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Sports and Pastimes of Scotland
Chapter V. The Salmon River

And now we'll take the Salmon's story.
The Lenliad.

"THE salmon," says Dame Juliana Berners, "is the most stately fish that any man may angle to in fresh water," and not only the most stately but a gentle fish, though "cumbrous for to take." Isaak Walton accounts the salmon as "the king of fresh water fish." Hector Bocce testifies, for the honour of his country, that "salmon is more plentiful in Scotland than in any other region of the world." And we know that from times, which were regarded as hoary antiquity in the days of Bocce, this stately, gentle, and regal fish, so plentiful in the north, had regularly formed a considerable part of the staple Scottish exports. "Centuries before the era of our oldest University," our forefathers carried on trade with the kindred people of Flanders, Holland, and Normandy; and the hides and wool of our mountains, the salmon of the Dec and Tay, and the herring of our seas, were exchanged against the cloths of Bruges, the wines of Bordeaux and the Rhine, and the table luxuries, as well as the ornaments of dress and art, which found admirers among us long before we appreciated what are now counted the comforts of life." The interests of the salmon fisheries were watched over by the native legislature with fostering and jealous care. Among the carlicst of the Scottish Statutes, dating upwards of six hundred years back, \VC meet with laws for the protection and regulation of this source of national wealth. One of the Acts promulgated in the reign of Alexander II., ordained the Saturday Slaft:

The water sould he tree, that na man sail take fisch in it, fra Saterday after the evening song, until Munday, after the sunne rising.

The Salmon fisheries not only furnished a valuable amount of exports to foreign ports, but also an abundant portion of the food of the community at home: and salted salmon and other fish were stored up, along with the mart beef, as winter provisions. When Edward I. overran Scotland in 1300, he carried with him his nets and fishers for the supply of the royal table " from the Scottish waters: and his son, Edward II., while preparing to march across the Border, on another invasion, ordered the citizens of Berwick to provide several hundred barrels of salmon for the use of his army. The Liber Albits, or White Book of the City of London, compiled in 1419, mentions the import of Scottish salmon, haddocks, and herrings. The fishing vocation must have been extensively pursued on our coasts and rivers; but an historian has remarked that "whether it occupied a class of men, who employed themselves solely in fishing, or was rather followed but occasionally by persons who applied also to different labours, cannot he precisely ascertained. Yet is it probable, that the latter would be the mode in which which the fishing of the Scottish coasts and rivers, was usually carried on; since the sub-division of labour was still very imperfect in Scotland." A great Scottish merchant in the beginning of the fifteenth century, was William Elphinstone, founder of the commerce of Glasgow, and father of the celebrated Bishop who founded the University of Aberdeen ; and the traffic by which he made his fortune is supposed to have been chiefly the exportation of pickled salmon. In the end of the same century a barrel of Scottish trout or grilse exported to Middlcburgh fetched 22s., and a barrel of salmon 25s.

The use of fixed machinery, such as Slake Nets, for the capture of salmon, seems to have been early practised on some parts of the Scottish coasts. The monks of Cupar, in the thirteenth century, had a grant of a I7air in the Firth of Tay. But the system was not apparently extended northwards till a later era ; for Bocce gives, in an introductory topographical chapter, the following description of what he calls a new mode of fishing on the seaboard of Morayshire.

The people thereof in like sort do use a strange manner of fishing; for they make a long wccic of wicker, narrow-necked, and wide-mouthed, with such cunning, that when the tide cometh the fish shoot themselves into the same, and forthwith are so inclosed that whilst the tide hasteth they cannot go out, nor after the water is gone escape the hands of the fishers.

In 1588, an Account of Scotland —Discrittione de Regno di Scotia—was published at Antwerp, by a learned Italian writer, Pctiuccio Ubaldini, who resided sometime in Scotland as an agent of the English government, in the time of Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth. He says that he wrote partly from his own personal observation, and partly from that of "trustworthy persons, highly distinguished for their rank, courtesy, and learning." He describes the process of fishing by a stake-net more minutely than Bocce, and must either have seen it himself, or received more detailcd information than was afforded by that historian. Speaking of the fishermen, he says :-

Drawing their nets, adapted to this purpose, for a great space through the tideway of the sea, when left dry at low water, and arranging these in a circular form, they fasten them strongly to the ground or sand ; so that, by three or four internal srindings, the nets are convoluted, as it were, in the form of a shell fastening the said nets accurately in every part, besides the heads, which are again intricately convoluted. When Use tide flows, the fish are carried by the current of the water against these nets, and in the mazes of their winding; they so entangle themselves by their own efforts, that an escape would be no longer easy, even if the sea should continue at high water for a considerable time this, however, having retired, in its ordinary reflux, the nets, with all the fish inclosed in them, are left dry as at first.

