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have been told of the size of the fish time; but they too seemed speedily to when it died, in addition to that of the disappear, although we afterwards prison in which it dwelt, for otherwise discovered that they had not stirred the fact itself is of less consequence. an inch, but had merely changed their We presume its rate of growth would tint to that of the particular portion of be extremely slow, although we do not the basin of the stream to which they agree with Mr Young in the opinion had removed. Every angler knows, already quoted, that salmon actually that there is not only a difference in decrease in dimensions on entering the the colour of trouts in different fresh water. We doubt not they de- streams, but that different though alcrease in weight, and probably also in most adjoining portions of the same circumference; but their bones and or- river, if distinguished by some diverganic structure are assuredly enlarged, sity of character in respect to depth, and themselves lengthened, in such a current, or clearness, will yield him way as to fit their general form for a fish of varying hue. Very rapid and rapidly increased development, so soon irregular changes are also observable as they again rejoice in the fattening in their colours after death; and large influences of the salubrious sea. alternate blotches of darker and lighter
Our author next refers to a rather hues may be produced upon their singular subject, which has not yet sides and general surface, by the mode sufficiently attracted the notice of na- of their disposal in the creel. Dr turalists, and the phenomena of which Stark showed many years ago, that (at least their final causes) have not the colour of sticklebacks, and other been explained by physiological en- small fishes, was influenced by the quirers. That fishes assume, in a colour of the earthenware, or other great degree, the colour of the chan- vessels in which they were confined, nel over which they lie, is known to as well as modified by the quantity of many practical observers. We have light to which they were exposed ; ourselves frequently frightened small and Mr Shaw has very recently inflounders from their propriety with formed us, regarding this mutability our shoe-points, while angling near of the outer aspect of fishes, that if the mouths of rivers, and so exactly the head alone is placed upon a partidid their colour accord with the cular colour, (whether lighter or, shingle beneath our feet, that we darker,) the whole body will immedicould not detect their presence but ately assume a corresponding shade, by their own betraying movements. quite independent of the particular Such, however, as happened to glide tint upon which the body itself may towards, and settle on, a portion of chance to rest. We know not to the bed of different colour from the what extent these, and similar phenorest, continued perceptible for a short mena, are familiar to Sir David Brew
The following curious particulars regarding the above mentioned salmon are taken from a Devonshire newspaper :-—" She would come to the top of the water and take meat off a plate, and would devour a quarter of a pound of lean meat in less time than a man could eat it; she would also allow Mr Dormer to take her out of the water, and when put into it again she would immediately take meat from his hands, or would even bite the finger if presented to her. Some time since a little girl teased her by presenting the finger and then withdrawing it, till at last she leaped a considerable height above the water, and caught her by the said finger, which made it bleed profusely : by this leap she threw herself completely out of the water into the court. At one time a young duckling got into the well, to solace himself in his favourite element, when she immediately seized him by the leg, and took him under water; but the timely interference of Mr Dormer prevented any further mischief than making a cripple of the young duck. At another time a full-grown drake approached the well, when Mrs Fish, seeing a trespasser on her premises, immediately seized the intruder by the bill, and a desperate struggle ensued, which at last ended in the release of Mr Drake from the grasp of Mrs Fish, and no sooner freed, thau Mr Drake flew off in the greatest consternation and affright; since which time, to this day, he has not been seen to approach the well, and it is with great difficulty he can be brought within sight of it. This fish lay in a dormant state for five months in the year, during which time she would eat nothing, and was likewise very shy."
ster; but we willingly admit, that in of February.* This bears hardly upon order to attain to their clearer com- some of our northern streams. In the prehension, the facts themselves must Ness, for example, before the applicabe investigated by one who, like that tion of the existing laws, more fish accomplished philosopher, is conver- were wont to be killed in December sant with those branches of physical and January than during most other science to which they are related. periods of the year.f It appears to They unfortunately lie beyond the have been clearly ascertained that the range of our own optics, but Mr season of a river (in respect to its being Scrope's practical improvement of the early or late) depends mainly upon subject is as follows: -
the temperature of its waters. The
Ness, which is the earliest river in “ I would recommend any one who
Scotland, scarcely ever freezes. It wishes to show his day's sport in the
flows from the longest and deepest pink of perfection, to keep his trouts in a wet cloth, so that, on his return home, thermometer, as it did in the winter of
loch in Britain; and thus, when the he may exhibit them to his admiring
1807, stands at 20, 30, or even 40 deg. friends, and extract from them the most approved of epithets and exclamations, it makes little or no impression upon
below the freezing point at Inverness, taking the praise bestowed upon the fish
either lake or river. The course of as a particular compliment to himself." -P. 56.
