months after — which has inclined many to 
think that every salmon usually returns to the same 
river in which it was bred.' 

Here we have an account which could hardly be 
improved upon now. The rapid growth of the fish, 
the experiment of marking — although I should hardly 
think a ' riband or tape ' put on to a samlet's tail would 
be likely to be found on a grilse on his return —the six 
months' average stay in salt water, and the homing 
instinct of the fish which brings him back to the same 
river, are all correctly described. The marking of 
salmon with disks, rings, branding or cuts on the fins 
or tails, is the foundation of most of our knowledge 
of their growth and migration. We still wonder at 
the marvellous instinct which brings them back to 
their native river, like the swallow to its chimney or 
the pigeon to its dove-cote, although tacksmen will 
tell you that they recognise occasional wanderers 
in the wrong river, asserting that they recognise them 
as strangers by their shape and appearance ; and 
although stray fish are sometimes captured in the 
tideways of rivers like the Thames, which cannot have 


bred there, as salmon have long since disappeared 
entirely from their main streams. 

Walton next tells us that the he-salmon is 
' usually bigger than the spawner ; that he is more 
kipper and less able to endure a winter in the fresh 
water than she is, yet she is, at that time of looking 
less kipper and better, as watery and as bad meat.' 
All who have caught autumn fish will confirm this 
account. The kipper, with his ungainly shape, his 
dark red marking, and his great beak, is ugly enough 
to frighten his captor when lifted out of the water, 
but although he is a bit soft to eat, he does not make 
bad cutlets when fried ; while the hen fish, with her 
deceptive appearance of being in good condition, for 
all her silvery sides and ordinary shape, is far more 
watery, tasteless, and insipid. 

Walton concludes his observations on salmon by 
noticing the variations of seasons in different rivers, 
by telling you to observe that he does not stay long 
in one place, ' but covets still to go nearer the 
spring-head,' that he does not as the trout and many 
other fish, lie near the water-side, or bank, or roots 
of trees, but swims in the deep or broad parts of the 
water, and usually in the middle or near the ground. 
And he then proceeds to tell you how to catch him. 
Sometimes or seldom he will bite at a minnow, not 


usually at a fly^ but more usually at a worm, and 
then more usually at a lob or garden worm, w^hich 
'should be scoured,' and notes that 'many used to 
fish for salmon wdth a ring of iron on the top of their 
rod, through which the line may run to as great a 
length as is needful when he is hooked. And to that 
end some use a wheel about the middle of their rod 
or near the hand.' He then imparts the secret of old 
Oliver Hanley, ' a noted fisher, now with God,' who 
used to put his worms into a box with oil of ivy- 
berries, ' and make his worms so irresistibly attractive 
that he could catch more fish than I, or anybody 
who has ever gone a-fishing with him, could do, 
especially salmon.' On the authority of Sir Francis 
Bacon he believes that fish can hear, and probably 
smell, in the water, and concludes by telling you trout 
and salmon in season have their bodies adorned with 
red or black spots, * which gives them such addition 
of natural beauty as I think was never given to any 
woman by the artificial paint or patches in which 
they so much pride themselves in this age.' 

For the duration of life of the salmon, which 
Walton, on Sir Francis Bacon's authority, fixes at ten 
years, I do not think we have, or can have, any data to 
go upon, and it must be mainly guess-work. What 
with all the enemies that dog his career from the cradle 


to the fish-kettle : the birds, insects, and fish that feed 

upon the spawn, and harry his young fry ; the otters 

in the stream and the porpoises and seals in the bay 

that hunt him in his maturer days ; and last, not least. 

the numerous engines, nets, traps, poisons, prawns, 

flies, and minnows devised for his destruction by 

mankind, few indeed must be the fish that succumb 

to senile decay. 

Fate cropped him short, for be it understood. 
He would have lived much longer if he could. 

Day tells us that it has long been known that fish 
possess the sense of smell. Blind salmon are often 
captured in good condition, which must have ob- 
tained food by the use of this sense. The organs of 
smell are situated as in other animals, but do not 
communicate with the mouth, and are not related to 
the function of breathing, as it would injure their 
delicate lining membrane to be in incessant contact 
with currents of water. The nostrils are depressions 
or cavities, with two external openings situated on 
either side of the middle of the snout. He also tells 
us that * hearing is developed in fish, and it is 
remarkable how any diversity of opinion can exist as 
to their possessing this sense.' He quotes Lacepede 
for fish which had been kept in the basin of the 
Tuileries for upwards of a century, coming when called 



by their names, and carp, tench, and trout in Germany 
summoned to their food by the ringing of a bell. I 
should be better prepared to credit this latter testi- 
mony if Mr. Day had seen it himself, or if I could 
cross-examine the witness he cites. If any food was 
thrown on the water, or the surface was disturbed, it 
would be more likely to account for the assembly 
than the calling of the names or the ringing of the 
bell, and I am a little sceptical as to whether this 
may not have been the case. If fish do hear what 
passes on the bank they certainly do not heed it, and, 
timid as they are, I have never known them take the 
slightest notice of shouting, whistling, or any other 
noise ; nor would I hesitate to allow a school-feast, an 
Eisteddfod, or a monster concert to take place within 
earshot of the pool I was fishing, if I could be certain 
that none of the assembled crowds would approach 
near enough to cast a shadow on the surface of the 
stream, or risk the danger to himself and the incon- 
venience to me, of my hook, while I was casting, 
lodging itself in some portion of his person or gar- 

But if a man who stands upon the brink 
But lift a shining hand against the sun, 
There is not left the twinkle of a fin. 

With this corroboration of his views on the sense 


of smell and hearing in fish, I take leave of Izaak 
Walton, protesting that Mr. Andrew Lang, in his 
preface to the edition of 1896, does scant justice to 
his author when he writes ' that as to salmon Walton 
scarcely speaks a true word about their habits, except 
by accident.' His comments are probably not the 
result of original observation, but I should think they 
fairly epitomised the contemporary gossip on the 
subject. I would rather urge that few treatises on 
natural history of so early a date contain so much 
that is confirmed by later and more scientific obser- 

Much of the life history of the salmon still 
remains obscure, notwithstanding our boasted advance 
in knowledge. We know that the smolt goes down 
to the sea a few inches long, and returns a grilse 
weighing many pounds, but cannot ascertain how far 
they go from the estuary or how they contrive to 
attain such large dimensions so rapidly. They are 
voracious feeders, and consume large quantities of 
herrings, pilchards, and other fish and Crustacea when 
mature j but it is not known where or how far they 
go in the salt water, nor are they ever captured in the 
intermediate stage of their existence, between their 
start as smolts and their return to the estuaries as 
grilse. Their path on their return journey is unfor- 

c 2 


tunately too well known, and consequently beset with 
dangers. We have seen that it is still uncertain how 
often they breed, or how long they live ; and, as 
their growth is in the sea, it is curious that some 
rivers are never visited by fish of very large size, and 
that, even with long and large rivers like the Tay and 
Tweed, monsters are far more often met with in the 
former than in the latter. Another puzzle is to 
account for the reason for their jumping. I do not 
mean at a fall, but when in the pools and heads of 
streams. It is not at flies or insects, as in the case of 
trout, and they might easily get sufficient exercise in 
their native element. Again, why do salmon take 
flies ? Some have quaintly suggested that they do so 
from irritation ; but if so, how is it that they are ' put 
down ' instead of ' up ' when a ' Captain ' or ' Blue 
Doctor ' has passed over their heads a great number 
of times ? I am more anxious to murder an organ- 
grinder after two tunes than one, and m}- wrath 
increases in geometrical proportion to the pertinacity 
with which he grinds his instrument of torture. I 
can well imagine Salnio salar being bored at seeing a 
small object opening and shutting and jumping back- 
wards and forwards, as he is vainly endeavouring to 
get forty winks at the bottom of the pool, and even 
his making up his mind that if it went on any longer 


he would ' go for it ' ; but then the secret of success 
in sahTion-fishing would be a dogged persistency, and 
instead of resting a rising fish, it would be advisable 
to keep at him until he could bear it no longer. Of 
course I do not believe in any such fanciful reason, 
and have no doubt that flies are taken for food of 
some description. Although they are not like any 
inhabitant of the rivers, their appearance and motion 
greatly resemble that of the Crustacea, which, like our 
trade prosperity in years unhappily passed, advance 
by leaps and bounds, and anyone who has seen a 
shrimp or prawn shifting his ground in a salt-water 
vivarium, and then watches the ' play ' of a salmon-fly 
in the stream, cannot fail to be struck by the resem- 
blance between the two. The motion of the feathers, 
now closing when pulled against the stream, now 
opening as the pressure ceases to be felt, i" just like 
that of the numerous legs and appendages with which 
its prototypes in the sea are so bountifully provided. 
Salmon doubtless do not feed greedily or regularly in 
fresh water, but I feel sure that the reason food is so 
seldom found in their stomachs is that they always, 
when practicable, eject it as soon as hooked. Mr. 
Naylor, i-n a letter to the ' Field ' newspaper dated July 
1897, records the capture of a salmon of twenty-eight 
pounds killed on a spoon in Norway. It was hooked 


in such a manner that its mouth was completely closed, 
the triangles being fixed in the upper and lower jaws. 
On cutting out the hooks a partially digested parr fell 
from the fish's mouth. It was, no doubt, the pecuHar 
way it was hooked which prevented it from suppress- 
ing the evidence of this meal taken in fresh water. 
Mr. Marsham also, in September 1897, killed a 20 lb. 
male fish fresh from the sea in the Teith, inside which 
he found a black and white slug \\ inches long. 

I do not believe that salmon or any other fish 
feel very acutely, a reassuring theory for the tender- 
hearted fisherman. I once caught a sea trout about 
a pound and a half in weight which had been 
recently completely transfixed by a heron's bill. The 
wound was perfectly fresh, and could not, in my 
judgment, have been made more than half an hour, 
and yet the fish was already feeding and taking the 
fly. So, too, the desperate struggle of the fish to get 
free confirms the same view. Not all the instinct of 
self-preservation would induce a man to put a strain 
of even a pound on a fishing-rod if the hook was 
attached to some tender part of his flesh. 

Scrope, in an amusing passage, quotes Sir 
Humphry Davy, ' the eminent author of " Salmonia," 
and Dr. Gillespie, as authorities for the statement 
that " fish seldom feel any pain from the hook." ' 


The bit of special pleading which follows is so good 
that I am tempted to quote it. 

' I take a little wool and feather, and, tying it in 
a particular manner upon a hook, make an imitation 
of a fly ; then I throw it across the river and let it 
sweep round the stream with a lively motion. Up 
starts a monster fish with his murderous jaws, and 
makes a dash at my little Andromeda. Then he is 
the aggressor, not I ; his intention is evidently to 
commit murder. He is caught in the act of putting 
that intention into execution. Having wantonly 
intruded himself upon my hook, which I contend he 
had no right to do, he darts about in various direc- 
tions, evidently surprised to find that the fly which 
he had hoped to make an easy conquest of, is much 
stronger than himself— I naturally attempt to regain 
this fly unjustly withheld from me. The fish gets 
tired and weak in his lawless efforts to deprive me of 
it. I take advantage of his weakness, I own, and 
drag him somewhat loth to the shore, where one rap 
on the back of the head ends him in an instant.' 

Let us hope that these eminent authorities are 
right. At any rate we may comfort ourselves with 
the reflection that salmon have to be caught some- 
how, and that a long and fruitless struggle in a net 
must be at least as disagreeable as the nobler fate of 


a contest in which the fish is matched against the 
angler with a fair chance for Hfe and Uberty. We 
may reverse Macaulay's famous saying about the 
Puritans' objection to bear-baiting, and submit with 
confidence that we love fishing not because it gives 
pain to the salmon, but because it gives pleasure, 
health, recreation and excitement to its votaries. 

So prolific are the salmon that were it not for the 
waste caused by the innumerable enemies of the 
eggs, the fry, and the mature fish, the offspring of a 
single baggit hen would suffice to stock a good-sized 

It is very easy to breed these fish artificially ; 
and even to produce hybrids, which are occasionally 
fertile, between the various species of salmonidae ; 
even the non-migratory Sab?io fario interbreeding 
with the anadromous Salmo sala?- and Sabno frutfa, 
a fact alluded to by Kingsley in his delightful 
' Water-babies,' where the student of fish-lore may 
find much keen and shrewd information upon the 
subject conveyed in a humorous form. Various 
attempts have been made to introduce them into the 
Antipodes by sending over the fecundated ova, but 
hitherto without success, although the introduction 
of the common trout into those regions is a most 
successful instance of acclimatisation. All the 


salmon requires in order to increase and multiply to 
any reasonable extent is to be left with healthy 
surroundings and a longer respite from persecution. 
No reasonable man desires that they should be 
allowed to multiply to such numbers as swarm in 
some rivers in Newfoundland— too great really either 
for sport or food — where the water is thick with fish, 
and anyone can get as many as he wishes with gaff or 
spear ; while the banks are foetid with decaying corpses, 
and bears and other animals are sated with the spoil. 
But the number of salmon in British and Irish rivers 
have diminished^ are diminishing, and ought to be 
increased. My own experience and communications 
from numerous reliable sources assure me of this 
fact. It puts me out of patience to see the wasteful 
and wanton destruction of a source of national wealth 
and enjoyment which could so easily be preserved by 
more reasonable treatment. Here is a creature which 
does absolutely no damage to man — by consuming 
his food or destroying his crops — which grows from 
ounces to pounds in a few months, and provides 
wholesome food, wealth, or recreation to thousands. 
All it asks is fair and sensible treatment. If it 
resents the unmeasured and unrestrained pollution of 
our rivers, the interest of the tenants of the banks 
are in this respect absolutely identical with those of 


the inhabitants of the water. It cannot be said that 
a fish which manages to survive the passage through 
the mouth of the Tyne at Newcastle is unreasonably 
exacting in its requirements. Yet one sees from 
time to time such paragraphs in the newspapers as 
I quote with shame from the Scotsma?i of August 22, 

There was a wholesale destruction of salmon in 
the river Ribble last week. Large numbers of fish 
were seen floating down the stream dead, and eight- 
een were taken out dead from one pool. These fish 
had all been poisoned by foul refuse, which had been 
flushed into the river by the heavy rain.' This is not 
an isolated instance, but the record of an occurrence 
only too frequent. Rivers like the Teviot and some 
of the Wicklow streams pursue their rocky course 
absolutely void of their former denizens, some of 
them so poisoned that no living fish can exist in their 
polluted waters. The legislature has done something 
to check this wanton waste ; perhaps it might do 
more, but there is a danger in restrictions in advance 
of local opinion, and what is certainly more required 
than new Acts of Parliament is the intelligent and 
vigilant enforcement of existing laws by the local 
authorities. Large powers have been recently con- 
ferred upon various areas. County, district, and 


parish councils are now elected by a democratic 
popular vote. It rests with those representative 
bodies to justify their existence by a prompt and 
resolute interference with the selfishness of such 
individuals and corporations as carelessly pursue 
their trades and occupations with injury and destruc- 
tion to the health and wealth of their neighbours. 
In some cases the mischief has already been done 
beyond repair, but it is the plain duty of every 
Englishman to see that this wanton destruction goes 
no further. But it is not enough to provide the 
salmorn with a suitable environment. The breeding 
stock must be protected from excessive and indis- 
criminate destruction. Poaching on the spawning 
beds, and the massacre of immature fish, do some 
mischief, but I have no hesitation in stigmatising the 
greed of the net fisher, and the defective laws under 
which he plies his trade, as the greatest causes of the 
diminution of salmon in British waters. Our ancestors 
no doubt used the prototypes of the same engines, with 
little care for times and seasons, and also indulged in 
cruives, traps and weirs of a very destructive character ; 
but side by side with the rise in the value of salmon 
as a saleable commodity, and the greatly increased 
facilities for its transport by rail and steam, and its 
preservation by ice and canning, the human enemies 


of the salmon have multiplied twenty-fold, their nets 
and engines have developed and improved inefficiency ; 
and they have learned to manage them with greater skill 
and knowledge of the habits of the fish, and its course 
from the sea along the estuary and to the spawning 
beds. The old Scandinavian legend ascribes the 
invention of salmon-nets to the principle of evil, and 
relates that by a just retribution, like Perillus and 
other scoundrels, the inventor perished by his own 
wicked contrivance — 

Infelix imbuit aiictor opus. 

Loki, the god alluded to, had carried on his 
various tricks with impunity for a long time, but at 
last his mischievous pranks culminated in the death 
of the innocent and beautiful Baldur, whose virtues 
and good qualities made him as obnoxious to his 
destroyer as Aristides was to the Athenians. Every- 
thing on earth and sea had been sworn to do him no 
harm ; but the ingenious Loki fashioned an arrow 
out of mistletoe, which, owing to its peculiar habit of 
growth, had been omitted from the solemn league 
and covenant, and putting it into the hand of the 
blind god Hodur, urged him to shoot, which he did, 
with fatal effect. This was too much for the for- 
bearance of even the most easy-going gods, and they 


went for the murderer in a body. He fled from his 
pm-suers, invented salmon nets, and subsisted on the 
proceeds of his fishing. Tracked at last to his place 
of refuge, he burnt his nets to avoid the possibility ot 
their being used against him, and, turning himself 
into a salmon, plunged into the river. His pre- 
cautions were of no avail ; for the fresh ashes of the 
twine remained in the shape he had given them, and 
the gods easily reconstructed the destroyed nets from 
the pattern. The first time they dragged for him, 
Loki, who had acquired the instincts with the form 
of the fish, put his head under a stone, and the net 
passed harmlessly over his back. Before making 
their second venture, they added weight in the shape 
of a lot of spare shields and bucklers ; but this time 
he escaped them by jumping over the middle of the 
primaeval seine. But 'there is luck in odd numbers,' 
and the third time, Thor wading behind the net, 
probably even deeper than the point represented by 
Scrope's limit of the fifth button of the waistcoat, an 
adornment with which he dispensed, caught him by the 
tail as he attempted to repeat his previous method of 
escape, and put an end to his mischievous career.^ 
Of course I do not seriously object to nets or net- 

' See Forest Scenes in Norway and Sweden, Rev. Henry 
Newland. — G. Routledge, 1855. 


fishing, without which it would be impossible to 
catch a tithe of the salmon which the consumer 
requires, and which the most greedy rod- fisher can 
well spare. My real contention is that in this 
respect the interests of all classes of fishermen 
are identical, and that, if the experiment was fairly 
tried, it would soon be discovered that ' the half was 
greater than the whole/ We hear some philanthropists 
and more politicians advocating a compulsory eight 
hours movement, and one argument used by them in 
its favour is the increased productiveness which 
would result from the better quahty of the labour 
done during a shorter period than the present 
customary working day. I do not desire unneces- 
sarily to enter upon a controversial topic which does 
not directly bear upon my subject, but I believe that 
there can be little doubt, if any, that shorter hours of 
labour in the particular trade of which I am writing 
would in the long run benefit the salesman, the 
consumer, and the humble rod-fisher as well, by 
greatly increasing the supply of fish in the river. 
The key to the situation, in my deliberate opinion, is 
the lengthening of the weekly close time, and the 
rigid enforcement of the amended law which I 
suggest. Few indeed are the fish which during the 
net- fishing season succeed in running the gauntlet 


through all the engines prepared for their destruction 
between the estuary and the breeding grounds high 
up the river, and the proprietors of the upper reaches 
take little trouble to preserve and protect the 
spawning fish, as they complain with some justice 
that they never get a chance at a salmon in a clean 
condition. Legislation is, of course, essential for any 
practical improvement in this direction ; even if one 
could meet with a tacksman so far-sighted and 
provident as to refrain from killing the ' goose with 
the golden eggs,,' his self-denial would be unavailing if 
his more selfish neighbours were permitted to capture 
the fish he had spared. If the present period of 
sanctuary was doubled, I believe that in a year or 
two at most the nets would be catching far more fish 
than they now do in the longer period, and that the 
most discontented would acquiesce in restrictions the 
wisdom of which would have been demonstrated 
beyond cavil. Some such measure is imperative, and 
the reward of the intelligent gratitude of all well 
wishers to the national prosperity awaits the states- 
man who has the firmness and courage to initiate 
and carry through the necessary amendment of the 
law. However, knowing by experience the great 
difficulty of forcing any measure through the Houses 
of Parliament which is not of a political nature, I am 


glad to hear that Mr. Malloch of Perth is endeavour- 
ing to form a syndicate to take all the net fishing on 
the Tay and introduce the change I suggest volun- 
tarily. Needless to say, I wish all success to the 




' My first salmon ! ' What fisherman is there ' so dead 
in memory — so old in heart ' that he does not recall to 
mind that eventful landmark in his career ? The girl's 
first ball, the blissful day when the Etonian is told he 
may get his colours for the eight or the eleven, the 
election to a scholarship, or the first class or fellowship, 
the barrister's first brief^even if it be ' soup ' at 
sessions — the maiden speech : all these are great days 
in a career ; but about some of them at least there is a 
fearful joy ; and they may be damped by the recollec- 
tions of failure. But the fisherman who has worked 
his way through minnows, dace, roach, perch, and 
gudgeon to pike and trout, from paste and gentles and 
worm, to the delight of fly-fishing, must, if he has 
the root of the matter in him, have been fired with a 
higher ambition and longed for the day when he should 
measure his skill with the king of fishes, whose ac- 
quaintance he has hitherto made ' beautiful in death ' 



on the slabs of the fishmonger's shop, or on the table, 
only. There is such an appearance of ' power ' in the 
small head, broad shoulders and wedge-like shape- 
such a glamour in the bright silvery sides — such grada- 
tions in the shading — altogether such a fascination 
about the glittering prize, that no minor triumph will 
satisfy the inward longing ; and the wanderer is driven 
forth, like lo by her gadfly, to go, if needs be, to the 
uttermost parts of the earth to satisfy his ambition. 
And the salmon really sometimes seems to enter into 
the spirit of the thing. His prowess is so well known, 
his strength so great, his cunning so matchless, that 
he can well afford to yield for onc€ to the awkward 
blandishments of the tiro. Has he not been known 
to tire the arms and defeat the skill of a Lovat, a 
Denison or a Bromley Davenport. His moderation 
cannot be mistaken for weakness ; if for once he yields 
to a Briggs or a , he 

Strikes down the lusty and approved knight, 
And lets the younger and unskilled go by, 
To win his honour and to make his name. 

The eventful day has come and the neophyte is at 
last, breathless with excitement, duly equipped with 
waders and a long rod, standing by the side of a real 
salmon - river, in charge of a trustworthy nurse who 
selects the right fly for the day and tells him to 'cast 


there.' The rushing water boils and bubbles over rock 
and boulder, dark ; but clearing after the night's flood, 
for in this case the predestined captor has found the 
river in order — an event which is not always or even 
often the case. Perhaps the beginner has served a 
long apprenticeship to trout. If so, he has not so 
much to learn, although there is a great deal of differ- 
ence between the neat turn of the wrist which sends 
the fine line and gossamer cast with dry fly attached 
to fall just oyer the rising trout, and the sweep of the 
arms which urges the 'Jock Scott ' and treble gut across 
the torrent ; but it may be that he has never handled 
a fly rod before in his life. Even then he need not 
despair. The gillie may be stifling or uttering male- 
dictions in a strange tongue, if he is an Irishman,, or 
bearing his trial more stolidly if he be an elder of the 
kirk. The rod may describe strange curves in the air, 
the line may be serpentine in its convolutions, the fly 
may bump into the water only a few yards from the 
end of the rod with a splash like a Solan goose coming 
down upon a herring ; but it is a long line which 
knows no straightening, and the kindly stream hangs 
the fly at the right angle, and on a taut line for a 
portion — although probably only a short portion— -of 
every cast which has. not hitched it in a tree or the 
performer's clothes. A few yards down the stream 


and there is a boil and a momentary glimpse of a 
broad back. Well had it been for the novice had 
there been more slack line at the time, or had his eye 
been less vigilant, for at the first motion of the water 
he strikes with a suddenness which takes the lure 
away from the jaws just opening to seize it, and 
attaches it firmly to the branch of a birch tree twenty 
yards above him. It is a work of time and labour to 
dislodge the fly, and there is no need for once to give 
the fish a rest. Personally conducted a little distance 
above the rise, the novice is suitably admonished not 
to be in such a hurry : he had far better not strike at 
all in such water, and quivering in every nerve he sees 
his fly once more working at or near the same 
spot. Again there is a boil — a glint of silver — and 
this time an electric shock as the connection is com- 
plete, and the first fish is on. A whirr of the reel, and 
a singing of the line as the salmon dashes madly down 
the stream ; but, alas I the point of the rod is 
instinctively lowered, which is just what it ought not 
to be, and the line is going out with fearful rapidity. 
' Up with the point of your rod, mon : up with it — 
keep a good strain upon him.' No time now for 
courtesy or respect ! be he baron, duke or royalt)' 
itself, the words will out without the preface. Fifty 
yards of line out — and is that the fisli jumping opposite: 


to him ? and yet there is a strain upon the rod which 
makes his arms ache. Yes, the fish has got the 
advantage of all that slack, and is heading upwards 
with all the weight of the water bellying the line. ' He 
has drowned it. " 

Thrice lucky the sportsman if he has not got it 
round a sunken rock, loosened the hold, or broken 
off. But Providence is kind, and the tackle strong, 
and, under the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Briggs 
has managed to reel in a good deal of the slack, and 
got his rod in the orthodox curve, and breathes 
again. There is an interval of rest — more welcome 
to the inexperienced fisherman than to his attendant, 
who knows the difiiculty and delay caused by the 
tactics of a sulky fish ; but it is not for long, for after 
two or three shakes of the head, the salmon dashes 
down the stream, pursued by the excited sportsman, 
and Pat or Donald shouting ' Canny noo,' or ' Be 
aisy,' as the case may be. Sometimes the rod point 
is dangerously lowered ; but its general tendency is 
in the right direction ; now all depends on the humour 
of the fish. He is within half-a-dozen yards of the 
bottom of the pool, and if he takes a fancy to tace the 
broken water that dashes and eddies through tne 
boulders to the next cast it is a guinea to a goose- 
berry that he cuts the line, but he turns just at the 


nicV of time — and soon his runs "become shorter and 
shorter — there is an occasional slow wave of a broad 
tail on the surface, and ' Mentor ' takes his stand on 
a large flat rock, where there is a still deep back- 
water, and takes the cork off the gaff. A few moments 
later the fish turns on his side, apparently almost life- 
less, and is slowly towed towards the gaff. The vic- 
tory seems won, and the proud and happy sportsman 
is already mentally calculating the weight of his 
prize at something varying from a half to a third 
more than the steelyard will record later — yet if he 
knew ! the next few minutes are the most perilous 
of the whole contest. There is ' life in the old dog 
yet,' the hold is dangerously worn with the long and 
not very scientific fight, and that log-like form is good 
for at least one more wriggle, dash and jump, if he 
catches sight of the gaff and its wielder. But I 
cannot find it in my heart to rob my imaginary 
sportsman of his success. I like to bring down the 
curtain with united hands and ' Bless you, my chil- 
dren.' There is a quick stroke of the gaff and the 
fish is gasping on the stones. What matter if 
he be a trifle red, and only turn the scale at eight 
pounds. He is a 'fish,' and the proud and happy 
victor is mentally vowing that his first salmon shall 
not be his last, while ' Mentor ' shall not lack the re- 


freshing dram, if he ' tastes,' or at all events the half- 
sovereign or more which he has so richly earned. 

Who shall say that my picture, if an imaginary 
one, does not describe a scene which, with slight 
variations of incident, has occurred again and again ? 
I shall not, I hope, be accused of depreciating a 
sport to which I am devoted, if I express my con- 
viction that skill counts for much more in trout fish- 
ing, especially with the dry fly, than in salmon fishing. 
Take a good day and equal conditions on the Anton 
or the Test, the Mimram or the Lea, and match an 
unfortunate beginner, with the best professional ad- 
vice, against such masters of the art as Lord Granby, 
Mr. Croft, or the late Mr. John Day. Not only are 
the odds a thousand to one that the expert beats the 
tiro, but the latter may consider himself fortunate in- 
deed if his basket contains a single fish at the end of 
the day. As he pursues his course up-stream the river 
is furrowed by departing fish, and if he succeeds in 
keeping out of sight long enough to try for a rising 
trout, the flop of his fly upon the water, if it ever gets 
there, is the signal for its departure. The slightest 
splash, the least drag, is fatal, and the fly refuses to 
float, while he finds it much easier to hit the weeds 
and cressets which occupy the greater part of the 
stream than the narrow belt of water where the gnat 


or dun disappeared at his approach. So, too, he is 
obliged to cast from his knee, and as he flicks the 
line behind him in desperate efforts to dry his fly, it 
disappears with an ominous crack, and it is necessary 
to go into dock for repairs. The difl'erence between 
the two sports is almost like that between chess and 
whist. In the one case the professor has the in- 
different performer absolutely at his mercy — in the 
other, while he is secure of considerable winnings in 
the long run, it is possible that luck may from time to 
time give the victory to his less skilful adversary. 

I hope that no one will infer from these remarks 
that it is an easy thing to become a good salmon 
fisher. It is beautiful to see a real master at work, 
and I would almost as soon watch such a one as 
catch fish myself. First, there is the cast. Salmon 
do not always obligingly put themselves just where the 
stream will bring the fly over them wherever it 
may have fallen. Often the place where they lie by 
some submerged boulder is a long way off, and can 
only be reached by the highest combined strength and 
skill. The wind is gusty and squally, there are trees 
or high rocks behind, and there is but a narrow and 
treacherous ledge to support the feet, and that is often 
deep under water in a strong stream. It is no child's 
play — a false step might be fatal — yet see, the fisher- 


man has lifted the point of his rod, keeping all his 
line still in front of him, and then with a strong, 
resolute swish has brought the part nearest to the top 
in contact with the water, and the line, as if by magic, 
unrolls itself straight towards the place where the fish 
usually rises, the fly alighting last of all, just in such a 
position that without loss of time or trouble it will 
hang at the right moment in the right position, to 
present a temptation to the fish, which ought to be, 
and often is, irresistible. This is the ' Spey cast,' and 
when executed by an expert it almost deceives you 
into beheving it to be easy. If you think so, try it 
yourself, and you will soon be undeceived. Only long 
practice and great natural aptitude has rendered pos- 
sible that brilliant feat. As a rule, the work done 
behind you is more important than what you see in 
front ; which is in a great measure its result. As in 
golf, the swing forward is the reflection of the back 
ward movement, and if the line has been corkscrewed 
or curved behind your shoulder it will not be straight 
when it is brought forward. When the fly has come 
round to a point near the bank you are standing on or 
under, Hft your rod till the fly and gut cast are loose 
at the top of the water, then with a strong sweep of 
the arm send the line flying straight back over your 
shoulder and make a similar movement forward the 


moment the fly has reached its furthest limit behind, 
neither delaying nor hurrying the motion. But if there 
are rocks or overhanging boughs behind you, and you 
have not acquired the ' Spey cast,' another method 
of overcoming the difficulty is to stand facing directly 
down-stream, throw the line straight back over the 
shoulder nearest the water, looking round as you do 
so to see that your fly keeps over the stream and does 
not go back as far as the threatening boughs or rock, 
and then with a direct and strong sweep toward the 
opposite side you may succeed in throwing a fairly 
long and straight line across the stream and a little 
down it. This used to be called on the Tay the 
' cradle ' cast, from a pool not far from Stanley, which 
could only be properly fished from the bank by this 
method. There was a long, deep, submerged shelf of 
rock some twenty or twenty-five yards from the side, 
and the overhanging trees made it impossible to bring 
your line behind you. I remember a day — I am 
afraid to say how many years ago — when I got three 
fish out of that hundred \ards of water, each weighing 
between eighteen and nineteen pounds. What es- 
pecially fixes the incident in my memory is that I 
hooked the first fish almost immediately — that he was 
a singularly sulky customer, dived deep and hugged 
the rock, never at any time running more than ten or 


a dozen yards, and that it took me three-quarters of 
an hour to bring him to the gaff. I hesitated whether 
I should have my lunch before or after recommencing 
operations, but thought I would 'just try one or two 
more casts.' The very first offer was accepted by a 
fish,, the exact counterpart of the last, only of a more 
accommodating disposition, as he ran freely and well, 
but speedily exhausted himselfby his efforts to escape, 
and he was on the bank beside his companion in 
less than six minutes. I do not usually time myself, 
but I had looked at my watch to see whether it was 
lunch-time. I mention this occurrence to illustrate 
the great difference in the time which may suffice to 
tire two fishes similar in size and condition. 

I hope I have made myself fairly clear, but if it is 
difficult to cast a good line with obstacles behind you, 
it is hardly less so to describe the operation in such a 
manner as to be intelligible to the reader. The best 
description is but a very poor substitute for a 
practical demonstration by the river-side, and I have 
but one hint to add before I leave the subject of 
casting. Whether you be an old hand or a beginner, 
examine the point of your hook from time to time. 
A sharp rap against the stones behind you may occur 
without your being in the least aware of it, and will 
often break the best-tempered hook that was ever 


made. The feathers and general aspect of the fly 
remain the same, and give you a false feeling of 
security. Then, when one or more good fish have 
risen, and you have just felt them without their taking 
hold, and at last you make the examination you ought 
not to have delayed so long, all Walton's advice to 
anglers, ' to be patient and forbear swearing, lest they 
be heard and catch no fish,' is apt to be thrown away 
upon you. 

After the cast comes the working the fly. As to 
this it is difiicult to lay down any definite rules, so 
much depends upon the nature of the water, whether 
still, rough, or rapid, and on the conditions as to 
wind and depth. As a rule, it is a mistake to cast a 
long line when the fish are lying near the side from 
which you are fishing, but if the stream is very rapid 
it is necessary to have a fair length out, or your fly 
will dance about too near the surface of the water. A 
series of slight lifts of the point of the rod should, of 
course, impart to the 'fly' that lifelike appearance 
caused by the opening and shutting of the feathers as 
it dances up and falls down the stream; but the 
action should be varied, as a skilled bowler alters his 
pace to overcome the resistance of an obstinate bat. 
Generally speaking, the line should be jerked up and 
down more in still water than in rapid ; and you 


should fish deeper for autumn fish that have been in 
the river some time than for salmon fresh from the 
sea. But there is no rule without an exception, and 
if a fish declines your lure or rises short when it is 
presented to him in one way, try another method. 
Do not, however, go on too long at a tiniie at short 
rising fish ; mark the exact place either physically, 
mentally, or both, and when you return after fishing 
the rest of the pool, your patience will often be 
rewarded by a taking rise and a tight line. Next 
comes the most debated point on which to give 
advice, namely, ' the strike.' 

' To strike or not to strike, that is the question.' 
Here again it is impossible to lay down a hard and 
fast rule. In a strong stream it is better certainly not 
to strike at all, unless for some reason a whole suc- 
cession of fish have been ' rising short,' in which case 
a sharp and decided stroke may hook one foul, when 
'look out for squalls,' especially if the fly fixes itself 
in the middle of the fish. A foul-hooked fish always 
makes a desperate fight, as you have no control over 
his movements, and the water does not get into his 
gills to exhaust him ; and if he happen to be hooked 
in the side he catches the whole weight of the water 
even after he is fairly killed, and it is most difficult to 
bring him to the gafi". I once remember severely 


Straining a strong salmon-rod in landing a little grilse 
of eight pounds on the heavy stream known as the 
Cat Holes, in the Tay. A fish hooked through the 
tail gives you a better chance ; as, although he has 
the advantage of you at first, and fights like a tiger, 
you become master of the situation, and may tow him 
safely to harbour if you once succeed in lifting his tail 
out of water. His strength is gone, and he is as 
powerless as Antaeus when Hercules prevented him 
from touching his mother earth. But how often the 
hurried strike of a converted trout fisher snatches the 
fly from the jaws of a rising fish. Heaven defend 
me from the gillie who shouts or whispers ' There it 
is.' It is difficult enough to keep cool and check the 
instinctive action of the wrists even without such a 
temptation, and poor human nature succumbs when 
encouraged in vice by another. If the flesh is too 
weak it is not a bad plan to try Tom Purdie's dodge 
as reported by Scrope. He had risen the same fish 
four times, and began to suspect that he had given 
him too little law, ' or jerked the heuck away before 
he had closed his mouth upon it, . . . I.keepit my 
een hard closed when the heuck was coming owre 
the place. Peace be here ! I fand as gif I had catched 
the branch o' an aik tree swinging an sabbin in a 
storm of wind.' 


