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Title: Scotch Loch-Fishing
Author: Senior, William, 1839?-1920
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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   _All Rights reserved_


                   TO THE





The Author of this very practical treatise on Scotch Loch-Fishing
desires chiefly that it may be of use to all who read it. He does not
pretend to have written anything new, but to have attempted to put what
he has to say in as readable a form as possible. Everything in the way
of the history and habits of fish has been studiously avoided, and
technicalities have been used as sparingly as possible. The writing of
this book has afforded him much pleasure in his leisure moments, and
that pleasure would be much increased if he knew that the perusal of it
would create any bond of sympathy between himself and the angling
community in general. This edition is interleaved with blank sheets for
the reader's notes. The Author need hardly say that any suggestions
addressed to the care of the publishers, will meet with consideration in
a future edition.

GLASGOW, _March 1882_.


 CHAP.                                 PAGE

    I. INTRODUCTORY,                      1

   II. EQUIPMENT,                         5




   VI. DUTIES OF BOATMAN,                27



   IX. TROLLING,                         42

    X. CAPTURE OF FISH,                  48

   XI. AFTER A DAY'S FISHING,            60

  XII. REMINISCENCES,                    65

 XIII. CONCLUSION,                       80




We do not pretend to write or enlarge upon a new subject. Much has been
said and written--and well said and written too--on the art of fishing;
but loch-fishing _per se_ has been rather looked upon as a second-rate
performance, and to dispel this idea is one of the objects for which
this present treatise has been written. Far be it from us to say
anything against fishing, lawfully practised in any form; but many pent
up in our large towns will bear us out when we say that, on the whole,
a day's loch-fishing is the most convenient. One great matter is, that
the loch-fisher is dependent on nothing but enough wind to "curl" the
water,--and on a large loch it is very seldom that a dead calm prevails
all day,--and can make his arrangements for a day, weeks beforehand;
whereas the stream-fisher is dependent for a good take on the state of
the water: and however pleasant and easy it may be for one living near
the banks of a good trout stream or river, it is quite another matter to
arrange for a day's river-fishing, if one is looking forward to a
holiday at a date some weeks ahead. Providence may favour the expectant
angler with a "good" day, and the water in order; but experience has
taught most of us that the "good" days are in the minority, and that, as
is the case with our rapid running streams,--such as many of our
northern streams are,--the water is either too large or too small,
unless, as previously remarked, you live near at hand, and can catch it
at its best.

A common belief in regard to loch-fishing is, that the tyro and the
experienced angler have nearly the same chance in fishing,--the one from
the stern and the other from the bow of the same boat. Of all the
absurd beliefs as to loch-fishing, this is one of the most absurd. Try
it. Give the tyro either end of the boat he likes; give him a cast of
any flies he may fancy, or even a cast similar to those which a "crack"
may be using; and if he catches one for every three the other has, he
may consider himself very lucky. Of course there are lochs where the
fish are not abundant, and a beginner may come across as many as an
older fisher; but we speak of lochs where there are fish to be caught,
and where each has a fair chance.

Again, it is said that the boatman has as much to do with catching trout
in a loch as the angler. Well, we don't deny that. In an untried loch it
is necessary to have the guidance of a good boatman; but the same
argument holds good as to stream-fishing. There are "pools and pools,"
and the experienced loch-fisher can "spot" a bay or promontory, where
trout are likely to be lying, with as much certainty as his brother
angler can calculate on the lie of fish in a stream. Then there are
objections to loch-fishing on the score of expense. These we are not
prepared to refute; for there is no doubt whatever that loch-fishing
means money. But what has made it so? The same reason that makes all
other things of more or less value--the common law of supply and demand.
Time was, and that not so long ago, when a boatman who used to get 3s.,
or at most 4s. a-day, now gets his 5s. or 6s., and even at the latter
figure does not think himself too well paid. In the extreme north,
however, it is still possible to get a good man for 3s. a-day; and we
know of nothing more enjoyable than a fortnight's loch-fishing amidst
magnificent scenery in some of our northern counties. The expense of
getting there will always be a serious matter; but once there, the
fishing in itself is not dear. The boat is usually got for nothing; the
right of fishing, so far at least as trout are concerned, is free; and
the man's wage and lunch are decidedly cheap. But for a single day on
some of our nearer lochs,--such as Loch Leven, Loch Ard, or Loch
Lomond,--the expenses _are_ heavy, and the angler must always be the
best judge as to the likelihood of the "game being worth the candle."



This will be a short chapter, as tastes differ so very much, that many
things we might say would most probably be disregarded. But as to some
matters, there can only be one opinion. Do not fish in _light-coloured_
clothes; and, should the weather be wet, do not wear a white macintosh
coat. We believe that the eyesight of a fish is the keenest sense which
it possesses; and, more especially should the day be clear and fine,
there is no doubt that an unusual white object within range of its
vision will make a fish, which might otherwise have taken the fly, turn
tail and flee. A good deal of what we hear spoken of as fish "rising
short," proceeds from this cause. No doubt they rise short sometimes on
seeing the angler himself, but he is much less likely to attract notice
if clad in dark-hued clothing. We know of nothing better for a fishing
rig-out than a suit made from dark Harris tweed--it will almost last a
lifetime, and is a warm and comfortable wear. Thus you will need a dark
macintosh and leggings; and a common sou'wester is, when needed, a very
useful head-gear. A pair of cloth-lined india-rubber gloves will be
found desirable in early spring, when it is quite possible that the
temperature may be low enough for snow. A pair of stout lacing boots,
made with uppers reaching well up the leg, will be found best, as they
protect the feet from getting damp when going into or leaving a boat,
even though one should need to step into the water; and if your
waterproof coat is long, as it should be, the necessity of wearing
leggings on a wet day is obviated. Lastly, _by all means keep the body
warm_, and remember that the more careful you are of yourself, even at
the risk of being thought "old wifish," you will, humanly speaking, be
enabled to enjoy the sport to a greater age than you might otherwise



As this is likely to be one of the most important chapters in the book,
the reader must forgive us if we are particular--even to a fault--in
describing some of the necessaries towards the full enjoyment of the
pleasures of loch-fishing. So much depends on our being comfortable in
our enjoyments, that we have, perhaps, erred on the side of luxuriance;
but to those anglers who think so, there is nothing easier than their
leaving out what they think superfluous.

_Creel, or Fishing-Bag._--The creel for loch-fishing should be of the
largest size made, so as to serve for all kinds of fish; and as the
angler is always in a boat, the difference of room occupied is of very
little moment. Besides, it accommodates his tackle and lunch, and even
waterproofs, though the latter are better to be strapped on outside.
These creels are neatest when made in French basket-work; and even the
lightest of them, with ordinary care, will last many years, more
especially if the edges and bottom are leather-bound. Almost any
tackle-shop will supply them plain, or bound with leather, as desired.
Brass hinges and hasp will also be found great improvements. The
fishing-bag is of somewhat recent development, and is very convenient;
but the objection to it is that, unless the waterproof cloth with which
it is lined be carefully washed after each day's fishing, a nasty smell
is apt to be contracted and retained. Though we use the bag often
ourselves, we incline for many reasons to the old-fashioned creel. Many
loch-fishers carry along with them a square basket about 16 in. × 8
broad × 10 deep, which they use for carrying their tackle and lunch,
thus leaving the creel or fishing-bag free for fish alone. This is a
capital plan, the only objection being that it makes another article to
carry. As to its usefulness there can be no doubt, as nothing is more
undesirable than having tackle and fish in one basket or bag, even
though you should have something between. Some anglers go the length of
a luncheon-basket, but this savours so much of the picnic that we don't
approve of it.

_Landing-Net and Gaff._--These may be got at any tackle shop, the only
care to be exercised being in the selection of a good long handle, and
in seeing that the net be made of twine which resists the catching of
hooks, and that it be of a size capable of landing a large fish, as the
gaff leaves an ugly mark, and should only be used when actually
necessary. The screw of the net-hoop and of the gaff will suit the same

_Fishing-Rods._--For loch-fishing, it is desirable to use a rod not less
than 14 feet in length, if fishing for ordinary yellow trout; but if for
sea trout, and the chance of "a fish" _par excellence_, then the rod
should be a couple of feet longer. The angler will find that it is
better to have both rods with him--the spare one being handy in case of
calamity--as the extra trouble of carrying is very slight: rods and
landing-net handle can be easily tied up together with small leather
straps. Do not have a rod that bends too freely--rather err on the
other side; because in loch-fishing you have generally wind enough to
carry your flies out, and if you do get a 3 or 4 pounder, the advantage
of a fairly stiff rod is apparent. We prefer rods in three pieces--no
hollow-butts--and made of greenheart throughout. The first cost is more
than for rods whose various parts are made of different woods, but the
greenheart is the cheapest rod in the end. With the minimum of care, a
greenheart never gets out of order; and a good rod of this description
will be as straight at the end of a season as at the beginning. Avoid
all fancy rods, and do not be beguiled into buying them.