The construction of stake-nets still continues very much the same as in the days of Bocce and Ubaldini. The system, however, was subsequently abandoned on the cast coast (luring a lengthened period for, when it was introduced in the Firth of Tay, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and from the mouth of Tay round by Montrose and Aberdeen in 1820, it was regarded as a novelty in these quarters.

The Opinion of classic antiquity was not unanimous regarding the use of fish. We read of the fish-ponds and the pisciculture of the Romans, and of the enormous prices paid by their gourmands for rare denizens of the (led). But the Greek author, Dio Chrysostom argues, in an essay on "Kingly Government," that fish is not proper food for personages of high rank! "Homer," says he, "never introduces" his heroes "as eating fish, though their station was on the banks of a sea, which he uniformly distinguishes by the appellation of the fishy Hellespont and this accurate observation was made by Plato. Nor does he regale the suitors themselves on fish, even in the luxurious banquets of these highly delicate and self- indulgent sensualists." As to fishing, Plutarch denounces it "as a filthy, base, illiberal employment, having neither wit nor perspicacity in it, nor worth the labour" The old Celtic tribes of Caledonia, through many generations, were decidedly anti-ichthyophagous in their tastes, despising the piscatory stores of their rivers, lochs, and seas. It is thought that this prejudice arose from the veneration with which they regarded the waters ; and, at all events, fish occur amongst other symbols of Celtic mythology, represented on the sculptured memorial stones scattered up and down the country. Descending to the sixteenth century, we find Cornelius Agrippa, the magician, in his Vanity of Sciences and Arts, disparaging fish as "a hard food, not grateful to the stomach, nor yet acceptable in the sacrifices to the gods. Nobody," adds he, with irresistible naivete, "nobody ever heard of a fish being immolated!" Speaking of a fish diet and its influence on health, an English writer, of a later age, says that "for the laborious classes it certainly is not adapted to be the sole diet; but to vegetable food it makes an excellent addition:

and another proposes, as a remedy against dearths, to restore the use of fish to the ancient credit and estimation, holding that " fish is more healthful than flesh, howbeit, that (through the continual use) flesh is more agreeable with our nature." Of course, the idea of fish as "the sole diet" is entirely out of the question. But at present the complaint among the mass of the community is that they cannot, from the general high price, procure such "an excellent addition" as salmon at all: hence the "Bailie Salmon" of The Lentiad declares-

I say, sir, in no place whatever—
In ocean, lake, or pond, or river,
Can food be got for human use,
That goes beyond what I produce.
There's not a beast in all the land,
Which reaches any butcher's stand,
I do not go beyond in price.

It has been further suggested that the frequent or rather the habitual use of salted meat and particularly salted fish may have contributed to the ancient prevalence of leprosy in this and other European countries. The Naturalist of Selborne says—"One cause of this distemper might be, no doubt, the quantity of wretched fresh and salt fish consumed by the commonalty at all seasons, as well as in Lent, which our poor now would hardly be persuaded to touch." The spread of leprosy in Europe, we think, was chiefly attributable to the intercourse with the East opened up by the Crusades, and likewise to the debased sanitary condition of the people. In Scotland this distemper was once a severe scourge, defying the power of medicine. It cut short the (lays of King Robert Bruce: and so numerous were the infected that public hospitals for their reception were established in the neighbourhood of the more considerable towns. If however, bad diet had anything to do with the propagation of this fell pest, surely the Scottish Parliament of the year 1400 - Reign of Robert III.—did a very senseless and reprehensible thing in passing the first clause of the following Act, which appears in the Regiam Afajestalem:

Chap. 40. Faule Swyne, or Corrupted Salmon, soud nol be sauld.

It is statute, that gif any man bringes to the market corrupt swyne or salmond to be sauld, they sal be taken be the Baillies, and incontinent without any question, sal be send to the upper folke.

And gil there be na lipper folke, they sall be deslroied aluterlie.

