Charles Snart.

Practical observations on angling in the River Trent online

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And who has made the Amusement his Study for
upwards of Twenty Years.

Tor dear and precious as the moments are,
Permitted man, they are not all for deeds
Of active Virtue. Give we none to vice,
And heav'n will not strict reparation ask
For many a summer's day and winter's eve
So spent as best amuses us.



Printed and Sold by S. and I. Ridge.

Sold also by Robinsons, Paternoster-Row, and

Crosby and Letterman, Stationers'-Court,

London. MDCCCI.

To Robert Lowe, Esq. Oxton.



Have ventured to dedicate
the following observations on An-
gling to you, an amusement which
in an age of fashionable dissipation
like this, has few advocates, I am not
vain enough to believe they contain
any thing which has escaped your
attention, or that the few hours lei-
sure which I have devoted to the
subject, will be considered by you
of greater importance, than to in-
struct the young angler in the pur-
suit of a diversion, rational, manly,
and entertaining, and which on mi-
nute investigation, will be found
worthy the attention of sensible men,
as it comprehends so considerable a
portion of Natural History,.
* 3


Your politeness and liberality (to
which I could mention glaring con-
trasts) will, I am convinced, con-
duce more to the preservation of
your game and fish, than the most
rigorous statute promulgated from
the bench, or the unwearied vigilance
of your gamekeeper, and domestics.

Your knowledge of angling is one
of my motives in dedicating this
book to you, but I have another,
which is to assure you, with what
respect I subscribe myself,

Your obedient humble Servant,

May 1, 1801..


will, I believe, be readily admit-
ted, that hum,an nature is incapable
of intense application, and requires
some pursuits which may unbend
the mind from care, and the more
important duties of life; amongst
the variety of amusements eagerly
sought after by mankind, there is
perhaps none better calculated for
this purpose, than angling. The
solitude, and retirement, inseparable
from the diversion, naturally dispose
us to meditation, calm and subdue
those passions which assail us in
crowded cities, and diffuse a peace-
ful tranquillity, unknown amidst the
splendor of courts or the bustle of
active life. In contemplating the


works of nature, we shall be lost in
admiration, at the wisdom and good-
ness of God, who has made nothing
in. vain, and our hearts will be full
ef gratitude for the blessings we en-
joy ; the change of seasons, with the
decaying verdure will remind us
continually of our frail existence,
and after having passed through the
few fleeting years allotted us here,
with meekness content and humility,
we shall be better prepared to par-
take those joys which never fade.

In offering the following observa-
tions to the world, on an amusement
already crowded with instructions,
from the pen of the pious Isaac Wal-
ton, and more modern authors, it
may be necessary to remark, thatia-
vention has introduced various me-
thods of angling, in different rivers?


\vliich are established by long prac-
tice, and every one thinks his own
mode the best merely because he has
been accustomed to it. Being fond of
retirement and rural scenes, I have
had frequent opportunities in my
walks by the River Trent, of observ-
ing the absurd methods of angling,
not only in the choice of hooks and
baits, but in places and at times im-
proper for the diversion, and which
must have been productive of dis-
appointment, and vexation, and
which have given rise to the many
jokes and sarcasms bestowed on the
angler. This induced me to attempt
a* short treatise on the subject, ap-
propriated to the use of those who
were not proficients in the amuse-
ment, and to such I flatter myself it
will not be unacceptable.


Notwithstanding I have endea-
voured to render the following in-
structions clear and concise, yet I
am sensible (however copious the
English language) some difficulties
may arise in the application, and
which experience only can remove.
I have confined myself closely to the
subject, avoiding every thing which
was not necessary to elucidate the
method of angling I have recom-
mended; thus the opinions of the
ancients, with many other conceits, of
eels being bred from mud, pike from
the pickerel weed, and some fish from
rain and dew, have been unnoticed
since the doctrine of equivocal gene-
ration has been justly exploded;
these digressions though suited to the
time of honest Walton, can be of lit-
tle use, encrease the size cf the book,


and render the art of angling more
difficult and prolix.