_Reels and Lines._--Always carry a couple of reels with you, the smaller
with 60 yards of fine line, and the larger with not less than 100 yards
of grilse line. Silk-and-hair lines are not very expensive, and with a
little care will last a long time. They will be found the most
satisfactory for all kinds of fly-work. The reels which we consider best
are made of bronzed metal and vulcanite: they are light, and stand a lot
of wear. When buying your rods, get the reels fitted to them, and see
that the fit is sufficiently tight, as nothing is more annoying than to
find the ferrules loosening their hold of the reel, and that, perhaps,
at a most critical moment. Should the reels referred to not be heavy
enough to balance the rods properly--and this is a matter of great
importance--it may be as well to take reels made entirely of bronzed

_Fly-Book._--We are not much in favour of fly-books. They are a great
temptation to keeping a large stock of flies; and in the following
chapter we will show that the fewer flies one possesses the better. A
serious objection to a fly-book is, that the flies get crushed in it,
and we consider a box a better receptacle; but if the angler will have a
fly-book, one of moderate size--rather to the big size if anything--made
of pig-skin leather, and well provided with pouches for holding
casting-lines, as well as the usual receptacles for flies, will be found
best. These books are to be had in great variety at any wholesale tackle
warehouse; and taste goes a long way in non-essentials.

Beyond the articles mentioned, the angler should always have at hand the

 Spring balance, weighing up to 20 lb.
 Small screw-driver.
 Small gimlet.
 Small bottle clockmaker's oil.
 Bottle varnish.
 Carriage-lamp, and candles to fit, for travelling.
 Two packs playing-cards.
 Good-sized flask.
 Flat glass or horn drinking-cup.
 Pocket-scissors. The kind that shut up will be found very useful.
 Hank of medium gut for emergencies.
 Fine silk thread and resin.
 Some common thin twine for tying joints of rod together.
 Also articles named in Chapter V., p. 21, under "Trolling-Tackle and

Many of these things may be considered quite _de trop_; but the longer
one fishes, the more one finds out that the little luxuries give a vast
amount of enjoyment for the small amount of foresight required to have
them at hand when wanted.



Flies.--Here we shall no doubt come into conflict with many opinions,
and most probably meet with the most criticism. However, as all we have
written, and mean to write, is the result of actual experience, we may
be pardoned for being somewhat dogmatic on the subject in hand. In the
first place, don't keep a large stock of flies. If going for a day's
fishing, buy as many as you think you'll need, and _no more_. Buy them
of different sizes; and if you get a few each time you go for an outing,
you will be astonished how soon a spare stock accumulates. Ascertain
carefully beforehand the _size_ suitable to the loch--the _kinds_ are
not of so much importance--and once you have made up a cast, in which
operation there is no harm in taking your boatman's suggestions, _do not
change_, unless it be to put on a smaller or larger size according to
the wind, or unless it is conclusively proved that other flies are
raising trout when yours cannot. Of course, if you are going for a
fortnight's fishing, you will require to lay in a fair stock; but even
then get as few as you think you can possibly do with. Do not run any
risk of running short, and do not place yourself in the position of
needing to use old casts: that is poor economy in the long-run. The
following is, we think, a fair list for a fortnight's sport in an
out-of-the-way place:--

 Half-dozen harelugs.
     "      red and teal.
     "      orange and mallard.
     "      green and woodcock.
     "      black spiders with red tips, commonly called "Zulus."
     "      red spiders, hackle taken well down the hook.
     "      March Browns, which, though supposed to come out in March,
              are really capital flies at any time.
     "      yellow body with cinnamon wings and golden-pheasant tip.
     "      dark harelug body, mallard wing and red tip. This is a
              splendid spring fly.

These we would get dressed on Loch Leven size--any fly-dresser knows
what that means; but perhaps the better way would be to get a quarter
dozen of each dressed on that size, and a quarter dozen of each on a
hook two sizes larger. The patterns in a tackle-maker's book are
endless, but for the most part are modifications or combinations of the
flies we have named; and the angler will soon discover for himself that
flies and old half-used casts, and often casts made up in the humour of
the moment, and never used at all, accumulate upon him so rapidly that
he is glad to find some enthusiastic boatman to bestow them upon. It is
needless to add, that a gift of this kind is usually very much
appreciated by the recipient. Tinsel is a very useful adjunct to a fly,
and should always be employed in those used in loch-fishing. If variety
is wanted in colouring, the least tip of Berlin or pig's wool of the
desired shade will be found very effective. Get your flies dressed on
Limerick-bend hooks, as the iron, should it chance not to be the best
tempered in the world, is not so liable to snap as the round bend. The
wings of the fly should be dressed so as to be distinctly apart both in
the water and out of it, thus--


It gives the fly a much more life-like appearance, and makes it swim
better in the water. When you give orders for flies, see that they are
dressed up to your instructions, as it is quite certain you will fish
with much more confidence when you have faith in what you are using. Do
not have them dressed on too fine gut, as they are apt to get twisted
round the casting-line (usually called "riding the line"), and put you
to the trouble of straightening them out every few minutes. These
remarks may seem trifling; but trifles are very irritating in most
pursuits, and the gentle art is no exception. Flies suitable for salmon
and sea-trout fishing on almost any loch will be supplied at any shop in
the trade on asking for Loch Lomond patterns. These patterns are
well-known, and are without exception as fine flies as one could wish
for. They are usually made very full in the body, and dressed with
heron's hackle. The varieties are red and teal, green and teal, orange
and mallard, or turkey, and a few variations of these,--sometimes a
yellow tip to the red and green bodies, or a red tip to the yellow; but
a cast composed of red or green and teal with orange and mallard is
unsurpassable. For this class of fishing, the flies should be dressed
with loops, and the bob should be fixed to the casting-line by means of
a small strand of gut. Two flies on a cast are quite sufficient when big
fish are expected. We can hardly advise the angler to try fly-dressing
on his own account. It is hardly worth his while, as flies are to be had
very reasonably from any respectable tackle-maker; and they are much
better dressed in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred than any amateur

       *       *       *       *       *

_Casting-Lines._--Provide yourself with half a dozen each, of different
thickness--that is, fine, medium, and stout, the latter for salmon and
sea-trout fishing. That quantity should suffice for a fortnight's
outing, even making allowance for breakage, and leave you some over for
another time: but in this matter it is better to run no risk of being
short. The gut should be stained a light tea colour, or the faintest
blue: it can be bought so. There is no occasion for them being more
than three yards long, as we cannot advocate fishing with more than
three flies at a time. If three flies are properly placed on a line, and
the line be properly handled in the casting, they will cover as much
water as any number of flies. Besides, there is far less chance of a
"fankle," to use a most expressive Scotch word, than when four or more
flies are used. In this, however, _chacun à son goût_,--we are only
giving an opinion after trying both ways.

In making up a cast of flies, _have no loops_ of any kind, excepting the
one by which the cast is attached to your silk-and-hair line. The
water-knot is so simple and neat, that it is the best for the purpose of
fixing on the tail-fly, which, by the way, should be the heaviest of
those you are about to use, if there is any difference between them. In
case our readers don't know the water-knot, we give an illustration
which explains itself--


The loops are pulled tight, and then the fly and the line are drawn in
opposite directions, the result being that the knots formed by the
loops meet and make a firm, and at the same time an almost
imperceptible, joining. You then clip off any ends that may remain. So
much for the tail fly. The putting on of the other two is simplicity
itself. You take the strand of gut on which the next fly you purpose
affixing is dressed, and laying it along the main line, _taking care to
have the hook lying in the reverse direction from the tail fly_, you tie
it into the line a yard from the fly already attached. In tying it in,
leave the hook hanging about two and a half inches from the line. The
third, or "bob" fly, is attached in like manner, and thus your cast of
flies is completed. The only objection to this method of making up a
cast is, that once the middle and bob flies are tied in, they cannot be
used again. This is quite true; but the keen angler will submit to the
little extra expense on this score for the gratification which the sight
of a really neat cast will afford him. The system of suspending hooks by
loops, especially when using fine tackle, is almost entirely exploded.
We should have said that previous to use, all gut should be soaked, and
the longer the better. It is a good plan to let it soak over night, and
make up your cast in the morning. When gut is thus thoroughly wet, it is
wonderful how easy it is of manipulation. On the other hand, dry gut is
very brittle, and will break on the slightest provocation. Fix the cast
and silk-and-hair line together, having previously made a single knot on
the end of the latter, as illustrated below--


It is prudent to have a second cast ready in case of breakage, as
nothing is more annoying than losing time making up one in the boat, and
that most probably when the trout are rising. Experience is a great
teacher; and it is wonderful how soon the angler learns the value of
every moment, and seeks beforehand, so far as human foresight can go, to
provide for all contingencies.