On the eve of the outbreak of the Sweating Sickness in Germany, in 1529, an alarm arose that it was Perilous to cat fish. "In the north of Germany, and especially in the March of Brandenburg, eating fish, which were caught in great abundance, was generally esteemed detrimental. Malignant and contagious diseases were said to have been traced to this cause, and it was a matter of surprise that the only food which nature bounteously bestowed was so decidedly injurious. It might be difficult now to discover the cause of this phenomenon, of which we possess only isolated notices, yet, passing over all other conjectures, it is quite credible either that an actual fish poison was developed, or, if this notion be rejected, that a disordered condition of life, such as must be supposed to have existed in a great famine, rendered fish prejudicial to health, in the same way us sometimes occurs after protracted intermittent fevers."' On one occasion, within our own remem brance, popular feeling in London was strongly excited by a like apprehension. This was during the choleraic visitation of 1832. For some months that year salmon were absolutely unsaleable in the London market, to the heavy loss of the tacksmen of Scottish rivers.

It is not to be wondered at that in other times, when salmon, which is now a costly delicacy and obtainable only by the better classes, was so constant an article of diet amongst the common people, they valued it very lightly. Servants and apprentices, wearied of it, as the Israelites of the manna in the wilderness, came at last, it is asserted, to stipulate with their masters, in whose houses they boarded and lodged, that they should not be called upon to partake of salmon oftener than twice or thrice a week. Perhaps their distaste for an unvarying round of one sort of food was heightened by some such vague dread as that which was slily expressed by the Maybole joiner, John Fletcher, when having been employed at work for a considerable time on a neighbouring farm, he was regaled too frequently on fish. "John," it is said, "had no objections to fish as such, but to partake of them as an important article of diet once or twice a day was rather much for even his patience. He, therefore, rather startled the goodwifc one day at dinner by asking, abruptly, ' Are we no telt in the Scripture, mistress, that we'll rise a' flesh?' 'Deed arc we, John,' she answered. 'Weel,' rejoined John, 'I dinna see how that can be in our case I fear we'll rise a 'fish.' From that day fish was not so frequently served." f As to apprentices' indentures, the same tradition pervades various countries. But no indenture embodying the specific clause has yet been forthcoming. The late Mr. Ffenncl, Commissioner of Fisheries, desirous of testing the assumed fact, publicly offered a reward of 5 for the production of any such document, but the prize was never claimed. In 1870, however, a letter, affording some evidence oil point, appeared in the North Devon Journal:-

Sir,—With reference to the controversy in your columns relative to the salmon clause in the indentures of apprentices in loaner times, allow roe to say that I have seen two indentures containing the clause. By one of them the late Mr. Jolts Bowdage, of Axminster, was bound to a baker; by the other, Mr. Emanuel Dommett was bound to Mr. Francis Dight, fellmonger, also of Axminster. The clause restricted the masters to the dining of their apprentices on salmon oftener than twice a week. The price of salmon at that time (the close of the last century) was 2d. to 3d. per lb.—I am, sir, yours truly,

Geo. P. K. Pulman
Author of the Book of the Axe

In the year 1760, according to the Newcastle c/ironic/c of 1881, salmon was sold in the market of that town at three farthings per pound; and this was about the period when the apprentices are said to have rebelled against being obliged to take the fish at every meal. Captain Burt, in his Letters from the North of Scotland, gives an amusing example of the low estimation in which salmon were held as food by Scottish Highlanders about 1730 :-" The meanest servants, who arc not at board wages, will not make a meal upon salmon if they can get anything else to eat. I have been told it here, as a very good jest, that a Highland gentleman, who vent to London by sea, soon after his landing passed by a tavern where the larder appeared to the street, and operated so strongly upon his appetite that he went in—that there were among other things a rump of beef and some salmon of the beef lie ordered a steak for himself. But,' says he, 'let Duncan have some salmon.' To be short, the cook who attended him humoured the jest, and the master's eating was eightpence, and Duncan's came to almost as many shillings."

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the destruc- tion of spawning or foul salmon during the close season appears to have been very prevalent in Scotland, and unquestionably it was an old and inveterate offence. A broadside, printed at Edinburgh in 1709, contained an anonymous letter to the Earl of Seafield (who had been the last Chancellor of Scotland), on the subject of the salmon fisheries, and showing how great was the annual slaughter of foul fish. " I have known," says the writer, a fellow not worth a groat kill with a spear in one night's time a hundred black fish or kipper, for the most part full of rawns unspawned:" and lie adds—"Even a great many gentlemen, inhabitants by the rivers, are guilty of the -same crimes," heedless of the prodigious treasure thus miserably dilapidated." He reckoned, however, that despite these losses, the Scottish salmon-fishings yielded good results. He had known from 2000 to 3000 barrels, worth about 6 sterling each, exported in one year.

