Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection

Making a fishery Halford, Frederic M. (Frederic Michael), 1844-1914 1902

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Harry Hawthorn Foundation
Jbr the
Inculcation Sl Propagation
of the Principles Sl Ethics
of Fly-Fishing  'J^cJo
"dry-fly entomology"
9, New Bridge Street, Ludgate Circus, E.C.
Chapter I.
Selection   ...
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
...  28
Chapter IV.
Poachers   ...
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
... 112 n. TABLE    OF    CONTENTS.
Chapter VIII.
Stocking ... ... ... ...    page  124
Chapter IX.
The Stew ... ... ... ...   146
Chapter X.
Grayling... ... ... ... ...   172
Chapter XL
Distribution        ... ... ... ...   187 list of plates.
Side   and Bar    System of    Weed
Cutting ...        ... ...    page 52
Drag Net ...        ... ...        ... 8y
Trammel.:. ...        ... ...        ... 89
Purse Net ...        ... ...        ... 90    CHAPTER   I.
HE Angler in search of water has
generally little choice, and hence,
although it is undoubtedly useful
to lay down the salient points which should
guide him in his selection, yet, unfortunately,
he has but seldom the chance of considering them fully. He answers a certain
number of advertisements, each of which sets
forth that good trout fishing is to be let with or
without (generally with) a large and expensive
house and grounds. Before many letters have
passed between him and the agents he finds,
as a rule, that the fishing is either of small
extent, in a river of poor reputation, hampered
by inconvenient, if not impossible conditions, or
that the proposition is to let it only from year
to year, at as high a rental as possible, while
the proprietor himself is to have a concurrent
right, and to do nothing whatever to improve
or stock the water.    Granted, however, that a
Choice of
water limited. tenant.
seemingly eligible length of water is offered on
seemingly fair terms, the intending lessee will
soon be able to find out whether it is likely to
suit him.
Advice not to Before opening negotiations there is an
an existing important point which should be clearly understood. If the water is let, the date at which
the present tenant's term expires should be
ascertained; also whether he is desirous of
renewing his agreement, and whether any correspondence on the subject is being carried on
between the proprietor or any other person on
his behalf and the present tenant. If it is
discovered that any such negotiation is in
progress, the advice I would proffer to any
good sportsman is to refuse to give the matter
any consideration until the negotiation with the
present tenant is definitely abandoned.
The object of an agent in trying to induce
anyone to negotiate under these circumstances
is to make a catspaw of him, and use any offer
he may make for the purpose of raising the rent
against the existing tenant, or otherwise forcing
him to accede to unreasonable conditions for
fear of losing the water altogether. I would
warn my readers that they must not expect
gratitude for following this advice, nor imagine
that, when the lease or agreement is renewed on
such terms as  can  be arranged  between the SELECTION.
parties, they will receive any thanks or any invitation for a day's fishing on the water.
- An example of this occurred in which all
details were known to me. An angler, desirous
of renting fishing, had the offer of a good
stretch of water at a reasonable rental, but in
excess of what the tenant was paying under an
agreement expiring a few months later. He
wrote to the agent declining to entertain the
matter until all negotiation with the existing
tenant was at an end. He sent a copy of the
agent's letter and his reply to the tenant.
Profuse expressions of thankfulness were made
in answer, and eventually the tenant secured the
water on his own terms. This gentleman, who
had the reputation of being a thorough sportsman, never even had the politeness to write to
the angler who had behaved in so friendly a
spirit to tell him that he had secured a fresh
lease. Cases like this, however, occur every
day, and among all ranks of society.
Perhaps the first point on which information
should be obtained by the intending lessee of a
fishery is the extent of the water. In connection
with this it is necessary to expose a subterfuge
which is too often attempted in the flowery
advertisement drawn up by the astute and frequently unscrupulous land agent. It is said
that so many miles of trout fishing, or trout
B 2
Extent of
water and
whether both
If previously
water, are to be let. If the right extends over
both sides of the water for a distance of say
two miles, both banks are measured, and it is
called four miles of water. Then it may be
remarked that, unless the exclusive right over
both banks is definitely offered, it may be inferred that the proprietor has no good title to
more than one side of the river, and if it is in
contemplation to improve the fishing by stocking, killing down coarse fish, or in other ways,
no sane man would care to take a lease under
these conditions. As to the length of the
fishery, there is another trick which is often
played on the unwary: the great number of
miles supposed to be covered by the lease is
justified by measuring both banks of every
tributary, carrier, and ditch intersecting the
water meadows on the property. A little
scrutiny will often lay bare the fact that a great
proportion of these are positively dry during a
considerable part of the fishing season.
Having determined the extent of the fishing,
it is well to ascertain if it has been previously
let, and, if so, what sport was enjoyed. An
interview or interchange of a couple of letters
on the subject with the former tenant is
advisable, and, if possible, his reason for giving
up the water should be ascertained. Information on this point derived from the proprietor SELECTION
or his agent cannot always be implicitly relied
At this stage a visit to the river in person is
of advantage, and if the intending lessee does
not consider himself capable of forming a
definite opinion on his own inspection, he
should, if possible, persuade some friend, in
whose judgment he has confidence, to accompany, him. Unfortunately there are no qualified
experts who can be retained for a fee to give
a proper report on the subject, so that in the
absence of a reliable friend one is obliged to act
on one's own observation. The general reputation of the river should be ascertained, and it is
always well to try and see keepers or proprietors of the adjoining waters, as a careful
sifting of their conversation will usually enable
one to get some idea of the capabilities and
present state of the waters offered.
It must be remembered that the tendency of
the rustic is to exaggerate ; hence it may be
inferred that, if he condemns the fishing, the
keepers, and the proprietor in unmeasured terms,
they are not quite as black as he paints them;
and conversely, if his praise of his neighbours
and their property is given too freely, it may
equally be inferred that they are not quite so
angelic, and their fishing not quite so much of a
paradise as his words would lead one to believe.
inspection. 6 MAKING A   FISHERY.
It is difficult to arrive at any fair notion of the
average size of the trout in the river from any
description given, whether by proprietor, agent,
keeper, neighbour, or even fisherman. One
and all are so prone to estimate and not weigh
fish, that their estimates are invariably too high.
I can give a curious instance of this : After two
seasons' fishing on a piece of water where all
trout, &c, were weighed and carefully registered,
a most respectable professional man residing in
a village adjoining the stream, who had fished
the water for many years, asked me about the
results of our fishing. I told him accurately
from the figures that we had killed over 700
trout, averaging lib. 90Z. He, in reply,
expressed his disappointment at both the
number and the average weight. Knowing
that in former years it had almost invariably
been fished with sunk fly, and that hence it
was most improbable that the average weight
of the fish killed should have been equal to
that achieved by essentially dry-fly fishermen,
I asked him a series of questions. His replies,
summarised, amounted to this : That the limit
of size under the old regime was 9m.; that the
fishermen never weighed their fish, but took it
as a rule that a o,in. trout weighed lib. The
absurdity of this method of estimating weight
is only too apparent, seeing that a 9m. trout in SELECTION
first-rate condition would seldom, if ever,
exceed ^lb. in weight. He, however, admitted,
on seeing the register, that the number of large
trout, of 2-|lb. and upwards, surprised him, as
he had never taken one approaching this size,
and never suspected that the river contained
any of such weight. It was not astonishing
that in olden times they killed a far greater
number, as their limit was 9m., and ours 13m.
If a river is subject to heavy floods, or if it
runs down very much in dry summers, the presumption is that the trout in it are not likely to
be free risers, and most frequently, too, in such
cases, the supply of food is insufficient for a
large head of fish. The question of food can,
however, be ascertained by anyone beyond
doubt, if he will only take the trouble to dredge
with a small net made of cheese cloth among
the weeds as well as on the bed of the stream
and carriers flowing into it. He should turn the
net out into a small quantity of water in a white
pudding basin, and examine the contents. In
all the better class of chalk streams, such as
the Test, Kennet, Itchen, &c, the basin would
contain a very great number of living creatures,
consisting, among the Crustaceans, chiefly of
shrimps (Gammarus pulex) and water wood lice
(Asellus aquaticus) ; among the Molluscse, the
various genera of water snails, Univalves, such
Food supply. MAKING A   FISHERY.
of weeds.
as Limncea) Bythinia, Planorbis, Valvata, &c,
and Bivalves, such as Sphcerium\ Sec. ; among
insects, caddis or larvae of the Trichoptera,
larvae of the Mayfly and smaller Ephemeridce,
of the Alder {Stalls lutarid), and of the numerous
small black flies (Diptera), called, in the
anglers' slang, curses or smuts. If the result
of dredging is to show that generally there is a
deficiency of insect life, it may be safely predicted that the trout will not be free risers. If,
in addition, the molluscae and crustaceans are not
very plentiful, this particular length of stream is
not likely to grow a good stock of well-conditioned fish, and is not therefore a desirable
one to rent. If in the future some benefactor to
the community can discover an easy method of
introducing fresh genera and species to the
rivers, as well as the plants on which they
subsist, it may be possible to effect great improvements, and thus enhance the value of
waters which are at present unfit for the serious
attention of anyone desirous of making really
good fishing.
The food supply in any river is largely
dependent on the presence of the various weeds
on which so many of the larvae, &c, live, as
well as of the soil in which these weeds flourish.
In many of the north country rivers there are
practically no weeds, the bed of the river con- SELECTION.
sisting, in the rapid portions, of bed rock, or at
best of only gravel and sand, which is periodically shifted by floods, and would be infallibly
swept down towards the sea if it were not for
the presence of huge boulders, between which
this gravel and sand settles down. Of course,
in a very heavy flood even large boulders. get
washed down. In such rivers the average weight
of the trout is much smaller than in the south
country chalk streams, but where they are fairly
preserved the deficiency in average size is in a
degree compensated by the number. Larvae
which do not require weeds, but live among the
stones in fast stickles, are plentiful in rivers of
this class, while these insects are comparatively
rare in the clear streams of Hampshire and
Wiltshire. Hence the scarcity, or, in many
cases, absence, of such flies as the March
Brown {Ecdyurus venosus) or the Stone Fly
(Per/a cephalotes) from the Test, Kennet, and
other streams of like character.
the weeds which are of real
to a river, and in which the
Crustaceans, Molluscae, Caddis, and larvae of
Ephemeridae, which are so essential a portion
of the natural food of chalk stream trout and
grayling, are more or less abundant, the most
important is that usually called by anglers
| Celery"   (Apium   inundatum).     The   name
In   classifying
of weeds. MAKING A  FISHERY.
given is due to a resemblance in its growth to
that of the ordinary vegetable of the same
name. It flourishes in shallow water where
there is a fair or strong stream, and roots into
the fine gravel. On examining a handful the
tyro will be astonished at the abundance of
animal life contained therein. It is preeminently the form of vegetation to be desired
where trout run large and the stock is heavy.
Next to the " celery," perhaps the best food-
producing weed is the Water Starwort {Calli-
triche aquatica), one of the most elegant of all the
water weeds, and also one which grows in rapid
water, and roots in the gravel. The Water
Crowfoot {Ranunculus aquatilis), which is
supposed in a degree to resemble the foliage
of the carrot, contains a fair proportion of the
larvae, &c. ; but it too often overgrows a
stream and crowds out the celery. Some
species of the genus Potamogeton are also
favourable to the increase of animal life,
especially as they are said to contain an
abnormally large percentage of nitrogen.
The American weed {Elodea canadense) is
comparatively useless. At one time it was expected to ruin rivers in which it had been introduced, owing to its rapid and luxuriant growth.
It has, however, after some years invariably
diminished, and in a few instances disappeared SELECTION.
from places where it had previously flourished.
It is said that this disappearance is due to the
fact that the plant is dioecious, that the male
plant only has been imported, and that this
dies out after about seven years unless reproduced from seed.
The so-called Ribbon Weed {Sparganium
ramosum) is an unmitigated nuisance in any
stream ; it contains little or no food for the
fish, chokes up the water wherever it is once
established, is so firmly rooted that to extirpate
it seems impossible, and from the fly fisherman's point of view has the additional disadvantage of being very tough and sharp on
either edge, so that a hooked fish running
through it can usually manage to cut the gut
and get away. I have thought it well to
set out this question in some detail under the
heading of " Selection," as indicating clearly
which are desirable and which undesirable
weeds ; but it may be taken as an axiom that
a good head of well-conditioned trout of average
size can only be found in a river where the
growth of weeds is luxuriant.
It is desirable that there should be a small
quantity of mud in some reaches of a fishery.
It must not, however, be imagined that the
filthy slime left by sewage pollution, or the
sediment which  is  ever  accumulating  on the
and accommodation.
bed of a river where the cut weeds are left to
decompose, is what is meant here by the word
mud. The assertion, too, that a small quantity
of it in portions of the water is an advantage
must not be distorted into a statement that
the Author advocates the presence of deposits,
many feet in thickness, of foul, foetid black
mud in the deeper and slower running reaches
of his ideal trout stream. Such is not my
intention. The mud I wish to see in a river is
that pale coloured, gritty, sandy, and odourless
detritus in which the celery roots freely and
the Mayfly larva loves to burrow, and without
which the Mayfly itself cannot be present in
great numbers. The larvae of the Alder, as
well as some of the larger Caddis, are invariably
plentiful in this class of mud; and, wherever it
is found in a stream, there, too, will the largest,
best conditioned, and gamest trout congregate
and feed.
A matter requiring consideration when determining whether to take or refuse a particular
piece of water, is its accessibility. This must
depend on a variety of circumstances, such as
distance from the nearest railway station, the
time occupied in travelling from one's home to
the riverside, the train service, the fares, the
punctuality of the trains, the available conveyances from the station to the river, &c, &c. SELECTION.
It would obviously be unwise for a fully occupied professional or business man, who can only
spare odd days or week-ends from his multifarious duties, to rent water, say, three hours'
railway journey, and perhaps ten miles' drive in
addition, from his office. On the other hand,
the fortunate fisherman whose time is his own,
and who loves the peace and quiet of the
country, would prefer such a place to one where
his calm enjoyment would be marred by the
continual clatter of passenger and goods trains
shunting at a large junction close to his quarters. Such important matters as the accommodation to be obtained in the village inn or
furnished apartments, as well as the facilities
for obtaining good and wholesome food, must
be factors in the case.
If he prefers the company of his wife and
children when away from home, he must ascertain what walks and drives there are, whether
the particular part of the country is healthy,
and whether the adjacent villages are in a fairly
good sanitary condition. If his better half has
no love for comparative solitude, he must discover something about the social status of the
neighbours, and of their disposition towards
new-comers. In fact, there are innumerable
points to be considered, and all of these he
must consider and decide quickly, unless he is 14
prepared to let the water slip through his
fingers while he is making up his mind. He
must remember that, for every eligible length
of trout water in the market, there are hundreds
of willing tenants. CHAPTER II.
WATER likely to suit having been
selected, definite negotiations should
be commenced without delay. In
indicating the lines on which these should be
conducted, with fair prospects of ultimately
coming to terms, it must not be imagined that
any hard and fast rules can be laid down.
Much must depend on the views, and even on
the tempers, of the parties concerned, and while
it is most undesirable for the intending tenant
to show any signs of trying to drive a hard
bargain, he must yet at the outset let the
proprietor or agent with whom he is treating
distinctly understand that he is not a fool, and
can take care of himself. His first step should
be to get (in writing if possible) a full description of the water, its extent, the term for which
it is to be let, the rent asked, the privileges
(if any) retained by the proprietor, and other
the negotiation. i6
of property.
information, such as the number of mills on the
property, the millers' rights, &c.
For the proper identification of the water,
and to be able to check the supposed extent of
it, the most satisfactory plan is to refer to the
Ordnance map of the district. Two Ordnance
maps of the entire United Kingdom are published ; one on the scale of one inch to the mile,
and the second six inches to the mile. A third
Ordnance map, on the large scale of twenty-five
inches to the mile, is published of the whole of
Great Britain, with the exception of a few
sparsely populated portions in the north. The
one-inch map is useful to give a general idea of
the district, and to enable one to ascertain
approximately distances from railway stations,
&c. The six-inch map shows all roads, divisions
of meadows, &c, and in the case of a small
length of water would be sufficient for reference.
The twenty-five inch map, however, is the
most valuable, especially if the property is at all
broken up, or if there is any complication in the
boundaries of the fishing. It shows every
meadow—in fact, it is even supposed to show
every tree in the meadow—every tributary,
carrier, ditch, hatch, footpath, bridge, and in
the towns and villages every house is marked on
it. A distinguishing number is given to each
meadow, and its acreage appended to the num- TENURE.
ber. Even the altitudes above sea level are
given in figures at comparatively short intervals.
Being on so large a scale, too, it is much easier
to read, and less crowded than the smaller scale
Of course the term for which the water is to Length of
be let must be distinctly specified. Land agents agreement,
often advise their principals to let fishing from
year to year, and, although this advice may be
given in all good faith, yet the lessor should remember that the agent's commission is usually
payable on each letting, so that,if he can succeed
in reletting to the same tenant, or finding a new
one each year, he will earn a commission' each
year instead of receiving his percentage on the
rent of the first year of the term only. Sometimes this is avoided by making the agreement
what the lawyers call a continuing one—that is
going on from year to year unless one of the
parties gives the other due notice of his intention
to determine the agreement. In respect to this •
plan of letting water for a single season only,
the advantages to the lessor are that he need
not retain a disagreeable or undesirable tenant
longer than a single season. Also that, if he
thinks the rent insufficient, he can give his
tenant the option of giving up the water or
paying an increased rental if he wishes to continue. Certainly, too, he is retaining in his own
Disadvantages of short
hands a more effective control of his property
than he would when granting a lease for a term
of years. Landed proprietors generally, and
especially those of the olden school, attach
great importance to this; and no doubt, from
their point of view, there are many valid arguments to be adduced in its favour.
The proprietor must, however, consider the
disadvantages of this form of letting. A tenant
holding water for a single year cannot afford to
go to any expense in stocking, netting, and
otherwise keeping down coarse fish, nor in protecting the trout from poachers; in fact, he is
likely to be tempted to get all the sport he can
in any one season, as he cannot be sure of retaining it beyond the term of his agreement.
Then, again, although the tenant can be got rid
of or his rent raised at the end of any year, yet
when he goes it may not be so easy to find a
new tenant, especially if the water has been
skinned and the stock of fish killed down too
much. As far as the fisherman is concerned, if
it suits his purpose to fish a water for a season
and then either negotiate for a renewal of the
same or find something suitable on another
property, he may take on a yearly agreement.
If, however, he intends to effect permanent
improvements he should try and obtain a good
lease, say twenty-one years, with option on his TENURE.
side only of determining the tenure at the expiration of the seventh or fourteenth year.
On this question it is difficult to give any
special advice. Unfortunately, it is the custom
for land agents to advise their clients to ask
a higher rent than they really expect to get,
and the outcome of this practice is that, as a
rule, an intending lessee makes an offer of an
amount less than he is prepared to pay. The
parties usually haggle and bargain; the land
agent declares that there is another man in
negotiation who is willing to pay what is asked.
Very often this obliging person is a myth, but
sometimes, although rarely, he exists, and the
effect of a firm attitude is to lose the water
altogether. If only agents could be persuaded
to see the folly of this policy it would be a
good thing for everyone concerned, not only in
fisheries but in all other property throughout
the country.
With a considerable amount of diffidence,
however, the following advice is given to the
intending tenant: Make up your mind what the
property is worth to you, and make an offer of
this amount, conveying in the most distinct
words possible the intimation that you are
willing to pay this rental and no more. Never
mind what pressure may be brought to bear on
you,   or   what   specious   arguments   may   be
by lessor.
advanced to try and induce you to give more.
Let it be clearly understood that the answer to
your offer must be yes or no. Do not attach
any credence to the statement that there is
another man willing to give the rent asked.
This, if advanced, is clearly not true, as, if
such a man existed, the agent would long since
have refused your offer definitely and accepted
his. In fixing the figure of your offer, however, you should look at the question from a
liberal point of view, and make it, if anything,
rather on the side of being a trifle higher than
your estimate of the value.
If the proprietor desires to reserve any
fishing rights on the water they should be
clearly set forth, and perhaps the best and
most explicit method of doing this is to offer
to let all his fishing rights, which should be
specified, with the exception of those reserved,
which should also be given in detail. This
subject of rights reserved by the freeholder
when letting is one which needs careful consideration on the part of a fisherman taking
a lease. Some freeholders require a personal
right to fish whenever and wherever they wish,
and some even demand the additional right of
sending one or two friends. The argument
generally advanced to induce the future
lessee to accede to this is, that _the proprietor TENURE.
does not fish himself, and is only likely to avail
himself of the privilege of sending friends to
a limited extent. This no doubt is true at
the time, but, as soon as the tenant has
improved the fishing by stocking and other
means, it is quite a different matter. Then all
the freeholder's friends keep on asking him for
leave, and, very likely hearing of their sport, he
will himself take to it, until at last the landlord
finds that he has benefited to the extent both
of the rent and the improvement in his fishing
at the expense of the tenant. It is, therefore,
evident that reserved rights should be limited
in some way in every equitable agreement.
Of course, if the river runs past the proprietor's house, and is bordered by his lawn, it
is reasonable that he should, reserve the fishing
on that length exclusively for himself and his
friends, and it may be fair for him to have
the right of fishing himself or sending his
friends to any portion of the water for a limited
number of days during the season, limiting,
too, the number of rods on any one day.
Before taking a fishery the tenant should
ascertain what mills there are on the property,
and what rights of water, &c. have been
included in the letting of the mills. As a rule
he will find that the right of regulating the
height of the water in the millpond so as to
Water rights
of millers and
others. 22 MAKING A  FISHERY.
give a reasonable head for working is granted
to the miller, also the right to cut weeds
obstructing the flow of water either above or
below his mill. It is, I believe, held that without any proviso in his lease the tenant of every
mill has these rights by the law of the land, but
on this point doubts are expressed by eminent
legal authorities. If, in addition to these, the
miller has any other rights of fishing, eel-
catching, keeping ducks on the water, &c,
they should be specified. In a water-meadow
country the farmer has usually the right to the
use of the water for flooding his meadows, and
naturally this includes the right of regulating
the hatches from the main river into the irrigation carriers, as well as all hatches in these
ditches themselves. It should, however, be
"clearly set forth in a fishing lease that the
farmer should have the right to sufficient water
for working his meadows, but that the fishing
lessee should be entitled to regulate the flow of
any surplus beyond the farmer's legitimate
requirements. These hatches are a fertile
source of annoyance to a fishing tenant, and
are often raised and lowered in the interests,
if not under the immediate control, of the local
poachers, who are thus enabled to levy a heavy
toll on the head of fish. Wherever possible, a
tenant  should  arrange   that all these hatches TENURE.
should be kept locked, and the keys intrusted
jonly to the men authorised to move them.
All the foregoing points having been satisfactorily settled, and the landlord and tenant
being in accord on all debatable points, a
proper memorandum should be drawn up and
signed by both. For a mere year to year
tenancy, this document, although possibly not
in strictly legal phraseology, might be sufficient,
but, for a lease or agreement for a term of
years, a properly drawn up, stamped, and
executed deed is necessary. To both lessor
and lessee the best advice is to let the matter
be carried through by the solicitors j the
subject is far too complicated, and the law too
abstruse, for laymen to be able to construe it
properly. Without any desire to trench on the
legal part of the question, and without the
necessary knowledge to do so, I think it would
be of advantage, as well to the solicitors themselves as to the parties they represent, to
enumerate here conditions and covenants which
should not be overlooked in drawing the deed.
Some of the points have already been referred
to in this chapter, and these will be set forth as
briefly as possible.
After naming the parties to the lease, it
should specify whether the sole and exclusive
right of fishing is let, and whether the taking
Lease, or conditions of
lease or
agreement. 24 MAKING A  FISHERY.
of eels is also included. The name of the river
should be given, and it should be stated that
the right is to extend to carriers and ditches,
and reference should he made to a plan to be
a portion of the lease. As before remarked, it
is desirable that this plan should be one of the
Ordnance maps. The numbers of the plots (as
on the Ordnance map) over which the fishing
extends should be enumerated, and it should be
stated that all the lessor's rights of fishing on
the property are included, excepting such as
are specially excepted in subsequent clauses.
It should set forth that the lessee has the
right to cut weeds, clear away mud or soil, and
deposit them on the banks, and generally do
any work deemed desirable for the improvement
of the fishery; and it should further recite
description or position of any house or keeper's
cottages covered by the lease, any right of way
required by the lessee to gain access to any
portion of the fishing, the term for which and
date from which the right is let, the amount of
rent, and how payable. The rights, if any,
excepted or reserved for the lessor on any
portion of the river over which the lessee should
not have the right of fishing should be detailed,
as well as the right of the lessor, or his servants,
to enter for the purpose of repairing banks,
cutting down or planting trees or bushes, or to TENURE.
raise or lower level of water to enable him to
carry out any work required in the interests of
the property.
The lessee's covenants should follow : To pay
rent, keep a good stock of fish and leave the
same at expiration of tenancy, to keep houses or
cottages in repair (if this is one of the lessee's
obligations), to cut and clear away weeds, to
make good any damage occurring to other
tenants' land caused by negligence or wilful act
on the part of the lessee or his keepers, and not
to underlet or assign without assent of lessor,
such assent not to be withheld without just and
reasonable cause. The lessee should undertake
to provide keeper or keepers, to prevent poaching,
to fish in a fair and sportsmanlike manner with
rod and line only (except in the case of pike,
eels, or other coarse fish), to make proper rules
for the regulation of the fishery, such rules to be
applicable to himself and his friends, and to
specify any limits of size or number of Salmonidce
to be killed in one day, as well as the seasons
during which they can be taken.
The lessor's covenants should set forth that
he should pay all rates. This is a moot point,
and one that sometimes leads to long discussion.
It is, however, desirable that the rent should
be fixed at a figure sufficiently high to warrant
the lessor  in doing so.    If the lessee has to
covenants. 26 MAKING A  FISHERY.
pay rates the local authorities are prone to
assess the sporting rights at an excessive sum,
as they argue that the London gentlemen
coming down there to fish should be made to
contribute liberally towards the rates. If the
rates are paid by the landlord they do not seem
to realise that they are included in the rent, and
are apt to consider that their own neighbour, as
lord of the manor, should not be bled as freely
as a stranger. There are other reasons, such as
the liability to be summoned on juries, &c, why
the-tenant should, if possible, try and be exempt
from assessment.
The lessor must undertake to lower and
regulate.water level as required by the lessee for
the purpose of weed-cutting and netting. This
is necessary because the regulation of hatches
in such cases is usually in the discretion of the
millers and farmers. They may or may not be
on good terms with the fishing tenant. If he is
a man of sense and judgment he will do all
in his power to be friendly with them; but
occasionally there are millers and farmers who
resent the intrusion of any so-called stranger,
and who might refuse to raise or lower hatches,
and thus effectually prevent the tenant from
carrying out his obligations to cut and remove
weeds, net, &c.