Do not troll at all if you can get fishing with the fly; and under no
circumstances troll for trout in the very early part of the season, when
they are more or less in a "kelty" state, and take an artificial or
other minnow very keenly. True, you may catch fish, but it is a most
unsportsmanlike proceeding to take fish not in fair condition; and if
you, sir, who read this book, are not a sportsman, you had better stop
here, for it was compiled by a sportsman for sportsmen. There are some
miserable "pot-hunters" who want to kill anything that swims--be it
clean or unclean; but with them we have nothing whatever to do. But fair
trolling is quite legitimate, and in many cases it is absolutely
imperative to troll if a basket is to be made at all. Some days the fly
is of no use--either owing to a calm, or to a bright sky; and a
well-managed trolling-line or two is then the only resort, unless one
stops fishing altogether. And if big trout and _ferox_ are wanted,
nothing succeeds--indeed nothing _will_ succeed, except very
occasionally--but trolling, either with artificial or natural bait. So
to be complete you must have the requisite tackle, and we will tell you
what is necessary, both for small and large fish, in as few words as we
possibly can. A ROD specially adapted for trolling is almost a
necessity, as it is a great strain upon an ordinary fly-rod to have the
weight of 30 or 40 yards of line upon it: even a good rod is apt to get
an ugly bend from such treatment. The rod for trolling need not be
long--12 to 14 feet is quite sufficient--but it must be stiff; and we
consider that the rings through which the line is led ought to be large
and fixed--that is, standing out permanently from the wood, called by
the trade upright rings. A spare top will be supplied along with it. The
REEL should be of the largest description, and may be got as strong as
possible, lightness being no recommendation to one used exclusively for
trolling. The LINE ought to be at least 100 yards long--120 for
choice--and this suffices for any kind of fish. The material best
adapted for trolling is oiled silk-and-hair. There is a kind of line,
made in America, we believe, which is admirably adapted for the purpose.
It is strong as wire-rope, and does not "kink" under any
circumstances--which latter is a consideration, as sometimes a paltry
trout may come on, and you have only to haul him in hand-over-hand
without running the risk of your line getting into a mess. This saves
the trouble and waste of time in reeling up many yards of line every
time a "smout" comes on. The line to which we refer is somewhat
expensive, but will be found to be cheap in the long-run. An ordinary
silk-and-hair line does well enough, but is apt to twist sadly if the
minnow is not spinning properly, besides the trouble it entails after a
day's fishing of laying out two or three score yards for drying. The
troller will require to provide himself with MINNOW TRACES. These do not
require to be more than two yards in length, but in ordering them take
care that the swivels are sufficiently large to insure the
minnow--natural or artificial--spinning nicely. The angler can easily
procure swivels and make traces for himself; but he will find in this,
as in most things connected with fishing, that he cannot compete with
the tackle-maker, so we advise him to get them made up at a good
warehouse. Retail tackle-makers charge long prices, but in most large
towns there are warehouses which are specially suited for a customer
trade, thus saving the user a long intermediate profit. This is as it
should be. The thickness of the gut used for trolling should of course
be regulated, as in fly-fishing, by the size of fish you expect to
catch, and a few traces made of gimp for pike and _ferox_ should always
be in the troller's stock. By the way, and in case we forget to mention
it afterwards, always be provided with some split swan shot, to be used
in case of a very clear day, when it is desirable to sink line and
minnow below the surface. Also be provided with tackle--some mounted on
gut and some on gimp--for spinning natural minnow; and we know of none
better or more deadly for this purpose than that of which an
illustration is given on next page. It is very simple, and seldom misses


The large hook is put in at the mouth of the minnow, and the point
brought out at a little above the tail--thus giving the minnow the
proper curve for spinning. One of the smaller hooks is put through
_both_ lips of the lure, to close the mouth and to keep the bait in
proper position, while the other is left to spin. Some advocate the use
of par-tail as a spinning bait; but as it is not right to kill par at
all, we omit any directions for its use. We have drifted into the
subject of LURES almost unconsciously. If you wish to use natural
minnows, see that they are neither too large nor too small--about two
inches long is a good size--and that the belly is silvery. It is better
to instruct your boatman to have a supply ready against your arrival at
the loch, as sometimes it is as difficult to catch minnows as to catch
any other fish. However, we believe that the want of them is so well
supplied by the phantom minnow, that little or no harm is done though
they are not to be had. And when the handling and bother of using live
bait is taken into consideration, we think that most folks will prefer
the artificial lure. The phantom we consider the very best of all the
imitations; and the troller should have them in different colours and
sizes, from Nos. 1 to 7. The hooks attached to the larger sizes should
be mounted on gimp, as in trolling for large fish--and especially for
_salmo ferox_--no risk should be run of the mountings giving way. Tin
boxes, divided into compartments, for holding the minnows, are very
convenient, and are to be had at most tackle shops. A spoon-bait is also
a splendid deception, and should not be awanting. A tackle-maker's
catalogue will tell the reader of many other "spinners;" but if he
cannot catch fish of all kinds with either a natural or phantom minnow
or a spoon, it is not the fault of the lure; and he may try anything
else he fancies, and come no better speed.



Very little requires to be said in this chapter regarding boatmen, as
when the angler gets into the habit of frequenting certain lochs, he
soon finds out for himself the steady reliable men in the neighbourhood,
and can generally engage one of them beforehand by writing to the hotel
at which he means to put up. But in going to a new fishing-ground, he is
better to leave himself in the hands of the landlord of the hotel, and if
not satisfied with his first day's experience of the man who accompanied
him, let him change. A good boatman is a treasure; and though we are
decidedly against the system of "tipping" indiscriminately, we say, when
you get a good man, pay him liberally. We know of some men with whom it
is a pleasure to be out all day, and whose company, in its own way, is
most enjoyable. Keen sportsmen these are, and the capture or loss of a
fish is a source of true pleasure or pain. Other men one comes across
seem but to row the boat, and nothing more; and an unproductive day in
such company is something to be looked back upon with horror. The
leading qualification of a boatman of the right sort is a strong
sympathy with the angler, which enables him almost instinctively to help
the angler to cover every inch of likely water with his flies, and makes
him experience the sensation of expecting a rise every cast; in other
words, he almost puts the fly into the fish's mouth. With such a man,
instructions regarding the management of the boat are superfluous; but
as it often happens that you do not get a first-rate hand, you have to
take matters into your own hands to some extent; and we shall give you a
few hints as to what is best to be done under such circumstances. It is
hardly to be supposed that your man is in ignorance of the best ground,
either from experience or hearsay, and it is only after you get there
that our instructions can possibly come into operation. If you are
obliged to take a perfect greenhorn, we know of no other course than to
order him to keep in the wake of some other boat, but that at such a
distance as not to be offensive. (See next chapter on the "Etiquette of
Loch-fishing.") But let us assume that you get on to ground where fish
are: the first point is to see that everything is in order, all
unnecessary articles put out of the way, and the landing-net and gaff
conveniently at hand. We ought to have said that a large stone in the
bow is useful, not only to balance the boat and make her drift better,
but also as a weight to which a rope may be attached, and thus let over
the side to the depth of a few feet, to prevent her drifting too rapidly
should there happen to be a heavy breeze on. The next thing is to get
the boat properly broadside to the wind, so that you may have next to no
trouble in casting. Should a fish be hooked, see that the man keeps
working the boat in such a manner that the fish cannot possibly get
underneath: a single stroke of the oar in the proper direction is
generally all that is necessary. You must also judge from the size of
the fish, and the length and strength of your tackle, whether it is
expedient that the man should follow the fish if he makes a very long
run. If your line happens to be short--which it will not be, if you have
followed the instructions given in Chapter III.--you need not be
surprised if you find nothing left but your rod and reel, your line, and
mayhap a "half-croon flee" flying about the loch in charge of a fish.
The management of the landing-net or gaff is another serious matter. If
the fish be small, tell the man to have the net ready, and "run it in;"
but if it is a good-sized fish, you must tell him not to put the net
near till he gets the word from you. Many a time we have suppressed an
exclamation--the reverse of a blessing--when we have seen the hoop of
the landing-net strike the fish, and were in suspense for a second or
two as to whether he was on or off. If the gaff is necessary, it is
almost as well to let your man hold the rod after you have tired the
fish thoroughly, and gaff him yourself. But if you think it unadvisable
to part with the rod, send the man to the other end of the boat from
yourself, and then lead the fish near him, so that he may have a fair
chance. He must put the gaff _over_ the fish till the point is in a
line with its broadside, and then with a sudden _jerk_ sink the steel
into, or even through, the animal, and lift him over the gunwale with
all possible speed. A sharp blow or two on the snout will deprive the
fish of life. Always kill your fish,--big or small,--as nothing ought to
be more repulsive to a true sportsman than to see or hear any animal he
has captured dying by inches.

