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ing, as the whole pond, which covered about three acres,
was so frozen over as to admit of skating. When the pond
was drawn, the fishermen of the Tees considered that they
had never seen a finer lot of Smelts. There was no loss of
flavour or quality.

From the point of the lower jaw to the end of the gill-
cover, the length is, as compared to the body alone, as one
to three ; the depth of the body not equal to the length of
the head : the dorsal fin commences half-way between the
point of the nose and the end of the fleshy portion of the
tail ; the first ray of this fin less than half the length of
the second, which is as long as the third ; the second and


third are the longest rays in the fin, nearly as high as the
body of the fish is deep, and as long again as the base of
the fin ; the two first rays simple, all the others branched :
the anterior edge of the adipose fin is half-way between the
base of the last ray of the dorsal fin and the end of the
fleshy portion of the tail, and in a vertical line over the
middle of the anal fin ; pectoral fins long and narrow ;
the ventral fins commence on the same plane as the dorsal
fin : the base of the anal fin long, commencing half-way
between the origin of the ventral fins and the end of the
fleshy portion of the tail ; the third ray the longest, but not
so long as the base of the fin ; the other rays diminish in
length gradually : the tail slender and deeply forked. The
fin-rays are

D. 11 : P. 11 : V. 8 : A. 15 : C. 19.

The lower jaw much longer than the upper; the gape
deeper than wide : the teeth long, and curving inwards ; those
on the anterior parts of the tongue and palatine bones are the
longest : the breadth of the eye about one-fifth of the whole
length of the head, the irides silvery white ; the gill-cover
triangular ; the upper part of the head flat ; the nape and
back rising ; the form of the body elongated and slender ;
the dorsal and abdominal lines slightly convex : the colour
of the upper part of the body pale ash green ; all the lower
parts, cheeks, and gill-covers, brilliant silvery white : the
scales oval, small, and deciduous : all the fins pale yellowish
white ; the ends of the caudal rays tipped with black.

The specimen described measured seven inches in length.
Occasionally Smelts may be seen in the London markets ten
and eleven inches long, but this is an unusually large size.
Pennant mentions having seen one that was thirteen inches
long, and weighed eight ounces.






Thymallus vulgaris, CUVIER, Regne An. t. ii. p. 306.

WILLUGHBY, p. 187, N. 8.

Salmo thymallus, LINN/EUS. BLOCH, pt. i. pi. 24.

,, Grayling, PENN. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 414, pi. 72.

DON. Brit. Fish. pi. 88.
Coregonus ,, FLEM. Brit. An. p. 181, sp. 49.

Generic Characters. Head and body elongated ; the sides marked with lon-
gitudinal bands; two dorsal fins, the first much longer than high, with numerous
rays ; the second small, adipose, without rays : the mouth small, the orifice
square ; the teeth very small ; branchiostegous rays 7 or 8.

THE GRAYLING, though abundant in some streams,
is yet a very local fish. Similar in many respects to the
Trout in its habits and wants, there are numbers of rivers
abounding with Trout that do not produce Grayling. In
the southern counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire, the
Grayling is found in the Test and both the Avons. In
Herefordshire, in the Dove, the Lug, the Wye, and the
Irvon. In Shropshire, in the Teme and the Clun. In
Staffordshire, in the Hodder, the Trent, the Dove, and the


Wye. In Derbyshire, in the Dove. In Merionethshire,
in the Dee, between Curwen and Bala. In Lancashire, in
the Ribble. In Yorkshire, in the Derwent, the Ure,
the Wharfe, and the Wiske, near Northallerton. Dr.
Heysham says it is occasionally taken in the Eden and
the Esk in Cumberland. It is not found, that I am aware,
either in Ireland or Scotland ; Mr. Low, however, includes
this fish in his Fauna Orcadensis, and it is known to be
plentiful in Sweden, Norway, and Lapland. The pecu-
liarity of the local distribution in this country gave rise
to the supposition that the Grayling had been originally
introduced by the monks, as a fish worth cultivating ; many
of the rivers containing the Grayling being near the remains
of great monasteries. But two circumstances affect this solu-
tion : it would be very difficult to bring this fish alive from
the Continent to this country ; and it is not found in the
rivers of Kent, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, or Cornwall, where
monastic establishments were formerly numerous.

