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You are to know, there is night as well as day-fishing for a Trout; and that, in the night, the best Trouts come out of their holes. And the manner of taking them, is on the top of the water with a great lob or garden-worm, or rather two, which you are to fish with in a place where the waters run somewhat quietly, for in a stream the bait will not be so well discerned. I say, in a quiet or dead place, near to some swift, there draw your bait over the top of the water, to and fro, and if there be a good Trout in the hole, he will take it, especially if the night be dark, for then he is bold, and lies near the top of the water, watching the motion of any frog, or water-rat, or mouse, that swims betwixt him and the sky; these he hunts after, if he sees the water but wrinkle or move in one of these dead holes, where these great old Trouts usually lie, near to their holds: for you are to note, that the great old Trout is both subtle and fearful, and lies close all day, and does not usually stir out of his hold, but lies in it as close in the day as the timorous hare does in her form; for the chief feeding of either is seldom in the day, but usually in the night, and then the great Trout feeds very boldly. And
you must fish for him with a strong line, and not a little hook; and let him have time to gorge your hook, for he does not usually forsake it, as he oft will in the dayfishing. And if the night be not dark, then fish so with an artificial fly of a light colour, and at the snap: nay, he will sometimes rise at a dead mouse, or a piece of cloth, or any thing that seems to swim across the water, or to be in motion. This is a choice way, but I have not oft used it, because it is void of the pleasures that such days as these, that we two now enjoy, afford an angler.
And you are to know, that in Hampshire, which I think exceeds all England for swift, shallow, clear, pleasant brooks, and store of Trouts, they use to catch Trouts in
the night, by the light of a torch or straw, which, when they have discovered, they strike with a Trout-spear, or other ways. This kind of way they catch very many: but I would not believe it till I was an eye-witness of it, nor do I like it now I have seen it.
Ven. But, master, do not Trouts see us in the night?
Pisc. Yes, and hear, and smell too, both then and in the day-time: for Gesner observes, the Otter smells a fish forty furlongs off him in the water: and that it
may be true, seems to be affirmed by Sir Francis Bacon, in the eighth century of his Natural History, who there proves that waters may be the medium of sounds, by demonstrating it thus; " That if you knock two stones together very deep under the water, those that stand on a bank near to that place may hear the noise without any diminution of it by the water.” He also offers the like experiment concerning the letting an anchor fall, by a very long cable or rope, on a rock, or the sand, within the sea. And this being so well observed and demonstrated as it is by that learned man, has made me to believe that Eel's unbed themselves and stir at the noise of thunder, and not only, as some think, by the motion or stirring of the earth which is occasioned by that thunder.
And this reason of Sir Francis Bacon, (Exper. 792,) has made me crave pardon of one that I laughed at for affirming that he knew Carps come to a certain place, in a pond, to be fed at the ringing of a bell or the beating of a drum. And, however, it shall be a rule for me to make as little noise as I can when I am fishing until Sir Francis Bacon be confuted, which I shall give any man leave to do.
(1) That fish hear,' is confirmed by the authority of late writers: Swammer. dam asserts it, and adds, that “ they have a wonderful labyrinth of the ear for that purpose.” See Swammerdam, of Insects, edit. London, 1758, p. 50. A clergyman, a friend of mine, assures me, that at the abbey of St. Bernard, near Antwerp, he saw Carp come at the whistling of the feeder.
And lest you may think him singular in this opinion, I will tell you, this seems to be believed by our learned Doctor Hakewill, who in his Apology of God's power and providence,' f. 360, quotes Pliny to report that one of the emperors had particular fish-ponds, and, in them, several fish that appeared and came when they were called by their particular names. And St. James tells us, chap. 3. 7. that all things in the sea have been tamed by mankind. And Pliny tells us, lib. ix. 35. that Antonia, the wife of Drusus, had a Lamprey at whose gills she hung jewels or ear-rings; and that others have been so tenderhearted as to shed tears at the death of fishes which they have kept and loved. And these observations, which will to most hearers seem wonderful, seem to have a further confirmation from Martial,” lib. iv. Epigr. 30. who writes thus:
Piscutor, fuge; ne nocens, &c.
