Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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very delicate, and almost transparent. The slightest injury is fatal. The length, at first,
is about five-eighths of an inch. About the seventh or eighth week, the young salmon has
changed into a well-formed little fish about an inch long, with forked tail, the color light
brown, with nine or ten transverse dusky bars, which are also more or less distinctly visible
in the young of other species of this genus, just as the young of many feline animals
exhibit stripes or spots which disappear in their mature state. The fry, previously very
inactive, now begin to swim about, and seek food with great activity, and are known as
PARR or SAMLET, and also in some places by the names pink, brandling, and .////// rhixj.
The parr was formerly supposed to be a distinct species (8. salmulus), an opinion to
which many anglers, eager to enjoy their summer holidays, and catching parr by scores
with the artificial fly or worm when they can catch nothing else, have clung tena-
ciously, after it has been shown to the satisfaction of all naturalists that the parr is
nothing else than the young salmon. The honor of proving this belongs to Mr. Shaw,
of Drumlanrig, Dumfriesshire, whose observations and experiments, first made in 1834-
36, we have not space to detail. They have, however, been fully confirmed at hie sal-
mon-breeding ponds of Stormontfield, on the Tay.

It was long urged, to prove the parr a distinct species, that the male parr is very often
found with the milt perfect, to which, however, it was replied that the female parr i.;
almost never found with perfect roe. But the remarkable fact has now been abundantly
proved that the male parr is capable of impregnating the roe of the female salmon,
and thus a provision seems to be made in nature to prevent an otherwise possible loss of
roe. And, indeed, ridiculous little parrs seem to be always ready at hand to perform
this service during the combats of the great fish, or in their absence. Another remark-
able fact has been discovered, that some parrs descend to the sea in their first year, while
others remain in the fresh water, and in the parr state, without much increase of size for
another year, and a few even to the third year. At Stormontfield it has been found that
about one-half of the parrs migrate when a year old. No reason can be assigned for
these things; the facts alone are known to us, and have but recently b;-en established.

The parr attains a size of from 3 to 8 inches. When the time of its migration comes,
usually in May or June, it assumes brilliant silvery hues, the fins also becoming darker,
and is then known as a smolt. Groups of smolts, 40 to 70 in a group, now descend not
very rapidly, to the sea. They remain for a short time in brackish water, and then depart
from the estuary. Of their life in the sea nothing is known, except that they increase in
size with wonderful rapidity; for it has been found that smolts which had been marked,
returned to the same river in six or eight weeks as grilse of three to five pounds, or after
a longer period even of eight or nine pounds.. Some re ascend the river when only a
pound and a half or two pounds weight; and these are in some places known as xnlmon
peal. Grilse are captured in great numbers in the latter part of summer and in autumn,
but very few are seen in the earlier part of the fishing season. The grille usually
spawnson its first return to the fresh water often remaining there for the winter, dnd
on again descending to the sea assumes the perfect characters of the mature salmon.
Litt.le increase of size ever takes place in fresh water; but the growth of the salmon
in the sea is marvelously rapid, not only on its first migration, but afterward. A kelt
caught by the late duke of Athole on March 31st weighed exactly ten pounds. It was
marked, and returned to the Tay, in the lower part of which it was caught, after five
weeks and two days, when it was found to weigh twenty pounds and a quarter.

The statistics of salmon fisheries are, like those of other fisheries, very imperfect.
It is impossible to ascertain the total annual value of the salmon fisheries even of Great
Britain and Ireland; but it must be reckoned by hundreds of thousands of pounds.
"From the reports of the Irish commissioners, we learn that in 1862, apparently an
ordinary year, three Irish railways conveyed 400 tons, or about 900,000 Ibs. of salmon,
being equal in weight and treble in value to 15,000 sheep, or 20,000 mixed sheep and lambs,
la Scotland, the Tay alone furnishes about 800,000 Ibs., being equal in weight and treble

* London : Tinsley Brothers, 1863.