In the works of various authors
on angling, much useful information
may be gained, but I fear, they have
given to the world, more than was
confirmed by their own experience, not
content with confining their instruc-
tions on angling, to fish natives of
their own country, we have remarks
on every kind of fish, from the di-
minutive minnow to the enormous
whale, and the attention of the aston-
ished reader is, in a very few pages,
hurried from the milder climate of
Britain, to the frozen banks of New-

The excellence of an angler con-
sists in combining strength and fine-
ness of tackle, proportioned to the


size, and exertions of the fish he in-
tends to take, he will meet with many
disappointments in accomplishing
this desirable end, and the utmost of
his inventive faculties may be cm-
ployed in the assemblage of the vari-
ous materials which nature and art
so liberally contribute to his assist-

Though the observations are local
and intended for anglers in the Trent,
yet I flatter myself they will be found
successful in other Rivers, abound-
ing with the same kinds of fish.
Should my labours contribute in the
least to the pleasure of this rational
and innocent amusement, or encrease
the number of its votaries, I shall be
amply rewarded,

C *b-

Ntwark % April, i8oit




.S this fish is constantly found in the
River Trent, and many are caught hy the
Seine, I shall give some directions for taking
them by angling, to such as chase to try,
I confefs I never caught one, but several
have been taken in angling for other fish
particularly barbel.

They frequent the deepest parts of the ri-
ver, where the stream is moderate, near the
piers of bridges, and where high banks are
worn by floods; for there the water has
made a kind of pool by its action upon the



bank. The baits for salmon are the artifi-
cial fly, and lob-worm; it is of little con-
sequence what colour your fly is, provided
it is large and gaudy, ribbed with gold or sil-
ver twist. The best times for angling for
salmon, are in a morning from nine to ele-
ven, and in an evening from six to sun-set,
especially when there is a moderate breeze
upon the water. Your rod for this pur-
pose ought to be fine and strong, with rings
for the running line,* which may be made
of silk or hair, and ought to be forty yards
long at the least, that when hooked, you
may, by giving him line, sufficiently tire him;
it will, however, require great skill, for he
is very strong and will not be easily subdued.

The method of fishing with a lob -worm
is most likely to succeed, and is as follows :
Take a lob -worm that has been well scoured,
and run your hook through the middle,

* It may be necefsary here to observe, that when
the running line is directed, it will be proper to have
a winch or reel upon the butt end of the rod, they
arc of various sizes and should be proportioned to the
coarsened or finenefs of the line.


drawing it above the shank, then take an-
other, and bait your hook in the usual way,
by putting it into the worm about an inch
below the tail, drawing it on the hook about
three-fourths of the length, the head of the
worm being at the point of the hook, then
draw the first worm down to the other, for
salmon are fond of a large bait. It will be
necefsary to have a piece of lead with a
small hole through it, and which is called a
plumb, fastened upon the line about two
feet above the hook, by which means you
will be able to keep your bait in any certain
place, and drawing your line tight, you will
feel the plumb at the bottom, your bait with
the link below the plumb, playing with the
current; when your bait has remained a
few minutes, draw it gently up the stream,
about a yard, and let the plumb rest again
at the bottom, this will excite the attention
of the fish, and frequently tempts them to
take the bait; when hooked, the fame cau-
tion must be used as was directed for the
fly, by allowing him plenty of line, only
B 2


observing your tackle may he considerably
stronger. Lines of silk or hemp are proper,
and three silkworm-gut twisted together
make an excellent bottom link ; for this pur-
pose,, chuse three of equal strength, round
and free from flaws, and tying the root ends
together, let them soak in water for twelve
hours, they will be then soft and bed well
together, make double knots on the loose
ends to hang on the hooks of your twisting
engine, do not twist them too hard, a link
thus made (when held between your eye and
the light) will appear very regular and beau-
tiful. The angler ought to have several of
these links ready twisted for various sized
nooks, and in cases of accident.

Salmon being a fish of prey, a gudgeon
used as directed in trowling for pike, or a
large minnow as directed with two hooks for
perch, may be tried with great probability
of succefs.

