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“ Most writers, in treating of this fish, have stated that it struggles but for a very short time, and is, therefore, productive of little diversion ; but the contrary is not unfrequently the case." -BAINBRIDGE.
The Grayling, Salmo Thymallus of the naturalist, is a more elegantly formed fish even than the Trout. He has a smaller head and mouth, is broader across the shoulders, and tapers off more rapidly toward the tail, which is more forked. The front of the eye is elliptical, and the pupil much more elongated than that of the Trout, the side towards the nose being drawn out to an acute angle. The opposite side is less acute.
His back fin is very large. It has twentythree spines, the ventral fin (near the head) has sixteen, the pectoral ten, the anal fourteen, and the tail eighteen.
He sometimes grows to the weight of about three pounds, though one of a pound and a half is considered a good-sized fish, and larger are not very often caught with the fly, the usual weight being from two ounces to a pound of those which rise freely to it. The fish of the spawn of April or May (measuring from the
nose to the fork of the tail) grows to about six inches by the next April.
A general tint, which may be called a light blue silvery grey, pervades nearly the whole surface of his body, excepting the belly, which is white or nearly so, but the scales often exhibit iridescent hues, of great beauty. * The back and head are of a much darker grey, but its components cannot, perhaps, be described verbally. Some lines of brown are intermixed with the grey of the sides, and a few black spots are seen near the shoulder. The black fin has a purplish tint studded with large dark spots, the other fins are not so red as those of the Trout, but have more yellow-brown in them shaded off with purple. The tail is a kind of slate colour. The colours vary a little in different waters, and, unlike the Trout, the better the condition, the
** From a very curious series of experiments detailed by Sir David Brewster in his excellent Treatise on Optics (p. 113. et seq.), “it is obvious that the splendid colours of mother of pearl, &c. are produced by a peculiar configuration of surface; and by examining this surface with microscopes, he discovered in almost every specimen a grooved structure like the delicate texture of the skin at the top of an infant's finger,” &c. By cutting grooves upon steel at the distance of from the 2,000th to the 10,000th of an inch apart, Mr. Barton produced still more brilliant hues, and his iris ornaments on brass and other metal, buttons, and ornaments of dress, are the result of machinery constructed on this grooving principle, upon which, we believe, depend similar phenomena in the peacock's feather, &c. In sun, gas, or candle-light some iris ornaments rival “ the brilliant flashes of the diamond.”
darker is the fish, especially upon the back and head : “ and you are to note,” that the throat has a long very dark brown patch upon it, visible when the mouth is open, when he is in high condition, but it is hardly to be seen otherwise. He is, however, seldom or never found in the miserable state so common to Salmon and Trout after spawning.
The Grayling is an excellent fish both for sport and the table, and as his finest condition occurs during the Autumn and Winter months, when the Trout season ceases, the Angler finds great pleasure and consolation in visiting the streams in the autumn in search of him, or even on fine days in winter. On this account, those who have not the Grayling in their waters, would sometimes do well in trying to introduce him.
The waters in which he thrives may be either clear or discoloured, but a rather peculiar formation of the bed of the current seems to be required, his favourite streams having now somewhat shallow and rapid, then long, slow-running, deep tracts; in which latter places he poises himself about three or four feet below the chain of insects, &c., as at HH (see plate 1.).
As he feeds principally on larvæ and flies, he should, according to Malthus, be populous (all other things being equal), in proportion as these insects are so.
Temperature, both atmospheric and aqueous, no doubt affects both the food and fish, as also may the chemical properties of the stratum over which the stream flows; the mineral held in solution by the fluid which he breathes cannot fail to affect his constitution in some measure.
But there exists no authority for the localities of the Grayling at all comparable with Sir. H. Davy, who “has fished much in, and inquired much respecting the places where it is found.” At p. 221 (Salmonia) he says: “In the Test, where the Grayling has been only recently introduced, they have sometimes been caught between three and four pounds; in this river I never took one above two pounds, but I have heard of one being taken of two pounds and a half. The Grayling is a rare fish in England, and has never been found in Scotland or Ireland; and there are few rivers containing all the conditions necessary for their increase. I know of no Grayling river farther West than the Avon, in Hampshire; they are found in some of the tributary streams of this river which rise in Wiltshire. I know of no riyer containing them on the North coast West of the Severn; there are very few only in the upper part of this river, and in the streams which form it in North Wales. There are a few in the Wye and its tributary streams. In the Lug, which flows through the next valley, in
Herefordshire, many Grayling are found. In the Dee, as I said before, they are found, but are not common. In Derbyshire and Staffordshire, the Dove, the Wye, the Derwent, the Trent, and the Blithe, afford Grayling; in Yorkshire, on the North coast, some of the tributary streams of the Ribble, and the Swale, from Richmond to two miles below Catterick,- and in the South, the Ure, the Wharfe, the Humber, the Derwent, and the streams that form it, particularly the
Again, at p. 203., he says: “Having travelled with the fishing-rod in my hand through most of the Alpine valleys in the South and East of Europe, and some of those in Norway and Sweden, I have always found the Char in the coldest and highest waters; the Trout in the brooks rising in the highest and coldest mountains; and the Grayling always lower, where the temperature was milder: and if in hot countries, only at the foot of mountains, not far from sources which had the mean temperature of the atmosphere; as in the Vipacco, near Coritzea, and in the streams which gush forth from the limestone caverns of the Noric Alps
- Besides temperature, Grayling require a peculiar character in the disposition of the water of rivers. They do not dwell like Trout in rapid shallow torrents ; nor like Char or Chub in