69



Salmon.



in value to 18,000 sheep (and lambs). The weight of salmon produced by the Spey is
equal to the weight of mutton annually yielded to the butcher by each of several of the

smaller counties And in making comparisons between the supplies of tish and

of llesh. it must be kept in mind that fish, or at least salmon, though higher in money
value, cost nothing for their keep, make bare no pasture, hollow out no turnips, consume
no corn, but arc. as Franklin expressed it, ' bits of silver pulled out of the water.'"
(Ru^sel, The Salmon, p. 12.) In 1876, the number of boxes of salmon sent from Scot-
land to London was 2o,64.">; from Ireland, 7,064; from England, 1508. The other
British species yet to be noticed in this article are reckoned with the salmon itself in all
thai relates to salmon fisheries.

The salmon fisheries of the British rivers have in general much decreased in produc-
tiveness since the beginning of the present century, which is very much ascribed to the
introduction of fixed or standing nets along the coast, by which salmon are taken in
great numbers before they reach the mouths of the rivers to which they arc proceeding,
and in which alone they were formerly caught; it having been discovered tha* salmcui
feel their way, as it were, close along the shore for many miles toward the mouth of a
river, feeding, meanwhile, on sand-launces, sand-hoppers, and other such prey. It is
also partly owing to the destruction of spawning fish by poachers; and in no small meas-
ure to the pollution of rivers consequent on the increase of population and industry,
and to the more thorough drainage of land, the result of which has been that rivers are
for a comparatively small number of days in the year in that half-flooded condition ia
which salmon are most ready to ascend them. The last of these causes is the most, irre-
mediable; but if the operation of the others were abated, it would not of itself be suffi-
cient to prevent a productiveness of our rivers much greater than the present. The
efforts which have begun to be made by breeding-ponds (see PISCICULTURE) to preserve
eggs and fry from destruction, and so to multiply far beyond the natural amount the
young salmon ready to descend to the sea, promise also such results as may yet probably
make the supply of salmon fur more abundant than it has ever been. There is reason
to think that the productiveness of the waters may be iucreased as much as that of the
land.

The stake net is the most deadly of all means employed for taking salmon ; and its
use is prohibited in estuaries and on some other parts of the coast. It consists of two
rows of net-covered stakes so placed between high and low water marks, that salmon
coming up to them, and proceeding along them, are conducted through a narrow open-
ing into what is called the court of the net, from which they cannot find the way of
escape. The entire, which is now illegal in all parts of Britain, is an inclosed space
formed in the wall of a dam or weir, into which the salmon enter as they ascend the
stream, while a peculiar kind of grating prevents their return. The nets employed for
catching salmon in rivers and estuaries are of many different kinds. In many places a
small boat, or #<th/ton coble, is used to carry out a seine net from the shore, setting (aJiooi-
iny) it witli a circular sweep, the concavity of which is toward the stream or tide, and
men stationed on shore pull ropes so as to bring it in by both ends at once with whatever
it may have inclosed. Coracles (small boats "of basket-work or a light wooden frame
covered with canvas and tar, or other waterproof material) are used in salmon fishing
in the Severn and other Wel>h rivers. Nets which a single man can cany and work are
also used "in many rivers and estuaries, as those called halves on the Solway, which may
be described as a bag attached to a pole. Dogs have sometimes been trained to drive
salmon into nets, and some dogs have attained great expertness in catching salmon with-
out any assistance.

The SALMON TUOUT (8. trittta, or Fnrio argenteus), also very commonly called t!:3
SEA TKOUT, is rather thicker in proportion to its length than a salmon of the same size,
and has the hinder free margin of the gill-cover lees rounded. The jaws are nearly equal ,
the teeth strong, sharp, and curved, a single row running down the vomer, and pointing
alternately in opposite directions. The colors are very similar to those of the salmon ; the
sides, chiefly above the lateral line, are marked with numerous X-shaped dusky spots, and
there arc several round dusk}' spots on the gill-covers. The salmon trout does not aUam so
large a size as the salmon, but has been known to reach 2-H Ibs. The flesh is pink, ri-oiiiy
flavored, and much esteemed, although not equal to that of the salmon. Great quantities
of salmon trout are brought to market in London and other British towns; this fish being
found from the s. of England to the n. of Scotland, and plentiful in many rivers, particu-
larly those of Scotland. Its habits are generally similar to those of the salmon. Large
shoals sometimes congregate near the mouth of a river which they are about to enter, asd
sometimes afford excellent sport to the angler in a bay or estuary, rising readily to the ily.
The 3 r onng are not easily to be distinguished from parr. Phwock, flirting, and whitlin*
are local names of the salmon trout on its first return from the sea to fresh water, v.'Iisu
it has its most silvery appearance, in which state it has sometimes been described &3 a
distinct species (S. albns).

