A very high authority has delivered his opinion that the east coasts of Great Britain and Ireland are more highly favoured by fish than the west coasts. But the east coast of Scotland does not offer such great attractions to the sportsman as the western shores, for the simple reason that it is more exposed, and during weeks at a time the angler may not be able to fish either from the rocks or put to sea in a boat. Haddocks, cod, and herrings are most abundant; but of what use is this abundance to the angler when there is a double line of surf breaking on the shore, or great billows foaming up against the base of the cliff and sending the white spray high overhead ?
But the eastern coast of Scotland must be dealt with. Aberdeen is notable as being the first place where a club of any kind has been formed for the prosecution of sea fishing. It still exists, and is called, I believe, the Rock Anglers' Association. It consists mainly of working men, who, in the autumn, catch large numbers of cod and other fish from the rocks. In the little village of Findon, which lies between Stonehaven and Aberdeen, are prepared a small proportion of the ' Finnan haddies' which find place in every fishmonger's shop. Like Yarmouth bloaters and champagne, the name is considered everything by many people. The true Finnan haddie is smoked over a peat fire in the cottages of the fishermen at Findon, but most of the haddocks sold under this name are cured in other places by means of wood smoke.
Between Stonehaven and Aberdeen is a bold rocky coast with numerous inlets, bays, and deep gullies, and a good deal of fishing from the rocks for cod is carried on. Very long bamboo rods are used. The railway touches the coast of Portlethen, Cove, and Muchalls. Much sea fishing is also done from the piers and breakwaters along this part of the coast, and there is good mackerel fishing at times.
The fishing stations on the Moray Firth, and further north, are of considerable importance, and in particular may be mentioned Fraserburg, Banff, Buckie, Findhorn, Cromarty, Helmsdale, and Lybster. Some of the most beautiful fishing boats I have ever seen came from this part of the coast. I saw one, a smart lugger, coming into Lowestoft Harbour (for these Scotch fishermen are enterprising, and travel far afield) ; it was sailing two feet for every one covered by an English boat ahead of it. The Scotch craft gained so rapidly on the Englishman that the two entered the harbour together and there was a trifling collision.
The fisheries of the Firth of Forth are considerable. Herring fishing, by means of drift nets, is carried on ; while large quantities of cod and haddocks are caught on long lines ; and there is a good deal of beam trawling near Buckhaven and other places on the north side of the Firth. Places of some little importance, in which will be found fishermen, fishing boats, and baits, are Eyemouth, North Berwick, Dunbar and Newhaven.
So much, then, for the mainland of Scotland. Round the northern groups of islands—Orkney and Shetland—the sea fishing is often superb, except for bass, and there are numbers of those inlets of the sea which are the happy hunting grounds of bad sailors. Stornoway, in the Island of Lewis, is an important fishing station, from a commercial point of view ; and during the northerly and westerly winds there is a good shelter here for the small-boatmen, who will get fair fishing for pollack round the rocky headlands in the neighbourhood. Broad Bay, to the north-west of Stornoway, deserves special mention as being probably the finest haddock ground of the United Kingdom. There are, of course, fish of other kinds, but haddocks seem to crowd out almost everything else. It is a shallow sandy bay, more or less free from tidal currents, and can be fished easily and pleasantly with light tackle. I have seen the crofters selling haddocks eighteen a shilling, so plentiful were these fish. The cod and ling line-fishing commences in the autumn, and ends in the late spring. In the summer the herrings are attacked.
Among the many inlets of the sea on both sides of Harris and the islands to the south the fishing is fair to good. In proper season the men catch pollack, haddock, and flat fish ; but from my own experience, and what I could get to hear about it, the general fishing is not quite so excellent as in the sea-lochs of the north-west coast, to which I have previously referred.
There are places on the Irish coast at which first-rate fishing can be had. From a commercial point of view, the east coast is most important ; but for our particular purpose I should rather prefer the west coast, where fish of all kinds seem very abundant. That coast is, of course, greatly exposed to the Atlantic ; but there are many sheltered places, as in the mouths of rivers, between the mainland and islands, and in inlets of the sea, which are favourable to the prosecution of sea angling. At times the mackerel fishing is superb, particularly on the southwest coast ; but the visits of these fish are very uncertain. Young coalfish, which are called locally ' glissauns,' are caught in great numbers by means of bamboo poles and rough wool-bodied flies.
Among the places which have obtained a reputation for amateur sea fishing, Waterville in Kerry should be specially mentioned. Waterville Bay is sheltered from all except southwest winds ; and there is some very fair freshwater fishing in the neighbourhood, which is a consideration, and will be appreciated by those who visit the place during a south-westerly gale. A few miles from it is the sheltered sound between Valentia Island and the mainland. This part of the coast is well worth a visit.
• Notwithstanding the traffic, and a good deal of trawling, fish, including cod, ling, bream, haddock and conger, are plentiful in Dublin Bay. Haddocks, at times, are very numerous, though they have a way of leaving the bay for years together, and amateur fishermen frequently secure large takes of sea-bream. There are a number of pleasant watering-places between Dublin and Wicklow, and from some of these, I apprehend, very fair sea fishing might be enjoyed. I was riding through Dublin in a public conveyance, when two men entered, who had with them a large basket of fish.