the latter is extremely short. The
Shin is also an early river, flowing from British legislators ought certainly to
a smaller loch, though with a more consider the recent completion of our
extended course before it enters the knowledge both of salmon and sea- Kyle of Sutherland, where it becomes trout; and if they can make themselves confluent with the Oykel waters. It masters of their more detailed local may so happen, that in these and other history, so much the better. Mr localities, a colder stream, drawing its Home Drummond's is still the regulat
shallow and divided sources from the ing Act of Parliament, and seems to
frozen sides of barren mountains, have kept its ground firmly, notwith- may adjoin the lake-born river, and standing many attempted alterations,
On that flood, if not amendments. In accordance
Indurated and fix'd, the snowy weight with that Act, all our rivers north of Lies undissolved, while silently beneath, the Tweed close on the 14th of Sep- And unperceived, the current steals tember, and do not re-open till the 1st away.”
* The net fishings in the Tweed do not close till the 16th of October, and the lovers of the angle are allowed an additional fortnight. These fishings do not open (either for net or rod) till the 15th of February.
+ It was proved in evidence before the select committee of the House of Commons in 1825, that the amount of salmon killed in the Ness during eight years, (from 1811-12 to 1818-19,) made a total for the months Of December, of
2405 Of January,
3554 Of February,
3239 Of March,
3029 Of April,
2147 Of May,
1127 Of June,
170 Of July,
253 Of August,
2192 Of September,
18,542 It further appears, from the evidence referred to, that during these years no grilse ran up the Ness till after the month of May. The months Of June produced
277 Of July,
1358 Of August,
4229 Of September,
Now salmon don't like either snowy vary considerably in their character, water, bridges of ice, or stealthy and cannot be correctly classed toa streams, but a bold, bright, expansive, gether. Thus the Doon, which draws unimpedeil, and accommodating kind its chief sources from numerous lakes of highway to our inland vales. They among the hills, is one of the earliest instinctively regard a modified tem. rivers in the south-west of Scotland, perature, and a flowing movement, as clean fresh.run fish occurring in it by great inducements to leave the sea in Christmas; while the neighbouring early winter, instead of waiting until river Ayr, although existing under the spring; and, in like manner, they saine general climatic influence, proavoid “imprisoned rivers" until icy duces few good salmon till the month gales have ceased to blow. The con- of June. It is fed by tributaries of sequences are, we may have an ex. the common kind. The Stinchar, in tremely early river and a very late one the same district, is also a late river, within a few hundred yards of each being seldom worked by the tacksmen other, and both debouching from the till towards the end of April, and even same line of coast into the sea. Now, then few of the fish are worth keeping. in the autumn of 1836, a bill was pro. Of course, it requires to be closed in posed and brought in by Mr Patrick September, although the fish are then Stewart and Mr Loch, to amend the in good case. These, and many other preceding Act (9th Geo. IV.) which facts which might be mentioned, show had repealed that of James I., (1424.) the difficulty of legislating even upon It proceeded on the preamble, that the improved localizing principle which " whereas the said acts have been it has been attempted to introduce. found inadequate to the purposes for However, the bill referred to, though which they were passed, inasmuch as printed, was never passed. it is found that our close.time is not Since we have entered, inadvertentsuitable for all the salmon fishings and ly, into what may be called the legisrivers throughout Scotland, and it is lative branch of our subject, we may expedient that the same should there- refer for a moment to the still more fore, and in other respects, be altered, recent bill, prepared and brought into modified, and amended.” It therefore Parliament by Mr Edward Ellice and enacted that different close-times shall Mr Thomas Mackenzie, and ordered be observed in different divisions of to be printed, ilth May 1842. It is Scotland, the whole of which is par. entiiled, " a bill for the better regulatitioned into twelve districts, as speci- tion of the close-time in salmon fishfied in schedule A referred to in the eries in Scotland;" and with a view to bill. We do not know how or from accommodate and reconcile the inte.. whom the necessary information was rests of all parties, it throws the arobtained; but we doubt not it was rangement and decision of the whole sedulously sought for, and digested in affair into the hands of the commisdue form. For example, the bound- sioners of the herring fishery. It aries as to time and space of the second enacts that it shall be lawful for these district, are as follows:-“ From Tar- commissioners, upon due application bet Ness aforesaid, to Fort George by any proprietor (or guardian, judicial Point, in