The GRAY TKOUT or BULL TROUT (8. eriox), the only other British species migrating
like these, is already noticed in the article BULL TROUT. The gill-cover in this species
is more elongated backward at the lower angle than in the other two. On the banns of
the Tweed and some other rivers, it is often called the sea trout, a name quite as appro-
priate to it as the salmon trout. The seasons at which the gray trout ascends rivers are



Salmoiiidae.

partly the same with those of the salmon and salmon trout, and partly different. Tke
laws relative to the fishing of salmon apply equally to the bull trout.

Of other species of salmon our notice must be very brief. Cuvier has described
as a distinct species a salmon with hooked lower jaw, known in France by tiie name of
becard. Agassiz and Bloch regard it as merely the old male of the common salmon.
The hooked lower jaw of the male of the common salmon in the spawning season has
been already noticed. But Valenciennes adheres to the opinion of Cuvier that the becard
is a distinct species, and insists on the greater length of the intermaxillary bones as a
sure distinctive character; asserting also that the colors are always different from those
of the common salmon; a general reddish-gray, the belly dull white, the back never
blue, nor the belly silvery. The subject seems to require further investigation. The
HUCHO of the Danube, called reo in Galicia (S. hucho), attains a weight of 30 Ibs., and it
is said even of 60 Ibs. The body is longer and rounder, the head more elongated than in
the common salmon. The color is grayish-black, tinged with violet on the back, the
sides and belly silvery. The tail is forked. The hucho spawns in June, making holes
for the purpose in gravelly bottoms; and these holes are so deep that the fish lying in
them often escape the nets of the fishermen. The flesh is white, but very pleasant. The
same, or a very similar species, is found in the Caspian sea, and in rivers which flow
into it. The rivers of North America which flow into the Arctic ocean, produce several
species of salmon, of which perhaps that most nearly resembling^ the common salmon,
in the quality of its flesh, is &'. hearnii. In these regions, Ross's Salmon (S. rom orfario
rosii) is extremely abundant. It is of a more slender form than the salmon, with remark-
ably long lower jaw and truncated snout; the scales separated by naked skin; the back
greenish-brown, the sides pearl-gray, the belly orange or red. In the quality of its flesh
it is very inferior to the salmon. S. scouUri, or sakir scouleri ascends the Columbia and
other rivers of the n.w. coast of North America in vast multitudes. In arms of the sea
on that coast itis sometimes impossible for a stone to reach the bottom without touching
several; and the channel of a river or a brook is often densely crowded with them. The
flesh is excellent. The same species seems to ascend the rivers of Kamtchatka; but
that country, the Kurile isles, and Siberia have also species of their own. Concerning
many of the species, there is still great uncertainty. See PISCICULTURE.

ANGLING FOII SALMON. The capture of the salmon by rod and line affords the most
exciting sport of the kind. The pleasures of it have been descanted on by numerous
writers, and whole treatises have been written on the minuti* of the art. Among the
i more modern writers on the subject, we may name Davy, Stoddart, Col^uhoun,
I Younger, Stewart, Francis, and Russel. The tackle used is sufficiently described in the
article ANGLING; and the general principles of fly-fishing there laid down are applicable
in this case. The chief specialty in salmon angling is to be able to maintain perfect
coolness and vigilance when the fish is hooked. The rod must be kept at such an eleva-
tion as to bring its elasticity into play; and by allowing the line to runout as the fish
dashes off, and winding it up as he returns, or by following his motions, if need be, in
person, a constant and equal strain must be maintained; a sudden tug at an unyielding
line, or a momentary slackening, being equally fatal. After struggling for from a quar-
ter to half an hour (sometimes, though rarely, for two or three hours) against a steady
pull, the fish generally yields to his fate and allows himself to be drawn into the shal-
low and landed. This is done either with the gaff, or the fisher, winding his line up
within rod length and holding the top landward, without slackening, seizes the fish wilh
one hand by the root of the tail, .and lifts or rather slides him head-foremost on to the
gravel or grass.

