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Salmon


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The Fish that stands highest in the estimation of the true Angler is the Salmon. His rapid yet graceful motions, muscular powers, and beautiful proportions, as much as the superior delicacy of his flavour as an edible, proclaim him the noblest of the denizens of the river; and his title to precedence has never yet been questioned. His natural history has been already so well described in Ephemera's " Book of the Salmon," that for full particulars of this interesting subject I cannot do better than refer my readers to that work, as well as to the occasional notices in the columns of the " Field." Salmon spawn between September and February, on shallows and fords; the combined influence of running water and of solar and atmospheric action being necessary to vivify the ova impregnated by the milt. The actual operation occupies from two to ten days according to the size of the Fish; and the actual date of deposit varies in different rivers. The Spawning completed, the parent fish drop down to the nearest deep pool till they recover sufficiently to commence their voyage to the Sea, returning to their native river in from two to throe months; some entering the rivers on their return, as early as February.

The principal method of Angling for Salmon is with the Artificial Fly. The fly-rod for Salmon should be from sixteen to eighteen feet in length, according to the size of the river you intend to fish; and should be furnished with two long tops and one short one, the latter to use when minnow fishing and the spare fly-top in case of a fracture.

The Line should be from sixty to a hundred yards long, on a free-running check winch. Some first-rate fishermen prefer the line of prepared plaited silk, not- tapered, whilst others never use anything hut silk and hair, tapering towards the end.

The Casting-lines are of plaited gut, twisted gut, and extra stout single gut; usually three yards long.

The Flies vary exceedingly; in Ireland, it is the practise to use them large and gaudy; whilst in Scotland, dull flies with, in general, a speckled wing, and claret or orange body ribbed with gold twist, are more killing; in English rivers rather a smaller fly is used than in Scotland, but in a greater variety of colors. The size and color of Salmon Flies, however must always vary considerably according to the depth and color of the water, the state of the weather and season of the year. There are scarcely and rides of an universal character to he laid down; experience must be the sole guide in the matter. If a description were to be given of all the killing flies, their names would be legion, and would require a greater amount of space than our present limits will permit.

There are three parts principally to be learnt in fly-fishing for Salmon: 1st to throw the fly properly, 2nd to work it when in the water, and finally, to hook and play the Salmon till it is within reach of the gaff. The best Salmon fisher is not he who throws the longest line, but the one who throws it adroitly to a moderate distance and makes the best of his fly when in the water.

The following is the most natural manner of throwing the Salmon Fly: the right hand grasps the Rod above the winch, the left being below it, and the right foot advanced. Bring your Rod and Line freely in an easy semicircular sweep over the right shoulder, until the right arm is extended in a vertical direction over the right side of the head: then giving a strong action to the right ann. send the Rod and Line strongly forward; and when this combined action is performed without nervousness, but dashingly and in an energetic manner, the fly will be forced forward to its destination. Begin with about twenty yards, and when you throw that well, increase the distance by degrees. This cast is intended for fishing down the left side of a river, with the right side of the Angler nearest the water. For fishing down the right side of the river, reverse the above directions; grasp the Rod with the left hand above the winch, the right hand below, and the left foot to the front; with the left side next the water. Making use chiefly of the left arm. you sweep the Rod over the left shoulder, till you feel the Line extended in the air behind, and then propel it forward, as if you were going to strike with the Rod, at something hovering over the river, in the direction you wish to send the fly. Checking the forward motion of the Rod, the Line will be sent straight, out, the fly and gut-line dropping first on the water. Do not bend over too much with the descending Rod as it brings the point of it too close on the water, deadening its elastic and propelling action; and causing the Line to fall in a slovenly manner on the stream.

The Salmon Fly unlike those used for Trout, is never worked with or down the stream, but against it; it then seems like some splendid large insect, swimming up steam beneath the surface, by fits and starts; whereas if worked down steam, it would roll over in an unnatural manner on account of the heaviness of its wings. Cast it as straight down the river as possible; if from the bank, slantingly down and across, bringing it round without delay into the line of the current. Work it towards you by raising and lowering the point of the Rod; when the Rod is raised, so also will be the fly, the water will then press down its wings; on lowering the top the fly goes downwards and the water opening the fibres of the wings and hackles, displays all its beauty. Do not perform these motions too rapidly or you do not permit the full development of the colors of the fly; should you observe a Salmon following it, lower the point so as to cause the fly to move gently towards him, and in nine cases out of ten he will take it eagerly.

Salmon will rarely be seen resting where the bottom is smooth; but incline more towards rocks and large stones, should a rapid current run between them, work the fly on each side of it, between the still water and the rapid. In a rocky pool they will lie in almost any part, but especially in the point of meeting of two currents formed by rocks standing apart but opposite each other. Throw the fly below and work it up the middle between them; afterwards on the inner side of each.

Never strike too sharply at Salmon; it is best to strike gently a little sideways, this is quite sufficient and he ill hook himself fast enough, on turning to move off. Use him gently and coax him. as it were, from the shelter of his rooky stronghold into open water, where he can have a clear field and no favour. Put the strain on him -whenever you can, and select the clearest spot on the bank for landing him; if he is a large fish in full vigour, lie may perhaps tow you a mile up or down the water before you are able to exhaust him sufficiently to bring him to the gaff. The best place to insert this, is beneath the gills; the next best, is behind one of the pectoral fins.

Salmon are also taken with the Spinning-bait, a description of the method of using which, will be given in the next chapter. Also with prawns, lobworms. &c.


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