Edward Fitzgibbon.

The book of the salmon; in two parts... Usefully illustrated with numerous coloured engravings of salmon-flies, and salmon-fry online

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THE GOLDFINCH




BRITAJSTKIA




::' &0 BRAGH.




Xonaor^Lo^n^. ..Cr



THE

BOOK OF THE SALMON:

IN TWO PARTS.

Part I.

THE THEORY, PRINCIPLES, AXD PRACTICE OF FLY-PISHING FOR

SALMON; WITH LISTS OF SALMO>-FLIES FOR SYEE jf

GOOD RIVER IN THE EliPiRE.

Part XX.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SALMON, ALL ITS KNOWN

HABITS DESCRIBED, AND THE BEST WAY OF ARTIFICIALLY

BREEDING IT EXPLAINED.

Usefally illustrated with nuxaerous Coloured Ed gravmgs
of Salmon-flies, and Salmon-fry.

BY EPHEMERA, [t>>«-^h

AUTHOR OF "A HANDBOOK OF ANGLING:"



BY ANDEEW YOUNG,

OF imERSHIN, MANAGER OF THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND'S
SALMON-FISHERIES.



LONDON :
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS,

PATERNOSTER-ROW.
1850.



CrOLOtjT

LIBRARY

G



SiOLOGY UBAkhi



London :

Spottiswoodes and Shaw,

New-street- Square.



THE FOLLOWING PAGES,

ESPECIALLY THOSE WHICH TREAT OF THE NATURAL
HISTORY OF SALMON,

ARE,

BY PERMISSION, GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED TO

HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND, K.G.

IN TESTIMONY OF

THE AI>MIRATION IN WHICH HE IS HELD,

FOR HIS ENLIGHTENED. AND LIBERAL ADMINISTRATION

OF HIS PRINCELY LAND AND WATER

POSSESSIONS, —

BY

HIS OBLIGED AND DETOTED SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR.

London, March 1850.



899581



PREFACE,



I HAVE been for a long time exceedingly desirous
of rendering fly-fisliing for salmon more acces-
sible to the public than it has hitherto been ; and
for some years past have been making advances,
step by step, towards the consummation of my
wishes. I do not think myself unknown to the
majority of the angling community; perhaps I
have a right to flatter myself that I am favour-
ably known to them, for my zeal at least, if not
for my actual services, in their cause ; and, if they
will consent to tax their memory a little, they
will perceive that, both in my periodical writings
and in my books, I have been steadily preparing the
way for the more facile and general acquisition
of the higher branches of angling. Heretofore
my piscatorial prolusions may, in some sort, be



VI PREFACE.

regarded as angling analecta minora ; the present
ones as analecta majora. After the Delectus comes
the Gradus ad Parnassum — after prose compo-
sition come the Porson prize and Sapphics.

I like method, and on it I broke ground, in
" A Handbook of Ansilino;." I be2;an with ele-
raents and concluded with principles and practice.
I took my pupils to an angling academy, and
fitted them for matriculation in any piscatory
university. There I now have them ; and if I
have succeeded in initiating them into the mys
tery and craft of angling for the trout and carp
tribes, and I assume that I have done so, I now
deem it high time to endeavour to put the last
polish on their " halieutics," by exercises on the
"high art" capture of salmon, and by correct
theses on the history and habits of that pride of
our fluvial families.

I self-constitute myself, as it were, a regius
piscatorial professor. I have been a public tutor
in the art these fourteen years, and to enable me
to obtain a higher degree, to fit myself for the
professorial chair, I returned to college again last
year, and passed a very studious term in the



PREFACE. Vll

famous piscatory university of Scotland. The
term was mainly occupied in inquiry, obser-
vation, and practice — in conversations, consulta-
tions, and friendly disputations with the great
masters and practical teachers of the North. I
merely mention this to show, that although I
am a self-elected teacher, I have tried hard not to
deserve being called an idle, or an ignorant one.
I shall state briefly the results of my studies.

