An Account Of The Salmon And Its Varieties

I desire merely to give some account of this beautiful fish for the

information of my readers, the knowledge of which has come under my own

notice, in the rivers of Ireland in particular, amongst the fishermen at

their mouths, at the "cruives" or "cuts," and throughout my rambles

along their banks.

This excellent salmon is a very handsome fish, the head is small, the

body rather long and covered with brig
t scales, the back is of a bluish

shade, the other parts white, and marked with irregular dark brown spots

on the head, the covers of the gills, down each side from the lateral

lines to near the edge of the back, very few are to be seen below the

lines which run from head to tail; the tail is forked.

He takes great delight in pursuing small fish and fry, and in playing

and jumping on the top of the water, at insects no doubt, and for his

own sport.

It has been often said that there was never any thing found in the

salmon's stomach such as edibles, but it has been recently discovered

that they prey upon herrings, sprats, fry, and other dainties in their

native element; and as these fish are very nutritious and fat in

themselves, no doubt the nourishing channel in them receives the

substance of the food very quickly, as it appears to be digested so

rapidly in their stomachs. He leaves the sea for the fresh water rivers

about January and February, and continues to run up till September and

October, their spawning time, and some spawn after this time; they are

often big with roe in December and January, in the end of August or the

beginning of September; when they are in roe regularly, they cannot be

in proper season; they get soft, their beautiful color and spots vanish,

and they do not appear like the same fish. They travel up rivers as far

as they can possibly get, into lakes and their feeders, and tributaries

of large rivers, where they take delight in the broad gravelly fords,

and strong deep running currents, which they like to be as clear as

crystal, to effect which they will leap over weirs, waterfalls, "cuts,"

"cruives," and "traps," when there is a flood rushing over them, to the

great delight of the fly fisher, who loves to see them run and escape

these obstructions.

The male fish is supplied by nature with a hard gristly beak on the end

of the under jaw, which fits into a socket in the upper jaw to a nicety;

with this the Salmon go to work with their heads up stream, rising their

tails sometimes nearly perpendicular, and root up the sand and gravel in

heaps, leaving a hollow between, wherein the female deposits the eggs;

the male fish still performing his part, chasing away the large trout

that are ready to root it up (the spawn), he covers it over

substantially against the forthcoming winter's floods and storms. By

this time he becomes wearied, spent, and sickly, and then turns himself

round and makes head for the sea, where, if once happily arrived, he

soon makes up for the debility in his blue, his fresh, and ever free

element. The refreshing and purging nature of the salt water soon makes

him once more strong and healthy, he may be seen leaping and playing in

the sea near the river's mouth on his recovery. I have been told by

fishermen that they proceed in shoals to the ice fields in the North

Seas, and return to the rivers and estuaries in the spring and summer

as they departed, in large shoals; they discover themselves in the bays

by jumping out of the water as they near the river.

The Salmon haunts the deepest, strongest, and most rapid rivers, and is

rarely to be seen in those wherein there is much traffic, or that are

sullen or muddy. They prefer the upper parts of rough streams that run

into large pools, and the tails of these pools, behind large stones, in

the middle and at sides of waterfalls in the eddies, these are the parts

to throw for them, but the fisherman on the water will show the angler

all the best places. The best months to angle for them are from March

till the middle of August, after September they are out of season. They

will take the fly best from six or seven o'clock in the morning till

nine, and from three in the afternoon till dark, with a good wind

blowing up stream. I have hooked them on the very top of a precipice,

after surmounting the leap, where they lie to rest in the first deep

pool they come to; they generally run down over the rocks or falls of

water to the pool beneath, when they often get killed by the rapid