The lessor should further undertake to keep ,	
in repair all banks, hatches, sluices, and carriers,^
and this is not unreasonable, seeing that he has
already either agreed with his farmer and miller
tenants to do so, or has contracted himself to
effect these repairs for them. He should also
be required to abstain on behalf of himself, his
agents or tenants, from boating on the water or
from any act which would tend to prejudicially
affect the fishing rights he has let.
The usual lessor's covenants should follow
as to peaceable possession so long as the rent
is paid and the conditions of the lease duly
observed, with the usual provisos as to recovery
of rent and re-entry if necessary. CHAPTER III.
|F the water has been taken by the
lessee with the intention of keeping
it entirely in his own hands, for his
own sport and that of his personal
friends exclusively, he should superintend all
matters connected with it himself. If it is
taken as a commercial speculation, I can offer
no advice, having always held that sport and
profit cannot be united in one undertaking
without one destroying, or at best seriously
crippling, the other. If the intention is to
make a club, or for two or more friends to carry
on the fishery and divide the expenses among
them, their first step should be to select one of
their number to superintend the fishery.
This position is by no means an invidious
one, and anyone taking it will find it no sinecure. He must have leisure to attend to the
multifarious duties  of the office.     He should MAN A GEMENT.
have some knowledge of book-keeping, and be
systematic and precise in his work. Tact, good
temper, and boundless patience are required
in his dealings with lawyers, agents, keepers,
farmers, and labourers. Above all, however, he
must be keen for the work, or he cannot hope
to succeed. The other members must be prepared to give him a free hand in all matters of
detail, and even if they differ from his views in
respect to important questions, they should try
and meet him halfway if they cannot give in
to him altogether. He, however, must never
forget that he is, in a measure, a trustee, acting
in the interests as well as the names of his
brother members, wasting their money as well
as his own if he is reckless, and subjecting*
them, in a degree, to the same loss of popularity as himself if he is too niggardly. Whenever he is in doubt on a question, and cannot
decide on the best course, he had better at once
consult some, if not all, of his confreres, and
when consulting them he must be prepared to
follow their advice, and not feel aggrieved at
their differing from him. Too often, when men
ask advice, they have decided on the course to
adopt; or, as a witty friend pithily remarked to
me on this subject, when men seek counsel of
their friends, as a rule, " they do not want
advice, but indorsement." 30 MAKING A  FISHERY.
Rules and A set of written or printed rules should  be
drawn up and agreed upon among the members
of the fishery. Even if only two or three
friends join in taking water, it is better to do so,
as it saves endless friction and discussion.
Besides, if the men who are defraying the cost
are contented to enforce certain regulations
among themselves, their guests or friends
fishing with them cannot complain at being
subject to the same rules. Another reason for
having this written or printed set of rules is,
that there is some difficulty in bringing them
under the notice of guests in any other form.
The essential conditions required in the regulations of a fishery are not very numerous. The
following copy of the rules in force on a water
leased by four fishermen, who allow only legitimate fly-fishing, is given as an example:—
Trout fishing from ist April to 30th September.
Grayling fishing from ist August to 31st December.
Size.—No Trout or Grayling to be killed under 13 inches
in length.    Any under this length to be at once carefully
returned to the water.
Number.—Not more than Two Brace of fish to be killed
in any day.
Artificial fly only to be used.    Alexandra and other silver-
bodied or Salmon Flies prohibited. MANAGEMENT.
Fish Out of Condition.
It is requested that all ill-conditioned Trout landed before
ist June be returned to the water.
Fishermen are earnestly requested to close all gates and
abstain from damaging fences, banks, or standing crops in
the meadows.
The details of season, limits, &c., can of
course be varied according to the condition of
the stock in the river and the views of the
lessees, but these rules give briefly the outline
of what is requisite.
In reference to the policy of returning under-    Returning
sized trout and grayling to the water, a theory fish.
has been promulgated of late years that the
increasing shyness of the fish is due in a great
measure to the almost universal adoption of this
rule. That the effect of continually landing and
returning the young trout will tend to lessen the
freedom with which they rise to the fly is, to a
certain extent, a sound argument. At the same
time, it is an eminently dangerous theory to put
into practice, and a few moments' consideration
of the probable results would, I think, convince
all true anglers of the necessity of adhering to
this regulation. Of course for the pot-hunters
and those whose object is to establish records
of the number killed, it would be a great boon
to be allowed to kill and keep every 40z. trout
that they could delude.    It must also be taken 32 MAKING A  FISHERY.
into consideration that there are among the
best fishermen few, if any, who can invariably
be certain that a feeding fish is takeable. Even
granted that a past master can be sure of this,
and will abstain from casting over any he may
think unsizeable, how often will some wretched
little yearling or two-year-old seize the fly before
it has reached the rising trout for which it was
intended? I fear the result of abrogating the
customary rule of returning undersized fish
would be to deplete a stream of the store fish,
and in a few seasons reduce the river to a
deplorable state. It may be laid down, that if
out of three fish landed the angler can keep one
and has to return two to the water,~the limit of
size imposed may be deemed a fair one.
Records of Accurate records should be kept of the trout
taken by the fishermen and their friends, as
well as full lists of all pike and other coarse
fish killed, and of stocking. For the purpose of bringing all material questions before
the members, a report should be drawn up at the
end of each year, submitted either to a meeting
or to each of the members for approval, and
kept in a book accessible to all of them. Such
report should comprise the following:—A
resume of the accounts, with remarks on any
items where the expenditure seems excessive,
and where possible an explanation of the causes ^-*-
of such excessive expenditure. An approximate :
estimate of the probable expenses for the next
season, and, if necessary, an intimation as to
the date or dates when the members' subscriptions should be paid. The statistics of killing
down coarse fish, of stocking, and of any other
matters of interest should be given in extenso.
A detailed statement and analysis of receipts
and expenditure properly drawn up and audited
should accompany the report. I would strenuously impress on all engaged in such work that
a separate banking account should be opened
for any fishery which consists of two or more
members, and that all cash received should be
paid to such account, and all expenditure
defrayed out of it. Many men will say that it
is not worth the trouble, and prefer passing the
items through their own banking accounts. I
warn them that they will regret taking such a
course. Either they will find themselves a
considerable sum out of pocket at the end of
the year, or they will be unable to balance their
accounts. Besides, too, let them consider how
unpleasant their position would be if one of
their brother members, or in case of his death
his executors, should require a proper account
and vouchers; and, in the case of executors,
I fear it would be their duty to call for such
accounts. 34
Keepers. Before possession is given to the lessees, the
question of keeper or keepers will have to be
considered by them, unless it be one of the
lessor's covenants in the lease. If the number
of keepers is not defined in the lease, it should
be decided by the members. The extent of the
water, its distance from the villages in which
~ quarters would have to be found, as well as
their prevailing views on the question of cost,
will all have to be duly weighed. For their
guidance, they may take it that, provided there
J are no extraordinary difficulties in getting from
one part of the fishery to another, that the
keeper is not expected to carry anglers' baskets
or attend on them when fishing, and that all such
work as weed-cutting and netting is done by
labourers engaged for the purpose, a thoroughly
active strong man can look after something like
two miles of water. Under the same conditions
two keepers, i.e., a head keeper and an assistant
working under him, can easily manage six or
seven miles if the keepers' cottages are near the
river and two or three miles apart.
Whether it is decided to have only one
keeper or to work with two or more, the first
point to ascertain is whether there are local
men fit for the post. If so they should be
taken on temporarily, and, if found suitable, be
permanently engaged.   If, however, there should MAN A GEMENT.
be no local men, and one's intimate friends
cannot recommend anyone for the post of head
keeper, the only resource open is to advertise.
As a rule such an advertisement in the sporting
press will bring hundreds of answers from all
parts of the country. The majority will be
from gamekeepers out of place, or second
keepers on large estates wishing to improve
their position. They will inclose numerous
testimonials from their late or present employers
certifying that they have full knowledge of the
art of pheasant rearing, and are learned in the
mysteries of trapping vermin. Some will
emanate from pensioned soldiers or policemen,
men no doubt of good character but absolutely
ignorant of the work of a river keeper. Some
will  profess  to   know  all  about   the   subject,
because in their beat  on Lord  's  estate
there was a salmon pool or a stream, containing a few 30Z. trout. Some can, or say they
can, dress salmon flies, and others, again, have
gained their experience as Thames or Trent
fishermen, and know how to bait a barbel
swim, or make a gudgeon spin truly on a flight
of hooks.
Some   of the answers  may  come from old
chalk stream keepers who are known to one or
more   of  the   members   as   incompetent,   lazy,
drunken    scoundrels.    As   a   warning   to   my
readers I would instance a case which occurred
to me in which an old keeper on a club water I
had fished myself, who had been discharged for
drunkenness, and was more than suspected of
dishonesty, not only applied for the situation
but inclosed a copy of a testimonial from the
son of his late employer (how obtained is a
mystery), presumably in the hope that the
surname being the same the difference in the
initials might be overlooked. Perhaps some
friend or acquaintance reading the advertisement
may recommend a man, and sometimes a keeper
taken from such recommendation may turn out
well. Altogether the selection of a man for such
work is most difficult and haphazard. Some
advise that no local man should be taken, some
go farther and say that a Scotchman or
Yorkshireman is worth at least four of the local
south country rustics; and, without wishing to
run down the Hampshire or Wiltshire men,
certainly of the two best and most reliable
keepers I have known, one is a native of
Yorkshire and the other hails from the Land o'
If a second or under keeper is required it is
as a rule far better to try and find a man of good
character in the nearest village. He must,
however, be civil, obliging, take an interest in
his  work, and   on  the  score   of  honesty and MAN A GEMENT.
sobriety be without reproach. If the head
keeper is a thoroughly good one he will soon
find out whether the local under keeper will suit.
It is always well to take on either of the keepers
temporarily for some few months before letting
him consider it a permanent situation. Wages
on a moderately liberal scale should be paid,
and if men give satisfaction it is, as a rule, better
policy to raise their wages at the end of the first
year or so rather than wait for them to ask for
the increase.
One of the earliest steps necessary is for the
superintendent of the fishery to devote some
time to a careful survey of the water in company
with the newly appointed head keeper. Such
time will certainly not be wasted, as it will not
only serve to make both master and man
thoroughly acquainted with every turn and twist
of the river, but at the same time give the master
many opportunities of gauging the capacity and
intelligence of the keeper. Such preliminary
survey can well be utilised in seeing that both
banks throughout the water are approachable,
and that whether for the purpose of weed-
cutting, netting, wiring, trimmering, and last, but
certainly not least, for the fishing itself, it is
possible to get moderately near the margin of
the river.
In a chalk stream bounded by water-meadows
Planks and
stiles, &c. 38 MAKING A  FISHERY.
there are at right angles to the course of the
river a number of irrigation cuts or carriers
varying from a few inches in width to as much
as twenty or thirty feet, and in the case of
all but the very narrowest it is desirable that
proper planks should be provided. These
should be set at a distance of from twelve to
fifteen feet from the bank, so that while it
should be possible to walk up the stream
without scaring every fish, yet they should not be
so far removed from the river as to handicap the
fisherman too severely when walking down with
a hooked fish. Some freeholders, or their agents
or tenants, assert that it is the fishing lessee's
business to provide and maintain these planks,
and a more untenable proposition it is barely
possible to advance. It must be remembered
that every right of fishing conveys with it a
right of way, and that for each time the
keepers or fishermen cross these planks the
farmers and their labourers use them twenty
times. It must be remembered, too, that the
effect of placing these planks is that everyone,
whether fisherman, keeper, farmer, labourer, or
trespasser, walks along the same track, so that
only a small quantity of the pasture is injured,
while, if no planks are supplied, each one takes
a course according to his own fancy, and a
considerable width of herbage is more or less MANAGEMENT.
injured. For the same reasons it is desirable
to have stiles provided over all hedges and
fences placed in the line of the planks.
Wherever there are water-meadows on the Hatches in
banks of a stream, hatches leading from the meadows,
main river into the various irrigation cuts and
carriers, as well as other hatches in these
carriers themselves, are provided for the purpose
of being able to regulate the watering of the
meadows, i.e., either covering them with water
or keeping them dry according to the requirements of the farmers from time to time. It is
desirable for the fisherman, and essential for
the farmer, that these hatches should be kept in
proper repair, and fortunately there is no difference of opinion as to the expense of repairs to
or renewals of hatches, being a matter entirely
outside the limits of the fishing lessee's
Usually a number of farmers employ the
same man or set of men to regulate these
hatches, and pay them by a fixed annual contribution, rateably according to the acreage
of water-meadow comprised in each farm. On
the Kennet these men are called floaters, and,
strange to say, on the Test and Itchen,
drowners, and they are held responsible for any
damage accruing to crops through negligent or
improper raising or lowering of the hatches.    A 40 MAKING A  FISHERY.
good keeper is invariably on friendly terms with
these floaters, and hence gets timely intimation of any prospective alterations of the water
level necessitated by the working of the
meadows. An indifferent keeper who neglects
these points will during the season lose a
considerable number of his fish owing to their
being left in the dry ditches when the water is
turned out of a meadow. Even if the water is
not entirely drawn off, and the trout can find
refuge in deeper parts of the carriers, they are
not likely to get into condition when thus
penned up in places where there is no flow of
water, besides, under such conditions, being an
easy prey to poachers.
Banks, &c. As   previously   stated   in   the   chapter  on
11 Tenure," the keeping in good repair of all
banks of the river, or any tributaries, backwaters, ditches, and carriers should invariably
be an obligation on the freeholder. This clause
is, however, a somewhat elastic one, as what
might be considered by the freeholder, and
even upheld at law, as a reasonable state of
repair for the banks of the stream, may not be
deemed sufficient by the fishing tenant, and
this is one of the reasons for the necessity of
the stipulation in the lease that the lessee
should have the right to do any work deemed
necessary by him for the improvement of the MANAGEMENT.
fishery. Of course this right must be exercised
with discretion, and in such manner as not to
damage the freeholder or his tenants or others
owning or leasing land on the banks of the
stream. It is often good policy for the fishing
tenant to let his keepers carry out any small
amount of work required to repair a small
breach or weak place in the banks. For such
purpose a few old hurdles are serviceable,
and most agents are grateful to a tenant if he
points these matters out, and will generally
place at his disposal for this purpose some
of the old hurdles lying about the estate.
Over a swampy place or a shaky sedge bed a
line of hurdles two or three deep are laid and
pegged in place and a few sods of turf or mud
dragged from the river laid on them. As they
sink fresh turf or mud, if necessary, is piled up
until in a few seasons a firm path is made
along the bank in places where previously the
water could not be approached.
The lessee's right to remove mud or shoal or Removal of
do other work he may consider of advantage to
the fisherv is an important one, and, as before
remarked, must be used with discretion. In
deep, slow-running reaches mud will always be
deposited in a greater or less quantity; in
some parts close to the banks, and in others
in mid-stream,  and wherever  this   occurs the 42
advisability of  removing  it  or not  should be
It may be laid down as an axiom that the less
mud there is the better will be the condition
and appearance of the fish. It must also be
remembered that the larvae of such flies as
the Alder and the Mayfly require a deposit of
light-coloured, sandy mud in which to burrow.
The foul, black malodorous mud found in rivers
polluted with sewage, or where great quantities
of leaves falling from trees decompose, is of no
use whatever in the river, and, theoretically,
every particle of it should be removed. It
would, however, probably surprise anyone unaccustomed to this class of work to see the
actual cost of taking out such deposits, and
hence the problem is to keep the bed of the
stream as free as possible from this filth without
incurring an expenditure out of all proportion to
the results attained. In any case such work
should be executed during the winter, when
there is little or no occupation for the farm
labourers, and they would, as a rule, only be too
glad of an opportunity to earn small wages in
place of being reduced to a state of compulsory
idleness and consequent distress. Much of the
poaching among villagers is practised during
this part of the year, and a judicious expenditure
in cleaning the river will at times do away with MAN A GEMENT.
this poaching altogether, or at least reduce it to
a minimum.
An efficacious plan adopted on the Upper
Test is to fix a line of hurdles by posts firmly
driven into the bed of the stream across the
river from bank to bank. The top of these
hurdles is just above the water level, and
wherever one or more of them is taken out there
the full force of the stream will flow and wash
away any soft mud on the gravel. By shifting
and replacing hurdles in this way the entire
width of the stream can be cleaned during a
series of winter floods. It must, however, be
remembered that this mud is not removed, but
shifted to one's neighbours below,, who may
object, or even bring an action for damages.
Weeds as
affecting food
HE proper management of the weeds
in the river is so important a question
that no apology is necessary for
devoting an entire chapter to the consideration
of the subject. Under the heading of " Selection," attention has already been directed to the
fact that the food supply is largely dependent
on the presence of the weeds on which the
shrimps, snails, caddis, and other larvae
habitually live. Obviously, the size and condition of the fish being dependent on the food
supply, it may be taken for granted that the
more abundant the crop of suitable weeds in
any stream, the greater will be the probability
of a plentiful stock of well-grown and large
trout and grayling. On the comparative
suitability of various species of aquatic plants,
I have treated briefly in a previous chapter.
Every  effort   should   be   made   to  encourage WEEDS.
the growth of the most suitable genera, and-
no opportunity should be neglected of thinning
out or extirpating those which are too gross
of growth or in other ways unfavourable to the
development of the forms of animal life which
constitute in so great a degree the nutriment
of the Salmonidce.
The presence of weeds is necessary for other
purposes besides the question of food supply.
In hot weather fish, like human beings, instinctively seek shade during the long hours of
daylight, and except when feeding are usually
buried in the luxuriant growth, possibly indulging
in a siesta. Every time a trout or grayling is
scared, it seeks refuge in the nearest weed bed,
and the effect of mowing down wholesale all
vegetation in a stream is to increase their
shyness until at length they become quite
unapproachable. All these arguments point to
the desirability of having plenty of weeds in the
river. On the other hand, the greater the
quantity of weeds, the greater will be the number
of shrimps, snails, and caddis, and other larvas,
and although, of course, the flies constituting
the surface food come from the caddis and
other aquatic larvae, yet an excessive supply of
the shrimps, snails, &c, will infallibly induce the
fish to feed more at the bottom and in mid-
water and less on the surface.    The presence
Weeds as-
shelter. 46
Weed cutting
by the lessor.
of dense masses of weed will also assist many
hooked fish in escaping, but knowledge of the
best method of handling hooked fish among
weeds will, to a certain degree, enable the angler
to overcome this difficulty. It may be inferred
from the foregoing that the crux of successful
management is to arrive at a happy medium
between the drastic method of shaving close,
thus destroying the food of the fish and
rendering them abnormally shy, and the laisser
aller policy of leaving the river overgrown
with heavy beds of weed, and rendering it
unfishable. In the case of the rapid streams of
the north, where the weeds are usually more or
less conspicuous by their absencej anything like
systematic cutting is needless. When dealing,
however, with south-country chalk streams,
where there is naturally a superabundance of
vegetable growth, the degree to which, and
times at which the weeds should be cut, is a
question requiring patient and intelligent study.
Where water is let by the season the weed
cutting is usually undertaken by the lessor.
Such, at least, is the theory j but in practice he
generally shirks the greater part of this responsibility. If there are mills on the property he
relies on the knowledge that the miller must, in
his own interest, cut the weeds when their
growth and luxuriance exceed a certain point, to WEEDS.
keep his head of water above and to get rid of
the tail water below his wheel. The usual policy
of the lessor and miller is to do nothing until
the stream is almost choked up by their growth,
and then put on a few men to run chain scythes
rapidly down the river and make a clean sweep
of them altogether. The result of this treatment is, that during the latter part of the spring
a considerable portion of the water is unfishable,
and in the hot weather, when the protection of
the weeds is of the greatest advantage to both
fish and fishermen, every particle has been
swept away. The general idea of the lessor
when undertaking weed-cutting is to get an
increased rent in consideration of this expense
being spared to the lessee, and his policy then
is to put this extra rent into his pocket instead
of expending it on the work he has contracted
to do. Although indefensible from a moral
point of view, yet tactically it is occasionally
good policy for the tenant, under such circumstances, to offer to pay for the labour of weed-
cutting; he will.then secure the control of the
question, subject, of course, to the rights of
millers or other riparian occupiers.
On the assumption that it is a covenant of
the tenant under his lease or agreement to cut
the weeds, or that he has voluntarily undertaken this duty as suggested in the last para-
Weed cutting
by the lessee. 48 MAKING A  FISHERY.
graph, he must proceed to consider the plan of
campaign. In dealing with this question, it
must be premised that efficiency is regarded
here in preference to mere economy, and hence,
if it is necessary to keep the expenditure down
to a minimum, the scheme suggested must
be modified in detail. Provided the weeds had
been properly cut in the previous autumn, or
after a severe winter has effectually caused
them to rot away, a chalk stream in the early
spring will be found to err, if anything, on the
side of being too bare. At the opening of the
fishing season, when the trout are comparatively
unsophisticated, the absence of weed on the
shallows and deeps is not a matter of any
moment. In genial weather, especially if
accompanied by frequent warm showers alternating with intervals of sunshine, the growth of
all aquatic vegetation increases rapidly, so that
by the end of April or early part of May the
first cutting of the weeds must be undertaken.
Spring weed In the spring cutting the desideratum is to
leave sufficient weeds to give adequate shelter
to the trout, and yet not too much for the peace
of mind of the fisherman. If there is any
doubt as to what is the juste milieu, it is
preferable to lean to the policy of leaving too
much rather than too little, and, profiting by
past experience, correct   this   error  in   subse-
cuttmg WEEDS.
quent seasons. The main object is to render
the state of the river as favourable as possible
for sport. The general character of south-
country rivers is that the reaches are comprised under one of three categories, viz.:
shallows, mill ponds, or hatch holes. The
shallows are usually broad and fast-running as
compared with the other parts of the stream,
and the bed of the river is gravel more or less
covered with mud and weeds. The mill ponds
are of moderate depth, the stream rather
sluggish, and the bottom muddy. The hatch
holes are deep, swirling, eddying holes, and
the force of the stream has usually thrown up
a bar of gravel at their lower ends, over which
the depth of water is very small. The principles on which the weeds should be cut must
be separately considered in each case.
The ova are hatched, and the helpless alevins
lie in the shallow water until the yolk sac is
absorbed. The fry then make their way to the
thinnest water in the immediate vicinity j and
remain there during the early portion of their
lives. The more plentiful the supply of young
shrimps, snails, and immature larvae, the longer
they are disposed to inhabit these portions of
the river. The parent fish, after spawning, take
up their positions on the shallows, in comparatively slack water, behind boulders or beds of
Treatment of
shallows. 5o
• -'I
The side-and-
bar system.
weeds; and if the quantity of natural food is
plentiful, and the surroundings are not such
as to lead to their being scared away, they
speedily recover their condition. Any paucity
of food is supplemented by cannibalistic raids
on their own or their neighbours' offspring; and
when these means of satisfying appetite are
exhausted, they make the best of their way to
deeper parts of the river, which are more prolific
of animal life. Hence it is desirable that all
available means of keeping up th^ food supply
should be encouraged, as well for the protection of the fry as for the improvement in the
condition of the adult fish. In the due apportionment of a shallow in weeds and gravel,
these points should be borne in mind, as well
as the necessity for slack places below patches
of weeds or other obstructions, where feeding
fish can rest without great exertion. The
absence of such places, which is the result of
wholesale clearing away of all weeds, will infallibly result in the migration of the larger trout
to quieter and more favourable water.
Many plans have been tried of arranging the
weeds on a shallow so as to carry out this idea,
but so far none known to me has proved so
successful as the side-and-bar system. This
system consists of leaving on the shallows,
across   the river from bank to bank,  bars of WEEDS.
uncut weed alternately with bars of clean bright
gravel. The width of the bars of weed should
in no case exceed, say, ten yards, and of the
intervening gravel, from ten to fifteen yards.
Each portion of each shallow, however, requires
special study and special arrangement.
For example, in any shallow from which in
dry summers the water runs off so much as to
render it too thin for successful fishingf, it is
essential to leave dense bars of weed, especially
at the lower end, so as to retard the flow of the
water. Where the growth of the weeds is
usually very luxuriant, it is well to contract the
width of the bars of weed and expand the
breadth of the bars of gravel. The setting out
of these alternate bars of weed and gravel
should be carefully planned out beforehand, so
that every advantage is taken of the natural set
of the stream to provide favourable resting
places and feeding places for the fish.
If, when the shallow is cut in bars, it should
be found that the stream is penned back too
much, narrow longitudinal runs cut here and
there through the weed bars, or at the sides,
will let the water down. When setting out
these runs, it is well to arrange them in
alternate weed bars on either side of the
stream, and in case the flow of water is still too
much impeded, to cut similar runs down the
middle of the stream. A judicious application
of this principle can be used to divert the
current towards any spot desired for moving
small accumulations of mud, or other purposes
deemed of advantage to the particular part of
the river. With the view of showing clearly how
this system should be carried out, the accompanying plate of a portion of the famous
Sheepbridge Shallow at Houghton-on-the-Test,
showing the ordinary appearance of the shallow
if treated on this principle, is appended.
When it is intended to carry out the side-and-
bar system of spring weed-cutting, the positions
of the weed bars should be carefully marked by
stakes driven into the banks, and in arranging
them due regard should be paid to the character
of the weeds in the various portions of the
shallow. Thus, as far as possible, natural beds
of celery should be left, and masses of carrot or
ribbon weed be cut out to form beds of gravel.
Places where trout habitually feed on floating
insects should, as far as possible, be set out as
gravel beds, and weed beds left where practicable above points where the mud usually
accumulates, so that the rush of water should
invariably tend to remove such deposits.
When the entire shallow has been distinctly
marked out, the gravel beds should be cut out
by men working in the water with hand scythes, ^Ilii!    H,   .1 /,'
■1       mm<4h-
Wm mrl 1 l\mm i ilvlSfflv w i
/r Ft lip!
and it must be impressed upon them that the
success or non-success of the plan depends in
a great measure on the work being done
accurately to the marks, and where the weeds
are removed they must be taught to cut them
away close down to the gravel. Any longitudinal runs or sidings required must be set out
and cut some rime after the general spring
cutting has been completed, so as to be certain
of their necessity. If, after all the work is done,
parts of the gravel are found to be covered by
mud, they should be thoroughly raked over with
heavy metal rakes.
On mill ponds or reaches of similar character,
where the water is of moderate depth and the
current comparatively slight, one of the two
following systems of cutting the weeds in the
Spring should be adopted. Where the growth
of weed is very rapid the whole of the weed
should be cut out from bank to bank. The
most efficacious and economical mode of effecting this is by a chain scythe worked up stream,
which cuts all the central portion of the stream.
Two men following, one on either side, trim
out closely the bank and part adjacent to it
with hand scythes.