The FiEST part of this book will be found to
consist of a code of rules for the practice of
pure fly-fishing for salmon. I presume the
student to be already proficient in the art of
fly-fishing for trout, and taking him at that point
of progress, I place in his hands the salmon-rod.
I tell him of what materials it is to be made ; of
what size and shape it is to be ; and I describe
the winch and lines best suited for it. I tell him
then how to use it, whether for casting the fly,
humouring the fly on the water, or striking,
hooking, or playing a salmon. I show him how
a salmon river is to be fished, and where and
when to the best advantage.

A 4



Vlll PREFACE.

Having done all this with elaborate minuteness,
I proceed to describe the flies the salmon-fisher
must use. To render the description more intel-
ligible, fifteen model flies have been engraved and
coloured. Thirteen are after patterns made by Mr.
Blacker, of 54, Dean- Street, Soho, which I have
myself successfully tested ; and two are after fa-
vourite patterns kindly sent me, by a gentleman
connected with the Foreign Office, and an excel-
lent salmon fisher. These models will furnish
a correct idea of what salmon-flies ought to be,
generally speaking, in colour, shape, and size.

The list of flies described is the largest, and
I think I may say the best, ever published. It
embraces general flies of my own selection, and
local flies, the patterns of which I have had from
the best recognized authorities. For the Tweed,
Mr. Forrest, of Kelso, has dressed for me the
best standard flies ; for the rivers of Sutherland-
shire, and for nearly all the rivers of Scotland,
Mr. Dunbar, of Loch-Inver, has made me the
best patterns, and described the rivers for which
they are suited, and the fit season for using them ;



PREFACE. IX

and Mr. Flinn, of Worcester, has dressed for me
the local flies for Wales. The flies for the rivers
of the south of Ireland, are after patterns by W.
K. Rogers, Esq., of Cork, one of the most ac-
complished salmon anglers of my acquaintance;
and those for the north of Ireland, are made by
Mr. Blacker.

I have taken care to mention the materials
that enter into the composition of salmon-flies,
and given recipes for the dyeing of wools, furs,
silk, and feathers of all those various colours
required by the fly-dresser. I have had a plate
of salmon-hooks engraved, to show their shapes
and sizes, from the largest to the smallest, and
have named the best maker of them.

The Second part of the volume is occupied
with the natural history of the Salmon, including
a minute detail of its habits, with coloured plates,
representing the growth of Salmon-fry, and with
a chapter on the surest means of breeding that fish
artificially. I can recommend, without the slight-
est assumption of vanity, this part of the book to
the attention of the naturalist, as well as to the



X PREFACE.

study of the intelligent angler. It embraces by far
the fullest and truest history of the Salmo salar
as yet extant. It is the work, substantially, of
Mr. Andrew Young of Invershin ; in my opinion,
the greatest living authority on the subject. The
circumstances under which I have obtained from
him the facts adduced are stated elsewhere ; but I
am responsible for the manner in which they are
narrated, for a few trifling addenda to them, and
for some arguments and deductions that naturally
flowed from them.

Lest it may be supposed that I have formed
an exclusively high opinion of the acquirements
and abilities of my friendly coadjutor, I have per-
mission to make known the estimation in which
he is held by one of the foremost noblemen in
the kingdom. In reply to a letter soliciting at
the hands of his Grace the Duke of Sutherland
the honour of inscribing this little work to him,
his Grace, with characteristic kindness, wrote to
me as follows : —



PREFACE* XI

" Dunrobin, October 6. 1849.

« Sir,

" I HAVE to acknowledge the receipt of your
letter, and to thank you for the obliging com-
pliment you oifer.

" I wish I were better entitled to it, by
entering personally into the details which make
the pursuits of the Angler so delightful to him,
as I know to be the case in the instance of many
of my friends and family, and have full reason
to know is more generally so to others.

" I am persuaded that the work you propose
will be highly interesting, as the subject is not
confined to the sport ; and the natural history,
written by an intelligent observer, after much
experience, and observation of the Salmon, can-
not fail to deserve attention, and to be attractive
for all readers.