Those rivers of Britain where the fishing is strictly preserved still afford good sport;
but of late years the take of fish, by rod as well as by net, has greatly fallen off, and
many fishers now betake themselves annually to the rivers of Norway and Sweden. In
Scotland the Tay, Tweed, Don, Spey, Dee. Thurso, and some others are still preserved
in many places, and command high rents from salmon anglers.

SALMON-FISHERY LAWS. Owing to the peculiar excellence of the salmon, it is singled
out from all other fish, and protected by peculiar laws in the United Kingdom, but those
laws are not the same in the three kingdoms. I. As to England. The right to fish
salmon in the sea and navigable rivers belongs to the public as a general rule; and the
right to fish salmon in rivers not navigable belongs to the riparian owner on each bank,
the right ol each extending up to the center line of the stream. But though the public
liave, as a rule, the right to fish in the sea and navigable rivers, there are various excep-.
lions, which arose in this way. Previous to magna charta, the crown, whether rightly
or wrongly, assumed power to make grants to individuals generally the large proprie-
tors of lands adjacent whereby an exclusive right was given to such individuals to fish
for the salmon as well as all other fish within certain limits. This right, when conferred,
often applied to the shores of the sea, but generally prevailed in navigable rivers and the
mouths of such, rivers. The frequency of such grants was one of the grievances
redressed by magna charta, which prohibited the crown thenceforth from making like
grants. But the then existing grants were saved, and hence every person who at the
present day claims a several or exclusive fishery in navigable rivers, must show that his
grant is from the crown, and is a sold as magna charta. It is not, however, in any way
necessary that he be able to produce a grant or chain of grants of such antiquity; for if



71



Salmoniclze.



he has been in undisturbed possession for a long time say 60 years and upward^it is
presumed that such title is as old as magua charta, aud had a legal origin. When a per-
son is entitled to a salmon fishery (and if he is entitled to a salmon fishery he is entitled
also to the trout aud other fish f reqenting the same place), he is nevertheless subjected
to certain restrictions as to the mode of fishing salmon. These restrictions are imposed
by the salmon fishery acts of 1861, 1865, and 1873, which repealed prior acts of parlia-
ment. No person is now entitled to use lights, spear?, gaffs, strokehalls, snatches, or
other like instruments for catching salmon; nor can lish roe be used for the purpose of
fishing. All nets used for fishing salmon must have a mesh not less than 2 in. in exten-
sion from knoi to knot, or 8 in. measured round each mesh when wet. No new fixed
engine of any description is to be used. A penalty is incurred for violating these enact-
ments, and also for taking unseasonable salmon, or for taking, destroying, or obstruct-
ing the passage of young salmon, or disturbing spawning salmon. The close time, dur-
ing which no salmon shall be fished, extends from Sept. 1 to Feb. 1 following, except
that for rod fishing the close season shall not commence till Nov. 1. These periods may by
by-laws be slightly varied for each district. During close time no salmon can be legally
sold or be in the possession of any person for sale; and such fixed engines as are still
legal shall be removed or put out of gear during close time. Moreover, throughout the
year, there is a weekly close time that is to say, no person can, except with rod and
line, lawfully fish salmon between 12 A.M. (noon) of Saturday to 6 A.M. of Monday fol-
lowing. Though owners of dams need not make fish-passes, there must be free gaps
made in fishing weirs of a certain width. For the purpose of supervising the enforcement
of the acts, fishery inspectors are appointed for England. Fishery boards were estab-
lished in 1866, and by by-laws can change close seasons, license duties for fishing instru-
ments, mesh of nets, and other matter, within limits. See also POACHING.