A chain scythe is made by bolting together
a number of blunt-ended scythe blades. A
chain   or   rope   is   fixed   to   each   end,   and
Treatment of
mill ponds. 54
Treatment of
hatch holes.
the men—two on each bank—as they move
slowly up stream, work the chain scythe backwards and forwards with a sawing motion. The
men must not be allowed to hurry over this
work, as undue speed will only result in the
weeds not being cut close to the bed of the
river and probably the work having to be done
again in the space of a month or so. Where,
however, the growth of weeds is only moderate,
a man on each side with a long-handled scythe
can cut out a wide, clear run or siding under
either bank, and the chain scythe worked somewhat quickly down stream will top the remainder
of the weeds sufficiently to silence the grumbling
of millers and others.
As a rule weeds do not flourish in the deepest
parts of hatch holes or mill pools, but wherever
there is in such water anything like masses of
vegetation they should be cut as closely as
possible. It is, however, well to leave as much
weed as possible on any shallow gravel bars
below the hatch holes as tending to keep the
water level up during a dry summer, or when
the hatches supplying it are tightly closed. As
a rule the dry-fly purist has no particular
affection for this class of water, although, under
favourable conditions, the largest and gamest
fish occasionally rise well, and, what is perhaps
more important, take well, in some hatch holes. WEEDS.
In a chalk stream the weeds grow rapidlv
during the summer season, and from time to
time the necessity arises for dealing with them
so as to prevent the water from being choked
up. This work of trimming during the summer
and early autumn should be done by the
keepers, the more so as it requires judgment
and tact to decide the extent to which, and
the time at which, it should be carried out in
each reach. The cutting in the mill ponds or
other deep stretches can be effectually done
from the banks with ordinary hand scythes set
on extra long straight handles. The lightest
and most convenient are made of stout bamboos, which can be purchased up to 18 or 20
feet in length at moderate cost; failing these, a
long thin larch makes a good substitute.
The rushes standing at the margin of the river
should not be cut, as they afford a protection to
the fish and serve in a degree to assist the
angler in keeping out of sight. The keepers,
however, should cut out the weeds as closely as
possible for a width of say three yards from
either bank, and the edges of the banks themselves should be kept clear of weeds or partially
submerged rushes. If this plan is carried out
there will be a clear run under either bank, in
which the majority of rising fish will be found.
The vegetation   in the  central portion of the
weeds in deep
weeds on
reach will very possibly show on or above the
surface of the water, and look untidy. This,
however, need not affect the fisherman, as
during the hot weather it will improve his prospect of sport, not only because the level of the
water is better kept up, but also because the fish
will be less shy and rise more freely than they
would if all the weeds had been mowed down
after the fashion most approved by the old
school of keepers.
As to the shallows, each has to be considered
by itself. In every case, however, it is well for
the keepers to go in and cut out all those parts
of the gravel bars, as made in the spring
cutting, which have become overgrown with
weeds, and, if at all fouled by mud, to give the
gravel a good raking. On a narrow shallow
where the water is not very thin, the plan of
cutting out a run under each bank is, perhaps,
most efficacious, but where there is a very
sharp fall, or where the water requires backing
up, a run on one bank only, or runs through
the weed beds on alternate sides, should be cut.
Occasionally an extra dense bed should be
raked out by the roots, so as to leave a clear,
sharp gravel patch, which will certainly be taken
as a favourable feeding place by a good fish.
Sometimes the weed is so high as to require
generally topping with  the  hand   scythe.     A WEEDS.
constant source of annoyance on some shallows
is the presence of scattered chair rushes—so
called because rush-bottomed chairs are made
with them. Where these are present they
catch the fly, causing it to drag, besides being
very tough when hooked. They should be
summarily dealt with by being pulled out by
the roots.
All these operations should be carried out
by an intelligent keeper, and done at times
when there are no fishermen either in the
length he is cutting or on the reaches immediately below it. Early morning is the most
convenient time, and the danger to be guarded
against is that of doing too much. If runs are
to be cut, the effect of very narrow ones should
first be tried, and if, after a few days, they are
found insufficient, there is no difficulty in
cutting them to an additional width. Once,
however, overdo the cutting, and the water is
spoilt for the angler until the weeds have
grown up again.
At the end of the trout season, the growth of
weeds in the river is likely to be so luxuriant as
to seriously retard the flow of water. Even if
a thorough cutting was not required for the
benefit of the stream itself, loud complaints
would be heard from the farmers at the prospect of their land being flooded in the winter.
Autumn weed
cutting. 58 MAKING A  FISHERY.
The desire of the millers to work longer hours,
and secure some little extra profit out of the
demand for flour from the new wheat just
harvested, would impel them to clamour for a
better supply of water. The pressure brought
to bear simultaneously from these two quarters
would of itself induce the fisherman to try and
assist them ; that is, provided he desired; as he
should, to be on friendly terms with his neighbours. It is, however, no less important for the
future sport of the angler than for the pocket
of the miller and the peace of mind of the
farmer, that the weeds should be cut at this
time of the year.
Notably it is required for three reasons.
Firstly, because, if left to rot in the river, the
decomposed vegetable matter will increase the
quantity of foul mud which has always a
tendency to accumulate in the stiller and
deeper reaches. Secondly, because the gravel
on the shallows, whether of the main stream,
tributaries, or even carriers, can scarcely be too
bare or too clean and sharp for the ova when
deposited by the gravid female to hatch out
successfully; in fact, the presence of an undue
proportion of weed on a natural spawning bed
will often prevent the fish from spawning on it
at all. Thirdly, because, however closely the
river may have been netted in the spring, and WEEDS.
however zealously keepers may have plied the
wire and set trimmers during the summer, it
may be predicted that some pike will have
made their unwelcome presence seen; the
water should therefore be again netted in the
autumn, and to net effectually the weeds must
be cut closely.
The details of the spring weed cutting and of
the trimming during the trout season require
thought and judgment, and they are operations
in the design and execution of which due
consideration must be given to a variety of
circumstances. Whoever is responsible for the
management of the fishery should have studied
the question as a whole, and have applied his
knowledge to the particular stretch of water
with which he is dealing. The anglers' sport
during the season will, in a measure, depend on
the degree of intelligence with which the original
scheme has been devised, and the care with
which it has been carried out. If the sport is
good, the appreciation of his brother fishermen
will be the reward of the manager ; and if bad,
their criticism, possibly more candid than
palatable, will be his punishment. In the autumn
cutting, however, the case is quite different.
No careful arrangement of side and bar on the
shallows nor siding of the deeps will be required.
All that has to be done is to cut the weeds close 6o
to the bed of the river from bank to bank, from
the top of the water to the lowest boundary, and
in every tributary, carrier, and ditch. Much
of this can be done effectually by the chain
scythe, and it is more economical to employ a
sufficient number of labourers and get the work
finished off at once than to have one or two men
pottering about for months and making the job
last as long as possible.
Cut weeds. When the weeds have been cut, the question
will arise as to what is to be done with the
masses of floating vegetation which accumulate
at the hatches and cover a considerable distance
of the water above them. The usual custom is
to open the hatches wide and let them drift
down with the current, some lodging on or
against any obstruction with which they may be
brought in contact, some being carried by the
flow of the water into stagnant places where
they remain, or into eddies where they are kept
slowly gyrating until carried away by a rise of
water, and the remainder gradually finding
their way down to the next set of hatches
in the river. Meanwhile all these weeds are
gradually decaying, polluting the air, poisoning the water, and filling the slow deep portions of the river with foul-smelling mud, the
ultimate solid residuum of decomposed vegetable
By the judicious use of drags and alternate
raising and lowering of hatches, they are, in
time, passed down to the next water below;
then, with the addition of the weeds cut on this
next water, passed on and on in ever increasing
bulk, until eventually the unfortunate proprietor
of water many miles below has to deal with an
enormous accumulation of many thousands of
tons of malodorous partially decayed vegetation.
If, too, he has the misfortune to be on a
tributary of the Thames and within the limit of
distance over which the Thames Conservancy
has jurisdiction, he is prohibited under severe
penalties from sending these weeds further down.
If, by any extraordinary circumstance, officials
have been successfully roused from their general
lethargic condition, it is quite possible that they
will try and force this unlucky individual to drag
the huge heap of weeds out of the river at his
own expense and turn them on to the adjoining
meadows. It is, of course, a monstrous and
most inequitable charge to be imposed upon
him, and whether he has a legal remedy or not,
morally, he certainly has a grave cause of complaint at the unfair and unneighbourly action of
those who have sent the weeds down.
Looking at the question from a common sense
point of view, he ought to be able to prevent
this   course   of  conduct   on   the  part   of   the
from cut
Legal aspect
of the
question. 62
proprietors immediately above him, and they in
turn ought to have a remedy against the
proprietors above them. It is said by some
members of the legal profession that the plea
of custom would be successfully raised as a
defence against an action brought on these
grounds. No doubt, proving the custom, which
would not be difficult, would impose difficulties,
but, although law and justice do not always go
hand in hand, it does not seem likely that any
judge would indorse so monstrous a proposition
as that proving the custom of dealing with the
cut weeds in an unjust or illegal manner should
render such dealing just or legal.
The following principles appear to be clearly
settled when dealing with this question, as laid
down in "Addison on Torts:"—
" If a riparian proprietor higher up a stream throws dirt
or refuse into it, so as to defile the water, and render it
unfit for use, to the damage of another riparian proprietor
who has been in the habit of using the water, an action is
maintainable for the injury."
And further,
" Every person who throws dirt or rubbish into a stream
so as to defile the water, and prevent the riparian proprietors
and others from having the beneficial use of the water they
have been accustomed to, is guilty of a nuisance, and may
be made responsible in damages."
These principles, however, seem confined to
cases where the source of pollution was extra- WEEDS.
neous, i.e., created or brought by the pollution
to his premises.
. The case of Gilbey v. Wiggins, Teape, and    Gilbey v.
Co., Limited, carried these principles one step    Teape and
further, and the thanks of all true sportsmen are
due to Mr. Alfred Gilbey for the public spirit
displayed by  him in fighting the action.     In
this  case nothing extraneous or artificial was
the source of the mischief.    The mill was shut
down for about five months, and  during that
time a quantity of mud accumulated in the mill
head.    Later on, the occupier being desirous of
working  the mill, the weeds were cut in the
mill   head,   and   for  the   purpose  of   carrying
away these   cut weeds   and the  accumulated
mud the ground gates were lifted.    The result
of this was  that  the  mud was suddenly and
in a body carried down the  stream, so as to
pollute the water and- destroy the fish.
The source of mischief, as will have been
observed, was here the accumulation to an
abnormal extent of the mud and sediment
brought down in suspension by the natural flow
of the water, and lodged in the mill head. The
real principle seems now to be contained in the
following sentence, for which I am indebted to
my learned friend, Mr. W. Pingo Horton :—
" Though a riparian owner has, subject to the corresponding rights of his fellow riparian owners, the right to 64
Disposal of
the weeds.
the use of the water as it passes his land, he has (unless he
has acquired a prescriptive right as against them to do so)
no right to prejudicially affect the condition of the water so
as to sensibly injure other riparian owners, whether above
or below him."
In the judge's opinion it was not necessary
that the pollution and consequent damage
should be caused by the introduction of some
extraneous subject, but the presence of an
excessive accumulation of mud by the defendant's predecessors did not justify them lifting
their flood hatches, and so allowing it to be
carried down by the flow of water to the
plaintiff's stream below.
Judge Holl, Q.C., in giving judgment for the
plaintiff, said :
" Under those circumstances they ought to have mud-
panned it; at any rate they ought not to have taken a course
which led to the mud being suddenly and in a body carried
down the stream, so as to pollute the water and destroy
the fish."
It would appear that if a riparian owner is
bound to remove an excessive accumulation
of mud, and not send it down to the water
below, the same principle would apply to an
excessive accumulation of cut weeds, or of
any other substance calculated to injure
other riparian owners in the event of its
Granted, however, that this passing down of WEEDS.
cut weeds is illegal, what is the lessee or proprietor of a stretch of water to do with them ?
It is said that, turned on to the land and left to
rot, they would form a valuable fertilising agent,
but on this point there are differences of opinion.
It seems, however, to be generally admitted that
if mixed with lime they would be of advantage
to the land. Some farmers state that, so far
from the rotten or decomposed weeds being a
beneficial form of manure, the effect of turning
them on to the land is to kill the grass, and
that it takes many years for a meadow to
recover from the injury thus caused. A well-
considered opinion from a recognised authority
on the subject would be of the greatest
If it were once established that each proprietor is bound to remove from the river his
own cut weeds, what is to be done with the
cabbage leaves, lawn mowings, and other garden
refuse which is usually swept into the river from
every house or cottage on the bank ? It is said
that the sanitary authorities have the power of
preventing this, and if only they could be induced, or compelled, to use their power and to
select, in the first instance, the largest and most
influential riparian owners, there might be some
hopes of improvement. It might not only
remove the unjust burden now thrown on pro-
prietors and lessees of fisheries, but, in time, the
continual fouling of the water with the mud
deposited during the gradual decomposition of
the floating weeds would be diminished and one
cause of river pollution removed.
In the case of a fishery where the details of
management were somewhat under my own
control, it was decided by the lessees that, whatever might be the legal aspect of the question,
and however great the expense, all cut weeds
should be removed from the river, and not sent
drifting down to our neighbours with a view of
shifting on to their shoulders responsibilities
which certainly morally, and probably legally,
should devolve upon us. This having been
decided, the next step was to make arrangements for their disposal on land adjoining the
stream. Inquiry among the farmers elicited the
fact that no one of them would go to the
expense of pulling out the weeds in consideration of the benefit to accrue from their use as
manure. In the entire length of the water only
one tenant cared to carry them at his own
expense from the banks after we had deposited
them there, and use them in his garden. A
portion of the cut wTeeds was accordingly
landed on the bank close to his garden, and
this he carried away.
Permission  was   obtained   to   heap  up  the WEEDS.
remainder on a piece of waste land alongside
the stream. At the expiration of twelve months
the resulting mould was carted down to a garden
in the village. The gardener there, and all
practical men who have inspected it, pronounce
it to be as good a lot of garden mould as could
be obtained, and predict that the show of bloom
and crop of vegetables in that garden next
summer will astonish the natives. If so, it may
be anticipated that there will be an active
demand for cut weeds in future seasons for
other gardens in the vicinity.
There is no more frequent cause of annoyance
to fly fishermen than cut weeds drifting down.
How often one's favourite reach is rendered
impossible by the action of some thoughtless
keeper sending his cut weeds down just at the
time the trout are rising ! Perhaps all day the
patient angler has watched and waited in vain,
and just in the cool of the evening, simultaneously with the first appearance of the fly on
the water and the first shy movement of the
fish, a few patches of bright green, freshly cut
weeds are seen slowly approaching. Perhaps
the fisherman waits on, hoping against hope,
only to find that instead of small straggling
patches, it comes no longer " single spies, but
in battalions." Perhaps he walks miles upstream and finds the* keeper of the water above
F 2 68
him busily engaged in pushing the weeds through
a hatch, and, as likely as not, he is met by a
point blank refusal or even impertinent answer
when he asks that the nuisance should be
stopped for a few hours.
One is often asked how to remedy this. The
best plan, if both banks are rented by the lessee,
is to construct a good solid weed rack across
the water at the upper boundary. This will stop
the heavy masses of weed, and in time compel
the proprietor above to take them out. If this
is impracticable, and in any case as a valuable
adjunct, the weed net can be used. It is a
heavy large meshed one, such as bullock netting,
three or four feet deep, well leaded at the lower
side, and long enough to stretch across the
river with a pronounced bow. It is placed at
any point where the stream is not too rapid, and
attached to strong posts on either bank. At first
the heavy masses only are stopped by it, but in
time as they accumulate and form a solid barrier
on the surface, every particle of drifting weed is
effectually prevented from passing through. If
at any time the strain should appear to be
approaching breaking point, by loosing the rope
at one end, the entire mass will be liberated;
after which, of course, the net can be replaced.
These heavy masses of weeds going down in a
body will only spoil   one's   chance   for  say a WEEDS.
quarter of an hour, while the continual drifting -
would effectually destroy the entire day's sport.
At the end of the day's fishing the net can be
removed, and hung up to dry, so as to be ready
for use the next day. lai
Definition of
term poachers
as used here.
NDER the comprehensive title of
poachers there are included here all
the Vertebrata that prey upon the
fish. Perhaps, too, some few of the Inverte-
brata ought to have been treated under the
same heading. One of them, the large water
beetle {Dytiscus marginalis), certainly in the
larval stage and possibly the mature beetle,
preys upon the fry and yearlings. At the
moment of writing I have the clearest evidence
of this in the shape of a naturally bred yearling
trout and a Dytiscus larva preserved in spirit.
When taken the unfortunate yearling was dead,
and the voracious larva was attached to the
lower side of its abdomen, close behind the
pectoral fins. In its death struggles the larva
managed to disengage itself from the flesh of
the trout, which was deeply scored by the
formidable mandibles of the beetle.    According: POACHERS.
to the evidence of Mr. Armistead, in his.
admirable work on Fish Culture (to which the
strangely misleading title of " An Angler's
Paradise and How to Obtain It" has been
given), the larger forms of caddis, or larvae
of the Trichoptera, attack the trout eggs and
alevins. Possibly, too, other larvae, such as
those of the larger dragon flies, prey upon the
eggs, and it would not be surprising to find that
even shrimps and snails satisfy their appetites
at times on trout ova.
As man has been placed by modern scientists The human
at the head of the sub-kingdom of Vertebrata,
the same position must, I suppose, be accorded
to him here among poachers. A certain school
of sportsmen are in the habit of expressing
sympathy with this class, saying that every true
sportsman is at heart a bit of a poacher. Some
go so far as to suggest that it is excusable for
a poor man to poach an odd rabbit or hare, or
an occasional brace of trout for his supper.
This is not only nonsense, but worse still, as it
is quoted by the rustics, until at last, even if
they do not become poachers themselves, they
will, by encouraging and shielding others, often
prevent keepers from detecting them in the
In most villages there are a certain number
of idle, loafing vagabonds, whose only visible 72 MAKING A   FISHERY.
means of earning a living is by poaching. They
are usually the most dissolute, the most intemperate, and altogether most repulsive looking
set of scoundrels. Offer any one of them an
honest day's work for a fair rate of wages and
he will indignantly refuse it. Nay, more, offer
him double the ordinary labourer's pay, and he
will either find some excuse for declining it, or
if he pretends to work will shirk and scamp to
such an extent, that no one can employ him.
Even if by chance he should work for a single
week, it is safe to predict that he will be found
at the village pothouse on Saturday night with
some of his boon companions, more or less
intoxicated. There he will remain~excepting
during the hours when by law the pothouse
must be closed, until every farthing of his
wages has been squandered, and his credit,
if he has any, exhausted. All this time his
wife and children will be half starved, clothed
in rags, living in squalid misery in a cottage
from which the landlord is threatening to eject
them for non-payment of a rent of two or three
shillings a week.
Magistrates' Magistrates, unless deterred by a wholesome
dread of appearing in the week's " Legal
Pillory " in Truth, will usually pass exemplary
sentences on game poachers. It is, however,
unfortunate that, when  dealing with   habitual
sentences. POACHERS.
fish poachers, they will too often err on the
side of leniency. It is well known that the
game and other laws, for the preservation of
fur, feather, and scale for sporting purposes,
are distinctly unpopular with the lower classes.
Although prompted by the desire to secure
votes for political purposes, yet the policy of
awarding comparatively slight punishment to
those convicted of offences against these laws
is not to be commended.
No thinking man would in the present age
advocate any course likely to lead to an
increase in the numbers of the criminal classes
by committing to jail in cases where a small
fine would serve equally as a deterrent. It is,
however, needful in such cases to bring forcibly
home to the rustic mind that poaching, which
is practically nothing but theft pure and simple,
is to be as sternly put down by the administrators of the law as the picking of pockets.
It would be well, too, if some effective legislation could be devised to bring under penalties
those who purchase, whether for food or for
purposes of trade, poached game or fish. The
penalties, too, should be largely increased if the
offence is intensified by the fact of such game
or fish being out of season, and hence totally
unfit for human food. The offence of the
ignorant, half-starved villager who poaches is
Receivers of
poached fish. 74
no doubt a grave one, and if he prefers the
lazy, loafing life of a poacher to the more
laborious one of earning his bread by hard
work, he should be punished with sufficient
severity to stop him from further offending, and
at the same time deter others.
The comparatively prosperous tradesman or
publican, however, who knowingly buys from
the poacher for the sake of the extra profit he
can make, or of getting an article of food for
his own consumption at a cheap figure, is to
all intents and purposes committing the same
offence as a receiver of stolen goods, and should
be subject to the same penalties.
In dealing practically with the question, however, one must take things as they are, and be
prepared to find that the sentence of a bench of
county magistrates on the ordinary fish poacher
will be a fine of 2s. 6d. or 5s. If it should
happen that he is an old offender who has been
before them on some twenty or thirty previous
occasions, if the fish should have been taken
out of season, and if the solicitor conducting the
case could persuade the bench to listen and
give some weight to this additional charge,
they may possibly commit for a fortnight. On
the other hand, if it is intended to try seriously
to make a fishery, entailing heavy expenditure
of both time and money, steps must be taken POA CHERS.
to prevent the success of one's efforts being
much delayed, if not altogether frustrated, by
the action of poachers.
The most important factor in dealing with
the poaching question is to have a good keeper
or keepers. It is needless to say that a good
keeper must be intelligent, honest, industrious,
sober, capable, and, above all, take a strong
interest in the ultimate success of the work.
He must be endowed with strength, endurance,
and pluck. He must be prepared to spend long
hours of the night or early dawn alone or in the
company of a well-trained dog, listening intently
for any suspicious sound, and on the alert for
any suspicious movement, ready at a moment
to capture the poacher or to take full mental
notes of the circumstances under which he may
see the poaching carried on, for it may well
happen that before the magistrates he may
be subjected to severe and searching cross-
examination by a sharp and not over-scrupulous
In connection with this point, too, the keeper's
own character must be such as to stand the
test. If in his past history there is anything
which will tend to cast doubt on the reliability
of his evidence, it will very likely come out, and
the case will certainly be dismissed. Then, too,
he should know something of the complicated
Keepers and
poachers. 76
laws bearing on the subject—when and under
what conditions he is legally entitled to seize
nets or other illegal implements, or to search
the offender; the conditions under which the
poacher can be charged with illegally taking
fish; when trespass only can be proved; and
when he can legally be only warned off.
A first-rate keeper knows too that it is not
good policy to keep on bringing charges before
the magistrates, and he therefore often acts
so as to prevent, instead of detecting, poaching.
He sees men known to him as adepts in poaching making for a point in the river, and, taking
a short cut across the meadows, he arrives
before them and waits in ambush. If he desired
to charge them he would, of course, keep out of
sight until they had perpetrated the offence,
but, as soon as their preparations are made, he
suddenly appears on the scene and orders them
off, calling them by name if possible. They
are usually thus scared and beat a headlong
retreat j and the continual recurrence of such
action will soon convince them that it does not
pay to poach on this keeper's beat. After all,
the whole question is whether it pays, as there
is no pretence at anything like sport in wiring,
groping, or otherwise securing unseasonable
trout, or in taking them out after the water is
lowered to within a few inches of the bottom. POACHERS.
The keeper should make himself acquainted
with those whose avocations keep them near the
water, and, without becoming their boon companion, gain their confidence so as to obtain
any information they can give. From this
information he must be able to sift what is
authentic and likely to be of use after discarding what is unreliable, and worse than.
useless. As before remarked, he should keep
on friendly terms with the floaters, drowners, or
whatever the men regulating the hatches in the
water meadows are called, so as to get due
notice of prospective alteration of the water
supply to the meadows, and be able to frustrate
the efforts of the village poachers to levy toll on
his trout in carriers which are dried up or very
low: Unfortunately, some of these ft floaters "
are inveterate poachers and the most difficult
to catch, since nothing short of the most direct
evidence of their being seen in the very act of
poaching would be sufficient to convict. Their
daily and hourly duties would satisfactorily
account for their presence in any part of a water
Otters have, from time immemorial, been
ranked very high among poachers, and credited
with doing great harm to the trout. It is, however, stated on good authority that, so long as
there are eels,  pike,  and frogs in  the water,
Otters. 78
Birds as
these will be preferred as food by the otters to
any Salmonidce. Where there is any doubt on
the point, as in this case, the safest plan is to
take the benefit of it. Hence the advice to be
given to the lessee of a fishery is to take every
opportunity of shooting or trapping any that
may be seen on the river or bye-streams. If
there should be a pack of otterhounds in the
neighbourhood, and the necessary permission
can be obtained from the farmers, an intimation
to the master of the hounds of the presence of
otters, and an invitation to fix a day for hunting
them on the stream, is an act of politeness which
should be rendered to a brother sportsman.
A large number of water birds must be classed
among the creatures which prey upon the
Salmonida? at various stages. Gulls and other
similar species of those bred in the sea are
occasionally seen far inland, especially in
abnormally cold or rough weather, and should
be ruthlessly shot by the keeper. Herons are
probably of all indigenous birds the most
dangerous enemies of the adult trout, not only
destroying what they require as food, but killing
and leaving others even when too large for
them to eat, seemingly from wanton cruelty.
They should of course be kept down, but they
are not easy to trap, and do not often venture
within range of a man carrying a gun. POACHERS.
Kingfishers are the most deadly foes of the fry
and smaller yearlings. Their appetite seems
insatiable, and the precision with which they
dart on and seize their prey is remarkable. No
sportsman likes to take the life of so beautiful a
bird as a kingfisher, although probably from the
view of the lessee of a fishery engaged in stocking up a river, all and every means should be
used to get rid of them. If there is a stew or
other place in which store fish are kept for any
time, nothing but a series of traps on posts and
an occasional charge from the keeper's gun will
serve to keep them down.
Swans and ducks do incalculable injury to
the eggs and alevins, if not to the fry. It may
be said that they are vegetable feeders, but no
one watching them busily at work on a shallow
during the early spring can have much doubt
that, whether they positively devour them
or not, they certainly do much mischief by
tearing up from the gravel, turning adrift, and
destroying the ova or newly hatched fry still
encumbered by the umbilical sac. Apart from
their injury to the fish themselves, ducks are an
unmitigated nuisance on any part of a river.
They devour Mayfly, and sometimes the smaller
Ephemerida? as fast as they hatch out. They
are always in the fisherman's way, and if driven
away disturb all the water over which they pass.
Swans and
ducks. ■■
In fact, after many years' experience, I can
only offer one word of advice to any lessee of a
fishery. If you have control of the water, do
not, under any condition, or to oblige any neighbour, allow a single duck on any part of the
fishery. If, after due warning to the owners,
they trespass, shoot them, and leave their bodies
to float down. In any case neither you yourself
nor your keeper should touch them, otherwise
you may be charged with theft. Moorhens and
dabchicks are probably to be credited with the
same propensities in the spawning shallows, and
should be kept down as far as possible.
Among fish, chub, perch, and eels are
certainly destructive; and overgrown trout,
especially old male fish, are dreadful sharks.
