Loch Lubnaig, in Perthshire, is a water which one is always glad to visit. It lies picturesquely beside Ben Ledi, and until quite recent years had a good head of fish in the spring. Lord Esher, who remarks that our questions relating to the preservation of the salmon constitute an important subject, informs me that there is a falling-off in the stock and in the sport. The cause he believes to be netting on the Teith, flowing from the loch to the Forth. Lord Esher's opinion is confirmed by statements from other sources. Mr. J. B. Baillie Hamilton of Cambusmore, a very expert angler, writes :-

" I am a considerable proprietor of salmon fishings on the Teith, and have been a member of the Forth District Fishery Board for thirty years. Twenty years ago my average catch to my own rod was from twenty to thirty spring salmon, and double that number in autumn, besides all the fish that many friends got. Now the number is reduced to, say, three fish in spring, and, say, ten in autumn. Our Fishery Board joined with the Tay Board three years ago, and got a decision in the House of Lords that the hang or drift nets used in the Forth were illegal. Since then the Board have been busy interdicting the fishing by those nets, and we are gradually getting the better of them; but it is difficult work. The upper proprietors have also purchased, at great cost, the cruives and fishings of Craigforth, and have thrown them open for the free passage of fish at all times. This must benefit the fishings."

Colonel Robertson, C.B., Callander, who has been familiar with the Teith for thirty years, writes:-

" There is a terrible falling-off in the stock, and the river is scarcely worth fishing now. I attribute this to the nets in the Firth of Forth and in the river below Stirling. The state of affairs is simply disgraceful. The Teith is naturally one of the finest salmon rivers in Great Britain. It has splendid spawning ground, and many good pools close together."

An extract from Colonel Robertson's Diary, showing how he fared in 1891, indicates that he does not exaggerate the natural capacity of the Teith. In the first column are the dates of fishing; in the second, the names of the pools; in the third, the weights of the fish caught; in the fourth, the number of fish caught each day.

Date.

Pool.

Weight.

No.

Sept. 9.

Island Crow

. 6

2

" 11

Crow

. 29

1

" 28.

Dam

. 20

1

Oct. 7.

"

. 17

3

" "

"

. 8

" "

Island

. 9.

" 8.

Dam

. 25

4

" "

"

. 19

" "

"

. 7

" "

"

. 6

" 9.

"

. 7

4

" "

"

. 16

" "

"

. 10

" "

Island

. 8

" 12.

Kelty

. 9

6

" "

Dam

. 10

" "

"

. 15

" "

"

. 7

" "

"

. 19

" "

"

. 5

" 14.

"

. 9

108 lbs.

8

" "

"

. 12

" "

"

. 16

" "

"

. 9

" "

"

. 13

" "

"

. 14

" "

"

. 16

" "

"

. 19

" 16.

Kelty

. 5

6 fish 100 lbs.

7

" "

Dam

. 18

, "

"

. 16

" "

"

. 22

" "

"

. 15

" "

"

. 19

" "

"

. 8

" 19.

"

. 22

122 lbs.

9

" "

"

. 13

" "

"

. 16

" "

"

. 10

" "

"

. 7

" "

"

. 17

" "

"

. 13

" "

"

. 14

" "

"

. 7

Date.

Pool.

Weight.

No.

Oct. 21.

Crow

. 9

. 5

" "

Island

. 14

" "

Dam

. 7

" "

"

. 7

" "

"

. 9

" 23.

"

. 14

. 4

" "

"

. 8

" "

Kelty

. 17

" "

"

. 6

" 24.

Crow

. 14

. 2

" "

Dam

. 11

" 26.

"

. 8

. 6

" "

"

. 8

" "

"

. 6

" "

"

. 24

" "

Wood

. 14

" 29.

Crow Stream

. 14

. 5

" "

Wood

. 16

" "

"

. 18

" "

Crow

. 18

" "

Kelty

. 14

" 30.

Rush

. 16

. 5

" "

"

. 20

" "

Rock

. 17

" "

Crow

. 8

" "

"

. 13

" 31.

"

. 7

. 7

" "

"

. 15

" "

Kelty

. 14

" "

"

. 13

" "

Dam

. 6

" "

"

. 18

" "

Crow

. 7

This statement is inspiringly suggestive. The extent of river fished was well under three miles. Even now the Teith and many another stream could be speedily restored if only the salmon had a fair chance, which would not ultimately cost any one a penny.