As salmon fry are caught by angling in
the Trent, I shall give some directions for


taking them, though the practice is thought
to be destructive to the breed of salmon ;
they appear the latter end of March, and
continue till May, unlefs a rise of water
happens, which enables them to pafs the
weirs, and they are carried into the sea.
They are caught with the artificial fly, and
gentles. Your rod ought to be very fine,
your line not much longer than your rod,
the lower links should consist of single hair,
the flies must be exceeding small, and you
may fish with three or four at about a foot
distant from each other. As they rise very
quick, they will deceive your eye, so that
it will be necefsary to draw the flies rather
quick on the surface of the water and they
will hook themselves.. Gentles may be
shed with in the same manner, using very
small hooks, and putting a single gentle on
each. The links on which these hooks are
tied should not exceed three inches, as they
are apt to entangle the line if longer.. Great
quantities have been caught in the Cotton
Mill dam, at Newark, and they are universal-
ly esteemed for their fine flavour-




Spawn in March and April, are bold fish,
afford the angler good sport, and may be
fished for all the year, but the best months
are September and October. From March
to the end of May, they resort to back waters
that have immediate communication with
the River; from May to the beginning of
October, are to be found in sharp streams,
under theRanunculus aquaticus whichfloats
on the surface of the water, particularly
^vhen in flower ; near flags, bulrushes, and
water docks ; as the season grows colder, and
the weeds rot, they retire into the deeps, and
arc to be found under clay banks, and bushes
that hang over the water, stumps and roots
of trees, piles of bridges, and decayed water-
works that have been made for the protec-
tion of land against floods. There are vari-
ous methods of taking pike, but I shall con-
fine myself to those of angling, deeming the
other below the angler's attention ; these are
by trowling, and the live and dead snap.


For trowling, the rod ought to be fourteen
feet long, with rings for the running line,
these must be fixed upon the rod in a straight
direction, that the line may run freely, as any
sudden check after the pike has taken the
bait, would prevent his gorging it ; the line
should be at least thirty yards long, of either
silk or hemp, if the latter, and new, it will
be proper to let it trail after you on the grafs,
(as they are in general too hard twisted and
apt to kink) by which means it will gra-
dually untwist, be soft, and pafs freely
through the rings. Hooks for trowling
(called dead gorges) may be bought at every
shop where fishing tackle is sold, in the
choice of them, take care they are not too
large, that their temper is riot injured by the
lead on the shanks, and that the points do
not stand too proud. They are usually sold
on wire, but I would advise the wire to be
cut off about an inch from the shank, and
with double silk well waxed, fasten about a
foot of good gimp to the wire, with a noose
at the other end of the gimp, to hang upon


your tine. The best baits are gudgeons and
dace, of a middling size, if these are not to
be had, roach, bleak, small trout, or salmon
fry will do very well ; I know some anglers
who prefer salmon fry, but these are only
to be procured in the River Trent in the
spring, and though I have tried them repeat-
edly never found them equal to dace or
gudgeons. In order to bait your hook, you
must be provided with a fish-needle (which
may be had at any of the shops) they have
open eyes and are of various sizes ; put the
needle in at the mouth of the bait, and out
at the middle of the tail, drawing the gimp
and hook after it, fixing the point of the hook
near the eye ; some sew up the mouth of the
bait, it will however be necefsary to tie the
tail close to the gimp, not only to keep it in a
proper position, but to prevent the tail catch-
ing against weeds and roots in the water ;.
the hook thus baited, hang upon your line,
which ought to have a noose large enough
to admit the bait, and will save time and
trouble. Thus ecjuipt, drop your bait gen-


tly in, near the side of the river, where it is
moderately deep, and where pike are likely at
that season to resort ; let it sink to the bottom
and draw it gently up, imitating in the motion
a fish hurt or dying, after trying two or three
times to the right and left, throw your bait
further in, and if you do not meet with sue-
cefs, you may conclude there is not a piko
near the place, or that he is not in the hu-
mour. When a pike seizes the bait, if you
do not see him you will easily perceive it,
by your line being drawn tight, and some
resistance, you must give him line, and let
him go where he will, when he has reached
his harbour (which you will know by his
not drawing more line) lay down your rod
and give him time to gorge the bait, which
he will generally do in five minutes, then
take up your rod, and draw your line gently,
till you see the pike (which he will permit
though he has not gorged) if you find the
bait acrofs his mouth, give him more time,
but if he has gorged govern him with a gen-
tle hand, keeping him however from roots