It is perhaps needless to say that in the matter of lunch and drink, due
consideration should always be paid to your boatman's wants; indeed if
he has had a hard time of it rowing against a stiff breeze, nothing is
lost by landing at mid-day and letting him enjoy half an hour's rest and
a smoke after he has refreshed his inner man. Sometimes--such as in a
club competition--such luxuries must be denied; but even then he can put
you on to a square drift, and enjoy his lunch and smoke while you are
fishing; and you, on the other hand, can take yours when he is changing
ground. These remarks may seem trifling; but we only give you our
experience, when we say that on some lochs where good boatmen are not
plentiful, the angler who has shown most kindness and consideration on
past occasions is never much put about for want of a man, even in a busy
season. And we have known, when every regular boatman was engaged, that
there was generally a boatman's "friend" in the neighbourhood who was
pressed into our service, and that often at a few minutes' notice.



Politeness is politeness all the world over, and in loch-fishing it is
particularly to be practised. The gentle art is peculiarly adapted for
gentlemen,--using the word in its truest sense,--and the true angler
will never be mistaken for anything else. In the Club to which we have
the honour to belong, there are certain rules which would commend
themselves naturally to any one of us; but in order that these may be
clear and well defined, they are circulated annually, and are in
themselves so admirable that we cannot do better than quote them:--

    "1. No boat shall be entitled to take position in front of any other
    boat which shall have already begun drifting, at a less distance
    than three hundred yards.

    "2. Any competitor intending to drift a bay already in possession of
    another competitor shall be obliged to take position behind, or on
    the outside of and in a line with the latter, but at such a distance
    as not to interfere with the boat first in possession of the drift.

    "3. In cases where boats are changing water, it shall not be
    admissible for any boat so doing to go between the shore and any
    other boat drifting close thereon."

These rules, as may be inferred, refer to club competitions in
particular, but they are made the standard upon all occasions where
there is any chance of their becoming applicable. So much indeed have we
got into the way of regarding these rules,--strict as they are,--that we
observe them even when meeting with strangers on any loch in any part of
the kingdom. And pay special attention, if you happen to be trolling in
the neighbourhood, never to interfere with the drift on which a
fly-fisher is engaged. Nothing is more unbecoming, as it disturbs the
water which is his by right, if he has begun to drift; and it is an
unwritten rule that the fly-fisher should generally be allowed the first
of the ground, as his style of fishing does not make the same commotion
as a trolling boat and tackle do. Very few of us but have experienced
the annoyance of a minnow-boat crossing our drift when we were
fly-fishing; and though we had no redress, and could make no remarks
without lowering ourselves to the level of our offenders, we have, like
the nigger's parrot, "thought a mighty lot." Do not hesitate to put
yourself out of your way to help a neighbour in distress. He may have
hooked a large fish and be unprovided with a gaff: if you have one let
him have it instantly, taking his directions from which side you are to
approach him; and never let the loss of a few minutes, more or less,
deter you from following the golden rule of doing to him as you would
expect him to do to you were you similarly placed. And, as it sometimes
happens where boats are scarce and anglers many, when you are in the
same boat with a stranger, see that you confine yourself strictly to
your own share of the water, not making casts which endanger "fankling"
for the mere sake of covering a little more water with your flies.
Should you have a fly that is taking better than any other of your own
or his, offer him one; and in general try to make the day's fishing one
as much for the cultivation of goodwill and the promotion of
good-fellowship as for the mere sake of making a basket. A churlish
angler is an unnatural phenomenon, and, thank Providence! they seldom
turn up. A man who can look upon the beautiful scenery amid which he
takes his pleasure,--and there is none finer in the world than our
Scottish lochs and their surroundings,--and not feel grateful to the
Giver of all good, and at peace with all mankind, ought to burn his rod,
singe his flies, and only associate with men like himself.

If the introduction of this chapter into our book will have the effect
of creating a better understanding on the etiquette of loch-fishing
between brothers of the angle, the object for which it was written will
have been accomplished--and, let us hope, a large amount of goodwill
thereby promoted.



We shall treat this subject under two aspects: first, if you have the
whole boat to yourself; and second, if it is being shared by some one

If you have a boat to yourself, stand as near the centre of it as you
possibly can without interfering with the boatman in rowing, and cover
every inch of the water in front of you and as far to the sides as the
wind will permit. Always be careful how you cast--that is, every time
you throw your flies see that they land lightly on the water, as no one
can expect to raise fish if any splash is made by either line or flies.
Fine casting is not quite so essential, of course, when a fair breeze is
blowing; but if the wind be light, then the difference between a
well-thrown fly and the reverse is very apparent. After you have made a
satisfactory cast, draw the line slowly to you by raising the point of
the rod, taking care to keep the line as taut as possible. Also see that
your bob-fly is tripping on the surface, as we consider that a
well-managed "bob" is the most life-like of the whole lot. Do not fish
with too long a line, unless, indeed, on an exceptional occasion, when
you wish to reach the lie of a feeding fish. It is difficult to define a
long line, but a good general rule is that it should never be longer
than when you have the consciousness that, if a fish should rise, you
have him at a fair and instantaneous striking distance. Remember that
the time the flies first touch the water after each cast is the most
deadly; therefore, cast often.

If you have only the share of a boat, the rule is that one man takes the
stern up till lunch, and the other after it. For ourselves, we have a
preference for the bow, and we generally find that most anglers prefer
the luxury of the stern; so when both parties are pleased, there is no
occasion for changing at all. The most important thing to bear in mind
when you have a companion is, as we said in last chapter, to confine
yourself to your own water. If the left-hand cast is the one proper to
your end of the boat, cast as much to your right hand as you can without
infringing on your neighbour's share of the water: all the water to your
left hand is of course yours. The same remarks apply _vice versa_.
_Never stop casting_ so long as you are on fishable ground, for you know
not the moment a good fish may rise. Certain it is that unless you keep
your flies constantly going, you cannot expect to have the same basket
as the angler who does. Keep your eyes on your flies in a general way,
and do not let your attention be distracted so long as they are in the
water. Every angler has experienced the annoyance of missing fish when
looking elsewhere for a single moment--either at another boat, or at a
fish "rising to itself," or at the sky, or at something else. When the
eyes were turned to the point from which they should not have been
diverted, they were just in time to see the water swirl, and the hand
gave a futile strike at what had disappeared a second before. Perhaps we
should have said at the beginning of this chapter to place implicit
faith in the flies with which you are fishing. Nothing is more
ridiculous than whipping the water with a cast, of the suitableness of
which you have any doubt; and to guard against any such chance, study
carefully the state of the weather and the wind. If very clear, use
sombre flies; but if a dark day, use brighter flies. You will of course
regulate the size according to the breeze, but as a rule, err on the
side of small flies. When you raise a fish, _strike at once_. It is
quite possible that by this method you may once in a while strike the
least bit too soon, but it is a safe plan to go by. There is always a
particle of a moment spent in the tightening of the line; and by the
time the angler sees a fish at his flies, he may safely conclude that it
has already seized or missed them, and the sooner he ascertains the true
state of matters by striking instantaneously, the better. If the fish
has not been touched by line or hook, cast gently over him again: the
chances are that there will be another rise, and, if the fish has been
feeding, every likelihood that the second or even a third time may be
lucky. In striking small fish, the least tightening of the line is
sufficient; but with large fish, when your tackle and hooks are strong,
strike _firmly home_ to send the steel well in, right over the barb.
Tackle that will not stand this had better be given away or
destroyed,--the latter for choice.



Our readers will have guessed, from what has preceded this chapter, that
we don't believe in trolling if it can be avoided; but still there are
times and occasions on which it must be practised, and we plead guilty
to having gone in for it oftener than once, when we saw that fly-fishing
was useless. On the other hand, however, we have set out with a firm
determination to do a fair day's trolling,--and nothing but
trolling,--but somehow or another it has generally ended in fly-fishing
when we could, and trolling as a _dernier ressort_ when we could not.
This, we doubt not, has been the experience of many of our angling
friends to whom the mere killing of fish is a secondary consideration
compared with the enjoyment of real sport. But when trolling is the
order of the day, either from choice or necessity, then this is the way
to go about it. We assume, of course, that the angler is equipped with
tackle and lines specified in Chapter V., and that he has a supply also
of live minnows with him. The elaborate tin-cans for holding minnows are
quite unnecessary so far as loch-fishing is concerned; any ordinary
vessel will do well enough for a day, provided the water is changed now
and again. In trolling, two rods will be found ample. They should be
placed at right angles to the boat,--the "thowl-pin," or, if there is
not one near enough the stern, anything (a cheap gimlet answers
admirably) fixed into the gunwale, being sufficient to keep the rod in
position,--so that the spinners, of whatever kind they may be, will be
as far apart from each other as possible. Take care that the butts of
the rods are well at the bottom of the boat, as we have seen a rod not
sufficiently fixed go overboard before now. A main point in trolling is
to have plenty of line out. There should never be less than thirty yards
out from one rod, and not less that forty from the other. By this
means, should a fish not see the first lure, he may see the second. If
trolling with natural minnow, which is much more apt to get out of order
than artificial ones, see that the bait is intact and spinning properly.
This involves the trouble of hauling it in for examination now and then;
but it is better to be at that trouble than be fishing with, mayhap, a
mangled lure, or one that has got out of spinning order, and more likely
to act as a repellent than an attraction to any fish in the
neighbourhood. In trolling any likely ground, the proper way is to tell
your man to zigzag it, not pulling the boat in a straight line, but
going over the ground diagonally, and thus covering as much of it as it
is possible to do with a couple score yards of line behind. The turning
of the boat necessitates a considerable circle being taken to keep the
lures spinning, and so that the lines do not get mixed up; and your man,
after making the turn, should row in a slightly slanting direction
towards the point from which he originally started, thus--