The Grayling thrives best in rivers with rocky or gravelly
bottoms, and seems to require an alternation of stream and
pool. According to Sir Humphrey Davy, who has given a
good history of the Grayling in his " Salmonia," this fish was
introduced into the Test, in Hampshire, from the Avon ;
and the former river, in particular parts, appears to suit it
the better of the two. Large Grayling are, however, occa-
sionally taken in both these waters, which are particularly
resorted to by the southern anglers. Three Graylings,
weighing together twelve pounds, were caught by Thomas
Lister Parker, Esq. in the Avon, near Ringwood. A Gray-
ling of four and a half pounds'* weight has been killed in the
Test, and one of five pounds is recorded to have been caught
near Shrewsbury.


However fastidious in the quality of the water or the
choice of situation in the stream the Grayling is known to
be, experiment has proved that this fish will live in ponds
that have been newly made in hard soil, or in such as have
been very recently and carefully cleaned out ; but in these
situations the Grayling does not breed, and they will not
continue to live in old muddy ponds. The ova of this
fish are numerous, large, and of a deep orange colour : the
spawning season is in April, or the beginning of May ; in this
respect differing from the other Salmonidce, most, if not all,
of which spawn towards the end of the year, and generally
in cold weather. The Grayling, however, is in the finest
condition in October and November, when Trout are out of
season, not having then recovered the effects of their recent
spawning, while the young Grayling of that year are about
seven inches in length.

The food of the Grayling, as ascertained by examination,
besides the various flies imitations of which are successfully
used by anglers, consists also of the larvse of Phryganea
Ephemera and Libellula ; the remains of the cases of the
former, and the tough skins of all of them, being frequently
found in their stomachs. I have found also several small
shells, examples of the genus Physa, and Neritina fluvia-
tilis. Dead shells and small pebbles are also found ; but
whether these last are taken up by the fish to serve any
useful purpose, as in the stomachs of gallinaceous birds,
or have only formed part of the cases of the Phryganea^
may be questioned.

Some English authors have considered the Grayling a
migratory fish, passing the winter in the sea, and the sum-
mer in fresh water. " Early in spring," says Mr. Donovan,
" they ascend the rivers, where they remain till autumn,


and then return to their former element." This may apply
to Grayling on some parts of the European continent,* but
is not the case certainly with our fish in this country, in the
rivers of which it is found in the most perfect condition,
and in consequence most eagerly sought after, in October
and November. The finest specimens I ever saw were
taken in November ; and Sir H. Davy states in his " Salmo-
nia," he had proved that the Grayling of England would
not bear even a brackish water without dying.

The term Thymallus is said to have been bestowed upon
this fish on account of the peculiar odour it emits when fresh
from the water, which is said to resemble that of thyme ;
and from its agreeable colour as well as smell, St. Ambrose
is recorded to have called the Grayling the flower of fishes.
To be eaten in perfection, it cannot be dressed too soon.
The name Grayling is supposed to be a modification of the
words gray-lines, in reference to the dusky longitudinal bars
along the body.

It has been considered that the large dorsal fin of the
Grayling enabled it to rise and sink rapidly in deep pools ;
but this power would rather seem to be afforded by the
large size of the swimming-bladder. The very large dorsal
fin, compared to the small size of all the other fins, renders
the Grayling unable to stem rapid currents : they are much
more prone to go down stream than up, and are never seen
leaping at a fall, like Trout.

In a Grayling of ten inches long, the length of the head
is to the body alone as one to four ; the depth of the body
rather more than equal to the length of the head : from the
point of the nose to the commencement of the dorsal fin is
equal to one-third of the length of the whole fish to the end
of the fleshy portion of the tail ; the posterior edge of the
* Bloch says the Grayling descends to the Baltic in autumn.


dorsal fin half-way between the point of the nose and the
end of the longest caudal rays ; the adipose fin rather nearer
the dorsal fin than the end of the tail : the height of the
dorsal fin equal to half the height of the body, the first
ray short, the next five increasing gradually in length ;
the sixth ray nearly as long as the seventh, and, as well
as the five anterior rays, articulated and simple ; the seventh
ray and all the rays behind it articulated, branched, and
nearly of the same height ; the length of the base of the fin
not equal to twice the length of its longest ray : the pectoral
fin small, narrow, and pointed : the ventral fins commencing
in a vertical line under the middle of the dorsal fin ; the
ventral axillary scale one-fourth of the length of the fin :
the anal fin commences half-way between the origin of the
ventral fin and the end of the fleshy portion of the tail, and
ends on the same plane as the adipose fin above it ; the
longest ray but little longer than the base of the fin : the
tail forked ; the middle rays rather more than half as long as
the longest. The fin-rays in number are