and stumps, which he will endeavour to
make to, and fasten your line, but if the
river is clear, you may allow him line till he
is sufficiently tired, when with the afsistancc
of a friend, or the convenience of a landing
net, "you will easily secure him, but you
must not by any means, lift him out of the
water with your rod and line only, for
though to all appearance he may be suffici-
ently tired, yet the moment he quits the
water, he will open his mouth and by tearing
his stomach with his own weight, get quit
of the hook, and you will have the mortifica-
tion not only of losing the fish, but of know-
ing he will inevitably* die in the water.

In trowling, when the pike has gorged it
is unnecefsary to strike, as the hook is in the
stomach of the pike and cannot return with-
out some violence, such as attempting to
throw him out without drawing him gently
to shore when tired, or using the landing

It frequently happens, that a pike will


repeatedly seize the bait in trow ling, run out
a considerable length of line, and afterwards
de&ert it, should yau find this the case, you
must use the live or dead snap, which will
in all probability take him. In trowling, I
must caution the angler against throwing
the bait too far, in- small rivers you may
fish the opposite bank with ease, but the
breadth of the Trent will make such an at-
tempt impracticable, and the bait will be
soon spoilt, as the violence with which it
falls on the water will rub off all the scales*

The Live Snap. The method of fishing
with a live bait, or what is called the live
snap, is very different from trowling, though
any mode of taking pike by angling usually
pafses under the latter denomination. Your
rod and line must be stronger, and the hooks
much larger, they consist of two hooks
joined back to back, with a smaller hook in
the middle of their shanks, on which the
live bait is hung, they are sold at the shops*
and the sight of one will enable a young


angler to make them of what size he pleases ;
the bait is hooked by the small hook, just
under the back fin, the point and beard
coming out on the other side, and is fastened
by strong thread or silk doubled, hung on
the point of the small hook, brought under
the belly of the bait, and tied on the other
side, to the shanks of the large hooks, great
care and expedition are required in doing
this, otherwise the bait will be so injured, as
to be incapable of swimming briskly in the
water; roach, dace, or gudgeons are the best
baits, a cork float will be necefsary about the
size of a common burgundy pear, with a
small pistol bullet or two, net only to poise
it, but to keep the bait a proper depth, which
ought to be about two feet or three-quarters
of a yard. If a pike happens to be near the
place where the bait is put in, it will come
to the top of the water to avoid him, or
encrease the quicknefs of its motion, these
signs will prepare you to be on your guard;
when you perceive your float drawn under
the water, be not too eager, but suffer it to


be taken a good depth, then strike with a
smart stroke, directly contrary to the course
the pike appears to take, and govern him
with a tight line, for though the hooks are
so much larger and stronger, than that for
trolling, yet having hold of the jaws of the
pike, which are very hard and bony, he will
sometimes escape. It will be prudent to
make use of the landing net, if the pike is
large, for it is not only a mark of an inex-
perienced angler, to throw the fish out by a
strong exertion, but it will certainly strain
the sockets of your rod. A tin bait-pan
(that will hold about a gallon) with the top
punched full of small holes to admit the air,
will be necefsary to carry your baits, which
in hot weather must have fresh water very
often. This method of angling for pike is
the most ancient of any, and is now only
practised by those who have neither skill or
addrefs to pursue the other. It requires
great patience, lias little exercise, and incon-
venient on account of the live baits that are
carried from place to place, and has given
a decided superiority to the dead snap.