II. In Scotland there are various important differences from the law of England as
regards salmon fisheries. In Scotland, the general rule is that all salmon fisheries in the
rivers and surrounding seas are vested in the crown, and hence no person is entitled to
fish with nets or engines except he can show a grant or charter from the crown. If he
can only show a general grant of fishings without specifying salmon, then it is necessary
not only to produce such grant, but to show that he has been in exclusive possession for
40 years and upward of the salmon fishings. Moreover, while this right to catch salmon
by nets is vested in the crown, or in some grantee of the crown, the right to angle for
salmon is now held to be included, and does not belong to the riparian owner. The
public, qua public, have no right anywhere in Scotland to fish for salmon either with
net or rod. By virtue of many old statutes, all fixed engines for catching salmon arc
illegal, and it is settled that everything is in the nature of a fixed engine which is not
held in the hand of the fishermen while they are fishing; but a mechanical contrivance,
which enables the fisherman to go a little further into the river with his coble or boat,
which is to drag the net, is not illegal. Stake nets, however,, are not illegal if they are
not in a river or the mouth of a river. In 1862 and 1888, statutes were passed regulating
the Scotch salmon fisheries. By these acts fishery districts are authorized to be managed
by hoards. These boards consist of the large proprietors of fisheries. The boards
appoint constables, water-bailiffs, and watchers, forming a kind of river police. The
board has power to assess the various proprietors in sums so as to raise funds for paying
the expenses of working the act like funds being raised in England only by license
duties. The annual close time for salmon fishing is fixed by the commissioners, and
varies in each district, but it generally extends from Aug. 27 to Feb. 10 following; the
angler's clo-^e time commencing about Oct. 16. The commissioners are appointed by the
home secretary, their duties being to fix the limits of fishery districts and of rivers, to make
general regulations as to close time, cruives, nets, etc. The Scotch acts imitate the Eng-
lish acts in prohibiting fishing with lights or salmon roe, with nets having small meshes,
etc. And there is a weekly close time from 6 P.M. on Saturday to 6 A.M. on Monday
following.

III. Ireland. The Irish salmon fishery law r s are regulated chiefly by statutes distinct
from those of England. Fishery districts are there established, and the fisheries are
subject to rates and license duties for the purpose of raising funds. There is an
annual aud weekly close time, and fixed engines are prohibited, and free gaps enforced
in all fishing weirs.

SALMONID.2E, a very large and important family of malacopterous fishes, of the sub-
order abdumiiialea (having the ventral fins on the abdomen and behind the pectorals),
nearly allied to clupeidtK (the herring family), but at once distinguished by the second
dorsal fin, which they all have, aud which is merely a fold of the skin, inclosing fat,
whence it is called the adipose fin, and destitute of rays. They were all included by
Linnaeus in the genus aalma, although now divided not only into numerous genera, but
by many naturalists into several families, of which one retains the name of salmonidae,
and the other principal ones are cJiaracimda and scopelida. The salmonidae are generally
ver} r muscular, and possess great strength, swimming with great rapidity, even against
strong currents, and some of them arc capable of leaping up falls of considerable
height, when there is sufficient depth of water beneath. Some of them are sea-fishes,
never entering rivers, although, like the herring, pilchard, etc., they approach the shore



Salmon. ^g

Suiimve.

to spawn ; others are generally inhabitants of the sea, but ascend rivers to spawn, and
some of them also on other occasions not yet well understood; others, again, are con-
stant inhabitants of fresh-water lakes, or of rivers and streams. Most of them are
esteemed for the table, and some are among the most esteemed of fishes.

The restricted salmonidse of those naturalists who divide the family, 'are all scaly
fishes, but with the head destitute of scales and the cheeks tic-shy; the upper part of the
mouth is formed by the premaxillary and maxillary bones together; the brauchiostegai
rays are numerous; the air-bladder is large and simple ; the teeth are usually small, some-
times very numerous, the tongue being furnished with them, as well as the other parts
of the mouth, although others have the teeth few and small, or even wanting. They
are generally voracious fishes, feeding chiefly on other fishes, crustaceans, worms, etc.
The salmon, salmon trout, bull trout or gray trout, trout, charr, grayling, and smelt are
familiar British examples. The white fish of North America is one of the most impor-
tant species, and to the same genus (coregonus) belong many others, inhabiting the lakes
amfr rivers of the northern parts of the world, some of them, from their herring-like
appearance, known as herring-salmon and fresh-water herring. The cupelin (q.v.) is a
sea-fish, never entering fresh waters. The restricted or true salmonidte are found only
in the northern parts of the world, and chiefly :u the colder regions.

The characinidce also have the body scaly and the head destitute of scales; the upper
part of the mouth is formed by the premaxillaries and maxillaries together; there are
only four or five branchiostegal rays; the air-bladder is divided \>y a constriction in the



Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 16 of 203)