Loch Voil, a very beautiful water from which flows the river that maintains Loch Lubnaig, suffers, of course, from the causes mentioned by Lord Esher, Mr. Baillie Hamilton, and Colonel Robertson; and so does Loch Doine, which is connected with Loch Voil by a short channel. Still, as the angler sometimes finds when he is hoping for trout only, salmon are not as a rule scarce in spring. Grilse, however, are not to be seen in Voil or Doine. Their absence, I learn from Mr. Stewart-Macdonald of Monachyle and Craigruie, is due to their inability to leap over the Falls of Leny. " In a dry season,'" Mr. Stewart-Macdonald writes, "the fish lie in the pool below the Falls and make the water boil. If a pass were built over the rocks, or the rocks were blasted, grilse as well as salmon would have a free run."" That would benefit the whole system of lochs and rivers, the lower as much as the upper. " The otter," my informant adds, " is a bad poacher on the Leny and the Teith.11

The Clyde, the Leven, and Loch Lomond have now the advantage of being cared for by an Association of sportsmen having headquarters in Glasgow. Mr. Henry Lamond, the energetic Secretary, writes:-

"Until the Clyde is purified it must remain barred for migratory fish. In the estuary to the south, as far as the river Ayr, there is no salmon river. On the north, except the Echaig, with its intermittent flow, there is none but the Leven. That river opens, at Dumbarton Rock, a gateway to the watershed of Loch Lomond. This great district is not under the control of a District Board. The Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association, however, taking a broad view, leased the fishing rights of Loch Lomond and the Leven nets, abolishing the nets, and now leases the Clyde nets, working them to clear the rent. The Association, besides its netting statistics, receives approximately correct reports of fish caught on the loch. A fair estimate can thus be made of the total yield. In 1904 the nets lost through the Leven running high. In 1905, a season of drought, the nets gained and the loch lost. The cumido returns show a great increase of stock. In 1904 there were taken by net and rod 592 salmon and grilse and 3104 sea-trout; in 1905, 1083 salmon and grilse and 6054 sea-trout. The increase is partly due to the Association's hatchery. Certain of the loch shores have thereby been restocked. At Luss, in October 1904, twenty-one sea-trout were marked with silver badges. It is believed that in October 1905 nine of them were seen. It is just possible that a few of these were the same fish appearing more than once; but it is certain that five of them were counted once only. The sole obstacle to a splendid increase is pollution of the Leven, which in a dry season makes that river impassable. The average size of sea-trout is going up.'"

The Cree and the Minnock, uniting about seven miles above the top of the tide, are naturally very productive, and there is an early run of fish; but the long, narrow estuary is so thickly beset with nets that in 1899 the stock of fish showed unmistakable signs of failure. An Angling Association of six persons obtained a lease of the whole net and rod fishings for twenty-one years. The nets throughout the water were removed ; a sixty-hours" weekly close time was arranged with the owner of a stake net in the bay; the spawning beds, previously poached without mercy, were placed under protection of a trustworthy superintendent and four watchers. The immediate result was a fine run of salmon and grilse; the narrow upper waters were closely packed with fish, making an astonishing display in times of drought. On the death of the principal proprietor, in 1901, his successor brought an action in the Courts and ousted the Association from the tenancy. The defect in the lease consisted in a provision inserted for the benefit of the proprietor. The members of the Association, desiring only the spring and summer fishing, had agreed that the proprietor should resume his rights every autumn, so as to let the fishings with his various shootings. The Judges held that this right of re-entry altered what would otherwise have been one lease for twenty-one years into twenty-one leases of nine months each, which, of course, it was ultra vires of a proprietor to grant beyond the term of his own life. Accordingly, the rivers passed out of the hands of the Association at the close of the season 1902, before any benefit had accrued to it from three years' protection of the spawning fish. The nets are now at full work again throughout the ten miles of tidal water, and, although netting has been stopped in the two or three pools above the tide which were formerly netted, the river seems likely to relapse. The want of a close time for smelt or sparling fishing promotes misfortune. Smelts ascend to the head of the estuary, to deposit their spawn, towards the end of April and in May, at the very time when the salmon smolts are descending. Thousands of smolts are netted along with the smelts at this season. That is an evil which the Association provided against by establishing a close season for smelts or sparlings during the spring months. This was done with the full concurrence of the sparling fishers, who find that the fish travel very badly to market in warm weather.