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water: that done, pull back that part of your line which was slack when you did put your hook into the Minnow the second time ; I say, pull that part of your line back, so that it shall fasten the head, so that the body of the Minnow shall be almost straight on your hook; this done, try how it will turn, by drawing it cross the water or against a stream; and if it do not turn nimbly, then turn the tail a little to the right or left hand, and try again till it turn quick, for if not, you are in danger to catch nothing; for know, that it is impossible that it should turn too quick.* And you are yet to know that in case you want a Minnow, then a small Loach, or a Stickle-bag, or any other small fish that will turn quick, will serve as well. are yet to know that you may salt them, and by that means keep them ready and fit for use three or four days, or longer; and that, of salt, bay-salt is the best.
And here let me tell you, what many old anglers know right well, that at some times, and in some waters, a Minnow is not to be got; and therefore, let me tell you, I have, which I will shew to you, an artificial Minnow, that will catch a Trout as well as an artificial fly: and it was made by a handsome woman that had a fine hand, and a live Minnow lying by her: the mould or body of the Minnow was cloth, and wrought upon, or over it thus, with a needle; the back of it with very sad French green silk, and paler green silk towards the belly, shadowed as perfectly as you can imagine, just as you see a Minnow : the belly was wrought also with a needle, and it was a part of it white silk, and another part of it with silver thread : the tail and fins were of a quill, which was shaven thin ; the eyes were of two little black beads; and the head was so shadowed, and all of it so curiously wrought, and so exactly dissembled, that it would beguile any sharp-sighted Trout in a swift stream.t. And this Minnow I will now shew you, (look, here it is,) and, if you like it, lend it you, to have two or three made by it; for they be easily carried about an angler, and be of excellent use; for, note, that a large Trout will come as fiercely at a Minnow as the highest mettled hawk doth seize on a partridge, or a greyhound on a hare. I have been told that a hundred and sixty Minnows have been found in a Trout's belly : either the Trout had devoured so many, or the miller that gave it a friend of mine had forced them down his throat after he had taken him.
Now for Flies, which are the third bait wherewith Trouts are
* I have never been able to cause a Minnow to spin well in trolling, unless the tail was bent nearly to a semicircle. --J. R.
+ Artificial Minnows, made with mother-of-pear), are to be purchased at all the tackle shops; but I should always prefer a live one, when it can be had. In using an artificial Minnow, smear it with fish slime.-J. R.
usually taken. You are to know that there are as many sorts of flies as there be of fruits : I will name you but some of them ; as the Dun-fly, the Stone-fly, the Red-fly, the Moor-fly, the Tawney-fly, the Shell-fly, the Cloudy or Blackish-fly, the Flag-fly, the Vine-fly: there be of flies, Caterpillars, and Canker-fies, and Bear-flies : and indeed too many either for me to name, or for you to remember.
And their breeding is so various and wonderful, that I might easily amaze myself, and tire you in a relation of them.
And, yet, I will exercise your promised patience by saying a little of the Caterpillar, or the Palmer-fly,* or worm; that by them you may guess what a work it were, in a discourse, but to run over those very many fies, worms, and little living creatures, with which the sun and summer adorn and beautify the river banks and meadows, both for the recreation and contemplation of us anglers ; pleasures which, I think, myself enjoy more than any other man that is not of my profession.
Pliny holds an opinion, that many have their birth or being from a dew that in the spring falls upon the leaves of trees; and that some kinds of them are from a dew left upon herbs or flowers; and others, from a dew left upon coleworts or cabbages : all which kinds of dews being thickened and condensed, are by the sun's generative heat, most of them, hatched, and in three days made living creatures: f and these of several shapes and colours ; some being hard and tough, some smooth and soft; some are horned in their head, some in their tail, some have none; some have hair, some none; have sixteen feet, some less, and some have none: but (as our Topsel, in his History of Serpents, hath with great diligence observed) those which have none move upon the earth, or upon broad leaves, their motion being not unlike to the waves of the sea. Some of them he also observes to be bred of the eggs of other Caterpillars, I and that those in their time turn to be butterflies; and again, that their eggs turn the following year to be Caterpillars. And some affirm, that every plant has its particular fly or Caterpillar, which it breeds and feeds. I have seen, and may therefore affirm it, a green Caterpillar, or worm, as big as a
* What anglers call a Palmer is any caterpillar, and it is called a fly, though it has no wings; because, in angling, they trail it like a fly over the water.-J. R.
+ All that Walton writes about insects shews the extreme ignorance which then prevailed respecting natural history. Redi, by his ingenious experiments, exploded the notion so long prevalent of flies being bred from putrid meat; and though Blumenbach, Cuvier, Lamarck, and most of our eminent modern naturalists, again reverted to the doctrine of equivocal or spontaneous generation, particularly in minute animalcules, even this has been very recently exploded by the observations of M. Ehrenberg of Berlin. - J. R.