the county of Nairn, include factor, or trustee) of salmon fishings, of ing the Beaulie Frith and the rivers the value of not less than twenty connected therewith, except the river pounds yearly, in any of the rivers, Ness, from the 20th day of August to streams, lochs, &c., or by any three or the 6th day of January, both days in. more of such proprietors possessing clusive; and for the said river Ness, salmon fishings of the yearly value of from the 14th day of July, to the 1st ten pounds each, or of any proprietor day of December, both days inclusive." of salmon fishings which extend one This is so far well. But in the ninth mile in length on one side, or one half district, the definition and directions mile on both sides of any river or are :-“ From the confines of the Sol. stream, calling upon the said commis. way Frith to the northern boundary sioners to alter the close-time of any of the county of Ayr, from the 30th river, stream, &c., to enquire into the day of September to the 16th day of expediency of such alteration. With February, both days inclusive.” Now that view, they are empowered to call most anglers know that the district before them, and examine upon oath thus defined, includes streams which or affirmation, all necessary witnesses, and to take all requisite evidence for tried, not by comparing two different and against the proposed alteration of districts of the same river, but all the the close-time; and upon due consi- portions of one river, with the entire deration of all the circumstances of the course of another of dissimilar charac. case, to determine that the close-time ter. The exceptive clause in Mr in such river, stream, &c., shall be al- Loch's proposed act in favour of the tered, and to alter the same according river Ness, certainly stood upon the ly, and fix such other close-time as supposition of that river being an they shall deem expedient. Provided early one for the breeding salmon, as always that the close-time to be fixed well as the new-run winter fish ; for by said commissioners, shall not in any it enacts not only that the Ness should case consist of less than one hundred open more than a month earlier than and thirty-nine free consecutive days. its neighbours, but also that it shall Provision is also made for an alteration, close more than a month before them. on application and evidence as before, This latter restriction would of course of any such legalized close time, after be useless and impolitic, if the parent the expiration of three years ; all ex
fish were not conceived to be about to penses incurred by the commissioners spawn. But it should also be borne in taking evidence, or in other matters in mind, that the same causes (such as connected with the subject, to be de- the extent and depth of feeding lakes) frayed by the proprietors. Permission which produce a higher temperature may also be granted in favour of angling in winter, cause a lower one in sumwith the single rod, for fourteen days mer and the earlier part of autumn, after the close. This bill, which we and that shallow upland streams are suspect it would have been difficult to warmer during the latter periods than work conveniently, was likewise laid those which flow from deeper and upon the shelf.
more affluent sources. We believe Although, as we have said, salmon that the fish of all rivers spawn soonsoonest ascend the warmest rivers, est on the higher portions of their they are alleged to spawn earliest in water courses, whether these be comthe colder ones. Thus Mr Scrope in. paratively warm or cold. The earliest forms us, that in the shallow mountain individuals are in general such as have streams which pour into the Tay, near escaped the nets and other accidents its source, the fish spawn much earlier below, and have made their watery than those in the main bed of that way in good time to proper spawning magnificent river, and he quotes the places. In several rivers with which following sentiments of the late John we are acquainted, a great majority of Crerar, head fisherman and forester to the breeding fish ascend in August and the Duke of Athole, on the subject :- September. But many of those which “ There are,” said John, “two kinds
make their appearance in July, would of creatures that I am well acquainted be early spawners if they were allowwith-the one a land animal, the other
escape the various dangers which a water one-the red-deer and the sal- beset their path in life---almost all the
In October the deer ruts, and salmon of that month being captured by the salmon spawns. The deer begins one means or another. Mr Young, in soonest, high up among the hills, parti. our MS. notes already quoted, states, cularly in frosty weather; so does the in regard to the range of the breeding salmon begin to spawn earlier in frosty season, that he has seen salmon perweather than in soft. The master hart fectly full of spawn, ascending the would keep all the other harts from the rivers in October, November, Decemhind, if he could ; and the male salmon ber, January, and February. Now would keep all the other males from the the fish of the last-named month may female, if he was able.”—P. 60.