What I recommend, and try to practise myself 
in strong water, is a steady pull at the fish, not when 
the rise is seen, but when it is first felt. There 
is a good chance that the point of the hook will be 
thus driven in well over the barb, and if the hold is 
so slight that the fly comes away you are saving 
time by hastening a catastrophe which would cer- 
tainly have occurred later on. But in a lake or the 
still part of a sluggish river it is necessary to strike 
fairly quick, although hand and eye should not act 
together as rapidly as if you were fishing for trout. 
Dig it into him just as he turns, and if he has meant 
business you are nearly sure to have him fast. Of 
course, even in still water, when the fish are taking 
low down, you often feel them before seeing the rise 
at all, but then the question settles itself, and there 
is no need for advice. 

Next comes the important operation of playing 
the fish, and here there is at one time little or no 
difficulty, but at another all the highest qualities of 
the sportsman may be brought into play. Know- 
ledge, presence of mind, courage, strength, endurance, 
activity, readiness of resource and invention may all 
be required to meet the cunning and wiles by which 
the 'foeman worthy of your steel' endeavours to 
overcome you, and too often succeeds. A spring 


fish in a rocky pool is indeed no contemptible 
adversary, and a tussle with such a one may be an 
experience to last a lifetime. Well for you if you 
know the bottom of the water, for, depend upon it, 
the fish does, and will be ready to take advantage of 
any submerged stump or boulder if you give him 
the chance. Nothing, of course, can check his wild 
impetuous rushes when the reel screams and the 
line hisses through the water, but it is astonishing 
how he may be led and directed if you know how to 
do it. But such knowledge cannot be communicated 
in writing, and comes only by instinct and practice. 
A few general rules of universal application are all 
that I can offer. Keep a good strain on your fish from 
the first moment you hook him, and keep as much 
fine on the reel as you can. It is better to follow 
the fish, if possible, than to let him run out much 
of the line, for the weight of the water on a great 
length is apt to bring the strain upon the hold in 
the wrong angle ; and if the salmon tries the common 
nian(.tuvre of a rapid turn and a dash up-stream, 
it is not always easy to reel up so fast as to prevent 
him from making the line slack for a moment or 
two j when, of course, he has a good chance of 
ridding himself of the fly. Now he leaps high 
into the air, and the point of the rod must be 


momentarily lowered, but recovered as rapidly as it 
was lowered. Now he rests, and you may be glad of 
the temporary relief, but you should not, if it can be 
avoided, allow the rest to degenerate into a sulk. 
Perhaps, however, the minutes wear on and he 
declines to move, the only sign of life being a 
'jigging' at the line as he turns his head from side to 
side, either trying to shake the fly loose or rubbing it 
against some rock at the bottom, and something 
must be done to make him move. Throw a stone 
or two in above him, but beware lest you hit the line. 
Some desperate individuals have been known to put 
their bunch of keys round the line and let it down on 
his nose ; but they are of the class who ' burn their 
boats and destroy their bridges.' If the fish is lost 
after all, the despatch box and cigar cabinet must 
visit the locksmith before the contents are available, 
or the portmanteaus and bags must make their next 
journey open. Personally, I have shrunk from such a 
risky proceeding, but if the fish has remained stolid in 
spite of my trying him at different angles, and from 
down-stream below him, I have often found it effective 
to let a few inches of the line out of the reel below the 
hand and suddenly let it go, thus giving a little momen- 
tary slack as it runs through the rings and a jerk as the 
rod tightens it again. Another dodge is a smart rap 



on the butt of the rod. If all resources fail, there is 
nothing for it but patience ; and I have known the 
fish to yield to the strain at last, and come quite 
gradually and steadily to the top of the water, just 
when I was becoming convinced that the line was 
fixed round a rock or stump, or one of those terrible 
bits of wire-fencing which are always falling into 
some rivers that I know, as the crumbling and over- 
hanging banks give way after a spate ; and reluctantly 
making up my mind to break and have done with it. 

But how if a fish seems quite determined to run 
out of the pool into broken water, or straight to some 
dangerous obstacle, perhaps under the archway of 
some bridge, where you cannot follow him ? Well, if 
lie must, he must, and every fisherman's experience 
will tell of salmon lost in spite of all that skill and 
patience could do. But usually there is a moment 
of hesitation before the desperate passage, as no 
salmon likes to leave his pool. At such times do 
not reel up line, but, keeping the strain as steady as 
possible, walk backwards up the stream. I have 
often known a fish under such circumstances to allow 
himself to be led for a considerable distance from 
the point of danger, when a turn of the handle of the 
reel would probably have been the signal; for an 
onward rush and a broken cast 


Lastly comes the process of landing the fish, and 
it is at this supreme moment that a. mistake is most 
apt to be fatal. When the line is quite short and the 
salmon is gasping at the top of the water, floundering 
and flapping his broad tail, a well-directed stroke of 
that natural weapon may break the cast or release 
the fly, and you must keep a vigilant eye and a cool 
head. You have steered him clear of the dangerous 
rock, coaxed or guided him from the very verge of 
the perilous rapids, jDursued him over slippery 
boulders, perhaps over your middle in the strong 
stream — your arms ache with the strain of the long 
struggle. A little patience, and he is yours. Do not, 
I entreat, spoil all by too impetuous handling. I 
grant that the sight of the spent giant makes you 
long to have him on the bank, but beware of reeling 
up the line too short ; perhaps you may get the knot 
which attaches the casting-line through the top ring 
of the rod— at all events, you will get a heavy strain 
in the wrong place, and there will be danger if he 
nerves himself for a final rush. Above all, keep your 
gillie cool, if you have one with you, and impress 
upon him, if he be inexperienced, that it is not his 
business to catch the fish, but to land him, and that 
a gaff should not be handled as if it was a hatchet, or 
a spear, or a fleshhook dashed into a pan or kettle, or 

]i 3 


cauldron or pot, to impale and bring up some portion 
of the contents. I write feelingly, as I have more 
than once had my line gaffed by men who ought to 
have known better, and I have even seen a salmon 
literally knocked off the line by a blow of the cleek 
from above. Perhaps it is owing to this disagreeable 
experience that I prefer when it is feasible to land or 
gaff my own fish ; but of course this is not every- 
where practicable. A deep, still place should be 
selected to gaff a salmon, and if you prefer to beach 
him you should keep some little distance from the 
water and rather take advantage of the fish's own 
movements than drag him nole7is volens on the shore. 
A steady, direct pull, and then, when he is gasping 
high and nearly dry, down with your rod and run in 
behind him and throw him up upon the shore. A 
smart rap above the snout with a stone or stick will 
put an end to his floundering, and whatever may be 
your fortune for the rest of the day, at least you will 
not return empty-handed. 



These subjects have been so fully and ably treated 
in the Badminton volume on fishing and other works 
that it is not my purpose to deal with them except in 
the most general terms. A few hints derived from 
my own experience may not, however, be out of place, 
and the experienced sportsman can skip them if he 

Gentle reader ! whatever may be your particular 
taste or fancy, let me at least entreat you to spare no 
reasonable expense to provide yourself with the best 
and most reliable tackle of all sorts that can possibly 
be procured. An expensive article is not necessarily 
a dear one. Deal with men who have a reputation 
to maintain, and rely upon it that the very dearest 
bargain you can possibly acquire is the cheap rod 
which snaps at the ferrule like a carrot when you are five 
miles from home, and the water in order ; the reel which 
catches at a critical moment, or the gut which breaks 


at the knot as you strike hurriedly at a rising fish, or 
wears and gives in the long struggle, just losing you 
the prize at the moment he seems to be your own. 
Salmon fishing at the best of times must be an 
expensive amusement, and you are lucky if in tips, 
rent, and travelling expenses, your fish cost you less 
than five pounds apiece. It is indeed ' spoiling the 
ship for a halfpennyworth of tar ' to grudge the 
necessary cost of thoroughly reliable workmanship 
and materials. 

The angler must of course be prepared to face all 
weathers ; often the most disagreeable day, with a 
strong wind and heavy showers, proves the most 
productive. Flannel next the skin and a good home- 
spun suit will turn a lot of water, or prevent much 
risk of chill if you happen to get a ducking, but you 
or your attendant, if you have one, should carry also 
a good stout mackintosh. Don't have it made too 
short ; shopkeepers are very apt, if you do not take 
care, to sell you what they call a fishing mackintosh, 
which just reaches down to your hips. Remember 
the heel of Achilles ; or, if you are a mechanical 
engineer, unversed in the classics, that no chain is 
stronger than its weakest link. If you have to face 
an Argyleshire shower with a practicable breach 
between your wading stockings and your coat, or if you 


have to sit in a dogcart with the rain pouring off you 
and deluging your seat, you might almost as well have 
sparedyourself the burden of any protective covering 
at all. Of course, if you have wading trousers instead 
of stockings my remarks do not apply — but I do not 
recommend them except for very deep wading in very 
still water. My own conviction is that when you are 
going into a rapid stream deep enough to feel the 
water trickle into your stockings, you have gone deep 
enough."^- Few "anglers have waded much without 
going through some disagreeable if not dangerous 
adventures ; and once at least I can remember being 
in serious peril. I had waded down the North Esk 
trying a minnow in a very heavy flood, in what was 
ordinarily a shallow. Step by step I advanced, but 
keeping within a few yards of the left bank, I 
imagined myself secure, and went deeper than I would 
otherwise have ventured to do. When I found that I 
only stood with difficulty, I thought it time to beat a 
retreat ; but when I tried to move I found the water 
deepening into a hole, and that escape in that 
direction was impossible. A heavy and dangerous 
fall was just below, ending in a torrent rushing among 
great rocks and boulders, and, good swimmer as I 
am, I doubt if I should have ever regained the shore 
had I once been swept off my feet. There was 


nothing for it but to make for the further bank at a 

long distance across the raging flood. Leaning the 

butt of my rod, reel and all, into the gravel at the 

bottom, and supporting myself upon it as best I 

could, I crossed sideways with short and laborious 

steps. Well for me that I carried weight, and was 

young and strong. More than once I thought that I 

could stand no longer. 

Yet through good heart, and Our Ladye's grace. 
At length he reached the landing place. 

I was fairly exhausted when I emerged, dripping 
but safe, on the friendly shore. 

Stockings, or wading trousers if preferred, are 
always better than any kind of boot. The inside gets 
damp with perspiration, but dries easily when turned 
outside after the day's work. Boots are very difficult 
to dry. Of course, the foot should be protected by a 
knitted stocking over the india-rubber, and the brogue 
over the whole should be well studded with stout nails 
to give a good foothold and prevent slips. Any mackin- 
tosh covering is hot and uncomfortable to walk in ; 
but unless I am obliged to go a long distance on 
Shanks's mare I always prefer to wear waders. Even 
in small rivers, where the casts can be easily fished 
from the banks, it is a great convenience to be able 
to cross at any ford or shallow — or if boat fishing to 


be able to step out in a foot of water or thereabouts, to 
land a fish and follow him. Some hardy individuals 
take to the water in ordinary costume ; but they are 
rather beacons to warn than examples to follow. 
Such habitual rashness usually ends in rheumatism or 
worse evils : and Scrope's advice, I should imagine, 
was partly satirical. He considers Mackintosh's 
invention wholly ' uncalled for,' 'accounting it an un- 
pardonable intrusion to place a solution of india-rubber 
between the human body and the refreshing element. 
It is like taking a shower bath under the shelter of an 
umbrella.' In another passage he advises you ' never 
to go into the water deeper than the fifth button of 
your waistcoat : even this does not always agree with 
tender constitutions in frosty weather. As you are 
not likely to take a just estimate of the cold in the 
excitement of the sport, should you be of a delicate 
temperament, and be wading in the month of 
February, when it may chance to freeze very hard, pull 
down your stockings and examine your legs. Should 
they be black, or even purple, it might, perhaps, be as 
well to get on dry land ; but if they are only rubi- 
cund, you may continue to enjoy the water if it so 
pleases you.' 

There were giants in those days ! For my own 
part, I have never found it necessaiy to examine the 


colour of my limbs, but when wading in the Tweed or 
Deveron in the early spring, have sometimes found it 
advisable to come out of the water and dance about 
the bank to warm myself, in spite of my having taken 
advantage of Mackintosh's obnoxious invention and 
being clad in the warmest wool and homespun. But 
I leave my readers to choose between the advice of 
my honest friend and his effeminate disciple. 

A good form of hat is a cork-lined helmet, similar 
to those worn in tropical climates. The shoot at the 
back throws off the rain, and it is ver}- handy to stick 
flies inside. I tried one of these hats accidentally on 
my return from Egypt, and have used one of the same 
pattern ever since, except in a strong wind. A good 
sized bag with canvas for fish on one side, and an 
india-rubber pocket for the reel and boxes on the 
other, and a net with a telescope handle with a 
knuckle joint at the end, and a clip to hang it by the 
bag, is convenient if you are alone and carry your own 
things. The gaff can be taken in the pocket and 
screwed into the net handle when required, while 
the net saves you many a sea trout too small to 
gaff, as these tender-mouthed fish often get off if you 
have to lift or drag them to land. The gaff, crede 
experto^ can always be screwed on without difficulty 
at some period during the playing of the fish. 


With regard to the rod, of course much depends 
upon the water for which you are bound — much also 
upon your individual preference and physique. Some 
prefer greenheart, some split cane, others a spliced 
and whippy Castle Connell. One man selects a long 
heavy rod which will do a good deal of his work for 
him, another likes one as light as is consistent with 
the possibility of covering the cast. Personally, I 
generally use a three-joint fifteen-foot split cane, with 
patent fastenings and a cork grip, which is both 
pleasant to the hand and comfortable if it happens to 
be wet. I like a light weapon, and such a rod, well 
balanced and well made, will throw a long line and 
kill a heavy fish ; but I am far from saying that for 
big rivers, where long casting is required, or for very 
rocky ones, where great power of guiding the fish is 
wanted, and it is useful to be able to get well above 
him, a stouter and longer rod is not preferable. Lord 
Lovat used to fish with one twenty foot in length j 
but a grilse or even a salmon had but a short shrift 
with him, and not every one has his giant strength. 
One advantage of having a light rod is that a sea trout 
gives some fun upon it, whereas he affords little sport 
upon a heavy one. It is astonishing how light a rod 
will kill salmon, with patient handling and a steady 
strain. I have taken many — the largest over twenty 


pounds — with an ordinary single-handed trout rod ; 
but most of them in a river where the water was 
exceptionally still, and the banks so clear that it was 
everywhere easy to follow your fish. 

Probably it has fallen to the lot of most fishermen 
of any wide experience to capture salmon with trout 
tackle on more than one occasion. Kelts, of course, 
in the spring are a regular nuisance to the trout fisher, 
as they take the ordinary March brown or dun 
greedily, and generally select the moment when there is 
a fine rise of fly upon the water. Probably the wisest 
course when one is hooked is to break ; but I hate to 
do this on purpose, and have wasted many a half hour 
pulling the ugly heavy brutes out of the water. 

The best of rods will break sometimes, if the fish 
rise at a wrong angle, just as the fine is coming out 
of the water, or if the fly catches in something behind 
you without your knowing it : and it is a most pro- 
voking thing to find yourself by the side of a river 
some miles from home, with fish rising well, and a 
rod snapped off short at the ferrule with no sufficient 
ends to splice. I now always have my rods made 
with a spare second joint as well as three tops. It is 
not a great additional expense, and gives a feeling of 
security ; besides, even if you are spared the crowning 
calamity of an accident by the water side, it is always 


a good thing to be able to send away a joint for 
repair or inspection without putting a favourite rod 
hors de co7nbat. Of course, necessity is the mother 
of invention, and one can generally engineer a rough 
splice, even in the case of the most awkward frac- 
tures. I have killed fish with a rod with the two 
upper joints awkwardly cobbled together round the 
ferrule with a piece of luncheon-paper string. My 
brother-in-law, Colonel Malcolm, sends me the follow- 
ing account of a similar experience of his own in 

' Once in Canada an unnoticed rootlet caught my 
foot on the bank of the St. Anne du Nord, and 
brought me down, making four smashes in my top 
and second joint, three of which were mended up 
with string, roughly but efficiently, and the fourth 
somehow did not show till I had hooked a salmon, 
and then the way the thing gaped was a caution. 
This could only be met by turning the rod round, 
and the tenderest care. Thus deprived of strength 
the fish led me down the river, and behold ! a small 
islet on the wrong side of which he was determined 
to pass, but gentleness coupled with firmness brought 
him into the right path, and down to a lovely back- 
water, where he was more easily managed ; then I dis- 
covered that a young Irish officer had left the gaff 


behind in the inn where we had put up our trap, so 
of course we had to keep the fish on much longer than 
would have been otherwise necessary ; but the culprit, 
having taken off shoes and stockings, got behind him 
as I turned him into a sandy dock, and all was well.' 

The reel should be an ordinary check winch, 
not too large for the balance of the rod. There 
should, of course, be plenty of line, but if the reel be 
too small to hold enough taper salmon, a quantity of 
thin strong line not taking mucli room can always 
be spliced to the heavier and more expensive portion 
used for casting. There are many inventions of 
different kinds for 'improving' reels, but although 
their merits may be great, personally I dislike any 
sort of complication. The line should be made to 
suit the rod, and should not only be always carefully 
dried on returning home, but also periodically tested 
whenever it has been used. When a fisherman re- 
turns with a glum face, and a story that his ' beast 
of a line ' broke, and lost him the fish of the 
season, you are usually safe in conjecturing that it 
is his own fault, but you would not be wise to 
tell him so. 

Your casting lines should be of the best selected 
gut, and a short length of twisted gut next to the 
reel line is a good thing, even when you are fishing 


with a fine cast, as it tapers the Hne for casting. 
Strong twisted treble gut is desirable for a very rocky 
stream, as all is not then lost even if one strand is 
cut, but good single gut will bear as great a strain as 
twisted. In clear bright water it is wonderful what 
can be done with a fine cast, but for such fishing the 
rod should be as light as is consistent with the 
possibihty of killing your fish, as it is very difficult to 
acquire the lightness of hand requisite to avoid 
breaking fine tackle with a heavy rod. Gut should 
be always carefully soaked in cold water before you 
attempt to tie any knot in it, as it is extremely brittle 
when dry, and every strand and knot should be 
invariably tested before use, and not merely periodic- 
ally like the line. A kink, a knot, a tangle, or bend, 
may crack a cast or tippet of the best material, and 
it is better to find out all weak places before and 
not after you have risen and hooked your fish. It is 
a good plan to soak, prepare, make up, and test at 
least one cast before starting in the morning. Such 
work is more deliberately and better done at home 
than at the river side, where, in spite of all counsels 
of perfection, it is hardly in human nature not to 
hurry if the water looks grand, and the fish are mov- 
ing. I must myself confess in sackcloth and ashes 
that I have been broken more than once, owing to 


the neglect of the obvious precautions I am suggesting 
to others, tempted beyond my powers, and sinning 
against knowledge. 

Coming lastly to the fly, I know that I am on 
more delicate and disputable ground. I am inclined 
to think that colour matters very little indeed, but 
am conscious that, nevertheless, I nearly always take 
advice and use the fly that is most in vogue on the 
water that I happen to be fishing at the time being. 
I have the assurance at any rate that the particular 
fly recommended to me has caught fish lately, and 
therefore that it will in all probability do so again 
under like conditions ; and although I may feel 
pretty certain that a different one would meet with 
the same success, I am not disposed to try experi- 
ments on a strange water. As regards colour alone, 
I must express a conviction that as a rule the reason a 
particular fly kills most fish on a certain stretch of water 
is that it is more used than any other, and faith is 
a great element of success. On certain days a salmon 
will take almost anything that is offered to him, on 
others nothing will stir him. To quote Scrope 
again, ' sometimes they will tak' the thoom o' yere 
mitten, if you would throw it in, and at ithers they 
wadna look at the Lady o' Makerstown and a' her 
braws.' I was struck only the other day when fish- 


ing in Tweed by my attendant telling me a ' Jock 
Scott ' used to be a good fly, but that the fish did not 
take it much just now. He was a first-rate fisherman 
of great experience, and I hardly dared to tell him 
that I thought old ' Jock ' would turn out as useful as 
ever if it was given the chance ; but the sequel proved 
that I was right, for a few days afterwards I killed 
two fish on that fly in that very water. My belief is 
that a few patterns, each of different sizes, are a 
sufficient equipment. A ' Blue Doctor ' is my 
favourite fly, and with that and a ' Silver Doctor,' a 
' Butcher,' a ' Black Dog ' — a fly with a black body 
with silver twist, a red head and a rather sober wing — 
and 'Jock Scott,' I am inclined to think that one can 
catch fish anywhere. I like my flies tied upon double 
hooks. Apart from the greater likelihood of securing 
fish, I think they hang and work better in the water. 
In places where the river is clear of obstacles and 
weeds I am guilty of the heresy of using a dropper, 
a small sea-trout fly, and have often caught salmon 
as well as trout upon it. I think there is something 
particularly attractive about the play of the dropper, 
as on some occasions nearly every fish of the day 
has risen to it. In illustration, of the theory that 
numerous changes are not very necessary, I have 
often changed the tail fly two or three times to 



humour the supposed caprice of a fish I have risen 
but not hooked, and have caught him after all on the 
dropper which had remained the same all the time. 
But while I have no great faith in colour, I attach much 
importance to the size of flies, and believe that, as a 
rule, sportsmen are apt to use them too large. As I 
have said, I do not like experimenting in strange water 
where I am a guest, but in the little river which I 
fished for many years, I gradually and consistently 
reduced the size of my flies with uniform success. 
In clear low water it is hardly possible to have 
them too small, and I believe that with small flies 
and fine tackle one need never despair of success. 
On one occasion I killed twelve salmon in a day 
in a single small pool after a long drought, all upon 
small sea-trout flies, and in the middle of the day I 
tried for a short time the experiment of substituting 
a little salmon fly, some two sizes larger; but 
although the fish rose at it every time, not one of 
them took it into his mouth, although with the 
smaller flies both before and afterwards nearly every 
rising fish was hooked. 

For minnow, prawn, and worm fishing, I must 
refer my readers to other and more exhaustive 
treatises. Whatever merit there may be in these 
brief hints is derived from the fact that they are the 


result of my own experience, and although I have 
caught salmon with minnow and worm, and have seen 
them caught with a prawn, I hardly ever use anything 
but the fly, and have no claim whatever to be con- 
sidered an expert with other lures. 

I cannot leave this subject without confessing the 
magnetic attraction a tackle maker's window has for 
me as I walk the streets of London. We are apt to 
jeer at the fair sex when we find it difficult to get them 
past a splendid array of new bonnets or the newest 
fashionable miUinery, but they might justly retaliate if 
they saw us with our noses flattened against certain 
windows in Pall Mall, the Strand or Temple Bar. 
The long array of rods, the display of bronzed winches, 
the tempting flies, the appetising prawns in their grave 
of glycerine, move one's wonder that any fish can have 
self-denial enough to resist such attractions, and turn 
our thoughts to Melrose, Abbotsford, and the Tay, and 
the memories of long past conflicts. 




The most satisfactory method of fishing for salmon 
is, no doubt, casting, either from the bank or wading, 
as described in the previous chapters — but there are 
rivers — and some of the best and most sought after — 
where this is often impracticable, owing to the width 
of the stream, the nature of the banks, and the posi- 
tions of the pools in which the fish rest and take the 
fly. I will briefly describe some examples of various 
methods of boat fishing, mainly derived from my own 
personal recollections. 

The first scene is a certain wide stretch of the Tay 
not far from Dunkeld ; the time, I am sorry to say, 
a good many years ago. A little above us on the hill, 
among beautiful woods and grand Scotch firs, stands 
an immense modern mansion, which, on close inspec- 
tion, turns out to be a shell only, a still existing 
example of the folly of beginning to build without 
counting the cost ; and close beside it the picturesque 


old Scotch castle which it was intended to supplant, 
well known to the art connoisseur as the subject of Sir 
John Millais' fine picture of ' Christmas Eve,' so well 
etched by Macbeth. No wonder that the great artist 
did justice to his subject, for at the time of which I 
vmte he was a near neighbour, and a frequent guest 
within those hospitable walls, and in later years rented 
the fishing of the adjoining beat of the Tay, and the 
shooting of the surrounding woods, chase and bog. 
We are not far from the scenes depicted in ' Chill 
October,' ' Murthly Moss,' and 'The Fringe of the 

There are two of us sitting in the boat facing the 
rectangular stern, and Miller and his man have 
selected two good-sized flies, one a ' Butcher,' the 
other something like a Popham, and attached them to 
the treble gut casting lines of a pair of stout eighteen- 
foot rods, which point outwards from the corners 
of the stern. A third rod hangs straight between 
them, on which is a medium-sized phantom minnow. 
Fortune has so far favoured me this morning, for I 
have won the toss, and therefore the first chance with 
the minnow. We have just finished such a breakfast 
as Queen Elizabeth might have envied, and start from 
the bank in high spirits, for the river is in first-rate 
order ; it is about a week since a heavy spate substi- 


tuted the ' Pleasures of Hope ' for the possibility of 
sport for a day or two, and before we can get into the 
boat the sight of some magnificent fish splashing 
about in the pool in front of us brings our hearts into 
our mouths ; for my companion has never before seen 
a salmon alive, and I have seldom had a chance of 
an encounter with the giants of the Tay. Perhaps 
it was not altogether a good sign for the fish to be 
taking quite so much air and exercise, but it was 
something to be assured that the pool was not empty, 
and of that there was ample ocular demonstration. 
We let out line as directed, until a bit of silk whipped 
round it discloses that the orthodox twenty yards has 
passed through the rings, a rather smaller allowance 
being considered sufficient for the minnow ; and after 
giving each one turn round a fair-sized stone at the 
bottom of the boat, plant the butts of our rods against 
notches in the plank behind our feet, light our pipes, 
and begin to pursue ' the contemplative man's recrea- 
tion.' But not for long — for the steady strokes of the 
two oarsmen have not propelled the boat to the oppo- 
site side before one of the three stones gives a jump 
in the air, and my companion has hardly time to seize 
his rod before the line is screaming through the rings 
— and seventy yards are out before his rather awkward 
movements have brought his rod into position, 


although the two boatmen have backed water rapidly 
as the great fish pursued his headlong course down the 
stream. In the meanwhile I have rapidly reeled up 
the other lines to prevent the entanglement which oc- 
casionally at this kind of sport necessitates two men 
playing the same fish, both sometimes ignorant till 
near the conclusion of the fight to which it really 
belongs. Miller has now guided the boat to a con- 
venient landing-place, and the excited sportsman is 
assisted on to the bank, with many injunctions to be 
especially careful as he steps to land. And now the 
conditions become the same that I have previously 
described, and there is no incident of a particularly 
exciting character, till a fine twenty-one pounder is 
duly gaffed and weighed, for although the point of the 
rod is occasionally dropped too low, and there are 
moments of a slack line and awkward strain, the 
fish has been firmly hooked, and could only have been 
lost by criminal awkwardness or great ill-fortune. 
Then we recommence operations — highly elated with 
the good beginning — and proceed through the day, 
one of us being occasionally landed to cast in any 
of the very few places which lend themselves to such 
an operation — and if the performance is one which 
does not call for any great physical or intellectual 
effort, I can affirm that two very elated individuals 


walked up to the Castle in the evening- followed by 
the bearer of seven salmon — two of these grilse of 
eleven or twelve pounds — the others ranging from 
seventeen pounds to twenty-three. 

It must not be supposed that our host was under 
the delusion that this was the highest form of sport 
that the river could afford. When it was possible to 
give a beat to a single rod, and he was a fisherman of 
experience, he was allowed to cast from the boat 
instead of occupying the position of a sort of auto- 
matic trimmer. But all who remember that delightful 
time, those elastic walls, and genial hospitality, will 
bear me out in testifying that it was no easy task to 
provide sport for the numbers who were welcomed 
there ; and that occasionally it could only be secured 
by putting the proverbial 'three men in a boat.' 
Somehow or other, however, it was contrived that, 
every guest should go out expectant in the morning 
and come back radiant in the evening, for the place 
was like the conjurer's magic bottle, and every taste 
was provided for. 

Sometimes the fish were obstinate, and there was 
ample leisure for the passengers in the boat to think 
of other things as well as the care of their rods and 
lines. Many were the good stories told, and the 
songs and parodies composed on such occasions for 


the evening's consumption, when music and merri- 
ment were the order of the day ; and not a few 
surprises and jokes, good, bad, and indifferent, were 
devised and executed. On my first visit I had come 
straight from grouse-shooting with Lord Cairns at his 
pleasant autumn quarters in Forfarshire ; and his 
servant had presented me with an unexpected gift in 
the shape of a gigantic wooden bootjack which he 
had placed in my portmanteau on my departure. I 
received in the evening a serio-comic letter from my 
late hostess reproaching me for repaying her hospi- 
tality by annexing her property ; and the sight of some 
of the days' catch going off as presents with their tails 
protruding from a neat covering of reeds suggested to 
me a suitable reprisal. I begged the tail of a fine 
twenty-pound fish, and sent off the stolen property 
suitably directed, disguised as the counterfeit present- 
ment of a large salmon. Lady Cairns was equal 
to the occasion ; for when she wrote thanking me for 
the fine fish, she mentioned that she was unable to 
enjoy it herself, as she was leaving on a visit, but that 
she had sent it on direct to her neighbour. Lord 
Dalhousie, at Invermark, a little higher up the glen. 
Of course this was an invention, but I could not help 
wishing that it had been true, and that I could have 
seen the face of the old laird when he opened his 


parcel and imagined that he was being made a fool of 

by the Lord Chancellor. 

The honours of the day in harling rest with the 
boatmen, who are responsible for bringing the flies 
properly over the fish, and I have officiated in that 
capacity as well as with the rod. There was a stretch 
of water about a mile and a half below the house 
where there was one very good cast — Burn bend — 
where early birds used often to secure a fish before 
breakfast, but where most of the water was considered 
useless, and never harled, as the bottom was smooth, 
and salmon did not lie there as a rule. Once, how- 
ever, when there was an extra large party in the 
house, three of us went over there, borrowed a boat, 
and tried the water by ourselves. Sir Frederick 
Milner will doubtless remember the twenty-two pound 
fish he got on that occasion ; and I can answer 
for it that one at least of his amateur fishermen was 
as proud of his success as the captor himself I 
have also with a friend harled in the mouth of the 
Rauma in Norway, the two of us managing both the 
boat and the rods, and getting fair success with grilse 
and sea-trout ; and I do not think the operation at all 
a difficult one for anyone with the ordinary proficiency 
with the oar acquired at least by every wet bob at 


Whatever may be thought of harling from a 
sportsman's point of view, there can be no doubt that 
it is a most deadly method of killing fish. There are 
casts which even the most skilful fisherman cannot 
negotiate properly, and wind and current sometimes 
sweep the fly round tail foremost and loose instead of 
with the lifelike motion which attracts the fish and the 
taut line which hooks him. But in harling, as the 
boat goes from side to side, the oarsman keeping his 
eye on a mark on the opposite bank and regulating 
his pace by the speed of the current, the line is always 
straight, and the flies and minnows visit in turn, and 
in correct position, every nook and corner of the 
stream. The fish under such circumstances are very 
easily caught, and I can remember at least one fisher- 
man — my own father — who made his debict as a 
salmon fisher at Murthly, and came back from his 
first day's apprenticeship the proud captor of no less 
than ten salmon. 

I have not disguised my opinion that this method 
of fishing is a very inferior class of sport to the more 
legitimate casting from the bank or wading, but I 
agree with Mr. Fraser Sandeman, in whose book — 
' Angling Travels in Norway ' — a number of valuable 
hints on this subject will be found, that it is the only 
practical method by which certain pools or even 


some entire rivers can be fished ; still, I think that he 
somewhat exaggerates the difficulty of the operation 
and the skill necessary for its performance. To go 
slow from side to side, to 'keep at it,' and to drop 
four to five feet at each transit, does not seem to me 
hard to do except in very rough water ; but it is 
certain that there are degrees of proficiency in this, as 
in all sports, and that it is a great handicap to have a 
fool for a boatman. 

It is usually the oarsman's business to land the fish 
either with net or gaff", and a bungler who knows httle 
of the sport and cannot manage a boat properly may 
involve you in difficulties and dangers more serious 
than the mismanagement of a pool or even the loss 
of a good salmon. There are occasions when you 
are offered the alternative of a break, or of following 
your fish into unknown rapids, or even into similar 
perils consciously encountered ; and your life may 
depend upon the activity, readiness, and presence of 
mind of your boatman, and his proficiency in his 
craft, if, as is usually the case, you face the risk in the 
excitement of the moment. 

To hold a boat properly with the oars for the 
fisherman to cast a likely spot in mid-stream or at 
some distance from the shore requires far greater 
skill than mere harling. Every current and every 


rock should be known to the oarsman, who should 
not merely be able to tell you exactly where you may 
expect the fish to rise, but also should avoid un- 
necessarily disturbing a likely place with his strokes or 
the boat. So, too, the wielder of the rod may have 
quite as long and difficult a cast to make as if he was 
on the bank, except that he has not got to avoid 
overhanging branches or a precipitous bank behind 
him. He has also the supreme satisfaction of 
knowing either from his own past experience, or from 
information received at the time, the precise spots 
where he should exercise the greatest caution and 
deliberation, and feel the strongest expectation and 
hope. Mere ' chuck and chance it ' work is never 
very satisfactory, and a long monotonous pool or 
stream, though it may be very productive, loses half 
its charm if each successive cast is or ought to be a 
complete replica of the one before it, and as likely to 
be followed by a break in the surface and a tight 

A different method of boat-fishing is pursued on 
Tweed. There also you have a wide stream, a strong 
current, and great depth in many places, and wading 
and bank fishing is in most spots quite impossible. 
The precipitous sandstone banks and overhanging 
trees which give such a charm to the landscape at 


Dryburgh, Melrose and St. Boswell's make the use 
of the boat imperative, but I have never seen harhng 
attempted on that classic ground. 