Roach, dace, bullheads, sticklebacks, and even
minnows, if too numerous, do harm by competing with the trout for the supply of food,
and it is questionable whether they do not
also at times feed on the ova, alevins, and
young fry. Wherever and whenever, in plying
nets or other means of catching fish, any of the
above are secured, it is hardly necessary to say
that they should not be returned to the water.
The late Francis Francis, in his " Practical
Management of Fisheries/' commences Chapter
" And now as to the enemies of trout.    These are chiefly POACHERS.
pike, birds, and poachers.    I put pike first because one *
4.1b. pike will do more mischief in a season than all the
poachers in the district."
For years, in the columns of the Field, he
kept on urging in the most forcible terms the
effects of neglecting to wage incessant war on
them. On many rivers his words of warning
were disregarded, and his predictions were only
too soon verified. Sport got worse and worse
as pike increased in numbers and size, until
now many parts of these streams are of small
value, and are occasionally let at a comparatively low rent to some stranger for a single
season. He never takes the water a second
season, and the local agent has to advertise
again in the hope of catching another flat.
It may possibly be imagined that the various
estimates of a pike's capacity have been exaggerated, and I would therefore give the following
examples of the undigested contents of pikes'
stomachs as revealed by autopsy:—On the
18th April, 1893, wired a pike 9m. long;
found tail of a partially digested trout quite
4m. long protruding from its jaws. On the
27th September, 1893, a pike 7^1b. was taken
in the nets; the contents of its stomach were
as follows : two small pike about 9m. long,
nine lamperns, five bullheads, and a trout
about i-^lb., with only head partially digested
Voracity of
pike. S2
and tail projecting from its mouth. March
26th, 1894, a pike 11 in. long wired in a hatch
hole, had three lamperns, two bullheads, and
two yearling trout in its stomach. October
3rd, 1894, a pike 2-Jlb. taken in net, with tail
of a trout quite fib. in its mouth. This trout
was scarcely dead when taken from the pike's
Take these four examples, multiply them by
the thousands of pike in a neglected trout
stream, consider the rapid rate at which they
inerease, and no further argument can be
needed to demonstrate the paramount necessity
of declaring war to the knife against Esox
[ AVING shown the necessity of killing
down the pike in every possible way,
the best method of effecting their
capture, viz., by netting, must now be considered.
If pike are plentiful, it is desirable that the
fishery should be thoroughly netted twice in the
year; the first, or spring netting, before the
commencement of the fishing season, when the
growth of the weeds has scarcely commenced;
the second, or autumn netting, after the close
of the trout season, and when all the weeds in
the river have been cut as closely as possible.
Of these the netting in the spring cannot be as
thorough as that of the autumn, as there will
certainly be patches of weeds in places which
will effectually shield pike, even if they do not
make the nets roll and liberate some of the fish
already entangled in their meshes. During the
first two or three years' tenure of a fishing that
G   2 84
has been neglected, it is, however, most
necessary, as a considerable number of pike are
thus captured just before or during the spawning
season; but when once their number has been
reduced to a minimum the spring netting may
be omitted, and only the autumn netting carried
out. Whether for the spring or the autumn
netting the same preliminaries are required,
the same nets are used, and all the special
methods and details are identical.
It is desirable that all arrangements should
be carefully planned some time beforehand, and
it is necessary that the riparian owners and
tenants, whether farmers or millers, should be
consulted before fixing the dates for commencing the netting. For the autumn netting
the weeds must, of course, have been cut, not
only in the main stream, but also in all bye-
streams, tributaries, carriers, and ditches wide
enough to hold pike. To net effectually, the
entire control of hatches and sluices should be
in the hands of the fishing keeper during the
netting, as he must be empowered to draw the
water down to the low level requisite, and, in
some cases, keep it at this low level for some
days, thus temporarily preventing the mills
working. He must make himself fully acquainted
with the state of the meadows adjoining the
river, as otherwise the lessee of the fishery may NETTING.
find himself confronted by a formidable claim
for compensation for flooding low-lying ground,
and perhaps destroying a crop of partially
made hay, or damage to sheep or lambs. It is,
however, found in practice that by giving long
notice, seeing tenants themselves and not their
servants, and generally treating them with
courtesy and consideration, the inherent difficulties of the position are usually overcome.
The dates should, if possible, be so fixed that
the entire water from top to bottom should be
netted in sections on consecutive days. On a
strange length it is a good plan to drag a heavy
chain down the stream a day or so before
commencing the netting. In this way the
presence of snags, stumps, old hurdles, or other
obstructions is discovered, and their position
determined, so that if they cannot be removed
precautions can be taken to save the damage
and delay caused by the nets fouling them.
The use of the chain will also indicate the
position of deep holes, and give some general
idea of the contour of the bed of the river in
the various reaches.
The method of netting laid down here cannot be carried out with less than three nets,
and it is needless to say that they should be of
the best quality. If they are not kept in a good
state of repair, if the material of which they
required* 86 MAKING A FISHERY,
are made is unreliable, or if there are holes or
broken meshes in them, they are comparatively
useless. They should be long enough to stretch
across the widest part of the stream, and deep
enough to reach to the bottom when the water
has been drawn down to the low level required
for carrying out the work. In theory, the smaller
the mesh and the finer the twine of which they
are made, the less chance there is for fish, large
or small, to escape, and therefore the more
effectually the work is done. On the other
hand, the heavier the twine of which the nets
are made the better they will wear, and the less
liability will there be for them to get torn or
broken by the weeds, confervoid, leaves, mud,
sticks, stones, and other rubbish they collect when
being dragged down.
It must also be remembered that the larger
the mesh the less will nets become clogged up
by the heterogeneous accumulations on the bed
of the river. It is therefore recommended that
they should be made of moderately stout twine
and of a moderately large mesh, be heavily
weighted so as to sink the lead line quickly,
and provided with plenty of bungs to float the
cork line. The much advertised machine-made
nets are not recommended. The twine of which
they are manufactured is far too thin for
rough usage.    They are generally insufficiently  w ^
weighted, and deficient in corks for floating.
Then, too, they cannot be properly repaired by
hand workers, and if sent to the manufacturers
the charge is so high as to be almost prohibitive. The chief varieties of nets to be
used for this work are the drag or flue net, the
trammel, and the purse net.
The flue or drag net, as shown on the accompanying plate, consists of two parts. Firstly,
the perpendicular wall of net from A to B ; and
secondly, the bag from B to D and back to C,
and extending the entire length of the net.
The line A A, called the head or cork line, has
fastened to it at intervals a series of corks, c c c,
to float the net. Evenly spaced between these
corks are also fastened to the line A A ordinary
horn rings, d dd. The line E E is simply passed
through the rings from end to end of the net, and
is fastened to the central ring only.
Attached to the line B B, at intervals, there
are short lengths of vertical line b b b, which
are also attached to the foot or lead line C C,
on which the pipe-shaped leads a a a, spaced
four to five inches apart, are carried. By this
arrangement when the net is dragged down, the
leads keep the lower side of the bag on the
ground, and the fish find their way into the bag
by the ten inches of open space at its mouth
from B to C.    In some nets instead of pipe
Drag nets. 88 MAKING A FISHERY.
leads a galvanised chain is substituted, and it is
said that the chain works better than the leads,
especially over weeds, as it is less liable to roll
or lift.
When hauling the drag net, both ends of the
cork line A A are brought round to the landing
bank, and the two ends of the line E E being
pulled in, the net is gathered up from the centre
until the corks are all close together, and the
entire length of the net a bag containing the
fish. To work satisfactorily, the line E E must
be moderately fine. Its only use is to gather up
the upper end of the net, and it should under no
circumstances be used for lifting.
The suggested dimensions of a drag net for
ordinary use are—length, eighteen yards ; depth
of the perpendicular portion A to B, four feet
six inches; depth of the bag from B to D and
back to C, four feet six inches; the corks four
inches in diameter and twenty-two inches apart ;
the whole net of quite strong twine and a two
and a half inch mesh throughout.
The tram- J.   C.  Wilcocks,   in  his   " Sea   Fisherman,"
under this heading, says : " The appellation of
this net is doubtless of French origin, for
' trammeln is evidently l trois mailles,' or three
meshes, which exactly describes the net. It
consists of a loose net of small meshes, or
sheeting, between  two  tighter nets   of  larger  w
meshes called the walling." In the accompanying plate the large square mesh of the
walling is shown in strong lines, and the fine
diagonal mesh of the sheeting is shown in comparatively faint lines. The sheeting must be
much longer and much wider than the walling
(some authorities say not less than twice the
length and twice the depth), and hence the
slack is shown lying on the ground in the plate.
Referring to the plate, A is the head or cork
line, and B the foot or lead line, a a a the corks
on the cork line to float the upper side of the
net, and b b b pipe-shaped leads strung on the
lead line four inches apart to sink the lower
side of the net. The ends of both lines A and
B are worked into loops for the convenience of
attaching ropes to them for hauling, Stc. For
lacing together two or more lengths of trammels
in an extraordinarily wide part of the stream, a
length of rope can be fastened to the loops on
the lead lines, worked round the vertical ropes
C at the end of each trammel, and fastened
round the loops of the cork line. The walling,
preferably square, should be of very strong
twine, fifteen inches mesh, and the sheeting of
fine twine, say two inches mesh. Altogether,
compared with the drag net, the trammel is
lighter in material and finer in the mesh of the
sheeting, but of about the same dimensions. 90
Purse net.
Labour for
The purse net, of which a plan is appended,
consists of a head or cork line A A, with corks
a a a fixed to it at intervals, and a foot or lead
line B B, with pipe-leads b bb attached to it at
intervals of four or five inches. It is usual to
have the centre cork considerably larger than
the others, to show the centre of the opening
to the purse, which, when the net is in use, is of
course under water. The net throughout is
of a small mesh, about two inches, and from a
short distance out from each end, a short distance above the lead line, and a short distance
below the cork line, the netting is done so as to
form a long furmel-shaped purse or bag, finishing in a point C at the centre of the net. It
is a better plan to have the purse made so that
instead of coming to a point at C, it should be a
square, opening, say, eight inches in width, and
a stout cord fastened a short distance above.
By this means the fine end of the purse is
closed by tying round with the cord when in
use; and when the net is hauled, by simply
untying the cord and opening the mouth, the
fish can be taken out, or any accumulation of
rubbish cleared from the net.
The nets being in order, and the dates for
netting having been decided, the next step is
to engage the labour required for the work.
Men accustomed to work in the water are to be
preferred, and a sensible keeper will avoid any
bearing a bad character or suspected of poaching. It is, of course, of advantage to employ
the same men from year to year. It must be
remembered, too, that being more or less wet
through all day, they are entitled to wages on a
proportionately liberal scale. The best plan is
to fix a daily rate of wages, to include beer, as
it is a great mistake to have anything to do
with providing this liquid refreshment. Countrymen fall into the error of imagining that frequent draughts of malt liquor or spirit tend to
raise temperature, and hence are apt to indulge
somewhat freely on these occasions. Probably
no amount of medical or other evidence would
convince them of the well-known fact that,
although for the moment alcohol or beer apparently raises the temperature, yet in the end it
tends to lower it, and that therefore anything
beyond a moderate allowance increases the
discomfort of remaining in the water. The
water level having been lowered as much as
possible, and all nets and gear brought to
the upper end of the reach to be netted on
the particular day, all is ready to commence
Someone, the head keeper for choice, should
be invested with full authority to direct everything, and it should be forcibly impressed on all
method of
netting a
reach. 92
present, whether the men working the nets, the
lessee himself, or any friends and spectators,
that his orders must be scrupulously obeyed by
all and every one. Having arrived at the head
of the length of water to be netted, the keeper
selects a convenient place at the lower end of
the reach where it is moderately shallow, and
where, if possible, there is a good sloping bank
on which to land the nets. Here the purse net
is set as a stop net. The cork line should be
carried  across, lifted well  up, and  the  purse
Fig. I.
cleared, so that it lies evenly down the centre of
the stream. It must be secured to stakes,
or held by men, one on each bank, so that the
strain is not sufficient to raise the lead line from
the bed of the river.
The trammel is set across the stream at the
upper end of the reach, and the drag net some
ten yards below it. Of course, care is taken
that the lead lines of both are on the bed of the
river, and the cork lines fully extended and none
of the corks foul of one another, or entangled in NETTING.
the cork line or meshes of the nets. The accompanying plan (Fig. I.) shows the positions of
the nets, A being the purse net set as a stop
net, B the drag net, and C the trammel.
The men dragging the nets, two to the drag
net and two to the trammel, are then started
walking quite slowly down in the water close to
either bank, or, if the water is too deep, on the
bank itself. The men must be drilled to keep in
line and maintain the distance between the two
Fig. II.
nets, and when working round a curve the men
on the inner or convex side must be taught to
regulate their pace by that of their fellow
labourers on the outer or concave side. A little
instruction will show them that the man on the
concave side has the longer distance to cover,
and thus the man on the convex must slow
down his pace, or, if necessary, even stand
When the heavy flue is within ten or twelve
yards of the stop net, the dragging of both nets
is discontinued, and the drag net itself is drawn 94
round to the landing bank. The accompanying
plan (Fig. II.) shows the position of the nets, A
being the stop net, B the drag net, and C the
trammel. Keeping the lead line well down, and
working slowly, the cork line is drawn from
either end so as to run through the rings,
and close the opening of the bag of the net.
It is then hauled out on to the bank, and all
fish, whether pike, dace, trout, or grayling,
taken from it.    The net is then carried back
Fig. III.
upon the meadow, run out, well shaken, and
cleared of all sticks, weeds, and mud; it is
then set across the stream ten yards above
the trammel.
The trammel is next dragged down to the
position occupied by the heavy flue before being
hauled, and simultaneously it and the stop net
are drawn round to the landing bank, the stop
net outside and encircling the trammel. The
accompanying plan (Fig. III.) shows the position
of   the   nets   at   this  moment,  A  being the
stop net, B the drag net or heavy flue, and C
the trammel. Working slowly, and keeping the
lead lines well down, and especially close to the
bank, taking care that the stop net should not
overlap or foul the trammel at this stage, first
the trammel is hauled and then the stop net;
fish are taken out, and both nets cleared of
rubbish. The stop net is then set at the lower
extremity of the next length to be netted, the
trammel is set across the stream ten yards
above the heavy flue, and the operation of
dragging repeated da capo.
The foregoing method is to be adopted when   Advantages
. i r i •   i     °* improved
netting the reaches or a stream, and special
attention is directed to one matter of detail connected with it. Formerly, when netting a
length of water with two drag nets and a stop
net, the custom was to haul the first, then the
second, with the stop net encircling it ; clean
all nets, and start again. It was found, however,
that when all three nets were on the bank, a
shoal of dace, or an occasional pike, would dash
up stream to the length which had been already
netted. So long as the water was clear and
shallow this could be seen, and the length
netted a second time. In deep water, however,
or water rendered thick and discoloured by the
tramping of the men with the nets, the extent
of the mischief could only be conjectured; and
method of
netting. 96 MAKING A  FISHERY.
hence the adoption of the improved plan of
setting the heavy flue temporarily as a stop net,
to prevent fish from escaping by swimming up
stream. At times and in places variations have
to be improvised to meet the exigencies of
particular cases : thus, for example, if there
should be an island in the middle of the stream,
the stop net should be placed below the island,
and the water at each side either netted down
separately, which would require two extra nets,
or, as an exceptional case, the water could be
dragged by one net only on each side, the two
nets coming into position and working one
behind the other in the main stream below the
Use of the All  ditches  and   carriers  leading   into   the
stream should be well beaten down with poles,
or trodden down by the men just before the
nets have reached the point of their juncture
with the river, so as to scare all the fish out of
them. A few short trammels are useful in such
cases to set across the mouths of such ditches
as stop nets, or the men treading them down
can remain in the water, splashing, and preventing the pike from retreating into the
carriers until the nets have been dragged past
them. Stamping on the banks close to the
edge may drive out pike that have taken refuge
in rat holes or cavities in the sides.
third net.
The advantages derived from dragging two
nets in place of one, especially if the upper one
is a trammel, cannot be too strongly insisted
upon. In working upon this improved method,
the number of pike that strike the heavy drag
net and escape, either by finding a way over
the top line, between the corks, or by forcing
a way through the meshes, is quite surprising.
Under the old method every one of these got
clean away. Now, however, the jaunty air with
which they gaily swim up stream, no doubt congratulating themselves on their escape, to find
themselves helplessly entangled in the meshes
of the sheeting of the trammel, which their own
rush up stream, combined with the downward
movement of the net, has driven through the
walling, makes the situation almost comical.
The only disadvantage of the trammel is that
a number of trout and grayling, especially small
ones, which have eluded the heavy drag net,
are bagged, and, unless great care is taken in
freeing them from the fine meshes there is likely
to be serious mortality among store fish.
To carry out netting on these lines it is
desirable to have not less than six strong, willing
men—one to each end of each net. It may
appear to a casual reader that four would be
sufficient, as after setting the stop net the
two men in charge have apparently nothing to
Number of
required. MAKING A  FISHERY.
do until the two nets have been drawn down
within a short distance of it. If economy is the
desideratum, these men could in the meantime
be employed in pulling one of the nets; but if
efficiency is considered all important, the necessity of having plenty of hands cannot be too
forcibly urged. In many of the deeper parts of
most chalk streams there are places where the
men pulling the nets sink into the mud up to
their knees, or even deeper, and under such
conditions the greatly increased exertion is apt
to make them shirk the deep mud, and allow
coarse fish to escape. When a man, walking
on the bank, keeps the rope at each end of the
net taut, the labour of making way through the
mud is much decreased. If by any chance a
man gets stuck in the mud, it is well to impress
on those trying from the bank to help him out,
that they should only keep the rope tight.
With this assistance he can almost invariablv
struggle out, and the danger of serious injury
by wrenching or dislocation is only increased by
pulling violently at the rope.
The two men who are free after setting the
stop net are available for this purpose ; also for
such duty as treading out pike from places
under overhanging bushes and other positions
where the nets cannot be dragged. Then, too,
they   can   be  utilised   for  driving pike out of NETTING.
ditches and carriers by splashing and walking
them down before the nets reach their junction
with the main river, and when arrived at the
mouth of the ditch they can remain there,
tramping and splashing to prevent the fish
from getting back into the ditch. They can
also at times relieve the men dragging the
All coarse fish taken, as well as any ill-conditioned or old trout that have to be knocked
on the head, should be given away in the
adjacent villages, and this might have the effect
of removing from the rustic mind any lurking
suspicion of the netting being undertaken for
the purpose of deriving pecuniary advantage
from the sale of the proceeds. Two sharp
active boys, in addition to the men, can be
profitably employed in carrying down the various
implements required, and, where practicable,
a wheelbarrow is a convenient form of conveyance. Plenty of spare ropes should be
carried, as also strong twine for the temporary
repair of broken meshes in the nets, a sack for
the coarse fish, a couple of large bait cans or a
carrier of the milk churn form in which to keep
trout or grayling alive until they can be returned
to the stream, a good strong galvanised pail for
fetching and carrying fresh water to the bait
cans, stakes for fixing the stop net, poles or
bamboos for beating out places or for clearing
any net which should get foul in deep water.
Even in the presence of the lessee or
proprietor of the water, the head keeper should
be in command, and direct every detail. He
should not attempt to do much himself, but
having seen that the stop net is securely fixed
at the point selected by him, should follow the
two nets as they are dragged down on the
bank, and in case of any hitch his assistance
should always be available to clear a net. He
should continually remind them that for effectual
netting there must be no hurrying, but that
while it is essential to keep the nets moving,
they can scarcely move too slowly. The drawing round of the nets must not be hurried, and
the lead line must be kept well down.
When a net is once on the bank all trout and
grayling should be promptly taken out; old or
ill-conditioned specimens should be knocked
on the head, and the remainder deposited in
the bait cans or carriers, which should be filled
with water before the net is hauled. The pail
should also be kept full, and fresh water poured
from it'into the cans as often as possible if they
are in any way crowded, or if the fish show signs
of exhaustion. It is of advantage, too, to pour
the water from a height into the cans, for the
sake of more thorough and rapid aeration. NETTING.
The ideal keeper should always be at the
point of danger ; he should seldom, if ever,
raise his voice, and yet he must insist on
implicit and immediate obedience from everybody concerned. The lessee of the fishing, if
present, should not interfere with the keeper, or
do anything likely to undermine his authority.
He can, however, do good service by taking off
the keeper's shoulders the most necessary and
important work of keeping accurate records of
the fish taken at each haul. He can, if he
likes, also undertake the duty of looking after
the trout and grayling in the cans, and see to
their being properly supplied with fresh water
until the nets have progressed far enough to
enable him to return them to the river. When
doing this he should be careful not to throw
in the fish with violence, or so that they should
fall flat on the water, as the concussion may
stun, or even kill them. He should make it
a rule to wait until all the fish returned to the
river have moved away from the side; otherwise the first loafer coming along is only too
likely to pick them up and knock them on the
It is well to map out the successive days'
netting so that each evening's work should, if
possible, terminate at a hatch. As a considerable   number   of    both   coarse   fish   and
records of
netting. IQ2
Netting a
hatch hole.
Salmonidce are often driven down by the
lowering of the water and the dragging of the
nets, a plan recently adopted with advantage
has been to net the hatch hole at the end of the
day's work, and return the trout or grayling
to the river above. The next morning's work
should commence with another netting of the
hatch hole, and, according to the views of the
lessee, the trout and grayling should either be
turned back above, or into the hatch hole
When netting a hatch hole, the hatches
should be closed, to lower the water as much as
possible. If the shallow bar below the hatch
hole is almost dry a stop net is unnecessary,
but if there are four or five inches of water on
it the stop net should be set as usual. One of
the other nets, either the drag net or the
trammel only, will be required to clear the hole.
After splashing or poking any fish out from
under the apron the net should be dropped in
close to it and steadily drawn round to the stop
net; hauled, emptied, and cleaned. This should
be repeated as often as any pike are secured ; or,
if it is desirable to move trout out of it, as long
as there are trout in the net.
The following table is an accurate record of
the results of careful netting of a length of
trout water for the years 1893 and 1894.    For NETJING.
convenience of reference it is divided into six
sections, numbered consecutively, from the upper
end of the water to the lower.
Section I. is about two miles in length, and
is practically free from pike, as the four netted
out of it during the two years referred to were
all taken within a hundred yards of the lower
end of it. Section II., in which are included a
considerable number of tributaries and carriers,
measures about two and a half miles, and the
remaining. Sections, Nos. III., IV., V., VI., are
approximately one mile each.
Sect.   Sect.
I.     1  II.
Spring netting   	
First autumn netting
Second   „         „
Total for 1893...
3 I116.
Spring netting   	
First autumn netting
Second   „          „
26       72
62   1175
IO       17
Total for 1894...
98     264
These figures are given in detail to show that
with the most careful work a certain number of
pike manage to elude the nets.    It also shows 104
The weak
points of
that persistent netting will, in time, thin their
ranks. Too much stress cannot be laid upon
matters of detail connected with this branch of
the work. No enemy is so deadly throughout
the year, so generally present in chalk streams,
and so insatiable in appetite, as the pike ; and
no method of killing down is so efficacious as
the net. As, in spite of all care, a certain
proportion manage to escape, it is to be feared
that the most persevering work will not succeed
in extirpating the enemy from the streams in
which he has once become established. A
knowledge of the means by which they do
escape may, however, be of use, as well as
interest, to lessees and proprietors of trout
Many of the coarse fish will always be small
enough to get through the meshes of the nets,
and although at the first glance it would appear
that the mesh might be almost indefinitely
reduced, yet in practice this is only possible to
a limited extent. In every stream there are
more or less of natural obstructions, such as
mud, weeds, stumps, roots, stones, &c, and
wherever a river flows through villages or towns
it is, unfortunately, the daily custom of the
inhabitants to throw into it much of their broken
glass and crockery, their empty tins, and worn-
out kettles and pans.    The smaller the mesh NETTIAG.
the more of these miscellaneous articles are
gathered as the net is dragged down, and the
more often it is necessary to haul ashore and
clear it; the sooner also it is torn and destroyed,
and of course a hole or tear in a net is fatal to
Wherever the mud on the bed of the stream
is a few inches deep, it is only necessary for a
fish to bury itself in it, or to take up its position
behind a stump or large stone, to be in comparative security ; it will only be inconvenienced
to the extent of feeling the lead line scrape over
its back. However closely the weeds may be
cut, there are sure to be small patches left here
and there, and it is surprising how small a clump
will raise the leads sufficiently to let them pass
over any fish which has taken shelter under
Wherever there is an extra deep hole there is
a chance of escape for fish under the net if the
leads are not heavy enough to sink the corks,
and over the net if they are. Every bough,
root, or stump, projecting into the water, as
well as every part where the outline of the bank
is irregular, or much riddled by rat-holes, is a
hiding-place for the crafty ones among the pike.
In many places the mud silts up close to the
banks, owing to the force of the current being
greater in the central portion of the river.    The 106 MAKING A  FISHERY.
natural tendency of the men dragging the nets
under these circumstances is to take a pace
outwards from the bank on to the harder
ground, and thus save themselves the labour
and inconvenience of having to toil along, step
after step, up to their knees in the mud. As
soon as they do this pike after pike will take
the opportunity of escaping by swimming up
in the space between the men and the bank,
and if the water is, as usually happens, discoloured by the tramping about, their escape is
unnoticed, even by those directing the operations.
The use of two nets, dragged one behind the
other down towards the third or stop-net, and
the adoption of the improved method of working,
described in a previous paragraph of this
chapter, certainly tend to remove one source of
danger in this respect. Where this improvement is adopted one net is always above the
water to be netted, and the fish never have the
chance of dashing upstream, and, for the time,
getting away altogether.
Netting to be The most vital point, and one requiring increasing attention, is to check the tendency
which invariably exists on the part of the men
to hurry the nets. It appears as if their one
aim was to get over the ground as rapidly as
possible, and one would imagine that their
notion of the proceedings was that the greater
done slowly. NETTING.
the distance dragged in a day the more satisfactory would be the result. Some of the old
school of keepers employed on large estates,
whose experience has been gained in breeding
pheasants and trapping vermin, and who are
therefore confident that they know all about a
fishing keeper's duties, are the worst offenders
in this matter. They have been taught that
the less the labour bill for netting the more
they should be commended, but are quite
oblivious of the fact that the netting of a river
is undertaken and the expense incurred for the
purpose of effectually killing down coarse fish.
Whenever the pace at which a net is travelling
is much faster than the current, the lead line is
sure to lift from the ground and the cork line
to dip below the surface, leaving two means
of escape, one above and one below the net.
When a net is being hauled ashore, undue
haste will infallibly raise the leads and liberate
some proportion of the fish enfolded or meshed.
Hence it cannot be too steadily and strongly
impressed on the head keeper in charge of
the work that the Italian maxim, " Chi va piano
va sano," applies, and he should ever convey
to his men the caution not to hurry while
dragging the nets, and to keep the lead line
well down and close to the bank when hauling
them. 108 MAKING A  FISHERY.