and so on, till the chances of raising a fish on that beat are

Should a small fish come on, haul it in hand-over-hand; and the man must
not stop rowing, as the other minnow is out, and must be kept spinning.
If, however, a fish that needs playing comes to you, you must seize the
rod to which he has come, and the boatman must take the other, and wind
in as fast as possible. You should not commence winding in till the
other line is wound up so far as to preclude the chance of the fish
mixing up both lines together. Barring the risk one runs of a serious
mess, it is not a bad plan to troll from a reel a cast of larger-sized
flies than would be used in ordinary fly-fishing. This line follows, of
course, in a _straight_ track behind the boat, and the minnows being
considerably to right and left of it, there is no danger of their
getting mixed so long as the boat is moving; but the risk is apparent
should a fish come to either of the three lines, and great activity is
then necessary on the part of yourself and boatman to keep things right.
You must keep the fish at as considerable a distance from the other
lines as you can, and trust a good deal to the chances of war for the
ultimate safety of all. Some days, even when casting was unproductive,
we have been fortunate in securing fish by trolling our flies in the
manner described. Indeed, unless the day or the season is decidedly in
favour of trolling minnows, we prefer, if only trolling two lines, to
troll from one of them with the minnow, and from the other with the fly.
This must always be decided, however, by the judgment of the angler, and
by his surroundings for the time being. One thing in favour of trolling
with the minnow is, that the best size of fish are caught by that means.
This is not invariably the case, but it is the rule. And in concluding
this chapter, we must not omit to acknowledge that we are glad to know
that when we are not so young as we once were, and when the wielding of
a rod all day long shall have come to be a serious matter, we shall
still have the pleasure of roaming about our lovely lochs--Highland or
Lowland--and have the excitement of landing fish, coupled with our
enjoyment of fresh air and grand scenery. For this reason, if for no
other, cultivate as often as you can, without entrenching on the nobler
pastime of fly-fishing, the art of trolling--for we must confess that
there is an art in this as in everything else; and should my reader be
sceptical on the point, he has only to try conclusions, when he gets the
chance, with some old troller, and he will be convinced before



Scotch loch-fishing, as usually practised, only embraces the capture of
the _salmo_ species--that is, the _salmo fario_, or common yellow trout;
the _salmo trutta_, or sea-trout; and _salmo salar_, the "fish," as most
boatmen call it, and the noblest game of the finny creation. Besides
these there is, of course, the _salmo ferox_; but it is comparatively
scarce, and only worth trolling for in some particular lochs, where they
are known to be more easily come across than in others. And sometimes
when worthier game is not to be had, we have a spin for pike, but Mr
Jack is as difficult to catch at times as his more aristocratic
comrades. In most Scotch lochs where any supervision is exercised at the
instance of our local clubs, the extermination of pike is most
vigorously carried on by means of fixed and splash nets. This, as
regards our large lochs, where there is room for all, we have no
hesitation in saying is a mistake, as it shuts up one means of enjoying
a day's fishing when nothing else in the way of fish is to be had; and
it must be borne in mind that there are some older anglers, to whom a
whole day's fly-fishing is a labour, who never object, when trolling, to
come across a pike: and no wonder, for a pike of 10 lb. and upwards
gives some fair play, though by no means to compare with what a fish of
the _salmo_ tribe of that weight would give. Then we have perch in
abundance, and splendid eels; but as these need a float and bait to
catch them, we dismiss them as quite _infra dig_. True a perch will come
at a minnow, and we have sometimes seen them take a fly; but they are
generally voted a nuisance, and expelled the boat.

As regards the capture of fish, we shall proceed to deal with each in
order; and at the outset we remark, that when you have hooked a fish, it
is a safe general rule to waste no unnecessary time in bringing him to
the landing-net or gaff, and thence into the boat. When playing a fish,
never allow the line to get slack, unless, indeed, when he leaps into
the air,--then you must give him rope; but so soon as he gets into his
native element, feel his mouth instantly. Always play your fish to
_windward_ of the boat if there is some one sharing it with you, as this
allows him to go on casting to leeward. Of course, if you have the whole
boat to yourself, play your fish in any way that it will be most
expeditiously brought to basket. The angler ought to be well assured of
the strength of his tackle, and when he has confidence in that, he will
soon learn to judge of the proper strain to which it may be subjected.
In the case of COMMON YELLOW TROUT, averaging, as most loch trout do,
about three to the pound, there is no occasion to put off time with any
one of them; but in some lochs, such as Loch Leven, where the average is
fairly one pound, and where two and three pounders are by no means
uncommon, some care and a little play are absolutely necessary. But do
not, even in such a case, give him too much of his own way. We can
assure our readers that a three-pound Loch Leven trout, in good
condition, on fine gut and small irons, gives as nice a piece of play,
and exercise to the eye, hand, and judgment, as could well be desired.

The SEA-TROUT is, for his size, the gamest of all fish. He is bold as a
lion, and fights harder for his life than a salmon twice his size. A
fish of three pounds will run out a considerable piece of line, and make
a splendid leap, or series of leaps,--and then is the trying time. As
often as not, your flies and the fish part company in the air, and you
have to sit down muttering "curses not loud but deep," till an
application to the flask soothes your wounded spirit, and invigorates
you for fresh effort. A beautiful sight it is to see a sea-trout rise.
No half-hearted attempt is his, but a determined rush for the fly, and
down again like thought, leaving you the tiniest part of a moment to
strike, and hardly time to admire his beautiful silvery coat. If you
have been fortunate enough to get the steel into him, you will have time
to admire him when you get him into the boat. Fishing for sea-trout with
the fly is, we consider, the most exciting of all kinds of fishing--that
is, if the fish run to a fair average weight. But we are sorry to say
that lochs where it is to be enjoyed are, with the solitary exception of
Loch Lomond, usually far out of ordinary reach,--and in the case of Loch
Lomond, it is only _habitués_ who usually come much speed on it; but
once the angler gets a fair day there, he finds his way back often.
True, there are some excellent sea-trout lochs in the north, and on the
west coast and islands, but they are a far cry from civilisation.
Nevertheless, if our readers can spare the time, let them find their way
into some unfrequented spot where sea-trout are plentiful, and they will
agree with us in thinking that that class of fishing is a most excellent
sport. Some parts of Ireland are famous for their fine sea-trout
fishing--white trout they call them there; and though we have never been
there ourselves, we mean to go some day, when the Land Bill has pacified
the natives, and made them law-abiding subjects. Meantime one runs the
risk of being mistaken for a non-resident landlord, and that would be a
pity for one's wife and family. But without any joking, this Irish
sea-trout fishing is a pleasure to which we look forward; and in this
work-a-day world, something to look forward to is half the enjoyment of

The capture of the SALMON is the ambition of all anglers, but we doubt
very much if the sport is to compare with ordinary loch or sea-trout
fishing, provided always that the latter are of good average weight. The
tackle used in salmon-fishing is proportionately heavy, and after the
first few rushes, if the fish be well hooked, there is little in it
except a matter of time. Indeed it is said that some anglers, after
hooking a salmon, hand the rod to a gillie to work and land the fish.
This seems going too much in the other direction, but it is quite
understandable. True, the size to which salmon run is a great inducement
to go after them; but even in Loch Tay, where the biggest average is to
be found, the sport, if such it can be called at all, is very
questionable. The rod, line, gut, and minnows used are on such a strong
scale, that a well-sized vessel might be moored with them without their
breaking; and with several scores of yards of line ready for a rush,
what earthly chance has the fish of escape, unless through the grossest
carelessness? The fish may be loosely hooked, and get off, but this is
quite a matter of chance, and the odds are that a hungry spring fish
will not miss the lure. Thus the charm of salmon-fishing is in the
raising and striking; and of all kinds of striking, the striking of the
salmon is the most difficult: the fish being so large and silvery, the
angler is certain to see him coming _at_ the fly, and is very apt to
strike too soon. But if it is borne in mind to strike _after_ the broken
water is visible, and not before it, this will soon be overcome. When
you do strike, don't let it be a mere tightening of the line, as in
trout-fishing, but a decided stroke. Some say that the salmon will hook
himself by his own weight. This may be so, though we doubt it,--but
don't trust to it. Certain it is, that the first rush of a fish does not
usually fix him certain; and should the hook happen to be in a piece of
hard gristle or on a bone, you will soon find this out for yourself, but
generally at the cost of the fish.

