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for the Thames trolling-rod. I had one made by a country joiner, although without joints, which cast even the fly nearly as well as my best salmon-rod; but the point being stiff, it was better adapted for par or minnow. By unwinding the length of line you wish to throw from the reel, and then pulling it through the large rings, until only a few yards hang down with the appended bait, you can jerk it out something after the manner of an English troller, with this difference, that the cast is made over the right or left shoulder. Some prefer a supple top, which entices the fish from its lively spinning, but is more apt to miss them. After all, it is but a sorry shift for the beautiful smooth underhanded casts of the Thames anglers. Even a moderate performer with a London trolling rod, would excel the most skilful Highland par or minnowfisher. There is also this great advantage on the side of the southern rod, that it injures the bait far less. But indeed the English manner of baiting, and whole arrangement of trolling-tackle, is very far superior to ours. I have fished with Thames trollers who were so particular as to bait differently with a bleak from a gudgeon *. A bleak is best on a dark windy day, from being showy, a gudgeon on a calm bright day, as its dark colour conceals and confounds the hooks. By the same rule a roach is good in our lochs in clear weather. Bleak, however, are thought the best spinning bait on the Thames, unless at
* A bleak, with three rows of three hooks, tied back to back, and a single hook the reverse way, to separate the lowest row from the one above: and one top hook through the lips of the bait. A gudgeon, two rows of three hooks, one of two, and a single hook for the lips. It is of no use to describe the process of baiting, as every man must take a practical lesson from a good troller, before he can make any hand of it.
very rapid mill-dams, where the tougher gudgeon is not so apt to spoil.
Young herring, from their shining scales, are found to be a most enticing bait for salmon. I have often tried them with success, especially in the lochs. Of course they must be used salt. The great objection to using them in the river is, that they are so very tender.
Should the water be confined, and the streams narrow and rapid, every inch may be searched by standing at the pool-head, and letting out line by yard-lengths, shifting the bait alternately from one side to the other until all the reel be nearly expended. Unless the river is flooded, very little lead is required. Pull your line, instead of winding it, slowly back again, searching as before, and when satisfied wind up and proceed to another pool. When the river is broad and you require to throw, you can make far casts, as the par is tough and not easily spoiled. Swing it gently back as far as you can, and then bring it forward in the same way. I have seen a man with only one arm, a perfect master of this kind of throwing, so much does it depend upon a little knack. Some will say that very rapid spinning is not good. But I have always found both in boat and river trolling, whether with minnow or par, that the more rapid and true the spinning, the greater my chance of stirring the fish. When trolling for salmon or large shy trout, I therefore adopt the mode of the Thames fishermen, on account of the superiority of the spinning, as well as the lesser risk of missing the fish.
When the diminishing water prevents the salmon from rising at the par, you may still succeed with minnow, in the streams, especially about dusk. Very large trout, also, that scarcely ever rise to a fly, dash freely after the
minnow, when the sun is down. They may also take it in the day-time, if the water should be a little swollen and the sky cloudy. But the river salmon-fisher is more indebted to bait than either par or minnow, and for this reason, that salmon will take a worm when the river is so low that they refuse all other kinds of prey. In riverangling a large hook should be used, and a mixture of dew-worms and the small-red, or the brandling if it can be procured. The bait should be massy, nearly as thick as your little finger. This is accomplished by pushing up all the odds and ends of the worms you put on, along the shank of the hook and the gut, more or less, according to the angler's fancy. In rapid running water, a good lump of bait is more easily seen from a distance, and if a fresh worm be put on the point of the hook the imposture cannot well be detected in the moving stream. Lead the line to reach within a yard or so of the bottom, and search every inch of pool and stream, noticing the slightest tug. When you perceive the least straightening of the line, always go over the same inch until you either fix the fish, or disgust him. Never be in a hurry with a large fish, give him time if possible to gorge. A good hold is half the battle with a good salmon, as in a long-continued struggle an indifferent one is apt to wear and give way, often at the few last faint efforts to spurn the shore.
Behind large stones and in eddies there is always a good cast for worm, and in searching the latter you can't be too particular. Try every variety of depth and current; in fact, seem to humour the line, though dexterously guiding it. No greater test of a practical bait-fisher than this.
I always like to have some bait in my pocket, even on
the most propitious day for the fly, and the following successful results of the practice occurred the summer before last. There are four pools at the top of the Echaig, a little separated from the other casts. As the season advances, the large fish are very apt to remain in them. My custom was generally to begin at the lowest of these pools, fish up with fly to the top, and, if unsuccessful, to put on bait, and rake them down again. In the autumn of 1847, I rose a salmon in the bottom pool, at the first throw, gave him a rest, and rose him again. Another ten minutes' rest, while I put on a smaller fly. He rose a third time, but not wishing to disgust him, I passed on to the pool above. A second salmon rose near the tail of the pool. But, although I gave him the customary law, and also changed my flies, he was stubborn. I therefore walked off to the two top pools, but no fish moved in them either at fly or bait. I returned to my first salmon-up he came again, keen as ever. I left him once more for his neighbour in the pool above, but his mood was still unchanged. I therefore put on bait, when he rushed at it like a bull-dog. In about twenty minutes I had him extended on the grey shingle, half on land, half in water, when his hold broke. I rushed down, but had the mortification to see him waddle into the deeps again. With my crest a little lowered, I descended to my quondam friend in the first pool; a fifth time he rose fiercely. I therefore waited the usual time, and he rose again. Upon the seventh trial, however, he refused; so I gave him the same lure which had nearly proved fatal to the other. Instantly he was at it and fast. But a more cross-grained
sea-king" I never contended with. It was about twelve o'clock when I hooked him. At one, he was fresh as a
laverock. About forty yards below, a tree that jutted over a deep part of the river prevented my leading him down stream, so he had every advantage, and I must say seemed inclined to take it. Sometimes he would sulk, and when with great trouble I shook him off the bottom, he would rush up or down the pool, terminating his vagaries by a fair somerset. Half-past two o'clock, and my arm quite tired. I looked often to the road for assistance, but no one appeared. A little before three, I saw a car, and hailed the driver, who good-naturedly left his vehicle, and to my question if he could gaff a fish, replied that "he was na gude with the flee, but gi' him a stroke at the sawmont wi' the clip and he wad na seek anither." I gave him my gaff, and began to strain and shake the salmon, if possible, to bring him within the reach of my self-confident ally. At last I brought him with some difficulty near the fatal weapon. The "stroke" was given, but it was too plain the "sawmont " would require if he did not "seek anither!" The man had scraped him, and thus rendered him desperate. Down he rushed, past the tree. It was not of so much consequence now, for I gave my rod to the driver for a moment, (who handled it exactly like his whip,) got round the tree, and was all right. Having the command of the stream, I soon brought the fish under the bank, when the man gaffed him cleverly. Although so game, he was only ten pounds' weight, and had I not been hampered with the tree, I should have managed him in half an hour. I anticipate the remark, "A bad day for the fly is often a good one for the worm." This maxim was not applicable in the present case, for with one of the flies, several times refused by the salmon, I hooked and landed a three-pound