D. 20 : P. 15 : V. 10 : A. 13 : C. 20. Vertebrae 58.

The head is small and pointed, flattened at the top : the
breadth of the eye equal to one-fourth of the length of the
whole head ; irides golden yellow, pupil blue, pear-shaped,
the apex directed forward : the opening of the mouth, when
viewed in front, square ; the teeth small, incurved, numer-
ous ; none on the tongue, and only a few on the most
anterior part of the vonier : behind the head, the nape and
back rise suddenly ; the body deepest at the commencement
of the dorsal fin, then tapering off to the tail ; abdominal line
but slightly convex ; the scales rather large ; the lateral line
in the middle of the body not very conspicuous, with seven
rows of scales on an oblique line above it, and seven rows


below it ; the sides marked with about fifteen dusky longi-
tudinal bands. The general colour of the body light yellow
brown, beautifully varied with golden, copper, green, and
blue reflections when viewed in different lights, with a few
decided dark spots : the head brown ; on the cheeks and
gill-covers a tinge of blue : all the fins somewhat darker than
the colour of the body ; the dorsal fin varied with square
dusky spots on the membrane between the rays, the upper
part of the fin spotted and streaked with reddish brown
The Grayling appears to become darker by age, and the
pectoral fins are reddish about spawning time, with small
black spots.

The vignette represents two states of the Stone-fly of






SCHELLY. Cumberland. POWAN. Perthshire.

Coregonus f era? CUVIER, Regne An. t. ii. p. 307.

? NILSSON, Prod. p. 16, sp. 4.

,, ,, ? JURINE, pi. 7.

Salmo lavaretus, Gwyniad, PENN. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 419, pi. 73.
Coregonus ,, FLEM. Brit. An. p. 182, sp. 50

Generic Characters. Body in appearance herring-like ; with two dorsal fins,
the first higher than long, the second adipose ; the scales large ; the mouth
small, sometimes with minute teeth on the jaws or tongue, or both.

THE species of the genus Coregonus are numerous in
Europe, and several of them are so similar to each other, that,
without the power of comparing those of this country with
foreign specimens, an appropriation of synonymes is at least
doubtful. Some authors have even considered the Vendisse
of Lochmaben as the same with the Powan of Perthshire,
the Schelly of Cumberland, the Gwyniad of Wales, and the
Pollan of Ireland : but it will be found that this is not the
case; and, from recent observation, there is now reason to


believe that the Pollan of Ireland is distinct from the two
species of Coregonus found in Great Britain.

The Gwyniad of Wales was formerly very numerous in
Llyn Tegid, (Fair Lake,) at Bala, until the year 1803, when
Pike were put into the lake, which have very much reduced
their numbers. Pennant considered the Gwyniad as the
same with the C. fera of the Lake of Geneva, following in
this the opinion of Willughby ; and in the manuscript notes of
a fishing tour in Wales, by two excellent fishermen, who had
also pursued their amusement abroad, an opinion is given to
the same effect. Our Gwyniad bears a close resemblance
to the figure of C. fera in the illustrations to M. Jurine's
Memoir on the Fishes of Lake Leman : his description I have
not seen. The British fish accords also with the short de-
scription of the C. fera in Professor Nilsson's Prodromus of
the Fishes of Scandinavia. It also resembles the S. Wart-
manni of Bloch, pt. iii. pi. 105 ; but is decidedly distinct
from his S, lavaretus, pt. i. pi. 25, which is the C. oxyrhin-
chus of Cuvier and Nilsson.