Netting by On   some  waters  the lessor undertakes the
lessor not ...
satisfactory. payment and consequently the direction of the
keepers, and the tenant is usually told that the
length he rents has been thoroughly netted on
certain days during his absence. Sometimes it
is delicately suggested that he should give a
gratuity to the keeper to be distributed among
the men working the nets, and sometimes even
he is coolly asked to pay for the extra labour.
If he is liberal and moderately easy going, he
frequently accedes to this request under the
pleasing delusion that the work has been well
and effectually done. If he had only been
present he would have seen how a single net had
been raced down stream as fast as the men could
travel and, without any stop net being fixed,
periodically hauled out. If he had the opportunity of contrasting this with real good work
carried out with two nets dragged down slowly
to a stop net, he might have some idea of the
miserable sham for which he had been induced
to pay.
A curious illustration of this occurred to me
some short time since. A local under-keeper,
out of situation, called on me to get appointed
to a vacant post on a water I was superintending.
He told me that he had been fisherman, as he
called it, for some years on an adjoining
property, that he was a native of the place, and NETTING.
knew every inch of the stream we rented. By
way of impressing on me a due sense of his
knowledge, he volunteered the information that
he could do the netting much more effectually
and at a much smaller cost than the present
head keeper. He said that a stop net was quite
unnecessary, as every pike rushed up-stream
when the net was dragged down. He added
that the trammel dragged down behind the flue
was absolutely useless. He seemed somewhat
staggered when shown from my rough memorandum book that nearly fifty per cent, of the
pike netted were taken by the stop net and
trammel. However, he added in a triumphant
tone, " They certainly rob you in taking so
many days over the work," and suggested that
he could net the entire water, ditches, carriers,
tributaries, and main stream easily in two days.
Measured accurately on the large-scale Ordinance map, the total length of all the streams
to be netted amounted to over eight and a half
miles, so that he fancied he could net over four
miles per day. As a matter of fact it takes
nine or ten full days to net this stretch of water
properly and effectually. It is, perhaps, needless to add, that this sapient rustic did not
secure the vacant post.
Trout are even better at eluding the nets
than pike, and when you are told that a water
Netting trout. no MAKING A FISHERY.
has been thoroughly dragged it is good policy
to discover what number of trout have been
taken. As a rule, however, it will be found
that no accurate record has been kept, but that
the number taken has been approximately estimated. It is safe to infer that this estimate is
greatly in excess of the actual number; so
much so, that no adequate idea can be arrived
at by the deduction of any percentage. It may
be safely asserted that, provided the work is
properly done with three nets as described
herein, a small proportion will have been captured. It is also safe to infer that the proportion of trout escaping the nets will have been
larger than that of the pike.
Netting dace. Of all fish that are usually present in any
number in the ordinary run of chalk streams,
dace are the most difficult to catch. When the
three nets are comparatively close together,
and a shoal of large dace can be seen between
the lower drag net and the stop net, it looks
like a certainty, and yet when hauled the result
will often be only two or three fish. How they
get away is sometimes a mystery, although of
course the small ones can pass through any but
the very finest mesh. They keep together
in a shoal, swimming backwards and forwards
in the ever-decreasing area between the nets.
Presently one finds a hole in the net, or a space NETTING. in
between it and the bank, or a place midway
between two corks where the cork line is
slightly submerged, or a place where the net is
raised by a stone, and the entire shoal one after
another will dash through the same weak point.
Perhaps the best time to secure them is in the
spring, when they are congregating on the
shallows preparatory to spawning, or engaged
in the work of reproduction. Even then, however, it is doubtful work, although perseverance
will in time produce an appreciable diimfN&k*n
of their numbers. CHAPTER VII.
places to net.
S shown in the last chapter, although
netting is the most efficacious method
of destroying pike wholesale, yet a
certain proportion of these pests do manage to
elude the nets. There are also places where
netting is almost, if not quite, impossible;
places where the growth of weeds is too dense,
or the stream too rapid or too deep for the
nets. Then, too, the reaches flowing past
gardens of cottages or small houses, where
from time immemorial the river bed has been
used as the receptacle for every worn-out or
broken article of hardware, crockery, or glass,
until it has become a perfect chevaux de /rise,
over which a net dragged for a few yards would
be quickly destroyed.
Then, again, in the hatch holes, which
generally harbour some of the largest pike,
there are sometimes stakes studded with tenter
hooks or other obstructions, which would tear
the nets to pieces, and the depth is occasionally
too great to be successfully manipulated by
nets designed for use in the shallower part of
the stream. Besides, at all times of the year
the pike in greater or lesser numbers are to be
found in carriers, ditches, and even the narrow
irrigation ruts cut across the water meadows,
many of which, being only a few feet wide,
cannot be dragged by the wide nets used for
the main stream. If, however, it is intended to
do the work thoroughly, nowhere and under no
conditions must efforts be slackened, nor should
a single day's relaxation be permitted from the
continual warfare to be waged on the pike.
A few pike can be captured by spinning over
likely places with natural or artificial baits, and
the only objection to this method is that an
occasional trout will take the minnow and dace,
and get so badly hooked that its life has to be
sacrificed. On some days, too, when they are
basking in the sun, a few can be shot, but if
they are more than two or three inches below
the surface, it is scarcely worth while wasting a
cartridge on them, as the water deflects the
.shot, and breaks the force to so great an extent
as to render them comparatively safe. Spearing is advised by some authorities, and the
spear should be a heavy, three-pronged one, as
Use of spinning bait and
Extermination of pike
shown on sketch (Fig. IV.) It should be screwed
on to a strong ash handle, or, better still, on
the point of an old, stiff, three-jointed jack
According to the experience, however, of the
best keepers, a combination of nets, trimmers,
and wires, each persistently used in the place
and under the conditions best suited to it, will
be found the most efficacious means of keeping
down these pests. The details of the netting
were fully explained in the last chapter, and
in  this it is   intended  to  give the  necessary
Fig. IV.
instructions for the use of the trimmer and wire.
No means, however, yet devised will absolutely
eradicate pike from a river, so that in a properly
managed trout stream the keepers must never
cease from their efforts to catch and destroy
every one they see by any means in their power.
Even if it were possible to kill down all one's
pike, it must be remembered that every one
of us is certain to suffer from the neglect of WIRING.
our neighbours to do  the   same  on  adjoining
In hatch holes or in deep eddying corners of
the main river there are generally large pike.
They often escape the nets and are frequently
too artful to fall victims to the angler with rod,
line,   and   spinning  bait.      For   their   capture
Use of
Fig. V,
nothing is so effective as a trimmer. The best
form of trimmer is illustrated on the accompanying plate (Fig. V.), and it is made as follows :
A supple stick, eight or ten feet long, and the
thickness of a little finger at the small end, is
driven firmly into the ground, so as to project
over the hatch hole or eddy. The runner, made
of a forked stick with arms six or seven inches
in length, is attached to the end A of the long
stick by a short length of strong water cord
passed through a hole (B) bored in the base of
the runner. The line, which should be of stout
water cord, is fastened to the runner at C, and
is wound in and out of the arms of the
runner, and the end of the slack fixed in a
slit (D) made at the extremity of one of the
arms for that purpose. About ten or twelve
yards of line are sufficient, and three or four
yards of loose line are left hanging below the
slit. A moderate-sized double hook on gimp is
fastened to the line, a lively dace or other bait
threaded to the hook by a baiting needle passed
diagonally upwards under the skin, from a point
near one of the ventral fins, coming out on the
back at a point on a line with the pectoral fins.
The bait is thrown in and left to swim about in
the water without lead or other incumbrance.
Sooner or later the bait may be taken, and the
pull will release the line from the slit, allowing
it to unwind from the arms of the runner. The
pike will gorge the bait, effectually hooking
itself, and as it plunges the suppleness of the
stick will play it until it is exhausted.
The  bait  should  be   fair-sized,  say a dace
of four or five ounces;  if very small ones are WIRING.
used they are often taken by trout, which are
generally so much injured by the coarse hook
as to succumb. For a large pike there is no
better trimmer bait than one of his smaller
brethren. Grayling do not make good baits,
but possibly a lively trout of about -Jib. would
prove very attractive to a large pike. Frogs
are fairly good baits, but the objection to these
is that trout often take them, especially if they
are small. A dead bait is sometimes successful, but it should only be used when live ones
are not procurable.
When once a large pike has been seen in a
deep hole, it is only a question of time to secure
it, although occasionally many baits are killed or
torn from the trimmer before the pike is hooked.
If, after persevering for some days, a fish known
to be in a particular place does not take the
bait set in the manner before described, it is
well to try if the following alteration of the
depth at which the bait works will attract it :
Fasten a stone or bullet, a couple of ounces in
weight, to the line, leaving two or three feet
between it and the bait. Lower the lead or
stone gently into the hole. This keeps the line
down while the bait swims about above it quite
freely near the bottom of the water, instead of
working near the surface, as it does when
adopting the method previously described. n8
The wire. There is  this objection to the use of nets,
deadly as they are,—they cannot be used at
a minute's notice or in every place where a pike
is seen. There is, however, an instrument
which in the hands of an expert is almost as
deadly as a net, and is always at hand—this is
the wire. To make it, take a length of brass
wire, either single or of two or three strands
twisted together, according to the size, of the
pike to be wired. At one end of it, marked A on
the accompanying plate (Fig. VI.), twist a small
Fig. VI.
open loop or eye and pass the wire through this
eye so as to form a running noose. At the
other end of the wire (B) make another eye, and
through it pass a piece of stout twine. C D
is the stick to which the wire is fastened by a
few turns of the twine, as shown on the plate*
At the end (C) of the stick a deep notch, or
split is made, and the wire is pressed into this
notch to steady it.   The wire, when fixed, should
be in effect a prolongation of the fine end of the
stick, and the noose should be of larger or
smaller diameter, according to the size of the
pike, and should run freely. A stick for the
purpose can often be cut from the nearest
hedge, and as every keeper carries a few wires
in his pocket, he can always, at an emergency,
rig up the gear in this way. A bamboo cane of
16ft. to 20ft. in length is far more handy, and
can be recommended for permanent use. It
tapers naturally, balances to the hand, costs
the merest trifle, and with ordinary care will
last for years.
The keeper, with the fine end of the bamboo
in his hand and the heavy end trailing on the
ground behind him, should go out preferably on
calm, sunny days in the morning, and, walking
gently up the stream or carrier, keep a sharp
look-out for any pike lying basking in the sun.
As soon as he catches sight of one, having
adjusted the size of the noose and seen that it
runs freely, he should approach the water with
slow and wary footsteps, taking care that his
shadow does not fall on the water, noting
exactly where the pike lies and in which direction its head is pointing. Placing himself in
position, if possible at right angles to his quarry,
and, keeping his eyes fixed on the pike, he
should, with his hand quite low down, quietly
Use of the
extend the stick and lower the noose slowly into
the water a short distance above the pike's nose.
If the pike moves he must cautiously withdraw
the wire and commence again. When the fish
remains quite still he should gradually work the
wire noose over the pike's head. It is well to
note that, as a rule, the tendency is to locate
the pike higher up in the water and nearer to
the operator than it really is, and hence the
advice to keep the wire as near the bed of the
river as possible. As soon as the noose is fairly
round the middle of the pike's body, i.e., in front
of the dorsal fin, the keeper, standing with his
body bending well forwards and his arm fully
extended towards the water, should sharply, but
without jerk, draw the handle of the stick back
with a swing. The noose running up will then
grip the pike, whose weight will keep the wire
taut, and he should sling it underhanded on to
the bank at his side. A single tap, just where
the skull and spinal cord join, with a short stick
kept for the purpose, should prevent further
depredations as far as the particular pike is
Up to the moment of actual wiring, it is of
importance that every movement should be
slow and deliberate. The operator should
never take his eyes off a pike when he has
once  caught  sight of  it.    The  rustic  theory WIRING.
that the pike is so deeply engaged in watching
the man's eye that it does not notice the wire in
front of its nose is ingenious; also another
theory, that there is some snake-like fascination
in the man's eyes that keeps the fish spell-bound.
The obvious advantage of keeping one's attention fixed on the fish is that, should it not lie to
the wire, but dart off, the movement can be
followed, and, as soon as the pike has settled, a
fresh attempt may be made. Occasionally this
may happen five or six times, and the last effort
be crowned with success.
On some days fish after fish will lie still and fall
a victim, and on other days, notwithstanding
every care, the pike seem imbued with a preternatural sense of danger, so that it appears
impossible to get the wire near them. As a
rule, hot, calm days are favourable, and windy,
cloudy, or cold ones unfavourable, for the work.
It is also worthy of notice that, in the forenoon,
pike generally lie far better to the wire than
later in the day. When once it is obvious that
the day is unfavourable, it is better to postpone the work to a later opportunity; to go on
is only to make the pike more and more shy and
unapproachable. Often, if a fish darts away
from the wire and goes to weed, the application
of the butt end of the bamboo will drive it out,
and sometimes, after being driven out several
Best time for
use of wire. MAKING A  FISHERY.
Advantage of
wiring pike
times, the pike will be apparently cowed and lie
motionless until the fatal noose is over it.
In the early spring, when most of the pike are
up the ditches and carriers preparatory to
spawning, a zealous keeper will be out day after
day, and the number of pike he can wire is
surprising. When a pair of fish are together in
a ditch, it is most frequently the case that, of
the two, the larger is the female and the smaller
the male. The advice has been given to wire
the male and leave the female for a day or
two, as, generally, another male fish will arrive
to assist her in the work of reproduction. In
theory, this sounds feasible; but in practice, the
danger of being too late with the female, and
allowing her to deposit her ova, is ever present,
and hence, perhaps, the safest maxim is " Carpe
diem," and wire both male and female when you
have the chance.
It is a good plan to have a few spare bamboos and wires about a fishery, kept in places
where the poachers cannot get at them. If, too,
one can once persuade one's friends to try
wiring on an occasional off day, when the fish
are not rising, it is wonderful how soon they take
to it, and get quite keen about it. I have
known cases where one's guests will prefer pike
wiring to trout fishing, especially in the bright,
hot days, when the trout are unapproachable, WIRING.
and the pike seem as silly as possible. The
number of pike to be taken by the wire is
limited only by the stock in the river and the
perseverance of the keeper. I know of one
keeper who, in the latter half of February
and March, 1893, wired 240 pike, and in the
same water wired 366 more between the spring
and autumn netting, A good many of these
were from five to eight inches in length, and
would have escaped through the meshes of the
net to prey upon the fry for another year, had
not the wire (a single one) cut their career
short. These were chiefly taken in the meadow
hatches, after the water had been diverted.
Such places should therefore be carefully looked
over on the first and earliest opportunity.
Persistent work with nets, trimmer, and wire,
of course, in time thin down the ranks of the
pike, but perhaps their effect is even more
noticeable in the direction of the decrease of
average size. Thus, in a piece of water where
careful records were kept, in 1893, out °f a
total of 2087 there were taken forty-three pike
of 2^1b. or over, while in the same water in 1894
only nine out of 836 weighed as much as 2^1b. CHAPTER VIII.
of natural
[HERE are possibly a few owners of
water who still cling to the exploded
theory that the natural reproduction
alone in a river much fished is sufficient to
keep up the stock. In other words, they
believe that the number of naturally-bred trout
which in each season reach maturity will suffice
to make up the deficiency caused by the
raid of the poachers, whether human, furred,
feathered, or scaled, as well as the number
killed by the more legitimate methods of the
sportsman. Probably no amount of argument,
no careful statistics of figures, no examples of
the great benefit accruing to various fisheries
from systematic stocking, would make any impression upon them. Yet there are undoubtedly
among those holding this theory a certain
number of proprietors of water who have no
desire to sacrifice the fishing in order to save STOCKING.
expense—sportsmen who do not let the water
nor attempt to derive any pecuniary advantage
from it, but keep it purely and only for their
friends and their own sport. I have heard, on
good authority, of one sportsman of this class
who actually introduced pike into his water !
There is, however, among the opponents of
stocking a class for whom the true sportsman
can have no sympathy—proprietors of trout
water, who either let the entire fishing by the
season or take in a number of rods to whom it is
altogether a matter of profit and loss, coupled,
if possible, with free fishing for themselves and
an occasional friend. Their notion is, that the
greater the rent they can obtain and the smaller
the amount they have to expend, whether on
keepers, weed cutting, stocking, or other neces*
sary work, the larger is their profit. They seem
to overlook the fact that the effect of this policy
must be, in the end, to kill the goose that lays
the golden eggs.
There are even now, at the end of the nineteenth century, a few who honestly believe that
putting artificially-bred fish into a river has some
dreadful and inexplicable effect on the old inhabitants of the stream ■ in fact, some go so far
as to say that, if not the chief, this is one of
the chief causes of the serious and progressive
decline in sport during the last few years.    If
Opponents of
stocking. MAKING A  FISHERY.
their argument went no further than to allege
that trout bred artificially and fed in captivity
did not, when left to shift for themselves, take
to fly or surface food, it might, although contrary to the experience of pisciculturists, have
some weight. When, however, on this frail
foundation they try to build up so colossal a
superstructure as the statement that the trout
already in the river—born and bred there and
used to find their own food—in some way catch
the complaint and cease to feed on insects, the
very extravagance of their assertion proves the
weakness of their case.
It is said that this stocking, or, as some say,
overstocking, with tame fish is producing an
artificial state of things, but it is too late to
advance this argument. The necessity for such
stocking is brought about by an even more
artificial state of things—viz., that of having
thousands of anglers frequenting waters that are
not fairly capable of accommodating a tithe of
their number, and still further aggravated by the
spread of dry fly, by which every rising fish on
every day in the season is more or less educated
by the sight of artificial flies floating over him.
It might be urged that this education is of itself
a partial remedy to the over-fishing from the
fact of its decreasing the number of fish killed.
However, modern improvements in artificial flies STOCKING.
Reply to
and superior skill on the part of the anglers
themselves have fully kept pace with the education of the fish, so that the total number of fish
killed has largely increased, although probably
each individual does worse and gets less sport.
To the proprietors of fisheries who say that
their waters do not require stocking, as there
are plenty, or even too many, fish already in the
stream; to those who argue that the natural
increase is more than sufficient to counterbalance the loss by the fisherman's captures
and other causes, I would respectfully proffer
the advice not to waste their time by reading
this chapter. They have no desire to be convinced of the possibility of their being mistaken.
To those who consider the question from the
view of being desirous to save their pockets,
who are generally gifted with the convenient
faculty of being able to prove to their own
satisfaction the truth of any theory they wish
to believe, I would counsel a study of the two
following paragraphs. It is barely possible,
although unlikely, that they may thereby be
induced to believe that, even from a financial
point of view, stocking a stream judiciously is
likely to prove successful.
In the year 1890 the Hungerford Club TheWiiton
resolved to abandon their old water on the ciub/S "^
Kennet.     After    considerable    trouble    their 128 MAKING A  FISHERY.
respected honorary secretary (Mr. H. Collins)
succeeded in finding and obtaining a lease
(which they gladly adopted) of upwards of ten
miles of the river Wylye. It extended from
about half a mile above the village of Steeple
Langford to the town of Wilton, and the name
was accordingly changed to the Wilton Fly
Fishing Club. On this length of water everything had been neglected. The shallows had
not been cleaned ; the weeds were cut or not
according to the fancy of the millers and
farmers; pike and coarse fish had been allowed
to increase and multiply; poachers had worked
their wicked ways unchecked ; and, it is
perhaps needless to add, no stocking had been
Systematic killing down of pike and other
coarse fish amounted in the aggregate for the
years 1890, 1891, 1892, and 1893 to no less
than 3619 pike and 13,056 other coarse fish.
Stocking was during the same period carried
out on a most liberal scale, over 4000 trout of
two years old and upwards, over 16,000 yearlings, 45,000 fry, and 24,000 ova having been
introduced, as well as 534 grayling (averaging
1 Jib.), 500 yearlings, and 35,000 ova.
Here was a typical case of a thoroughly
neglected chalk stream, the value of which, in
its then depleted condition, was quite nominal. STOCKING.
Four years of good management, and an apparently somewhat lavish expenditure on introducing new stock, produced a length of water
so improved, and on which the sport was so
good, that although both the subscription and
entrance fees are high, not only has the club its
full complement of members, but there are in
addition applications for membership from more
anglers than in the ordinary course of events
are likely to be elected in the next five years.
At the same time, a very substantial rent has
been paid to the proprietor, who before this
received nothing for the water, and considerable
sums of money are brought into circulation in
the surrounding villages by the members.
Although I am not one of those who are
persuaded that what is called the natural
system alone will suffice to keep up a head of
fish equal to the demands of the modern
sportsman, yet I should be the last to deprecate
in any way the policy of doing everything
possible to encourage the natural reproduction
of a river. Although it is well known that the
percentage of ova fertilised in a state of nature
is very small, and of those hatched out even
smaller, and that of the resulting alevins and
fry only a minute fraction will escape the
ravages of their numerous enemies to arrive at
maturity, yet, for what it is worth, they are free
The natural
system. i3°
of introducing
fresh strain.
from the supposed taint of artificial feeding and
artificial breeding.
The majority of modern pisciculturists are of
opinion that natural reproduction is of minor
importance as compared with the benefits
accruing from turning in artificially-hatched
trout. It may be argued that it is so manifestly
to the advantage of the fish breeder to encourage the purchase of store fish for stocking,
that his opinion on this point must be accepted
with a certain amount of reservation. Experience however goes to prove that where no
fresh blood has been introduced for many years,
the trout are in worse condition, and give less
sport, and that in such cases stocking with a
new strain is invariably productive of good
results in subsequent generations. To this extent we are all in accord with the pisciculturist;
but when he attempts to summarise this in the
statement that the natural spawning of the trout
in the river is a quantite negligeable, we at
once join issue with him. The stock of fish in
a river cannot be adequately kept up, either in
quantity or quality, without turning in fish
purchased from outside sources, but at the same
time the successful deposition and fertilisation
of the indigenous ova, as well as the hatching
out and growth of the young trout, should be
in every way fostered and encouraged.
The ideal conditions required for a spawning
bed are well known—a good and continuous
supply of pure water, not varying greatly in
temperature, and flowing at a good pace over a
clean, bright, sharp, gravel shallow. The supply
of pure water and. the shallows fit for spawning beds are present in almost all chalk
streams ; but unfortunately the hand of man
has too frequently, in what he calls the march
of civilisation, completely revolutionised the
conditions.. First, there is a village on the
stream, in which the population gradually increases ; then some so-called system of
drainage is taken in hand, resulting in the
poisoning of the river and fouling of the water.
The mischief does not even cease here, as
the presence of sewage stimulates the growth
of certain forms of sub-aqueous vegetation,
usually the forms least desirable for the food
supply of the fish. These weeds choke up the
stream, and collect around their roots and stems
every particle of earth held in suspension by
the water. The weeds in time rot down and
become mud, adding to the stratum already
deposited in the stream, until at length the
bright, fresh gravel is covered to a thickness
of many inches with filthy black mud. Any
eggs deposited on this mud, if by chance fertilised, rarely hatch out, and when they do the
K 2 132
Difficulty of
number of
fish spawning.
alevins are weakly, and seldom survive to reach
the fry stage.
Although numerous Acts have been passed
to cope with this question, they seem of little
avail to check pollution. In fact, until some
positive epidemic directly traceable to the use
of impure water breaks out, and draws public
attention to the scandal, the pollution Acts are
worse than useless. The only resource for an
unfortunate lessee of fishing is to counteract the
evil as far as he can by cutting down the weeds
as closely as he can in the autumn, clearing
out as much mud as he can afford, and raking
over all gravel shallows to keep them clean.
If the poisoning of the river proceeds from
a paper mill, skin mill, or other manufactory,
he has the pleasant alternative of throwing up
the sponge or of embarking in a lawsuit. If
he adopts the latter alternative, he does so with
the certainty of incurring heavy costs in any
event, and ruinous ones in the not improbable
one of being unable to prove his case.
The weeds being cut, the shallows clean, and
the ova having been deposited, the fry must be
protected until they are large enough to shift for
themselves. Ducks (both tame and wild), water
fowl, adult trout, kingfishers, larvae of various
beetles and insects—in fact, all the enemies of
the trout—must be kept down, and beyond this STOCKING.
there is nothing that the keeper can do of much
avail towards assisting the work of natural
reproduction. It is perhaps of use for him to
keep some record of the numbers spawning in
successive seasons. It is, however, most misleading for him to report that so many pair of
fish are spawning on a particular shallow. He
forgets or is ignorant of the fact that every
female fish on a spawning bed is attended by at
least two or three males, and in waters that are
heavily fished by as many as six or eight; this
apparent anomaly is due to the fact that, in
heavily fished waters, the percentage of male
and female fish killed is not, as might be
supposed, equal, the females falling victims to
the fly being far more numerous than the
Another point, too, very often overlooked is
that a female, having once deposited her ova,
retires from the redd for the season, while a
male, having shot his milt, will in a few days
accumulate a fresh supply, and be available to
fertilise ova from later-spawning females. By
the system of counting, these males are thus
reckoned over and over again. Some approximate idea can be obtained by counting redds ;
but here again it must be remembered that a
number of female fish will spawn so close together as to make apparently a single redd, so 134
breeds of
trout for
that the count even in this case cannot be
considered anything like accurate.
In addition to encouraging as far as possible
the natural reproduction of the river, it must be
taken as proven that stocking by turning in
trout obtained from some outside source is
necessary in a stream which is in any way
heavily fished. A few may be caught or procured from neighbouring streams, but the
aggregate number to be thus obtained is so
small, and the risk of encouraging poaching on
one's neighbours' waters, by buying them
indiscriminately, so large, that practically no
resource is open, except that of buying from
a pisciculturist, or starting a hatchery oneself.
Of the species or varieties, the American
brook trout {Salmo fontinalis) is a very handsome fish, grows to a good size, but has not, in
this country, proved suitable for stocking rivers.
It is really a char, has a strong instinct to
work down stream, and where introduced has
generally been lost after a few seasons. Fish-
culturists have succeeded in breeding a hybrid
between this and the ordinary English trout
(S. fario), of which great things are predicted,
but the matter has not yet progressed beyond
the experimental phase. The rainbow trout {S.
irideus) is another American species, which may
prove as game as it is striking in appearance.
The Loch Leven trout {S. levenensis) is much
praised where it has been tried, and has succeeded, but whether this species (or, according
to some authorities, variety) of the ordinary trout
will eventually be the favourite for stocking
south country waters is, at best, doubtful. The
ordinary English trout {S. fario) is probably
the best of all, and, if carefully selected from
good strains, it is, under favourable conditions,
certain to produce satisfactory results. It is
said that the question of breed is not of paramount importance, although all of us have predilections for particular strains. Personally, I
prefer Wycombe trout to any other, but unfortunately these are no longer procurable in
any numbers, and the stock of fish in the lower
part of the Wycombe stream has been so frequently decreased by accidents and pollution
that the local association has, I believe, turned
in store fish of other blood.