Salmon-fishing is an expensive luxury; but if you can get it good, never
mind the expense, but give it a trial. If you get good sport, you may
not care to go in for smaller game again; but in all our experience we
never knew a salmon fisher who did not enjoy trout-fishing as much in
its own way as ever he did that of the nobler animal. There is something
in the gossamer gut and small flies irresistibly attractive to all
sportsmen, and from which no amount of salmon-fishing can ever wean

The _salmo ferox_ is a fish on which many opinions have been expressed;
and we have heard more than one old boatman say that he did not believe
it to be anything but a big loch-trout, as, they ask, Who ever saw a
young one? We see the young of all other fish, but why do we never come
across a young _ferox_? It seems pertinent enough questioning, and we do
not pretend to settle their doubts in either one way or another. Certain
it is, he is a big strong fish with some features distinct from the
ordinary loch trout, and that when caught he shows an amount of fight
not to be equalled by any of his neighbours, either white or brown. He
is usually caught by trolling either natural or artificial minnow; and
the tackle should be mounted on gimp and fixed to a strong line, and
plenty of it. We have read of a _ferox_ rising to the fly, but never
saw one so captured. There seems no reason why a gaudy fly should not
attract him. After he is hooked the fun begins. A _ferox_ of 10 to 12
lb. will give you amusement and excitement for an indefinite time; and
you are never sure of him till he is in the boat. A friend of ours (a
capital angler to boot) fishing with us on Loch Assynt in
Sutherlandshire in 1877, hooked a fine specimen; and after battling with
him for an hour, had the mortification of seeing fish, angel-minnow, and
trace, disappear! A good boatman is a wonderful help in such a case;
indeed without his help your chances are small. To be sure it is slow
work trolling for _feroces_, and a whole day--yea, days--may be spent
without getting a run. The angler must always be the best judge as to
whether the chance is worth his while. Loch Awe, Loch Ericht, Loch
Rannoch, and Loch Assynt, are good lochs for trying one's luck in this
kind of fishing.

Then to come from the nobler to an inferior species, we get to PIKE
fishing. Angling for this fish seems to be in great repute among our
southern brethren, if we may judge by the literature on the subject; but
somehow or other it is looked upon among our northern anglers with
somewhat the same aversion that a Jew has to bacon, and fishing for pike
is only resorted to when all chance of catching anything worthier is
gone. We don't profess to say whence this antipathy arises; but we have
heard stories from boatmen about the foul feeding of pike that makes the
idea of eating him repulsive. Not but that we have eaten him, but we
never did so with relish, however cunningly the _artiste_ may have
served him up. As a stock for soup he is good; but in Scotland it is
better not to say what the origin of the stock is till your friends are
at their _café noir_. But here we are only interested so far as the
sport he gives is concerned; and unless the pike be all the larger--say
not under 8 lb.--the sport is poor enough. Even a pike of 8 lb. and
over, when hooked (which is done by trolling or casting a minnow and
working it after the manner of a fly), makes one or two long pulls, not
rushes like a fish of the _salmo_ tribe; and after that he subsides into
a sulk from which you must trust to the strength of your tackle to
arouse him. The tackle should be mounted on gimp, for his teeth are very
sharp; and when removing the lure from his mouth, you will find it much
safer to have previously put the foot-spar between his jaws to prevent
him getting at your fingers.

There is a fly, if such it can be called, used in pike-fishing. This fly
resembles a natural insect as much as a tea-pot resembles an elephant,
but it does attract pike--in the same way, we suppose, that a piece of
red flannel will attract a mackerel. If our readers wish to try it, they
can buy it at almost any tackle shop. Pike are to be found in almost all
lochs, though in the more frequented of our Scotch waters they are being
slowly but surely exterminated. In others, again, they reign almost
alone. But pike-fishing by itself is a poor affair, and we advise our
readers only to take to it when they can do nought better. If any of
them wish to go below the level of pike-fishing, we must refer them to
the copious instructions of many books, from Isaak Walton downwards. For
ourselves, when it comes to bait-fishing--except in running water, when
worm-fishing is an art--we prefer catching whitings and haddocks in some
of our beautiful salt-water lochs, to all the perch, roach, chub, and
such-like, that ever swam. But in this please note that we are only
expressing our own opinion, and with all respect to the opinions of many
worthy anglers. We may say this, however, with all safety, that in
angling, as in most other things, if one aims at the highest point of
the art he is not at all likely to condescend to the lowest.



What a pleasant fatigue succeeds a day's fishing! There is not, or
should not be, a feeling of weariness, but just the satisfaction one
feels after enjoying a health-giving recreation. Health-giving it
certainly is to the body, and we have no hesitation in saying to the
mind also. It makes one forget for the time being all the evils to which
flesh is heir, and braces up the whole system to meet them when the
necessity arises. But we must not go in for more sentiment than is
actually needful. The practical duties after a day's fishing are these.
If the weather has been damp, change all wet garments _at once_, and if
at all practicable have a hot bath before sitting down to dinner. We say
dinner advisedly, for the angler should always have a good sound dinner
after a day's fishing, as however pleasant the work may have been, still
it is exhausting to the body, and a rough tea, though good in itself,
cannot pretend to have the reviving elements in it that a substantial
dinner has. A glass of whisky, or even two, in cold water, will be found
a very safe accompaniment. A good plan is to order your whisky by the
bottle, and put your card in a nick made in the cork: the ordering of
whisky in glasses is expensive and unsatisfactory. Your dinner over,
turn your attention to your tackle. Unwind your lines, so far as they
have been wet, from the reels, and lay them out on your bedroom floor; if
any chance of being interfered with, wind them round the backs of chairs
instead. They will be dry by the morning. Dry your reels thoroughly, and
put in a little oil wherever you think they would be the better of it;
and this should be done to any other article--spring-balance, gaff,
&c.--that is liable to rust. Your creel or fishing-bag should be washed
out and hung up to dry by the servants of the house immediately after
the fish have been removed, which latter should be done without delay.
Your landing-net should also be suspended in the open air, that it may
get dry as speedily as possible. A landing-net will last double the time
if attention is given to it in this way. Take out all used casting-lines
from your book, and lay them on the mantelpiece till morning: this will
insure the feathers being freed from moisture. And in the case of
expensive flies, this is a matter of consideration, both on the point of
expense as well as your possible inability to replace them where you may
happen to be sojourning for the time. If you mean to make up a new cast
or casts for the morrow, place the casting-lines in a little water in
your basin. They will be in excellent order next morning for
manipulation. Also soak in like manner the _gut_ on which the flies
which you mean to use are dressed. True, you may not be sure what flies
you will put on till you see what sort of a day it may prove to be, but
there is no harm done if you soak the gut (but only the gut) of as many
flies as will give you a good choice.

We should have said nearer the beginning of this chapter to look well
after your waterproofs, that they are not hung up in a hot place. A dry
room or outhouse where there is a good draught is best. If your fishing
should happen to be over for the time being, put your tackle past (after
being thoroughly dried) in the most orderly fashion possible. For our
own part, we have the drawer in our bookcase spaced out into
compartments suitable for holding all our tackle, barring reels and such
like; and this arrangement we find extremely useful, and wonderfully
convenient when we wish to find anything. If, on the other hand, you are
out on a lengthy holiday, and have time at your disposal, after putting
things right for the day, and for next day too, we know of nothing
better than a _good_ rubber at whist for filling up the evening. It must
be a _good_ rubber, however, for the parlour game is neither relaxation
nor pleasure. Hence we would advise all our angling friends to acquire a
thorough knowledge of the game, as only to be learned with the aid of a
good book on the subject. Remember that when staying at some
out-of-the-way fishing hotel, you may be asked to form a table with good
players, and not to be able to hold your own on such occasions is a
great loss of pleasure to yourself, and usually a source of annoyance to
the others. These remarks are somewhat apart from the subject of this
book, but by way of an aside, they may be found not quite out of place.

Do not be beguiled into keeping late hours, for no one can fish well
next day if he has not had a sufficient amount of sleep. But this is
also an aside; for some men need more sleep than others, and each angler
knows his own necessities best. We only promulgate the broad rule, that
without proper rest no one can be in good trim with hand and eye for a
pastime that needs both in a pre-eminent degree. We speak from
experience in this too; and have sometimes imagined that our right hand
had lost its cunning till we remembered that we had not been properly
rested the night before.



