“It may interest you to know that on Friday, 14th January, the weather being very fine, and the wind from the S.E., as the fishing-boat Sea Belle (Mr. Blamey, master), was proceeding to the pilchard ground some four or five miles south of the Deadman headland, when about two miles from land they fell in with masses of muddy brown matter in strings, some of which were three or four hundred yards long and form two to seven feet wide, floating quite on the surface. They had not proceeded far along these lanes or path-like forms on the sea before they observed that pilchards were feeding on them ravenously; so they tacked their boat among them for a mile or more, and the further they went the more abundant were the pilchards. About four miles from land and in thirty fathoms of water the anxious gulls indicated the outmost limit of these strangely coloured bands, and here the pilchards were the most plentiful, almost rabid in their mad rush on the lessening streaks, causing the water to boil and whirl violently. Certainly some of the shoals of pilchards could not have had less than thirty to sixty thousand fish in them, for they coloured the water a dark red when concentrated on the brown matter.
“Of course our fisherman expected a more than ordinary catch of pilchards when setting their nets; but, strange to tell, with the decline of the light, having fed to repletion, they sank down below the nets, and the catch was a small one, amounting to some two or three thousand fish.