"Nay," he continues, "I know Sir James Calder of Muirton alone sold to one English merchant a thousand barrels in one year's fishing. Further, he calculates that if the fisheries were properly protected and cultivated, they should yield 40,000 barrels per annum, valued at 24,000 sterling. This earnest appeal led to no immediate reformation. No adequate measures were taken for the protection of the fisheries till after more than a hundred years had come and gone.

Was the sport of angling as popular with the ancients as it is with us? Or, can modern times alone claim the merit of having gradually developed a thorough and widely-diffused appreciation of the quiet and yet exhilarating pastime? These questions we will not pretend absolutely to determine. Of course, fishing with hooks, as with cast and drag nets, for obtaining supplies of food, and not for mere recreation, is old enough. The hook, or angle, is mentioned in the Scriptures ; and some of the Roman poets make similar references. Thus Ovid, in his Metamorphoses:-

With lines and hooks he caught the finny prey
His art was all his livelihood.

But that the Romans, as well as the Egyptians, used hook and line for amusement, is evident from the story of the trick practised by Cleopatra upon Mark Antony, when one of her divers fixed a salted fish to the Triumvir's hook. Still, what, at its best, was the sport on Italian or Egyptian waters—yea, even though Antony had fished for crocodiles on the Nile—as compared with the salmon- angling of our day? The salmon was known to the Romans, but not, it is believed, to the Greeks. We have no means of ascertaining, however, whether the Romans angled for salmon on the rivers in Britain and other provinces where the fish abounded : but we are rather inclined to suspect that all piscatory sport was rather too tame for the generality of a people habituated to sterner pursuits even in their pleasures, and who gloated on the gladiatorial combats and the wild-beast fights in the amphitheatre. Nor did the painted Picts, our forefathers, set much store by the wealth which their waters afforded —the Celtic tribes (as already said) being remarkable for dislike to fish as food.

Of the monarch of the tide," the royal denizen of Scottish waters, an aquecultural writer has said— "Crowned long ago by acclamation king of fish, learning has done him homage; the splendour of his destiny has been the theme of modern prophecy; genius has shed her light upon him, and the skill of the engineer has been employed in his service." Can it, then, be deemed a frivolous task to collect, as we now purpose doing, some Curiosities of Salmon Fishing?—that is to say, to bring under notice some strange and generally romantic modes of capturing salmon, which have been exemplified, at various times, here and there in Scotland.

"There are many lions or pools," says Hector Bocce, "which being in some places among the rocks very shallow above and deep beneath, with the fall of the water, and thereto the salmon not able to pierce through the channel, either for swiftness of the course, or depth of the descent, he goeth so near unto the side of the rock or dam as he may, and there adventuring to leap over and up into the linn, if he leapt well at first, he obtaineth his desire; if not, he essayeth oftsoon the second or third time, till he return to his countrie. A great fish able to swim against the stream, such as essay often to leap and cannot get over, do bruize themselves and become meazelled others that happen to fall upon dry land (a thing often seen), are taken by the people, watching their time, some in cauldrons of hot water, with fire under them, set upon shallow or dry places, in hopes to catch the fattest, by reason of their weight that do leap short."

The River Shin, in Sutherland, emerges from the south-east end of the loch of the same name, and at about a mile's distance from its source, pours its flood over a precipice twenty feet high. We learn from the Statistical Account of Lairg parish published in 1794, that "the old method of killing the salmon of the Shin (which are, in general, a much larger and coarser fish than any other in Scotland), was by thrusting a long creel or basket, in behind the cascade, at the foot of the rock, and every fish that jumped to get up, was sure to fall in the basket, and kill itself by the fall. When the river happened to be very high a few of the lightest fish would get over the cascade, and make their way to the lake, which was p:ihaps the circumstance that preserved the breed, the whole run of the water, from the great fall, being so extremely rough and rapid, that there is no sand or gravel to protect the spawn; but the fishing company have now erected cruives upon the Shin, near the place where it discharges itself into the Kyle of Sutherland.