I need not make any serious call upon my 
memory to describe a day upon Tweed, for it was 
only yesterday (September 13, 1897) that by the 
kindness of my friend, Mr. Walter Farquhar, I 
enjoyed a pleasant day's sport in the Mertoun 
water — a typical stretch of the river, and the scene 
of many an episode in Scrope's work. I had been 
trouting at Dryburgh just a week before, after a 
succession of heavy floods, when the water was 
still out of condition for salmon-fishing — so had a 
good opportunity of measuring the exact effect of a 
week's dry weather upon the stream. My letter of 
invitation, written on the 9th, told me that the river 
was then in fine order, and was running down slowly, 
and that my friend had got five fish and a sea-trout 
the day before — an excellent bag considering that the 
nets were still on. I arrived at the stables at Mer- 
toun at about twelve o'clock, after a drive of nearly 
ten miles and a railway journey of half an hour, and it 
was not long before I had commenced operations 
at the House stream. Goodfellow, the presiding 
genius of the beat, was away for the day on business, 
but he had left a worthy substitute in the person of 


his second in command — one of the numberless 
Elliotts who still frequent the Border counties. I 
cannot say that he was sanguine — no fish had been 
got on Friday or Saturday, although one had been 
lost on the afternoon of the latter day — and the river 
had got very low and clear, too much so to be really 
in order. Tweed unfortunately does not rise in a 
lake, and the days of her perfection are few and far 
between, as she is generally too thick immediately 
after a flood, and then subsides very rapidly. Still 
there was something in my favour. The fish had 
enjoyed their Sabbath rest ; there were certainly some 
in the pools, and they were settled down and not 
knocked about by perpetual floods, and the sky was 
slightly overcast instead of the brilliant sunshine 
which all, except fishermen, had so much enjoyed 
the week before, after a long spell of cloud and storm. 
A little wind would have been an advantage, as the 
deep, still places were glassy, but we agreed that 
there was a chance, although not a first-rate one. 

The House stream, as its name implies, is a rapid, 
not very deep run just below Mertoun House. Here 
the coble was duly launched, and I tried the cast over 
with two flies ; first a " Blue Doctor " mounted on a 
No. 8 hook, and then a " Jock Scott " on a No. 5. The 
boat was here managed by a simple process : Elliott 


waded down the stream holding on to the side of 
the bows, and let her down about a yard at a time — 
in fact I was to all intents and purposes fishing from 
a moving platform a few yards from the side instead 
of going into the water, which at its then height could 
easily have been fished by a wader, had it been 
necessary. No fish moved here or in the willow 
bush pool a little lower down, nor indeed did we 
linger very long over the latter, as the best part of it 
was very still and clear, and did not look at all likely 
in its present condition. 

Elliott now rowed us across — my Eton boy was 
with me fishing for trout — and told us that if we 
would go up to the bridge he would wade across the 
stream a little above it and join us, and, as we had 
our lunch, we watched him attempting to do so, but 
the rapid was a little too deep to be negotiated in 
ordinary wading stockings, and he had to come round 
by the suspension bridge after all. Before he reached 
us I met one of the house party who had been fishing 
in the beat below mine, and he somewhat revived my 
flagging hopes by telling me that a fish had been 
risen there that morning. He added that one of the 
pools above had been very much disturbed by a 
horse which had fallen over the cliff and been 
drowned. I imparted the news, not of the horse, but 


of the fish to Elliott when he came up, and began to 
unlock the next boat, but he did not seem much 
impressed by the good augury, merely replying ' that 
would be early in the morning.' However, he rowed 
me across, and I began to fish the Bridge pool, 
commencing about 200 yards higher up. 

Here the river is deep under the Mertoun side, 
where a long submerged shelf of rock extends along 
the bank, ending four or five yards out in a straight 
descent into deep water, forming just such a resting- 
place as salmon love to frequent. It was obviously 
unnecessary to throw a very long fine, as it was a 
place where fish would be sure to lie close to the 
boat. Here again the fisherman waded along the 
shelf of rock holding the boat, and although the trees 
above would be rather awkward it would have been 
perfectly feasible to fish it from the bank. Half-way 
down my patience was rewarded by my first rise, a 
fair- sized fish came at the ' Jock Scott, ' but did not 
touch. We stopped, moved the boat a little higher, 
and exchanged the fly for one a trifle smaller, but to 
no purpose, as our friend refused to repeat his 
attempt, and after finishing the pool we judged it 
prudent to leave him for the present and make our 
way up to the Craigs pool, which we were agreed was 
our best chance for the day. 



The Craigs pool, where another boat awaited us, 
is one designated by Scrope as Craigover, and is the 
scene of one of those terrible poaching proceedings — 
sunning the salmon — which he describes with such 
astounding candour ; but for which he ought to have 
done at least a month on the treadmill. It is the 
very ideal of a salmon pool, and I was not surprised 
when my attendant remarked that it always held 
some fish at any period of the season. There is a 
gravel bank on the Mertoun side, but the Craigs, a 
precipitous sandstone rock, rises opposite at an angle 
of the stream, which just above descends in a rapid 
almost amounting to a small fall. At the bottom of 
the rock numerous boulders, the ' tumbled fragments 
of the hills,' tell of similar debris beneath the waters, 
forming the subaqueous caverns and buttresses which 
salmon love to haunt. Two small natural cairns 
protrude into the water, one at the lowest corner of 
the rock, and the second twenty or thirty yards lower 
down ; there is sufficient stream to hang the fly 
properly, but the black surface denotes great depth, 
and altogether it looked an ideal spot at any height 
of the river, but especially promising when she was 
low and bright. Here a rather long cast is required, 
as the deep water extends a long distance from the 
rocks, and) the boatman' cannot wade in far. Here 


he cannot follow the boat, but has to let her gradually 
down by a rope, leaving the outer oar reversed on 
the thole pin to steer automatically. Hopefully and 
carefully I cast my fly right under the rock, working 
it right round until it was opposite the boat, as even 
there the water was plenty deep enough for a fish to 
rise, and before very long a sudden check of the line 
told me that I was into the first fish of the season, 
although not even a boil broke the surface of the water. 
I cannot, I regret to say, truthfully record any 
very exciting incident in the playing of this particular 
fish. He behaved in a most gentlemanly manner. 
He did not sulk, but his runs were short and demure, 
and long before he was the least tired I had guided 
him down the stream into the deep still backwater, 
where he spent most of the few remaining minutes of 
his existence. He did not jump, and my companion 
suggested that he was only a small one, but I drew a 
dilTerent augury from the strain on the rod and the 
fact that he never showed himself, and felt sure that 
he was at least a moderate sized fish ; and soon his runs 
became shorter and shorter, and as he broke the surface 
we could see that I was right. And now Elliott put 
his large circular landing net into the water; but 
as I guided the fish into it, he made his first really 
disagreeable plunge, and shot out into the pool, taking 


with him some thirty yards of Hne ; but it was his last 
effort, for in another minute he was scooped up and 
deposited on the gravel, a nice clean male fish just under 
fourteen pounds. Both the barbs of the double hook 
were deeply embedded in his jaw, and it was evident 
that nothing short of a break could have given him his 

While he was still on, I had seen another fish 
break the water a little lower down, close into the 
second cairn, and without wasting any time we 
resumed the offensive, and I recommended casting 
just below the place where I had hooked the fish. 
The pool had been very little disturbed, and even 
if it had been more so, I should not have thought it 
necessary to wait, as I have risen fish immediately 
after a hooked companion has been jumping and 
swaggering about the pool in a manner calculated 
to frighten them into fits. They seldom, it seems, 
take warning from the misfortunes of others. The 
casting now became a little more difiicult ; not only 
was it necessary to throw a fairly long line, but as the 
fly came round below the point of the rod it was 
sucked into a sort of eddy or backwater which 
drowned the cast and made it very difficult to get the 
line clean out of the water for the backward move- 
ment. Once at least I succeeded in tying my cast 


into one of those complications of knots which would 
be impossible if voluntarily attempted, but a little 
patience soon got rid of the tangle, and with an 
excitement which years of experience have not w^holly 
abated, I found myself nearing the spot where I had 
marked the rise, and at the very first cast over the 
place found my fly taken ; again under water. This 
time I had no reason to complain of want of excite- 
ment, for just a second after feeling the hook, a heavy 
fish dashed down the stream, taking out line at a pace 
which made me hesitate to leave the boat, as I had 
rather a small reel and a short allowance of line for 
so wide and strong a river as the Tweed is near St. 

However, he turned as rapidly as he had 
started, heading up-stream at a pace which made 
it impossible to reel up quite sufficiently fast, and 
just opposite to me, a really beautiful fish turned 
a complete somersault in the air. ' It is another fish,' 
said my boatman, but I shook my head, although I 
could easily see what had deceived him, for the place 
where the fish jumped was a gcod deal above that 
where the line touched the water. Speedily as I 
reeled up, there was a micment of slack when I was 
uncertain whether I had not lost him, but only a 
moment, for almost as soon as I felt him again the 


line fairly whizzed through the water as he dashed to 

the opposite side. It was a sharp and exciting 
contest, but too sharp to last long, and before many 
minutes he was visibly tiring, and his runs became 
shorter and slower, and he yielded to pressure. As 
he came near the top the fisherman and I both noted 
with some surprise that there was a mark on his side ; 
and when he also was duly netted, and had received 
the coup de grace with a stone, the cause was apparent 
in a large still bleeding scar on both sides immediately 
above the belly. At first I thought that some 
poacher had endeavoured to sniggle him with a triangle 
and that he had broken away ; but on investigation it 
was plain that the wound was not due to human 
agency, as the marks of teeth were clearly visible. 
He had indeed had a narrow escape for his life, as 
the seal had gripped him right across the middle, but 
he had escaped his voracious foe to fall a victim to a 
human enemy before many hours had passed. He 
was indeed a magnificent specimen, in perfect con- 
dition, and I herewith give his portrait, roughly but 
accurately drawn to scale, showing the marks of the 
seal bite as a further example of the insensibility to 
pain before referred to. The scars on the right side 
extended four and a half inches in width along the body, 
and to a height of two and three-quarter inches from 


the belly. On the left side was a corresponding half- 
moon-shaped gash seven inches long by four high, 
with outlying tooth-marks. Though practically 

healed and filled up, these marks were nearly half-an- 
inch deep in some places. I should think the seal 
must have dived under him and gripped him from 
below. We fished the pool again, and tried two flies 
over the one that had risen above the bridge, before 
we left to catch our train. Goodfellow met us at the 
stables, and was much elated by my success. He 
constrained us to take our fish with us ; and as we 
had no bag or baskets, they created some sensation 
among the tourists at St. Boswell's station. I weighed 
the biggest at the parcel office, as my little steelyard 
only worked up to eighteen pounds, and found him a 
few ounces over twenty pounds. Both fish were 
much admired by my travelling companion in the 
carriage to Hawick — a commercial from Bradford, 
who said I had earned a good day's wage^ — and 


* supposed I was going to sell them.' It must not be 
thought that what I have described above represents 
an extraordinary day's sport on Tweed. I have 
purposely selected a moderate one. On November 9, 
1885, and the four following days Mr. Farquhar 
and Lord Brougham, fishing on alternate days, killed 
18, 17, IT, 12, and 10 fish on the same beat, the two 
rods in the week securing 95 fish. 

Of harling in a loch I have no knowledge, and 
from what I have heard I do not feel any great 
ambition to tackle the big fish in Loch Tay. The 
fishing there is best in the spring, and it must be 
desperately cold work trailing the big phantom 
minnows after your boat in a north-east wind, or 
sometimes in a snowstorm or in frosty air. But I 
have had some good days in a certain ' damp climate 
contiguous to a melancholy ocean,' and although my 
experience is not very recent, bear my testimony to 
the excellence of the free fishing at Waterville in the 
late ' sixties.' 

It was in the height of the Fenian agitation that I 
visited that beautiful coast with an Oxford friend ; a 
large and weighty box of books testified to our inten- 
tion of reading, but served no other purpose beyond 
that of trying the temper of the cardrivers and the 
strength and pluck of their game little horses. My 


relationship to the then Home Secretary drew upon 
me some attention from the Royal Irish Constabulary, 
although I certainly found no necessity for their pro- 
tection. Paddy has his faults, but I do not think 
he has any inclination to visit the sins of the fathers 
upon the children. We secured the services of two 
experienced fishermen and their boat for the period of 
our stay, and beyond the fact that they loved whisky 
' not wisely but too well,' and were quarrelsome in their 
cups, we had little fault to find with them. Their 
boat was more like a substantial gig than a Tay or 
Tweed coble, but a flat-bottomed craft would not have 
held the water enough for a drift, and would certainly 
not have been safe in the violent squalls and heavy 
storms which we occasionally had to encounter. The 
favourite fly was a moderate sized sea-trout fly, with a 
rough body of fiery brown pig's wool and a plain 
wing of native manufacture, and I had not then 
sufficient confidence and self-assertion to experiment 
vv-ith the smarter specimens of the tackle-maker's art 
which we had brought with us from the metropolis. 
The method of fishing was like that for ordinary loch 
trout, rowing up-wind and drifting sideways along the 
likely bays and headlands, casting before you with 
the wind with a fourteen-foot rod and a moderate 
length of line. The sea-trout, which were numerous 


and plucky, but not very large, rose almost anywhere. 
The salmon had favourite haunts and lurking places 
where submerged rocks rose nearly to the surface in 
the deeper water. There was of course some com- 
petition to secure the first turn at the favourite places, 
and all were eager to come in in the evening with the 
best baskets landed. Many a bright sea-trout and 
shapely peel of four or five pounds, and occasionally a 
brown salmon of from ten to fourteen pounds, roused 
the envy of less successful competitors. Luncheon 
on one of the islands with a freshly caught fish 
broiled in the embers as a piece de resistaiice was a 
delightful meal. Our boatmen were full of stories : 
there was of course a ' worm ' in the lake, perhaps 
twin-brother to the mysterious monster whose 
attempted capture was described in the ' Badminton 
Magazine' for July, 1897. ^ Then there was also 
a horseman, who, at certain periods, rode over the 
surface of the lake on a charger shod w^ith silver 

* This creature answers the description of what Newland 
{Forest Scenes in Norway and Sweden. Routledge, 1855) calls 
' the fictitious mal, a great-headed wide-mouthed monster with 
long beard, of the same colour as an eel, slimy and without 
perceptible scales. It is said to grow to the length of 12 or 14 
feet, and to carry on its back fin a strong sharp lance which it 
can elevate or depress at pleasure. It is supposed to lie, seek- 
ing whom or what it may devour, in the deepest and muddiest 
holes of rivers and lakes. ' 


shoes ; and a disused chapel and burial-ground on 
one of the islands contained a stone which no one 
could carry away safely. Several had tried it, but 
always some misfortune had happened to them to 
prevent their success. The last rash accepter of the 
challenge had fallen down and broken his leg ! I 
particularly remember this legend because an Oxford 
undergraduate a year or two after was dared into 
undertaking the quest ; and, although no physical 
misfortune happened to him, was very properly fined 
by the magistrates and compelled to take back the 
desecrated stone. 

The best day we ever had there was one of some 
risk. A regular gale was blowing, and none of the 
boats started in the morning at the usual hour. The 
wiser old stagers never made a start at all, but we 
were young and rash, and pressed our boatmen to 
brave the elements, being all the more eager from the 
certainty that w^e should have the best places all to 
ourselves. Mickie and his colleague shook their 
heads, and protested that it was not safe ; but at last 
we bribed or cajoled them into consenting to launch 
forth and drift down the sheltered side of the loch — 
the wind was blowing from the hotel end — on 
condition that we took a spare pair of oars with us 
and agreed to lend a hand on the return journey. 


For a time all went well : the fish rose freely and 
greedily, as they often do on a loch in the most 
disagreeable weather, and before we had finished 
the drift we had secured over two dozen sea-trout, a 
big brown fish, and four peel, and were congratulating 
ourselves on our pluck and foresight, and thinking 
what a laugh we should have at the less venturesome 
sportsmen who were cultivating the fireside while we 
were enjoying such excellent sport. But the end was 
not yet, and the laugh turned out to be not altogether 
so entirely on our side as we supposed. In the first 
place we had to fulfil our pledge of rowing home in 
the teeth of the wind ; but when my companion, a 
stalwart and practised oarsman, bent himself to the 
job with a vigorous pull, the crazy oar snapped short 
in the middle, and the boat swung round, nearly 
capsizing, and shipping a quantity of water. For a time 
we tried the three oars, but the balance was so bad 
and trimmed the boat so awkwardly, that the attempt 
was soon abandoned as hopeless, and we continued 
the voyage in our waterlogged craft with two rowers 
and two passengers. Our progress was terribly slow, 
the wind had increased in violence, and although our 
boatmen stuck gallantly to their work, we could 
perceive from their faces and their muttered appeals 
to the Virgin and the saints that they did not feel at 


all confident of ever reaching the shore. Soon the 
boat was nearly half full, and we were sitting almost 
up to our knees in water, and it was plain that she 
would never keep afloat till the end of the journey. 
Things looked black indeed, but fortunately the low 
shore of one of the islands loomed through the scud 
and rain, and we just managed to drag her ashore 
and empty her. Thankful for our escape, we held a 
council of war, and determined that it was impossible 
to make the regular landing-place ; so relieving the 
boatmen at the oars and guided by their local know- 
ledge, we rowed laboriously to shore at the nearest 
available spot, dragged the boat to land, and walked 
home, dripping and uncomfortable, not quite so sure 
that we had done such a very wise thing after all. 

Another description of boat fishing for salmon is 
practised in Wales and its borders, where the coracle — 
the lineal descendant of the prehistoric British boat — 
is employed both for rod and net fishing. These 
clumsy-looking contrivances consist of a framework 
of laths or basket-work covered with tarpaulin, straight 
at one end and spade-shaped at the other, with a 
board in the centre to sit upon, supported upon another 
set edgeways below it. They are about five feet by 
three, and are worked with a single paddle somewhat 
of the shape of an elongated cricket-bat, which the 


occupant, who is seated facing the broad end with a 
foot in each corner, works by making figures of eight 
either in front or at the side- Of course it is im- 
possible to propel these crafts against the wdnd or 
stream, but they draw little water, and are very easily 
carried on the back, a strap running through the seat 
being placed round the neck. A gentleman living in 
the neighbourhood of Usk used to do great execution 
in the Association waters, fishing before him from a 
coracle with a short rod made on purpose : as he was 
able to avail himself of certain long pools with bushes 
on each side which were too deep for wading and 
could not be approached from the banks. I 
remember being greatly impressed by his success 
during a visit to that river, when I was very lucky 
myself for the first three days after a flood, after which 
the fishermen came down in too great numbers, and 
nearly every pool was occupied by an early hour 
in the morning. I took one of the coracles home 
with me to Kent, and used it for pike fishing in a pond, 
finding it by no means so difficult to manage or easy 
to capsize as I should have supposed from its 
appearance. I sometimes wonder that they are not 
used for small reedy hill lochs in Scotland, as they can 
be bought for a few shillings, copied by any carpenter 
of ordinary intelligence, carried with great ease, and 


mended without difficulty with patches and a fresh 
coat of tar if they spring a leak. Of course they 
would not be safe for large lochs or in rough and 
squally weather j but they will float in a few inches 
of water, and can be guided on to a convenient shallow 
and left there when a large fish is hooked. 




I HAVE in a previous passage alluded to the price 
which the angler must expect to pay for his sport; and 
it may be taken as an established fact that the rents 
of really good stretches of water go on steadily increas- 
ing, and that in the rare instances where there is a 
fall of price, it is only because for some reason the fish- 
ng has greatly deteriorated, and the fact has become 
public property. Rivers which used to let for 200/. or 
300/. a year are now subdivided into numerous beats, 
each commanding a similar rent, and well-known 
fishings fetch a fancy price, and, like the choicest 
grouse moors, seldom get into the agents' hands, but 
are eagerly competed for on the death or departure of 
an old tenant. It is highly advisable before renting 
a salmon river to obtain information from some one 
who has previously and recently fished the water. 
An experienced sportsman may form a trustworthy 
opinion of the merits of a grouse moor by walking on 


the ground, and noting its capabilities as to heather, 
water supply, and the like, and the indications of the 
presence of birds \ but I defy anyone to tell by the 
appearance of a river in June or July what sort of 
sport it is likely to afford in August and September. 
I have seen streams that looked absolute perfection, 
apparently alive with salmon, where it was really 
hardly any use to fish during the autumn months ; and 
there is nothing so disheartening as going on flogging 
such water day after day without any real hope of 
success. I dispute the proposition that a blank day 
is sheer waste of time ; but I cannot say " that it is 
amusing to go on fishing pools when once you are 
convinced that under no conditions can salmon be 
caught in them at the time of year. I become filled 
with hatred of the fish which jump over my line in 
derision, or fling summersaults all round my fly, but 
never take it ; and . under such circumstances some 
misguided men are driven to desperate courses, which 
cannot be justified, but are in some measure palliated 
by the temptation. 

It sounds trite and commonplace to say that those 
who rely upon accounts of previous bags should 
ascertain the time and method of their capture ; but 
I have so often known people to take an autumn 
river in spring or a spring river in autumn, that a 



word of warning against such an error is not altogether 
out of place. Spring fishing is really the cheapest in 
proportion to its merit ; the competition which sends up 
rents to famine prices is not so severe then as later. 
Comparatively few can get away in the early part of the 
year, and even of those who are free to select the period 
of their holiday, most for various reasons prefer the 
autumn. The greatest drawbacks to early fishing are 
kelts, frost, and east wind ; but there can be little 
doubt that a real spring salmon gives better sport, 
and is altogether a more desirable acquisition, than 
two or three fish caught in the late autumn. On the 
other hand, the advantage of an autumn river is that 
it works in with other sports, and that if a long spell 
of dry weather spoils your chance of a salmon, it is 
favourable for grouse shooting or stalking. I have 
fished in a good many such rivers in August, wSeptem- 
ber and October, and a short account of the sort of 
sport to be obtained in some of them may be of 

The little river that I know best, having fished it 
regularly for the best part of a quarter of a century, is 
the Add, which rises in the hills near Loch Fyne and, 
after a short but rapid course through gorges and over 
rocks, descends into the plain, and for the last few 
miles of its career meanders slowly through the 


partially reclaimed peat moss which fills the valley 
opposite Crinan Bay, into which it ultimately dis- 
charges its waters close to the western outlet of the 
Crinan Canal. The lower part of the river winds 
round and round through the soft soil, the curves 
being so sharp that a straight line of about a quarter 
of a mile in length would cross the river three times. 
The stream has cut itself a deep channel through the 
peat, and the banks are high above the water, protect- 
ing it from the wind, which, as the current is naturally 
sluggish, is very necessary for successful fishing, except 
immediately after a heavy flood. The river, like all 
small West Highland streams, rises and falls with ex- 
treme rapidity, and the upper part of the water is only 
really in order for one day after a flood, and the lower 
for two — the first day being usually the best. By this 
I do not mean to imply that fishing is useless except 
for these short periods. The lower pools are deep, and 
there is always a prospect of getting a fair basket of 
sea-trout, and an ofi'-chance of a salmon or two as 
well if there is a fairly strong breeze. The run offish 
does not begin until nearly the end of July, and the 
rod fishing continues until the end of October. 
Except in one or two places where there are small fir 
plantations on one side of the river, there is hardly a 
yard where the banks are not perfectly clear, and the 

H 2 


casting can be managed with a light rod. Waders are 
not absolutely necessary, but as there is usually a 
shallow on one side or the other of a pool, they are a 
convenience, especially as they enable one to cross and 
recross the numerous fords and take advantage of the 
wind, which, when right for one cast, is wrong for 

The principal difficulty of fishing is caused by 
the wind, which makes the best curl on the water when 
it is against the stream, and it is often both strong and 
squally. I once succeeded in sending the point of 
my hook right through the palm of my hand, hooking 
myself so firmly that after vainly endeavouring to 
break off the barb, I had to cut the feathers off the 
fly and pass it through the other way. Notwithstand- 
ing the deep channt4 and the high banks, I have seen 
waves almost breaking on the pools, and, if only the 
wind is fairly steady, it is hardly possible to have it too 
rough. Usually a perfectly calm day is fatal to all 
prospect of sport, but occasionally a sort of tempor- 
ary insanity seems to come over fish, and they take 
the fly in a manner and under circumstances wholly 
unaccountable and incomprehensible. I remember 
especially one day when, at dead low water and with a 
glassy calm, I stood by a still pool, and after watching 
for some time a shoal of small salmon and grilse 


swimming round and round, threw my fly over them, 
more in idleness and from curiosity than with any 
other motive. To my great surprise one fish after 
another followed the fly, and more than one took it 
under water, and I caught three and hooked and lost 
one or two others, although I myself, my rod, and my 
cast must have been quite as visible to the fish as they 
were to me. It is very seldom indeed that there is 
not some curl on the lowest horseshoes, and it very 
rarely happens that one cannot at least secure one or 
two sea-trout ; but these game little fish have certainly 
decreased in numbers during my fishing career. It is 
useless to fish for either salmon or sea-trout long after 
the flood tide has begun to make. For a few minutes 
at ' first of flood ' the fish rise furiously, but generally 
short j but when the sand and gravel off the shallows 
begin to float, and the stream to turn, you may as 
well put up your rod and walk home. 

The part of the river of which I am speaking is 
perfectly fresh water long after it has been touched 
by the tide ; but there is a stretch lower down, near the 
old Crinan ferry, where great sport can sometimes be 
had in what is practically part of the estuary at ' first 
of flood ' at spring tides. I never myself did very 
much there, as it was rather far to go for a very short 
bit of sport, but the old laird told me that he once 


caught ninety-nine sea-trout there at a single tide, 
and I have no doubt that his account and memory 
may be strictly relied upon, although I run the risk of 
having a well-known ' chestnut ' quoted against myself 
and him. Probably it was the fact of the day's catch 
being just one short of the ' century ' which fixed the 
number in his recollection. I have no doubt that at 
that time sea-trout were far more numerous than they 
are now ; but over-netting has told greatly upon their 
numbers. I fear the countless yachts which frequent 
the west coast are not altogether guiltless of this form 
of poaching. Some owners regard neither the law of 
the land nor the rights of property when anchored in 
waters at all out of the way, and make havoc with 
scringing and splash nets. The committees of the 
various northern yacht clubs are doing something to 
discourage the poaching propensities of certain of 
their members ; but I am afraid that not unfrequently 
out of sight is still out of mind. 

The fish in the Add run small, the average weight 
working out at about 7^ lb. The largest I ever 
caught there weighed just over twenty pounds, and I 
never heard of anything much heavier being taken with 
a rod and line. The largest number I ever caught 
in a season was forty-nine salmon and 167 sea-trout. 
My best day, eliminating the altogether exceptional 


experience of 1892 before referred to, was seven 
salmon, and I have several times caught six. 

Some unique features are presented by the fishing 
at Cambusmore, on the east coast of Scotland — one of 
the few places where salmon take the fly actually in 
the sea — and Mr. Henry Graham, who leased it 
from the Duke of Sutherland for several years, has, at 
my request, supplied me with the following interesting 
account of its peculiarities : — 

' The foundation of the fishing was a little stream 
absurdly misnamed the " Fleet," which meandered — or 
for the most part stood still — over a short course of 
seven or eight miles, until it was artificially discharged 
into a sea loch of the same name. Most of its passage 
was through marshy land which had been, early in the 
century, reclaimed from the sea by a high embank- 
ment called the " Mound," over which the main road 
ran, and in which flood gates, opened twice in the 
twenty-four hours, allowed the accumulated fresh 
waters to run into the loch. Above the Mound was a 
lake of brackish water, in which, as well as on the sea 
side, it was possible for a wader to obtain with a fair 
breeze a good basket of sea trout. But the salmon 
fishing proper of the so-called river was concentrated 
in two long pools higher up, which, except under some 
exceptional spate, or for the short time during which 


the opening of the sluices below set the upper waters 
moving, presented the appearance of a sluggish canal, 
and would only yield their treasures under very lively 
breezes. They did, however, get filled in autumn with 
small fish of from 3 lb. to 1 7 lb. in weight, and on 
their banks we would sit for hours, hoping for winds 
from the right airt which might bring good sport to 
our twelve-foot rods with light tackle and small salmon 
and sea-trout flies. In the lower of these pools, 
called " Torboll " from the neighbouring farm, two of 
us during a day of equinoctial gale killed eleven fish on 
a bank of about forty yards' length ; but this experience 
was never quite repeated. Into this pool a little 
tributary stream called the " Carnach " ran down from 
the moors, upon which a mile further up a most 
elaborate and beautiful salmon-ladder was constructed 
many years ago in a picturesque spot, and although 
the sport above it could not be said to justify the cost 
of this structure, yet we did catch a certain number of 
fish there — never more than a dozen a year — with 
trout flies, among the heather and grouse. By 
opening a siuice in a ioch ten miles up this stream we 
could create an artificial spate to bring fish up the 
ladder ; but I think they generally knew it was not 
the real article. Below the Mound we had another 
chance .of fish, for they would lie and splash outside 


the great doors, waiting for water to get through them ; 
and when these were opened and a lively stream 
running, they would often take our flies, or at least 
get foul hooked in jumping over them, and then run 
down the loch and force us to follow in a boat or be 
broken. The duration of this fishing depended upon 
the amount of water which had to run away, and 
sometimes the guardian of the gates would let in 
some of the rising tide so as to increase the outflow. 
When the gates were finally shut, a shoal of fish 
would often lie close under them, and there were 
methods — when all others failed — adopted by the less 
respectable members of the family for securing one 
for dinner, which I only refer to in order to abhor and 

'But perhaps the most interesting and pecuhar 
feature of our fishing — for I am not aware of anything 
similar elsewhere — was at a place called the " Ferry," 
two miles off, where the two shores of Loch Fleet 
(which must be five miles in circumference) converged 
into a narrow channel, of eighty or ninety yards in 
width, between the Cambusmore side and a series of 
sandbanks stretching to the opposite shore. There, . 
between their frequent pilgrimages to the sluice gates, 
the fish would lie, and when for two hours before low 
tide, the returning salt water was forced with the 


current of a rapid river through these straits, they 
would rise to bigger flies and give an eighteen-foot rod 
as much exercise as on any fresh waters that I know of. 
Unluckily our sport was limited by the shortness of 
the time before the loch had emptied itself and the 
current became slack. I may add that the fresh water 
of the Fleet was a mere driblet in this torrent of 
ebbing salt. Some years the fish did not frequent 
this channel at all, but fixed themselves further up the 
bay, where, with the exception of one short place 
behind a rock called the " Stone," there was no current 
in which a fly could work.' 

The more ordinary type of small Highland river is 
very interesting to fish, and of course far more beauti- 
ful in its surroundings than the sluggish streams above 
described ; but an account of fishing in such waters 
would present few exceptional features. The sportsman 
should ' gang warily,' as there are often dangerous 
places and slippery rocks from which the pools and 
casts can alone be reached, and an attendant may be 
very useful, not only to supply the necessary local 
knowledge, which is more constant than in streams 
with a soft and shifting bottom, or to land the fish in 
difficult places, bu+ sometimes to rescue the fisherman 
himself from an awkward predicament. Many of 
these rivers unfortunately afford examples of anglers 


having gone out alone and never returned alive. The 
rise and fall of the stream is often extraordinarily 
rapid, and the force of the rushing water very great ; 
but the hills are now so thoroughly drained that few- 
rivers, except those which have a large lake near their 
source, remain in fishing order for more than a very 
short time. It is curious how seldom salmon take a 
fly when such a river is only at its ordinary or normal 
height, and there has been no recent flood. The 
pools may be full of fish, and the stream may in many 
places look just the right depth and strength, but 
experience teaches one that there is hardly any chance 
of a taking rise. It would seem that the psychological 
moment is either when a fish has just shifted his 
ground and taken up new quarters, or when he is just 
about to do so. When actually running, salmon never 
take, and when quite settled in a pool, they become 
dour and sulky. It is for this reason that I like to 
have some pools occasionally touched by the tide. 
The fish in such places are kept moving, and there is 
always a chance. 

It would be foreign to my subject to describe the 
great floods which have from time to time devastated 
the Highland straths, although probably the most 
singular capture of a fish recorded in all salmon lore 
is that narrated by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder in his 


account of the historical flood of the Findhorn in 1829, 
when his gardener caught and killed a fine salmon 
with his umbrella, at an elevation of fifty feet above the 
ordinary level of the river. 

An interesting account of the four devastating 
Highland deluges of 1829, 1849, 1868, and 1892 was 
published by Mr. Nairne at Inverness in 1895, but 
from a salmon fisher's point of view the most note- 
worthy feature of such destructive natural phenomena 
is the way in which they alter pools even in the 
most rocky channels, and render futile the most 
elaborate attempts made to construct artificial salmon 
casts. I remember admiring two beautifully con- 
structed artificial pools between the Lynn and 
the junction in the Broom at Braemore. Sir John 
Fowler had applied his great engineering skill to 
the improvement of the river which runs through 
his beautiful Highland home; and by means of 
concrete dams and breakwaters consisting of larch 
piles in a double row filled up between with stones 
and gravel, had turned a long stretch formerly useless 
for fishing purposes into excellent and productive 
salmon casts. Alas ! the great flood of 1892 washed 
these attempts to ' bridle the stream with a curb of 
stone ' completely away, and the only traces of the 
improvements which remain to tell, of what had been 


done, are fragments of the concrete blocks deposited 
here and there at the will of the torrent. 

Some salmon rivers run through deep and 
picturesque gorges, and it is not always easy to 
negotiate the pools. A sportsman not long ago had, 
after a long and arduous descent, just begun to wet 
his line when a big boulder splashed into the water 
at his feet. When a second followed, he and his 
giUie abandoned their now useless attempt to fish, and 
sheltered as well as they could under the rocks at the 
side until the danger was over. When the torrent of 
missiles came to an end, an investigation into the 
cause of the phenomenon disclosed the fact that the 
angler's own manservant had been amusing himself 
and a companion by roUing stones down the brae, to 
see them splash into the water, in ignorance of the 
fact that he was endangering the life and spoiUng the 
sport of a justly incensed master. 




Probably the most remarkable fishing, as far as mere 
number is concerned, that ever took place in the 
United Kingdom, was that enjoyed by Mr. Naylor in 
the Grimersta river in the Island of Lewis, in the 
year 1888. The numbers caught and the manner of 
their capture were so extraordinary that an account 
of the circumstances cannot fail to be of interest to 
all who care for salmon lore. Mr. Naylor has, at my 
request, most kindly furnished me with a narrative of 
the details, mainly taken from his Diary. The fishing 
consists of a small river which runs out of Loch 
Langabhat, a lake ten miles long by one mile wide, 
not far from the boundary between Harris and Lewis, 
and, after running a distance of nine miles and con- 
necting four lakes, discharges- into a sea loch. The 
Diary runs as follows : — 

Arrived at Grimersta on July 30, 1888. The 
river hardly running, and only a couple of inches deep 
where it runs into the sea. A few salmon in the 


pools, and thousands leaping in the sea. We got 

several to take the fly in salt water, but generally 

caught what we required for the table by letting the 

fly sink in the middle of a shoal and foul- hooking 

one. In the salt-water bay at the mouth of the river 

the air seemed full of salmon, hundreds leaping out 

of the water at the same time, while shoals of 

50 to 2,000 or more kept on swimming slowly round 

and round past the mouth of the river close to the 

surface, with their dorsal fin appearing above the 

water. Towards the middle of August the fish 

commenced to die from a disease which attacked 

them on the head and gills, and great numbers were 

found dead at each low tide. The only chance of 

saving the fish was to make an artificial spate, and so 

let them up the river. Collecting all the available 

men about the place (about fifteen in all) we set to 

work, and after about four hours' hard work succeeded 

in deepening the outlet from Loch Langabhat about 

a foot. We then went down to the lower end of the 

first loch, and constructed a strong dam of turfs and 

rocks across the river at its exit from the lake. In 

five days from that time the water in the first loch 

had risen a foot, and on August 21 the dam was 

knocked away, and a good spate came down the river. 

