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Sea fishing

Fishing for Hake, Cod, Ling, Bream, Turbot, Mackerel, Whiting, &c.
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In this age of excursions, when everybody, more or less, passes some time at the sea-side, it may be useful to give a few hints as to the sport which may be obtained by the angler, or rather by one who uses a line and hook by the shore, on the "deep sea wave," or in a tidal river or estuary.

Let me, however, premise that few sea fish afford much sport in the angler's sense. Some enthusiastic Waltonians would probably call it butchery, but a large quantity of fish may be caught, and though, from the strength of the tackle, there is but little chance of the fish breaking away, still it is not free from excitement, and affords an opportunity of changing the monotony of a sea-side residence, and of securing a basket of fish.

For rod-fishing, except sea trout, there is but little opportunity. At low water, on rocky projections, a species of perch may be caught with a rod and line freely. The hook is baited with a bit of garbage, the inside of a cockle, periwinkle, or other small shell-fish; probably a bit of paste would answer the same purpose, as these small fish bite freely, and art by no means so timorous as their river congeners. I have caught a fish not much unlike a gudgeon, or rather a smelt, in the same manner by the dozen, and when fried they make anything but a despicable addition to the breakfast table.

Far up in the rivers, by the side of old piles, bridge piers, or near a boat stage, some excellent sport may be obtained by fishing for smelts, crabs, and flounders, with a rod, line, and worm, or a piece of mussel. These latter extraordinary-looking fish bite freely, and have but little fear of the line. Whiting, of fair size, will also take a worm, a bit of fresh fish nicely wrapped over the hook, freely, if fished for about a foot from the bottom, where the stream is not too strong. A piece of eel chopped will attract a smelt in tidal rivers.

When mackerel are off the coast, they may be caught freely from a boat, with a rod and line, or a line only, if turned up and down, and the hook baited with a piece of red cloth, or piece of fresh fish. The spoon bait is also attractive to the larger and better fish. It may be dragged after the boat, or leaded and cast freely with the hand arid leverage of the rod.

Whiting and turbot, and other flat fish are attracted by the sand-eel, found on the sea-shore. The hooks are tied by short lengths of line to a cross-bar of wood fixed to the principal line, and the hooks much smaller than those used in ordinary sea-fishing.

Hake, bream, ling, conger-eel, gurnet, and several kinds of flat fish are caught from a boat, in the cool of the evening and during the night, in from two to seven fathoms of water, with a strong sea-line and a large hook, which puts an ordinary angler's hook entirely in the shade.

Hake is a common fish on the coast of the United Kingdom, thought is seldom seen inland. It partakes somewhat of the cod iu shape, and they are caught of all weights in the autumn months. They are fished for on a sandy bottom, some mile or two miles from shore, at varying depths, ranging from three to six fathoms. A sinker is first placed at the end of the line, and the depth ascertained and marked by a link on the line. The hook is then baited with a piece of the tail of the fish, rolled round so as the white flesh is seen, and the hook comparatively hid. If fresh fish is not obtainable, salt may be used, but it should be soaked carefully before using; the bait, sinker, and line is then cast over the side, so that the bait may nearly touch the bottom. The spare end is belayed, or fastened to the boat seat or suitable place. The fisherman holds the line in his hand, and if an adept, he has one in each hand, which he "saws " over the side of the boat, which gives the bait an " up and down" motion. The boat is motionless, save by the heaving of the swell, for it is held by a large stone or grapnel. Suddenly, without previous warning, the fisherman feels a «harp tug at one of his lines, he lets the other line run to its length, and commences to haul in the fish with both hands, so that the line falls in coils at his feet. The weight of the fish is not so perceptible as might be imagined, until it nears the surface, then its great mouth and eyes are anything but pleasant objects to the timorous angler. Quickness and dexterity is now requisite to lift in the fish, or else lie will soon be off the hook. As soon as he is in the boat, strike him with a boat-stretcher behind the head, so as to kill him by breaking the spinal cord. A sharp knife will aid you in slicing a longitudinal piece from his tail, with which to bait the hook, and the same process is repeated.

The above plan of catching sea fish may vary in different localities. I have described the plan which 1 have found to answer along the western and southern coasts of Ireland and England. It is equally successful in the Bay of Galway, as off the Lizard or in the Downs. When lying at Spithead, I had no difficulty in securing a quantity of fish when fishing from the stern of the vessel.

The ling, which is r much esteemed Lenten fish, for it may be preserved by salt, and dried so as to preserve its rich oleaginous flavour better than many and better known species, requires a little extra care. The first large fish 1 ever caught was a ling, and his formidable jaws were anything but pleasant to look at. 1 had caught him certainly, but I little knew what to do with him, for he was about five feet long. The "old admiral," a well-known fisherman in county Waterford, who was with me in the Little Gypsey, fortunately came to my assistance, or else it is possible; that the fish would have caught me, for the line had become entangled round my legs, and the fish was thumping in the sides of the boat with its tail, the power of which trollers know when they attempt to land s jack before it is fully spent, and in appearance a ling is not unlike a gigantic pike. The admiral broke its back, and I looked at my prize in amazement. I was, however, roused from my reverie by an immense conger-eel being hauled into the boat. By the clumsiness of the fisherman, the hook escaped from its jaws before the death blow was given him, and the savage fish snapped at his leg, but fortunately seized the boat seat, where he left the marks and the points of several of his teeth, when his head was stove in, and farther mischief prevented. 1 had the skin of a similar brute hanging among my other trophies for a long time, as a " caution," as the Yankees would say, against being too venturesome.

For the benefit of my town-bred readers visiting at the sea-side, let me caution them against attempting to fish from a boat without they have the assistance of a practised hand, for an accident is not unlikely, in consequence of the power of the fish, and the necessity of killing them immediately. Smaller fish are kept alive in the "wells" of regular fishing-boats and smacks. I am now writing for the behoof of amateurs.

Some sport, or rather fun, may be obtained at the seaside, by bobbing for crabs from a. pier head or projecting point of rock. A cinder is tied to a piece of cord, properly weighted and dropped along the bottom, inch by inch, in all the likely prices for a crab to hide. As soon as the cinder comas near his claws, he seizes it firmly and with proverbial obstinacy holds it tight until he is drawn to the surface.

A fisherman will gladly take a stranger with him for a night's fishing for " a consideration," and to those in quest of a new sensation I recommend the investment.

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