Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/38

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27
ANGLING

appearance and surpasses him in size. The others, sockeye, humpback, cohoe, dog-salmon and masu, are smaller and of less interest to the angler, though some of them have great commercial value. The last-named is only found in the waters of Japan, but the rest occur in greater or less quantities in the rivers of Kamchatka, Alaska, British Columbia and Oregon. The problems presented to science by salar are offered by Oncorhynchus also, but there are variations in his life-history, such as the fact that few if any fish of the genus are supposed to survive their first spawning season. When once in the rivers none of these salmon is of very much use to the angler; as, though it is stated that they will occasionally take a fly or spoon in fresh water, they are not nearly so responsive as their Atlantic cousin and in many streams are undoubtedly not worth trying for. At the mouths of some rivers, however, where the water is distinctly tidal, and in certain bays of the sea itself they give very fine sport, the method of fishing for them being usually to trail a heavy spoon-bait behind a boat. By this means remarkable bags of fish have been made by anglers. The sport is of quite recent development.

Sea-Trout.—Next to the salmon comes the sea-trout, the other migratory salmonid of Europe. This is a fish with many local names and a good deal of local variation. Modern science, however, recognises two “races” only, Salmo trutta, the sea-trout proper, and Salmo cambricus or eriox, the bull-trout, or sewin of Wales, which is most prominent in such rivers as the Coquet and Tweed. The life-history of sea-trout is much the same as that of salmon, and the fish on their first return from the sea in the grilse-stage are called by many names, finnock, herling and whitling being perhaps the best known. Of the two races Salmo trutta alone is of much use to the fly-fisher. The bull-trout, for some obscure reason, is not at all responsive to his efforts, except in its kelt stage. Then it will take greedily enough, but that is small consolation. The bull-trout is a strong fish and grows to a great size and it is a pity that it is not of greater sporting value, if only to make up for its bad reputation as an article of food. Some amends, however, are made by its cousin the sea-trout, which is one of the gamest and daintiest fish on the angler's list. It is found in most salmon rivers and also in not a few streams which are too small to harbour the bigger fish, while there are many lakes in Scotland and Ireland (where the fish is usually known as white trout) where the fishing is superb when the trout have run up into them. Fly-fishing for sea-trout is not a thing apart. A three-pounder that will impale itself on a big salmon-fly, might equally well have taken a tiny trout-fly. Many anglers, when fishing a sea-trout river where they run large, 5 lb or more, and where there is also a chance of a salmon, effect a compromise by using a light 13 ft. or 14 ft. double-handed rod, and tackle not so slender as to make hooking a salmon a certain disaster. But undoubtedly to get the full pleasure out of sea-trout-fishing a single-handed rod of 10 ft. to 12 ft. with reasonably fine gut and small flies should be used, and the way of using it is much the same as in wet-fly fishing for brown trout, which will be treated later. When the double-handed rod and small salmon-flies are used, the fishing is practically the same as salmon-fishing except that it is on a somewhat smaller scale. Flies for sea-trout are numberless and local patterns abound, as may be expected with a fish which has so catholic a taste. But, as with salmon-fishers so with sea-trout fishers, experience forms belief and success governs selection. Among the small salmon-flies and loch-flies which will fill his book, the angler will do well to have a store of very small trout-flies at hand, while experience has shown that even the dry fly will kill sea-trout on occasion, a thing that is worth remembering where rivers are low and fish shy. July, August and September are in general the best months for sea-trout, and as they are dry months the angler often has to put up with indifferent sport. The fish will, however, rise in tidal water and in a few localities even in the sea itself, or in salt-water lochs into which streams run. Sea-trout have an irritating knack of “coming short,” that is to say, they will pluck at the fly without really taking it. There are occasions, on the other hand, in loch-fishing where plenty of time must be given to the fish without tightening on it, especially if it happens to be a big one. Like salmon, sea-trout are to be caught with spinning-baits and also with the worm. The main controversy that is concerned with sea-trout is whether or no the fish captured in early spring are clean fish or well-mended kelts. On the whole, as sea-trout seldom run before May, the majority of opinion inclines to their being kelts.

Non-migratory Salmonidae.—Of the non-migratory members of the Salmonidae the most impotant in Great Britain is the brown trout (Salmo fario). Its American cousin the rainbow trout (S. irideus) is now fairly well established in the country too, while other transatlantic species both of trout and char (which are some of them partially migratory, that is to say, migratory when occasion offers), such as the steelhead (S. rivularis), fontinalis (S. fontinalis) and the cut-throat trout (S. clarkii), are at least not unknown. All these fish, together with their allied forms in America, can be captured with the fly, and, speaking broadly, the wet-fly method will do well for them all. Therefore it is only necessary to deal with the methods applicable to one species, the brown trout.

Trout.—Of the game-fishes the brown trout is the most popular, for it is spread over the whole of Great Britain and most of Europe, wherever there are waters suited to it. It is a fine sporting fish and is excellent for the table, while in some streams and lakes it grows to a very considerable size, examples of 16 lb from southern rivers and 20 lb from Irish and Scottish lakes being not unknown. One of the signs of its popularity is that its habits and history have produced some very animated controversies. Some of the earliest discussions were provoked by the liability of the fish to change its appearance in different surroundings and conditions, and so at one time many a district claimed its local trout as a separate species. Now, however, science admits but one species, though, to such well-defined varieties as the Loch Leven trout, the estuarine trout and the gillaroo, it concedes the right to separate names and “races.” In effect all, from the great ferox of the big lakes of Scotland and Ireland to the little fingerling of the Devonshire brook, are one and the same—Salmo fario.

Wet-Fly Fishing for Trout.—Fly-fishing for trout is divided into three kinds: fishing with the artificial fly sunk or “wet,” fishing with it floating or “dry” and fishing with the natural insect. Of the two first methods the wet fly is the older and may be taken first. Time was when all good anglers cast their flies downstream and thought no harm. But in 1857 W. C. Stewart published his Practical Angler, in which he taught that it paid better to fish up-stream, for by so doing the angler was not only less likely to be seen by the trout but was more likely to hook his fish. The doctrine was much discussed and criticized, but it gradually won adherents, until now up-stream fishing is the orthodox method where it is possible. Stewart was also one of the first to advocate a lighter rod in place of the heavy 12 ft. and 13 ft. weapons that were used in the North in his time. There are still many men who use the long rod for wet-fly fishing in streams, but there are now more who find 10 ft. quite enough for their purpose. For lake-fishing from a boat, however, the longer rod is still in many cases preferred. In fishing rivers the main art is to place the right flies in the right places and to let them come naturally down with the stream. The right flies may be ascertained to some extent from books and from local wisdom, but the right places can only be learnt by experience. It does not, however, take long to acquire “an eye for water” and that is half the battle, for the haunts of trout in rapid rivers are very much alike. In lake-fishing chance has a greater share in bringing about success, but here too the right fly and the right place are important; the actual management of rod, line and flies, of course, is easier, for there is no stream to be reckoned with. Though there is little left to be said about wet-fly fishing where the fiy is an imitation more or less exact of a natural insect, there is another branch of the art which has been stimulated by modern developments. This is the use of salmon-flies for big trout much in the same way as for salmon. In such rivers as the Thames, where the trout are cannibals and run very large, ordinary trout-flies are of little use, and the fly-fisher's only