The Gwyniad is very numerous in Ulswater and other
large lakes of Cumberland, where, on account of its large
scales, it is called the Schelly. Dr. Heysham, the natural his-
torian of Cumberland, and Pennant also, in his British Zoo-
logy, have recorded that many hundreds are sometimes taken
at a single draught of the net. They are gregarious, and
approach the shore in vast shoals in spring and summer.
Pennant says, they die very soon after they are taken out of
the water, are insipid in taste, and must be eaten soon, for
they will not keep long. The poorer classes, who consider,
and even call them the Fresh-water Herring, preserve them
with salt. The fish is not unlike a Herring in appearance,
and the Welsh term Gwyniad has reference to their silvery
white colour. They spawn towards the end of the year,


and the most usual length of the adult fish is from ten to
twelve inches.

The length of the head is about one-fifth of the whole
length of the fish ; the depth of the body rather exceeding
the length of the head : the dorsal fin commences about half-
way between the point of the nose and the end of the fleshy
portion of the tail ; its longest ray one-third longer than the
base of the fin, and equal to three-fourths of the depth of the
body : the adipose fin rather nearer the end of the tail than
the posterior edge of the dorsal fin ; the pectoral fins narrow,
pointed, and a little shorter than the head, inserted low down
on the body : the ventral fins arising in a line under the
middle of the dorsal fin ; the ventral axillary scale one-third
the length of the fin : the anal fin commences half-way be-
tween the origin of the ventral fin and the end of the short
middle rays of the tail, and ends on the same plane with the
adipose fin ; the longest anterior ray about equal to the length
of the base of the fin ; the other rays diminishing gradually :
the tail forked. The fin-rays in number are

D. 13 : P. 17 : V. 11 : A. 16 : C. 19.

The head is triangular ; the snout rather truncated ; the jaws
nearly equal, the lower just shutting within the upper ; a very
few minute teeth on the tongue only ; the eyes large, the
breadth more than one-fourth of the length of the head ; the
form of the body very like that of a Herring ; the dorsal and
abdominal lines but moderately convex ; the scales large ; the
lateral line very near the middle of the side, The irides
silvery, the pupils dark blue ; the upper part of the head and
back dusky blue, becoming lighter down the sides, with a
tinge of yellow ; cheeks, gill-covers, lower part of the sides
and belly silvery white ; all the fins more or less tinged with
dusky blue, particularly towards the edges.


According to Mr. Thompson of Belfast,* the Pollan, or
Lough Neagh Coregonus, differs from the Gwyniad of Bala
in the following particulars : in the snout not being produced ;
in the dorsal fin being nearer the head ; in having fewer rays
in the anal fin, and in its position being rather more distant
from the tail ; in the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins being of
less dimensions ; in the third ray of the pectoral fin being the
longest, the first being of the greatest length in the Gwyniad ;
and in the ventral axillary scale being longer. The numbers
of the fin-rays in the Pollan are

D. 14 : P. 16 : V. 12 : A. 13 : C. 19. Vertebrae 59.

In the stomach of a Pollan I found one example of a
species of Gammarus.

The vignette is a view of White well, in the Forest of
Bowland, Yorkshire.

* Reports of Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for 1835, p. 77.





Coregonus Willughbii, Vendace, JARDINE.

Vangis and Juvangis, PENN. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 420.
Vendace, KNOX, Trans. R. S. E. vol. xii.p. 503.

BUT little is known of this delicate fish beyond what has
been published by Sir William Jardine, Bart, in the third
volume of the Edinburgh Journal of Natural and Geographi-
cal Science, and by Dr. Knox, in the Transactions of the
Royal Society of Edinburgh. Sir William Jardine, in his
original communication, considered this species very closely
allied to the Salmo albula of Linnseus ; but the difficulty of
fixing synonymes satisfactorily from the short descriptions of
the older authors has since led to a request from him that
the name of our distinguished British naturalist should be
attached to it, and I with pleasure adopt the suggestion.

The localities inhabited by this species of Coregonus are
as limited as the range of the species last described was
shown to be extensive. The Vendace is only known in the
lochs in the neighbourhood of Lochmaben, in Dumfries-shire;
and in this district some traditions and curious opinions exist
regarding it.



