This section is from the book "Fishing: When, Where, And How To Fish Without Live Bait", by William Tweedie. Also available from Amazon: Fishing: When, Where And How To Fish Without Live Bait.
ON this subject nothing will be found in the preceding pages, we therefore insert a few remarks upon it here. To fish in the salt water, a boat is required in nearly all places. This may be hired by the hour, the day, or the week. If you take a man or boy with you to manage the boat, he will "pull" you to the fishing-ground and tell you the right sort of bait. The fishing-ground will probably be a reef of rocks twenty or thirty feet under water, covered with sea-weed. On these are found large numbers of little living things which the fish feed upon. The fishing-ground is in fact the feeding-ground. You will require no rod for this sort of coast-fishing.. A fishing line with a heavy piece of lead as a " sink," and two pieces of stick or whalebone called " chopsticks," made fast to the line about a foot from the ground with hooks at the end, will be sufficient. You may sit in the stern of the boat, and drop a line over each side. Hold the line between your finger and thumb, and you will feel instantly there is a bite; then haul away, and you will catch them, if they are in a biting humour, as fast as you can bait your hooks and haul in your fish. This is the way to catch whiting-pout.
Or you may let your boat drift with the tide along the coast, and catch codlings or gurnets. A slice of the end of the tail is the best bait. To get this slice, cut half way through to the bone, and then with the knife level with the bone, cut to the end of the tail.
A boat moored at the mouth of a small river just before it enters the sea, will be sure to supply you with some fish. Eels, flat fish, mullet, etc.
You perhaps are not aware that the salmon is a salt and fresh water fish.
It has been well said by the Times - " Salmon flock of their own accord to the rivers of these islands, and there deposit their spawn. The spawn is quickened into life, and myriads of little fish soon swarm in the stream.
At the beginning of May, or about this very time of the year, these young fish swim down the river to the open sea. There, in their natural feeding-grounds, they fatten so rapidly, that they increase, upon an average, at the rate of two or three pounds in weight every twelve months. The little fish, about the size of a gudgeon, which left the river in May, 1861, would be a fine salmon of six or seven pounds in April, 1863. But the singular point of the case is, that after fattening himself in this manner, he will, of his own free choice, come back again to be killed. The same instinct which took him off to sea, brings him back again to the river. He will infallibly return from his pasture to his nursery, and there offer himself for capture, without any cost for keep, attendance, or transport. He will make flesh more rapidly than an Essex pig, and do it all for nothing. The only thing he asks is not to be interrupted; not to be stopped when he comes here to breed; not to be turned back when he goes away to grow. All the rest he will do for himself; and will add pound after pound to his own substance for our benefit and delectation, if we will but leave him alone to do it.
"The explanation of the case, such as it is, is contained in its history. The salmon lives at sea, but comes up the rivers to spawn. The young salmon, bred in the river, go down to the sea to grow, after which they, in their turn, come up the river, as their parents did before them. They may therefore be caught either in the sea itself just by the river's mouth, or at any point of the river between its mouth and the place to which they ascend."
What a catch it would be to pull up a fine young salmon!
We hope to see the day when Young England will take salmon plentifully; but, if this be done, greater attention must be paid to the state of our rivers, and no fish must be taken either when they are about to spawn, or when they are very young. The tide nets stretched on stakes along on the shore near the mouth of rivers, which are covered at high water, are dreadfully destructive to salmon, they ought to be forbidden.