" I am glad that Mr. A. Young's merits should
be appreciated properly. I think highly of him,
and hope that a change of arrangements, which I
intend in regard to the future affairs of the
Fishings, may secure the continuance of his care



Xll PREFACE.

of the Shin fishing, with a prospect of advantage
to himself, which I should much desire.

" I am very glad that you should have had
enjoyment on the Shin, and hope that you may
continue to have good sport in Sutherland.

" I can have no hesitation in accepting your

offer, made, as I consider it to be, in so friendly

a manner.

" I am. Sir,

" Your obedient servant,

" Sutherland."

I have to hope, and I have done all in my
power to realise my aspirations, that the public
will ratify the flattering anticipations of his
Grace.

The errors of previous writers on the history
and habits of the Salmon, satisfactorily, to my
mind, corrected by Mr. Young, are too numerous
and important for prefatorial enumeration. They
must be read in the text, and afterwards carefully
digested, to be appreciated.



CONTENTS.



PART I.



CHAPTER I.

In laud of Fly-fishing for Salmon — Pleasant Reminiscences
and Anticipations of — The Salmon-fisher's Rod — Its
Size, Make, and Material — Winches — Salmon-lines —
Of what Material, and in what Way, they should be
made — Their length — Gut Casting-lines — A model one
— The Quality of Gut — Caution about Winch and Cast-
ins-lines Paae 1



CHAPTER n.

Throwing the Line and Fly described — How the Rod is to
be held and wielded in casting the Line — The back-
handed Cast — The left and right Shoulder Cast — Straight
Casting eulogised — Mr. Scrope's Way of Casting — Mr.
Stoddart's Method — How to become ambidexter — The
under-handed Cast— The "Welsh Throw" — The Me-
tropolitan straight Cast — Under-handed Casting de-
scribed and commended - - - - 20



XIV CONTENTS.



CHAPTER III.

Working the Salmon-fly through the Water — Mischief of
rapidly working it — Experiments recently made — A
fascinating Manoeuvre — Appearance of the Fly in the
Water — Rendering a long Cast perfect — Hooking a
Salmon — Reasons for striking gently — Eifects of violent
striking — Striking sideways recommended — A practical
Angling Lesson — Success of gentle Striking — Grilse
stronger than Salmon — Effects of Fresh Water on Sal-
mon — Rules for playing a Salmon — Playing one under
Difficulties — How to stop a fleeing Salmon — Salmon-
somersets, how dealt with — How to fish a Salmon-
river — Up-river Fishing recommended — What Spots
should be fished — Angling-pilots — Favourite Haunts of
Salmon — When Salmon rise best — Best Hours for Sal-
mon-fishing Page 39



CHAPTER IV.

On Salmon-flies — A piscatorial Puzzle — Nondescripts —
An old Theory abandoned — Capriciousness of Salmon —
Their unaccountable Predilections — General and local
Flies — A great and general Rule — Feathers, Furs,
Wools, and Silks for Flies — How to dye them various
Colours — Valuable dyeing Recipes — Best Salmon-hooks
— Plate of them — List of Salmon-flies — For the Shan-
non, Tweed, Shin, Laxford, Naver, Inver, Brora, Oikel,
Carron, Carsely, Kirkaig — Sutherlandshire and Rosshire
Rivers described — Flies for the Findhorn, Don, Dee,
and Spey — For the Ballyshannon, Bann, Bush, Black-
water, Lee (Cork) — Killarney and Waterville — Welsh
Flies — General Flies — The Three Graces — Sea- trout
Flies. 67



CONTENTS. XV



PART II.



CHAPTER I.



