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Whose sweet calm course I contemplate,
In civil bounds I fain would keep,
And when the timorous Trout I wait
And when none bite, I praise the wise,
Whom vain allurements ne'er surprise.
Who is more welcome to my dish
Than to my angle was my tish.
Where (which is in no other game)
A man may fish and praise his name.
I therefore strive to follow those
Coridon. Well sung, brother ! you have paid your debt in good coin. We anglers are all beholden to the good man that made this song : come, hostess, give us more ale, and let's drink to him.
And now let's every one go to bed, that we may rise early: but first let's pay our reckoning, for I will have nothing to hinder me in the morning; for my purpose is to prevent the sun rising.
Peter. A match. Come, Coridon, you are to be my bedfellow. I know, brother, you and your scholar will lie together. But where shall we meet to-morrow night ? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water towards Ware.
Piscator. And my scholar and I will go down towards Waltham.
Coridon. Then let's meet here, for here are fresh sheets that smell of lavender; and I am sure we cannot expect better meat or better usage in any place.
Peter. 'Tis a match. Good-night to every body.
Piscator. Good morrow, good hostess. I see my brother Peter is still in bed. Come, give my scholar and me a morning drink, and a bit of meat to breakfast; and be sure to get a good dish of meat or two against supper, for we shall come home as hungry as hawks. Come, scholar, let's be going.
Venator. Well now, good master, as we walk towards the river, give me direction, according to your promise, how I shall fish for a Trout.
Piscator. My honest scholar, I will take this very convenient opportunity to do it.
The Trout is usually caught with a Worm, or a Minnow, (which some call a Penk,) or with a Fly, namely, either a natural or an artificial fly : concerning which three, I will give you some observations and directions.
And, first, for Worms. Of these there be very many sorts : some breed only in the earth, as the Earth-worm; others of or amongst plants, as the Dug-worm; and others breed either out of excrements, or in the bodies of living creatures, as in the horns of sheep or deer ; or some in dead flesh, as the Maggot, or Gentle, and others.
Now these be most of them particularly good for particular fishes. But for the Trout, the Dew-worm, which some also call the Lob-worm,* and the Brandling, are the chief; and especially the first for a great Trout, and the latter for a less. There be also of Lob-worms, some called Squirrel-tails, (a worm that has a red head, a streak down the back, and broad tail,) which are noted to be the best, because they are the toughest and most lively, and live longest in the water; for you are to know that a dead worm is but a dead bait, and like to catch nothing, compared to a lively, quick, stirring worm. And for a Brandling, he is usually found in an old dung-hill, or some very rotten place near to it, but most usually in cowdung, or hog's-dung, rather than horse-dung, which is somewhat too hot and dry for that worm. But the best of them are to be found in the bark of the tanners, which they cast up in heaps after they have used it about their leather.
There are also divers other kinds of worms, which, for colour
* The Dew-worm, or Earth-worm, is the Lumbrious gigas of Duges; but the Lob-worm is taken in some angling books for the Grub of the Cockchafer, (Melalontha vulgaris.) – J. R.
and shape, alter even as the ground out of which they are got as the Marsh-worm, the Tag-tail, the Flag-worm, the Dock worm, the Oak-worm, the Gilt-tail, the Twachel or Lobworm, * which of all others is the most excellent bait for a Salmon, and too many to name, even as many sorts as some think there be of several herbs or shrubs, or of several kinds of birds in the air : of which I shall say no more, but tell you, that what worms soever you fish with, are the better of being well scoured, that is, long kept before they be used: and in case you have not been so provident, then the way to cleanse and scour them quickly is to put them all night in water, if they be Lob-worms, and then put them into your bag with fennel. But you must not put your Brandlings above an hour in water, and then put them into fennel, for sudden use; but if you have time, and purpose to keep them long, then they be best preserved in an earthen pot, with good store of moss, which is to be fresh every three or four days in summer, and every week or eight days in winter ; or, at least, the moss taken from them, and clean washed, and wrung betwixt your hands till it be dry, and then put it to them again. And when your worms, especially the Brandling, begins to be sick and lose of his bigness, then you may recover him, by putting a little milk or cream (about a spoonful in a day) into them, by drops on the moss; and if there be added to the cream an egg beaten and boiled in it, then it will both fatten and preserve them long. † And note, that when the knot, which is near to the middle
* To avoid confusion, it may be necessary to remark, that the same kind of worm is, in different places, known by different names : thus the Marsh and the Meadow-worm are the same; and the Lob-worm, or Twachel, is also called the Dew-worm and the Garden-worm; and the Dock-worm is, in some places, called the Flag-worm.
The Tag-tail is found in March and April, in marled lands or meadows, after a shower of rain, or in a morning, when the weather is calm and not cold.
To find the Oak-worm, beat on an oak tree that grows over a highway or bare place, and they will fall for you to gather.
To find the Dock-worm, go to an old pond or pit, and pull up some of the flags; shake the roots in the water, and, amongst the fibres that grow from the roots you will find little husks, or cases, of a reddish or yellowish colour; open these carefully with a pin, and take from thence a little worm, pale and yellow, or white, like a Gentle, but longer and slenderer, with rows of feet down his belly, and a red head : this is the Dock, or Flag-worm, an excellent bait for Grayling, Tench, Bream, Carp, Roach, and Dace.