It is, at any rate, essential that the parent importance of
stock should not be a race of dwarfs, although stock.
whether the offspring of ^lb. or 81b. trout will,
under similar surroundings and with an equal
supply of the same food, grow to a greater
weight than the progeny of th^ more ordinary
breeding fish of say i^lb. to 2^1b. is a question
worth proving by experiment. The leading
pisciculturists are fully alive to the importance 136
Ponds for
growing yearlings.
of breeding from healthy, vigorous, well-conditioned, and large fish. They are also aware
of the dangers of continual inbreeding, and
therefore never lose an opportunity of introducing into their ponds trout of good strain
that they can purchase.
Stocking can, of course, be carried out by
establishing a regular hatchery with troughs,
water supply, &c, either taking eggs from the
indigenous trout or purchasing them from a
pisciculturist, hatching them in troughs and
growing them up to any size required. Many
amateurs have tried these experiments, but
most have failed from some cause or another.
Some have taken the ova from their own fish,
and been discouraged by the ever-present difficulty of finding female and male ripe at the
same time. Some, having taken the ova and
carefully deposited them in the hatching troughs,
have been amazed to find that the water was
not sufficiently pure or the supply not sufficiently
constant, and hence the result obtained has been
too poor to warrant their continuing the experiment. Some, again, have hatched out a fair
proportion of the ova and then been alarmed at
the mortality at the commencement of the
feeding stage.
Some, having overcome all these difficulties,
have proceeded to construct ponds as to which STOCKING.
they have built up visions of raising tens of
thousands of large yearlings, and not only
stocking their own streams to repletion, but
even competing with the professional pisciculturists and selling sufficient to accumulate a
considerable reserve fund for future operations.
The results have not warranted such sanguine
expectations. Relying on the distinct assurance
of the oldest inhabitants of the district that the
springs bubbling forth from the ground had
never visibly decreased even in the hottest
and dryest seasons, the site of the projected
ponds had been chosen and the ponds dug.
Yet the very first summer after they had been
made and fully stocked with healthy fry the
flow of water slowly but surely dwindled away
to a mere dribble, or possibly failed altogether.
Distracted at the impending loss of their
young trout, the experimentalists have erected
pumps driven by steam power, or by a small
windmill, or even by hand labour, and succeeded
in raising from the springs below sufficient water
to keep a small flow into the head of the ponds.
Gradually the surface of the water has become
covered with a filthy green slime, and the daily
count of dead trout has left no doubt that the
expected tens of thousands have been reduced
to hundreds, and these not of the largest or
healthiest looking.    At length, after a dismal 138 MAKING A   FISHERY.
counting of  the  cost,  the ambitious  amateur
has, as a rule, abandoned the experiment.
For the information of anyone desirous of
carrying out these experiments, the following
statement, made by the late Mr. Thomas
Andrews, of Guildford, perhaps the most successful pisciculturist of the century, may be of
interest and of use. He said that, with all his
experience, with every necessary appliance,
with a full staff, and by devoting practically the
whole of his own time to supervising the work,
he could hatch out eighty per cent, of the ova
he took, and raise twenty-five per cent, of his
fry to yearlings. In other words, under the
most favourable conditions of artificial hatching
and rearing the fry in captivity, giving them an
ample supply of the best food procurable, out
of one hundred over eighty healthy fry can be
expected to hatch out, and only twenty of these
live to become yearlings. In a state of nature
the proportion of ova fertilised and hatched out
would only be a fraction of the above percentage, and it is estimated by the same
competent authority that out of one thousand
naturally hatched fry in a river not more than
one is likely to celebrate the first anniversary
of its birthday.
Methods of Having   determined   that   the   plan   to   be
adopted is  to   purchase from a pisciculturist,
stocking. STOCKING.
there are four methods of stocking, any one of
which, under favourable conditions, may, in a
longer or shorter time, prove efficacious. They
are ; Firstly, by means of eyed ova, planted in
suitable portions; secondly, by fry turned into
the stream itself, or into carriers properly fenced
off; thirdly, by yearlings ; and fourthly, by two-
year-olds, or even larger trout.
When the fish breeder has spawned the
female trout, the eggs being deposited in a dry
dish, a small quantity of milt from a male is
expressed on to the dish, and the eggs and milt
are mixed by tilting the dish gently backwards
and forwards. They are, after a few minutes,
put into a vessel of water and thoroughly
washed, until every trace of cloudiness caused
by the presence of superfluous milt is removed.
The eggs are then deposited in the hatching
troughs, and the following day all opaque or
unimpregnated ones are picked out, and from
time to time during the period of incubation
this process of removing opaque eggs is
repeated. After the lapse o£ a certain number
of days, varying according to the temperature
of the water, the ova will have arrived at a
stage of development when two dark spots are
distinctly visible. These dark spots are the
eyes of the embryo within the egg, and at this
stage the eggs are called eyed ova.
Eyed ova. i4o MAKING A  FISHERY.
stockingwith        When  attempting  to stock with eyed ova,
eyed ova.
they should be planted on artificial redds made
on bright gravel shallows, in such places as
those described in a previous paragraph as
suitable spawning ground. The conditions
under which success may be anticipated are
where there are practically no fish of any sort
in a stream, but where, nevertheless, the water
is unpolluted, or where suitable tributary
streams or carriers can be found. Such
carriers must have a continuous supply of pure
water, and, after being emptied of all fish previously contained therein, be securely fenced
off at the upper and lower ends.
Even under these conditions it is doubtful
whether the plan can be recommended as
economical. It is true that eyed ova can be
purchased at a low price, but the number required for stocking anything like an extensive
fishery would be enormous. Besides, the certainty that at best only a small percentage will
hatch out, and that the presence of sewage or
other contamination, even in small quantities,
will be sufficient to prevent their hatching at all,
there are many elements of danger. Then the
alevins are very helpless, and are devoured by
a great variety of predaceous aquatic larvae, as
well as all the other numerous enemies of the
Salmonidce.    The accidental formation of con- STOCKING.
fervoid growth, or fungus, or the smallest *
degree of overcrowding, will prove fatal to
them at this stage, or at least only leave
stunted, deformed, or diseased fry, which are
worse than useless. Even under the most,
favourable conditions, stocking with eyed ova
cannot produce sizeable trout in less than four
Stocking by turning fry direct into a river stocking with
should never be attempted. If there are no fish
—a very unlikely contingency in a stream fit
for trout—eyed ova are preferable as being rate-
ably less costly. If there are trout or pike
they are sure to attack the fry when first
cast adrift, and, having once tasted blood, are
not likely to leave them as long as there are
any alive. Then, again, the natural mortality
among fry during the first few months of their
lives is quite appalling. Even in the pisciculturists' ponds, where every hatch is doubly
guarded by zinc fences with the smallest perforations procurable, where experienced men are
daily employed in keeping these fences clear of
confervoid or other vegetable growth likely to
choke them up, where the smallest appearance
of a blow is remedied at once, the number that
escape is incredible. These are only recovered
by an elaborate series of hatches and fences
between the outlets of the ponds and the limits i42 MAKING A  FISHERY.
of the breeder's water, each one of which is an
important link in the chain.
If the fry can be turned into properly fenced-
off tributaries, only some of the difficulties have
been removed. Although there may be a fair
quantity of natural food in such tributaries,
it is not likely to be enough to feed them
liberally in a comparatively restricted space,
and, without an ample food supply, the fry will
certainly not grow into healthy and fair-sized
yearlings. Artificial feeding will hence have
to be resorted to. Here, again, every fish
breeder in the country will confirm the statement that the most anxious time with him, and
that at which the greatest mortality occurs under
normal conditions, is when he is just getting the
fry to feed,
stocking with        Yearlings or two-year-olds are probably the
yearlings or . r   . . . . .
two-year- best store nsn to introduce into a river already
containing any number of trout, and their respective advantages and disadvantages may be
briefly summarised as follows :—Yearlings are
far less costly than two-year-olds; they are
fairly well able to take care ofthemselves
and avoid the ravages of their elder brethren.
A pike, lying deep down in the water, almost
covered by weeds and perfectly motionless,
can see every movement of a trout above
him on the look-out  for floating or partially- STOCKING.
submerged food. One quick stroke with the^
tail, a dart upwards, and the. unfortunate little
Salmo fario is across the pike's cruel jaws and
swallowed almost before it realises the danger.
Now, as a pike of eight or nine inches in length
can gorge and digest a five-inch yearling,
obviously where the small pike are very plentiful the yearling is not to be recommended for
stocking purposes.
Two-year-old or larger fish are of course,
owing to their greater size and strength, better
able to keep out of harness way; but, besides
the prime cost, they are more difficult and more
expensive to move. The heavy mortality during
transit, except in the coldest weather, is a
serious addition to their cost. In a stream
where the stock has been allowed to run down
very low, they are preferable, as being one year
more advanced towards maturity, and therefore
likely to reproduce one year sooner than yearlings. On the question of adapting themselves
to their novel surroundings, and finding their
own food, there is, perhaps, not much to choose
between the two-year-olds and yearlings.
Altogether, if expense is no object, two-year-
olds should be selected ; but if, from motives
of economy, yearlings have to be used, they
should, as far as practicable, be turned into the
stream on a shallow where pike and large trout
yearlings in a
stew for one
year. 144
Pisciculturists' price
are not plentiful. Perhaps the best plan of all
is to make a stew in which the yearlings can be
kept for a year. By feeding them liberally, they
will grow to good-sized two-year-olds, and when
turned out will be quite able to take care of
Having determined to purchase yearlings, a
very short study of the price lists of the various
trout breeders will show a considerable variation in the quotations. One will quote yearlings
as low as £\o a thousand, while another will
price them as high as ^30 for the same number. Where quotations vary so much, it is
only natural to infer that, provided no one is
trying to cut out his competitors by asking an
abnormally low price, there must be considerable variation in the yearlings. A careful examination of the fish themselves will confirm this
hypothesis ; some of the lowest-priced yearlings
will be found to average something like three
inches in length, and be composed of a few
full-sized individuals of, perhaps, five inches,
among a mass of two and a half inch and
three inch ones, with a sprinkling of puny little
things of only about two inches in length. The
highest-priced yearlings will have been properly
sized; i.e., all palpably undersized will have
been rejected and returned to the ponds, to
be fed up and kept another  year, and  those STOCKING.
delivered will be a fairly level lot of, say, five
to seven inches in length.
The comparative length does not convey
any adequate idea of the real difference in
size, and the following figures, being positive
weights of fair specimens, may be given:—
Trout, 3^ inches long, weighed '17, or xcmoz.
One 4 inches long, '40, or ^oz. ; 5 inches, '68,
or t^)%oz. ; 6 inches, 1*3, or i^oz. All these
were yearlings prepared for travelling, i.e.,
starved for five or six days ; and as the figures
show that, for example, a 5-inch yearling weighs
four times as much as one 3-g- inches in length,
the comparative value can be easily calculated. In the absence of any reliable data
on the subject, it is nonsense for any fish
breeder to assert that the smaller yearling will
develop into a heavier two-year-old, or adult
fish, than the larger one. The largest and
sturdiest yearlings are the best fed, and having
the better start in life are, other things being
equal, likely to develop into adult trout of
greater size, healthier and gamer than their
half-starved brethren.
value of store
j|F the plan of purchasing yearlings,
keeping them in captivity for a year,
and feeding them liberally before
turning them in be adopted, a stew must be
arranged to carry out this work. Any carrier
which can be emptied so as to remove all its
fish, and securely fence off both ends, would be
available for such purpose, the only necessary
condition being that the water supply is ample
and continuous and that the control of the water
level is in the hands of the fishing lessee. If
there is no carrier fulfilling these conditions an
artificial cut can often be made across a sharp
bend\of the river with hatches at the upper and
lower ends. Of course a properly-constructed
stew is preferable to any such makeshift, and
the following description of one which had been
constructed many years since, probably for the
purpose   of  keeping  a  few  live   fish   for  the
table, will serve to indicate a good and efficient
type. It must be noted, however, that the fall
of two feet at the inlet hatch mentioned later
gave special facilities for the purposes of adaptation to the requirements of a stew for growing
yearlings to two-year-olds. The necessary
repairs and additions of hatches, perforated zinc
fences, &c, had to be carried out at the expense
of the- lessee.
In the accompanying plate of the plan of this
stew the water supply is derived from a carrier
marked A A, running nearly parallel to the
course of the main stream. The water supply
in this carrier is constant, and it had been consequently selected to provide the motive power
to a turbine or other mechanical arrangement for
pumping water to the manor house on the estate
for domestic purposes. At the point B a substantial hatch is fitted with a small weed rack
in front, constructed of piles driven into the
bed of the stream. This inlet hatch, 4ft. deep
and 2ft. wide, leads to a cross channel cut
through the ground, and is covered by oak
boards with a trap-door opening so as to give
access to the interior of the channel. At C a
screen of oak framing, to which a sheet of perforated zinc is fastened, works in a square
groove cut in the sides and bottom of the inlet
channel. At the further end of this channel
L 2
of a stew. w
(D) a second and similar screen is fixed immediately against the side wall of the shed at
the upper end of the stew.
The shed E—20ft. long by 12ft. 6in. wide—
is a substantial brick structure with tiled roof,
and the water from the inlet channel runs into it
under the flooring of the shed itself. In the
flooring of the shed two large trap-doors are
fitted to give access to the tank or water space
under the shed. The bottom of this tank is
bricked and the sides rendered with cement.
The water, turning at right angles to the inlet
channel, then passes out of the house, under the
plank bridge marked F, into the open air, and
proceeds in a direction parallel to the supply
carrier down the stew itself. The stew itself
(G) is rectangular in shape, constructed of brick
throughout, with upright side walls. At the
point H a solid oak frame, with central post, is
grooved to receive two perforated zinc screens
in oak frames. The outlet hatch, also of solid
oak, is fitted at I.
From the outer wall of the shed at F to the
fence at H, the stew is 85ft. long, and its width
is 9ft. 6in. inside from wall to wall. The bed of
the stew throughout is covered with a thick
layer of good hard gravel, rammed down solid.
At the inlet hatch there is a fall of about 2ft.,
and in the length of the stew a fall of about ift. 150 MAKING A  FISHERY.
The level of the brick floor of the tank under
the shed is above 6in. below the level of the
bed of the stew, so that this depth of water is
left in the tank when the stew itself is empty.
This is, however, as will be noted further on,
a disadvantage when collecting the fish for
turning out or other purposes.
Attention is directed to some of the details
of the arrangement. As already stated, there
are between the inlet hatch B and the shed C
two securely fitted, perforated zinc fences, and
in front of the outlet hatch I there is also a
securely fitted fence in two halves, H. There
is also a second outlet fence, which is fixed at
the point I, when the hatch is raised to empty
the stew. Thus, whenever it is necessary to
remove a fence in order to clean it from
accumulated leaves, weed, confervoid, and other
rubbish, there is in front, or behind it, a second
fence to prevent the escape of any fish.
The tank under the shed E being the darkest, deepest, and least disturbed portion, the
largest fish congregate there, and when the
stew is emptied all the trout fly to it for
safety. Thus, in case of an attempted raid by
poachers, the yearlings would take refuge in
the house, and, as this is securely closed above
water by a strong door, and below by iron bars
about 4in. apart, fastened to the brickwork, the THE STEW.
poachers could not gain access to the shed
itself. Whenever the keeper is about to feed
the yearlings, he lowers the level of water in the
stew until all of them are in the tank under the
shed, and then distributes the food through one
of the trap-doors in the flooring. Sufficient
light comes in by the open door of the shed
and the window to admit of observation of the
fish while being fed. The only disadvantage
of this plan is that, when the stew is emptied
for the purpose of catching the yearlings, the
small quantity of water left in the tank has to
be bailed or pumped out.
The level of the water in the stew is of
course dependent on the arrangement of the
various hatches. Thus, with the inlet hatch
fully open,, and the screen at H down to the
bed of the stew, the flow of water is very rapid,
and the average depth of the stew is about
2oin. With a i2in. board below the screen at
H, the depth of water can be raised with safety
to about 2ft. 6in., but in such case the inlet
hatch is not so much raised, and the stream
through the stew is less rapid.
All hatches, screens, &c, have, of course,
adequate arrangements for raising and lowering,
and, what is a matter of paramount importance
in such cases, staples, bars, and padlocks are
provided, so that the entrance to the shed, and
Necessity for
hatches. &c. MAKING A  FISHERY.
traps, and
barbed wire
to prevent
Necessity of
all hatches, screens, &c, are secured, and can
only be opened, closed, raised, or lowered by
the keepers who have the keys. Great care
is taken that any appearance of a i: blow," i.e.,
the working away of minute particles of earth
from the upper to the lower level, should at
once receive attention and be repaired. A
" blow " invariably indicates the presence of a
small opening, and naturally the action of the
water tends to increase the size of such
opening very rapidly. It is surprising how
small is the opening through which yearlings
or other store fish can make their way, and
The head keeper should enter in his book, or
diary, an accurate record of the number of fish
turned in; also of any found dead from time to
time; and the number taken out when the stew
is emptied should show only a small percentage
unaccounted for. A series of stakes driven
firmly into the soil, projecting 6in. or 8in. above
the surface of the water, with kingfisher traps
set on them, prevent these pretty but most
destructive birds from levying toll on the trout.
Barbed wire stretched across diagonally under
water from post to post is designed to thwart
the nocturnal visits of poachers with nets.
A stew should be in a shady position among
trees, and with a good flow of water through THE STEW.
it. In the hottest summers the development
of bright green scum, which is a confervoid
growth, will not then be encouraged. An
occasional raking over the bottom, followed
by a temporary raising of the inlet hatch so
as to admit more water, and a simultaneous
removal of the outlet hatch, to give it a
thorough sluice out, keeps the gravel clean and
bright. Every part of the stew being in
thorough repair, it is only necessary to empty
it throughout, and keep it empty for at least a
full fortnight, to render it fit to receive the
yearlings with every prospect of their thriving
and growing into large and well-proportioned
Two seasons' experience of stocking arrangements with the stew described have given an
insight into its strong and weak points which
may be of advantage to students of the
question, and hence I purpose giving the results
somewhat in detail. As a commencement,
iooo of Mr. Andrews' largest yearlings were
turned directly into the river in the month of
April, 1893, without the loss in transit on this
occasion of a single fish. A second and
similar batch of 1000 were to follow about a
week later, of which one half were destined for
the stew, and the balance to be at once consigned to the river. 154
A contretemps
in moving
The yearlings left Mr. Andrews' hatchery, at
Guildford, in the early morning, an experienced
attendant travelling with them to give fresh
water when required. On their arrival at the
nearest railway station, about six miles from the
stew, it was discovered that, in place of the
wagonette and pair of fast horses ordered, a.
cart and slow-paced horse were in attendance.
The excuse advanced by the livery-stable
keeper that, there being a fair or market in the
village, he could not spare the wagonette and
pair, was as inadmissible as the results were
disastrous—the more inadmissible, as he had
had previous experience of moving live fish,
and presumably had some idea of the danger.
It was a close day, and some of the yearlings
were on top of the water in the cans, showing
signs of exhaustion, on their arrival at the
station. However, fresh water seemed to
revive them, and the only prudent course was
adopted, to push on and change the water as
often as possible. The cart was driven as fast
as the wretched horse could get along, but
arrived at the stew quite two hours later than,
expected, and I was on the spot myself, awaiting
its arrival in a state of great anxiety.
A word from Mr. Andrews' worthy representative put me au courant, and the order was^
given to turn all the yearlings  into  the stew THE STEW.
without a moment's delay. With the assistance
of the keepers and some labourers at work in an
adjacent meadow, this did not take many
minutes, and yet it was not at all too soon.
Seventy-six were dead and stiff, and after a
considerable amount of care and nursing we
managed to keep all the rest alive, except
twenty-five, so that 101 out of 1000 succumbed.
Another half hour would have killed every
one of the fish, and caused a serious loss,
brought about not by any want of organisation
or forethought, but by the accidental coincidence of the unseasonably hot weather and
the neglect of the livery-stable keeper to send
a conveyance and horses fit for the work. It is
only fair to add that the late Mr. Andrews
himself wrote the next day to the effect that
he intended to send another 100 yearlings to
make up the deficiency, an intention which was,
duly carried out a few days later. Four
hundred of the largest were turned into the
river, and the remaining six hundred left in the
The question of feeding, and of the nature of
the food to be given to the yearlings in the stew,
is of the greatest importance, and a primary
factor in determining the rate of their growth
during the period of their detention under these
artificial conditions.    Fish breeders are in the
Nature of
food for yearlings. 156 MAKING A FISHERY.
habit of feeding yearlings on horse flesh, either
raw or partially cooked and passed through a
mincing machine ; or on scalded mussels or
other mollusks from the sea or fresh water; on
bullock's liver and lights, also passed through
a mincing machine ; or on other animal food
easily procurable in the district. A species of
biscuit similar to the ordinary dog biscuits,
soaked and broken up, is also occasionally
used. In the opinion of the majority of experts,
however, although convenient in case of emergency, or failure of the supply from the usual
sources, the biscuits do not contain as much
sustenance, nor do trout fed on them thrive as
well as those brought up on the other forms of
food mentioned.
Some pisciculturists say that a judicious
alternation, or even mixture, of minced horse
flesh and mussels, those from salt water being
preferred, produces the best results. Some
object to the diet of liver and lights, as tending
to make the fish dark in colour. Others, on
the contrary, argue that the dark colour is due
to the trout being kept in comparative shade,
and is only temporary, because a dark, well-conditioned fish kept for a short time in a strong
light will become bright and silvery. In the
case of our yearlings, there being no kennels in
the immediate vicinity from   which   a  regular THE STEW.
at feeding.
and reliable supply of horse flesh could be
procured, it was decided to keep a small
reserve of biscuits in case of accident, and
try the experiment of feeding on liver and
lights, delivered twice a week by the local
butcher. An inexpensive hand machine for
mincing the food had already been fastened to
a well-secured table in the shed at the upper
end of the stew, and it was with feelings of
some anxiety that the first experiments of
feeding the young trout were made.
A small quantity of the liver and lights First attempt
having been minced up, and the trap-door in
the floor of the shed over the water having
been opened, while the door of the shed itself
was kept closed so as not to admit an
undue quantity of light, the head keeper commenced quietly dropping a little of the finely
minced food into the water. He was alone in
the shed, and took care to keep as still as
possible. These precautions were taken because
it is found that yearlings, after being moved
into fresh quarters, whether from the jolting
on their journey or fright at the strangeness
of their new surroundings, are occasionally so
scared as to refuse food, and quickly go back in
condition. With wild fish this would not be
altogether surprising, but with yearlings hatched
artificially, and reared in ponds where from the 158 MAKING A  FISHERY.
first they had been regularly fed, it is, to say
the least, unexpected, and tends to show how
little the natural instincts of the trout are
affected by the seemingly unnatural methods of
the pisciculturist.
Educating to        At  first  the   food   drifted down unnoticed;
surface food. - 111111 i i
presently one troutlet bolder than the rest would
dart up and take up a small quantity; gradually
others would follow suit, until in a few days
all of them would feed freely. When this was
reported to me, I arranged to assist at the next
evening's meal, and was most gratified to see
how admirably everything worked. As soon as
the mixture of minced liver and lights fell on
the water, I was, however, astonished to see
that, instead of sinking like the horse flesh and
mussels, it floated, and remained on the surface
as-far as the eye could see. At once it occurred
to me that if there is anything whatever in the
theory that feeding fry or yearlings on meat
tends to teach them to seek their sustenance
under water, and make them bottom feeders,
this particular form of animal food must educate
them to come to the surface.
If anything could make artificially bred and
artificially reared trout surface feeders, it should
be such treatment as this, and, unless the whole
education theory is fallacious, should produce a
new generation of more freely rising fish than THE STEW.
even the naturally bred denizens of the river.
The major portion of the food of the indigenous
fish is undoubtedly in the form of shrimps, snails,
caddis, and other larvae, which are invariably
found among the weeds in mid-water or at the
bottom, while the floating winged insects on the
surface are occasional delicacies taken freely
under only exceptional circumstances. This
discovery so impressed me, that I decided at
once to continue this form of food as long as
possible, and in as great a quantity as the yearlings would take it. In respect to the floating
of the food, it must be noted that the liver alone
sinks and the lights alone float, but the latter
are deficient in sustenance. They should therefore be mixed in the proportion of not more
than two parts of liver to one of lights.
In respect to the quantity of food to be given
to young trout in confinement, the quantity of
shrimps, snails, caddis, larvae of Ephemeridae,
and other natural food need not be considered
unless the size of the ponds is out of all proportion to the number of fish contained in them.
So long as the trout come eagerly to the food,
and the whole of the minced meat given is
devoured at once, they are not being overfed,
but if the fish cease feeding before all the food
is consumed it may be assumed that the supply
is excessive.    They should commence feeding
overfeedinj i6o
Quantity of
immediately the food is thrown in, unless there
are strangers present, or any other unusual condition likely to frighten them. If the particles
of food are left floating about on the surface,
or if they sink to the gravel, which will happen
even with the mixture of liver and lights when
thoroughly sodden, the quantity must be
diminished. Should this precaution be neglected, the water will become contaminated by
the decomposing animal matter, and serious
mortality ensue.
The 600 yearlings in the stew from the end
of April to the end of July, 1893, took iolb. of
liver and lights per week. They had two meals
daily—one early in the morning and the second
at or about dusk ; and they grew rapidly, and
were in the best possible condition. Finding
that a certain proportion of the yearlings had
grown much faster than the rest, and that being
larger and stronger they got more than a fair
share of the food at the expense of the others,
and in view of the risk of their preying upon the
smaller fish, it was decided to turn them into
the river. On July 26th about 160 of the
largest were accordingly transferred to a favourable reach of the main stream.
The same allowance of food was given to the
remainder, and in a few days this was increased
to   12lb.  per week, and as every particle of it
was eaten long before it had floated down to
the perforated zinc fence at the lower end of the
stew, it was evident that even this largely
augmented supply was not too much. The
effect of the increase of food was surprising,
and the trout grew so rapidly that it was a constant source of regret that it had not been
given at an earlier date. This is a difficulty
encountered even by the most experienced
trout breeder. He finds that the fish, whether
fry, yearlings, two-year-olds, or adult, seem to
improve in condition and grow more rapidly as
the quantity of food is increased, until in time
he begins to fancy that it is impossible to overdo it. Generally about this period, however,
the memory of disastrous results from overfeeding in former years prompts him to exercise
extreme caution, and stop the experiment in
time before the first symptoms of poisoning the
trout by decomposed food and foul water make
themselves visible.
On November 30th 130 of the largest remaining fish were again taken out of the stew
and turned into the river, and of these the
three largest measured 11 inches in length and
6J inches in girth, three more measuring fully
10 inches in length and 6 inches in girth, and
the majority were from 9 inches to 10 inches
long, very few being under the 9-inch standards
M 162
It must be remembered, too, that these were
not the best of the stock, as already, on
July 26th, the largest had been drafted off.
Now, as they were the produce of eggs taken
by Mr. Andrews, at Crichmere, not earlier than
the end of November, 1891, and hatched somewhere about the fourth week in January, 1892,
they were nearly two months short of two years
old, and the rate of growth in the stew must be
considered highly satisfactory.
