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that there cannot now be said to be any one in Scotland "worthy of the name" (to use Stewart's words) "of angler."
The reasons given for this falling off are various. One of the commonest is that of the pollution of the rivers, owing to sewerage and manufactories. Certainly a great deal of harm has been done in this way to the trout; but it is doubtful if the damage has been as much as might have been expected. It is very seldom that one sees a dead trout in a river. That would be chiefly in the summer-time, when one could hardly help seeing them if they were poisoned. The fact is that pollution does not so much kill the fish as drive them down to the bottom, where, as a rule, they won't take. Still, good baskets are made even in polluted waters. For instance, in the Mid-Lothian Esk, where the papermakers work their own sweet will under the controlling hand of the law, it is not an uncommon sight to see in a heavy spate the angler landing a number of trout just below the mills. The modern system of drainage, too, is blamed, to a certain extent, for the deterioration of the trout. It is obvious that the rivers in Scotland are now much less regular in size than in the old days. At times they are too small, and at others too full; and in spates the natural food of the trout is apt to be carried down, and thus the trout have not sufficient sustenance to thrive on as in the earlier days. The amount of water, too, is much less in many of the streams, owing to the water having been taken from them for the purpose of the water-supply of the larger cities. That is very much the case in Mid-Lothian and Peeblesshire;
and the new Talla Scheme for Edinburgh may damage the tributaries of the Tweed.
Another cause for the gradual deterioration in the number of the trout caught by individual anglers is to be found in the overfishing that takes place, especially in the streams in the South of Scotland. That is due greatly to the increase of late years in railway facilities. But the chief reason is that there is no proper protection for trout afforded by the law, and this ought to be rectified as soon as possible; otherwise there will soon be no trout left for anglers to capture. In England and Wales the capture of trout and char is prohibited from the 2nd of October till the 1st of February, except in Norfolk and Suffolk, where, under a local Act, the Conservators have fixed the close-time, for nets only, from the 10th of September till the 25th of January, and on the Thames, where the close-time runs from the 11th of September to the 31st of March. Further, the local Boards of Conservators have, by an Act passed in 1876, the power to vary the close-times for trout and char to suit the requirements of their respective districts, provided that such close - time does not commence earlier than the 2nd of September nor later than the 2nd of November, and is not less than 123 days. In addition to this, there is a further protection to trout in England from the fact that in most of the streams a limit is put on the size of the fish, below which they cannot be taken. And there is a still more important aid to the protection of the trout in England in the fact that all packages containing trout or char must, between the 3rd of September and the 1st of February, be distinctly so marked. In Ireland, too, the
trout is under the protection of the law. The close-time for salmon applies also to trout. The netting close-time must never be less than 168 days, and neither salmon nor trout can be sold in Ireland in the close season. The close-time for rod-fishing varies in the different districts. In the Dublin district it is three months, while in other districts the period is longer. Further, by the Pollen Fishery (Ireland) Act of 1881 a special close-time for pollen is fixed.
But what is the case in Scotland? There is no close-time in Scotland for trout or other freshwater fish. They can be, and are, killed and sold all the year round, whether in season or out of season, and thousands of pounds of unseasonable fish are sent off during the winter months from the Tweed and other Border streams to glut the London market. The only protection that trout receive by the law in Scotland is afforded by the Fresh-Water Fishery Acts of 1845 and 1860, which are directed against netting, double or crossline fishing, fishing by set lines or otters, burning the water, pointing, striking the fish with any instrument, or putting into the water any substance destructive to the fish.
Further, section 18 of the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1868 makes it illegal to use any fish-roe for the purpose of fishing, or to buy or sell or have in possession any salmon - roe. Even these enactments, however, unfortunately, are practically a dead letter, as the poacher, in divers. ways, manages to ply his nefarious trade with practically no chance of detection. One of the most common means of capturing the trout is the use of the net; and, as the law now stands, it is almost
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXX.
impossible to put a stop to this practice in the winter months. Even water-bailiffs can do nothing to prevent this, as they have no power of search for trout; and as there is no restriction in the sale of trout in November, December, and January, the result naturally follows that what is taken thus illegally by the net finds a ready market. The extent to which netting is carried on in the Teviot at the present day may be imagined, when I state that the Hawick Town Council, as recently as the 11th of May, resolved to stake the burgh waters to prevent such netting. Further, the poacher catches innumerable trout by means of salmon - roe. In the months of October, November, and December they kill in the Tweed and its tributaries all the spawning trout which congregate in thousands at the back of milldams, or rest at the sides of strong streams and pools. On a good fishing day you may see dozens of men and boys fishing, and catching fine trout pretty nearly every cast. These so-called anglers never move more than a few yards down, and as fast as they pull one trout out another comes in to rest on its way to the spawning- grounds. These poachers soon fill their enormous baskets, made for the purpose to hold 2 or 3 stone-weight or even more. If any one is seen coming along during the operation, a whistle or sign is passed along, and the roe, which is generally carried in the angler's mouth, is knocked off the hook and a worm put on. It is thus most difficult to detect detect this illegal method of capturing the trout; and the poacher, as a rule, comes off scot-free.