+ The following is also an excellent way: namely, Take a piece of hopsack, or other very coarse cloth, and wash it clean, and let it dry, then wet it in the liquor wherein beef has been boiled, (but be cafeful that the beef is fresh, for salt will kill the worms,) and wring it, but not quite dry; put the worms into this cloth, and lay them in an earthen pot, and let them stand from morning till night; then take the worms from the cloth and wash it, and wet it again in some of the liquor : do thus once a day, and you may keep worms in perfect health, and fit for use, for near a month. Observe that the Lob.worm, Marsh-worm, and Red-worm, will bear ring than any oth and are better for
of the Brandling, begins to swell, then he is sick ; and if he be not well looked to, is near dying. And for moss, you are to note, that there be divers kinds of it, which I could name to you, but I will only tell you that that which is likest a buck's horn is the best, except it be soft white moss, which grows on some heaths, and is hard to be found. And note, that in a very dry time, when you are put to an extremity for worms, walnut tree leaves squeezed into water, or salt in water, to make it bitter or salt, and then that water poured on the ground where you shall see worms are used to rise in the night, will make them to appear above ground presently.* And you may take notice, some say that camphor put into your bag with your moss and worms gives them a strong and so tempting a smell, that the fish fare the worse and you the better for it.
And now, I shall shew you how to bait your hook with a worm, so as shall prevent you from much trouble, and the loss of many a hook too, when you fish for a Trout with a running line ; † that is to say, when you fish for him by hand at the ground. I will direct vou in this as plainly as I may not mistake.
Suppose it be a big Lob-worm: put your hook into him somewhat above the middle, and out again a little below the middle; having so done, draw your worm above the arming of your hook, but note, that at the entering of your hook, it must not be at
* This practice was one of the common sports of school-boys at the time Erasmus wrote his Colloquies. In that entitled Venatio, or Hunting, a company of them go abroad into the fields, and one named Laurence proposes fishing; but having no worms, Bartholus objects the want of them, till Laurence tells him how he may get some. The dialogue is very natural and descriptive, and being but short, is here given. “ Laurence. I should like to go a-fishing; I have a neat hook. Bartholus. But where will you get baits ? Laurence. There are earth-worms everywhere to be had. Bartholus. So there are, if they would but creep out of the ground to you. Laurence. I will make a great many thousands jump out presently. Bartholus. How? by witchcraft? Laurence. You shall see the art. Fill this bucket with water : break these green shells of walnuts to pieces, and put them into it; wet the ground with the water. Now, mind a little. Do you see them coming out ? Bartholus. I see a miracle; I believe the armed men started out of the earth after this manner, from the serpent's teeth that were sown."
The above exclamation is an allusion to the fable in the second book of Ovid's Metamorphoses ; where Cadmus, by scattering the serpent's teeth on the ground, caused armed men to spring out of it.
+ The running line, so called because it runs along the ground, is made of strong silk, which you may buy at the fishing-tackle shops : but I prefer hair, as being less apt to tangle,
and is thus fitted up: About ten inches from the end, fasten a small cleft shot, then make a hole through a pistol or musket bullet, according to the swiftness of the stream you tish in ; and put the line through it, and draw the bullet down to the shot: to the end of your line fasten an Indian grass, or silkworm-gut, with a large hook. Or you may, instead of a hullet, fíx four large shot, at the distance of eight inches from the hook. The running line is used for Trout, Grayling, and Salmon-smelts; and is proper only for streams and rapid waters. Sce part ii. chap. xi.
the head-end of the worm, but at the tail-end of him, that the point of your hook may come out toward the head-end ; and, having drawn him above the arming of your hook, then put the point of your hook again into the very head of the worm, till it come near to the place where the point of the hook first came out, and then draw back that part of the worm that was above the shank, or arming of your hook, and so fish with it. And if you mean to fish with two worms, then put the second on before you turn back the hook's head of the first worm. You cannot lose above two or three worms before you attain to what I direct you ; and having attained it, you will find it very useful, and thank me for it ; for you will run on the ground without tangling
Now for the Minnow, or Penk : he is not eazily found and caught till March, or in April, for then he appears first in the river, Nature having taught him to shelter and hide himself in the winter in ditches that be near to the river, and there both to hide and keep himself warm in the mud, or in the weeds, which rot not so soon as in a running river, in which place if he were in winter, the distempered floods that are usually in that season would suffer him to take no rest, but carry him headlong to mills and weirs, to bis confusion. And of these Minnows, first, you are to know, that the biggest size is not the best; and next, that the middle size and the whitest are the best; and then you are to know, that your Minnow must be so put on your hook that it must turn round when it is drawn against the stream; and, that it may turn nimbly, you must put on a big sized hook, as I shall now direct you, which is thus : Put your hook in at his mouth, and out at his gill; then, having drawn your hook two or three inches beyond or through his gill, put it again into his mouth, and the point and beard out at his tail ; and then tie the hook and his tail about, very neatly, with a white thread, which will make it the apter to turn quick in the