The. Dead Snap. This method of taking
pike will be found the pleasaritest, and most
succefsful of any; adapted to shallow and
deep waters, the still and rapid parts of the
river, will take pike at all seasons of the
year, when the water is in order and the
weather favorable ; and it will be no trifling
recommendation, to find it free from every
idea of cruelty, that fishing with a live bait
naturally imprefses. Your rod must be
longer than that for trolling, but as it would
be inconvenient and expensive to have dif-
ferent rods for these purposes, one rod may
be made to answer all, by the application of
different tops. Your line must be fine and
strong, twenty yards will be sufficient ; the
hooks are made thus : take three large hooks,
bigger than those for barbel, and having
ground the backs on a fine grinding stone,
place two of them back to back, and with
strong double silk well waxed, wrap them
round four or five times, beginning at the
bend, drawing the silk tight every round,
place the third hook upon the two first, in a


triangular direction ; the shank of this hook
must be shorter than the others (though
placed even with the ends of them), by
which means the point of the hook will be
higher; then take ten inches of good gimp,
and doubling it, place the two ends on the
inside of the two first hooks, and tie the
whole round with the silk, proceeding a
little above the shanks upon the gimp, which
will make it more secure and enable you to
bait the hooks easier. The hook when fi-
nished will resemble that used for the live
snap. The length f the gimp on which the
hooks are tied should be proportioned to
the size of the bait, and should be rather
longer than the distance from behind the
back fin, to the mouth, that the looped end
may be hung on a strong swivel, tied neatly
to about a foot more of gimp, with a noose
at the other end, to hang upon your line,
fastening a small piece of lead, weighing
about an ounce, shaped like a barley corn,
with a hole through it, about two inches a-
bove the swivel. The method of baiting is

C 2


as follows : take a middle sized dace (for
they are the best) and run your baiting needle
in immediately behind the back fin, and out
at the mouth, drawing the gimp upon which
the hooks are tied, after it, the short hook
must stand with the point upright behiiid the
back fin, the other will consequently be one
on each side, then hang it upon the swivel,
and try if it will spin, by drawing it against
the stream, if it does not, move the bait a
little to the right or left, (which you may
do without taking it from the hook) for the
whole of your succefs depends on its turn-
Ing round quick, when drawn against the
stream, when it does it is an irresistable bait
for pike, and you will be enabled to fish a
much greater extent of water than by the
other methods.

Large pike though bold in seizing the
bait, are very cautious in gorging it ; many
anglers have experienced, that * large pike
after having seized the troll, and taken a
considerable length of line, has mumbled


the bait to pieces 4 and deserted it (occasioned
very probably by the lead on the shank of
the hook*). This method remedies the dis-
appointment, and a pike has but to seize it
to be taken. The motion of the bait (if
judiciously managed) resembles a fish dis-
abled, and unable to escape. If the Con-
stitution can bear it, great diversion may be
had by going into the water and fishing the
weeds in the streams, in the hot months ; but
the practice is dangerous, not only on ac-
count of the partial immersion of the body
for any length of time, but to the sudden
vicifsitudes of heat and cold which prevail:
in this climate.

* The wisdom and goodnefs of the Creator are
conspicuous in the minutest part of his works, and
from a principle of humanity, it is reasonable to con-
clude, that the teeth of pike are so formed as not only
to secure their prey, but from their length to deprive
the small fish of all sensation the moment they are
seized; the lead on the shank of the trolling hook,
presents a great obstacle to this natural conclusion,,
and is doubtlefs the reason why the bait in trolling
is so often deserted.



Spawn in April, at which time they are
out of season ; the spawn and liver are very
unwholsome, and when eaten, occasion vio-
lent sicknefs. They frequent deep strong cur-
rents, and grow to a very large size, I have
seen them fi fteen and eighteen pounds weight,
and afford the angler nohle diversion. The
best times to angle for barbel, are August
and September; and in order to insure sue-
cefs, it will be necefsary to bait the place
with lob-worms, and new cheese (which is
cheap) cut it in small pieces, morning and
evening : for this purpose chuse a hole very
deep, where the current is moderately strong,
and the bottom even ; about a quarter of a
peck ot worms and one pound of cheese is
the proper quantity to be thrown in each

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Online LibraryCharles SnartPractical observations on angling in the River Trent → online text (page 1 of 5)