Natural History of Salmon — Letter from Mr. Young —
Mr. Shaw's Theory doubted — Salmon preparing to
spawn — Length of Spawning Season — Salmon-fry al-
ways in Rivers — Early and late Spawning — Interesting
Facts — Instinct of Salmon — Formation of the Spawn-
ing-bed — Deposition and Impregnation of Ova — Spawn-
ing-bed completed — Length of Ditto — Change of Ditto

— Spawning-bed made piecemeal — Salmon Ova de-
scribed — Growth of Fish in ovo — Interesting Spectacle

— Moment of Anxiety — Satisfactory Experiments —
Gravity of Spawn — Hatching Process — Destruction of
Ova — By what destroyed — Where Salmon do not breed
— Growth of Salmon-fry — Admeasurement of — Always
in Rivers — Migratory Coat — Smolts ready for Sea

— Growth of Salmon at Sea — Unequal Growth —
Handsome and ugly Grilse — Grilse stronger than Sal-
mon, and larger — Rapid Growth of Salmon — Fables
about Ditto — How Salmon leap — Distance of Leaps —
Salmon ascending Rapids — JNIigrating — Atrocious Con-
trivances — Travelling Pace of Salmon — Salmon a fresh-
water Fish — Salmon-fry described — Plates of Ditto —
The " Parr " a Trout — Size and age of the Smolt— Our
and Mr. Shaw's Specimens - - - Page 157



XVI CONTENTS.



CHAPTER II.

Artificial Breeding of Salmon — Artificial Ponds, Pond-
beds, and Walls — Artificial Pond-water — Expression of
Ova and Milt — A great Fact — Exportation of impreg-
nated Ova — Artificial Spawning-trenches — Tending the
Ponds — The Salmon-fry of artificial Ponds — Stocking
with Salmon, Rivers that are devoid of them — Parting
Aspirations Page 230



LIST OF PLATES.

Plate 1. - - - Frontispiece.

„ 2 - - - to face page 88

„ 3. - - - „ 90

„ 4. - - - „ 92

„ 5. - - - ., 94



6.



220
224



„ /. - - - «

„ 8. - - - ., 226

The plate of Salmon-Hooks „ 84



Ti



PURE FLY-FISHING FOR SALMON.



PART THE FlES'il.LJi'TH



CHAPTER I.



IN LAUD OF FLY-FISHING FOR SALMON. ON SALMON FLY-
RODS, WINCHES, LINES, AND ON THEIR MAKE, MATERIAL,
AND MANUFACTURE.

I HAVE many times written about angling apolo-
getically. I have frequently written in its de-
fence, and very often in praise of it. I was
chiefly induced to do so, because the art was de-
fined as the occupation of a ninny by one great
writer = — Dr. Samuel Johnson ; and as the amuse-
ment of a cruel disposition by another — the most
popular of modern poets — Lord Byron. A host
of imbecile babblers and ignorant witlings took
up the cry, and ran, as they thought, this creature
of their contempt to death. They should have
recollected, and the doing so might have cooled

B



2 PRAISE OF FLY-FISHING.

the scent, that one of the leaders of the pack was
very purblhid, and could not see a float or a fly
upon the water, or a fish in it ; and that the other,
when he designated Izaak Walton a " quaint,
old cruel coxcomb," was thinking of the minute
and complacent manner in which the threading of
a worm, or the impaling of a frog on the hook, is
tiiugbtin *^ The Complete Angler, or Contempla-
tive Man's Kecreation." The poet made the
amende honorable to Anglers, when the harmless-
ness and charms of fly-fishing were explained to
him, and the great common-sense moralist would
have done the same, if he had read with genial
attention the poem of one he justly denominated
" a soft and civil companion." I allude to the
poet Gay's " Rural Sports," in which will be
found a pretty description of fly-fishing. Now,
I shall have no apology to make in behalf of the
branch of the angling art in these pages attempted
to be taught, for in the practice of it nothing is
tortured as a bait — neither worm, insect, nor any
other living thing, the lowest or least sensitive
in the scale of creation.