From this date the food supply was reduced
to 81b. per week, not altogether because of the
smaller number of fish in the stew, but because
previous to and during the spawning season no.
trout yearlings or adults feed well. On the
10th and 18th January, 1894, tne stew was
emptied, and the rest of the young trout, 214
in all, were turned into the river. On reference
to the figures, it appears that 160 were turned
out on July 20th (this number is only approximate, because, owing to the heat of the weather,
it was not safe to keep them out of running
water long enough to make an accurate count),
130 more on November 30th, and 214 in the
month of January—or 504 in all, leaving out of
the entire 600 about 96 unaccounted for. This
must be taken as representing the casualties
1 from all causes during nine months, and
although at first sight the percentage  seems THE STEW.
high, yet I am assured on the best authority
that, for the first year, the result is most
gratifying. The presence of a certain number
of kingfishers had no doubt something to do
with this loss, and loath as every lover of nature
must be to destroy these interesting and graceful birds, yet when their rapacious appetite for
smaller trout is considered, one is constrained
to limit as far as may be the mischief resulting
from the presence of too many of them in the
immediate neighbourhood of the stew.
The young trout having been removed from
the stew, it was run down as low as possible
and all the water baled out of the deep portion
under the shed. It was then kept dry for
nearly a month, and looked over from day to
day so as to remove any possibility of a single
trout having been left in it. The result of such
an accident would infallibly be that the next
season's stock of yearlings would have served
as a very costly form of food for the single two-
year-old left behind. A case in point happened
to Mr. Andrews. A two-year-old jumped out of
a can into a large pond of fry, and being taken
out a year later weighed over 51b., while the
deficiency on the expected number of yearlings
from that pond was not less than 35,000.
A minute survey was made of the stew, all
defective hatches and their fittings were re-
M 2
of stew for .
second year. 164
The stew
paired, new perforated zinc was fixed to all the
fences, and the wood and zinc cleaned, and
painted over with tar varnish; the brickwork
was repaired, and some parts of it renewed
where the action of the water had rendered it
unsafe ; the cement-work throughout was repaired; the gravel raked over, thoroughly
cleaned, and rammed down hard 5 in fact, everything requisite was done to put it in fit and
proper condition to receive a fresh lot of yearlings for future stocking. As a last, but very
necessary precaution, the water was run
through it for a fortnight to make sure of removing any possible risk of unslaked lime being
left in the cement or joints of the brickwork.
A friend fishing the water, as the guest of
one of the lessees, expressed a desire to present
1000 yearlings to the fishery. He explained
that a relative had erected and fitted up a
small hatchery, taking the ova from a strain of
large trout, and had arranged a series of small
carriers in which some good yearlings were
reared. This kind offer was accepted, and on
the 27th February, 1894, they were conveyed
to the water, and with the exception of five,
which had succumbed during the journey, were
turned into the stew. On the following morning
ten more were found dead.
Altogether  they were  a very useful   lot   of
store fish, but not so level as I have had. Some
few were rather small, and a fair number extra
large, but the great bulk were not less than
five inches in length, and quite equal to the
yearlings sold by the leading pisciculturists.
Fish delivered by amateurs never show equal to
those sent out by professionals, as the latter
follow the plan of sizing them by the length and
charging accordingly. Thus 1000 six-inch yearlings would be priced at ^25 or ^30, while
four-inch fish would be about half the price,
and the quite undersized ones are not supposed
to be delivered the same year, but are grown
by extra feeding into fair two-year-olds for the
next season.
When purchasing yearlings to be turned into
a river, uniformity of size is not a matter of
primary importance; the smaller ones find their
way into thin water on the shallows, and the
larger to places where the depth is greater,
each thus taking a position in water best suited
to its condition. Penned up in a stew, however, the large ones monopolise the food and
grow rapidly, while the small ones are bullied
and cowed until they are too frightened to feed,
and remain small and stunted.
It must be explained that the amateur who
had bred these fish follows out the late
Mr.   Andrews'  plan  of   feeding   sparingly  on i66
Treatment of
fungus in the
artificial food, as there is a plentiful supply
of shrimps, snails, and other natural food in
his streams. The result of this treatment is,
that not being accustomed to look for their twa
meals a day from the hands of an attendant they
do not as a rule feed well when first put into a
stew. Besides, not being accustomed to the
frequent visits of mankind, such fish are always
more or less wild and shy, and inclined to hide
in dark corners. Hence it was not surprising
that at first they did not feed freely on the
minced liver and lights given to them.
The head keeper noticed, however, that a
number were marked with whitish-grey patches
which looked like fungus, and from the 16th
to the 21 st March forty-six were found dead.
These were in other respects apparently healthy
fish, but all had more or less fungoid growth on
them. The growth was of the nature of the
salmon disease {Saprolegnia ferax), but, whether
it was this particular genus and species of
fungus or one closely allied to it, is not important, and has not yet been determined. As a
first experiment, the hatch regulating the water
supply to the stew was raised, so as to give a
heavier flow, and the result was regularly watched
for eight days. Finding that no less than sixty
more had succumbed, and acting under the
best advice procurable, the fish were taken out THE STEW.
of the stew and immersed for fully five minutes
in a strong solution of common salt. The next
day one dead yearling was found ; then, on
successive days, one, five, eight, ten, five,
thirteen, twelve. At this stage the yearlings
were once more treated with a stronger bath of
brine, and on the next two days twelve more
deaths were recorded; so that, in all, 167 out
of the 1000 had been lost.
At first it was imagined that some pollution
of the stream might have taken place; no
trace, however, could be found of dead fish
in any other part of the river, excepting a
single dead dace, covered with fungus, at a
point two miles lower down; this conjecture of
the cause was therefore dismissed as unlikely.
Various theories were propounded during the
epidemic, and as many more remedies suggested.
All concerned were impressed by the fact that
every dead trout was more or less covered by
fungoid growth. Many were affected on the
head, and in the neighbourhood of the gills,
and some on the tail, which seemed to become
ragged and out of shape.
At the early stages it was not considered
prudent to give too much force of steam, as
some of the weakly ones appeared unable to
stand it. After the loss of the 167, as only two
more could be seen with marks of the disease 168 MAKING A  FISHERY.
upon them, the supply hatch was set full open,
and a plank removed at the lower hatch to
reduce the depth and give the strongest rush of
water through the stew. The next day these two
were found dead, but after this no further casualties occurred, and no more diseased fish were to
be seen. We were assured that there was no sign
of fungus on the rest of the same batch of
yearlings bred by the same gentleman, and
remaining in his streams. It should be
remarked here, that many of the weakly fish
before death appeared to be bent laterally, as
if they had received some injury to the spinal
The question having been exhaustively discussed and fully considered, the consensus of
opinion was that the growth of fungus commenced on the fish that had been injured, and
did not appear to spread to the perfectly
healthy ones in the stew. Every fish, however,
affected by the fungoid growth succumbed, and
neither of the remedies tried—neither immersion in brine nor giving a greater rush of water—
appeared* to be of avail to a fish once attacked
by the disease. On the other hand, the fact
that the growth did not spread to the healthy
fish in the stew gave fair grounds for the
inference that among healthy stock it is not
contagious.    The primary cause of the trouble THE STEW.
was therefore deemed to have been some injury
to the affected yearlings, and the next point
to consider was, how and when such injury
There were clearly four possible ways in which
this might have happened, viz.: I. While catching the yearlings out of the small streams, and
turning them into the cans.' II. During conveyance by rail or cart from the hatchery to the
stew. III. While turning them into the stew.
IY. After they were in the stew. The possibility of injury during the first two of these
operations is ever present; the third is hardly
likely. In the fourth case, with comparatively
wild fish used to roam about in some length of
stream, when first penned up in a stew it is only
too likely to occur. Which of these was the
cause of the disaster, or whether it might after
all not be partly due to each, remains a matter
of conjecture. The teaching is the humiliating
one that, with all our study of the question, and
with all the experience of numerous pisciculturists, there is no treatment known which is
certain to succeed; and that, unfortunately, in
such a case the probability is that, sooner or
later, every affected fish will fall a victim to the
disease. The lesson, however, should serve to
further impress upon trout breeders, as well as
lessees of a fishery, the importance of taking
Origin of the
disease. 170 MAKING A  FISHERY.
every precaution to prevent rough handling of
the trout during their transference from the
ponds or hatchery to the river or stew.
The injured or weakly stock having thus been
eliminated, the remaining healthy yearlings in
the stew soon became accustomed to the visits
of the head keeper, and, at his appearance,
congregated in the deep water of the shed,
awaiting the meal of minced liver and lights.
In very few days they commenced feeding
freely, and, as a natural consequence, improved in condition and growth. At first 151b.
per week was given; but, seeing that every
particle of this was devoured, the weekly allowance was successively increased to 3olb. in
June, and ultimately in September to 6olb., at
which maximum it remained. The fish would
probably have eaten more, but the resources of
the local butcher could not be relied upon for a
larger supply.
The yearlings grew and improved in condition until the middle of December, when
gradually they seemed to go off the feed, as
noticed in the account of the previous year. It
would be reasonable in respect to the adult fish
to impute this loss of appetite to their gravid
condition and the approach of the spawning
season. The instinct of the young fish—foreshadowing the habits of the mature parents—- THE STEW.
may, perhaps, account for it, but in any case
this may be deemed the best time of year to
transfer the fish from the stew to the river.
If there is anything in the theory that artificially
fed trout are not good at catering for themselves in the river, evidently the season at
which they require a minimum of food is preeminently a favourable one for letting them
acquire the habit.
On the 22nd December all the fish were
taken out of the stew and counted, with the
result that they were found to consist of 398 all
well over -Jib., and 347 below this size; or 745
in all, representing a loss of 255 out of the
original 1000. The smaller ones were returned
to the stew, and fed for about a month longer,
and the larger were turned into the stream.
The largest of them were estimated at quite
lib. 20zM many were quite of lib. weight, and
the majority were well over the -Jib. when put
into the river. The size of these fish, none of
which had reached the age of two years, was
sufficient proof (if any is needed) of the wisdom
of the policy of feeding liberally in the stew.
Final results CHAPTER   X.
|F the water on which the work of
" Making a Fishery" is to be attempted already contains grayling, it
is, on the whole, advisable to abstain from
trying to increase the stock by the introduction
of fry or yearlings purchased from any outside
source. In a stream favourable for this species
of Salmonidce the natural reproduction is so
rapid as not to require assistance from extraneous sources. The result of such assistance
is usually to produce an undue preponderance of
grayling in a river with the concomitant disadvantage of their being generally of small
average size. If, from the action of a heavy
flood, or other cause, the grayling should be
found to have worked down out of the particular stretch rented, it may be advisable to
stock up a little, but even in this case it should
be done sparingly. GRAYLING.
Given, however, a stream containing trout
and no grayling, what are the advantages
and what the disadvantages to be anticipated
from their introduction? The first and most
obvious advantage is the extension of the
fly-fishing season. From early April to the
end of May is the full extent of time during
which there is any reasonable probability
of a good rise of trout at small fly in
daylight. June, where there is May Fly on the
water, may be added to this. In July and
August there is a chance of an evening rise,,
and in some rivers, especially the late spawning
ones, the month of September is fairly good,
during the day as well as the evening.
In respect to September fishing there is, however, the unfortunate circumstance to be considered that by far the majority of trout killed
are females in which the eggs are developed to
a certain degree, and the general condition of
the fish has proportionately deteriorated. This
accounts partly for the fact that in most streams
where fishermen congregate the male fish largely
preponderate, rendering it expedient to kill
down males and spare females. When there
are grayling in a river they should be protected
until the middle of July, or better still, the
commencement of August, but during that
and the two  succeeding months   on   most   of
from introduction of
grayling. 174
•qualities of
the favourable or calm days they rise well, and
even in November and December, in all but
exceptionally severe weather, there is more or
less chance of sport for the fly fisherman with
the grayling.
As to their gameness, no one who has killed
a 31b. grayling on a fast-running Test shallow
could indorse that oft-quoted dictum of Cotton
as to their being "dead hearted." When hooked
they show the best of sport, and even when
apparently tired out will, at the first sight of
the landing net, start off for a fresh rush, of so
sudden and rapid a character as to fairly
astonish the angler and sometimes destroy his
presence of mind. Of course, if his attendant
gillie is provided with an abnormally large net
fixed to an absurdly long handle, he may
succeed in scooping out the fish before it
realises the full extent of its danger. It is true
that they are very capricious, and as a rule
take only the smallest of flies on the finest of
gut, and frequently come short. After all,
however, do not these very difficulties constitute
in a considerable degree the greatest charm to
a. sportsman ?
Probably the chief reason why grayling are
not fully appreciated as sporting fish is their
comparative rarity. In a chalk stream they are
quite equal to trout in gameness, and certainly GRAYLING.
rise more freely. Although they do not go tov
weed with the same pertinacity as trout, yet
they try the hold of a hook more, and unless
hooked in the leathery rim forming the outer
margin of the mouth, get away more frequently
than trout. If all the fishermen on a stream
are also shooters, and are so wedded to that
form of sport as not to be able to spare a day
from the moors, the stubble, or the coverts, it
is useless to provide grayling for them.
What are the disadvantages, real and imaginary, to be anticipated from the introduction
of grayling ? The one most forcibly urged, and,
if proved, the most serious one, is that grayling
feed on trout ova. This has been stated so
frequently and so positively, that I have devoted
some time and trouble to work out the point.
From the experience of many years on the
Test, one conclusion, and one only, can be
arrived at, viz.—that the assertion has been
made originally on the authority of some one
whose observations have been inaccurate.
Many of those who dislike, or affect to dislike,
grayling in a trout stream, have repeated the
statement without either corroborating by independent experiment, or acknowledging that
this so-called fact is based on the mere ipse
dixit of some one whose assertions they have
heard, or whose writings they have read.
Disadvantages of
grayling. 176
Do grayling
eat trout ova ?
The majority of the Test trout at Houghton
spawn during November and December, and
the autopsy of many grayling killed during
many years in these months, the spawning
season of the trout, has failed to produce a
single specimen of a trout egg. That the grayling congregate on the shallows where the trout
are spawning is an undoubted fact; but do they
not congregate in these same places at other
times during the season? And is it not reasonable to imagine that the stirring up of the
gravel at the bed of the river by the spawning
trout will set adrift a number of shrimps, caddis,
and other larvae on which grayling feed, and
would be present in considerable numbers ?
No one can say that a grayling would not
take an odd trout ovum if by accident it
came rolling down the stream with the other
more usual forms of food. The fact, however,
that autopsy has failed to disclose any of these
eggs is sufficient to demonstrate that the
presence of grayling on a shallow below spawning trout is not due to their desire for the eggs
as a staple form of food. Besides, have these
eminent authorities who make the assertion
with such persistence ever noticed how rapidly
ova sink in a stream, and how short a distance
they travel before adhering to the stones, and
being lost to sight ? GRAYLING.
It is said, too, that where grayling are plentiful the trout gradually fall off in numbers and
condition. By some it is urged that this is due
not only to the trout being hunted, but also to
some occult cause which prevents both species
from thriving in the same water. That large
grayling will drive small trout off their favourite
ground is an undoubted fact. It is also an
undoubted fact that large trout will hunt smaller
fish, whether grayling or their own brethren,
from their feeding or resting places. It is like
boys at school; the big ones will at times bully
the little ones, and render their lives a misery.
Is not this, however, equally true of all living
creatures in a state of nature, and is not the
modern teaching of natural history one prolonged series of repetitions of this propensity ?
The late Francis Francis summarised the
arguments on the question in that trite and
pertinent style so typical of all his writings.
He said that, if a river is so fully stocked that
the food supply is only just sufficient for the
trout in it, the introduction of more Salmonidce,
whether grayling or trout, must produce a
deleterious effect on the condition of the fish.
Just as well, he suggested, would a farmer turn
out in a meadow fifty beasts in addition to 500
sheep if the pasturage would barely suffice to
feed that number of sheep only.    Does anyone
Alleged antagonism of
gra\ ling and
Francis on
grayling v.
trout. I
under which
who has taken the trouble to examine the weeds
and mud in the bed of a South-country chalk
stream seriously doubt there being an enormous
superfluity of food in the form of Crustacea,
molluscae and the larvae of Ephemeridce,
Perlidce, Sialidce, Trichoptera, &c, above any
possible, not to say probable, requirements of
the fish contained in the river ? Some fishermen declare that they hate grayling and
grayling fishing. For them there is no
salvation, except to rent water not containing
Salmo thymallus, and refrain from introducing
Before determining to introduce grayling into
a stretch of water, it is necessary to consider
whether they are likely to thrive and increase.
It may be well to recapitulate briefly the
natural conditions required in a stream to give
a fair prospect of success in the experiment.
Grayling, to be in perfect condition, require
bright, sharp gravel shallows on which to spawn
and to clean themselves after spawning. They
must also have comparatively still deep places
in the water, to which they retire after spawning, and in hot weather, or when scared from
the shallows. They do well in hatch holes, and
rise far more freely than trout in such places.
They are moderately hardy, and can bear, without deleterious results, a considerable variation GRAYLING.
in the temperature of the water. Above all,
they must have an abundant supply of suitable
food, in the form of shrimps, snails, caddis,
larvae of Ephemeridae, et hoc genus omne. The
presence of a fair quantity of weed is necessary,
alike for their protection as for the successful
development of those forms of animal life on
which they subsist.
All authorities on the subject have from time
immemorial laid it down as an axiom that the
invariable tendency of grayling in a river is to
drop gradually down stream. Although there
are undoubtedly grounds for supporting this
theory, it must not be considered as a fixed
and immutable law of nature. I propose devoting some space to the consideration of two
rivers in which I have had the opportunity of
collecting reliable information.
The first grayling introduced into the Test
are said to have been turned in at Leckford.
This was many years ago, and in 1877, at which
date my experience of that charming river commenced, there were few, if any, grayling above
the Sheepbridge shallow at Houghton, but from
that point to the salmon water, at Broadlands,
and possibly even lower down than that, they
were plentiful. Evidently, if the statement
as to the first introduction of grayling is
accurate—and there is no reason to doubt it—
N   2
Tendency of
grayling to
work downstream.
Grayling in
the Test. i8o
of grayling to
the upper
this was a case which bore out the generally
accepted theory, that they drop down stream.
In the year 1879 the capture of a grayling
of i^-lb. on the Marshcourt Shallow, about one-
and-a-half miles below Stockbridge, and six or
seven miles below Leckford, was deemed quite
remarkable. During 1880, 1881, and 1882 odd
grayling were killed in the upper reaches of the
Houghton Club water. In October, 1883, three
days' fishing at the upper part of North Head
Shallow yielded twenty-three, weighing 34^1b.;
and this part of the water was found to be fully
stocked with grayling, many of large size. The
point at which these grayling were taken is
fully three-quarters of a mile above^the highest
point at which the members of the club considered it worth their while to fish after the
close of the trout season. Evidently this was a
case in which they had pushed up stream to a
favourable place, possibly because the natural
increase in their numbers had impelled some
proportion to migrate, so as to avoid overcrowding. Unfortunately for the experiment,
coon after this a systematical carrying of grayling to the upper reaches was put in practice,
and in a few years they were plentiful all over
the Houghton water.
The second river on which I have had experience of  introducing  grayling was   on  the GRAYLING.
upper reaches of the Kennet. Some years
since the old Hungerford Club turned a few
grayling into their water, and whatever may be
the opinion of local anglers as to the effect
on the fishing, they certainly took favourably to
the stream, grew to a good size, and increased
and multiplied. This experiment was tried at a
place some five or six miles below the particular
length referred to, and, as far as could be
ascertained, no grayling had ever been seen in
the part of the stream under my control. It
was decided to introduce a comparatively small
number into the lower half of the water only, so
that, if the theory of grayling not working upstream was correct, anyone desirous of avoiding
them could do so by devoting his attention to
the upper portion of the fisherv only. Another
reason for selecting the lower water for the
purpose was that it was considered to be better
adapted for them than the upper reaches. Mr.
Andrews kindly offered to make a present to
the fishery of a few two-year-old grayling, as a
nucleus from which in the course of time the
future stock would be produced. After due
consideration and consultation, a suitable place
was selected for their introduction—a tributary
stream, shallow throughout, flowing over clean
gravel, an eminently suitable spawning ground
for either trout or grayling, not sluggish in any p^p
grayling for
part, nor yet very rapid. It is crossed at the
lower end by a bridge, and a short distance
above its junction with the main river was the
point suggested. On May 15, 1893, accordingly, 135 bright, healthy little two-year-olds,
averaging quite 7m. in length, were turned
adrift to shift for themselves.
During the summer months the question of
purchasing a few more was under discussion,
when we heard that a proprietor of water lower
down the river was desirous of netting out some
of his grayling, as he thought they were increasing too rapidly, and were likely to crowd
out his trout. It appeared absurd that in one
part of the Kennet the lessees should contemplate a serious outlay on grayling for
stocking purposes, while the owner of fishing
rights only a few miles below should be trying
his best to kill down a considerable proportion
of the grayling in his own water. After some
hesitation I represented the facts of the case to
this gentleman, and was gratified at the truly
sportsmanlike spirit in which we were invited
by him to take as many as we required, and
the keeper was instructed to render every
facility in his power.
#On September 25th nets, men, fish carriers,
and all other necessary appliances were conveyed to the part of the water indicated by the GRAYLING.
head keeper of the estate as the most likely
for the purpose. At the first glance it was
obvious that the growth of weeds was too
luxuriant to hope for a successful day. However, being on the spot, it was decided to make
the attempt, and the plan suggested in the
chapter on netting was adopted, viz., a purse
net as a stop, and a heavy drag net followed at
a distance of about ten yards by a double-
walled trammel. The first two or three pulls
were not encouraging, only producing some
eight or ten little grayling of about \\h. each.
A deepish hole with a morass of heavy weeds
immediately above it, and a sharp shallow7, also
much overgrown, below it, was pointed out as
a good lay for the fish. The stop net could not
be fixed on the lower side of the hole, as the
water, forced into a contracted channel by the
growth of weeds, was too rapid to admit of the
foot or ground line being kept down by any
ordinary weight of leads. The space altogether
was too circumscribed to admit of the second
net being dragged, so that it was necessary to
work with the heavy drag net alone. Presuming
that the grayling were in the hole, the danger
was that, if the fish ran down in front of the
net, they would dart over the shallow into the
weeds below, and be lost for the day. After
the net had been stretched across just above 184
the hole, I took up my position below in the
water, just where it commenced to shoal, and
the men dragging the net slowly drew it round
towards the landing bank. A number of
grayling, disturbed by the motion of the men
and the net, were heading down stream, but
by splashing about in the water I contrived
to turn them, with the result that seventeen
very good grayling, from fib. to i^lb. were
secured. All told, the day's netting produced
thirty-eight grayling, besides two pike, one
chub, one roach, and two dace.
The grayling were put into the fish carriers
and conveyed as rapidly as possible to their
destination. Grayling are far more difficult to
transport than trout, and the day being warm,
frequent additions of fresh water were necessary
en route. Only five succumbed, and the
remaining thirty-three were turned into a mill
pond at the lower end of the water. After the
weeds had been cut two more days' netting in
the same portion of the river yielded 147
grayling, of which 145, averaging nearly 1 lb. in
weight, were safely transferred, part to the same
mill pond and the remainder to a broad shallow
at the extreme lower end of the water. Thus
178 adult grayling and 135 two-year-olds were
introduced into this part of the Kennet, and
what the result might be—whether they would GRAYLING.
remain in the water or not, whether they would
work up the stream or down, whether they
would rise at fly and give sport, or whether they
would neglect surface food and live on shrimps,
caddis, and other forms of animal life in
mid-water or on the bottom, and be voted a
nuisance by future generations of anglers on the
Upper Kennet—these are matters of conjecture which it is hoped the future will satisfactorily elucidate.
In the autumn of 1893, when netting the
river for pike, two grayling were taken in a
hatch hole at the top of the small stream, where
the Andrews two-year-olds had been turned in.
They were, of course, returned uninjured to the
water, and when netting the same hatch hole
for a second time three days later, the same
two grayling were again taken and returned.
This hatch hole is, as measured on the Ordnance map, about 500 yards above the place
where the two-year-olds were turned in. Here
again they had worked up-stream.
When netting the upper part of the same
water in the autumn of 1893, the keeper reported that he took and duly returned a
grayling about -pb., at a point some considerable distance above, and where a fish working
up from below would have to pass several
obstacles.     In the following autumn of 1894
working upstream. 186 MAKING A  FISHERY.
in my own presence, a single grayling, the
weight of which I estimated at fib., was again
taken in the same place, and I thought it
prudent to transfer this fish to the lower water.
The point at which this fish was thus taken in
two consecutive years was one mile and 750
yards above the place where the Andrews twor
year-olds had been turned in, and all the
grayling from Hungerford had been put in
much lower down the river. Hence, it is fair to
infer that it was one of the Andrews grayling.
To make its way from the bridge where they
were originally introduced into the stream, to
the place where it was netted, it had not only to
work one mile 750 yards up stream, but to
thread its way through a complicated series of
carriers and over three large sets of hatches.
Here is a most undoubted case of a grayling
working up-stream. CHAPTER    XI.
[HE object of this chapter is to consider
the tendencies of trout to work up or
down a stream, the motives underlying such tendencies, the seasons at which
they occur, and generally the policy to be
pursued in attempting to interfere with the
instincts of the fish by artificial removal from
one part of a stream to another. The natural
tendency of fish to shift their quarters is in
obedience to the universal law of nature, which
has implanted in all animals a desire to
preserve the individual and to perpetuate the
The first and most important part of this
work is evidently that of preserving the
individual, and hence it may be inferred that
the strongest instinct in the fish is that of self-
preservation. Among the conditions necessary
for  success  in  this, the essential ones are, a
Natural tendencies of
troutto travel. MAKING A FISHERY.
Working up
■streams to
sufficient supply of suitable food, proper shelter,
and protection from enemies. Reasoning from
these premises, the conclusion to be drawn is,
that the causes prompting the movements of
fish in a river^ arranged in their order of
priority, spring from the instincts of food,
shelter, fear of enemies, and reproduction ; as
regards* the distance traversed by fish, the
last factor takes precedence of the others.
In streams consisting of alternate shallows
and deeps, the trout in the early autumn are
generally found in the deeps, and remain in
that water until the instinct of reproduction
impels them to seek their spawning grounds.
They will then make their way for great distances
up to quick-running shallow water, with bright
gravel bottom which is suitable for the
deposition of the ova. Water of this character
may be found in the main stream, or in tributaries or carriers, and trout will spawn in any
of them. They appear, however, to give a
preference to narrow tributaries, probably
because, being fed by springs filtering up
through the chalk and gravel, the water in
them is free from the sewage and other
pollutions present in the main river, and better
fitted for hatching-out the ova successfully.
The eggs, having been deposited by the females
and fertilised  by the males, hatch out in due
course, and the alevins, after absorbing the yolk
sac, become fry. The fry remain together in
the thinnest water of the shallows until they
have grown to about the size of small minnows,
and then they disperse.