Do to their several owner's call repair,
(1) This book, which was published in folio, 1635, and is full of excellent learning and good sense, contains an examination and censure of that common error which philosophers have fallen into," that there is in nature a perpetual and universal decay';" the contrary whereof, after an extensive view of the bistory of the physical and moral world, and a judicious and impartial comparison of former ages with that wherein the author lived, is with great force of argument demonstrated. The reader may, in this book, meet with a relation of that instance of Lord Cromwell's gratitude to Sig. Frescobaldi, a Florentive merchant, which is given, in a dramatic form, in the History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, published as Shakspeare's by some of the earlier editors of his works.
(2) Mons. Berneier, in his History of Indostan, reports the like of the Great Mogul. (3) The verses cited are as follow:
“ Piscator, fuge; ne nocens recedas,
advise anglers to be patient, and forbear swearing, lest they be heard, and catch no fish.
And so I shall proceed next to tell you, it is certain that certain fields near Leominster, a town in Herefordshire, are observed to make the sheep that graze upon them more fat than the next, and also to bear finer wool; that is to say, that that year in which they feed in such a particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year before they came to feed in it; and coarser, again, if they shall return to their former pasture; and, again, return to a finer wool, being fed in the fine wool ground: which I tell you, that you may the better believe that I am certain, if I catch a Trout in one meadow, he shall be white and faint, ard very like to be lousy; and as certainly, if I catch a Trout in the next meadow, he shall be strong, and red, and lusty, and much better meat. Trust me, scholar, I have caught many a Trout in a particular meadow, that the very shape and the enamelled colour of him hath been such as hath joyed me to look on him: and I have then, with much pleasure, concluded with Solomon, “ Every thing is beautiful in his season.”
(1) The Trout delights in small purling rivers, and brooks, with gravelly bottoms and a swift stream. His haunts are an eddy, behind a stone, a log, or a baok that projects forward into the river, and against which the stream drives; a shallow between two streams; or, towards the latter end of the summer, a mill-tail. His hold is usually in the deep, under the hollow of a bank, or the root of a tree.
The Trout spawns about the beginning of November, and does not recover till the beginning of March.
Walton has been so particular on the subject of Trout-fishing, that he has left very little room to say any thing, by way of annota on, with respect to Baits, or the method of taking this fish: get there are some directions and observations pertinent to this chapter, which it would not be consistent with the intended copiousness and accuracy of this work to omit.
When you fish for large Trout or Salmon, a winch will be very useful : upra the rod with which you use the winch, whip a number of small rings of about an eighth of an inch diameter, and, at first about two feet distant from each other, but, afterwards, diminishing gradually in their distances till you come to the end : the winch must be screwed on to the butt of your rod : and round the barrel let there he wound eight or ten yards of wove hair or silk line.
I should, by promise, speak next of the Salmon; but I will, by your favour, say a little of the Umber, or Grayling; which is so like a Trout for his shape and feeding, that I desire I may exercise your patience with a short discourse of him; and then, the next shall be of the Sal
C H A P. VI.
Observations on the UMBER or GRAYLING, and Directions how
to fish for him.
Piscator. The Umber and Grayling are thought by some to differ as the Herring and Pilchard do. But though they may do so in other nations, I think those in England differ nothing but in their names. Aldrovandus says, they be of a Trout kind; and Gesner says, that in his country, which is Switzerland, he is accounted the choisest of all fish. And in Italy, he is, in the month of May, so highly valued, that he is sold at a much higher rate than any other fish. The French, which call the
Chub Un Villain, call the Umber, of the lake Leman, Un Umble Chevalier; and they value the Umber or Grayling so highly, that they say he feeds on gold; and say,
When you have struck a fish that may endanger your tackle, let the line run, and wind him up as he tires.
You will find great convenience in a spike, made of a piece of the greater end of a sword-blade, screwed into the hither end of the butt of your rod : when you have struck a fish, retire backwards from the river, and by means of the spike, stick the rod perpendicular in the ground; you may then lay hold on the line, and draw the fish to you, as you see proper.
When you angle for a Trout, whether with a Ay or at the ground, you need make but three or four trials in a place; which if unsuccessful, you may con. clude there are nope there.
Walton, in speaking of the several rivers where Trout are found, has made no mention of the Kennet ; which, undoubtedly, produces as good and as mady Trouts as any river in England. In the reign of King Charles the Second, a Trout was taken in that river, near Newbury, with a casting.net, which measured forty-five inches in length.