A small shoal of about thirty salmon was the first 


to come across the fresh water, which was now 
running freely into the sea, and they immediately 
turned and rushed up the river. Presently a larger 
shoal came tearing up, and in a few minutes the 
fish were crowding into the narrow mouth of the 
river in such quantities that many were pushed 
out on to the shore among the stones. There 
were so many fish that numbers, had to get up the 
river in quite shallow water, and it was astonishing to 
see how they would rush up a steep run where the 
water was only three inches deep. They appeared to 
hold on to the rocks by their pectoral fins, and force 
themselves up by a vigorous motion of the tail, 
which, being more than half out of water, sent up 
showers of spray. We spent several hours in watch- 
ing the fish going up \ and the water accumulated in 
the first loch was sufficient to keep the river in spate 
for forty-eight hours, in which time all the fish went 
up the river ; but many of them remained in the 
pools between the sea and the first loch (a distance 
of little more than a mile) ; and on looking down into 
these pools from the rocks above, the bed of the 
river seemed paved with fish^ nearly all of which had 
a white fungus spot on their head. For some reason 
most of the fish remained for several weeks in the first 
loch, instead of running further up as they usually do. 


Two days after we let down the water I got 31 
in the first loch, but for the next few days the 
weather was bright and cahii, and not many fish 
were got by any of 11 s ; but on August 27, the rod 
which fished the first loch got 36. Next day I got 
54. The rod on that beat the following day got 46, 
and the next day I had it I got 45. The total take 
of the three rods for the six last days of August was 
333 salmon, and 71 sea-trout. All the fish were 
fairly caught with fly. We might have killed many 
more if we had all fished in the first loch each day, 
but we did not care to break through the rules as to 
the division of the beats (under which the whole of 
the . first loch formed part of number i beat), con- 
sequently only one of the three rods was among the 
fish each day, the other two not getting many. 

The average weight of the fish caught in each of 
these exceptional large takes was 6 lb. 

The numbers and weights for the six days were as 
follows : — 








Sea-Trout Weight 

31 23 
26 19 
14 10 





71 52 


MrT Naylor's individual take for nineteen days' 
fishing was 214 salmon weighing 1,307 lb., and 304 sea- 
trout w^eighing 161 lb. On his great day, August 28, 
he fished for nine hours, from 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. 
The largest number caught in an hour was ten, and 
the smallest two. When he left off there was still 
an hour and a half of dayfight, and his gillies im- 
plored him to continue fishing. To use his own 
expression, he *was tired of the slaughter,' and did 
not care to go on, although he has no doubt that 
he might have caught eight or. ten more fish. 

This is indeed a most remarkable record, and I 
imagine that while there are few anglers who would not 
dearly like to have one or more such experiences, such 
extraordinary success would pall if often repeated. Mr. 
Naylor assured me that no skill was required to hook 
or land the salmon, that three or four rushed at his fly 
every time it was cast into the water, and that although 
he began with two flies, as was the usual practice in 
these waters, he very soon left it off, as it interfered 
with landing the fish sufficiently rapidly to catch, so 
large a number in the time. I have never myself 
caught two salmon at one time, although I have often 
caught a salmon and a sea-trout, and have had two 
salmon on together for an appreciable period on 
several occasions during my fishing career. The 


critical period is of course when the fish are being 
landed, as it is next thing to impossible to prevent a 
dead strain upon the second fish when the first is 
gaffed and lifted ashore, of which he usually takes 
advantage. One of my relations once accomplished 
the feat through the quickness of his gillie, who cut 
off the dropper, upon which the first salmon was 
hooked, at the moment he gaffed him, thus preventing 
any pull at the one upon the tail fly. Mr. Naylor tells 
me that he has several times succeeded in landing 
two salmon together, by the ingenious contrivance of 
putting on his dropper by a ring instead of a knot, so 
that it can shift freely along the casting line. I do 
not, however, think that anything but great good 
fortune could enable two fish to be landed together 
when the second takes the fly after the first has been 
played some time and is nearly tired out. The 
difference of pace and movement almost always causes 
a break either of the tackle or the hold. 

For number of fish taken I have little doubt that 
Mr. Naylor's record is and will remain unique. It is 
said that the late Lord Lovat once got thirty-six 
fish in a day, averaging 14 lb. each, which, of 
course, would make a much larger aggregate weight, 
but I have also heard that he had three gillies and 
their rods with him, and that although he rose and 

\ z 


hooked all his fish himself, he then immediately 
changed rods and left his attendants to land the salmon. 
Some such plan must, I think, necessarily have been 
adopted in order to get the number in the time, as 
although Lord Lovat was notoriously very hard on his 
fish, it would have been hardly possible to have 
landed such a quantity of good-sized fish in such a 
stream in the time. 

The marvellous readiness with which the salmon 
took the fly as soon as a way was engineered for them 
into the river and lakes after their long involuntary 
detention at the mouth, seems to throw some additional 
light upon the question, before referred to, of their 
feeding in fresh water. They are very seldom 
captured with any kind of lure in the salt water when 
gathered together and waiting for a flood to take them 
up the stream, but it would seem that they take the 
.fly very greedily when from prolonged drought they 
have been compulsorily detained in salt water for 
an abnormal period. I cannot boast of any such 
extraordinary results as I have quoted from Mr. 
Naylor's Diary : but the largest number of salmon I 
ever killed with rod and line, in a given time, was also 
after a prolonged drought, when, in October 1894,^ I 

^ See ' Nil Desperandum,' Badminto7i Magazine, October 


caught in two or three pools of the Add, to which fish 
had access at every high tide, thirty-five sahnon of 
from 1 7^ to 4^ lb. in five days. There had been no rain 
since early in August, and the water was extraordinarily 
low, bright, and clear; nevertheless the fish, which 
were swarming in the pools, beyond which they could 
not get, rose very readily at a small fly on fine gut, and 
I easily beat any record I had previously made with 
the water in perfect order, getting ten one day and 
twelve another. I cannot suggest any satisfactory 
explanation of their conduct, except that they were 
remarkably hungry after a long involuntary fast. 

The great success attained by Mr. Naylor's 
artificial spate invites imitation, and is not an isolated 
instance of the regulation of the height of a salmon 
river by engineering works. It is obvious, however 
that such experiments can only be successfully under- 
taken in a limited number of places and under 
exceptionally favourable conditions. It is a ticklish 
thing to meddle with the free flow of a West Coast 
burn, thereby incurring the responsibility for the 
destruction caused by floods, which would be almost 
sure, rightly or wrongly, to be attributed to the man 
who had dammed the stream. A chain of lochs, as at 
Grimersta, is almost essential for the conduct of such 
engineering works, as otherwise one or more artificial 


reservoirs would have to be constructed. A very large 
supply of water would be needed to materially affect 
the volume of a typical Highland stream, and I should 
not recommend any one, without considerable en- 
gineering skill, to risk attempting to dam, divert, or 
lower the lakes and burns furnishing the water supply 
of any cultivated or inhabited district, however slight 
may be its claims to such a description, without first 
squaring every possible dissentient. 

For another curious record I am indebted to Mr. 
Henry Graham, who has kindly supplied me with the 
detailed account of a remarkable day's hauling enjoyed 
by himself and Lord Muncaster in the Cargill water 
of the Tay on October lo (the last day of the season) 
in 1872. The river was just in splendid order after a 
spate, and no fish had been caught for about a week 
before. The two rods were fishing from the same 
boat, and one or other of them put down the hour and 
minute at which each fish was caught or lost during 
the day. I am grateful to them for the opportunity 
of laying the time table before my readers, as I think 
they will find it in many respects interesting and 

P'ishing commenced at 10 a.m. 


10.5 . Salmon, weight 1 1 lb. . Muncaster 
10.20 . „ lost . „ 





Salmon, wei 

^ht 22 lb. 


1 I.O 


, 20 lb. 


II. 15 

Grilse, , 

5 9-i lb. 


IT. 25 

•)•> 1 

5 5^ lb. . 



Salmon, , 

, i6i lb. 



55 ' 

, 14^ lb. 



11 1 

, 18 lb. 








Salmon, „ 26 lb. 















•)i •< 

, I7i lb. 


1. 15 








1.45 . 





,, , 

5 23 lb. 



55 5 

5 I4i lb. 

Muncaster 1 



Grilse, , 

5 Ih lb. 

Graham i 




, 18 lb. 



55 5 

, 27 lb. 



55 5 

, lUlb. 



,, , 

, 12 lb. . 


An interval of forty minutes was then taken for 
luncheon, and fishing recommenced at 4.10 p.m. 


4.45 . Salmon, weight 18 lb. . Muncaster 

5.0 . ,, lost . Graham 

5.30 . Grilse, „ 5 lb. . 

5.40 • . „ 8 lb. . 


Result of seven hours' fishing 

Left off at 5.50. 

( Salmon 1 5 
(Grilse 5 
Weight 3041^ lb., or an average of a httle over 15 lb. 

From this it will be seen that in rather heavy 
water it took on an average 13^ minutes to hook, 
play, and land fish, three-quarters- of which averaged 
nearly 20 lb. in weight. How many rose without 
taking hold is not stated, and probably could not be 
ascertained, as in harling many of the fish come at 
the fly deep under water, and are felt and not seen. 
But the most instructive part of the record is the 
manner in which, for a little more than an hour, 
from 12.30 to 1.45 fish after fish was hooked and 

During the first hour and fifty minutes eight fish 
were brought to the net out of nine hooked ; in the next 
period of the same duration seven out of nine were 
lost, notwithstanding the fact that the fly was to all 
appearances presented to the fish under precisely the 
same conditions, there being no such disturbing 
element as might possibly be presented by casting or 
striking. To an outsider it would hardly seem possible 
that such a difference should be caused by the way 
in which similar fish took a barbed hook into their 
mouths ; but every fisherman must have had some 


very similar experiences, although it is not often that 
thty arc so plainly recorded and contrasted. 

Usually there is a time in the day when fish will 
not rise at all, and there is another when almost every 
fish hooked manages to effect his escape. The same 
curious discrepancy occurs in the detailed account of 
Mr. Naylor's ten hours' fishing in the Grimersta, when 
the number caught in an hour varied from ten to two. 
There was no record kept of the fish lost on that 
occasion, but I am told that there was the same 
example of a series offish escaping at one particular 
period of time. It will be observed that if one 
sportsman had had the boat to himself, he would in 
all probability have got nearly the same number of 

Tay salmon are fine fellows, but there are always 
a few grilse caught in that river to reduce the average 
weight. I know of no river where the general run of 
the fish caught is larger than in the Cascapedia River 
in Canada, part of which is fished by the Governor- 
General. I am indebted to the Marquis of Lans- 
downe for access to his fishing register for the four 
years ending 1887, which records a total calculated 
to stir up feelings of envy in the breasts of less 
fortunate fishermen. 

In 1884, between June 14 and iVugust 5 inclusive, 


Lord Lansdowne caught ninety-one fish averaging 
23J lb., fourteen of them weighed 30 lb. and over, the 
largest of which was 43 lb. The rest of his party 
made up the total to 262 fish ; weight, 6,003^ lb. ; 30 lb. 
and over, thirty-six. 

In 1885, the fishing season was from June 13 to 
July 30. Lord Lansdowne caught eighty-two fish, 
weighing 1,973^ lb. ; average weight, 24 lb. ; over 
30 lb., nine ; largest, 39^ lb. Total number caught, 
392 ; weight, 9, 9 20 J lb. ; average, 23^ lb. ; over 
30 lb., fifty-four ; largest, 45 lb. 

1886, June 12 to July 24. Lord Lansdowne, 
loi j weight, 2,500 lb. ; average, 24I lb. ; over 30 lb., 
twenty-four ; largest, 39 lb. 

Total for the season, 271 ; weight, 6,687^ lb. j 
average, 24^ lb. ; over 30 lb., sixty-five ; largest, 41 lb. 

1887, June 25 to August 19. Lord Lansdowne, 
ninety-four; weight, 2,232 lb. ; average, 23|lb. ; over 
30 lb., seventeen ; largest, 38J lb. Total for the 
season, 320 ; weight, 7,2 7 7^ lb. ; average, 2 2| lb. ; 
over 30 lb., fifty-five ; largest, 41 lb. 

Grand total for the four years: 1,245 salmon, 
weighing 29,188 lb. ; average weight, 23^ lb.; over 
30 lb., 210 ; largest fish, 45 lb. 

This record, large as it is, pales before that made 
by Mr. Charles Ellis, Mr. Iveson, and Captain Percy 


in the same river in 1879, when in fifty-three days 
from June 9 to August 15, 640 fish were caught. 

Mr. ElHs got 269, weighing 6,7141b. ; over 30 lb., 

Mr. Iveson got 2 1 6, weighing 5,483 lb. ; over 30 lb., 

(Japtain Percy got 137, weighing 3,451 lb.; over 
30 lb., twenty-seven. 

The best day was June 18, when Mr. Ellis caught 
seventeen fish, weighing 465 lb., of which the individual 
weights were as follows : 38 lb., 361b., 36 lb., 32 lb., 
321b., 321b., 32 lb., 31 lb., 30 lb., 241b., 241b., 22 lb., 
22 lb., 21 lb., 21 lb., 20 lb., 20 lb., and on July 1 t he 
caught seventeen, weighing 415 lb. 

Lord Kilcoursie, who was on the staff of Lord 
Stanley of Preston (now Lord Derby), when Governor- 
Cieneral in 1891 and 1892, has very kindly supplied 
me with the following graphic account of the scenery 
and method of fishing. 

' From the mouth of the Cascapedia, in the Bay 
of Chaleurs, for a distance of about twelve miles, the 
fishing has been for many years in the hands of an 
American syndicate, and it is only from that point 
upwards, for about thirty-five to forty miles, that the 
Governor-General has the fishing rights. The 
scenery is simply magnificent, for, although on the 


lower or tidal reaches the banks are low, and the 
country " cleared," from a point about six miles 
from the mouth to the upper waters runs one un- 
broken forest, dense and deserted, except for the 
"lumberers," whose timber slides for shooting logs 
down into the stream appear at two places. So thick 
is the forest growth that the river itself is the sole 
route, and the method of climbing up its rapid and 
beautiful course is always the same, viz. by canoe, 
with a man in bow and stern " poling," as it is called, 
up stream, keeping as near either bank as possible to 
avoid the stream, and putting the poles in with a 
rhythm and a musical twang on the pebbles which, in 
the great silence, is weird to a degree, and can be 
heard for miles. If out fishing, the fisherman sits in 
mid-canoe, and is thus poled up to his beat by two 
half-breed Indians. The beats in the last years of 
Lord Stanley of Preston's term were as follows : — 

' At the twelfth mile from the mouth at a sharp turn 
stands '* New Dereen," built by Lord Lansdowne, a 
rough wooden shanty which will hold four rods 
comfortably. From this lodge the fishing during the 
first fortnight or three weeks is chiefly carried on, the 
rods dividing some ten or more miles of fishing, 
all above the lodge itself. As the fish move up so do 
some of the party — usually two — who are " poled " up 


to what is known as " Middle Camp " : two log huts 
of the roughest description, swarming with mosquitoes 
and undermined by "ground hogs/' a sort of cross 
between a guinea pig and a hedgehog. From this 
camp the two rods work some twelve or fifteen pools 
between them ; and then, again, comes one more 
move upwards to " Lazy Bogan," the best of the 
three divisions because the highest, the most deserted, 
and the fullest of glorious pools and big fish. To get 
to " Lazy Bogan "28 miles above Middle Camp, and so 
two days' " pole " — to go out and get five or six fish 
between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., of which the lightest 
perhaps is 28 lb., and then to come back to the camp 
for tinned soup, trout, and some beef brought up 
from below, and to smoke one's pipe in the glow of 
the Northern Lights, which simply electrify the sky — is 
a joy too great to be put on paper. 

' The method of fishing is the same throughout the 
river. On the way up are passes, a few large, dry 
beaches which form the bed of the river when in 
spate in the spring after the melting of the snows. 
Here you halt, and an Indian gets out and selects a 
large stone, called on the Cascapedia a " killick." 
This acts as an anchor. A knot, also peculiar to the 
river, is tied round the stone, and about three fathoms 
of rope are sufficient. You then pole or paddle to the 


head of your pool ; down goes the " killick," and also 
the Indians, glad enough of rest and a smoke. You 
then stand up, take the rod, a spliced greenheart 
supplied from St. Johns, New Brunswick, which has 
been lying along the canoe all ready, and begin to cast. 
The moment a fish is hooked, you sit down ; the 
bow Indian lifts up the " killick," and both take the 
paddles and work the canoe up and down according 
to the run of the fish. As many of the pools are at 
the head of a strong rapid, it is furiously exciting 
if the fish makes a bolt down stream, as the least 
mistake will not only probably lose you your fish, but 
possibly your life. Finally, comes the most marvellous 
piece of work of all, namely, the gafiing. It is all but 
true to say an Indian never misses. I have had a 
fish gaffed absolutely in the centre of a rapid, if we 
managed to get up alongside him in the canoe, and 
while fish and canoe were being literally hurled down 
stream, only steered by the one Indian with a 
paddle ! 

' The best flies are the Jock Scott, Durham Ranger, 
Silver and Blue Doctors, and Black Fairy. The 
average weight of one hundred and forty-four fish 
killed in 1891 was 25-05 lb., and of one hundred and 
thirty-three fish killed in 1892 was 26-82 lb.' 

I may refer those who wish to supplement this 


description of Canadian fishing to an account of sport 
in the neighbouring Metapedia river by Sir Henry 
Stafford Northcote in ' Blackwood's Magazine ' for 
1877, and reprinted in the first volume of their series 
entitled 'Travel, Adventure, and Sport.' From this 
it will be seen that fifteen years have not materially 
altered the method of fishing, and that the most 
serious drawback to the sport then, as now, consisted 
of the various flies and mosquitoes which take a 
fiendish delight m penetrating an unacclimatised 

Mr. Arthur Fowler, who has fished in Canada as 
in most other parts of the world, assures me that 
Lord Kilcoursie has not in the least exaggerated the 
marvellous dexterity displayed by the Indians in the 
use of the gaff. It would appear that this is an 
attribute of semi-civilised races, for he adds that the 
only attendants whom he has known to compare 
favourably with the Indians in this respect were the 
Lapps on the Tana River, which he visited in 1896. 
A greater contrast than this river presents to the 
beautiful stream just described, rushing between 
virgin forests, can hardly be imagined. There is no 
scenery ; the river is from three hundred yards to half 
a mile wide, and scrub birch is the only tree. For 
thirty miles the land is sand and mud, not a stone in 


the riv£r bed. There are very few birds ; the cuckoo 
is common. Hours there are not regular, but it 
does not matter, as night and day are the same ; in 
fact, a bright midnight is hghter than a cloudy mid- 
day. Two Lapps navigate each canoe. They are 
splendid boatmen, going one hundred and ten miles 
in thirty-six hours against a three-mile-an-hour stream. 
They never seem to tire ; all they want is half an 
hour's rest, and coffee and food every three or four 
hours. They are just like jolly boys, always laughing 
and chatting. They vary much in appearance. 
Their features are not Tartar. Some are like 
American Indians. One would be very like a 
Soudanese if he were black. Some you would take 
for Scotchmen, or rather Lewis men. They are 
cleanly. To give an idea of the size of the river : 
seventy miles from the mouth at dead low water the 
breadth is two hundred and thirty yards, the average 
depth four feet. The current runs about two miles 
an hour, which gives 390,000 cubic feet per minute. 

It will be readily understood that, in a river of 
this description, harling is the only method of fishing 
which affords a fair chance of success. It would be 
ver}' tedious to cast in such wide and monotonous 
water. A pine-built, flat-bottomed canoe is used, 
managed by two Lapps, who are splendid boatmen. 


but very small in stature. Two rods are usually 
used, one with a fly on the cast, the other with a 
spoon, and it is necessary to balance them in the 
fork of a birch twig, as there is not a high enough 
freeboard for harling in the ordinary way. The 
fisherman sits in the centre leaning against a back- 
board ; the man in the bow uses a short paddle, the 
one in the stern a pole. They do not pole down the 
rapids as the Indians do in Canada, but shoot them 
paddling, a difficult and dangerous feat. They land 
to gaff the fish. They themselves fish with a short 
line fastened to a larch pole, with home-made tackle, 
and a spoon beaten out of an old brass kettle or 
biscuit tin. When a fish runs to the end of their line 
they heave the impromptu rod overboard, and pick 
it up again when it floats. 

The walls of the hut at Levyck on the Tana, 
usually occupied by sportsmen for the fishing, are 
marked with the records of the bags caught by 
various parties from time to time. In 1873, between 
June 2 1 and July 26, three rods got one hundred and 
fifty-six fish, weighing 2,676 lb. On July 6 fifteen fish 
were caught, weighing 278 lb. On July 7 seventeen 
fish, weighing 340 lb. The accounts are irregular 
and imperfect, but the best year recorded during 
ten following was 1874, when three rods caught two 



hundreli and seventy-four fish, weighing 4,746 lb., in a 
month's fishing, from July 9 to August 10. On July 16 
twenty-four fish were caught, of an aggregate weight of 
401 lb. Two rods in 1880 caught one hundred and 
three fish; in 1881, seventy-five ; in 1890, one hun- 
dred and twenty-nine ; 1893, seventy-nine. The 
average weight of the fish caught is about 18 lb. 
The heaviest fish recorded 45 lb., but in several years 
only the number and aggregate weight are mentioned. 
It will be observed that, notwithstanding the large 
average size of the fish in these rivers, no capture of 
a fish of 50 lb. and upwards is recorded in any of these 
years in either the Cascapedia or the Tana. I shall 
give one instance of a large fish caught in the former 
river in the next chapter, where the subject of monsters 
will be dealt with. Some of the best fishing in the 
United Kingdom is in the Duke of Richmond's 
water near Gordon Castle. Some remarkable records 
of sport there may be found in Vol. CLXIII. of the 
' Quarterly Review ' : two hundred and ten salmon 
were taken in the first nine days of one October, 
and the salmon run large, and are usually in fine 




I CANNOT better illustrate the charm of salmon - 
fishing, and the hold which it keeps upon its votaries, 
than by taking as examples three noted fishermen of 
different professions and characters, who shared a 
common passion for the sport upon which I am writing, 
Mr. John Malcolm of Poltalloch, the Hon. and 
Rev. Robert Liddell, and Mr. Alfred Denison. 
.\.ll these three were famous upon many rivers, but 
it was on the classic banks of Tweed that they found 
their happiest hunting ground. I will first say a 
word or two of Mr. Liddell ; the other two may be. 
taken together, as for years they shared a sitting- 
room at the Cross Keys, Kelso, from which town they 
used to fish adjoining beats of the Tweed. 

Robert Liddell was best known to fame as the 
earnest and hard-working incumbent of St. Paul's, 
Knightsbridge, and the hero of a famous ecclesiastical 
suit, but it is onlv as a devoted follower of the 


Apostolical recreation that I venture to allude to him 
here. A keener hand on Tay, Spey, and Tweed 
never existed, and although he had no river of his 
own, he was a deservedly popular guest on many of 
the best stretches of water in Scotland, notably at 
Gordon Castle and at the celebrated Pavilion beat 
near Melrose. He not merely cast a beautiful line, 
but knew every trick of the trade, and was an adept 
at making his own flies, an accomplishment which is 
gradually becoming rarer with the improvement of pro- 
fessional work, and the development of the modern 
tendency to specialise. He also used to write inter- 
minable cantos in the metre of Sir Walter Scott's 
narrative poems, describing minutely his day's sport 
and recording in verse every change of fly, rise, and 
incident of the play till each fish was gaffed or lost. 
Some of these verses were privately printed and 
given to friends, and I have read them at different 
places where I have been a visitor with him, but 
cannot remember more than their general nature, 
metre, and subject. As might be supposed, they were 
more interesting as literary curiosities than as lyrical 
effusions ; for I doubt whether Tennyson, or Shelley 
himself, could have found much inspiration in such a 
subject. His generous disposal of his spoils was 
once the cause of great expense to his parish. A 


horrible stench pervaded the house which had been 
built for the assistant clergy in Wilton Place, close to 
his church. Engineers, plumbers, and workmen were 
called in. The drains were of course discovered to be 
defective, and were relaid at a heavy cost. It was 
not till some time after that the real corpus delicti was 
discovered in the shape of an i8-lb. fish which the 
rector had despatched, carefully packed, as a present 
to his senior curate, which in the absence of the 
recipient had been left in his room to await his 
return. Mr. Liddell died in 1888 in his 80th year, 
having preserved to the last his keenness for the 
sport, which doubtless did much to keep him in 
health to such an advanced age, in the intervals of 
very hard work cheerfully and conscientiously 
performed. On September 28, 1885, three years 
before his death, he caught with his own rod no less 
than twenty fish at Taymount on the Tay. 

Mr. Malcolm, of Poltalloch, although in the last 
two or three years of his life he was unable to use his 
legs enough to enjoy his favourite pastime, did not 
altogether give up the rod and line until nearly eighty 
years of age, and continued to lease the celebrated 
Makerstoun waters on the Tweed some time after he 
had passed his seventieth year. I can well remember 
with what delight he used to cast off the cares of his 


large establishment to go to his October quarters at 
Kelso, and take 'his ease at his inn' with his old 
friend and companion. No school-boy escaping from 
Dothebpys Hall could have taken greater pleasure in 
the prospect of a holiday, or enjoyed it more when it 
came. He was an excellent performer on many 
streams — the Lochy, the Spean brawling through its 
rocky course, the slow Add meandering across Crinan 
Moss, were all thoroughly familiar to him ; but in his 
eyes no water could compare with Makerstoun, with 
the Troughs, the Red Stone, and other famous casts. 
There he would fish with his attendant, George Wright ; 
and when ' she ' was in order, no start was too early 
and no day too long for him ; but he never prolonged 
his holiday quite to the close of the Tweed season, as 
he had an invincible prejudice against catching salmon 
which had been any time in the water, and scorned 
the red kippers or teeming baggits which were good 
enough for less particular sportsmen. I wish I could 
have a shorthand note of some of the conversations 
between him and Alfred Denison during those ituctes 
Ambrosiance, for I am sure many wrinkles worth 
recording might have been collected from their expe- 
riences as they fought their battles over again. It is 
curious that Mr. Denison's best day should have been 
upon his companion's water, the Lower Makerstoun 


beat, where, on October 13, 1873, ^^ caught sixteen 

salmon, weighing 22 lb., 18 lb., 9 lb., 20 lb., 27 lb., 

23 lb., 17 lb., 6 lb., 9 lb., i6 1b., 22Ub., 2i^lb., 251b., 

7 lb., 18 lb., 20 lb., losing four, and having also eleven 

' rises ' and ' pulls.' On the three previous fishing days 

Mr. Malcolm had caught twelve, fourteen, and fifteen 

large salmon, and I think he always a httle grudged 

the chance that he happened to have given away the 

fourth, although he was by no means given to the 

failing of jealousy over his sport. I have often heard 

him tell the story of the great week, and I think he 

would have been just as well pleased if the sixteen 

had fallen to his share, and one of the other three good 

days to that of his guest upon that occasion. Long 

after he was unable to fish himself, he still took a deep 

interest in the sport of others, and often made his 

way round to the gun room at Poltalloch to look at 

the fish that I, Egremont Lascelles, or some other of 

his connections or guests, had brought back in the 

evening.^ Alfred Denison was an even more constant 

and devoted disciple of Izaak Walton ; for as a 

bachelor he had more time at his disposal, and in the 

autumn of life was able to devote nearly all his 

^ Much of my information as to Mr. Alfred Denison was 
kindly supplied by his nephew, Sir Walter PhilHmore, some of 
it having been previously published in a letter to the Field 
newspaper at the time of his death. 


well-earned leisure either to the active enjoyment of the 
sport or to the kindred hobby of collecting the litera- 
ture of the subject — his fishing library, which is now 
an heirloom at Ossington, being the most perfect private 
collection in existence. Among his treasures are the 
' Book of Angling,' printed in 1606, of which there are 
said to be only three copies known ; a Flemish treatise 
by Van der Goes, printed as early as 1492 ; and the 
Book of St. Albans, ascribed to Dame Juliana Berners, 
containing the quaint ' Treatyse of Fyshynge with an 
Angle.' He was the eighth son of John Denison, 
Esq., of Ossington, Notts, born on August 23, 181 6, 
and was a commoner of Christ Church, Oxford. 
After taking his degree, he went out with his brother 
Henry to seek his fortune in New South Wales. When 
his brother. Sir William Denison, became Governor- 
General of Australia, he served as his private secretary. 
After many and pressing difficulties, with which he had 
to contend single-handed, his sheep-farming proved a 
success, and in the year 1857 he was able to return to 
his native country with a modest competence. His 
elder brother, the Right Hon. John Evelyn Denison, 
afterwards Viscount Ossington, was chosen that year 
Speaker of the House of Commons ; and during the 
whole period of his tenure of the office which he so 
adorned, from 1857 to 1872 inclusive, Alfred was his 


private secretary, and was most popular in the House, 
giving diligent and unwearied attention to his official 
duties. It was in that capacity that I first met him ; 
when he most courteously found me a seat in a very 
crowded house, to hear my father speak in the Irish 
Church debate. From his return to England until 
his death he was a regular visitor to the Scotch 
salmon rivers ; the Ness first, and afterwards the 
Tweed also. 

An entry in his Diary for 1883 records that since 
i860 he had caught with his own rod, in the two rivers, 
3,795 fish. In the subsequent years, up to the date 
of his death, he records further sport to the amount of 
806 fish, making the astonishing total of 4,601. As 
to the weight of those fish, it may suffice to give as an 
example the year 1883, when the fish killed were 235, 
and their weight was 2,708 lb. As a poetical friend 
wrote of him, ' he weighed his fish by the ton.' His 
best day on the Tweed I have already mentioned. 
His best on the Ness was August 7, 1876, when he 
records as follows : ' Began fishing at ten minutes to 
nine. Killed 15 lb., 10 lb., 8^ lb., 7 lb., 7 lb., 10 lb. 
9 lb., 1 1 lb., 9 lb., 6 lb., 1 1 lb., 9 lb., 9 lb., 10 lb., 9 lb., 
8 lb., lost two, and had ten rises. The first six fish I 
killed in an hour and ten minutes. Water rather 
falling— dark. High S.W. wind.' In 1885, which he 


calls ' the good season,' he killed in the Ness 120 fish, 
weighing 972^ lb., and in the Tweed 180 fish, weighing 
2,651 lb. Besides his salmon-fishing he was well 
known as a trout-fisher, and a member of the Stock- 
bridge club. He continued to enjoy his favourite 
sport until the last. He came down as usual to Ness 
House on August i, 1887, although he had suffered 
severely from an illness at Stockbridge in the spring 
and early summer. Arriving by midday, he fished that 
afternoon and caught two fish. During the dry season 
that followed there was little opportunity for fishing 
but on Friday, Sept. 2, and Saturday, Sept. 3, he 
caught nine fish, six of these on Saturday. It was 
remarked of him that he never threw a better or 
straighter line than on that Saturday ; but the over- 
exertion and a chill proved too much for him. On 
Sunday morning, Sept. 4, he was taken ill, and died 
in twenty-four hours. His body lies in Ossington 
churchyard, by the side of his brother Henry. 

I have often heard from his old friend the story 
of his celebrated encounter with the salmon which 
eventually defeated him after ten hours' hard work. 
At six in the evening, on a Friday, in the Holm pool 
in the Ness he hooked a salmon which he knew to be 
of immense size. After one long and violent rush, 
during which angler and gillie had the greatest diffi- 


culty in keeping up witli him, the fish pursued the 
usual and more fatal course of sulking. Three 
successive attempts were made to gaff him in deep 
water, but in vain, as each time he moved on a little, 
but could not be persuaded to run. The contest 
continued till darkness set in ; reinforcements then 
arrived in the shape of refreshments and a brother 
angler, but all efforts to bring the fish to the gaff 
were frustrated by his weight and strength. Through 
the long night Mr. Denison persevered, keeping a 
steady strain on the monster and meeting every new 
man(xuvre with the patience and skill of a prince 
among anglers. At last, about 4 o'clock in the 
morning, its matchless strength was nearly exhausted, 
and after several short runs the big tail gradually began 
to stir the top of the water, and the stubborn resistance 
seemed at an end. Slowly the giant bulk was towed 
towards the shore, the gaff was stretched out to 
secure it, and the prize seemed gained, when the fish 
made a last expiring rush — and alas I the line caught 
on the angler's watch-chain. There was a dead pull ; 
the line snapped, and the fish floated away, after a 
contest of no less than ten hours. A few days before, 
Mr. Denison had got the fish of the season in the same 
pool, a remarkably handsome fresh-run salmon of 
33^ lb., but, like Mr. Bromley Davenport's fish in 


' Sport,' it only looked like a small bit of the monster 
that escaped. 

Mr. Bromley Davenport's work is too well known 
for anything more than a passing allusion to his 
fishing adventure. If any of my readers have not yet 
read ' Sport,' they have a treat before them, wdth which 
I should be loth to interfere, and I refer them to its 
brilliant pages for particulars of the loss of ' the 
biggest fish that ever was seen.' 

Another most vivid and picturesque account of 
' a night with a salmon ' may be found in a volume 
of essays by the Bishop of Bristol, pubHshed by 
Smith, Elder & Co., 1895, under the title of 'Off the 
Mill.' It attracted much attention when first printed 
m the ' Cornhill Magazine' for 1869, and I have the 
authority of its author for stating that all the details 
are exact in every particular. It is most instructive, 
not merely from the dramatic incidents of the 
struggle, but also as a record of salmon taking a bait 
in salt water, and may be taken as another typical 
instance of failure in spite of every possible exercise 
of pluck, patience, skill, and resource. 

The scene of the adventure is that part of the Tay 
where the Earn joins its waters with the larger stream, 
and the estuary proper commences. The rise and 
fall of the tide amounts to twelve to fourteen feet, 


and as the stretch of the water is three-quarters of a 
mile across at high tide, harling is the usual and only 
reasonable method of fishing adopted. The fly was 
practically abandoned, not rising more than one to six 
as compared with the minnow, and that one never 
more than a sea-trout. 

The ' Night with a Salmon ' was the last night but 
one of the rod season of 1868, and the fish was 
hooked at about half-past twelve in the morning, 
high tide having been about ten. The monster took 
the minnow on the lightest of the three lines, a mere 
makeshift, composed of two trout lines seventy and 
fifty yards long, the splice of which had not been 
tried. He first went nearly out to sea, playing the 
boat rather than the boat playing him, and having 
the full advantage of both tide and current. Many 
dangers had to be surmounted : first the sperling 
nets with their high poles and ropes, and then the 
channel of the South Deep, where Mugdrum Island 
divides the Tay into two streams and the bottom is 
' gey fouV and the tide runs like a mill race. At half- 
past three the boat approached Newburgh, with its 
wild expanse of estuary beyond, and for the first and 
last time touched "the shore for a second, but not 
long enough for either passenger to land. The 
wTiter gives a vivid account of the sorrows of the 


unfortunate third man, not an enthusiastic angler, wet, 
cold, and hungry, and longing to get ashore —at one 
time even threatening to jump overboard and swim. 
The change of the tide made the fish frantic, but he 
decided on going up with it, and did so at a great 
pace, and shortly afterwards showed himself at last, 
springing two feet out of the water — a monster as large 
as a well-grown boy — and proving that he was not 
foul hooked, as had been surmised from his behaviour, 
for the line led fair from his snout. Soon afterwards 
a strand of the line parted within twenty yards of the 
end, through the constant friction of the wet line 
running through the rings for so many hours ; and 
the problem became complicated by the necessity of 
keeping the flaw as far as feasible on the reel. The 
necessity of keeping close on the fish led the boat- 
man such a life as he will never forget. At last night 
came on in earnest ; it was half-past six and all but 
dark before the pier was reached from which the 
boat had started seven hours before. 