In praise of fly-fishing I shall have to write —
I cannot refrain from doing so. Fly-fishing for
salmon I have, recently, very acutely and abun-
dantly enjoyed ; so much so, that when my mind



A PICTUEESQUE EETROSPECT. 3

reverts to it, forthwith most pleasant recollections
crowd in upon me. I see before me, almost in
palpable form, the Sutherlandshire salmon streams
I, the past season, fished — I see the rocky cHfis,
so monotonous in appearance when not diversi-
fied by the colours and shapes of creeping plants,
through which stony obstructions water has, after
centuries of toil, cut a way of irregular and di-
verse width, and tortuous direction — I see im-
pending mountains, in parts bristling with more
than one species of fir, or shining from the bright-
ness of the agitated birch leaves ; and in the spots
of the mountain flanks, where I do not see
these, I behold the pale violet colour of the blue-
bell, or the pink blossom of the far-famed heather
— I see the spring of the silver-sided salmon,
whether made in wantonness, or to clear some
impediment to its journey towards the spawnino-
shallows, higher up the river : or, more exciting
still, I see the fierce fish, with semi-opened mouth,
either rush like the bull-dog, or steal like the cat,
after the angler's fly, as he draws it inwards to-
wards him — I see the fly seized, and the fish
turn downwards in the water, to skulk with it,
so I fancy, to its subaqueous lair, and there
devour it in solitary greediness — I see frightful
disappointment caused to its gluttinous instinct :

B 2



4 AN EXCITING STRUGGLE DESCRIBED.

no sooner does the angler feel his fly arrested in
its progress by a smart snap and pull;, than he
lifts the point of his rod with a gentle jerk, and
lo ! the unsuspecting fish is hooked.

A stunulatino; stru^rsle is the next thinf^ I se e
— a struggle between the art of the fisherman,
and the innate wily resources and strength of the
fish — disappointed, surprised, and, may be, mad-
dened into instantaneous and furious effort, if it
have been stricken — if the lethalis arundo, the
deadly barb, have been driven into cartilage or
flesh too roughly. I can perceive, by the loud
and rapid ticking of the winch, sounding like the
whirr of an alarum clock, how quickly line is un-
wound by the harpooned fish in its flight ; or I see
it repudiate flight, and sullenly, after a drag or
two, sink nearly to the bottom of the water, and
there, working to and fro with head and tail, endea-
vour to reject the hook, or break from it ; or I see
the hooked fish, still more impatient, throw somer-
set after somerset high above the water, in order
to break from the bit and bridle that hamper the
freedom of its motions. I see the lusty fish break
away from the hook and escape, or I see it rush
circularly round a rock, and cut, by means of a
sharp stony edge, or against a rougher one wear
away to breaking, the gut-rein, which, under other



THE PLEASURES OF DIFFICULT VICTORY. 5

circumstances, would have held in the mightiest
Samson of the salmon race. If these mishaps
and miscarriages recur pleasantly to my recol-
lection, how much more pleasantly to it must
come memories of success — remembrance of pis-
catorial prowess performed under difficulties —
the powerful fish conquered amidst rushing,
roaring waterfalls, amidst rocks on land and rocks
in water, where trees impede the hand and nearly
impassable cliff-paths impede the foot — and the
weapons of conquest a frail rod, of fairy, wand-
like joints, a casting line, and hook, of despicable
fineness and size ! Great and suggestive of good
is the wonder in which we gaze at the silver-sided
salmon — its strength wasted and its struggles
o'er — lying there upon that gravelly or rocky
shore, seduced by a feather-and-fur semblance of an
insect, a winged one, the fanciful creation of some
angling artist's brain, and slain by implements,
which, if the power of leverage had not been
called into action, would have been shivered by
the first adverse plunge of the salmon, as easily
as the reeds of the jungle are smashed by the
rush of the wild boar! The contemplation of
these things is very pleasant ; the far-off", retro-
spective, and prospective contemplation of them,
— for what has happened before, we fondly hope

B 3



G THE SALMON-FISHER S EOD.

may happen again. The performance of them is
still more pleasant ; they call forth strategy and
streno^th — the one tone-restorinsj to the tissues
of the brain, the other stimulating to the blood
and invicroratino; to the muscles. Seek health —
the greatest gift of heaven — where? Alongside
the salmon-streams of England's isles — amidst
the rural toto penitus orbe divisos Britannos,
whether they be Saxon, Gael, Celt, or ancient
Briton. I could say more in laud of fly-fishing
for salmon ; but the immortal admonition of
*' painting the lily and gilding refined gold,"
warns me to eschew superfluous embellishment.

