The Bonito is ready-found game on all the Atlantic stations, and at St. Helena the officers obtain good baskets by using bamboo rods about fourteen feet long, Nottingham winches, and about one hundred and twenty yards of line. The bait is the small fry of any silvery sea fish. The bonito is an old friend, of course, of the sea angler, and his sporting qualities are well known. Indeed, a fish of about 10 lbs. is as lively as a salmon. A basket of dead fry to use for casting out in handfuls as a surface rather than a ground bait is one of the tricks of this excitement, and a hook baited with a live fish is thrown out into the boil created by the attracted fish. The bonito is one of the few sea fishes that leap continually out of the water. I have heard of a bonito of 40 1/2 lbs. killed in this way at St. Helena.
The flamingo-haunted lakes, and the Suez Canal which skirts or is part of them, abound with fish, and the sphinx-like Egyptian is a most patient rod-angler along that famous waterway. A beautiful bass is found at Ismaїlia, but it is fished for with the clumsiest appliances, though the ' Bitter Take Trout,' as it is designated, is a highly marketable commodity. The local fishermen lay night lines and are well content with the eight- or nine-pounders which the morning brings them ignominiously hooked. With a light bamboo rod, and shellfish bait which the donkey boys of Lake Timsah readily procure for you, a basket of what the Americans term ' pan fish' can easily be caught, and it is these young mullet and bream which haunt the woodwork of the jetties that are used as bait for the bigger bass. The sailors of ships lying at anchor get fish as long as their arm on the most primitive of night lines.
South of the tropics there is also sea angling of various sorts for the resourceful sportsman. The colony to which men of enterprise are now turning is in that direction, and at the Cape there is rare sport in Simon's Bay. A fish represented as a 'Cape salmon'of 26 1/2 lbs. was killed in November 1894 by a learned professor (James Cameron, registrar of the University of the Cape of Good Hope, and formerly classical professor in the South African College). As such local names are often very misleading, on reading the account of this exciting piece of sport, I wrote to the captor, asking for precise information as to the species. The anglers, it may be premised, were fishing with rods from a little platform near the stern of one of her Majesty's ships, and the fight became perilous as well as inspiriting when the fish darted under the keel of the ship. After an hour's hard fighting, a welcome break in the monotony of life on the quarter-deck, the prize was landed from a boat. From the communication received I am able to state that this particular Cape salmon is the Otolithus cequidens of Cuvier, and it is called at the Cape 'geelbeck,' or yellow mouth. There are other fish in these waters also called Cape salmon ; one of them, which runs from 30 to 40 lbs., and gives splendid sport, is the ' Kabeljauw,' Sciśna hololepidota of Cuvier. The best fish in Cape waters is the ' Steenbrasem,' Lithognathus capensis of Cuvier, but it is somewhat lethargic when hooked.
My correspondent, subsequent to the fight with the Cape salmon, which went the round of the papers, went out fishing between a late breakfast and an early lunch with a friend, and the two rods accounted for five fish, of a total weight of one hundredweight. The largest individual in this fine bit of saltwater angling was a ' steenbrasem' of 48 lbs. The other four were what is called by the Cape men ' seventy-fours,' the same being the Dentex rapestris of science. It is described as a particularly handsome fish with large bright scales, silvery as a clean run salmon, and ranging from 10 to 25 lbs. Here, as elsewhere in foreign sea fishing, not the least charm is the variety of fish taken. The professor has caught as many as thirteen distinct species in one morning in False Bay.
In dealing with Simon's Bay it may be mentioned that the Bank of Agulhas is the Dogger Bank of Cape of Good Hope fishing men. From boats running about five knots an hour—a little less for choice fishing—lines with copper wire traces, and baits often rudely cut out of a sheet of tin, or a piece of scarlet or white bunting wrapped round the hook, are taken by the locally called ' snook,' a large fish of a copper colour, with fierce jaws and a formidable array of teeth, closely resembling the barracouta of the West Indies. Sometimes the thick lines are snapped like packthread by bonito or albicore. The Agulhas Bank extends from the Cape of Good Hope along the eastern coast of Africa, a distance of some hundreds of miles, and being formed by the ocean current, is the haunt of every variety of sea fish. It was here that Sir Edward Belcher caught forty-two fish, ranging from 6 lbs. to 32 lbs. in weight, in six hours ; and the almost incredible story is told of the lead being actually stopped in its descent by the packed shoal below. This, however, would mean deep-sea fishing, and, indeed, the best of the fish are found at a depth of seventy-six fathoms.
On the eastern coast of Africa, those who make the attempt generally find abundant sport with sea fish. A few years ago a native employed on board H.M.S. Agamemnon, lying in Zanzibar Harbour, caught a monster which outdoes even the American tarpon. The man was fishing with gut tackle on an ordinary hand line, and, hooking a fish which was obviously something out of the common, he jumped into a punt to see the incident out. The fish sulked for the first half-hour, and then, at no great speed, made down the harbour, easily towing the punt after it. Some of the officers of the ship went off to assist the fisherman, and eventually contrived to run a line through the monster's gills. By this time, however, decisive action had been forced by the tactics of the enemy a good half-mile away, and the punt with the fish astern was towed back. Hoisted in, the latter measured 6 ft. 2 in. long, 4 ft. 4 in. in girth, and weighed 360 lbs. Lieutenant Harston Eagles, who is an enthusiastic sea fisherman, states that his lines have been frequently broken at Zanzibar, where large tunny, and the fish known as seer-fish, afford real sport from March to June, trolling with a salmon rod.