Here, after one churlish refusal, a boat was induced 
to come alongside, and the unfortunate passenger was 
transhipped at about eight o'clock with injunctions to 
send off food and a light. It was an hour before the 
boat returned with an excellent lantern, a candle and 
a half, a bottle of whisky, and cakes and cheese 


enough for a week. Dr. Browne now put in force 
what, in a letter to me, he states that he ' regards as 
the most brilliant idea that ever came into his mind.' 
A spare rod, short and stiff, was laid across the seats 
of the boat, with the reel all clear and a good 
salmon line on, with five or six yards drawn through 
the rings. They waited until the fish was quiet a 
minute or two under the boat, and gently taking hold 
of the line he was on, passed a loop of it through that 
at the end of the salmon line. After two or three 
failures the loop was got through, a good knot tied, 
and the old line snapped above the knot. The danger 
surmounted might then be properly estimated from the 
fact that the flaw when examined turned out to be seven 
inches long, and half of one of the remaining strands 
was frayed through. The only thing now to be avoided 
was coming into close contact with the fish, as the 
loop, of course, would not run through the rings. 
This was rendered more difficult, as the manoeuvre 
of transferring the fish from one rod to another was 
facilitated, by his being attracted by the light and 
keeping close to the boat. For a few moments it 
was proposed to hang the light over the stern and 
gaff him when he came up to it, but this method was 
rejected as unworthy of so noble a foe. I quote the 
conclusion of the article. 


' Time passes away as we drift slowly up the 
river towards Elcho. Ten o'clock strikes, and we 
determine to wait till dawn, and then land and try 
conclusions with the monster that has had us fast for 
ten hours. The tide begins to turn, and Jimmy 
utters gloomy forebodings of our voyage down to the 
sea in the dark. The fish feels the change of tide, 
and becomes more demoniacal than ever. For half 
an hour he is in one incessant fury, and at last, for the 
first time, except the single occasion when he jumped 
and showed himself, he rises to the surface, and 
through the dark night we can hear and see the huge 
splashes he makes as he rolls and beats the water. 
He must be near done, Jimmy thinks. As he is 
speaking the line comes slack. He's bolting towards 
the boat, and we reel up with the utmost rapidity. 
We reel on ; but no sign of resistance. Up comes 
the minnow minus the hooks ! Jimmy rows home 
without a word ; and neither he nor the fisherman 
will ever get over it.' 

A large fish was taken in the nets at Newburgh 
the next year, which Dr. Browne identified as the 
same, by a mark where he had seen the tail hook 
of the minnow when the fish showed itself, and a 
peculiarity of the form of the shoulder. It was the 
largest salmon ever known to be taken, 'weighing 


74 lb. as weighed at Newburgh, and 70 lb. in London 
the next day.' Mr. Frank Buckland took a cast of 
it, and I believe it may still be seen in his museum 
at South Kensington. This evidence of identity is 
not conclusive ; but very probably it was the very 
fish which escaped after so gallant a fight. 

The Bishop tells me that he has often discussed 
with sportsmen the question of gaffing the fish by 
drawing him up to the blaze. ' At the time, I thought 
it unfair to the fish to entertain my boatman's sug- 
gestion, and I think so still' (December 1897), 'but 
I have never yet come across a man of sporting ex- 
perience who has not said he would certainly have 
gaffed the fish by using the lantern to attract him.' 

In my own opinion, the forbearance of the tired 
angler was sportsmanlike in the highest degree, but 

Video meliora, proboque 
Deteriora sequor, 

and I do not think that if I had been in his position 
I should have resisted the temptation. In another 
place a fish, caught after a very prolonged fight, was 
taken in the end by a most ingenious contrivance, 
which some would consider unfair, but which I think 
thoroughly justifiable under the circumstances. Mr. 
Frederick Fowler, brother of Sir John Fowler of 
Braemore, hooked a fish in the Lynn pool on the 



Broom at about twelve noon. The ' Lynn ' I must 
describe for the benefit of those who have not seen 
it, as one of the most extraordinary pools to fish that 
I have ever seen. A wild fall dashes into a deep 
hole between two high rocks ; and the fisherman 
stands high above it on artificial steps cut in the 
rock, and has to cast a long line to cover it. The 
Braemore visitor's book contains a humorous sketch 
by the late Sir John Everett Millais, of himself 
fishing this pool, held by a gillie from above by 
the gaff through his coat tail, labelled 'A necessary 
precaution when fishing the Lynn pool.' At the time 
of which I am writing it was possible for a gillie to gaft" 
a fish at one place in the pool, but since the great 
flood of 1892 every fish hooked has to be led down 
through the rapids into the pool below, the lower 
Lynn ; and a light wooden rail has been fixed 
on the rocks beside the rapid to prevent the line 
being cut by them, as the fisherman passes above at 
a necessarily considerable distance. From this 
description it will be seen that, although there are 
difificulties in casting and landing the fish, the angler 
is high above the pool and has great leverage if 
required. Nevertheless, on this occasion referred to, 
the fish refused to move far, and no strain was 
sufficient to bring him to the surface. Hours passed, 


dusk arrived, and with it assistance in the shape of 
Mr. Arthur Fowler, but his efforts, like those of his 
uncle, failed to bring the fish to the surface. Many 
were the conjectures as to the probable size of the 
monster which had resisted a heavy strain in so 
strong a stream for so long a period ; but when dusk 
was rapidly changing to darkness desperate remedies 
were called for. A lantern was sent for and a second 
rod, and Mr. Arthur Fowler, having rigged up an 
impromptu triangle of three large flies and fastened it 
to the new line, attached it to a key ring and sent it 
down the other line to the fish ' like a kite messenger.' 
Getting a second purchase on the salmon, he was 
soon brought to the gaff and landed, when, to every 
one's surprise and disappointment, he turned out to 
be only about 16 lb., but hooked foul 'fair amid- 
ships ' in the side, half-way below the dorsal fin, 
which accounted for his obstinate resistance. Had 
he also escaped, no doubt an addition would have 
been made to the legends of lost monsters ; but it is 
to be observed that in most recorded instances 
opportunities are afforded for seeing the fish, which 
did not occur here. The contest lasted from noon 
till nine o'clock. I have endeavoured to obtain 
authentic information of the size of fish taken with 
the rod, but records are so unsatisfactorily kept, and 


oral traditions so unreliable, that but for the kind 
assistance of Mr. Ffennell I could only have given a 
few sporadic instances. In small rivers the fish are 
usually smaller than in large, but in the Broom above 
referred to, narrow, rocky, and short as it is, there 
are an unusually large number of heavy fish. The 
records have been most accurately kept from 1867 to 
1897, during which period of thirty years 1,061 
salmon were taken with the rod, and nearly every 
year the heaviest fish was considerably over 20 lb., 
while on four occasions the record for the year was 
over 30 lb. The heaviest fish recorded was taken in 
1884 and weighed 33 lb., but a much larger fish was 
hooked and lost by Sir John Fowler in the Lynn pool 
before referred to. It was seen several times during 
the struggle sufficiently plainly, and by a sufficiently 
accurate observer, to make it certain that it was much 
larger than the record fish of the river ; and its fate 
may be conjectured from the fact that, after the 
spawning time in that same year, a fish was picked 
up which had been killed by an otter, which then, 
after the ' otter's piece ' had been eaten and the 
season's waste had done its work, weighed no less 
than 36 lb. On the Add, of which I can speak from 
personal knowledge, a river similar in size and length, 
but of a much more sluggish character, I can only 


remember the capture of two fish of about 20 lb. in a 

similar period of thirty years, and the average weight 
was about 7^ lb. I should think that this may be 
taken as more typical of the normal condition of 
things in small Scotch rivers. 

Many legends of big fish fail to stand the test of 
careful examination ; but there are plenty of authentic 
records of fish taken with the rod weighing 50 lb. and 
over. These monsters do not always show such 
desperate fight as in the historical encounter recorded 
above. A fish of 56 lb. caught in the Cascapedia by 
the Hon. Victor Stanley in 1892 gave very little 
sport indeed. The record fish of 1897, a 53-pounder, 
caught in the Gordon Castle water in the Spey by 
Mr. W. Craven, although he fought gallantly, was 
killed in a quarter of an hour. Mr. Craven, who was 
fishing the Dallachy pool, not more than a mile from 
the sea, with a small No. 4 Carron fly, with lemon body, 
silver twist, and black hackle wing, tied on a double 
hook, on a double gut cast with four feet of single, 
observed the fish rising behind a sunken stone, and 
beyond the rapid stream from which he was casting, 
the rise, as is frequently the case with very large fish, 
being only indicated by the swirl of the water. From 
this position he could only reach him by casting his 
fly into the comparatively slack water beyond the 


Stream, and allowing it to be dragged past his nose in 
a manner 'quite contrary to the rules of casting.' 
Three times this was done without success ; but on 
the fourth occasion there was a wave on the water and 
a hard pull, and in a second away went 40 yards of 
line down stream. Mr. Craven was beginning to 
think of the boat 200 yards below, when the fish 
suddenly stopped and gave two or three unpleasant 
tugs; but, being very firmly hooked, he allowed him- 
self to be reeled slowly up, and enabled his captor 
to get ashore. He then made for his old resting- 
place and began to sulk, but not for long, for he 
quickly went up stream as fast as he had come down 
it, and it became a labour of difficulty to keep above 

At this point a disagreeable grating feeling in- 
dicated that the line was rubbing against the edge of the 
shingle between the rod and the deep water, and it 
was necessary to take to the water again and get the 
line perpendicularly over him as he again stopped. 
At this point Mr. Craven first realised what a 
monster he had hooked, for although the rod was 
apparently pointing directly over the fish, the line 
suddenly ran out at full speed. This was because, 
having drowned the line under the heavy stream, the 
salmon was trying to ascend a small ' draw ' on the 


far side of the river, and there he showed himself 
struggling in about eight inches of water. The 
strong tackle bore the strain well ; the sunken part of 
the line was successfully reeled up, and, but for the 
bend of the rod, the line was once more horizontal 
between fish and angler. Now a slow steady pull 
not only checked his career, but drew him back with 
a splash into the deep, and the line was reeled up 
short, so that when he had been carried a little way 
down he came into the slack water, where fisherman 
and gaffer were waiting him, but just out of reach. 
This he repeated twice, but the third time, with two 
or three feet more reeled up, he came well within 
reach, and the steel went into him just above the 
dorsal fin, the left hand came to the rescue of the 
overtaxed right, and ^^^ Davidson, who had not 
uttered a syllable during the fifteen minutes' contest, 
broke the silence with the exclamation : ' The biggest 
fish I have ever taken out of the Spey.' After the 
coup de grace had been administered and the fly cut 
out, both hooks of which were firmly fastened round 
the lower jawbone, the handle of the gaff was passed 
through the steelyard, and the salmon hoisted between 
the shoulders of the exultant couple ; but the steel- 
yard only indicating a maximum of 50 lb., his excess 
weight was a matter of conjecture. This proved to be 


3 lb. more. His length was four feet one and a half 
inches, and his girth two feet five ; a male fish, rather 
coloured, but perfect in shape and condition. The 
subsequent examination of the tackle showed that 
the risk of losing him had been considerable, as the 
reel line was cut a quarter through where it had 
grated against the shingle, and had to be removed as 
untrustworthy, and one strand of the double gut eye 
of the fly was severed and standing out at right 

The great authority on the size of salmon is 
Mr. Henry Ffennell, who has devoted much time 
and trouble to testing the accuracy of the alleged 
captures of large fish. Many such legends have been 
shattered in the process, but he has kindly supplied 
me with the following instances of fish of 50 lb. and 
over, taken with rod and line in the United Kingdom 
since 1870, which may be relied upon as strictly 
accurate. All of them appeared under Mr. Ffcn- 
nell's name in the ' Times,' and were verified before 

1870. Mr. Haggard caught a fish of 61 lb. in the 
Stanley waters of the Tay. 

1872. An angler landed a salmon of 58 lb. on the 
Shannon^ and Dr. A. Peck took one of 51^ lb. in the 
Cumberland Derwent. 


1873. A salmon of 53^ lb. was taken in the Tweed, 

and one of 57 lb. on the Suir in Tipperary. 

1874. A salmon of 55 ?j lb. was caught in the 
Cumberland Derwent ; one of 50 lb. in Loch Tay ; 
one of 57 lb. in the Suir, Tipperary, by a professional 
angler. An amusing account of the capture of this 
fish, by the late Mr. Richard Bradford, a local inspector 
of fisheries, appeared in the ' Field ' of February 9, 
1895. I^ was to the following effect : — 

The fish was caught on Longfield by Michael 
Maher. The river was reported coloured, and Maher 
left his flies at home and trusted to baits. When he 
reached the river he found the water was too clear 
for the Devon, and he was at his wits' end, as he had 
no flies. He, however, was a man of resource. He 
went into a farmhouse close by ; got some light 
orange silk from the farmer's daughter ; some hackles 
from a grizzled cock in the yard ; and with these and 
a little silver tinsel he formed the body. He could 
find nothing suitable for the wing, except some light 
orange goose feathers (dyed) in the farmer's daughter's 
hat. These made a decidedly clumsy fly ; but he tried 
it, and in a very few minutes was fast in the fish, which 
he landed in a very short time, and carried in triumph 
to Cashel. When asked what fly he used, he answered, 
* That's a mystery.' This gave rise to the adoption of 


the name, and the combination thus accidentally 
arrived at is, with a few alterations, a standard fly on 
the Suir. 

1877. Mr. T. B. Lawes killed a fish of 54 lb. on 
the Awe, near Dalmally. 

1880. An angler killed a fish of 50 lb. on Loch 

1884. The keeper on the Ardoe water of the Dee 
killed a fish of 57 lb. 

1886. Mr. Pryor killed a salmon of 57^ lb. on the 
Floors water of the Tweed. 

1888. The late Mr. E. Frances killed a very 
handsome fish of 55^ lb. on the Corby water of the 

1889. ^^r. Brereton, on Lord Polwarth's Mertoun 
water on the Tweed, killed a fish of 55 lb. on a small 
' Wilkinson ' with single gut. An angler on the Scotch 
Esk caught one of 50 lb. with a small grilse fly ; and 
Mr. Lowther Bridger also got one of 50 lb. with a 
small ' Bull Dog ' fly and single gut. 

1892. Mr. G. Mackenzie got one of 56 lb. on the 
Warwick Hall water of the Eden, on a small ' Jock 
Scott,' landing it in fifteen minutes. Colonel Home 
got one of 51^ lb. on Lord Home's Birgham water 
on the Tweed, and Lord Winterton got one of 50 lb. 
on the Gordon Castle water on the Spey. 


1893. Mr. Peter Loudon got one of 50^ lb. on the 

1895. Lord Zetland got one of 55 lb. on the Tay. 

In addition to these, Mr. Malloch, of Perth, men- 
tions two caught on the Tay, one of 54 lb., caught by 
Lord Ruthven, and one of 50 lb. by Mr. Clark 
Jervoise. Mr. Ffennell also records a curious inci- 
dent connected with a salmon of 51 J lb. taken in the 
nets on the Wye in 1887. A fly with some gut 
attached to it was found in his mouth. Dr. Norman 
of Ross identified this fly as one he had lost in a big 
fish which he had been playing for a long time some 
twelve days before. This is a most singular incident, 
as salmon usually get rid of flies and hooks very soon 
after they have broken them off. 

Mr. Ffennell has certainly done great service to 
the cause of accuracy by investigating every alleged 
instance of exceptional weight at the time, and he 
really merits the title of ' giant killer.' As he rightly 
states, in a letter to the 'Times,' in April 1887, on a 
' bogus ' Shannon salmon of 72 lb., unless such false 
reports are contradicted immediately they appear, 
many mythical salmon would be handed down and 
placed on record. Some of the cases, exposed after 
paragraphs had gone the round of the papers, turned 
out to be pure invention ; many more, hardly less 


culpable exaggeration. Thus 52 lb. dwindles on 
examination to 36 lb., 75 lb. to 45, and 51 lb. to 27 lb. 
This last was an Irish salmon, and the additional 
weight was tacked on between Banagher and Castle 
Connell ! 




The best friend of the salmon is undoubtedly the 
fair rod fisherman. Only a modest gleaning falls to 
his lot out of the ample harvest of the stream ; yet he 
does far more for the protection of the crop than the 
tenant of the net fishing, who, like a thriftless farmer 
who exhausts the soil of his fields, too often looks only 
to the immediate present, and leaves a wasted heritage 
to those who come after him. I have, however, said 
my say upon the legal destruction of our salmon 
fisheries, and will now devote a few pages to some of 
the many illegal methods by which fish are destroyed. 
The time-honoured pastime of ' burning the 
water ' is, I fear, by no means obsolete, although 
the law prevents its being carried on so openly as in 
the days of Scrope and Sir Walter Scott. The vivid 
description in ' Guy Mannering ' must be familiar to 
most of my readers, and doubtless the ' shirra ' had 
often taken part in proceedings which his successors 


punish with no undue severity. A salmon was a 
salmon in those days : and the object was to get 
them quoamque modo. Scrope says, 'A salmon is 
a fish of passage, and if you do not get him to-day he 
will be gone to-morrow. You may as well think of 
preserving herrings or mackerels as these delicious 
creatures, and there would be no objection to you 
taking 3,378 salmon at one haul if fortune would so 
favour you.' 

The ' leister ' or ' waster ' is figured in his pages, and 
was a formidable weapon resembling a trident, but 
with five prongs instead of three, with only one barb 
to each prong, as two would tear the fish too much 
in extricating them. This weapon was fastened to a 
pole usually about sixteen feet long, and was used 
for ' canting ' the boat up stream as well as for 
striking the fish. It was not grasped firmly, but sent 
loosely through the hands, its own weight in falling 
being more effective than a strong thrust. The stroke 
was aimed at the shoulders of the fish, from a vertical 
position, and the grip was then shortened and the 
fish lifted head foremost. The boat in use for the 
purpose was larger and steadier than a rod-fishing 
boat, and in the centre, near the side, was a pole fixed 
vertically, with a basket on the top to contain the com- 
bustibles, rags steeped in pitch and fragments of tar 


barrels. There were ' three men in a boat ' ; one at 
the head and one at the stern as boatmen and 
leisterers, and the third in the centre to kill the fish 
and trim the fire. A suitable evening was selected 
when the water was low : half the country side assisted 
as actors or spectators, and carts were brought to take 
home the fish — a not unnecessary precaution, as 
hundreds were massacred in the course of a single 
evening. Our authority states, curiously enough, for the 
benefit of the rod fisher, that salmon disturbed in the 
night with boats and lights will draw up into the 
streams above and take the fly all the better for this 
disturbance the following morning. No doubt it must 
have been a picturesque sight to see. ' The ruddy light 
glared on the rough features and dark dresses of the 
leisterers in cutting flames directly met b3' dark 
shadows. Extending itself, it reddened the shelving 
rocks above, and glanced upon the blasted arms of 
the trees, slowly perishing in their struggle for exist- 
ence among the stony crevices : it glowed upon 
the hanging wood, on fir, birch, broom, and 
bracken, half veiled or half revealed, as they 
were more or less prominent. The form of things 
remote from the concentrated light was dark and 
dubious ; even the trees on the summit of the brae 
sank in obscuritv.' Great numbers of fish were 


taken in a night — more than a hundred is the 
number given in ' Guy Mannering,' a ' hundred 
and twa' in a portion of the evening described by 
Scrope ; and in addition to this massacre no doubt 
there were many others which got off the leister, 
wounded, to perish miserably. The eels used to 
follow the blood and eat the flesh out of the skin — 
' You will see the eels by dozens hanging thick on him 
like sticks in a bundle of faggots ' ; and altogether 
I sympathise with the feelings of the spectator 
described by Scott, who did ' not relish being so 
near the agonies of the expiring salmon as they 
lay flapping about in the boat, which they mois- 
tened with their blood.' It seems to have been 
a barbarous performance ; but autres temps, aufres 
uKEurs, diYid. it is only fair to add that I have heard 
that so famous a rod fisher as the late Sir William 
Scott of Ancrum said there was no sport like it. In 
addition to these gregarious raids, many fish perished 
on the spawning beds by the leisters of individual 
poachers — such as Tom Purdie, Sir Walter's attend- 
ant, who was great with the ' clodding ' or throwing 
leister, and whose murder of a 'muckle kipper of 
40 lb. on a big redd ' is narrated in detail. All this 
is of course unlawful now ; but I am afraid that it is 
still a common enough method of poaching on the 


'I'weed and its tributaries, although paraffin is sub- 
stituted for the tar barrel and ' heather lichts,'and the 
' cleik ' or gaff for the leister. Many of the fish which 
go up to the spawning beds never return ; and the 
gangs who go out to ' burn the water ' are too often 
prepared to use violence, and bailiffs and poachers 
have met their death, like Grimes in the ' AVater 
Babies,' in the fierce encounters that have taken place. 
Whether from hereditary instinct or traditional in- 
struction, the sympathies of the Lowlander are rather 
with the poacher than the water bailiff, and the 
wanton destruction of fish is not easily punished or 

Nets of various kinds are used for poaching as 
well as for legal fishing, in and out of season : splash 
nets, which entangle the fish when they strike them ; 
shove nets to take them under the banks or rocks ; 
nets to catch them at the salmon leaps, and fine seines 
to drag the pools at night from the bank, or a light 
boat or coracle, often managed by a single skilful 
hand. A poacher resident at Crinan was more than 
once caught at night taking salmon in this manner 
up the river Add, and his boat was for some time up at 
the keeper's house at Poltalloch— a flat-bottomed skiff 
with outriggers, rather like a duck shooter's punt ; 
but although it certainly was never used for any 



legitimate object, the authorities were unable to 
condemn it as an implement of poaching, and it had 
to be returned to its owner. He was fined rather 
heavily more than once ; but a single night's success, 
unfortunately, goes a long way towards providing the 
means of paying the legal penalties inflicted, and I 
hardly think the authorities are sufficiently severe on 
professional and systematic river marauders. I was 
rather amused at the description of his experience 
given me by a keeper in the Border country the other 
day. The poachers he had caught had, in his 
opinion, got off too lightly, until one night he came 
upon a man burning the water on his beat, who after 
a struggle was rescued by a second, who put my 
informant into the river. Far from being annoyed, 
he said to them, ' Now I know your faces, and I have 
got a good case against you.' What amused me 
most in his description was his threat to the fiscal. 
' I told him that if he did not imprison them this 
time, / ivould never bring a case before him again' 
Whether in consequence of this awful threat, or on 
the merits of the case, his assailants on the occasion 
referred to got three months' imprisonment. 

Otters and cross-lines with a number of flies and 
minnows are objectionable, not only for the destruction 
they cause but for the number of fish they prick and 


ro ACHING i6: 

frighten ineffectually. Another, and even worse method 
of poaching, is snatching or stroke hauling. This 
cruel and barbarous practice of sinking a weighted 
triangle or triangles in some place where salmon lie 
thick, and jerking it through the water till it catches 
in some part of a fish, is, unfortunately, only too 
common and well known. Numbers of fish escape, 
lacerated and torn, and the tackle is usually so 
strong that little play is given by the struggles of 
those landed. Yet, in some parts of Ireland 
especially, ' sportsmen ' may be seen in rows manipu- 
lating a bunch of weighted triangles through a shoal 
of salmon — sometimes with a prawn or minnow 
attached to them as a colourable pretext for the 
proceeding. This is done, not occasionally and to 
obtain a fish for the pot in low water, but in the 
name of sport, and to provide amusement for the 
perpetrators ! I confess I should like to see some of 
these ' gentlemen ' severely punished, as I sympathise 
far more with the poor man who poaches for gain or 
food than with such desecrators of the gentle name 
of sport. 

In Scrope's time these snatching implements were 
known as rake-hooks, and he avers that ' most fisher- 
men were provided with the tackle.' ' It consists of 
two strong hooks about two or three inches long tied 

M 2 


back to back, and fastened to twisted gut, on which 
are put five or six large shot at equal distances from 
one another The fisherman, with a strong rod, 
throws the line with these bare hooks attached to it 
about a foot beyond any salmon that he may discover 
lying, and then with a sudden jerk draws the hook 
into him if he can, and gets him to the land if he is 
able.' I fear the ' Rake's progress ' was frequently 
over the spawning beds, as he calmly adds : ' Clean 
fish are sometimes taken in this manner.' His method 
of spearing fish in low water on a bright day is 
elaborately described under the title of ' Sunlight ' in 
the tenth chapter of his book. Indeed, I hardly 
know any sort of poaching which he does not describe 
and countenance, except the curious practice of spear- 
ing salmon on horseback described in ' Red Gauntlet.' 
He tells us that ' vast numbers are captured in this 
manner, i.e. by "sunning," particularly in the upper part 
of the Tweed,' but the scene of the raid which he 
describes in detail is, as I have mentioned elsewhere, 
the Craigover Boat hole on the Mertoun water, close 
to Melrose. With a man clever with the leister standing 
in the water at the head of the stream to strike the 
fish which endeavour to pass out of it into another 
cast, and nets spread about in every direction, just 
avoiding the illegality of barring the river by stretch- 


ing one quite across, they routed al:>out and frightened 
the fish till they lay half stupefied under or beside the 
rocks and stones. The poor creatures were then 
speared from a boat, not worked broadside in front as 
in burning the water, for ' one artist is sufficient for the 
amusement.' Many escaped wounded, for 'if you do 
not strike a fish near the centre of his body, you are 
never very sure of lifting him.' ' Begin at the lower 
part of the river that belongs to you, so that you may 
again come across those fish that escape upwards. If 
the river continues low for some time, disturbed fish 
will be continually coming forward, and you may go 
over your water two or three times at different periods, 
till you have caught nearly every fish that takes up 
his seat in it.' 

Here I take leave of Scrope, whom, but for the 
allowance necessarily made for the times, I should 
regard — much as I do Benvenuto Cellini after reading 
his confessions of hardly less heinous iniquities — as a 
delightful rogue, but one who richly merited the 
gallows. However, as an Eton boy in my school-days 
translated the line of Horace — ' Delicta majorum 
immeritus lues,' 'The delights of our ancestors were 
unmitigated filth '—and I do not doubt that he was a 
fair and even sportsmanlike product of the early part 
of the century now drawing to an end. At the close 


of the chapter just quoted, he gives the sound advice : 
' Keep close time strictly ; kill no spawning fish \ 
tamper not with foul ones of any sort ; preserve the 

A skilful poacher can sometimes gaff numbers of 
fish in a narrow passage or by a fall. Many salmon 
also fall victims to a variety of implements in the 
upper pools of small rivers which speedily run low 
even after a heavy spate. They are unable to escape, 
and pitchforks, rakes, and even scythes suffice to 
destroy them, as well as instruments of destruction 
especially manufactured for the purpose. In deep 
holes ruffled by the wind, a water telescope is some- 
times employed to discover their whereabouts. 

I am not concerned to defend any form of poach- 
ing, but the most venial form of that offence, in my 
opinion, is the occasional capture of a fish with the 
fly in low water in a river entirely your own — volenti 
non fit injuria] but I am here referring to a fly affixed 
to the lips of the salmon by other methods than those 
of mere coaxing and persuasion. No one is bound 
to criminate himself, and I have ' hardly ever ' been 
guilty of such an ofl"ence. But I have heard of many 
parties after a long drought irresistibly attracted to 
the water side, and of deeds of doubtful legahty 
achieved with the luncheon-paper fly, so called 


because a small piece of paper was attached to the 
barb of the ' Captain ' or ' Jock Scott ' to indicate its 
whereabouts. Frightened salmon, as Scrope mentions, 
take refuge under stones or clods, and I remember 
one noted fisherman, who ought to have known better, 
promising a certain lady that she should catch a fish, 
and actually with his fingers putting the hook 
attached to her line into the fish's mouth as it sheltered 
close to the bank. Sometimes such crimes were 
justly punished ; and one leader of society may recall 
an occasion wlien the bank gave way with her, and 
she was precipitated into a pool amid shouts of 
merriment from the unfeeling spectators, and the 
difficulties entailed by the process of drying her drip- 
ping garments and providing her with an impromptu 
rig-out. But I only mention these shocking occur- 
rences in order to stamp them with my condemnation. 
We were young then, and the century, alas ! a good 
deal younger than it is now, and no doubt such 
things are never done by our more enlightened and 
respectable children. 

A curious collection of salmon-poaching imple- 
ments, exhibited at the International Fisheries Ex- 
hibition of 1883 by Mr. Henry Ffennell, was one of 
the great attractions of that successful show. Although 
it contained no models, all the implements shown 


having been taken by water-bailiffs or keepers from 
marauders taken red-handed, it numbered several hun- 
dred exhibits. Among these were quantities of spears 
or leisters, with every number of prongs from nine to 
two, some with barbs and some without. But the 
favourite poaching weapon was shown to be the gaff or 
' cleik,' which is easier to carry and conceal than the 
leister, and quite as effective. The collection contained 
no less than two hundred and forty of these implements, 
all seized along the Usk and Ebbw. Some of these had 
as many as eight barbed hooks upon them, and one, 
used in the River Cleddy, had a handle 25 feet long. 
There were also a large number of snatches, or rake- 
hooks, one of which, shown from the Derwent River, 
was worked by a rope between two men, and had an 
oyster-shell at the end to attract the fish. A number 
of lamps, from the most primitive dark lanterns to 
an elaborate naphtha torch with a metal case, which 
could be flared up, darkened, or extinguished with 
great rapidity, formed part of the same interesting 
collection. Several of these exhibits were figured and 
described in the Illustrated London News of Aug. 18, 

A poacher may sometimes be a friend in need. 
My brother. Colonel C. Gathorne-Hardy, was once 
fishing the Blackwater from a garden terrace, when he 

J \) ACHING 169 

hooked a salmon. He had 110 attendant, and had no 
chance to beach his fish, as he was four or five feet 
above the water. A man opposite, seeing his difficulty, 
shouted to him, 'Will I come across, your honour?' 
My brother remarked that it was a long way round, 
when the man swam across, dressed as he was, and 
producing a gaff from some mysterious recess in his 
dripping garments, soon landed the fish. ' Sure, I 
could see your honour was a true sportsman,' said 
Pat, 'and if it had been fifty thousand fathoms deep, 
I would have come across just the same.' He retreated 
by the same route, gladdened with a small donation, 
and no questions asked ; but I fear that he carried 
that pocket gaff for no legitimate purpose, and that it 
might well have formed an exhibit in the Ffennell 




LocHiEL, in the introductory chapter on deer-stalking 
of the volume on the Red Deer, which he contributed 
to this series, institutes a comparison between the 
four pre-eminent British sports — deer-stalking, grouse- 
shooting, salmon-fishing, and fox-hunting — naturally 
to the advantage of his own favourite pursuit. Small 
wonder that the Laird of Achnacarry, bred and nurtured 
in the heart of the forest, should firmly hold and 
stoutly maintain such an opinion ; but I think that he 
hardly does justice to the votaries of the other sports 
enumerated, by the arguments he puts into their 
mouths. I should perhaps be going outside my subject 
if I were to take up the cudgels for the fow^ler and fox- 
hunter ; but it is quite in accordance with the precedent 
of the earliest and most famous works on fishing that 
Venator and Piscator should hold a conference on 
paper, each commending his own recreation. In the 
book of St. Albans, Dame Juliana Berners makes a 


comparison of the various sports, giving the reasons for 
her preference of anghng. ' Huntynge is toe laboryous, 
for the hunter must always renne' and folowe his 
houndes : traueyllynge and swetynge full sore, and 
blowynge tyll his lyppes blyster.' ' Hawkynge is 
laboryous and noyouse also as me seemeth.' ' Fowl- 
ynge is greuous.' But the 'angler mayehaue no cold 
nor dysease nor angre, but if he be causer hymself. 
For he may not lese at the moost, but a lyne or an 
hoke . . . and other greyffes may he not haue, sauynge 
but yf ony fysshe breke away after that he is take on 
the hoke, or elles that he catch nought.' A dialogue 
on the same topic forms the opening chapter of the 
' Compleat Angler,' and, like my prototype, ' I accuse 
nobody ; for, as I would not make a watery discourse, 
so I would not put too much vinegar into it, nor would 
I raise the reputation of my own art, by the diminu- 
tion or ruin of another's.' 

Lochiel enumerates certain tests by which to try 
each of these sports separately, taking as the first ' the 
degree of pleasure derived from success.' 

This test no doubt is a fair one, but the human 
temperament varies so infinitely that it is not very 
easy of application. There are some misguided 
individuals who enjoy a public dinner or a charity 
bazaar, and who would rather hear the sound of 


their own voices than catcli a salmon as big as the one 
which got away from Mr. Bromley-Davenport on the 
Rauma in Norway. But taking the test to be what 
ought to give pleasure to reasonable beings, and 
leaving such lost souls as I have referred to out of 
the question, I submit that it is hardly fair to 
compare the ' aggregate amount of pleasure derived 
from capturing ten or a dozen salmon ' to the 
' supreme happiness of standing over a splendid 
royal.' If you are going in for numbers, compare 
ordinary fish with stags just worth a shot ; if you go 
in for quality, balance a record fish with the ' splendid 
royal.' There are small stags as well as large ones, 
and my limited experience tends to persuade me that 
the ordinary stalker as a rule has to put up with 
moderate animals. This no doubt enhances the 
pleasure of a great and exceptional success in the 
forest ; but why should not the fortunate captor of a 
monster fish be equally delighted with his triumph ? 
I not only admit the existence of the spirit of rivalry 
to which Lochiel 'alludes in a whisper,' but assert 
that it is the salt of sport, adding with diffidence that 
it is as present in the forest as by the stream. The 
deer-stalker likes to beat the record established by 
his predecessors in quantity, weight, size, and quality 
of head and number of points. A like ambition, 


7untatis mutandis^ actuates the fisherman, and, unless 
it leads to any jealous and underhand advantages 
taken over a competitor, it is surely justifiable and 
even laudable. And it may be noted that it is much 
easier to be sure that the conditions of the competi- 
tion arc fair in fishing than in deer-stalking. Such 
salmon as his beat contains are at the disposal of the 
angler to catch if he can ; but it is by no means so 
certain that the stalker will give all visitors a chance 
of shooting an exceptionally fine stag, even if he spies 
one. Big salmon are ' here to-day and gone to- 
morrow,' and an exceptionally large fish is never 
specially preserved for a favoured guest or the Laird 
himself ; but in some places it is not everyone who is 
allowed a chance at the modern representatives of 
Club-foot or the ' Muckle Hart of Benmore.' Again, 
it is usually more difficult to land a very heavy fish 
than one of moderate size. The mere weight and 
bulk tell on the tackle and the hold, and it is not 
only on account of the lying propensities of anglers 
that the biggest salmon get away ; but a monster stag 
is no more difficult to approach than a small one, 
and presents an even larger mark for the rifle. 
Another advantage that I claim for fishing is that, 
whereas it is always something gained to catch even 
a very small grilse, it may be that when you have 


somewhat doubtfully shot at a stag and killed him, 
you may find that he is one that it would have been 
better to have allowed to grow for another year or 
two on the hill, and you return with your victim 
strapped on the pony rather apologetic than 
triumphant. Although it is the stalker's business to 
settle whether you are to shoot at a stag or not when 
you are in a friend's forest, he is generally amiably 
anxious to give you a shot ; and instances have been 
known where infanticide has been the result of his un- 
due confidence in the incapacity of a visitor to hold his 
rifle straight. There is a well-known anecdote of a 
guest at a forest who during his stay was almost daily 
given a shot at a small beast which regularly fre- 
quented a particular corrie not very far from the 
lodge. Later in the season a more skilful professor 
had his day in the forest. He watched the stalker 
spying the ground, and when the long and deliberate 
survey was over and the glass shut up, asked if any 
deer had been seen. 'Hoot,' was the answer, 'just 
nothing but that wee bit deevil, " CharHe Blake." ' 
The Uttle beast had acquired the name of the gentle- 
man (not the one in the text) to whose inaccuracy 
of aim he owed his life — but it might well have 
happened that a chance bullet had ended his career. 
It is always a pleasure to catch a fish at all ; but 


the great days are those on which you catch a larger 
number of salmon, a greater aggregate weight, or a 
bigger fisli than you have ever cauglit before ; and if 
you also have done better in any respect than anyone 
has ever been known to do previously on the par- 
ticluar water you are fishing, it undeniably adds zest 
to your triumph. The phrase 'beating the record ' is 
of modern origin, and rather jars upon my ear, but 
the desire 

otei/ dpiareveLV Kal V7r€Lpo)(os €}ijjL€vai aXXcov 

is at least as old as Homer. I have never myself 
kept a formal fishing register, although I have from 
time to time jotted down the weights and numbers 
caught on special occasions, in my pocket Almanack, 
and 1 am sorry for my neglect. Such sporting 
memoranda are interesting to look back upon, and, 
when they relate to the forest or the river, unobjec- 

'But,' says Lochiel, 'take as the next test the 
disappointment resulting from a bad day. Here 
salmon-fishing may be put out of court. No one 
will deny that an absolutely blank day's fishing is a 
disappointment unmitigated by any other circum- 
stances attendant on the sport The fisherman has 
been engaged in monotonous exertion all day long, 
and experiences the sensation of having wasted his 


time as completely as if he had been using a pair of 

Here I join issue altogether. If it were true that 
blank days deserved this sweeping condemnation it 
would be almost fatal to the claims of salmon-fishing 
as an amusement ; but I utterly deny it. Many a 
time have I started for the river, sometimes with high 
expectations, sometimes almost on a forlorn hope, 
and come back empty-handed indeed, but having 
thoroughly enjoyed my outing. Monotonous ! Why ? 
All day long the shifting panorama of nature passed 
before my eyes ; the birds, the flowers, the ferns, like 
living actors, played their parts for my edification ; or 
if I must confine my attention to points more strictly 
relating to the sport itself, no two pools, no two 
motions of the rod — I had almost said, no two 
sensations of the six or eight hours spent by the 
water side — were the exact counterparts the one of 
the other. But let me describe one or two ' blank 
days.' I have many to choose from, and the reader 
may judge whether it is true that they present no 
features of interest, but merely a ' monstrous cantle ' 
carved from the too brief space of an autumn holiday. 

