This most delicious of fish sometimes grows to an immense size for a frequenter of fresh water. Some isolated specimens in Scotland are said to have attained from seventy to eighty pounds. The usual length of the salmon, however, is from two to three and a half feet, and its weight varies from twenty to thirty-two pounds. They are of a silvery gray color on the sides, spotted with irregular reddish spots — the belly is white, and the back a dark blue. When first taken from the water its colors are beautiful.
Salmon begin to run up certain Northern rivers in April, and stay there until the latter end of July, when they return to the sea. It is while thus running that they are taken by anglers and salmon fishermen. They deposit their spawn at the extreme point that they reach on the river, and by the time they return, the young fry are ready to return with them.
The same young ones follow their parents up the river the year following, having grown to be about six inches in length. At the end of the second year they weigh from five to seven pounds, and it takes them six years to attain their growth.
Fishing for Salmon
The salmon, like the trout, is timid and easily frightened. When they become alarmed they move very rapidly in the water, and go a great distance without stopping. It is, therefore, necessary to be extremely cautious in fishing them, and requires skill and perseverence.
The most wary and scientific anglers have their patience tried in taking this fish, whose instinct leads it to astonishingly artful and singular efforts to escape. The feeding grounds of the salmon are swift streams, and deep lakes, with gravelly and pebbly bottoms, where there are easy outlets to the sea. The time for fishing them is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and they may be taken from May until August. In the first of the season, worms, small fish, or shrimp is the usual bait; but in July and August they are partial to the fly.
The tackle used for salmon should combine strength with imperceptibility. A large sized reel is necessary, with some two hundred yards of line made of silk and hair combined, or a grass line is sometimes used. The leader should be four or feet long, made of twisted gut, and with a swivel sinker, or a swivel alone in fly fishing. The rod should be fifteen to eighteen feet long, and elastic at the end.
The proper hook for worm and live bait is the Kirby and Limerick pattern, Nos. to 4 ; and Nos. to 3 in fly fishing. Fishing with artificial flies is often very successful, the flies being made of gray and gaudy feathers. They are sold at all the fishing tackle stores.