No Caterpillars lay eggs, though all are hatched from eggs, laid by Butterflies, Moths, or Sand-flies. - I. R.
small peascod, which had fourteen legs ; eight on the belly, four under the neck, and two near the tail. It was found on a hedge of privet ; * and was taken thence, and put into a large box, and a little branch or two of privet put to it, on which I saw it feed as sharply as a dog gnaws a bone : it lived thus, five or six days, and thrived, and changed the colour two or three times, but by some neglect in the keeper of it, it then died, and did not turn to a fly: but if it had lived, it had doubtless turned to one of those flies that some call flies of prey, which those that walk by the rivers may, in summer, see fasten on smaller flies, and, I think, make them their food. And 'tis observable, that as there be these flies of prey, which bę very large, so there be others, very little, created, I think, only to feed them, and breed out of I know not what; whose life, they say, nature intended not to exceed an hour ; † and yet thac life is thus made shorter by other flies, or by accident.
'Tis endless to tell you what the curious searchers into nature's productions have' observed of these worms and flies : but yet I shall tell you what Aldrovandus, our Topsel, and others, say of the Palmer-worm, or Caterpillar : that whereas others content themselves to feed on particular herbs or leaves (for most think those very leaves that gave them life and shape give them a particular feeding and nourishment, and that upon them they usually abide ;) yet he observes, that this is called a Pilgrim, or Palmer-worm, for his very wandering life and various food ; not contenting himself, as others do, with any one certain place for his abode, nor any certain kind of herbs or flowers for his feeding, but will boldly and disorderly wander up and down, and not endure to be kept to a diet, or fixed to a particular place. I
Nay, the very colours of Caterpillars are, as one has observed, very elegant and beautiful. I shall, for a taste of the rest, describe one of them; which I will, some time the next month, shew you feeding on a willow tree; and you shall find him punctually to answer this very description : His lips and mouth somewhat yellow ; his eyes black as jet; his forehead purple ; his feet and hinder parts green; his tail two-forked and black ; the whole body stained with a kind of red spots, which run along the neck and shoulder-blade, not unlike the form of St Andrew's cross, or the letter X, made thus cross-wise, and a white line drawn down his back to his tail; all which add much beauty to his whole body. And it is to me observable,
* The Caterpillar of the Privet Hawk Moth, (Sphinx Ligustri,) which is not, as Walton suspects, a fly of prey, or Dragon-fly. – J. R. + This is quite fabulous. – J. R.
These absurd notions arose from confounding some hundreds of species under one common name.-J. R.
that at a fixed age this caterpillar gives over to eat, and towards winter comes to be covered over with a strange shell or crust, called an aurelia : and so lives a kind of dead life, without eating, all the winter. And as others of several kinds turn to be several kinds of Aies and vermin, the spring following, so this caterpillar then turns to be a painted butterfly
Come, come, my scholar, you see the river stops our morning walk : and I will also here stop my discourse : only as we sit down under this honeysuckle hedge, whilst I look a line to fit the rod that our brother Peter hath lent you, I shall, for a little confirmation of what I have said, repeat the observation of Du Bartas [6 Day ;]
God, not contented to each kind to give
fly Perausta with the flaming wings ;
your flies :
Venator. Oh, my good master, this morning walk has been spent to my great pleasure and wonder ; but I pray, when shall I have your direction how to make artificial flies, like to those that the Trout loves best ; and, also, how to use them ?
Piscator. My honest scholar, it is now past five of the clock ; we will fish till nine ; and then go to breakfast. Go you to yonder sycamore tree, and hide your bottle of drink under the hollow root of it ; for about that time, and in that place, we will make a brave breakfast with a piece of powdered beef, and a radish or too, that I have in my fish bag: we shall, I warrant you, make a good, honest, wholesome hungry breakfast. And I will then give you direction for the making and using of and in the meantime, there is your rod and line : and my advice is, that you fish as you see me do, and let 's try which can catch the first fish.
Venator. I thank you, master. I will observe and practise your directions as far as I am able.
Piscator. Look you, scholar ; you see I have hold of a good fish : I now see it is a Trout. I pray, put that net under him ; and touch not my line, for if you do, then we break all.* Well done, scholar : I thank you.
Now for another. Trust me, I have another bite. Come, scholar, come, lay down your rod, and help me to land this as you did the other. So now we shall be sure to have a good dish of fish to supper.
Venator. I am glad of that ; but I have no fortune : sure, master, yours is a better rod and better tackling.
Piscator. Nay, then, take mine ; and I will fish with yours. Look you, scholar, I have another. Come do as you did before. And now I have a bite at another. Oh me! he has broke all : there's half a line, and a good hook lost.
Venator. Ay, and a good Trout too.
Piscator. Nay, the Trout is not lost; for pray take notice, no man can lose what he never had.
Venator. Master, I can neither catch with the first nor second angle : I have no fortune.
Piscator. Look you, scholar, I have yet another. having caught three brace of Trouts, I will tell you a short tale as we walk towards our breakfast. A scholar, a preacher I should say, that was to preach, to procure the approbation of a parish that he might be their lecturer, had got from his fellow pupil the copy of a sermon that was first preached with great commmendation by him that composed it; and though the borrower of it preached it, word for word, as it was at first,
* This is an important maxim in angling ; for while the line flows free from the rod, this gives way by bending as the fish tugs; while catching the line is certain to snap it.-J. R.