" The Vendace is well known," says Sir William Jardine,
" to almost every person in the neighbourhood ; and if,
among the lower classes, fish should at any time form the
subject of conversation, the Vendace is immediately men-
tioned, and the loch regarded with pride as possessing some-
thing of great curiosity to visiters, and which is thought not
elsewhere to exist. The story that it was introduced into
these lochs by the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, as
mentioned in Pennant in his description of the Gwyniad,
and it is likely that his information was derived from this
vicinity, is still in circulation. That the fish was intro-
duced from some Continental lake, I have little doubt ; but
would rather attribute the circumstance to some of the reli-
gious establishments which at one time prevailed in the
neighbourhood, and which were well known to pay considera-
ble attention both to the table and the cellar. Mary would
scarcely prefer a lake so far from even her temporary residence
for the preservation of a luxury of troublesome introduction,
and leave her other fish-ponds destitute of such a delicacy."

" An idea prevails that this fish, if once taken from the
water, will die, and that an immediate return will be of no
avail ; and it is also believed that it will not exist in any
other water except that of the castle loch. These are of
course opinions which have gradually, from different circum-
stances, gained weight, and have at last been received as
facts. The fish is of extreme delicacy ; a circumstance which
may have given rise to the first notion ; and the introduction
of it must have taken place by means of the spawn : the fish
themselves, I am confident, could not be transported alive
even a few miles. As to the second opinion, they are not
confined to the castle loch, but are found in several others,
some of which have no communication with that where they
are thought to be peculiar."


" In general habits the Vendace nearly resemble the
Gwyniad, and indeed most of the allied species of the genus.
They swim in large shoals ; and during warm and clear wea-
ther retire to the depth of the lakes, apparently sensible of
the increased temperature. They are only taken with nets,
a proper bait not being yet discovered ; and the fact that
little excrement is found in their intestines has given rise to
another tradition, that they are able to subsist without food.
They are most successfully taken during a dull day and
sharp breeze, approaching near to the edges of the loch, and
swimming in a direction contrary to the wind. They spawn
about the commencement of November, and at this time
congregate in large shoals, frequently rising to the surface of
the water, in the manner of the common Herring, and
making a similar noise by their rise and fall to and from the
surface. The sound may be distinctly heard, and the direc-
tion of the shoal perceived, during a calm and clear evening.
They are very productive. The lochs abound with Pike,
of which they are a favourite food ; but their quantity seems
in no degree to be diminished, notwithstanding that immense
numbers must be destroyed. They are considered a great
delicacy, resembling the Smelt a good deal in flavour ; and
though certainly very palatable, the relish may be somewhat
heightened by the difficulty of always procuring a supply.
During the summer, fishing-parties are frequent, introducing
some stranger friend to this Lochmaben whitebait ; and a
club, consisting of between twenty and thirty of the neigh-
bouring gentry, possessing a private net, &c. meet annually
in July, to enjoy the sport of fishing, and feasting upon this

The circumstance that this fish is never caught by anglers
made a knowledge of its food a matter of interest in several
points of view. Dr. Knox ascertained that this consists


principally of very minute entomostracous animals, not ex-
ceeding seven-twelfths of a line in size. I have been fa-
voured with specimens of the Vendace by Sir William
Jardine and T. S. Bushnan, Esq. which have afforded me
several opportunities of examining the contents of the
stomach and intestines. The contained mass, which is fre-
quently in considerable quantity, has a brownish yellow co-
lour, appearing slightly granulated to the unassisted eye.
A very small portion being placed on a slip of glass, and
agitated gently in conjunction with a drop of water, which
separates the particles, on placing the slip of glass under a
good microscope, two species in various states of perfection
are almost constantly found. The vignette at the end of the
description of this fish represents these two forms. The
first and second figure on the left hand are a back and side
view of a species of the genus Lynceus of Muller and others ;
the third and fourth figures are a back and side view of a
species of Cyclops of Muller. On one occasion, I found a
very small coleopterous insect, the tough skin of a red worm
not much thicker than fine thread, and what appeared to be
a portion of the wing of a dipterous insect.

Dr. Ifnox found that the females of the Vendace were
more numerous as well as larger than the males, frequently
exceeding eight inches in length ; the males not measuring
more than seven inches, which was the length of the speci-
men here described.

The length of the head compared to that of the body only
was as two to seven ; the depth of the body at the com-
mencement of the dorsal fin not quite equal to one-fourth of
the length of the body without the caudal rays : the body ele-
gantly shaped ; the convexity of the dorsal and abdominal lines
about equal ; the lateral line passes straight along the middle
of the side, with six rows of scales in an oblique line between

Online LibraryWilliam YarrellA history of British fishes (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 29)