Another remarkable fall is the Red Lien, on the River Beauty, at KiImorack, in Inverness-shire. The stream, )lunging down a dozen of feet, collects in a pool, surrounded with rocks, which are only a little higher than the surface of the water. When the salmon, in trying to clear the cascade, fail in their spring, they fall back sometimes on the craggy banks. In other clays, the country people were in the habit of laying down turf and branches of trees along the edge of the rocks, so as to form a parapet, whereby a fish falling within it was prevented from wriggling back into the water; and we are assured by the old statistical writers, that in this way, eight, twelve, and twenty salmon were frequently secured in a single night. But a far more ingenious plan was hit upon by one of the Lords of Lovat, the masters of the river, enabling him to make an apparently incredible boast. He caused a small boiler full of water to be placed over a fire on this rock," and, according to the tradition of the district, "some of the fish, being driven back by the current, fell often into the said boiler. A fish caught and boiled in this manner was sometimes served up to dinner; so that his lordship often surprised strangers by telling them that the fish now before them had leaped out of the Beauly into the very pot in which it was boiled; and bringing them sometimes to the spot, what he gave out was confirmed by ocular demonstration." Our informant further states that on this pool he had seen some of the neighbouring inhabitants fish, by standing on the rock above it with a long pole. On one end of this pole are fixed three large hooks joined together, and turned back to back. The person who fishes with the pole dips it in the pool, and after waiting for about half-a-minute, draws it up with a jerk, and generally hooks a fish by some part of his body.* Moreover, the famous Simon of Lovat, who lost his head on Tower-hill, in 1746, carried on a profitable export of Beauly salmon, the capture of which "was generally accomplished by men watching on the rocks, and spearing them as they attempted to leap the waterfall—a Perilous occupation, since it added the shock and struggle with a nimble and strong animal to the natural hazard of clambering among precipices."

At the Linn of Avon, among the wilds of Banffshire, it was once the custom to hang a capacious bag-net from a strong crossbeam right across the cataract, so that the salmon, if they leaped short, fell into this receptacle, and were taken. A certain worthy of the locality, with confused notions of meum et tuam in his head, and who was unconnected with this fishing, though he had a penchant for salmon, occasionally stole to the Linn under cloud of night, when he knew that nobody would be there, and quietly drawing the bag-net to land, appropriated its contents, after which he carefully replaced it in its proper position, and slipped off unseen with his plunder. lie continued this nefarious game for a considerable time, with varying success, and without incurring the slightest suspicion. At length, grown careless and foolhardy in his darkling work at the fall, he one night lost his footing on the wet crags, and tumbled down headlong —not into the raging torrent, but, fortunately, into the bag. Never before had such a catch been made, and there he swung, like Mohomet in his coffin, suspended helplessly betwixt earth and heaven, and drenched with the foam and spray of the linu. had not the beam and tackle been stout, his adventure would have ended in the boiling depths below. He had no means of extrication from a predicament so ludicrous and withal so full of peril. For hours, which seemed ages, he lay huddled in the net, shivering to the core with wet, cold, affright, and the terror of inevitable discovery. Morning dawned, and soon the owner of the bag-net came to the spot. Rubbing his eyes again and again to make sure that he saw clearly, so astounded was he by the sight of so exceeding queer a fish caught in the toils. The trembling culprit confessed everything, and was relieved with a suitable admonition. Thenceforth, as we may be sure, he scrupulously avoided going near the linn either by night or by day.

In the middle of the fourteenth century the shire of Caithness owned the sway of a powerful baron, named Roland Cheyne—perhaps an ancestor of the brave young squire of the same name whose chivalry at Harlaw was chaunted by old Elspeth Mucklebackit. The baron's castle of Dirlet stood on a rocky height bordering a deep pool of the Thurso river. In that pool, immediately under the walls, he erected a salmon cruive, which was so cunningly constructed that the entrance of a fish within it rang a warning-bell. A like story is told of Lochmore Castle, on the banks of the lake of that name, about eight miles from Dirlet. There, it is said, the capture of a salmon was announced to the whole family by the ringing of a bell, which hung in a room of the castle, and was connected by a cord with the machine in the stream below.

