History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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calibre than formerly, inasmuch as the season for com­mencing the voyage is entirely changed. At the present time they, soon after Christmas, proceed to Plymouth and Mount's Bay, Cornwall, where the fiBh are taken in con­siderable numbers ; formerly our fleet of mackerel boats proceeded to sea on the 1st of May, with the garland at the mast head. It was invariably the custom that a few of the finest fish of the first catch were sent as a present to the Prince of Wales, then resident at the Royal Pavilion, or at Windsor Castle. Two red mullets were once sold for a guinea, these to be applied to the same purpose. Fishing is not so profitable an undertaking as formerly: the highest price that has been known to be obtained per 100 for mackerel is from £12 to £20; the lowest 10s. to 12s. It is recorded in " Yarrell's History of British Fishes " that in May, 1807, the first catch of Brighton mackerel sold at Billingsgate for 40 guineas per 100, and reckoning them at short tale, viz., six score, this would amount to the enormous sum of 7s. each, the highest price ever known in that celebrated Metropolitan market. The old fishermen complain that the number of fish has diminished and attribute this fact to the use of small mesh nets and the fishery being continued at unseasonable periods. A boat has been known to take two lasts of fish (20,000), in two nights. Dark nights are necessary for mackerel fishing. On moonlight nights the fish keep at the bottom of the water. The boats are likewise used for the herring voyage, which commences about October. Herrings as well as mackerel were taken formerly in larger quantities. The boats proceed generally to the North and South Foreland, and have been known to have taken two or three lasts each in a single night. The herring fishery commences much earlier on the Yorkshire coast: but let us hope there are better days in store for this class of the inhabitants, and that we may again see, as formerly, large heaps of fish on the beach, for nothing can be more advantageous than a glut (as it is
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