The bulk of the small trout in a river are
usually found in shallow water, and in the early
spring, after spawning, many of the parent fish
take up their positions behind large stones,
weed beds, or in other favourable places in
slack water on the shallows, until they get in
condition. In the emaciated state in which
both females and males are left by the exhausting process of spawning they require a
considerable amount of food to restore them to
strength and vigour. A large proportion of
this feeding up is unfortunately carried out at
the expense of their weaker progeny, and the
less the natural food supply on a shallow the
greater is the number of victims required to
satisfy the appetites of the adult fish. That so
small a proportion of the naturally-bred trout in
a river arrive at maturity is no doubt to an
alarming extent due to their being devoured
wholesale by these larger fish. The same
experience is so universal in salmon rivers, that
one of the reasons urged for the destruction of
kelts is, that as each kelt destroyed means
saving the lives of many hundreds of parr and
Movements of
trout immediately after
spawning. i9o MAKING A  FISHERY.
smolt, it would in the end tend to increase the
stock of salmon in a river.
Habitat of As the season progresses, and  the weather
large trout in     . .       . ,
hot weather. becomes warm, the larger trout are more and
more inclined to keep in the deep water during
the daytime, coming on to the shallows at dusk
to feed on the minnows, crustaceae, molluscae,
winged flies and their larvae. Probably this
desire for deep water is in obedience to the
instinct for seeking shelter from the heat of the
sun. Whether the fish are in the weeds, which
are usually of more luxuriant growth in deep
water than shallow, whether they lie close to
the bank in the shade, or whether they merely
keep close to the bed of the river, they are
more or less able to obtain the desired shelter.
Tendency to In many rivers the Mayfly is more plentiful
work into .
carriers for       m   carriers  and  tributaries  than in the  main
stream. Any reason advanced to account tor
this must at least be the result of conjecture ;
but I am inclined to think that the Mayfly
larva, although its habitat is in mud of a
particular sort, does not flourish in, but, on the
contrary, avoids, portions of a river where the
bed is that black fetid mud, which is the result
of decomposition of vegetable matter, sewage,
and other pollution. If this theory is accurate
.an additional incentive is provided to impel
owners and lessees of fisheries to try and pre- DlSTRIP UTION.
vent pollution. Already we know that trout
ova do not hatch well in polluted,water, and
now there is some foundation for the belief
that it is more or less fatal to the Mayfly,
the best of all food for large trout. As might
well be expected, the fly being more plentiful
in these by-streams, trout are inclined to work
up into them immediately before the hatch of
In a water meadow country trout will find
their way into the carriers when full of water,
and as the level is drawn down they congregate
in hatch holes and other deep parts of these
smaller streams. Sometimes the result of this
is that they are too plentiful for the supply of
food, and, as a natural sequence, they go back
both in condition and colour. Generally,
throughout a stream there is a tendency for
trout to work up until they arrive at a hatch, or
some other obstruction, when, except in a very
high water, they often settle down, and take up
their habitation in the depths of the nearest
hatch hole.
Fear of their enemies does not appear to be
as potent a factor in influencing the movements
of fish as the other instincts before alluded to.
A reach of deep and comparatively still water in
a stream fully stocked with pike of various sizes
usually contains a few large trout, and although
Tendency to
congregate in
hatch holes.
Fear of
enemies. 192
the number of these certainly does not increase,
any decrease is, as a rule, due rather to the
direct and frequent attacks of the enemy than
to any tendency to move away into a more
favourable place. If the intended victim perceives the danger in time to elude the jaws of
the pike, it makes a dash into the nearest weed
bed, and is safe for the moment. Small trout
are not often found in this character of water,
but whether their absence is due to deep
still water not suiting them, or to the fact
of any frequenting such water, having been
devoured by the pike, is a question open to
Fear of another deadly enemy—man—seems
to be a characteristic of trout in a state of
nature. Thus on a length of a stream seldom
fished, and on the banks of which there are few
pedestrians, it is often impossible to get within
casting distance of a fish, whether feeding on
or near the surface, or close to the bed of the
river. On another stretch of the same river,
where there is a footpath, or a carriage road,
or where anglers are continually walking up and
down, a trout will, even in the brightest and
calmest weather, take no notice of a passer-by
until he is within a few yards. If rising it will
slowly sink down in the water, and as soon as
the man has got a few yards above or below DISTRIBUTION.
will gradually come back to its old position and
resume its interrupted meal.
The birds that prey upon the fish give them
no chance. The heron, standing poised on one
leg in a shallow, will remain motionless for hours,
and never stir until it makes the fatal thrust.
The kingfisher darts from the bank or a twig
and seizes the fry before it has an idea of
danger. The swans, ducks (tame as well as
wild), the dabchicks and moorhens, feed on
the eggs or alevins which are incapable of
moving any distance.
In respect to parts of the river infested by
pike, or where heavy toll is levied by poachers,
or where herons or kingfishers abound, moving
the trout is a senseless course to adopt. The
pike must be destroyed by nets, wire, trimmer,
or other means ; the poachers must be deterred
or punished ; and the bird enemies must be
shot or trapped.
Having now dealt with the chief movements
of the trout in a river, the reasons prompting
them to make these movements, and the seasons
at which they occur, the next point to consider
is how and under what conditions it is desirable
to counteract their migrations by shifting them
from one character of water to another.
As far as the movements preparatory to
spawning are concerned it is not advisable for
of moving fish
during spawning season. 194 MAKING A  FISHERY.
the lessee or owner of a fishery to do anything.
If he did it would have little or no effect
beyond that of adding to the severe strain
inseparable from the act of reproduction. The
instinct of the females to find suitable places
in which to deposit their eggs, and the instinct
of the males to follow the females, are so strong
that nothing short of penning them in would
prevent their accomplishing their object. In
some cases fish will travel considerable distances
to get to a particular shallow. A pisciculturist,
whose statements may be accepted as most
accurate, told me of an instance where he
netted a female fish on a particular shallow, and
carried her down to his hatchery. Finding that
she was not quite ripe for stripping he turned
her on to a shallow in the river close to the
hatchery, telling his attendant that he would be
able to net her in a few days and take the
eggs. There was some strongly-marked peculiarity about this fish, and a week later he again
netted the shallow from which he had taken her
before, again caught her in the net, and this
time took the eggs. He assured me that the
distance from the hatchery to the shallow in
question was fully two miles.
Moving hsh If after spawning in a carrier the adult fish
spawning.        will hang about on or near the redds, it is well
to remove them from the temptation of devouring DISTRIBUTION.
their own offspring. In very narrow streams they *
can sometimes be driven down, and into the
main river, and at this time of the year this is no
doubt the best plan. If they will not be frightened
away, a handy keeper will often succeed in
taking them out with an ordinary landing net.
If this plan is unsuccessful they should be driven
below the redds, and a short trammel dragged
down will usually secure them. It is in either
case well to carry them some distance from the
mouth of the carrier in which they have spawned.
Stress is laid here on not dragging over the
redds, although, unless the eggs are hatched,
probably no serious injury would accrue.
On wide shallows of the main river nothing
but thorough netting is likely to be efficacious
when desiring to move fish after spawning. It
should not be resorted to unless absolutely
necessary, because it cannot be undertaken
before the early spring, and the tramping about
of men hauling nets does tend to make the fish
in the river shy. Besides, if the eggs are
hatched, it is likely to break up the schools of
young fry. As long as the fry keep together
they thrive, but when they get scattered by
artificial means, they usually drop down stream
and get into deep water, which is not suitable
for them, and holds a stock of their enemies—
either pike or large trout.
O   2 196
Moving fish
from carriers
after Mayfly
Moving fish
from hatch
When the trout work up into the carriers or
ditches, in anticipation of a Mayfly gorge, they
should be left there until the hatch is quite over
and the fall of the imago or spent gnat a thing
of the past. [It is, by the way, well to arrange
that the water level in these carriers should be
kept up during the Mayfly season, and the best
of sport will often be obtained in such plaGes.]
If, however, after the fly is over, they do not
make their way back, it is best to net them
out, and remove them into the wider water of
the main river, as otherwise they are only too
likely to fall a prey to poachers. Wherever
there is a risk of carriers or ditches in water
meadows getting dry, the fish should at every
opportunity, and especially just after the water
is drawn down, be taken out and transferred to
the main stream.
As to the general tendency of fish to congregate in deep hatch holes, the extent to
which they should be netted out and moved to
other quarters depends on the comparative
number of fish, and the size, depth, and general
character of each hatch hole. Trout do not
rise well in such places, but there is usually,
proportionately to its size, a far larger supply
of food in a hatch hole than in the reaches of
the stream. Probably this plentiful food supply
is   the chief  incentive   to  the  trout  to  work DISTRIBUTION.
into and remain in this character .of water/
If some of the fish are not shifted from time
to time, they will infallibly get crowded and
lose condition.
Trout shifted from a hatch hole should be
turned in above, unless there is any strong
reason for not increasing the stock in the upper
reaches. If they are carried down stream, it
should be to some considerable distance. In
fact, although the risk of loss and expense
must invariably increase according to the distance fish are moved, it must be remembered
that the further they are taken from their old
haunts the less likely they are to find their
way back to them. On the question of general
policy when moving trout, some authorities
advise their being taken down stream, and
others that they should be carried up. From
careful study of the natural movements of trout,
it is obvious that their general habit is to work
up stream, and the task of counteracting in a
degree their natural tendency is therefore likely
to be more effectually carried out by conveying
them down stream.
Fish in a particular length of water are sometimes found to be almost without exception in
poor condition. It is not only the larger and
the medium-sized, but all, from the smallest
natural-bred yearlings of  two to three  inches
underfed fish. ■p-   m     Tifffll
Effects of
in length to what may be considered as large I
fish for the river, are long and lean, and lacking in depth. They are not apparently old
trout, with long heads and sharp teeth black in
colour, and generally soft and flabby when
handled; such cannibals as these should, of
course, everywhere and under all conditions, be
ruthlessly slain. The trout in such a stretch of
water are bright and silvery in colour, well
spotted, and prime in flesh, but narrow and
thin. This want of condition is as a rule due
to one and the same cause—called by some
overcrowding, and by others insufficiency of
food. The remedy is to net out as many as
may be considered desirable, and transfer them
to another part of the river where the food is
plentiful and the stock sparse.
Chalk streams are not so subject to severe
floods as the North-country becks, rising in
some distant hill or mountain, pouring over
falls, tearing through rapids, and hurrying their
way down to the sea, or into larger rivers. Yet
when a heavy flood visits one of them the large
area of flat meadows covered with water gives
an appearance of desolation, and causes alarm
in the minds of those responsible for the
management of fisheries situated upon them.
This alarm, too, is frequently intensified by the
well-meaning,   but   generally  ignorant   condo- DISTRIB UTION.
lence poured into one's ears by sympathising
friends. They keep inquiring whether a great
proportion of the trout have not been carried
down by the force of the flood to neighbouring
waters, and generally indulge in so continuous
a chorus of condolence, mingled with Cassandralike predictions of disaster, that at length
one inclines to believe that there must be
some stable foundation for this alarm. It is,
perhaps, well, once and for all, to analyse and
expose the fallacies underlying such irrational
The elementary scientific principle of flowing
water is that, however great the force of the
stream may be on the surface, it decreases with
each inch below the surface, and thus even in
the case of the most turbulent torrent the water
at a comparatively small depth flows only at a
moderate pace. A fish like a trout, passing its
life in the water, and being at various times and
under varying conditions exposed to the full
pace of a rapid stream, has found out the
practical outcome of this scientific theory.
Why should he be carried down nolens volens
by the flow of water ? Like " Brer Fox," of
historic fame, he simply u lies low." In fact,
during the heaviest flood imaginable there is
never so strong a stream that a trout can
neither  stem   it  nor   dodge   it.     Watch   one 200 MAAIAG A IISHERY.
under the lasher of a weir, and note how it works
its tail and fins, so that while just holding its
own against the current it gradually sinks until
it reaches a depth where progression is easy.
Note, too, that even when on the surface in the
full force of the stream a few rapid strokes
of the tail will propel it straight up the
bubbling foam in the very strongest rush of
the water.
Even if a trout, seemingly unable to withstand the pressure of the stream, is carried
down, before it has drifted five yards a vigorous
stroke of its tail will have propelled it into an
eddy, or still water at the side of the main
current, where it can rest and return to its
former position when the flood has subsided.
No flood yet experienced has washed a single
trout unwillingly down the stream for any great
distance. A fish contented with its quarters
simply makes its way to the slack water, getting
further out of the full force of the stream, as
the river rises, to make its way gradually back
when the water has fallen to its normal level.
A number of fish crowded in a hole below
a set of hatches take advantage of the rise
of water to dart up over the fall, and make
their way to a quiet place above, where
they can rest before continuing their journey
One practical observation of the subject is
worth any number of theories evolved from
preconceived and erroneous notions. The flood
of November, 1894, was the highest recorded
on South-country rivers for over forty years.
Banks were over-flowed in all directions, and
acres and acres of water meadows were covered,
until the country for miles around had the
appearance of a huge lake. It was suggested
that all the trouble and expense of systematic
stocking in the Upper Kennet had been thrown
away. It was said that the irresistible force of
the stream at so abnormal a height must have
washed away all the yearlings and two-year-olds
turned into the river. The fish, we were
assured, had been carried away in great
numbers. And some went so far as to express
grave doubts as to the safety even of the larger
trout indigenous to the river. On one point,
and one point only, all agreed, viz., that when
the floods subsided we should find hundreds of
fish dead on the meadows, and that many more
would have been carried down to the waters
immediately below.
Of course, as to whether one's neighbours
lower down the river had been benefited at our
expense it was impossible to do more than conjecture. After the river had fallen, however, to
something  approaching  its  normal   level,   an
Fish in
carriers after
flood. wtmmM
exhaustive examination was made of all the
water meadows, with the result that only one
dead trout and one dead pike were found in a
stretch of four and half miles of the river. As
a confirmation of the theory advanced here that
even during a severe flood the tendency of the
fish is to work up stream, it may, however, be
noted, that on every spawning bed, whether in
the river itself or carriers in the upper part
of the water, there were found to be more redds
than the previous year. This, however, may
have been partially accounted for by the extensive stocking which had taken place. The
bed of the stream, too, was throughout greatly
improved in character by the thorough clearing
away of mud and refuse, effected by the increased stream running over it during the
continuance of the flood.
Tendency of Thus we may take it as proved, that under
trout to work        n     «
up stream. all circumstances, even that of an extraordinary
flood, the general tendency of trout is to work
up stream. This is a matter requiring attention
in every well-regulated fishery. It is manifestly the case, that in stocking and improving
a length of stream, a certain amount of good is
bound to accrue to the water immediately
above, owing to the increased number of trout
working up stream, and to the water below,
owing to the destruction of pike, which are ever DISTRIBUTION.
tending to go down stream. The work of
" Making a Fishery " is hence evidently not the
occupation to be recommended to an intensely
selfish man. If one has true sportsmen and
gentlemen for neighbours, they will at the same
time improve their own stream, or where, from
economical or other motives, this is impracticable, will give every assistance in their
power to those who are at their own expense
doing good work to the river and to the entire
district. Unless, however, the lessee of a piece
of water is willing to lose a serious proportion of
his fish, he must periodically net the top lengths
of his fishery, and shift a good proportion of
the trout thus captured to the lower reaches of
his water.
Above all, and in conclusion, I would tender
the advice to all attempting this class of
work to preserve friendly relations with their
neighbours, to respect their opinions, and bear
with their crotchets. They should be just
towards their keepers, liberal in their arrangements for payment of extra labour, and at times
lenient even towards some of those suspected of
poaching proclivities. They must not expect
startling results in a short time; they must
bear with equanimity the various contretemps
inseparable from the difficulties of their undertaking.   They must not be discouraged by their pm   Mm   mit   ±*r*
apparent want of success in matters of detail,
nor be annoyed at the adverse criticism of their
fellow fishermen. They must go steadily and
steadfastly on to the end, and, given health and
life, are bound to succeed. INDEX.
and   accommodation, 12
Advantages of improved method of netting,
Advantages    of    introducing
fresh strain, 130
Advertisements   for   keepers,
Advice   not   to   bid   against
existing tenant, 2
Agreement   or   lease,    conditions of, 23
  length of, 17
Alleged antagonism of grayling and trout, 177
Amateur hatcheries, 136
American   weed    {Elodea
canadense), 10
Artificial stocking, opponents
of, 125
Autumn weed cutting, 57
Average  size  of trout,  difficulty of ascertaining, 6
Bamboo    canes    for   wiring
sticks, 119
Banks, repairs to, 40
Birds as poachers, 78
Canes,  bamboo,   for   wiring
sticks, 119
Carriers, moving trout from,
after Mayfly, 196
 trout in, after floods, 201
 trout working  into,  for
Mayfly, 190
" Celery " weed (Apium
inundatum), 9
Chain scythe, 53
Choice of water limited, 1
Classification of weeds, 9
Communication with  former
tenant advisable, 4
Conditions of lease or agreement, 23
Conditions under which grayling thrive, 178
Covenants, lessee's, 25
 lessors, 25 206
Cut weeds, 60
 annoyance from, 61
 disposal of, 64
Cutting weeds, autumn, 57
* by lessee, 47
 by lessor, 46
 side and bar system, 50
 spring, 48
 treatment of hatch holes,
■ mill ponds, 53
shallows, 49
Dace, netting, 111
Deep water, trimming weeds
in> 55
Description of a stew, 147
Difficult places to net, 112
Disease in the  stew, origin,
Disposal of cut weeds, 64
 of fish taken netting, 99
Drag nets, 87
Dredging to ascertain nature
of food supply, 7
Drifting weeds while fishing, 67
Drowners; 39
Ducks and swans, 79
Duties of head keeper when
netting, 100
Educating yearlings to surface
food in the stew, 158
Effects of pollution in spawning beds, 131
Estimating numbers of spawning fish, 132
Eyed ova, 139
 stocking with, 140
Examination of weeds,- 8
Extent of water, 3
Farmers' water rights, 22
Favourable and unfavourable
days for wiring pike, 121
Fear of enemies, 191
Feeding in stew—first attempt,
Fish as poachers, 80
Fish, poached, receivers of, 73
Fish    spawning,    estimating
numbers, 132
Fish taken netting,  disposal
of, 99
Floaters, 39
Flood, force   of   stream   in,
Floods, trout in carriers after,
 effects of, on~trout, 198
Food for yearlings  in  stew,
 quantity given in  stew,
 supply, 7
 as affected by weeds, 44
 nature of, ascertained by
dredging, 7
Francis Francis on grayling
v. trout, 177
 opinion, pike, 80
Fresh   strain,   advantages   of
introducing, 130
Fry, stocking with, 141
Fungus in stew, treatment, 166
Gilby v. Wiggins, Teape, and
Co. Ltd., 63 INDEX.                                    207
Grayling,    advantages    from
Improved method of netting,
introduction of, 173
Grayling  and   trout,   alleged
 advantages of, 95
antagonism, 177
Introduction of grayling, ad
 conditions under which
vantages, 173
they thrive, 178
 disadvantages, 175
 disadvantages from intro
 to Upper Kennet, 180
duction of, 175
Inspection, personal, 5
 do they eat trout  ova ?
Insufficiency of natural stock,
 Francis Francis on, 177
 in the Test, 179
Keeper, head, advertisements
 introduction   to   Upper
for, 35
Kennet, 180
  head, duties when net
 netting     for     stocking
ting, 100
Upper Kennet, 182
 under, 36
 sporting qualities of, 174
Keepers, 34
 tendency to work down
 and poachers, 75
stream, 179
Keeping yearlings in stew for
 working up stream, 185
one year, 143
Kennet, introduction of gray
Habitat of large trout in hot
ling to Upper, 180
weather, 190
 netting for stocking with
Hands, number required for
grayling in Upper, 182
netting, 97
Hatches in  water   meadows,
Labour for netting, 90
Lease, advantages and disad
Hatcheries, amateur, 136
vantages of short, 18
Hatch holes, netting, 102
 or agreement, conditions
 moving trout from, 196
of, 23
 treatment,   spring weed
 or agreement, length of,
cutting, 54
 trout congregating in, 191
Lessee, weed cutting by, 47
Head keeper, advertisements
Lessee's covenants, 25
for, 35
Lessor, netting by, generally
Head keeper's   duties   when
unsatisfactory, 108                                                       1
netting, 100
 weed cutting by, 46
Lessor's covenants, 25
Identification of property, 16
 reservations, 20 208
Magistrates' sentences on
poachers, 72
Maps, ordnance, for identification, 16
March Brown (Ecdyurus
venosus), 9
Mayfly, moving trout from
carriers after, 196
 trout      working      into
carriers for, 190
Millers' water rights, 22
Mill ponds, treatment, spring
weed cutting, 53
Moving yearlings, a contretemps, 154
Mud, 12
 removal of, 41
Natural stock, insufficiency of,
Natural   system  of stocking,
Necessity for shade in a stew,
Negotiation, 15
Neighbourhood and scenery,
Net, difficult places to, 112
 drag, 87
 purse, 90
 trammel, 88
Nets required, 85
  to be  dragged  slowly,
Netting, advantages of
improved method, 95
 by lessor generally unsatisfactory, 108
 dace, in
Netting, disposal offish taken,
 hatch hole, 162
-—.— head keeper's duties, 100
 improved method of, 91
 labour for, 90
 number of hands required for, 97
 preliminary work, 84
 records of, 101
 statistics of, 103
 trout, 109
 weak points of, 104
Number of hands required for
netting, 97
Numbers of spawning fish,
estimating, 132
Ordnance maps for identifica-
tion, 16
Origin of disease in the stew,.
Otters, 77
Overfeeding in stew, symptoms of, 159
Personal inspection, 5
Pike, favourable and unfavourable days for wiring,,
 Francis Francis's opinion,.
 use of spear for, 113
 trimmer for, 115
 wire for, 119
 voracity of, 81
 wire for, 118
 wiring, advantages of, in.
early spring, 122 INDEX.                                    209
Planks and stiles, 37
Rights, farmers',  over water,
Poached   fish,   receivers   of,
 millers', over water, 21
Poachers and keepers, 75
Rules and regulations, 30
 birds as, 78
Poachers, fish as, 8
Scythe, chain, 53
 human, 71
Shade in a stew, necessity for,
 magistrates'     sentences
on, 72
Shallows,   treatment,    spring
Pollution, effect on spawning
weed cutting, 49
beds, 131
 trimming weeds on, 56
Ponds for growing yearlings,
Shelter, weeds as, 45
Side and bar system of weed
Preliminary work before net
cutting, 50
ting, 84
Spawning beds, effects of pol
Preparation of stew for second
lution, 131
year, 163
 fish, estimating numbers,
Property, identification of, 16
Purse net, 90
 ground,   trout   working
up-stream to, 188
Quantity of   food   given   to
 season,   advice   not   to
yearlings in stews, 160
move trout during, 193
 trout, movements after,
Receivers   of   poached   fish,
Spear for pike, 113
Records  of   fish taken,  &c,
Sporting qualities of grayling,
 netting, 101
Spring weed cutting, 48
Removal of mud, 41
 treatment of hatch holes,
Repairs to banks, 40
Rent, 19
 mill ponds, 53
Reservations by lessor, 20
 shallows, 49
Results of first year in stew,
Statistics of netting, 103
Stew, description Of, 147
  second   year   in   stew,
 educating   yearlings   to
surface food in, 158
Returning undersized fish, 31
 first attempt at feeding in
Ribbon   weed   (Sparganium
ramosuni), 11
 food for yearling in, 155
Stew in second year, 164
 keeping yearlings in, for
one year, 143
  necessity  of  shade  in,
 origin of disease in, 169
 preparation of, for second
year, 163
 quantity of food given in,
 results of first year  in,
 second, 171
 symptoms of overfeeding,
 treatment of fungus, 166
Sticks, wiring, bamboo canes
for, 119
Stock, insufficiency of natural,
Stocking, artificial, opponents
of, 125
 natural system of, 129
 various breeds  of trout
for, 134
 with eyed ova, 140
 fry, 141
 yearlings or two-year-
olds, 142
Stone Fly {Perla cephalotes), 9
Superintendence, 28
Surface food, educating yearlings to, in stew, 158
Swans and ducks, 79
Symptoms of overfeeding in
stew, 159
Tenant, advice not to bid
against, 2
Tendency of grayling to work
downstream, 179
Test, grayling in, 179
Trammel net, 88
Treatment of fungus in stew,
Trimmer for pike, 115
Trimming weeds in deep
water, 55
 on shallows, 56
Trout, advisability of not
moving during spawning
season, 193
 and    grayling,    alleged
antagonism, 177
 congregating   in   hatch
holes, 191
 effects of floods, 198
 fear of enemies as affecting movements, 191
 general tendency to work
upstream, 202
 habitat of large fish in
hot weather, 190
 in carriers after floods, 201
 movements after spawning, 189
 moving   from    carriers
after Mayfly, 196
 moving from hatch holes,
 moving underfed, 197
 natural    tendencies    to
travel, 187
 netting, 109
 ova;   do   grayling   eat
them ? 176
—— tendency to work . upstream, 202 INDEX.
Trout,    various    breeds   for
stocking, 134
 working into carrier for
Mayfly, 190
 working    upstream    to
spawning ground, 188
Two-year-olds, stocking with,
Underkeeper, 36
Undersized    fish,        urning,
Use of wire for pike, 119
Voracity of pike, 81
Water crowfoot {Ranunculus
aquatilis), 10
 meadows,    hatches    in,
     starwort     (Callitriche
aquatica), 10
Weak points of netting, 109
Weed,     American     (Elodea
canadense), 10
 " Celery " (Apium inun-
datum), 9
Weed cutting, autumn, 57
 by lessee, 47
 by lessor, 46
 side    and   bar   system,
 spring, 48
 treatment of hatch holes,
 mill ponds, 53
 shallows, 49
 ribbon (Sparganz'um ra-
mosum), 11
Weed, water crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis), 10
  water   starwort   (Calli-
triche aquatica), 10
Weeds as affecting food
supply, 44
 as shelter, 45
 classification of, 9
 cut, 60
 annoyance from, 61
 disposal of, 64
   drifting   while   fishing,
 examination of, 8
  trimming in deep water,
 on shallows, 56
Wire for pike, 118
 use of, 119
Wiring, favourable and unfavourable days for, 121
 pike,   advantage   of,  in
early spring, 122
 sticks, bamboo canes for,
Working up stream, grayling,
Yearlings,   a   contretemps   in
moving, 154
Yearlings  in stew, educating
to surface food, 158
 first attempt at feeding,
 food for, 155
 in second year, 164
  keeping  for   one   year,
 origin of disease, 169 212
Yearlings, quantity   of  food
given, 160
  results    of   first   year,
  results of second year,
Yearlings, symptoms of overfeeding, 159
 treatment of fungus, 166
Yearlings or two-year-olds,
stocking with, 142
 ponds for growing, 136 { L
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