There have been various attempts of late years to improve 3 N
"it shall not be lawful for any person whatever, at any time after the ing of this Act, between the first day of November in any year and the first day of February in the year following, both inclusive, to fish for common trout (Salmo fario) in any river, water, or loch in Scotland, by net, rod, line, or otherwise, or in any way whatever to take such trout from any such river, water, or loch; or within such dates, both inclusive, to have possession of or expose for sale such trout; and if any person shall so fish for or take such trout from any river, water, or loch in Scotland, or shall have possession of such trout, or expose such trout for sale at any time within the said dates, both inclusive, such persons shall forfeit and pay a sum not
exceeding five pounds for every such offence."
Further, it was provided that this
new Act should be read and construed along with and as part of the Trout (Scotland) Act, 1845, and the Trout (Scotland) Act, 1860, which have been already referred to. Lamington's bill was blocked in Unfortunately Lord the House of Commons, and nothing further came of it. The Fishery Board for Scotland, however, determined to ascertain the opinions of all the County Councils in Scotland on the subject of a close-time for trout. were each asked to state if in their opinion a close-time for trout were desirable, and, if so, during which months such closetime should extend. Herewith are appended the answers to these questions, which Mr J. B. Balfour, the ex-Lord Advocate, kindly gave me liberty to publish :
Western District Committee Expedient in interests of trout-fishing. Dumfries
Proposal desirable and would meet with acceptance.
County Clerk says there is an unwritten law among
County Council thinks there is no necessity for an enactment on subject.
In favour, but close-time should be from 1st October to 1st February.
Close-time would be very advantageous.
Close-time should be from 1st October to 1st March.
Close-time desirable, and could be enforced without
Finance Committee consider close-time from 1st November
Close-time approved; might be even longer. Would meet
Approve; but think it should extend from 1st November to 1st March.
County Clerk thinks all public bodies should favour closetime; each County Council should fix close-time for its own district.
Convener of Council is of opinion that the matter is one
on which Council would not care to express an opinion. Close-time proposed would be in interest of trout-fishing. Close-time considered advisable; not likely to be objected to.
Out of 44 circulars sent out, replies were received to 25, all of which, with one exception, were in favour of the bill. Many expressed the opinion that the close-time should be even longer than that proposed in the bill, while some desired the extension to 1st March, but a larger number wished it to begin earlier-say on 1st, 10th, or 15th October. A considerable number of the secretaries made no reply as to whether there would be any difficulty in enforcing the close-time, but, with one exception, those who did send an answer anticipated no difficulty.
Summarising the reports from the County Councils in Scotland, it may be said that, with the single exception of the Islay Board, in which district there is comparatively little trout-fishing, the whole of the County Councils have expressed themselves practically
in favour of a close-time for trout, while most of them wish the period mentioned in Lord Lamington's bill to be still further extended. This bill, as has been stated above, failed to pass the House of Commons. So in 1896 Sir Herbert Maxwell brought before the House
of Commons a new Trout Fishing Maitland, whose fish-hatcheries at (Close Time) (Scotland) Bill, which has the backing of, among other sportsmen, Sir John Kinloch, the Liberal member for the East Division of Perthshire. Sir Herbert Maxwell's bill follows closely on the lines of that of Lord Lamington, but introduces one very important modification. The first clause is, to all intents and purposes, identical with that of the bill above quoted, with the exception that the period proposed for the close-time is considerably extended. The clause runs as follows::
"It shall not be lawful for any
person, except as hereinafter specified, at any time after the passing of this Act, between the fifteenth day of October in any year and the twenty-eighth day of February in the year following, both inclusive, to fish for common trout, . . . or within such dates, both inclusive, to have possession of or expose for sale such trout."
Further, a special exception is made in favour of stews and artificial hatcheries in the addition
"Provided that nothing in this Act shall render liable to a penalty under its provisions the owner, occupier, or lessee of any stew or artificial pond or other water where trout are kept in captivity, or artificially reared and fed, nor any person employed by such owner, occupier, or lessee, nor any person to whom such trout may be consigned for sale or otherwise by such owner, occupier, or lessee, or by a person or persons employed by him."
It may have been remarked that the Convener of the Stirling County Council stated that the matter of close-time was one on which Council would not care to express an opinion. This course was adopted on the recommendation of Sir James Ramsay Gibson
Howietoun are known all over the world, as there was no exception in favour of such hatcheries made in Lord Lamington's bill. I have the personal authority of Sir James Maitland for the statement that he highly approves of the present bill of Sir Herbert Maxwell, and that he has signed the petition in its favour. And not only has this bill received the cordial approval of so noted a pisciculturist, it has been welcomed with joy by almost every Angling Association throughout Scotland; and the petition in its favour prepared by Mr Gordon Mason, the Secretary of the United Edinburgh Angling Clubs, contains over 10,300 signatures.
Further, in the report of the Royal Commission on Tweed and Solway Fisheries, appointed by Lord Rosebery's Government in 1895, it is unanimously recommended, among other things, that the general law of Scotland should be amended in this respect :
"E. A close-time for trout, of not less than 150 days, should be introduced, to extend from the 1st October to the 28th February, both inclusive, subject to variation by district boards, with the approval of the Secretary for Scotland; and the sale and possession of trout during such close-time should be prohibited.
In their report on the evidence the Commissioners state :—
"A close-time for brown trout was strongly supported by almost all the witnesses, as much in the interest of the salmon as of the trout themselves, inasmuch as it is said that salmonpoaching is now often carried on in the close-season under cover of trout
fishing. One witness only, Mr A. L. Brown, who, when M.P. for the Hawick Burghs, had introduced, with others, a bill to confer the right on