Having exhausted, so far as we can imagine, the practical part of our
little treatise, we proceed--in accordance with an idea which we had in
our minds at starting--to give a few personal recollections, and to name
one or two lochs where we have enjoyed good sport, and where it is still
to be had for the trouble of going. Reminiscences are, as a rule, not
specially interesting to the general reader, hence we shall not make
them too lengthy; for we wish, above all things, that our readers shall
close this volume without experiencing a shadow of weariness. One thing,
however, we would like to say to our younger angling friends--Have as
many personal adventures to look back to as you possibly can. The
adventures themselves can be best sought after when the blood flows
fast; for the time will come when the rod and the tackle will perforce
have to be laid aside, and memory will then, unaided, afford you many a
pleasant retrospect, and you will--even companionless--fight your
battles over again. You remember the story of the illustrious Prince
Talleyrand: when a young man acknowledged to him that he could not play
whist, Talleyrand said to him--"Young man, what a sad old age you are
preparing for yourself!" We don't mean to go this length as regards
fishing; but we safely say that a man who lives to old age without
having been a keen angler, has not only deprived himself of great
enjoyments during his active life, but has neglected to lay up a
provision for the time when the memory of them would have made life's
closing seasons sweeter.

Our first acquaintance with LOCH ARD was very pleasant--not, perhaps, so
much from any great expectation of sport, because at that time (many
years ago now) we were young at the pastime, but more from the feeling
of treading the ground made classical by the great Magician of the
North, as the scene of the most stirring incidents in 'Rob Roy.'
Attached to a big tree in front of the hotel at Aberfoyle there hangs a
coulter, which tradition assigns as the veritable article which Bailie
Nicol Jarvie made red-hot and used as a weapon of offence and defence
when he was in a dilemma in what was, at that time, a very inaccessible
part of the Highlands. Since then many a Glasgow magistrate has visited
the spot--the inspection of the line of the noble waterworks undertaking
which supplies the city being a sufficient excuse for the annual advent
of the civic rulers. A railway station (Bucklyvie) is within eight miles
of Aberfoyle, and Aberfoyle is within three miles of Loch Ard, and by
the time this book is in the hand of the reader there will most likely
be a railway station at Aberfoyle itself. Shade of Bailie Nicol Jarvie!
what would you say if you were now to be allowed to haunt the old spot?
to hear a locomotive screech where formerly you thought yourself so far
"frae the Sautmarket o' Glesca"? We don't like the idea ourselves, and
doubt very much if it will pay. However, it is the fishing alone which
concerns us meantime, and we can at once assure our angling friends that
the sport is good--not but what one has to fish hard for a basket; but
the same remark applies to all our near-at-hand lochs. On an ordinary
good day a dozen to eighteen trout may be captured, and sometimes the
baskets are heavier; but eighteen fish, weighing 9 lb. to 12 lb., is a
very fair day's work. The trout average fairly a half pound, and
pounders are by no means scarce: a two-pounder is come across
occasionally, but he is the exception. The fish are very pretty, and for
their size give excellent sport. Fine tackle is here absolutely
essential to success, and as a matter of sport should always be used in
fishing for common yellow trout. The loch, for its size, is much fished;
and we fear that when the railway facilities are completed, there will
require to be a considerable amount of restocking to keep it up to the
old mark. The scenery is unsurpassed--wood, water, and mountain, making
a picture of wondrous beauty. To the north of the loch, Ben Lomond rears
its mighty summit; and in the spring-time (for Loch Ard is an early
loch), before the summer sun has melted the winter's snow, the effect is
grand in the extreme. April, May, and June, are supposed to be the best
months for angling; but we see no reason why, if the weather be
favourable, these months should be singled out. The hotel accommodation
at Aberfoyle is excellent. In the early months you must engage a boat
beforehand: boatmen first-rate. Many a happy day we have spent on Loch
Ard--sometimes successful and sometimes much the reverse; but in any
case there is a witchery about the place that makes one enjoy himself in
spite of all cares. Mind and body recruit their jaded energies, and get
braced up to meet the stern realities of life.

In strong contradistinction, in this respect, to Loch Ard, is LOCH
LEVEN. In the latter, if the angler is not catching fish, there is
little of the beautiful to commend itself to the senses. The island on
which the castle stands is pretty, and as a historic ruin is well worthy
of a visit, but otherwise the scenery is very tame, and the surroundings
not entrancing. But since we have drifted into speaking of Loch Leven,
we may as well tell of the sport which is to be had there,--and this, as
is well known, is exceptionally good. The quality of the fish is
wonderful; and after reading the statistics of a year's fishing--last
season something like 18,000 fish, weighing as many pounds, were
killed--one is puzzled to know how it is kept up. The loch itself is a
great natural feeding-pond, miles and miles of it being of an almost
uniform depth, and a boat may drift almost anywhere, the angler feeling
at the same time certain that fish are in his immediate vicinity. Trout
of two and three pounds are quite common; and it is a rare occasion that
a day's average does not come up to the pound for each fish. They are
very fine eating, and cut red as a grilse. The company which rents the
loch pay £800 to £1000 for the fishing, and they in turn keep a fleet of
large boats--twenty we think--and let them out to anglers at the rate of
2s. 6d. an hour. Any number may fish from one boat. There are two
boatmen in each boat,--one of whom is paid by the company, the other by
the angler; and we are sorry to say that these men, with a few
exceptions, are very much spoiled. There is a class of anglers(?) who
frequent Loch Leven, whose whole aim seems to be, not sport so far as
their own personal efforts are concerned, but the killing of as many
fish as possible. If such a one has engaged a boat, he arms each boatman
with a rod, and, of course, fishes himself, thus having three rods
going at once. As we said before, the loch can be drifted without any
attention from the men, after they have pulled up to the wind, and this
enables them to get casting all the time that their employer is doing
likewise. Not content with this, a couple of minnows are generally
trolled astern when changing ground. We don't say that a man has not a
right to do as he likes if he pays for his boat; but we _do_ ask, Is
this sport? And why should boatmen be spoiled in this way to such an
extent that we have known them sulk a whole day because a spare rod was
not allowed to be put up for their special benefit? But, of course, the
men are just as they have been made, and true anglers, who fish for a
day's sport, and not for the mere sake of slaughter, have the remedy in
their own hands. Don't let anything deter you from fishing Loch Leven.
It may be expensive; but if you get a good, or even a fair day, you will
not regret the expense. Get a friend to join you, and the expense is not
so heavy after all; and if your friend and yourself fish perseveringly
all day, you will usually be rewarded with a very fine show of fish.
There is no harm in letting your men fish when you are taking your
lunch, _but don't allow a third rod to be put up_. The boatmen are, as a
rule, only fifth-rate fishers, though, of course, a few of them handle a
rod well. Our recollections of Loch Leven are pleasant in some ways, in
others they are not; but don't fail to give it a trial, if only for the
pleasure of handling a big fish on fine gut. The manager of the Loch
Leven fishings, Captain Hall, fills a very difficult post with much
acceptance to all concerned.

But to leave the Lowlands and go into the far North, we take you to LOCH
ASSYNT, in Sutherlandshire, and to a little loch near it,--LOCH AWE by
name. The journey to Assynt is long and weary: train to Lairg, and then
between thirty and forty miles driving, is a good long scamper for
fishing, but it is worth it. The inn at Inchnadamph is good, but when we
were there in 1877 the boat accommodation was poor enough: perhaps they
have improved upon that since. The first day after our arrival we had to
go to Loch Awe, as the boats on the large loch (Assynt) were taken up.
Such a morning of rain and wind! We were wet through our waterproofs
during the four-mile drive, but luckily the weather moderated, and we
had an excellent day's fishing. With two in the boat, we took 57 lb.
weight of beautiful fish,--not large, but very game, and spotted
intensely red. It must have been a good day, for many an angler tried
his luck after our success, but never came near that mark, at least when
we were there. Loch Assynt is more attractive, however, inasmuch as the
chances of big fish are not remote. Trout of a pound weight, and over,
are not uncommon, while the chance of a grilse adds excitement to the
sport. Then _ferox_, as we have said in a previous chapter, are,
comparatively speaking, not scarce, if one cares to go in for trolling
for them. But, in any case, the angler is always sure of a basket of
lovely yellow trout. On the hills behind the inn there is a small loch,
called the MULACH-CORRIE, in which it is said that the gillaroo trout
are to be found. Whether they are the real trout of that species or not,
we cannot say, but certainly they are beautiful fish,--pink in the
scales, and running to large sizes. We saw a basket taken by a friend,
and it was a treat to look at. The fish were all taken with the fly,
but we were told afterwards that worm is even deadlier than fly, and
that one should never go there without a supply of "wrigglers." The hill
between the inn and the Mulach-Corrie is a perfect paradise for
fern-gatherers. It is said that about two dozen different kinds can be
gathered; and we believe it, for even our untutored eyes discerned
sixteen varieties! Our visit to Inchnadamph must be placed among the
red-letter periods of our fishing life, and to be looked back to with
much enjoyment.