Take first in order the instance which is most 
antagonistic to my argument, namely, the day when 
all conditions are apparently favourable, and I have 


started in the morning with the highest hopes ; all 
the previous afternoon the rain came down in torrents, 
and I could hear the trickle of the water from 
the eaves when I went to bed ; but when I rose in 
the morning the sky was clear, with a few flying 
clouds and a strong breeze ; the roofs were dry, and 
it was evident that the storm moderated long before 
the morning, and that by ten o'clock — quite late 
enough for a start on such an occasion — the river 
would have had seven or eight hours to run down. 
Had I been the lessee of a beat on the Tweed, Tay, 
or Dee, or any large river, I should have been con- 
demned to inaction, or some other form of sport, for 
a day or two after such a spate ; but the little West 
Coast stream by whose banks fate had fixed my 
residence for the time being was fed by mountain 
torrents and deep sheep drains, and fell as rapidly as 
it rose. The upper pools — and these were the most 
interesting to fish, and when in order the most pro- 
ductive — were sometimes too high to fish one day 
arid too low the next ; but on this day I was in no 
doubt whither to go, and all impatience to make a 
start. What a long time the lazy servants seemed 
bringing the breakfast ! But if I could not control 
their movements, I was at all events master of my 
own, and I gobbled down my food with a rapidity 



which would have made my respected medical ad- 
viser's hair stand on end, had he been there to see ; 
but the next few hours would, at all events, be an 
antidote against dyspepsia. Long before the dogcart 
drove round I was ' booted and spurred ' and cursing 
the dilatory groom, although the poor man was not to 
blame, as a reference to my watch and the stable 
clock convinced me. The two or three miles which 
divided me from the nearest point of the river were 
finished at last j and as I passed over the bridge I 
saw by the stone on my left, over which the water 
just broke, that the height was all right, and the 
colour spoke for itself — of course also favourably. 
Another mile, a second bridge, and another inspec- 
tion, and we pulled up at last at a gate by a field, 
opposite to which, about a hundred yards off, the 
river took a sharp turn under the wooded brae of 
Kirnan. I almost raced across the field — my little 
terrier partaking of my eagerness, — and began to put 
my rod together, taking rather longer than usual in 
consequence of my hurry to commence operations j 
for certainly in fishing the proverb ' More haste, worse 
speed,' holds good. At my feet the river ran dark 
but clear ; a splash or two broke the surface while 
my preparations were completing. I approached the 
top of the pool — and now I let the curtain fal on 


Act I. The fish might sulk, the sky might alter, the 
river might wax, but nothing could deprive me of 
those two hours of excitement and pleasant expecta 
tion ; nor would they have been any pleasanter if 
subsequently I had attained the greatest success. I 
was on the brink of the unknown, but the past has 
been irrevocably mine. 

Act II. — The first few throws are more to wet 
the line and straighten the cast than for any other 
purpose. Of course, I begin higher up the stream 
than any fish would be likely to go ; but, in such 
high water, they may rise very near the head of the 
pool, and, at any rate, I will make sure that I miss no 
chance. How well the fly looks as it plays in the 
dancing rapids ! Surely no sensible fish can decline 
such a temptation. Now I am getting down to a 
stone just under an overhanging alder bush, and my 
heart beats quicker as I recognise the scene of many 
past successes. How^ often has a salmon taken my 
fly within a yard — nay, a foot — of that very spot I It 
is a httle far, the wind is wrong, and the bush awk- 
ward, and if my hook catches in a bough I shall have 
to break or go round nearly half a mile ; yet I must 
venture all, for I know that the fish rises just under 
the opposite bank. My next cast is a failure ; I have 
miscalculated the distance or not allowed enough for 

N 2 


the wind ] but I just manage, by a quick movement 
of the wrist, to save myself from catching the bush, 
and the next time the ' Blue Doctor ' goes straight and 
true, as I intended, and falls fairly lightly — not that 
that signifies much — almost to an inch on the spot I 
aimed at. How^ carefully I bring the point of the rod 
round, how cautiously I work it, how eagerly I watch 
the spot where the fly circles across and down the 
stream 1 The fish does not come this time, nor the 
next, nor at all ; but I have had the pleasure of my 
successful casts. I have overcome difficulties, small 
ones it is true, but real for all that ; I have hoped 
wdth good reason, and exercised memory and judg- 
ment. Then I wander dow^n the stream to the next 
cast, noting, as I pass the shallow water, any pools 
which seem in process of formation — for the course of 
the river is by no means stereotyped — and trying a 
cast or two where it looks as if there was a possible 
chance. At each regular pool my hopes revive, as I 
cannot believe that the salmon will display the dis- 
graceful apathy which has marked their conduct 
hitherto. Here a rock, there a bush, reminds me of 
former successes and inspires me with renewed excite- 
ment. At last, as I still fail to stir a fish, I try to 
find a reason for their sluggishness. Sky and w^ater 
have seemed all that I could desire when I came out ; 


but it is hard if I cannot find something wrong in one 
or other, when the event has proved that there must 
be. It is too clear overhead, or there is a glare — or 
the mist is lower than it ought to be ; but it will be 
better presently. At last, when I reach my destination, 
and find the dogcart waiting for me at Dunadd Bridge, 
I determine that there must be more bad weather 
coming, and that I may look forward to a real big 
flood and a record day to compensate me for the 
blank one, which after all has passed the time 
pleasantly enough. 

Or take a day not so disappointing as the one 
I have just described, because I never expected to 
catch anything. There has been no rain, the sun is 
shining and there is not even a strong breeze at 
present, and the veriest tyro could see that there was 
little chance, if any, of catching a salmon. What 
then ! there is a magnetic attraction about the run- 
ning water which somehow draws me to its banks. 
It is so long since I have had a day's fishing that I 
must wet a line and look at the pools, although I 
know it is not much use. A trout rod will do all the 
casting required, so I shall not have to break my back 
or strain my arms ; and, with fine gut and small flies, 
who knows but that the impossible may happen, as it 
has done more than a few times in my experience ? 


Nothing is more certain than that you will not catch 

fish unless you try ; but there are scarcely any con- 
ditions, except a really ' waxing ' water after the first half- 
hour of the flood, under which an exceptional success 
has not occurred to baffle expectation and encourage 
perseverance. But I am precluded by the rules of 
the argument from catching a salmon on the present 
occasion ; I hardly know whether I am justified in 
seeing one, but I cannot help it. Here, as I pass the 
Herd-boy's pool, the water is Hke glass and I can see 
ten or a dozen shadowy forms flitting like ghosts over 
the bottom. One or two of them are of exceptional 
size, and I feel a certain amount of complacency at 
resisting the temptation to acquire one by illegitimate 
means. They will certainly not rise to-day ; but it 
would not be beyond the resources of science for an 
unconscientious man to get hold of one. So I pass 
on, merely noting that the bottom has altered con- 
siderably since I fished it twelve months ago. There 
is hardly a foot of water where I rose the 14-pounder, 
and what was a shallow a little lower down has 
deepened and washed out into a promising hole. I 
shall not forget this when this part of the river is next 
in order, and fill my mental note-book with similar 
ground plans of the various pools as [I pass down the 
river. Here and there the stream runs fairly strong, 


or there is a good curl on the water just where the 
breeze catches it, and I try my luck without success ; 
but I am quite at peace with mankind when I return 
in the evening, and I have acquired a stock of know- 
ledge which I hope will serve me in good stead on 
some future and more auspicious occasion. Those 
who fish a West Highland river, with crumbling 
and undermined banks, cannot rely upon tradition to 
tell them where to cast their fly ; the fickle stream 
thinks nothing of filling a ten-foot hole with gravel, 
or bringing a few tons of peaty bank down with a 
splash to turn the current and make new resting-places 
for the salmon at the bottom of the water. 

I have purposely abstained from any allusion to 
scenery or natural history in my brief sketch of two 
blank days, because I desired to combat the sugges- 
tion that even the most unsuccessful salmon-fishing at 
all resembled dumb-bell exercise ; but the true fisher- 
man finds many dehghts in his occupation apart from 
the mere capture of fish. Like the deer-stalker, he 
takes his exercise 'in the purest of atmospheres, among 
the grandest scenery in Britain.' 

Not very long ago it was my privilege to be a 
fellow guest with Lochiel himself, in perhaps the most 
beautiful place in all Scotland, where both pursuits 
can be carried out in perfection — Braemore, the 


Highland home of Sir John Fowler. Certainly the 
views from Ben Dearig ])en Lear, of the exquisitely 
shaped Dundonell Hills, Loch Broom, and the 
wilderness of fairy islands at its mouth, are a dream 
of beauty ; but a like charm attaches to the beautiful 
river which dashes through gorges and over boulders 
at the foot of the brae. How^ lovely are the slopes 
above in all the glory of their autumn clothing of 
bracken and birch ! 

From the beautiful pool where one first casts a 
fly, to the place where the river joins the sea, there is 
not a spot w^here it would not be a pleasure to loiter, 
even without a rod in hand. There is to me a fasci- 
nation in a rushing stream which justifies the old 
legend that all evil things are powerless to pass across 
running water — the very sight washes the cobwebs 
from the brain ; and if one cannot watch the red deer 
in a state of nature as one may do in the corries 
above, the pugnacious stags and the sentinel hinds, 
the eagles soaring round the peaks, and the ptarmigan 
crooning among the stones, it is no slight pleasure to 
study the habits of the more homely creatures which 
haunt the river and its banks. One comes suddenly 
right upon an old heron first motionless in a shallow, 
then blundering off with hasty flight and discordant 
cry when it realises the presence of an intruder ; the 


ubiquitous dipper gives his jerky skirt-dancing per- 
formance. Occasionally one may still see the king- 
fisher, even in the Highlands, dart away like a bar of 
living turquoise ; the merganser convoys her numerous 
progeny up the pool ; even that inveterate poacher, 
the otter, shy though he be, occasionally permits me 
to get a glimpse at his movements ; or the roe stands 
to stare from some opening among the birches, while 
far above tower the mist-capped peaks not less pictur- 
esque from below than when distance no longer lends 
enchantment to the view. 

Taking next the element of weather, Lochiel con- 
tends that as regards the comfort or discomfort ot 
pursuing any particular form of sport in bad weather, 
there is not much to choose. Here I again cannot 
agree with him. I do not doubt from his high 
authority, confirmed as it is by my own slight experi- 
ence, that more deer are likely to be killed on a wet, 
stormy day than upon a fine one ; but it requires 
youth and enthusiasm to enjoy facing the discomforts 
of a Highland storm on an exposed hillside, to crawl 
through heather, bog, and grass wringing with mois- 
ture, and then wait for the deer to rise, wet to the 
skin, and with chattering teeth and frozen fingers, in a 
bleak north-easter. I am far from saying that the 
final triumph does not fully compensate one for these 


drawbacks, but as a mere question of comfort, which 
is all with which I am dealing at present, how far 
preferable is the state of the salmon-fisher, supposing 
him to be pursuing his craft under like conditions of 
wind and rain ? With mackintosh and waders he 
laughs at the elements. Even on the coldest and 
wettest day of early spring fishing he can keep him- 
self warm and dry, if he has but taken the common-" 
sense precaution to suit his clothing to the require- 
ments of the season — indeed, I am not sure that 
there is not a satisfaction in the sensation that the 
tempest is beating upon you in vain. Let me briefly 
state a few more points in which Piscator has an 
advantage over Venator. He is independent ; he 
need not, if he knows his river, take even a gillie with 
him ; at any rate he can pursue his own bent, and does 
do so if he has had any considerable experience, with- 
out further deference to his attendant than a friendly 
consultation as to flies, the best places to fish, and 
the like. But in the forest, in ninety-nine cases out 
of a hundred, you are a mere automaton in the hands 
of a stalker. He it is who conceives the plan of 
campaign, and executes it from start to finish, some- 
times not even communicating to the novice the 
reasons for the movements he has blindly imitated to 
the best of his ability, until he withdraws the rifle 


from its case, points out the stag, and tells him to 
' take time.' And then supposing that an easy chance 
is missed, or, still worse, that a stag is wounded and 
escapes to die a lingering death, what moment is 
there in the fisherman's experience to compare with 
the utter misery of such a failure ? One may lose a 
salmon and possibly suspect that it is one's own fault, 
although it is not very often that one can trace one's 
loss directly and certainly to any sin of omission or 
commission ; but at least one has the assurance that the 
fish is none the worse, that if he has taken your fly he 
will have soon extracted the hook by a simple surgical 
operation with the assistance of some rock at the 
bottom of the pool, and will be ready for another 
tussle in a day or two if you should have the good 
luck to encounter him again. It is a disagreeable 
moment, no doubt, when the line comes back slack 
after an hour or more with what is, of course, the fish 
of the season, but I usually feel that it is kismet^ and 
recover my equanimity after a very brief interval of 

Another advantage I claim for fishing is that 
it can be, and is, pursued up to extreme old age. A 
few veterans like Horatio Ross have continued to 
go deer-stalking very late in life ; but I have myself 
known scores once devoted to that sport who have 


entirely given it up at a comparatively early period. 
There are not many in the sixties who can face all 
Aveathers, and crawl among the peat hags and through 
burns, regardless of possibilities of gout and rheu- 
matism, or press up the brae face without a good 
many sobs confessing their toil. An occasional day 
on the hill is enough for many for whom the brief 
season was all too short a few years ago ; but I hardly 
ever knew a true fisherman who did not become, if pos- 
sible, more devoted to his sport with advancing years. 
The skill and judgment which come with long practice 
and ripe experience make up for a considerable 
diminution of muscular activity and youthful energy. 
The three typical fishermen of my own acquaintance, 
whom I have celebrated in an earlier chapter, could 
still hold their own on Tweed and Ness with almost 
any competitors when the youngest of them was over 
seventy, and were never so happy as with a rod in 
their hands. Salmon have been caught from a 
pony's back or a bath chair ; but although I have 
read of a paralysed sportsman who succeeded in killing 
deer from a litter carried by two bearers, I have always 
thought it rather an example of cheerful perseverance 
under difficulties than actually representative of deer- 
stalking in any true sense of the word. 

But enough of argument, which, like Lochiel, I 


have rathur used as a means of urging the merits of 
one form of sport than with any hope of converting 
the devotees of others. There are so many enthu- 
siasts already competing for the Hmited amount of 
fishing still to be had for love, money, or trouble, that 
I have no desire to dragoon any reluctant sportsman 
into their ranks. Nor do I wish to depreciate the 
grand sport of deer-stalking, which fully deserves all 
the praise bestowed upon it. To be candid, what I 
really believe is that the great charm of sport is 
variety, and that the ideal place for an autumn 
holiday is one where hardly two consecutive days are 
spent alike, but where you can go from the river to 
the moor, from the moor to the forest, and from the 
forest to the yacht, deriving health, distraction, and 
recreation from each form of sport in turn. 




. , By Alex. Innes Shand 

The salmon is the king of fresh-water fishes, though 
it is run hard by its cousin the sea-trout. Nor are we 
concerned to settle, the question of precedence with 
the turbot, the prince of the pure fishes of the sea, 
which Brillat-Savarin has glorified in the memorable 
anecdote, when he cooked a monster in a washing- 
house boiler, to the delight of a select gathering of 
gourmets. It is true that Russians swear by the 
sterlet, a miniature edition of the mighty sturgeon, the 
piece de predilection of the Nijni Novgorod restaurants, 
when the commerce of the East gathers thither for the 
Fair. We remember how the magnificent Monte 
Cristo, with the somewhat vulgar ostentation of a 
nouveau riche, showed his guests the tanks in which 
his sterlets had travelled from the Volga to the Seine, 
at the famous banquet at Auteuil, which was the pre- 


lude to the tragedy of revenge. But the sterlet, 
though rich, is rare — a local delicacy limited to the 
affluents of the Caspian and Black Seas, and all the 
Westerns generally know of it is by the periodical 
remittances of caviare. As for the salmon, it is to be 
found in abundance wherever there are cold waters 
and cool climates. Indeed, it is almost as proUfic as 
the herring ; and though it does not swim about in 
shoals, it would multiply so as to become a nuisance 
were it not for the hosts of finned and feathered 
enemies that prey voraciously on the spawn and the 
smolts. As it is, in the lower waters of Alaskan rivers 
the banks are malarious through the short, hot summers, 
with the piles of decaying salmon cast up by the 
floods. Yet the Indians do their utmost to abate the 
plague by gorging on them when they come in fresh- 
run from the sea and half-starving, on them when 
smoked, through the long, dark winters. Canning 
factories on the shores of Alaska and Labrador give an 
air of busy industry to oases in that bleak desolation ; 
and through the provision merchants and co-operative 
stores, the salmon of the sub-Arctic floods is made as 
cheap and common as the board-like bacalao which 
taxes the dura ilia of the Portuguese. 

Yet, though we are glad to think that the salmon 
has become a luxury of the poor, he is likewise, and 


will always be, a delicacy of the rich. We are far from 
saying that size is in itself a recommendation. On 
the contrary, in our opinion, he is never in greater 
perfection than in 6 lb. or 8 lb. grilse. But when- 
ever a portentous fish comes to tow«, he not only 
figures on the slabs of some fashionable fishmonger, 
but is glorified in special paragraphs in the journals, 
as if he were some star of song or a Christianised 
heathen potentate. When the papers are chronicling 
the events of the past year, the monster salmon have 
their obituary memorials with statesmen and the 
distinguished lights of science. For the most part 
the mighty departed have been netted in Tweed or 
Tay ; and Scotland, the land of the mountain and the 
flood, is par excellence among European countries the 
home of the salmon. Indeed, Scotland would be the 
ideal Paradise of the fish were it not for the cruives, 
which blockade the upper waters and deny him fair 
play with the angling sportsman. Even the alderman 
and gourmand may sympathise with his wrongs, for 
the firmness and richness of the flaky flesh comes of 
constant exercise and hard condition. Naturally he is 
an athlete in highest training, and his vaulting ambi- 
tion might take Excelsior for its motto. The most 
affectionately domesticated of all living creatures, his 
marvellous instincts bring him ever back to his birth- 


place. Nothing short of sheer impossibility will bar 
the rush of his homely affections. Follow him in his 
progress up some rapid Scottish stream. He will wait 
in fretted impatience in some stagnant back-water till 
the sluices in the cruives are opened of a Sunday. 
Then unsabbatically he spends what should be the 
day of rest in super-salmonic efforts to make up for 
lost time. He splashes up shallows in sun or starlight, 
making the water fly behind him in silvery spray. He 
faces the foaming and flashing cascades ; and he 
climbs artificial ladders, let down to assist him, with 
the agility of a monkey. See him in low water below 
the half-submerged reef, locally known as the 'Salmon 
Leap.' He makes the effort to bound over again and 
again, bending himself together tail to head, like a bird 
shooting arrow-like upwards from the bow's elasticity. 
Of course, if the efforts are indefinitely baulked by 
protracted drought and the shrinking water, he falls 
back in the sulks, iosing heart and condition. Conse- 
quently he is only in prime order when he is coming 
in clean-run from the sea, or coasting the stake nets 
in his quest for the natal stream, when he is 
striving to rid himself of the parasitical sea lice which 
are the sure signs of his excellence. Later in the 
season, after idling away existence in pools that are 
prisons, with no serious pre-occupation but family 



cares, the silvery sea rover that shot up beneath the 
bridges at Perth or Berwick ; that faced the swift rush 
of the Spey or surmounted the raging cataracts of 
Findhorn, losing spirit, subsides into a moping kelt, 
with scales as ruddy as a fox's fur, and becomes alto- 
gether unfit for human food. 

England has good rivers as well as Scotland ; and 
Ireland would have another undeniable grievance if 
the salmon of the Erne, the Shannon, and the Black- 
water were ranked beneath the fish from the sister 
islands. There are connoisseurs and salesmen w^ho 
profess to discriminate ; but we greatly question a 
subtlety of palate which reminds one of the rival 
wine-tasters in ' Don Quixote.' We understand 
drawing the broad and easy distinctions between fish 
from the rapid rivers of the North and the clear waters 
of West Ireland, and those caught in the streams that 
meander through muddy lowlands. But we., doubt 
whether the finest expert can discriminate between 
the salmon of the Severn and that taken in the .Avon 
at Christchurch. The question is complicated by con- 
siderations of season, condition, packing, and keeping. 
AV.hat we do know is that in England, and even in the 
Tay and Tweed, industry and commercial activity have 
been injurious or fatal to salmon breeding for the 
table. The fish that clings to hereditary haunts must 


often pay the inevitable penalty. The pools he must 
pass above the harbour mouth have been converted 
by sewage and the shipping into cesspools. As he 
ascends, he swallows the diluted products of iron- 
works, dyeworks, paper mills, and pestilential alkali 
factories. In fact, when brought to bank by rod or 
net, he is an animated filter, having assimilated, 
thanks to a sound constitution, all manner of dele- 
terious abominations. Still, like a disreputable pro- 
digal,, he may keep up a decent appearance, and the 
wary buyer may be let in, unless he can trust his fish- 
monger ; but happily these medicated fish are much 
in the minority, so that there are long odds against 
blood-poisoning or unpleasant but less serious con- 

There is little to be said about foreign salmon, 
though not a few are imported from Holland, and 
many more from Sweden, Norway, and Russia. 
Scandinavian salmon run to a great size and are 
decidedly coarser than our own. The Rhine salmon 
are, or used to be, very good, but the Rhine has been 
foully polluted, like Thames or Tyne, with the indus- 
trial expansion of Imperial Germany. The pools 
below the romantic rocks of the legendary Lurlei 
used to yield 6,000 lb. a year to the fishermen of 
St. Goar and Goarhausen. Now, we believe, the annual 

o 2 


produce is barely a third of that. But the so-called 
Rhine salmon is greatly appreciated on the Continent ; 
the innumerable hotels keep up the price, and it 
commands nearly half-a-crown a pound. We confess 
to having very pleasant associations with it, enjoying 
it on each annual arrival on the Continent, looking out 
on the ' exulting and abounding river ' from a window 
in the old Englischer Hof or the Hotel de Hollande, 
before the great caravanserai of the Nord had en- 
gulphed the rush of English. We always associate it 
there with the apposite sauce Hollandaise^ and with 
that queer topaz- coloured vinegar in the cruets which 
seems to be a specialite of Germany. Though, by the 
way, unless the salmon were somewhat stale, it would 
be sacrilege to taint the silky sauce Hollandaise with 
vinegar. We have eaten salmon in Paris often 
enough, though never in perfection. Still, the accom- 
panying sauce verte at Ledoyen's in the Champs 
Elysees will always linger a haunting memory. 

But after all, as good wine needs no bush, so 
good salmon should be served sauceless, and only 
with the water in which it is boiled. The veritable 
sauce piquante is memory and association. The cut 
or cutlet sends you back on the old tracks of sport 
or touring. To the classic Tweed, from Clovenford, 
dear to the Ettrick Shepherd, down to the long bridge 


of Berwick, past Ashesliel and Abbotsford, Dry burgh 
and Melrose, with all the phantom forms fancy 
summons up, from Scott and Scrope down to Tom 
Purdie and Rob Kerse. On the Tay from Taymouth, 
where Eachin Maclan was inaugurated chief of the 
Clan Quhele, when, by the way, the Tay salmon 
figured in barbaric profusion, down to the Palace of 
Scone, and past Campsie Linn, where Lord Hunting- 
don wished himself back when sick of playing the 
courtier. To the Spey, that too often flows crystal- 
clear, though draining half the watershed of the 
Grampians, perpetually shifting pools and gravel- 
banks towards the estuary, or to the still swifter 
Findhorn with its heronry and single-arched bridges, 
a smaller but more unbridled torrent than the Loire, 
for its rushes after heavy rainfall would burst any 
barrier of cruives. Or to the Aberdeenshire Dee, with 
its gravelly bed, sweeping round, the royal residence 
of Balmoral, and beneath the clean-stemmed giants 
skirting the Forest of Ballochbuie. So we might 
follow the fancy to Ireland — to Gweedore, beneath 
the ghstening cone of Errigal and beyond the sugges- 
tively named Bloody Foreland ; to famed Ballyshannon 
on the beautiful Erne, where Lord Castlereagh was 
scared by the spectral apparition ; to Galway town, 
where the passing pedestrian sees the salmon jostling 


each other below the bridge ; to the Shannon at 
Castle Connel and Killaloe, the birthplace of Phineas 
Phinn : and by a coincidence Trollope's brilliant 
political parvenu bears the name of a celebrated 
Edinburgh rod-maker. Nor dare we go on to the 
Blackwater or cross over to the Severn, although the 
ingredients of that ' memory sauce ' are inexhaustible, 
and in them is a prononce flavour of the actual and 
prosaic. We recall the simple impromptu menu of 
many an unpretentious hostelry in the Highlands. 
Salmon, venison or grouse, cranberry tart with 'the 
rich plain cream,' so heartily appreciated by Dr. 
Redgill when he dined with the Nabob of St. 
Ronan's^ — all corrected by the Glenlivet or Tal- 
lisker, undiluted or in tumblers of steaming toddy. 
Also 'we have memory,' as M. Beaujeu of the 
Ordinary remarked to Lord Glenvarloch, of the crisp, 
crimped, curdy slices, which used to be a speciality 
of the breakfasts at Perth Railway Station before it 
became more bustling than Paddington or King's 
Cross, and when the morning express from the South 
steamed in about 8.30. We know not if we have ever 
enjoyed anything so much, save the matutinal cup 
of cafe au lait when the fast night train from Paris to 
Neuchatel pulled up on the heights of the Jura beyond 
Pontarlier. ... . . 


The salmon was an inestimable boon to the 
Church when pious monks with nothing particular to 
do had to reconcile religion with gourmandise. When 
their lines had fallen to them in the pleasantest 
places on Tay or Tweed, Severn or Thames, there 
was small hardship in supping ati inaigre when 
the salmon came swimming to their doors. The 
cloistered orders of the Midlands might mortify the 
flesh on the pike from their moats and the carp from 
their ponds, as the fathers of the Fenland fattened 
on their eels. But in all the riverain or seaward 
convents, the rights of net and coble were highly 
appreciated and rigidly maintained. We believe the 
Venerable Bede gave as little thought to his dinner 
as most people, yet perhaps he would never have 
accomplished his stupendous historical works had 
he not been nourished on the Tynemouth salmon. 
For the salmon is remarkable in this respect, that 
though full flavoured almost to excessive richness, 
the veritable devotee does not easily tire of it. 
With eels, for example, it is a different thing : we 
have sometimes been inclined to pity the priests of 
the Fens, nor have we ever envied the townsfolk of 
Biggleswade. W^e would say, ' Eels in moderation, but 
salmon a discretion^ and discretion with us runs into 
indiscretion. If any gourmand in fiction ever knew 


what was good, it was the kindly Abbot of Kennaqu- 
hair. He must have had salmon every day of his 
life when Tweed salmon was in season. Yet when 
he suddenly taxes the hospitality of Glendearg, the 
convent miller undertakes to send back to that tower 
in the wilderness a noble fish to furnish out Dame 
Elspeth's table. And look at the drawing in Scrope's 
' Days and Nights of Salmon-fishing,' by Charles 
Landseer, of ' The Pretty Kettle of Fish.' Doubtless 
it perpetuates time-honoured tradition. The portly 
priest, probably an abbot sitting in the House of 
Lords, stands with beaming smiles of sharp-set 
expectancy over the caldron, into which the fresh- 
caught salmon are being passed. Long use and an 
indolent life had never staled his appetite. To come 
down to a humbler degree, Scrope tells a capital 
story of a water-bailiff Vv^hose mouth watered for the 
forbidden delicacies he was paid to preserve. When 
dinner was served, his wife brought in a platter of 
potatoes and a napkin. The napkin was tied over 
\ his eyes. Then came the salmon, nor was the 
napkin taken off till all the debris was removed. 
It is a good story, and yet we doubt it. Try 
sipping Chateau Lafitte in the dark, or smoking 
the choicest puro of the A'uelta Abajo, and we fancy 
most men will say that they might as well have 


swallowed small beer, or been inhaling bird's-eye or 


But there is no doubt that Scott, the most 
trustworthy of social antiquaries, did perpetuate that 
tradition of the Tweed kettle. Next to the Abbots- 
ford Hunt, which one of the border farmers, wishing 
he might sleep on to the next anniversary, declared 
was the only thing in life worth living for, came what 
Lockhart describes as a solemn bout of salmon-fishing 
for the neighbouring gentry and their families. After 
the day's sport, ' the whole party assembled to regale 
on the newly caught prey, boiled, grilled, and roasted 
in every variety of preparation beneath a grand 
old ash.' Something of the sort was anticipated in 
the picturesque scene of the ' burning the water ' 
in 'Guy Mannering' when Dandie was doing the 
honours of Charlie's Hope to Captain Brown. ' The 
sportsmen returned laden with fish, upwards of one 
hundred salmon having been killed. The best were 
selected for the use of the principal farmers, the 
others divided among their shepherds, cottagers, 
dependants, and others of inferior rank. These fish, 
dried in the turf smoke of their cabins or shielings, 
formed a savoury addition to the mess of potatoes 
mixed with onions which were a principal part of 
their winter food.' 


That passage suggests the subject of kipper, a 
dehcacy by no means confined to the cotters or 
shepherds, thanks to a process by which the fish is 
conserved for use through the close season. In the 
introductory epistle to 'The Monastery,' where the 
honest landlord of the 'George' at Kennaquhair 
comes to wile Captain Clutterbuck out of his 
lodgings late at eve, to sup with the learned Benedic- 
tine, David dresses the hook with a lure he knows will 
take. ' That's right, Captain ; button weel up, the 
night's raw, but the water's clearing for a' that ; we'll 
be in't next night wi' my Lord's boats, and we'll hae 
ill luck if I dinna send you a kipper to relish your 
ale at e'en.' But there is kipper and kipper. The 
first thing is to select the best material, and then 
there are secrets in the scientific smoking and drying, 
only known to the elect. Morell's branch estab- 
lishment in Inverness used to be an intelligent and 
munificent patron of the local industry. But the 
most renowned artist in kippers was a hairdresser of 
1 Dingwall, whose wares always fetched the highest 
prices in every shooting-box and forest lodge between 
the Garve and Strome Ferry. 

We remarked that, rich as it is, and speaking per- 
sonally, salmon does not easily pall on one. But 
then with the palate, as in graver matters, free will 


acts very differently from the sense of constraint. 
Ramsay of Ochtertyre, who left interesting social 
memoirs, says that a hundred years ago Scottish 
servants on the banks of sabnreich rivers invariably 
stipulated that they should not be compelled to 
dine on the fish more than thrice in the week. An 
early traveller who visited the North in the middle of 
the seventeenth century tells precisely the same story. 
Richard Frank writes that 'the Firth of Forth 
relieves the country with her plenty of salmon, where 
the burgomasters (as in many other parts of Scotland) 
are compelled to enforce an ancient statute that 
compels all masters not to force any servant or 
apprentice to feed upon salmon more than thrice in 
the week.' The salmon swarmed. The adventurous 
travellers who had preceded Franck tell similar tales. 
Don Pedro de Ayala, who got as far as the Beauly 
and Spey in 1498, says it is impossible to describe 
the immense quantity of fish, which sufficed for 
Flanders, France, Italy, and England. He adds 
when he had gone back to Dunbar, that nothing 
was scarce in the kingdom save money, but that 
the salmon was specially abundant. So says Fynes 
Morrison, when he entered Scotland at Berwick in 
1598. So said Taylor, the water poet, who put up 
at the border city just twenty years later, when 


Starting to seek hospitality and tips among his 
generous Scottish patrons. Moreover, he mentions 
that the municipaUty had great difficulty in enforcing 
Sabbath observance, and preventing the townsfolk 
from fishing for the pot or gridiron on the holy day. 
Brereton, who followed closely upon Taylor's heels, 
neard of miraculous draughts at a single haul — of as 
many salmon as there were days in the year ; and, by 
the way, Brereton must have travelled economically 
enough, for at the ' Crown ' he had ' great entertain- 
ment and good lodging, with a respective host,' for 
eightpence a day. AVell might Evan dhu Macombich 
declare to Waverley that no Highlander thought 
shame to take a deer from the hill or a salmon from 
the stream. The most arbitrary chief never dreamed 
of taking action against poachers when there were 
more than enough for all. It seems odd that Scott 
does not mention salmon at the great banquet of 
Glennaquoich ; but we know that Simon Fraser, of 
Lovat, when he kept open house for his clan at 
Beaufort, relied greatly upon the fish swimming 
beneath his fall, where they are said, when they 
failed of the leap, to have dropped back into suspended 
caldrons. And in England the importance of the 
salmon was recognised when the peasants, who did 
not follow their lords to the field, lived in chronic 


semi-Starvation, when agriculture and pasturing were 
in their infancy. When the cruel Norman forest 
laws were enforced by the Angevin kings, and before 
the Barons had compelled John to set his hand to 
the Great Charter, the common law prohibited the 
monopoly of salmon fishings by the Crown or its 
grantees, and ordered the suppression of all weirs or 
obstructions. Now, perhaps the nearest locality 
where salmon are to be taken in profusion is Iceland. 
There the natives hunt them towards the nets or 
traps as if they were driving a cover for hares and 
pheasants, and you may see some half-hundred fine 
fish taken out of a box— the produce of the single 
twenty-four hours. 