One of the most picturesque of the tributaries of the Tay is the Tummel, which, after joining with the Garry, flows into the former river about half-a-mile below the thriving village of Logicrait. Before uniting with the Garry near Faskally, the Tummel is a rapid and impetuous Highland torrent, forming many small cascades in its troubled course, and also a great cataract, known as "The Falls of Tummel," par excellence, at a short distance above Faskally, where the rushing current precipitates itself over a mass of rock from sixteen to eighteen feet high, constituting one of the finest falls in Scotland. The rock, however, prevents the salmon ascending the river for the purpose of spawning, and but for this barrier they would have a free run of some five-and-twenty miles to Loch Rannoch, through what would prove the best spawning ground in the district. The fish, in attempting to leap the falls, have been often caught by baskets and otherwise, as was the case when Mr. Pennant visited the scene during his Scottish Tour of 1772. " Salmons," he says, "annually force their passage even up this furious cataract and are taken here in a most artless manner a hamper, fastened to a wicker-rope, pinned into the cleft of the rock by a stick, is flung into the stream : now and then a fish, in the fall from its effort to get up, drops into this little ware. It is not to be supposed that the owner call himself by the capture in fact, the chance of his good fortune is hired out at the annual rent of one pound fourteen shillings. At other times, the fisher flings into the stream below a crowfoot, or caltrop, fastened to a long rope. On instrument, the salmons often transfix themselves, and are drawn to land. Another method, of much risk to the adventurer, is at times practised. A person seats himself oil brink of the precipice, above the cataracts, and fixes one foot in the noose of a wicker-cord here he expects the leap of a salmon armed with a Spear, the moment the fish rises, he darts his weapon at the hazard of falling into the water by his own effort, or the struggles of his prey."

"Down by the Tummel" we have thus gleaned some Curiosities of Salmon Fishing; but our quest fails to discover such on the " banks of the Garry." Still, we cannot quit that romantic Highland river without some pleasant reminiscence congenial to our theme, and therefore we quote the following feminine effusion, from Mr. Pennant's book, commemorating the appearance of two fair and titled dames as anglers on Garry's banks


By a Lady

Where silver-footed Garry nimbly flows,
Whose verdant banks the nymphs and naiads love,
Where nature every blooming sweet bestows,
Not less delightful than Idalia's grove.

As contemplation led my wand'ring feet
Along the margin of the crystal flood,
The feather'd songsters baud the sweet retreat,
And gentle zephyrs whisper'd thro' the wood.

Charn'd within the scene, silent a white I gaz'd,
Intently list'ning to the murm'ring stream,
In grateful transports nature's God I prais'd,
And long my soul pursu'd the rapt'rous theme.

At length I heard, or fancy found the tale,
A gentle voice in mournful notes complain
Soft echo bore the accents thro' the vale,
And thus the mourner seem'd to breathe his pain.

"Why did I idly leave the coral groves,
Where safety on the breast of silence lies?
Danger still waits the heedless fool that roves,
And in pursuit of fleeting bliss he dies.

One fatal day, as near the brink 1 stray'd,
Two pleasing forms lean'd o'er the trembling brook,
Their gentle smiles an artless mind betray'd
Mischief sure never wore so fair a look.

"Each held a magic wand with wondrous grace,
A pendant line convey'd the tempting bait
 O sight, portentous to the finny race,
Fraught with the (lire command of cruel fate.

"My tender mate play'd fearless by my side
With eager joy she snatch'd the hidden dart,
Instant, alas I lost my lovely bride
\Vlsat racking torture seiz'd my wounded heart.

Per since that hour, to pining grief a prey,
My flossing tears increase my native flood,
Is melancholy sighs I waste the day,
And shun the commerce of the scaly brood.

Shou'd chance this mournful tale at Blair relate,
Where dwell the dang'rous fair who caus'st my pain,
They who can love so well, wou'd mourn my fate,
And ne'er disturb our harmless race again."

This elegiac strain on the death of a trout is quite in keeping with the sentimentality of our eighteenth century pastoral poetry. It reminds us of the occasion when Goldsmith, holding forth, in Johnson's presence, about making animals in fable talk in character, referred to little fishes, adding that "the skill consisted in making them talk like little fishes."Johnson could not forbear laughing at the idea, upon which Goldy observed—"Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy as you seem to think ; for if you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales." Our readers can judge for themselves whether the lament of the Garry trout fulfils the Goldsmithian requirement.

Another Perthshire stream, the Ericht, supplies us with curiosities. The Ericht springs from the Grampian hills, but along that part of its course which runs through Glenshee, a pass leading into Aberdeenshire, it is called the Slice then it changes its name to the Blackwater and the Blackwater being afterwards joined by the Ardle, also from a Grampian source, the confluent waters receive the name of Ericht. The river flows through the beautiful vale of Glenericht, and falls into the Isla, about two miles north of Coupar-Angus. In some parts the banks of the Ericht are low, and therefore liable to be overflowed in times of spate, but in other places they ascend like lofty wa's," towering in rugged grandeur. What lover of the picturesque who has visited Craighall can ever forget the romantic scene ? North of Blairgowrie, the river, for the space of a couple of miles, rushes through a ravine, the rocky sides of which rise frequently to a height of 300 feet.