LOCH MORAR, in Inverness-shire, is another delightful spot, and somewhat
out of the usual track. The fishing is most excellent, and yellow trout
of all sizes are very abundant. Sea-trout and salmon find their way
frequently into the angler's basket; and half-way up the loch, which is
a long one, at a bay into which the Meoble river flows, numbers of
sea-fish are to be found. The best way is to fly-fish up to that bay one
day, and seek shelter at night in some shepherd's cottage, thus being at
hand to prosecute salmon and sea-trout fishing the next day, or days, if
you find the sport good. It is right to take a supply of provisions and
liquor with you, for the accommodation is humble. We write this from
hearsay, as when we were there in mid-July salmon and sea-trout were not
in the loch in large numbers; but still we caught some of the latter,
and hooked, though, unfortunately, did not kill, any of the former. We
should think that the beginning of August would be the best time for
this loch as regards sea-fish; but the trout-fishing in July is
unsurpassable. During our sojourn in 1876 at Arisaig, the nearest
village to the loch, which is six miles off, and necessitating a drive
over what was then a road sadly in need of General Wade's good offices,
we had the services of a boatman, Angus by name, and his two boys, who
could not speak a word of English,--Angus managing one boat, and his
boys the other. We had the satisfaction--for indeed it was good fun--to
be out with the boys one day; and the management of the boat had to be
done by signals. It was wonderful how readily the boys got into the way
of it, and how well we got on together. The memory of the hospitality
which we enjoyed at Arisaig Inn will not be forgotten by any of our
party; and we hope that the then occupier, Mr Routledge, will be there
when we go back again. An inn was in course of being built at the
loch-side in 1876, but we do not know how it has succeeded. The easiest
way to Arisaig is by steamer, which usually goes once a-week; but the
angler should, if possible, go to Banavie or Fort-William,--the latter
for choice, as Banavie Hotel is famous for long bills (and we can
testify that its notoriety in this respect is deserved),--and then drive
to Arisaig. It is about thirty-eight miles from Fort-William to Arisaig,
but the drive is something to be remembered during a lifetime. After
having traversed this road, you will say, "There's no place like home"
for grand and beautiful scenery. We must see Loch Morar again if we
possibly can, before we bequeath our tackle to the next generation.

The time would fail us to tell of many other lochs, more or less famous
for the good sport they afford; but the angler, if at all of an
enterprising nature, need have little hesitation in taking up Mr Lyall's
excellent 'Sportsman's Guide,' and making a selection on his own
account. The information is very correct so far as we have tried it,
sometimes--perhaps most anglers are inclined that way--erring a little
to the _couleur de rose_ side of things, but quite trustworthy in being
followed as a suggester for a fortnight's fishing. We have gained much
pleasure in exploring some of our more remote lochs, of the existence of
which we might never have been aware but for its information. We cannot,
however, close this long, but we hope not wearisome, chapter without
singing the praises of our Queen of Scottish Lakes, LOCH LOMOND. The
scenery of this beautiful spot is well known in some ways, but no amount
of travelling in a steamer will reveal its beauties. To the tourist we
would say, take a small boat at Luss and engage a man to row you among
the islands which lie between Luss and Balmaha. With this hint to the
tourist, we leave him, and turn the angler's attention to the
sport--very precarious at most times, but excellent at others--to be had
on Loch Lomond. Luss is the angling centre, and there are capital boats
and men to be had by writing beforehand to the hotel-keeper, Mr M'Nab,
who deserves much credit for the attention he pays to the wants of

The yellow-trout fishing is good, but, strange to say, this class of
sport is not much sought after. In April and May as good trout-fishing
is to be had as on some other lochs that enjoy a greater reputation. But
if the weather has been at all favourable to the fish running, the month
of June sees the sea-trout fishing fairly commenced. It is a hard loch
to fish; and if you are lucky enough to get two or three sea-trout in a
day, consider yourself fortunate. They are a good average--2 lb. to 3
lb. being quite common--but they spread themselves so much over a large
portion of water that one may fish a whole day and not come across them.
This, however, is the exception, as in an ordinary fair fishing day in
June, July, August, and September, and even October if the weather is
mild, they are almost certain to be seen, if not caught. Some days
really good sport is to be had--indeed, one is surprised at the show of
fish; but fish or no fish, the charm of Loch Lomond is everlasting. The
angler finds his way back over and over again, till, as in our own
experience, the islands of Lonaig, Moan, Cruin, Fad, and last and least,
Darroch, the great landing-spot, are as familiar to him as his daily
business haunts. Then the chances of a salmon are good--indeed, this
year (1881) a great many have been killed; but somehow or another the
sea-trout fishing has not been so good, and though a salmon is always a
salmon, we would rather see a good show of sea-trout at any time. Like
our neighbours, we have had good and bad days on Loch Lomond; but
disappointment has never soured us--indeed, the fascination seems to get
stronger. And it is so very convenient for a day's fishing--down in the
morning and home at night, with a good long day between. The charge for
boatman is 5s. to 6s. and lunch; and though this seems high, it must not
be forgotten that the distances are great. A boat costs 2s. per day. The
men are good all over, some of them really first-rate. Many and many a
story we could tell of happy fishing days, and of days most enjoyably
spent when fishing was no go; but mostly every angler can do the same,
and we don't wish to become too tiresome. Perhaps if we get the chance
we may extend this chapter on some future occasion, and add some
experiences of as yet untried places.



Brother of the gentle art, we bid you farewell! We have done our best to
give you the benefit of our experience in the peaceful pursuit of
loch-fishing; and if we have said too much or too little, pray excuse
us, and in your goodness of heart reprove us for our verbosity, and tell
us what is awanting. The spirit on our part has been very willing; but
the memory may have been defective when it should have been most active,
and quite possibly our love for the art may have somewhere or another
led us into discursiveness where we should have been brief. We are all
human, and he is a poor mortal who thinks he cannot err. Again we say
farewell!--not for long, however, we hope. Who knows where we may meet?
If we do, and you recognise us, don't forget to give us a little
encouragement, and, if you can, new material for extending the
usefulness of this publication. As we write, the hand of winter is upon
us, and the rod and reel have been relegated to safe quarters; but
spring will return, and the enforced cessation of our enjoyment will
only add new zest to the music of the reel

    "When green leaves come again."



                          THE MOOR AND THE LOCH.

                             FLOOD AND FELL.

                            BY JOHN COLQUHOUN.

    2 vols. post 8vo, with Two Portraits and other Illustrations. 26s.

                       SOME OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

"In the present delightful volumes, however, he presents all lovers
of Scotland with the completest details of every Highland sport, on all
of which he is an unexceptionable authority; and with what many will
value even more, a series of life-like sketches of the rarer and more
interesting animals of the country. He has thus brought up to the
present level of knowledge the history of all the scarce birds and
beasts of Scotland.... Henceforth it must necessarily find a place
in the knapsack of every Northern tourist who is fond of our
wild creatures, and is simply indispensable in every Scotch

"We should recommend fishers to study carefully all the chapters on
fishing for salmon, loch trout, sea trout, and yellow trout, whatever
may be their experience or erudition. They will find general hints of
immense use which they can apply to that local knowledge of their own
river or 'water' which no books can teach, and which Mr Colquhoun
himself would equally have to learn. But no chapter ought to be skipped,
even by a reader who aspires to far less than the fourfold distinction
of a Highland hunter, which consists in killing a red-deer, an eagle, a
salmon, and a seal."--_Saturday Review._

"The book is one written by a gentleman for gentlemen, healthy in tone,
earnest in purpose, and as fresh, breezy, and life-giving as the
mountain air of the hills amongst which the sport it chronicles is
carried on."--_The World._

"One of those rare and delightful books which, with all the fulness of
knowledge, breathe the very freshness of the country, and either console
you in your city confinement, or make you sigh to be away, according to
the humour in which you happen to read it."--_Blackwood's Magazine._

                  *       *       *       *       *

                          LATELY PUBLISHED.

                     A HANDBOOK OF DEER-STALKING.

                         BY ALEXANDER MACRAE,
                Late Forester to Lord Henry Bentinck.


            Fcap. 8vo, with Two Photos. from Life. 3s. 6d.

"A work not only useful to sportsmen, but highly entertaining to the
general reader."--_United Service Gazette._

"The writer of this valuable little book speaks with authority, and sums
up in a few pages hints on deer-stalking which the experience of a
lifetime has enabled him to put forth.... We can only recommend every
one who pursues the fascinating sport of which the author writes, to
glance through, and indeed to read carefully, this handbook."--_Sporting
and Dramatic News._

"An interesting little book, alike because of the knowledge which its
author displays of his subject, and of the simple style in which it is
written. It is a handbook such as sportsmen must have long

                  *       *       *       *       *

                         CHRISTOPHER NORTH.

         With Portrait of the Author in his Sporting Jacket.

               New Edition. Two Vols., crown 8vo, 8s.

"Welcome, right welcome, Christopher North; we cordially greet thee in
thy new dress, thou genial and hearty old man, whose 'Ambrosian Nights'
have so often in imagination transported us from solitude to the social
circle, and whose vivid pictures of flood and fell, of loch and glen,
have carried us in thought from the smoke, din, and pent-up opulence of
London, to the rushing stream or tranquil tarn of those

                  *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Variant
    and dialect spellings remain as printed. Hyphenation has been

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