The most distinguished southern anglers who 
have visited Scotland in modern days were Scrope\ 
and Sir Humphry Davy. Both were famifiar friends \ 
of Scott, and frequent guests at Abbotsford, and 
both have been immortalised in the biography. Sir 
Humphry, in his old hat, festooned with casting lines, 
was a conspicuous figure at the morning meet on the 
lawn, which, Lockhart said, should have been painted 
by Wilkie. Sir Humphry's 'Salmonia' was sharply 
criticised by Wilson in an essay— perhaps for the reason 
that two of a trade can never agree. Yet the personal 
fishing feats of the Professor should have made him 


superior to jealousy. Possibly the contempt of the 
President of the ' Noctes ' was provoked by the 
chemist's narrow-minded ideas on dinners and drink. 
Rather the drink than the dinners, for Sir Humphry 
appreciated a noble grilse, and scientifically super- 
vised the preparation. He gives excellent instructions 
for crimping. After landing his fish, he directs 
Poietes, whose wits were apt to go a-woolgathering : 
' Give him a transverse cut just below the gills, and 
crimp him by cutting to the bone on each side, so as 
almost to divide him into slices ; and now hold him 
by the tail that he may bleed. There is a small 
spring, I see, which I daresay has the mean tempera- 
ture of the atmosphere in this climate, and is much 
under 60 degrees — place him there and let him 
remain for ten minutes, and then carry him to the 
pot, and let the water and salt boil furiously before 
you put in a slice, and give time to the water to 
recover its heat before you throw in another, and so 
on with the whole fish, and throw in che thickest pieces 
first.' We have often practised similar methods in 
less philosophical fashion, sending the last grilse of 
the day up to the lodge by a swift-footed gillie to be 
crimped in the kitchen, for a brief delay makes but 
slight difference, and it is wise not to trench on the 
province of the hot-tempered cook. But if Sir 


Humphry's science made him an intelHgent gourmet^ 
his views on the Hquor question were sadly heterodox. 
The party of Southerners had gone through a day 
of tremendous exertion in the bracing air of Loch 
Maree. Honest Ornither, satiated with the salmon 
and having neglected to correct it with a quaich of 
mountain dew, moves for another bottle of claret, 
modestly remarking that a pint a man is not too much. 
Whereupon Halieus is down on him like a hammer. 
'You have made me president, and I forbid it. K 
half-pint of wine for young men in perfect health is 
enough.' The force of asceticism could hardly have 
gone farther, in such seducing circumstances. A well- 
spent day, bodies slightly fagged, sociable company, 
and a long evening to kill. So might St. Simeon 
Stylites have spoken had he stepped down from his 
column to take a day's fishing in the Nile and then 
invited some clerical friends to a frugal supper. 

Naturally Wilson's gorge was roused by the pas- 
sage. The convives of the imaginary revels at 
Ambrose's might have pledged each other in Odin's 
bottomless horn, and the salmon at their feasts was 
always, in the words of Morris's drinking song, ' a 
reason fair ' for a caulker. The Shepherd once de- 
clared that, though men of good and even great appe- 
tites, they were neither gluttons nor wine-bibbers, 


which illustrates the wide diversity of opinion and 
the marvellous elasticity of the conscience. They 
were no gluttons ; but apropos to salmon, here is the 
poet's notion of an insufficient supper. 'Ye dinna 
mean to sa}^, Mr. Aumrose, that that's a' ? Only the 
roun, the cut o' saumon, beefsteaks and twa broods o' 
eisters ! This 'ill never do, Aumrose. Remember 
there's a couple o' us, and that a sooper that may be 
no' amiss for one may be little better than starvation 
to twa.' The Homeric feasting in Gabriel's Road 
was play of the fancy, though there was a fair foun- 
dation for the romantic superstructures. Neither 
Christopher nor the Shepherd could say with the 
town clerk in 'The Antiquary,' that they were nae 
glass-breakers, and both Wilson and Hogg played a 
capital knife and fork. But for actual and authentic 
performances we should be incUned to back the 
annual salmon dinners which used to celebrate — as 
probably they do still — the opening of the fishing 
season in some of the Scotch boroughs. When a 
party of the town bailies, with their chosen friends, 
sit down to solid eating and steady drinking, it was hard 
indeed to beat them. We have seen slice upon slice 
I vanishing like snow-flakes, and cutlet fast following 
cutlet, like the cut and carve again at a round of beef 
set down before a famishing beggar. The steaks, hot 


and hot, dear to the gormandising of the Beef Steak 
Club, are undeniably solid, but the devotees of the 
salmon, like the Solan geese of the Bass and Ailsa, 
have unlimited and well-founded faith in the facility 
of digestion. They aver, and we have seen no reason 
to doubt it, that the secret of sound slumbers after 
a Gargantuan repast is the absorption of a super- 
sufficiency of strong whisky toddy. 

Thanks to the habits of the salmon, some of our 
rivers are opened so early that the Metropolitan 
market is supplied for the best part of the year. 
We believe fishing in the Ness begins in December ; 
in the Severn in the previous month, and towards 
April all the streams are in full swing. Scotch 
servants and apprentices have no longer to complain 
of being sated with a luxury they seldom taste. 
Swift trains, with admirable arrangements for icing 
and packing, have brought even the remote Brora 
and the Laxford into speedy communication with 
Leadenhall. Prices are regulated by the supply, and 
to some extent by the rise or fall of the thermometer, 
but in the beginning of the salmon season and of 
the London season they are always high. For no 
London dinner menu is deemed complete without 
salmon in one shape or another, till at last the in- 
evitable appearance is expected like that of turkey on 



Christmas day or pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. And 
the sahiion has one special recommendation, not 
only for the lessees of net fishings, but for the 
epicures who regale on him. It is true that to be 
eaten in perfection he should be freshly caught, 
crimped and cooked. But for the many who must 
miss that blissful moment, he rather improves with 
a brief delay, unlike the sea fish, who can only have 
full justice done them on the day and at the hour 
when the boats come in. We do not pretend to 
explain the matter philosophically, but Sir Humphry, 
speaking as Halieus, concludes 'that the fat of 
salmon between the flakes is mixed with much 
albumen of gelatine, and extremely liable to decom- 
pose/ that by keeping it cool decomposition is re- 
tarded, and that by the application of boiling salt and 
water at a high heat, the albumen again coagulates, 
and the preserved curdiness comes out. 

We may be sure that the cooking in semi-barbaric 
days was by the boiling or the broiling, and it is 
impossible really to improve on those simple methods. 
It is noteworthy that the earliest recipe we have 
happened upon, which is in the 'Noble Book of 
Cookery,' of the sixteenth century, goes as far towards 
spoiling the noble fish as perverted ingenuity could 
devise. The hot spicing and general bedevilling would 


have done injustice to pike or tench. ' To mak 
samon rost in sauce '— ' Tak a samon and cutt him in 
round (?) peces and rost him on a gredirne, and tak 
wyn and pouder of canelle and draw them through a 
stren, and mynce onyans smalle, and do ther to boilen, 
then ther tak vergices pouder of peper and guinger 
and salt and do ther to the samon in a difshe and 
pour on the ceripe and service it.' After that aggrava- 
tion of the temper, it is refreshing to turn to the 
modern precepts for boiling. There is no great 
divergence on the subject, but Megg Dodds, as 
an enlightened Scotchwoman, is as safe an authority 
as any. 

'Scale or clean the fish without unnecessary 
washing or handling, and without cutting it too much 
open. Have a roomy and well-scoured fish kettle, and 
if the salmon be large or thick, when you have placed 
it on the strainer or in the kettle, fill up and amply 
cover it with cold spring water that it may heat 
gradually. Throw in a handful of salt. If a jowl or \ 
quarter is boiled, it may be put in with warm water. 
In both cases take off the scum carefully and let the 
fish boil slowly, allowing twelve minutes to the 
pound. The minute the boiling of any fish is 
completed, the fish strainer must be lifted and laid 
across the pan to drain the fish. Throw a soft cloth 


or flannel in several folds over it. Dish on a hot 
fish plate under a napkin.' Mrs. Dodds remarks, 
that it is difficult to estimate the boiling time, 
nor can anything but sage experience be trusted. 
Twelve minutes to the pound is a rough calculation. 
Cre-fydd professes to be more exact. She says, 'A 
slice weigliing one pound will require a quarter of 
an hour ; two pounds, twenty-three minutes, five 
pounds for a very large thick fish, thirty minutes ; 
the same weight for a small fish twenty-five minutes ; 
four pounds of a spHt fish twenty minutes ; a whole 
fish weighing seven to eight pounds, thirty minutes.' 
These rules, on the other hand, are rather arbitrary, 
and as Mrs, Dodds observes, it is experience that 
does it. And when the salmon is sent up, the carving 
must be carefully attended to, the thin slices which 
have the more delicate lusciousness being duly ap- 
portioned to the thicker. Lemons or thinly sliced 
cucumbers may be the accompaniments ; personally, 
we prefer to dispense with them. As we have said, 
with a fresh-killed salmon it is sacrilege to serve any- 
thing but the salted water in which it was boiled, 
with perhaps a faint addition of Chili, enough to 
elicit without deadening the characteristic flavour. 
Christopher North never scandalised us more, though 
the recent ' Annals of the Blackwoods ' show the 


culpable recklessness of his criticism, than when he 
called on the waiter for the cruets, the mustard, etc., 
when sitting down to a noble Tay salmon. But 
when the fish has lost something even of its second 
day freshness, we are open to consolation, for it gives 
a chance to the sauce Hollandaise or the Tartare. 
With salmon cold, whether plain or dressed, the 
Tartare comes naturally, and indeed it may be 
almost identified with the sauce Mayonnaise. 

' Broiling is best,' sings Southey in a Pindaric Ode, 
when beef and mutton were looming in the poetic eye. 
If he had been singing of the salmon, a good many 
connoisseurs would have been inclined to agree with 
him. Partly, perhaps, because after coming home 
from a long day's sport, or when kindling a camp 
fire at the bivouac in the sheltered open, the salmon 
sliced and broiled is most quickly served with the 
sauce piquante of ravenous appetite. Mrs. Dodds 
asserts that fresh salmon grilled is ' the way in which 
the solitary epicure best relishes this luxury.' 'Split 
the salmon and take out the bones ' — they may be 
subsequently devilled — 'cut fillets of from three to 
four inches in breadth ' — too thick, we think — ' dry 
them in the folds of a cloth, but do not beat or press 
them. Have a clean fire and a bright, barred 
gridiron, rubbed with chalk to prevent the fish from 


Sticking; turn with steak-tongs, and serve piping 

Mrs. Margaret Sims, in her clever ' Cookery Book,' 
agrees with us as to the thickness. She suggests 
cutting the sahnon in sHces of an inch, rubbing them 
with salad oil or fresh butter — so that the chalk may 
be dispensed with— and basting frequently with the 
butter or oil. As for the thinner slicing, it recom- 
mends itself to common sense, for the object is to 
cook thoroughly yet quickly. 

We can have no great opinion of baked salmon, 
though we must confess we never tried it. It is 
baked in a deep pan with abundance of butter. But 
as it is to be seasoned with sauce or other spices, it 
resembles the counsels of adulterating imperfection in 
the ' Noble Book,* and suggests that the relics of some 
former meal have got beyond a creditable resurrection. 

Braising is a more pleasing alternative, for it 
gives opportunity for artistic seasoning. This is Cre- 
fydd's recipe : ' Spread some strong white paper 
thickly with butter : wipe the salmon dry and fold it 
in the paper : place it in a drainer over the warm 
water and steam for three-quarters of an hour. Take 
off the paper, put the fish in a hot dish, and pour the 
following sauce over it : mix half a pint of stock, a 
table spoonful of capers, a dessert spoonful of soy ' — 


we should have fancied the sickening soy was a 
thing of the past, did it not appear still in the 
quadrangular cruets of certain old-fashioned clubs 
— 'a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce, a teaspoonful of 
fresh-made mustard, and half a grain of cayenne. 
Boil ten minutes. Knead together three ounces of 
butter and a tablespoonful of baked flour, and stir in 
for eight minutes. Add the strained juice of a lemon 
and a wineglassful of Marsala or Madeira.' 

We like Cre fydd's confident affectation of pre- 
cision, as exemplified in her instructions for boiling 
and in these eight minutes for stirring the sauce. 
Nevertheless, we daresay if she stirred for ten the 
sauce would not perceptibly suffer. And as she has 
made her mixture somewhat strong, she may be 
justified in adding the Marsala or Madeira. But we 
take the opportunity of hinting that in 7iostro arbitrio^ 
in the words of the Antiquary, the wine to drink with 
salmon is sound Rhenish, though champagne will 
always serve at a pinch. Y.\^\\ in Rhineland — and 
•setting questions of cost aside — we have no great 
faith in Johannisberg beyond the Metternich cellars. 
But Rudesheimer Berg, Rauenthaler, and the Lieb- 
fraumilch of Worms are all passable second growths, 
and will do well enough. 

Fillets are dressed in various ways. To a 


rindten?te, as in curry, there is, of course, the objec- 
tion that the tropical heat of the ingredients burns 
the edge off the flavour, yet somehow the essential 
essences struggle through ; they do not when the 
fish is smothered in mace and other spices. ' Cut 
the fish into neat squares, about a quarter of an inch 
thick : dip in beaten eggs and roll in bread crumbs : 
fry to a light brown in lard, previously made very hot 
for the purpose, and then serve up with Indian sauce, 
sprinkhng the fillets with shred green gherkins.' The 
Indian dressing is made of half a pint of tomato- 
sauce, a dessert spoonful of curry paste, with a little 
anchovy. The Dutch sauce is simple : ' Make 
some butter sauce rather thin : stir in the yolk of an 
egg, lemon juice, pepper and salt : add a little 
cream : beat all together with a whisk and heat.' It 
must not be boiled after the egg is added, as in that 
case it would curdle. 

This is a good direction for Mayonnaise sauce. 
' Boil five eggs for twelve minutes, and when cold 
pound the yolks to powder. Mix a saltspoonful of 
salt, a teaspoonful of flour of mustard, and a quarter 
of a grain of cayenne, beat the yolks of two fresh eggs 
and stir in till smooth, then add, drop by drop, seven 
spoonfuls of the finest salad oil, three teaspoonful s 
of Tarragon vinegar, and three table spoonfuls of 


French vinegar, set the mortar in a cold place or on 
ice for an hour, then stir in a teaspoonful of finely 
chopped chives or shalot.' 

Mayonnaise and other artistic arrangements of 
cold salmon are of course in favour for ball suppers, 
the wedding breakfasts which are going out of 
fashion, and other festivities of the kind. For some 
of these //^/i" de luxe we may turn to Urban Dubois, 
who supervised for many years the Court banquets at 
Berlin. Always an enthusiast in his art, he rises to 
raptures over the salmon. 'Among the most dis- 
tinguished and delicious fishes, the salmon is one 
possessing the most appreciable qualities. From a 
gastronomic point of view the salmon is a real 
treasure, being always exquisite, whether fried, 
smoked, or salted. In whatever way it is dressed, it 
will always be tempting.' He adds that in the 
benighted south of Europe, from Marseilles to Con- 
stantinople, he never saw a fresh salmon in the 
market, and says that the salmon most esteemed by 
epicures are unquestionably those of Scotland and the 
Rhine. He pronounces boiling in a court-bouillon 
the most fitting mode of cooking, though in that case 
it is to be eaten hot as may be. Briefly, the fish is 
boiled in slices as we have described, and then 
pieced together in the original form. It is to be 


garnished with gratinated lobster-shells and sprigs of 
parsley, and served with sauce Espagnok, flavoured 
with lemon. We need hardly add that in that dish 
of high ceremony, essentials must be somewhat 
sacrificed to appearances. Indeed M. Dubois assents 
to that when writing of ' slices of salmon with jelly.' 
He says, ' It is not generally the custom to serve 
salmon in slices on a ball buffet, but experience has 
taught that it is a good plan.' He goes on, ' I have 
endeavoured to serve the salmon in slices, without 
the least detracting from its pleasing appearance.' 
This is his recipe for salmon sliced a la Royale^ and 
he remarks that the piece, simple and easy of execu- 
tion, is not without its attractions as a variation from 
the usual masses of fish. 

' Two thick slices must be cut from the broadest 
part of a large salmon, placed in the drainer of a fish 
kettle, just covered wdth a good cold court-bouillon 
with wine, in order to cook them according to the 
method applied to salmon, that is to say, at the first 
boiling of the liquid the kettle is removed to the side 
of the fire, to be kept there for twenty-five or thirty 
minutes. When the slices are well-drained and have 
become cold, the skin is taken off, then dished on a 
pain-vert of a long shape, masked on the top with white 
paper, and then fixed on a dish. They are then en- 


tirely masked with Parisian butter, very slightly coloured 
with green or red, either with spinach green or cray- 
fish butter.' 

When the slices are placed on the pain-vert they 
are decorated with Mayonnaise or with frothy butter 
squeezed through a cornet, and with fillets of anchovy, 
gherkins, and chervil leaves. Then the plat is 
surrounded with halves of hard-boiled eggs, bedecked 
with crayfish, skewered and grouped, according to 
the artist's fancy, and sent up with Mayonnaise. 

Middle-piece {tronfon) of salmon a la Parisienne 
is a pleasing variation. The centre piece is cut out, 
boiled, cooled and carefully drained. Then it is 
trimmed and 'set on a plateau historie,' and 
masked with the butter a la Parisienne. For the 
butter : ' Six yolks of eggs are put in a stewpan, 
mixed with a table spoonful of flour, and a piece of 
crayfish butter — then the whole is dissolved with a 
gill of fresh mushroom liquor. When on' the fire it 
is stirred like cream, and when it has got some con- 
sistence it is removed and passed through a sieve. 
Should it happen not to be quite smooth when cold, 
then a pound of butter in little bits is introduced. 
The preparation must be well worked till it is light, 
then finished with a few spoonfuls of mustard and 
as many of essence of anchovies.' The piece is 


garnished with salad, and the sides are decorated 
with bottoms of artichokes filled with vegetables. It 
is decorated with skewers of truffles and prawns, and 
sauce Mayon7iaise may be sent up as well. 

To come down from the heights of ostentatious 
luxury to frugal housekeeping, there are many 
ways of using up salmon for a second dressing. It 
may be done in potato paste, with salt, cayenne, 
white pepper and three table spoonfuls of shrimp 
sauce or melted butter. It may be made into a 
pudding. ' Boil three ounces of bread crumbs in a 
third of a pint of milk till it becomes smooth, and 
turn out to cool. Beat as many ounces of fresh 
butter to a cream, pound half-a-pound of boiled 
salmon to paste ; beat the yolks of four, and the 
whites of two, eggs for ten minutes. Mix well 
together. Add a clove of garlic, a salt-spoonful of 
salt, a salt-spoonful of anchovy sauce, half a salt- 
spoonful of white pepper, and half a grain of cayenne. 
Pound till the seasoning is well mixed ; roll into 
lobster shape, dredge with baked flour, and wrap in 
foolscap paper, spread with butter. Roll in a cloth, 
and place it in a steamer over fast boiling water for 
thirty-five minutes. Turn it out and serve with 

Or you may souse the salmon in half a pint of 


vinegar, with salt, pepper, cayenne, peppercorns, clove, 
mace, and a shred or two of garlic. Boil for ten 
minutes, then let it cool. Strain the vinegar on it, 
leave it in pickle for twelve hours, and serve with 
fresh fennel. For salmon au gratin, put the cold 
pieces in a flat dish, season with salt and pepper, 
and a little ketchup : sprinkle with grated Parmesan. 
Take a frying pan, put it on a slow fire ; put a small 
piece of butter into it, with fine bread crumbs ; make 
them a light brown ; pour a little butter sauce over 
the fish and cheese, and sprinkle bread crumbs over 
them. Put it into the oven to heat, and brown with 
a red-hot salamander. For kedgeree, boil half a 
pound of rice : dry before the fire : boil two eggs for 
ten minutes, peel and mince them. Heat a stewpan : 
with a piece of butter put in the salmon, then the 
rice and eggs. Season with salt and pepper : mix 
lightly with a fork, and serve as hot as possible. 
Tinned salmon comes in usefully for cakes. Mayon- 
naise^ curries, or kedgeree. And finally we may say a 
good word for the lax, a Norwegian variation of Scotch 
kipper, sent over in oil and hermetically sealed tins. 
With slices of toast split and frizzled before a slow 
fire, it makes a capital addition to a light luncheon. 




V ; By Claud Douglas Pennant 

Since the days when Sir John Hawkins, Knight, 
wrote his 'short discourse touching the laws of 
angling by way of Postscript ' to Walton's ' Compleat 
Angler,' many changes have taken place. In com- 
piling a statement of the law as to the salmon, as it 
at present stands, the chief difficulty of the writer has 
been to compress within the space at his disposal all 
that might be said upon so wide a subject, and at the 
same time to render such statement clear and com- 
prehensive — at best it can only be instructive : to 
make it light or even interesting reading is beyond 
his hope or power. This difficulty is due to the fact 
that the law varies in England (which country will be 
taken in this chapter to include Wales), in Scotland, 
and in Ireland, not to mention the districts of the 
Tweed and Solway ; and although the poHcy of the 
legislature, in recent times at any rate, has been to as- 
similate the various systems, wide differences still exist. 


The treatment of the matter naturally falls under 
two heads. 

I. The right to fish fo7' salmon : in whom it vests 
and upon what it rests. 

-II. The legislation in favour of the salmon. 

I. The right to fish for salmon is vested through- 
out the United Kingdom in the Crown or in subjects 
who have acquired that right from the Crown. In 
England and Ireland the Crown holds the right, 
where it has retained it, on behalf of the public. In 
Scotland the Crown holds it for its own benefit and as 
a source of revenue. Thus we have in England and 
Ireland a division of the right to fish for salmon into 
a public and private right. 

In those countries there is in ancient navigable 
rivers as far as the tide ebbs and flows, in estuaries 
and on the sea-coast, 2, prima facie public right to fish 
for salmon. This right may, however, be overridden 
by the existence of some private right which an 
individual may enjoy by virtue of grant or charter 
from the Crown or by immemorial usage ; the onus 
lying on the individual claiming such right to prove 
its existence. In rivers made navigable by statute, 
the public have no such right, nor have they in 
ancient navigable rivers above where the tide ebbs 
and flows, although this latter point has only been 


decided in recent years. Nor, again, can the public 
acquire such right by user during any length of time. 

There is a prima facie private right to fish for 
salmon in all waters where no public right exists. 
Many distinctions have been drawn in English law 
between the different kinds of private rights of 
fishing, and much confusion has been caused thereby 
in the past ; but the better and more recent opinion 
as expressed by Willes J. in the case of Malcolmson 
V. O'Dea, lo H. L. C. 593, seems to be that for 
practical purposes there are only two kinds of 
private rights to be distinguished, viz. (i) a Several, 
(2) a Common of Fishery, and of these the former is 
by far the more important. 

A Several Fishery is an exclusive individual right 
of fishing prifnd fade existing (a) in all non-navigable 
rivers, (i^) in all non-navigable rivers above the tide- 
way, and (c) in rivers made navigable by statute. It 
may exist in navigable rivers below the tide-way, in 
the sea and in estuaries under a grant or charter, 
actual or presumptive, from the Crown made before 
Magna Charta. A grant, however, which has been 
created before that time, and has been resumed by 
the Crown for forfeiture or otherwise, can be re- 
granted by the Crown ; and a grant subsequent to 
Magna Charta, coupled with proof of long enjoyment, 


is good evidence to prove that the Crown was en- 
titled to make such grant to confirm a several fishery 
which existed before the time of legal memory. If 
the right to a several fishery is once proved, no act on 
the part of the public can divest the owner of that right 
or transfer it to the public. The right may be shortly 
described as riparian, since it attaches to the owners of 
the soil adjoining the river on either bank, or to persons 
deriving their title from such owners. Where the oppo- 
site banks are in different ownership, the right extends 
' ad medium fihun^^ i.e. to a line drawn over the centre of 
the main channel of the river. This right, as has been 
said, attaches to the soil, and so, should the river 
change its course, the owner of a several fishery in 
the old channel cannot claim a right in the new 
channel, if it has left his lands. With regard to the 
right extending only '■ad medium filu7n^' an obvious 
difficulty suggests itself, in cases where the water is at 
all narrow and the catch is in a single channel, which 
renders it impossible effectively to fish with rod or 
net without passing the line in mid-stream. In strict 
law, to do so is an encroachment \ but, as a matter of 
custom, this difficulty is adjusted in practice by 
arrangement between the adverse owners. 

In England a several fishery can be granted or 
leased only by deed, in order to be effective. This 


was formerly the case in Ireland ; but, since the 
passing of the Landlord and Tenant Amendment 
Act of i860, a fishery can be let by mere word of 
mouth for a year or from year to year, and for a 
longer period, by a note in writing without seal. 

A grant of a fishery is priina. facie a grant of a 
several fishery, and an action for trespass will He for 
entering the same. 

II. A Common of Fishery is like other rights of 
common, e.g. of pasture belonging to tenants of a 
particular manor, and can only exist in waters within 
the manor. It can only be transferred by deed. 

With regard to Scotland, the different position 
in which the Crown stands towards the public has 
already been noticed. All salmon-fishings in Scot- 
land, whether in rivers, estuaries, or in the sea, in so 
far as fishing is carried on there in connection with 
the land, were of original right vested in the Crown, 
and, where not granted iiway, are under the manage- 
ment of the Commissioners ^f Woods and Forests. 
No grant has ever been made to confer upon the 
public of any locality a right of salmon-fishing, 
though doubtless in many places the public have ' 
enjoyed such right as a privilege \ nor will the duration 
of such enjoyment for any length of time confer upon 
them such right as against the Crown. 


The rights of salmon-fishing which the Crown has 
granted away to individuals are separate heritable 
estates, distinct from the ownership of the adjoining 
lands, and vested in individuals by express grant in 
terms of ' salmon-fishing ' {cum piscatione salmonum) — 
although, if the words cum piscatione alone are found 
in the grant, a long practice and enjoyment of salmon- 
fishing may extend them to imply a grant of ' salmon ' 
fishing. The vievr once held, that a right to ' angle ' 
for salmon accompanied the ownership of the soil in 
Scotland, despite a grant of salmon-fishing to another, 
has, since the case of Anderson i'. Anderson, decided 
in 1867, perhaps unfortunately been rejected, and so 
it happens that while one individual owns the adjoin- 
ing lands, another sometimes has the right of fishing 
in the river. 


The Salmon Fishery Acts 

From very early times salmon have been protected 
by various Acts of Parliament, both general and local, 
throughout the United Kingdom. It is not, however, 
until the present century that we find the subject 
generally treated in a practical manner, and attempts 
made to check the abuses then existing. We may 
take as the foundations of our modern salmon-fishery 



laws, the Acts of 1861 for England, 1862 for Scot- 
land, 1842 for Ireland, and 1857 for the Tweed, 
which last river has always been the subject of inde- 
pendent legislation. From those times onwards, the 
legislature has endeavoured to promote the welfare of 
the salmon through the various enactments passed, by — 

1. Affording him a free and unpolluted course 
from the sea to the spawning grounds ; 

2. Putting a check on the rapacity of individual 
proprietors and illegal capture. 

The course pursued to attain these ends has been 
practically the same in all the countries mentioned. 
Below we have appended a table ' of the more 

1 England 


24, 25 V. c. 96, ss. 24, 26. 



24, 25 V. c. 97, ss. 32, 57-78. 

Malicious injuries 


24, 25 V. c. 109 



26, 27 V. c. 10 . 

Salmon, export. 


28, 29 V. c. 121 



33, 34 V. c. 33 . 



36, 37 V. c. 71 . 



40, 41 V. c. 65 . 



41, 42 V. . 



49, 50 V. c. 39 . 



55, 56 V. c. 50 . 




9 Geo. IV. c. 39 



8, 9 V. c. 95 . 

Salmon. . . 


25, 26 V. c. 97 . 



26, 27 V. c. 50 . 



27, 28 V. c. 118 




important Acts of Parliament, passed during the pre- 
sent century, which affect the question. It would be 
Scotland {contiiitted) 


28, 29 V. C. 121, 363 


Salmon, Esk. 


31, 32 V. c. 123 



33. 34 V. c. 33 . 



36, 37 V. c. 71, s. 12 



40, 41 V. c. 6s . 



41, 42 V 



45, 46 V. c. 78 . 

Fishery Board. 


48, 49 V. c. 6, s. 5 . 

Secretary for Scot- 


50, 51 V. c. 52 . 


Secretary for Scot- 


5, 6 V. c. 106 . 



7, 8 V. c. 108 . . . - 



8, 9 V. c. 108 . 



9, 10 V. c. 86, ss. 3, 4 

Public works. 


II, 12 V. c. 92 . 



13, 14 V. c. 88 . 



24, 25 V. c. 96, ss. 24, 26 . 



24, 25 V. c. 97, ss. 32, 57-78 

Malicious injuries. 


26, 27 V. c. 10 . 

Salmon, export. 


26, 27 V. c. 114 



32, 33 V. c. 9 . 



32, 33 V. c. 9 . 



32, 33 V. c. 92 . 



33, 34 V. c. 33 . 



40, 41 V. c. 68 . 



58, 59 V. c. 29 . 


Tweed 1857. 20, 21 V. c. 


1859. 22, 23 V. c. 


Solway 1804. 44 Geo. IIL 

c. 45. 

1877. 40, 41 V. c. 


Annan 1841. 4 \ 

\ c. 18. 


impossible, within the limits of this chapter, to inquire 
at any length into the reason for this mass of legisla- 
tion upon this one particular subject. Briefly stated, 
it was the decline of the salmon fisheries throughout 
the United Kingdom, due to the increase of pollu- 
tions and obstructions such as weirs, mill-dams, 
or nets ; the abstraction of water for waterworks, 
factories, and other purposes ; and the inefficiency 
and evasion of the laws then in force. The increase 
of rod and line fishing for salmon as a sport during 
the present century may also have directed attention 
to the subject, and been the cause of a good deal ■ of 
legislation which would not otherwise have been 
passed had the sport not attained to that prominent 
position which it now holds. 

The Act of 1 86 1 in England, founded upon the 
report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into 
the salmon fisheries of England and Wales in i860, 
repealed, in whole or in part, thirty-three Acts of 
Parliament then in force, and placed the superinten- 
dence of the salmon fisheries in those countries under 
the Home Office, with power to appoint two inspec- 
tors for a period of three years. This superintendence 
is now transferred to the department of the Board of 
Trade, in accordance with the report of the select 
committee of the House of Commons appointed in 


1870 to inquire into the subject. The Board of 
Trade now exercises all the powers conferred by the 
Salmon Fishery Acts upon the Home Office, and 
the appointment of inspectors has been continued 
from time to time by various Acts of Parliament. 

By the Act of 1861, certain modes of taking fish 
were prohibited, and the minimum size of the mesh 
of nets to be legally used was fixed at two inches 
from knot to knot, or eight inches measured all 
round, when wet. Fixed engines were prohibited, 
close seasons established, fish passes were ordered to 
be erected in obstructions, and free gaps in certain 
instances made. 

Two years later the Act of 1863 made the export 
of salmon illegal from any part of the United King- 
dom if caught during close time in any district. 

The year 1865 saw some very important changes 
in the law, not the least of which was the forma- 
tion of fishery districts and boards of conservators 
for the protection of the fish. These matters 
were further dealt with by the Act of 1873, ^^^<^ the 
present state of the law with regard to them is as 
follows : — 

The county council of any county can apply to 
the Board of Trade to form into a fishery district or 
districts all or any of the salmon rivers lying wholly 

•32 y'HR SALMON 

or partly within the county, and the Board of Trade 
may include in any district so formed any river or 
rivers or parts thereof, although not situated in the 
county on behalf of which the application is made. 
The limits of a river are to be defined and a fishery 
district formed by a certificate from the Board of 
Trade, and such district may be altered by the Board 
of Trade upon the application of the conservators. 
Where a fishery district lies wholly within any one 
county, the county council elect certain of their 
number to act as members of the Board of Conserva- 
tors for that district : in addition to these there are 
two classes of conservators, (i) ex officio^ (2) represen- 

1. Everyone comes within the first class who is the 
owner or occupier of a fishery in the district which is 
assessed to the poor rate on a gross estimated rental 
of 30/. per annum, or is the owner of lands within the 
district of an annual value of not less than 100/. 
having a frontage of not less than a mile to any 
salmon river, and has the right to fish there, and has 
paid license duty for fishing for salmon within the 
district in the preceding year. 

2. The second class are the elected representa- 
tives of fishermen duly hcensed to fish for salmon 
(otherwise than with rod and line) during the last 


preceding season in public or common waters — one 
member being eligible for every 50/. of license duty 
paid. That there are defects in the system is ap- 
parent. County councillors do not necessarily 
possess any knowledge of, or have any interest in, 
fishery matters, yet some of their number have seats 
on the board, while rod and line fishermen, on the 
other hand, are not adequately represented. It would 
also be desirable that some change in the law should 
be made to prevent anyone who has been convicted 
of an offence against the Salmon Fishery Acts from 
being eligible as a conservator. 

When a fishery district does not lie wholly within 
the limits of one county, the county council of any 
county within which any part of such district lies may 
apply to the county council of every other county in 
the district to appoint a fishery committee, consisting 
of three of their number to form, with the fishery 
committee of the same number to be appointed by 
the county council making the application, a joint 
fishery committee for the district. Such joint fishery 
committee, together with the ex officio and representa- 
tive members, form the board of conservators. A 
board of conservators thus formed are a body cor- 
porate, having perpetual succession and a common 
seal, and invested with the following powers : — 


1. To make contracts. 

2. To issue licenses. 

3. To purchase by agreement and compulsorily 
(under the Lands Clauses Acts), for the purpose only 
of removal, fishing weirs, fishing mill-dams, and 
fixed engines. 

4. To take legal proceedings against persons 
offending against the Salmon Fishery Acts. 

5. To make bye-laws subject to the approval of 
the Board of Trade. 

6. To alter the commencement and termination 
of the close time, annual and weekly as to the whole 
or part of a district (with limitations which will be 

7. To determine the length and size of nets and 
the manner in which they may be used (but no hang 
or draft net may be limited by bye-law to less than 
two hundred yards). 

8. To determine the size of the mesh of nets 
(but the mesh is not to be decreased to less than 
one and a half inches from knot to knot, nor ex- 
tended to more than two and a half inches all round 
when wet). 

9. To determine the form of licenses. 

10. To vary the rate of license duty in different 
parts of the district. 


TT. To determine what marks or labels are to be 
fixed to nets or painted on boats used in fishing. 

\2. To prohibit the use of nets within a certain 
distance of a river mouth, and of the confluence of 
rivers in any part of the district not being a several 

13. To determine the time during which it may 
be lawful to use a gaff in connection with rod and 

14. To determine where gratings are to be placed 
during certain times of the year across the head 
and tail race of mills and across artificial channels 
leading into or out of a river. 

15. To regulate during the annual and weekly 
close times the use within any river of nets for fish 
other than salmon. 

16. To prohibit the use in any inland water of 
any net except a landing net, or a net for taking eels, 
between sunset and sunrise. 

17. To impose a penalty not exceeding 5/. for an 
offence against a bye-law. 

{N.B. — No bye-law to come into operation until 
confirmed by the Board of Trade.) 