A statistical writer of 1792 stated that "sportsmen look upon the water of Ericht as one of the finest rivers for rod-fishing, both for trout and salmon." At that time the principal fishing on the Ericht was at the Keith, near Rattray, where the river rolls down over a ledge of rock, the basin beneath being a great resort of salmon preparing to try their agility against the obstruction and the mode of capturing them had been peculiar to the place beyond the memory of man. If the river was in flood, a bag-net, attached to a long hazel handle, perfectly elastic, was let down by fishermen perched on the brink of the overhanging cliffs, but when the stream was low and clear, the fishermen plied their craft only after sunset, when they threw a thin clay, resembling wrought mortar, into the pool to darken the water, and then let down the bag-net. A later writer, in 1843, described this modus operandi as then in vogue, with an important addition There is still another expedient put in practice for the destruction of the fish. When the river is small, its breadth from rock to rock, about thirty yards below the fall, is not more than from six to eight feet and at this narrow a net nearly of the same form as those already described, but shorter in the handle, and sufficiently large to fill up nearly the whole space from side to side, is put clown into the water, as near to the bottom as possible, and the fish are dislodged from under the rocks above, and forced downwards by means of a long pole with a mass of red cloth at the end of it, which is pushed under the rocks. Terrified and confused by the noise and splashing, and the glare of the uncouth instrument with which it is performed, the salmon rush blindly down to escape it, and fall into the net placed to intercept them. Frequently, however, they escape the danger, either by getting past or under the net, or by darting out of it again before it can be raised to the surface. But the days of salmon-fishing on the Bricht are over. How different was it when, in 1804, a pool, called the Coble Pool, yielded 336 salmon and grilse at a single haul.

The blazing or burning of rivers which long prevailed over Scotland, but is now almost extinct, claims a passing notice in the present connection. A vivid description of the custom as it was practised, on the Borders last century, occurs in Guy .Mannering. A tribe of highlanders inhabiting Strathavon, Banffshire, had a habit of taking their fish-spears with them when they vent to the kirk of a Sunday, that they might strike salmon on their way, which led along the banks of the river Avon. When they reached the place of worship, they set their spears against the gable, and devoutly heard service, but when it was over they resumed their weapons, and beguiled their homeward route with fresh sport.

Salmon poachers generally employed the Ieister and the torch during the close-time, the very time when the fish were unfit as food, and needed protection most for the welfare of the fisheries ; but until the year 1828 there was no adequate protection to our salmon waters—not for want of legislative enactments, but because their enforcement, formerly a matter of difficulty, had latterly become useless for the object in view. The Act of 1828 declared blazing unlawful, prohibiting, under a penalty, any person using "ally light or fire of any kind, in or for the taking or with intent to take any salmon, grilse, sea-trout, or other fish of the salmon kind:" and it also established a protective force for the rivers. Severe was the struggle which ensued with the blazing poachers. In Perthshire—especially in the eastern district—bands assembling in disguise, with blackened faces, like companies of Guizards, defied the law with a courage and persistency worthy of a better cause. Night after night the Isla was blazed by these resolute bands, between whom and the watchers many a tough "skriinmage " was waged in the darkness. But the power of law gradually got the upper hand. On the Earn, too, and in other quarters, similar contests took place with the like result. In 1836, a witness examined before a Committee of the House of Commons on the Scottish Salmon Fisheries, gave evidence as to the practice of blazing—which by that time had much diminished—on the Teith. The poachers, he said "use what they call a blaze and a spear; there is generally one person walks in the centre, having a faggot, made of dry fir, sometimes dry broom, put oil pole; this he carries up high above his head, and there is generally a person walking oil side of him with a spear each, what we call a lister, with three prongs ; the effect of the light is to show clearly the fishes in the stream." But now, happily for the peace and morality of the country districts, the leister and the blaze are seldom seen in any part of Scotland.

Another fashion was peculiar to the Solway Firth, where, during the ebb of the tide, the salmon left in the Pools oil sands were dextrously speared by horsemen. This sport has been depicted in Redgauntlet.

