The mullet caught in this way are sometimes as much as five pounds in weight, and the method is practically one of tight-line fishing on a sloping beach. Should the mullet take the fancy of going straight out to sea, as he often does, the angler has to wade in as far as he can, and take his chances of holding on when his limit is reached. It is easier when the fish head for the breakers ; the angler then has merely to retreat up the shingle, keeping a steady strain on the line. The fish is ultimately landed, as salmon are often landed in Scotland and Ireland, by sheer haulage. The fisherman walks backwards, leaving one of his companions, who excitedly rushes down to secure the prize at the earliest opportunity. The sport is increased a good deal where three or four of the serried rank of anglers are each fastened to a fish, crossing one another, and fouling the lines.
The sea angling in the immediate neighbourhood of Genoa is described by a well-known authority, ' Sarcelle,' as lamentably discouraging. The favourite long bamboo rod is there used both by the man who gets his living by fishing, and the amateur who seeks sport. They use fine tackle, and fish from every rocky point. Though he had often watched them he only witnessed the capture of two grey mullet of about one pound each, and sundry small bream. In summer the professionals fish from boats at anchor, in from twenty to forty fathoms of water, and later in the year they use set lines baited with worms, prawns, or tiny squid. The game, however, is hardly worth the trouble, the produce apparently being small quantities of wrasse, bream, and suchlike haunting the rocks. ' Sarcelle' himself, as a result of fishing from seven o'clock to two o'clock in the morning, gives three small bogue and five oblade to match as the bag made by four rods. The list of fish compiled by this gentleman in 1894, after frequent visits to the Genoa fish market is, as might be expected, headed by the tunny. Then follow the striped bonito, mackerel, the sport-giving lichia family, mullet of two kinds (pink and red), and surmullet, swordfish, the great sea perch, and a number of beautifully marked fish of the serranus tribe, wrasses, dogfish, hake, gropers, flying fish, a variety of breams, sea pike, conger eel, a number of gurnards, flat fishes, including the turbot, prawns, and shrimps. The Scitena aquila, which is supposed to be universal in the Mediterranean, appears to be scarce in the Gulf of Genoa.
In the Adriatic it is commonly believed that the hake, whiting, and other fish taken by hook are better for table purposes than those caught by trawling and other forms of netting. The line fishing is very considerable, and is regarded as one of the most popular of summer sports. One form of hand line, with two or three hooks, is baited with worms or smelts, and thrown out from shore with or without a rod for gobies, smooth serranus, and similar species. Mackerel, bass, and garfish are taken by a long line weighted with lead at intervals of four or five yards, and hooks attached to a long collar of copper wire and baited with pieces of fish. This method is trailing pure and simple with hand line. Gilt-head are caught with a horsehair line armed with large hooks, and, south of Dalmatia, the same fish is caught by whiffing under easy sail, the line being not less than fifty fathoms and composed of common cord. Another line for miscellaneous fishing is often 250 fathoms long, and carries snooded hooks to the number of two or three hundred, and this is either sunk and buoyed, or floated near the surface. Spears, prongs, tridents, and harpoons are employed; and poisonous substances are not unknown for stupefying fish after the manner of the Irish spurge-laurel sportsmen. Indeed, there is a compound used in the Adriatic for this purpose which is extracted from one of the Euphorbias.
There is excellent bass fishing on the rock-girt islands of the Grecian seas, and Yarrell mentions the Ionian method of catching the garfish, or sea pike : a small dummy raft rigged with masts and sailed like the toy boats on the Serpentine, is employed to carry out a long line which is kept up by floats, and from which depend short hair lines with baited hooks. This is something of the principle of the otter fishing of the British Islands, and in the Mediterranean we may also discover an imitation of the Solway stake nets in the capture of the tunny. This fish begins to afford sport at the latter end of May, and its capture is effected by strong walls and chambers of nets fixed in the subterranean waterways. The unsuspecting fish pass from section to section, and find themselves at last in a death chamber from which escape is impossible, and where the fishermen slaughter right and left at leisure.
Amongst the curiosities of sea angling, and the novelties of such sport, may be mentioned in passing a long-established practice on the Sea of Azoff when it is frozen. This inland sea freezes quickly on account of its shallowness and the brackish nature of most of its water. As navigation is at once stopped by this annual sealing up from the end of November to the end of March, the fishermen are driven to make their livelihood by fishing through the ice. This is done by both nets and lines. An adapted seine is used for the former, and the net is brought into operation by being ingeniously passed along under the ice by means of a number of small holes, twenty feet apart. Valuable hauls of fish are sometimes made by this style. In the open water the fishermen submerge a long line some two or three feet under water, with large hooks fastened about a foot apart. This, however, is not sport, but deliberate stroke-hauling ; the hooks are never baited, and the sturgeon in swimming along are hooked foul. There are four kinds of sturgeon in the Sea of Azoff, and residents in the country swear to having seen a specimen of the largest variety weighing 2,700 lbs. This was, of course, a very exceptional event, for fish of a thousand pounds and upwards are not of common occurrence. The other fish in the Sea of Azoff include carp, bream, perch, roach (Cyprinus vimba), razor-fish, and other smaller varieties. With regard to the commercially important sturgeon, it is perhaps scarcely necessary to remind the reader that they are never brisk bait-feeders, and the above method of capture in southern Russia is successful only because the sturgeon there swim in shoals near the surface.
What is possible in distant and unknown waters in the matter of sport has been admirably shown by 'Sarcelle,' to whom reference has already been made. When he was appointed to the consulship on the out-of-the-way bulge of North-West Africa at Mogador no one had thought of mentioning it as offering any sort of piscatorial attractions. Mr. Payton, however, by persevering trials found it all that he could desire in that respect, and his contributions to current journalism, based on those Moorish experiences, have proved an invaluable exposition of sea angling at large. The strange fish which periodically appeared on that open coast may be found, how ever, in many other countries, and the methods he proved best for dealing with the powerful and formidable sea fish he encountered might be adopted whenever similar conditions occur. But for the capricious behaviour of the fish on their annual visits, and the uncertainty as to their appearance, Mogador might have been a sea angler's Paradise.