18. To adopt such means, with the consent of the 
Board of Trade, for preventing the ingress of salmon 
into streams in which they or their spawning beds 


are, from the nature of the channel, liable to be 

19. Generally to do everything for the protection 
of the salmon fisheries within their district. 

Turning now to Scotland, in which country 
greater attention seems always to have been given to 
the salmon fisheries than in England, due no doubt 
to their relatively greater value, the Act of 1862 is 
the foundation of modern legislation upon the 

All fishery matters are under the Fishery Board 
of Scotland, which is again under the Secretary for 
Scotland. The Board consists of seven members, 
viz. three members (of whom one is chairman, one a 
sheriff of a county, and one a person skilled in the 
branches of science concerned with the habits and 
food of fishes) and four representative members of the 
various sea fishing interests in Scotland. The Board 
has the appointment of one inspector of salmon 
fisheries. - 

The Act of 1862, unlike the corresponding English 
Act of 1 86 1, is rather a re-enacting than a repealing 
statute. The first point we may notice is the forma- 
tion of fishery districts. Under section 4, every 
river in Scotland flowing into the sea, and every 
tributary stream or lake flowing into or connected 


with such river and the sea-coast adjoining thereto, 
divided into such portions as may be fixed and defined 
by the Commissioners under the Act, shall form a 
fishery district. For this purpose three Commissioners 
were appointed for a period of three years, with further 
power to determine the close season and to make 
general regulations for its observance and for the 
construction and use of cruives, the construction and 
alteration of mill-dams, lades, or water-wheels, so as to 
afford reasonable means for the passage of salmon ; 
for the meshes of nets and obstructions in rivers and 
estuaries to the free passage of salmon, with power to 
summon witnesses and take evidence upon these 

In accordance with these powers the Commis- 
sioners, by bye-law made in January 1863, divided 
Scotland into districts and settled their annual close 
times respectively. By a further bye-law of May 

1864 the size of the mesh of nets was fixed at one 
and three-quarters inches from knot to knot, and the 
use of two nets, one behind the other, ur nets made 
of canvas, was prohibited. 

Further bye-laws passed in May 1864 and July 

1865 regulate the use of cruives and mill-dams, while 
a salmon pass was ordered to be afiixed to every 
dam, weir, or cauld. 


Upon a district being constituted, a list of the 
upper and lower proprietors has to be made, the 
qualification being the ownership of a fishery entered 
in the valuation roll as of the yearly rent or value of 
20/., and in the former case also the ownership of 
half a mile frontage to the river with aright of salmon- 
fishing. From these two classes the members of the 
district board- are elected. By a further Act of 1868, 
if a district board had not been so constituted in any 
district, any two proprietors of salmon-fishings in the 
district can petition the sheriff to form one, and the 
factor of any proprietor of a fishing can be elected a 

A district board continues in office for three 

A district board 

1. May sue or be sued in the name of its clerk. 

2. May appoint constables, water-bailiffs, and 

3. May impose and has power to collect an 
assessment, called th'e 'fishery assessment,' on the 
several fisheries in the district according to their 
yearly rent or value as entered in the valuation roll. 

4. May petition the Secretary for Scotland to 
vary the close seasons, annual or weekly, and to alter 
the regulations with regard to them. 


5. May petition the Secretary for Scotland to 
alter the regulations with respect to the construction 
and use of cruives, cruive dykes, or weirs. 

6. May purchase by agreement, for the pur- 
pose only of removal, any weir, dam, cruive, or other 
fixed engine for the benefit of the fisheries in the 

7. May remove all natural obstructions to the 
passage of fish in the bed of a river. 

8. May attach a fish -pass to any waterfall. 

9. May generally do all things within their dis- 
trict for the protection of salmon. 


Modern legislation upon the salmon started in Ire- 
land some few years sooner than in other parts of the 
United Kingdom, and the Act of 1842 is the founda- 
tion of the law as it at present stands! Under that 
and the succeeding Acts, all fishery matters are 
placed in the hands of three inspectors of Irish 
fisheries, appointed by and under the control of the 
Lord-Lieutenant. For the formation of fishery 
districts. Special Commissioners were appointed as 
in Scotland, and each district so formed was placed 
under conservators, of whcm there are two classes, 
{\) Ex officio^ {2) Elected. Class i comprises owners, 


lessees, or occupiers of a several fishery of the yearly 
value of loo/. or upwards; Class 2 are the represen- 
tatives of the licensees, elected triennially. No person 
is eligible for the office of conservator in any electoral 
division in which he does not reside or possess real 
property. Certain powers are given to conservators, 
but not to the same extent as in England. Such 

1. To fix the license duty for all methods of 
taking salmon, and to fix the rate to be paid (but 
subject to the approval of the inspectors of fisheries) 
in respect of several fisheries in the district. 

2. To appoint water-bailiffs and inspectors. 

3. To apply such funds as they possess to make 
fish passes over weirs, to remove or make passes over 
natural obstructions, and to inspect passes and ladders 
at all times. 

Close Time. — The. regulations as to close time, 
annual and weekly, vary somewhat in the different 
fishery districts throughout the United Kingdom. In 
England and Wales the annual close time was fixed 
by the Act of 1861 from September i to February i 
following, for all methods of fishing other than with 
rod and line ; and for rod and line fishing, from 
November 2 to February i following ] the weekly 
close time, from noon on Saturday to 6 a.m. on 


Monday for all fishing except with rod and line, 
for which there is no weekly close time in England. 
Power is however given to boards of conservators 
under the Act of 1873 to alter both annual and 
weekly close times, as to the whole or part of a 
district, but so that the former shall not be less than 
one hundred and fifty-four days for all modes of 
fishing other than with rod and line, and shall not 
begin later than November i ; and as regards 
rod and line fishing, that the close time shall not be 
less than ninety-two days nor commence later than 
December i. As to weekly close time boards have 
power to alter it, but so that it does not commence 
before 6 p.m. on Friday nor terminate earlier than 
midnight on the Sunday following, nor continue 
later than twelve o'clock noon on Monday nor 
exceed forty-eight hours. In Whitaker's Almanack 
may be found the variations in the close times in 
the different districts throughout the United 
Kingdom, it being impossible within this chapter to 
set them out. 

A close time has been imposed in Scotland for 
salmon from a very early date. About the year 1200 
it was ordained that a free passage should be given 
to salmon in various rivers from Saturday night to 
Monday morning. This was called ' Satterday's 



stoppe.' From 1424 to 1828- the annual close time 
for salmon-netting was one hundred and seven days. 
In 1828 the Home Drummond Act was passed, the 
preamble of which is interesting reading upon this 
point, and runs as follows : * Whereas by an Act 
passed in the Parliament of Scotland in the year 
1424 it was forbidden that any salmon be slain from 
the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady until the 
feast of St. Andrew in winter ' {ix. from August 1 5 to 
November 30), ' and whereas sundry other laws and 
Acts were made and passed at divers times by the 
Parliament of Scotland anent the killing of salmon, 
kippers, red and black fish in forbidden times, and 
the kilHng and destroying of the fry and smolts of 
salmon, which laws were ratified and confirmed and 
approved by an Act passed in the said parliament in 
the year 1696 intituled an Act against Killers of Black 
P'ish and Destroyers of the Fry and Smolts of Salmon, 
and whereas it is expedient . . . that sundry other 
regulations should be made : be it therefore enacted 
by the King's most excellent Majesty that no salmon, 
grilse, sea trout, nor other fish of the salmon kind, 
shall be taken in or from any river, stream, lake, 
water or estuary whatsoever, or on any part of the 
sea-coast, between the 14th day of September and the 
ist of February foUowing'on any year by any person or 


persons, any law, statute, or practice to the contrary 
notwithstanding . . . ' 

Such became the law in 1828, and so it remained 
until 1862, when the annual close time for every 
district was fixed at one hundred and sixty-eight days, 
and the weekly (except for rod and line fishing) 
from 6 p.^r. on Saturday to 6 a.m. on Monday 
following, power being given to the Commissioners 
(now the Fishery Board of Scotland) to alter the 
close times, but so that the annual shall not be less 
than one hundred and sixty-eight days nor the weekly 
less than thirty-six hours (except for rod and line 
fishing, the weekly close time for which is Sunday). 
The Fishery Board have also power to determine at 
what periods after the commencement and prior to 
the termination of the annual close time it may be 
lawful to fish for salmon with rod and line. 

In Ireland the duration of the annual close time, 
which under the Act of 1842 was fixed as from 
August 20 to February 12, and not less than one 
hundred and twenty-four days, was extended by the 
Act of 1863 to one hundred and sixty-eight days for 
all fishing except with rod and line, the close time 
for which is from November i to February i, and 
may not be less than ninety-two days. The weekly 
close time for all fishing except with rod and line 

R 2 


(for which, as in England, there is no weekly close 
time) is from 6 a.m. on Saturday to 6 a.m. on 
Monday following. Further regulations in force in 
Ireland upon this matter are that no fish of the 
salmon kind may be taken on the sea-coast, in any 
estuary, in any river, or in the tide-way from Sep- 
tember I to January 31, nor in any lake or river 
above the tide- way between September 18 and the 
last day of February. Owners, however, of fishing 
weirs held under grant, charter, prescription, or Act 
of Parliament above the tide-way, within two miles 
of where the tide ceases to ebb and flow, if no other 
.fishing weir is interposed between them and the 
tide-way, may use them for catching salmon in 

The inspectors of Irish fisheries have similar 
powers to the Fishery Board of Scotland for the 
alteration of the close time in rivers. 

Fixed Engines. — The use and abuse of what are 
termed fixed engines, i.e. any stationary contrivance 
for catching salmon or other fish, seems to be of very 
early date, and we find many laws passed for their 
suppression. They were in use in the form of 
' kiddels and wears ' in the time of King John, for they 
are referred to in Magna Charta as then existing in 
the Thames ; while in a later statute we are told that 


the reason for their suppression in that river was not 
only on the account of the obstructions which they 
caused to navigation, but also on account of the 
numbers of fry which they were the means of destroy- 
ing. It was ordained in a statute passed in the 
reign of Henry VI. that ' standing nets and engines 
called " trinks," and all other nets which are wont to 
be fastened and hanged continually day and night to 
great posts, boats, and anchors overthwart the river 
Thames and other rivers of the realm, which standing 
is a cause of as great and more destruction of the 
brood and fry of fish and disturbance of the common 
passage of vessels, as be the wears and kyddels or any 
other engines, be wholly defended for ever ; provided 
always, that it shall be lawful to the possessors of the 
said " trinks " to fish with them, drawing and pulling 
them by hand as other fishers do with other nets, and 
not fastening or tacking the said nets to posts, boats, 
or anchors continually to stand as aforesaid.' Again, 
in the reign of Henry VIII., the use of ceilain 
engines, composed of 'stakes, piles, and other things,' 
was forbidden in the Ouse and Humber ' by persons 
studying only for their own private lucre, not regard- 
ing the Common weal, by reason whereof not only 
ships and boats were daily in jeopardy, but alsobroode 
and fry of fishe in those rivers be commonly thereby 


destroyed and putrified.' We find similar enactments 
applying to the rivers of Lancashire and elsewhere, 
and Commissioners and Conservators appointed even 
in ancient days to put them down, a practice which, 
as we shall see, has been followed by modern legis- 

In Scotland, fixed engines have been prohibited 
from a very early period, especially in rivers and 
estuaries. The old law, and the statutes applicable 
to them, was discussed at great length by the Lord 
Justice Clerk in the case of Kintore v. Forbes, 4 S. 641 
(1826), the conclusion derived, after a careful examin 
ation of the various Acts of Parliament from the time 
of Alexander IL, being that stake nets (a form of 
fixed engine) were not illegal in the sea, but that 
it was settled law that if set in rivers ci in estuaries, 
to the fullest extent of their limits, they were 

The first Act of Parhament dealing with the 
matter in Ireland is that passed in 28 Henry VIIL, 
against the erection of weirs and other engines 
for catching fish upon the Barrow and other rivers. 

As the law now stands, fixed engines are illegal in 
England in inland and tidal waters. The term ' fixed 
engine ' has been defined by the Salmon Fishery Acts 
to mean ' any net or other instrument for taking fish, 


fixed to the soil or made stationaryinany way (not being 
a fishing weir or fishing mill-dam), or any net placed or 
suspended in any inland or tidal waters, unattended 
by the owner, used for the purpose of catching or 
facilitating the catching of salmon, or detaining or 
obstructing the passage of salmon, and all engines, 
devices, machines, or contrivances, whether floating or 
otherwise, for placing or suspending such nets, or 
maintaining them in working order and making 
them stationary.' Fishing weirs and fishing mill- 
dams are not illegal if lawfully in use at the time 
of the passing of the Salmon Fishery Act, 1861, 
and if they comply with certain requirements con- 
tained in the subsequent Salmon Acts as to free gaps 
and fish passes. The legality of all fixed engines 
was inquired into by Special Commissioners appointed 
for that purpose by the Act of 1865, and power was 
given to them by that Act to abate all those found 
to be illegal. Their general superintendence is now 
placed in the hands of the inspector of salmon fisheries. 
In Scotland the old law is not affected by recent 
legislation. It should, however, be noticed that 
cruives are in a different position from other fixed 
engines in that country. The right to fish with 
cruives is not carried by a general grant of salmon- 
fishing, but is itself the subject of an express grant? 


or else requires a prescriptive possession of cruive- 
fishing following upon a general grant. The legal 
use of cruives by various statutes is permitted in, but 
limited to, that part of the river which is above the 
tide-way — ' All cruives and yairs (weirs) set in wateris 
quhair the sea fillis and ebbis be put away and 
destroyed for ever mair.' Cruives had also, from early 
days, to comply with certain conditions whereby 
smolts and fry should not be taken in them. ' It was 
Statute and ordanit be King Alexander at Perth, on 
Thursday before the feist of St. Margaret, with consent 
of the Erlis, Baronis, and Judges of Scotland, that the 
midst of the water should be fre, sa mekill than ane 
swine of three zeir auld and well fed is of length and 
may turn him within it in sic manner that nather 
his grunzie nor his tail tuich any of the sides of the 
cruives that are biggit on each side of the water.' 
The Commissioners for Scotland, in accordance with 
their powers, have in more recent times, by a bye-law 
dated July 28, 1865, made certain regulations with 
regard to cruives. 

The law in Ireland has undergone some changes 
with regard to fixed engines in tidal waters in modern 
times. As defined by the Act of 1850, they are 
practically the same as those included in the defini- 
tions under the Engfish law. By the Act of 1842 the 


settlement of this vexed question was attempted by 
the bold experiment of permitting owners of several 
fisheries in, and lessees of, land adjoining tidal waters 
or estuaries to erect fixed engines, subject to certain 
restrictions. They were not to impede navigation, 
nor were they to be placed in or near the mouths of 
narrow rivers, nor might they extend beyond high 
or low water mark, nor be capable of taking under- 
sized fish. Stake weirs, established for twenty years 
before the passing of the Act, and head weirs were 
not affected by these provisions. A rapid increase 
in the number of bag nets followed upon this, and 
a consequent decrease in the number of salmon. 
Therefore, in 1863, the Act was amended, and bag 
nets rendered illegal in inland and tidal waters and 
within three miles of a river's mouth ; other fixed 
engines in use in 1862 — and only those — were for 
the future to be recognised as legal. Free gaps or 
Queen's shares, under the Act of 1842, were made 
compulsory in all cases of obstructions extending 
more than half-way across a river, while in many 
cases, upon the application of a fishery proprietor, 
the Commissioners had power to make the same. 
Special Commissioners were appointed under the Act 
to inquire into the legaUty of all fixed nets, and to 
order the removal of those found to be illegal or, in 


their opinion, injurious to navigation. They were 
also empowered to inquire into the legality of all 
fishing weirs with regard to which new regulations 
were imposed as to free gaps. 


1. Poisoning Fish. — Causing or knowingly per- 
mitting any liquid or solid matter to flow into 
water containing salmon, or into any tributaries 
thereof, to such an extent as to cause the waters to 
poison salmon. 

In England and Scotland no person is guilty 
of this offence if he proves he has used the best 
practical means, within a reasonable cost, to render 
such matter harmless. It is a further offence in 
Ireland to be found on or near a salmon river in 
possession of poisonous matter with intent to use it 
for the destruction of fish. 

2. Using Illegal Instruments. — Using any light, 
leister, spear, otter, stroke-haul, gaff (except as an 
auxiliary to rod and line, when not forbidden by bye- 
law, or when used for removing fish from boxes or 
cribs), or other instrument for the purpose of taking 

In England and Scotland it is an offence to be 


found, at any time, in possession of these instruments 
with intent to kill salmon. In Ireland it is an offence 
only to be found in possession of them between 
sunset and sunrise. 

3. Fishing with AW.— Using any fish roe for 
fishing. Buying, selling, or exposing for sale or 
possessing salmon roe. But this does not apply to 
any person in England or Scotland who possesses 
roe for scientific purposes or for artificial propaga- 

The prohibition in Ireland is limited to possessing 
salmon roe. 

4. Killing Smolts. — Wilfully taking or destroying 
smolts or salmon fry, or buying, selling, exposing for 
sale, or possessing the same. 

Placing any engine or device for obstructing the 
same or wilfully injuring the same. 

Wilfully injuring or disturbing any salmon spawn, 
or spawning bed on which the salmon may be. 

5. Killing Unclean Salmon. — ^Vilfully taking, fish- 
ing for, or attempting to take unclean or unseason- 
able salmon. But no person is guilty of an offence 
in England and Scotland if. he takes the same for 
scientific purposes or for artificial propagation. In 
England the consent of a conservancy board is 
necessary to do this. 


6. Selling Unclean Salmon.— ^w^mg^ selling, or 
exposing for sale unclean or unseasonable salmon. 

7. Killing Salmon in Close Time. — Fishing for, 
taking, or attempting to take, or aiding or assisting 
in fishing for, taking, or attempting to take, salmon 
during the close time, annual or weekly, as fixed by 
Act of Parliament or bye-law. 

8. Buying, selling, exposing for sale, or possess- 
ing for the purposes of sale, salmon or part of an}- 
salmon in annual close time. 

9. Exporting Salmon. — Exporting unclean or un- 
seasonable salmon, or salmon caught during the time 
at which its sale is prohibited in the district in which 
it is caught, from any part of the United Kingdom. 
The burden of proving that any salmon entered for 
exportation, between the third of September and 
the thirtieth of April, is not entered in infringement 
of the Act, lies upon the person exporting the 

10. Sending salmon in England by carrier without 
conspicuously marking the package containing the 
same between September 3 and February i. 

11. Not removing Nets in Close Time. — Neglecting 
to remove from a fishery all engines, spears, hand 
nets and other nets, planks and temporary obstruc- 
tions, inscales, hecks, and rails of cruives, boxes, and 


cribs, all boats and oars (except those used for 
angling), within thirty-six hours after the commence- 
ment of the annual close time. 

12. Neglecting to keep open a clear passage for 
salmon through nets, cribs, boxes, cruives, and other 
engines during weekly close time. 

13. Doing any act or using any device for the 
purpose of preventing the free passage of salmon 
through the same during the close times (annual or 

14. Fish Passes and Free Gaps. — Neglecting to 
erect or maintain, or injuring and thereby rendering 
less efficient, when erected, a free gap, Queen's 
share, or fish pass, in dams, dykes, weirs, or other 
obstructions, as and where. required by law. 

15. Doing any act for the purpose of preventing 
the free passage of salmon through the same. 

16. Using Illegal Nets and other Engines. — Using 
a net whose mesh in England is less than 2 inches, 
measured from knot to knot or 8 inches all round 
when wet ; in Scotland and Ireland, whose mesh is 
less than one and three-quarter inches from knot to 
knot or seven inches all round when wet ; or in the 
United Kingdom, a net whose mesh is of a smaller 
size than is sanctioned in a particular locality by 


1 7. Using a box, crib, or cruive which does not 
comply with the regulations imposed by the Acts in 
England and Ireland, or with any bye- law affecting 
the same in Scotland. 

18. Using any fixed engine not privileged, or 
declared to be illegal, for the purpose of catching or 
facilitating the catching of salmon. 

19. Fishing near a Z)(3!;;/. — Fishing, except with rod 
and Hne, near a weir, dam, or artificial obstruction 
which is not provided with a fish pass, or in the waters 
of a mill. In England the limit is 50 yards above, 
and 100 below. In Scotland it is an offence to fish 
at a dam, but no limit is fixed. In Ireland the limit 
is 50 yards above and below. 

20. Obstructing Water-bailiffs. — Refusing to allow 
a water-bailiff, inspector, or person appointed by a 
board of conservators or district board to have 
access to a weir, dam, fishing weir, fishing mill-dam, 
fixed engine, obstruction, or water-course. 

21. Refusing to allow water-bailiffs and others to 
search, or obstructing them in their search of, any 
boat, barge, cot, coracle, or other vessel used in 
fishing, or which they may suspect contains 
salmon. . 

22. Refusing to allow water-bailiffs and others 
to search, or obstructing them in searching, nets, 


baskets, or instruments used in fishing or carrying 

23. Breach of i5j'<?-/c77^M\— Infringing any bye- 
law sanctioned by the Board of Trade, Fishery 
Board of Scotland, or Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland 
as the case may be. 

24. Gratings and Sluices. — Neglecting to erect or 
maintain, or injuring when erected, gratings at the 
points of divergence from and return to the main 
river of all artificial streams^ cuts, or water-courses 
used for conveying water to towns, mills, or fac- 

25. Neglecting to keep shut the sluices in mill- 
streams during the time prescribed by the Acts or by 
bye-law, or when the water is not used for milling 

26. Fishing for salmon with rod and line without 
a license. (This does not apply to Scotland or to 
places in England and Ireland where no board of 
conservators has been formed.) 

27. Fishing for salmon by means of a putt, 
putcher, fishing weir, fishing mill-dam, net, instru- 
ment or device (not being a rod and line) without a 
license. (This does not apply to Scotland or to 
England and Ireland as above mentioned.) 

2_8'. Refusing to produce a license upon the 


application of a licensee, conservator, water-bailiff, 
constable, or officer of a board. 

29. Draft Net across a River. — Shooting draft net 
for salmon across the whole width of a river. This 
does not apply to Scotland, nor to Ireland in the case 
of the owner of a several fishery in the whole of a 
river or its tributaries. 

30. Using baskets or traps for catching eels in 
England between January i and June 24, in Ireland 
between January 10 and July i. 

31. Trespass.' — Trespassing upon lands in Scot- 
land or Ireland for the purpose of fishing. 

32. Duty of Clerk of Peace. — The clerk of the 
peace neglecting to send the names and addresses 
of conservators appointed by different counties, 
when the district comprises more than one county, 
to the clerk of the board within fourteen days 
of the appointment. (This only applies to Eng- 

33. Duty of Clerk to Justices. — The clerk of the 
justices neglecting to send a certificate of a convic- 
tion against the Salmon Fishery Acts to the clerk to 
the board of conservators within a month. (This 
only apphes to England.) 

34. Placi7ig Device upon Weir. — Placing upon the 
apron of a weir any basket or device for taking fish 


except wheels and leaps for taking lamperns between 
August I and March i. (This only applies to 

35. Night Poaching. — If three or more persons, 
acting in concert, or being together between the 
expiration of the first hour after sunset and the be- 
ginning of the last hour before sunrise, enter or are 
found upon any land adjacent to a river, estuary, or 
sea-coast with intent illegally to kill salmon, or in 
possession of illegal nets or instruments, they commit 
an offence. (This only applies to Scotland.) 

36. Salmon Leaping at a Fall. — Setting or using 
a net or other engine for the capture of salmon when 
leaping at or trying to ascend a fall, or when falling 
back from the same. (This only applies to 

37. Pollution. — 'Wilfully putting, or neglecting to 
take reasonable precautions to prevent the discharge 
of, any sawdust, chaff, or shelling corn into a river. 
(This only applies to Scotland.) 

The following do not apply to England or 
Scotland : — 

38. Obstructing Fisher7nen. — Obstructing any 
fisherman, or persons employed by him, in entering 
upon, and using for the purpose of drawing their 
nets or landing their fish, any beach, land, or wastes, 



except gardens and lands with a growing crop upon 


39. Discharging Ballast, — Discharging ballast 
from any vessel within an estuary harbour, or place 
not sanctioned by the Commissioners or local regu- 

40. Netting iii Narrow Estuaries.— '^\\ooivc\^ or 
using a net for salmon at the mouth of a river (the 
inland part of which is frequented by salmon), or 
within half a mile of the mouth when the breadth of 
the mouth is less than a quarter of a mile. This 
does not apply to the owner of a several fishery, 
except as to bag nets. 

41. Netting ill Fi'esh Waters. — Using a haul, draft, 
seine, or other net in inland waters. This does not 
apply (except as to bag nets) to the owner of a several 
fishery, nor to cases where a common of piscary has 
been enjoyed for twenty years before 1842. 

42. Nets genera/fy. ^U sing in tidal waters a net 
covered with canvas, or in fresh waters a net formed 
with a false bottom, or two nets placed one behind 
the other. 

43. Cross Lines. — Using cross lines in any river. 
(This does not apply to the owner of a several 
fishery or to any person authorised by him in 


44. Removing or using any cot or boat without 
the owner's permission. 

45. Intimidation. — To be found to the number 
of three or more together by an officer of the 
Navy, coastguard, water-baihff, or peace officer, by 
violence or intimidation obstructing persons lawfully 

46. Eel Weirs. — Taking salmon in an eel weir. 

47. Bag Nets. — Placing or using a bag net in 
a river or estuary, or within three miles of a river's 
mouth. But this does not apply to the owner of 
a several fishery in the whole of a river and its tribu- 

48. Fishing at Night. — Using any net, except a 
landing net, for catching salmon in fresh water 
between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., except so far as the same 
has been used within the limits of a several fishery 
next above the tidal flow, and held under grant, 
charter, or immemorial usage. 

This is not a complete list of offences, nor tech- 
nically expressed, but it comprises the most impor- 
tant under the Salmon Fishery Acts. 

In addition to the above-mentioned offences, by 
the Fisheries (Dynamite) Act of 1877 it is an offence 
to use dynamite or other explosive to catch or de- 
stroy fish in a public fishery in the United Kingdom. 


This was extended to private fisheries in England 
by an Act of the following year. 

By the Malicious Injuries to Property Act, 1861, 
s. 32, it is an offence unlawfully and maliciously to 
put any lime or noxious material into any salmon 
river with intent to destroy fish therein. This Act 
extends to England and Ireland, and by s. 24 of the 
Larceny Act, 1861, it is an offence unlawfully and 
wilfully to take or destroy any fish in any water, 
which shall run through or be in any land adjoining 
to or belonging to the dwelling house of any person 
being the owner of such w^ater or having a right of 
fishery therein, or to destroy or attempt to destroy 
fish in a private fishery. This applies to England 
and Ireland. 

By the Gas Works Clauses Act, 1847, it is an 
offence if the persons authorised to construct gas- 
works cause or suffer to be brought or flow into any 
stream or place for water, or into any drain com- 
municating therewith, any washing or other substance 
produced in making or supplying gas, or do any 
act whereby the water in such stream or place may 
be fouled. 

Similar provision is made in the Rivers Pollution 
Act, 1878, with regard to the refuse from factories, 
quarries, and mines, and to sewage. No one, how- 


ever, will be guilty of an offence under this Act if he 
proves that he has taken the best means to render 
the refuse or sewage harmless. 


The legal procedure with regard to the prosecution 
of offences against the Salmon Fishery Acts is almost 
identica.l in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Pro- 
ceedings are taken in England before two Justices at 
Petty Sessions ; in Scotland, before a Sheriff or two 
Justices ; in Ireland, before one or more Justices. 
In England and Ireland there is an appeal to Quarter 
Sessions ; in Scotland to the next Circuit Court, or, 
where no Circuit Court exists, to the Court of 
Justiciary in Edinburgh. No Justice is disqualified 
from hearing a case by reason of his being a con- 
servator or member of a district board, provided he 
deals with no case arising out of an offence committed 
upon his own fishing. A bona fide claim of right 
ousts the jurisdiction of Justices. Proceedings are 
to be taken within six months of the alleged offence 
having been committed. Offences committed upon 
the sea-coast, or at sea beyond the ordinary jurisdic- 
tion of any Justice, may be tried by a Justice having 
jurisdiction on the land abutting on the sea-coast, 
and offences committed upon water forming the 


boundary between two counties may be prosecuted 
in either county. . 

For the detection and prevention of offences, 
water-baiHffs and officers appointed by conservancy 
or district boards are invested with special powers. 
In England a water-bailiff may 

1. Seize without warrant any person putting 
noxious matter into a salmon river with intent to 
destroy fish, or illegally taking salmon, or found on 
or near a salmon river with intent to take salmon 
between the expiration of the first hour after sunset 
and the beginning of the last hour before sunrise, or 
found during those hours in possession of an illegal 

2. May apply to a Justice for a warrant to remain 
on land near a salmon river, and make search if he 
has good reason to suspect a breach of the Acts is 
about to be or has been committed. 

3. May, under a special order in writing from the 
chairman of the conservancy board for a period 
not exceeding two months, go upon any land (except 
a decoy) near any salmon river in the district. 

4. May examine weirs, dams, fixed engines, and 
obstructions and artificial water-courses. 

5. May stop and search boats, coracles, or vessels 
used in fishing, or which there is reason to suspect 


contain salmon, and all nets and baskets and other 

6. May seize all salmon illegally caught, and all 
instruments illegally used. 

In Scotland, any person employed in the execu- 
tion of the Salmon Fishery Acts may seize and detain 
all fish illegally taken, and all boats, tackle, nets, 
and other engines illegally used. Water-bailiffs and 
officers of district boards have power, as in England, 
to enter upon land if they have reason to suspect a 
breach of the Acts to have been or may be com- 
mitted. But no special order or warrant is necessary. 
Similar powers are also given to them to examine 
dams, weirs, cruives, etc., as in England. 

The Irish Acts confer upon water-bailiffs almost 
identical powers as do the English Acts ; one point 
only may be noticed, viz. that under a warrant they 
may enter a garden or a dwelling house. For the 
further protection of the fisheries in Ireland, officers 
and men of the Navy and Coastguard, and the Royal 
Irish Constabulary, are empowered to carry out and 
enforce the provisions of the Salmon Fishery Acts. 

Under the Larceny Act, i86i, above mentioned, 
private individuals in England and Ireland may 
arrest persons offending against its provisions, except 
for angling in the daytime, and if any person is 


found unlawfully fishing in a private fishery, the 
owner of the ground, water, or fishery, his servant, 
or any person authorised by him, may demand 
from the offender any rod, line, hook, net, or other 
instrument for taking or destroying fish, and in 
case such offender shall not immediately deliver up 
the same, may seize and take the same. But any 
person angling in the daytime, from whom such 
implement is taken, is exempted from the payment 
of any damages or penalty. This section, it will be 
seen, gives no such power to a lessee, nor any power 
to seize fish which a poacher may have in his 

By the Irish Act of 1842, any person interested 
in a fishery, who finds any person fishing with any 
illegal net or engine, may require him to desist, and 
give his name and address, and upon refusal to do so 
may arrest him. 

In Scotland the law is somewhat different. There 
any person may seize without warrant, detain, and 
give into custody persons committing the following 
offences : — 

Against the Act of 1^2'^, 

I. Trespassing for salmon or neglecting to observe 
the law as to ' Satterday's Stop.' 


Under the Act of \UZ. 

2. Fishing during annual or weekly close time. 

3. Fishing with a net contrary to bye-law. 

4. Using a net or other engine for catching salmon 
leaping at a fall. 

5. Preventing salmon passing through a fish 

6. Using a light, spear, leister or other illegal 

7. Using fish roe. 

8. Destroying smolts or fry, or disturbing the 
spawning grounds. 

9. Taking or selling unseasonable salmon or 
salmon caught in close time. 

10. Illegally exporting salmon. 

Although it is impossible to enter into the matter 
in detail, some reference must now be made to the 
Tweed and the rivers flowing into the Solway, with 
regard to which special legislation has from time to 
time been passed, the reason for which is not far to 
seek. The Tweed on the east, the rivers and Firth 
of Solway on the west, form the boundary between 
England and Scotland, and while the two kingdoms 


were in different hands different laws were in force, 
and little regard was shown to those existing ex adverso. 
Consequently we find certain exemptions in favour of 
these rivers, or some of them, in many instances in old 
Scottish Acts of Parliament. By the Act of 1424, 
a special exemption for Tweed and Solway from the 
penalties of killing fish in close time, ' quhilkis sail be 
reddie to Scottismen at all times of the zeir als lang 
as Berwick and Roxburgh are in English mennis 
hands.' Again in 1563 the Solway was exempted 
from the prohibition against ' cruives and yairs.' 
Again in 1600 killing salmon in forbidden times was 
declared to be theft, 'except in Annand and Tweed, 
because the said rivers devyded at many parts the 
bounds of Scotland and England adjacent to them, 
whereby the forbearance upon the Scots' part of the 
slauchter of salmon in forbidden time or of kipper, 
smolts, and black fish at all times, would not have 
made salmond any mair to abound in these waters if 
the like order had not been observed on the English 

Special legislation upon the Tweed commenced in 
1 77 1, and was followed by various Acts down to 1857 
and 1859, bringing the law upon that river to its 
present condition, the management of the river being 
put in the hands of local Commissioners. Solway 


legislation commenced in 1804, and all the fisheries 
of the Solway and its Scotch tributaries, except the 
Annan and Esk, were regulated by an Act passed in 
that year. In 1861 the English Act repealed the 
Solway Act in so far as it related to English waters, 
and in 1865 the whole of the Esk was put under 
English law. In 1862 the EngHsh law as to fixed 
engines was made to apply to the whole of the 
Solway Firth. The Annan was placed under a special 
Act in 1 84 1, which Act extends to its tributaries, and 
to that portion of the sea-coast lying between the 
rivers Sark on the east and Lochar on the west. 

To the state of affairs which must have existed 
in olden days, when the hand of everyone was against 
the salmon in these waters, and it became necessary 
by united legislation to prevent their extermination, we 
find an almost parallel instance in the condition of 
affairs and destruction of the seals in the Behring Sea 
by Canadian and United States fishermen at the 
present time. 

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Left. 8vo., 15J. 
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8vo., iSJ. 

Buss.— Frances Mary Buss and her 
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Digby. — The Life of Sir Kenelm 
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Erasmus. — Life and Letters of 
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FALK LANDS. By the Author of ' The 
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Fox.— The Early History of Charles 
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Library Edition. 8vo. , iZs. 
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Halifax.— The Life and Letters of 

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Hamilton. — Life of Sir William 
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Ha'weis.— My Musical Life. By the 
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Holroyd. — The Girlhood of Maria 
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Tf ansen. — P^ridtjof Nansen, 1861- 
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Place.— The Life of Francis Place. 
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Haivlinson. — A Memoir of the 
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Reeve.— The Life and Letters of 
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Seebolini.— The Oxford Reformers 
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Vivian. — Servia : the Poor Man's 
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Sport and Pastime. 


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BIG GAME ^UOOTYi^G— continued. 

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Morris (William). 
Poetical Works — Library Edition. 

Complete in Ten Volumes. Crown 
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The Life and Death of Jason. 6s. 
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other Poems. 6s. 
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and the Fall of the Niblungs. 6s. 
LoYK is Enough ; or. The Freeing of 

Pharamond : a Morality ; and POEMS 

BY THE Way. 6s. 


Poetry and the \^vd.m^— continued. 

Morris ^iiAAK'u.)~continued. 
The Odyssey of Homer. Done into 

English Verse. 65. 
The ^neids of Virgil. Done into 
English Verse. 6i. 

Certain of the Poetical Works may also be 

had in the following Editions : — 
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*^* The ciutlior of these Poems was a Sculptor, 
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Longmans' Gazetteer of the 
World. Edited by George G. Chis- 
holm, M.A., B.Sc, Imp. 8vo,, £2 zs. 
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Maunder (Samuel). 
Biographical Treasury. With Sup- 
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Treasury of Geography, Physical, 
Historical, Descriptive, and Political. 
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The Treasury of Bible Know- 
ledge. By the Rev. J. Ayre, M.A. 
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Children's Books. 

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Atelier (The) Du Lys : or an Art 
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