The Salmon-Fisher's Eod. — Before I pro-
ceed to teach how this angling apparatus must be
used, I shall state what it should be in shape,
size, material, and so forth. No salmon fly-rod
need ever be longer than seventeen and a half
feet, and should never be shorter than sixteen.
With two well-made rods of the above lengths,
the widest and narrowest salmon-rivers may be
properly fished, and salmon and salmonid^ of
every size satisfactorily captured. I am fuUy
aware of the advantages of very long and very
powerful rods in wide rivers, and in strong hands ;
and I admit, ccEteris j^ciribus, that a strong man,
six feet in height, with a rod twenty feet long.



ADVANTAGES OF LONG RODS. ?

and winch and line to match, will cover more
water, and capture a greater number of salmon
in less time, than a man of five feet six, with
a seventeen or sixteen foot rod. In all other
respects I suppose them equal ; that the tall man
is as expert an angler as the short one, that their
flies and tackle are equally good, equally w^ell
made, and of equally good material. This equality
being conceded, the only difference will be that
which exists between the length, size, and strength
of the men and their tackle. This difference is
advantageous to the stronger man, particularly in
large rivers, prolific of large fish.

I will detail some of the advantao;es. A lonoj
man with a long rod can throw a longer line than
a short man with a short rod, admitting parity
of skilL A long and powerful rod will carry
a heavier line ; and a heavy line, being as well
made and of as good material as a lighter one, can
be propelled to a greater distance. The upper
joints of a short rod, especially the one that is
technically called the "^small-piece," will frequently
break in the act of casting a long and heavy line
— more frequently than during the act of play-
ing a fish. With a long and powerful rod and line,
the angler has much more power over a hooked
fish, than if his tackle were shorter and slighter,

B 4



8 AVERAGE LENGTH OF POWERFUL RODS.

and consequently he will land his prey in a
briefer space of time. If a horse will sooner
yield to double bit and curb than to single, curb-
less snaffle, so will a salmon more readily feel
the influence — • the severer leverage — of the
lengthy and strong rod. The consequence is
inability — instinctively-felt inutility, if I may
say so — on the part of quadruped or of fish, to
struggle lastingly against palpably superior force.
With a powerful rod one is more confident, and
will boldly stop a fish when he sees it making
for some dangerous part of the river ; whereas, if
he have a slight rod and the rest of his tackle to
match, he will not dare to hazard the attempt,
knowing that it will be sometimes useless and
frequently dangerous to do so. Rapidity of exe-
cution is the chief attribute of a lon^ and stronoj
rod.

A man of the average height, weight, and
strength of Englishmen (5 feet 8 inches, and
lOJ stone), should never use a rod longer than
17 feet, or at the utmost IT^^feet. That is the
average length I recommend for powerful rods.
With it the largest salmon that ever swam can
be safely played and securely captured. A winch
that will carry one hundred or one hundred and
twenty yards of stout line, vrill not destroy the



MEEITS OF THE GRILSE-KOD. 9

balance of such a rod. Twenty-five yards of line
— perhaps, in the hands of a well-trained adept,
thirty yards — may be thrown with it, without
danger to its top-joint or small-pieces, and such a
cast is sufficiently long for all useful intents
and purposes, and the strongest salmon may be
checked in its career — hook, gut, and winch-line,
being of good material — by a rod not exceeding
in length seventeen feet.

The sixteen foot rod is commonly called a grilse-
rod, because it is better adapted for throwing
a light line and small fly than a stouter rod,


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