The banks of our salmon rivers have often echoed the confused clamour of a sport, with which, in its hurrying bustle and excitement, the Waltonian art, the contemplative man's recreation," bears no comparison. The otter, that

Water-wolf, of species undefined,
Or fish, or quadruped, or both conjoined,

was formerly a constant object of pursuit on Scottish streams, and the otter-hunt ranked high in the category of national diversions—the animal being classed, by the old writers on hunting, with the badger and the wild-cat, as affording "greate dysporte," though conventionally belonging to the "rascal " kind. But this water-wolf has now disappeared from most of its long-accustomed haunts, and its chase, north of the Tweed, has almost become a thing of the past. Peculiarly obnoxious to the piscatorial interests of the rivers, the otter is held in detestation by the angler. "I am, sir, a brother of the angler, and therefore an enemy to the otter," quoth old Isaak; for you are to note that we anglers all love one another, and therefore do I hate the otter, both for my own and for their sakes who are of my brotherhood." On the other hand, the "base vermin" has been regarded with far different feelings by the peasantry of a water-side. The Highland people affectionately call it caraid nam bochd, the poor man's friend," because of its habit of eating no more than a bit from the back or shoulder of a salmon, and then leaving the fish lying on the bank, to be picked Up by the first passer-by. In Scotland it has been an old belief that the otters have a king, of larger size than the rest of the species, and farther distinguished by having his coat streaked or varied with white. His skin, moreover, was thought to possess inestimable virtues to mankind. It was an antidote for infectious diseases: the Highlanders were anxious to line their targets with it to ensure victory in battle; and mariners valued it as an infallible preservation against shipwreck at sea. But, as we are told, "the otter-king is very rarely seen, and very hard to be killed;" and he is never killed without the sudden death of a man or an animal at the same moment!

The otter is capable of being utilised in the capture of salmon. An English gentleman had one, who followed him with his dogs when he vent to hunt other otters; but though the hounds did not molest their queer companion, they would hunt no otters in his presence, upon which account, although he was useful in fishing, and in driving the trouts towards the net, his owner had to part with him. A man near Inverness had likewise a tame otter, which was frequently employed in fishing, and would take eight or ten salmon in a day. When one was taken from it, it dived for another, and when tired and satisfied with eating its share, it curled itself round and fell asleep, in which state it was generally carried home. An otter in the possession of a gentleman fanner near Coupar-Angus was quite domesticated, It was as tame as a dog, and slept every night with one of its master's sons. In the (lay time it regularly frequented it loch in the neighbourhood for the purpose of procuring fish, but would always come out of the water when called by any person of the family. In I807, a young moan, at Lochside, in the parish of Blairgowrie, having shot at and wounded a young otter, carried it home, 'here it speedily recovered, and became as tame as a lap-dog. It accompanied its master to the lochs and rivers in the vicinity, where it (lived for fish, brought them to land, and returned for more.* Recently, a correspondent of a London sporting paper suggested that the otter might be employed in catching trout on lochs where boats are scarce or difficult to procure ; but, in our opinion, there is little chance of the animal coming into favour, under any circumstances, as a substitute for the rod or the net.

Cormorants, too, were trained to fish for the amusement of their masters; and it appears that this fashion, which had been long practised by the Chinese, was introduced into Europe during the sixteenth century. Our British Solomon, James I., kept cormorants and otters oil ponds in the London parks. This is shown by the PoI! Records. In France, Henry IV., Louis XIII., and the Grande Monarqzie patronised cormorant fishing on ponds and canals of Fontainebleau, where there was a "Keeper."

But the sport is not extinct in England. The Field of 18th October, 1890, contains a communication from Mr. F. H. Salvin of Cambridgeshire, in which he states that he "was the first who revived cormorant fishing in England many years ago," and! he gives "some of his experiences of the training and management of these birds, both at home and in the field."

Fishing with geese was a sport often enjoyed in bye- gone days on the waters of the beautiful Lake of Menteith, in south-western Perthshire. A line with a baited hook was fastened to the leg of a goose, which was then placed on the water of the lake. A boat containing a party of lords and ladies followed the bird. Soon a marauding pike took hold of the bird. A capture ensued. The splashing, floundering, wheeling of the combatants was overpowering as a source of merriment, till at length amidst the clapping of hands and waving of handkerchiefs, the goose proved triumphant, and bore a prisoner to land, his sharp-toothed adversary."

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