have spawned as late as March, alWe do not think, however, that Mr though our correspondent adds that he Scrope's comparative reference to the has never seen fish on the spawning upper and lower portions of the Taybeds later than February, nor earlier affords a satisfactory or conclusive test. than September. He has seen them The higher parts of almost all rivers in the act of spawning in these and all (including their tributaries) constitute the intermediate months. the favourite spawning places, from As we have said above, the greater other causes than “ by reason of the part of these breeders ascend in August cold;" and the question should be and September, and the throng of the
It thus ap
95 spawning process takes place in No. of November, when the various vember and December. The earlier streams and tributaries are taken pos. spawning begins in September with session of both by sea-trout and heronly a few pairs, generally grilse; andling, spawning in deep or shallow from that period the numbers increase water, according to their individual till the first week of December, when size. the operation has attained its height. But in reference to the point in quesIt then gradually decreases until Feb- tion, that cold accelerates the spawning ruary, when perhaps only a few pairs process, let us take for a moment the are seen at work. Mr Young informs general basin of the Oykel waters into us that sea-trout are seen spawning a view. We know that for several seaweek earlier than grilse, and grilse a sons back, the earliest spawning in that week earlier than salmon. He does quarter has occurred in the Carron, in not mean that all grilse spawn before September. Now, it is certain, that salmon begin, but that they are obsery, during that month the Carron waters ed working a week before the latter are warmer than those of the Shin. have commenced.
So also the Oykel (properly so called) Mr Shaw informs us, (in his last is itself two degrees warmer in Octoletter,) that it is an exceedingly ber than the Shin, and yet the latter rare occurrence to find an unspawn- is the later of the two. ed fish in the rivers of Dumfries- pears that warmth may be advantageshire in the month of March.
On ous both as inducing early spawning in one occasion, however, about twenty autumn, and an early entrance of years ago, he observed a female sal- fresh-run fish in winter; although a mon spawning in the Nith about the single river may not possess both at. 10th or 12th of March, but unaccom- tributes for the reason hinted at—the panied by any male, He can also deepest waters, though protected from call to mind a pair of salmon having winter's cold, being also screened from been observed spawning in the summer's heat. Mr Scrope may Ettrick so late as Selkirk March therefore be regarded as right in his fair, which is held during the first facts as to the earlier season of the week of April. This, however, we upland streams, although his theoretibelieve to be a very rare occurrence, cal explanation of them is not conclunotwithstanding Mr Scrope's state- sive, ment, that he has in the Tweed The lateness of the spawning sea
caught full roaners as late as May.” son in the Shin may, in some measure, These seem to be anomalous or acci- be owing to the early breeding fish going dental instances, and we are not aware up into the loch, from wlience, after a that any evidence has been brought time, they fall back upon the spawnforward to prove that they still seek ing places in the fords of the river. the spawning beds in pairs at that The same thing happens in the lower period, or produce what may be call regions of the Tay--the fish fall back ed autumnal fry.
from the loch, and the ford between The usual spawning period in the Taymouth Castle and Kenmore is by south-west of Scotland extends from far the latest in that river. Salmon about the middle of November till the have been seen to spawn there in middle of February; but the busiest February. In regard to the general months of that period are December and influence of the atmosphere, we may January, when the salmon spawn in here remark that frosty weather is great numbers in the Nith, about Drum- good for spawning; because the fish lanrig. From the circumstance of the go then into the deeper or central porlargest salmon visiting the rivers at tions of the fords, by which procedure that season, Mr Shaw is induced to the spawning beds are never dry,think that they are likewise the oldest; whereas, in time of spates, salmon are and that, as they increase in years, apt to deposit their spawn along the they desire to remain the longer in the margins, and thus the roe is frequently sea, visiting the fresh waters only destroyed by the subsiding of the during the breeding season. The waters. spawning period of sea-trout, he in- However, the real importance of an forms us, is from about the middle of early river has little or no connexion October until the middle of December, with the periods of the spawning prothe principal period being the whole cess; because it is not so much the