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Practical observations on angling in the River Trent online

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time ; great care must be taken to throw them
in high enough up the stream, that they may
rest at the place you intend to fish. A tin
vefsel made in the shape of a funnel, with a
ring soldered at the small end and a lid at



ON ANGLING. 29

the other, that will not open with the weight
of the worms and cheese, will be found very
useful, tie a strong cord to the ring, and
fill it with the worms and cheese cut in
pieces, and with a light pole, let it sink to
the bottom, a sudden pull will open the lid
and leave the baits where you wish ; having
baited the place in this manner for about a
week, it will be fit to fish, and if a rise of
water does not happen, you may depend on
good diversion. They bite best from day-
break to nine in the morning, and from six
in an evening till darknefs obliges you to
give over. Your rod must be very strong,
a running line is necefsary, either silk or
hemp, the bottom link should be made of
gut, as directed for salmon, and the hook
large and well tempered; use a plumb about
two feet above the hook, of sufficient weight
to resist the action of so great a depth of
water, upon the line, a float is unnecefsary.
The baits for angling are lob-worms, and
new cheese cut in small squares ; the worms
must be well scoured, for barbel though



3& OBSERVATIONS

they bite freely are nice feeders ; having
baited your hook, let your plumb sink gent-
ly to the bottom, about two yards from the
side, or nearer, if there are no oziers or
stumps to incommode you, draw your line
tight till you feel the plumb at the bottom,
which will bend the top of your rod a little,
and the bite of a very small fish will be easi-
ly felt ; when a barbel bites you will per-
ceive it by a sudden jerk, so strong as to
endanger your rod being pulled out of your
hands, this is the time to strike, not directly
upwards, buf in the direction your line lies
in the water, for instance, if the stream runs
from right to left, you will strike to the
right, and if the contrary, to the left, it be-
ing impofsible from the depth of the water
and strength of the current that your plumb
should be perpendicular, under the top ot
your rod ; when you have hooked him, he
will shew you ample diversion, and as he is
a leather mouthed fish it rarely happens that
the hook mifses its hold or tears out, govern
him with a tight line not only to keep him



ON ANGLING, gi

from stumps and harbour, but to prevent
his throwing himself acrofs your line, which
he will endeavour, his back fin being very
sharp and indented like a saw, which will
cut your line or damage it very much. The
landing net will be requisite, it ought to be
so wide as to admit the barbel without trou-
ble, and so deep as to secure him from a
sudden spring. You may pursue this di-
version morning and evening for a day or
two, throwing in worms and cheese; it will
then be adviseable to desist for a week, and
let the fish have rest, baiting the place as
usual only more sparingly.

I must add one caution in angling for
barbel, which is, never to throw in further
than you are enabled by a gentle cast of
your rod, letting the plumb fall into the
water with as little violence as pofsible; it is
a vulgar error that large fish are in the mid-
dle of the river, experience will convince
you of the fallacy of this opinion ; fish na-
turally seek food near the banks, agitation of



32 OBSERVATIONS

the water by an injudicious management of
the plumb, will certainly drive them away.

It is incredible the quantities of barbel
that are sometimes caught by this method.
I have been told by persons of great veracity,
that they have taken upwards of one hundred
weight in one morning; but the diversion
of angling is considerably diminished since
fisheries are let to greedy men. I should
be tempted to enlarge on this subject, by
pointing out the great resourse fish would
afford in times of scarcity would the Legisla-
ture interfere and protect the breed from
the illegal and rapacious methods of destroy-
ing them, but as the discufsion would ex.
ceed the limits of my undertaking, and con-
sidering myself unequal to the task, I shall
leave it to some abler pen, not without hope
of seeing it accomplished.

I find the following note in Walton's
Complete Angler, part i, page 188, "Fish-
" ing for barbel is at best a dull recreation.



ON ANGLING. 33

** They are a sullen fish, and bite but slowly.
44 The angler drops his bait in, the bullet*
44 at the bottom of the line fixes it to one
44 spot of the river; tired with waiting for
44 a bite, he generally lays down his rod,
44 and exercising the patience of a setting
11 dog, waits till he sees the top of his
" rod move ; then begins a struggle between
" him and the fish, which he calls his sport ;
41 and that being over, he lands his prize,
44 fresh baits his hook, and lays in for an-
44 other." I cannot reconcile this descrip-
tion of barbel fishing with my own experi-
ence, I know not any fish which affords the
angler so much diversion, and I am con-
vinced that his annotator would expunge
the observation, should he ever angle Tor
barbel in the Trent, in the way, and at the
times I have directed. I can smile at the :
perseverance of the sea captain, (mentioned
in the same page) who got into his boat on

* In places proper for barbel, a bullet is not of suffi-
cient weight to keep the bait in one spot at the bottom,
and the roundnefs of its shape adds not a little to
the inconvenience, aflat plumb is greatly preferable.



34 OBSERVATIONS

a monclay morning and fished till Saturday
night, and sometimes for a month without
a bite: surely his afsiduity with Friendly
advice might have been better rewarded.
Probably he began late in the morning, and
gave over early in the evening, and all this
without the caution of previous bititing;
under these glaring disadvantages he may
fish for barbel till time shall be no more,
with as little prospect of succefs. I have
caught three barbel weighing upwards of
thirty pounds, before breakfast, but it is to
be remarked, that those of about five or six
pounds weight afford the best diversion.

Barbel though they afford good diversion
to the angler, are little valued by the epicure ;
they .are, however, firmer and better eating
than chub.



ON ANGLING, 35

PERCH

Spawn in February and March, and are
esteemed for their fine flavour. They fre-
quent gravelly scours, in an eddy where the
stream is gentle and a tolerable depth, near
hollow banks, and stumps of trees. They are
caught in the Trent as large as three pounds,
and contrary to the nature of all fish of prey,
in fresh waters, swim in shoals. Perch bite
all day, especially if cloudy and a little wind,
but the best times are from seven to .eleven,
in the morning, and from three to six in
the afternoon. The best baits are small lob
worms, which have no ring round them,
brandlings, and the worms found in tanners'
bark, and rotten thatch. Use a cork float,
and fish about six inches from the bottom ;
should you meet with a good shoal, you may
take them all, for they are very greedy, un-
lefs one escapes that has been hooked, then
all is over, the fish that has been hooked
becomes restlefs and uneasy, and soon oc-
casions the whole shoal to leave the place,

D



36 OBSERVATIONS

You may angle with two or three rods, lay>.
ing them upon the bank, you need not be
in a hurry to strike, they are sure to gorge.
Minnows are good baits, you may use them
as directed for the dead snap for pike, your
tackle being much finer, the lead lighter, and
the hooks and swivels smaller. The link
on which the hooks are tied, may be three
fine gut twisted together, one alone would
be strong enough, but the shanks of the
hooks would soon fret it to pieces ; fine
gimp may be used, as you will frequently
meet with a pike, and a very small one will
damage the gut, if not bite it to pieces : the
baiting needle must be shorter than that di-
rected for pike, and finer wire ; you ought
to have several of different sizes. The
minnow is baited exactly in the same man-
ner as a dace for pike. By this mode of
angling with a minnow, you will be more
certain of hooking the fish : all fish of prey
seize the bait by the middle, where the hooks
are placed, and in such directions that they
rarely mifs, and are more certain than the



ON ANGLING. 37

common method of fishing with a large hook
and a smaller above it; but as the trouble
of making and baiting these hooks are lefs,
I shall give directions for making and baiting
them. Take a hook, No. 3, which tie to a
link of silkworm gut or fine gimp, and about
three-quarters of an inch above it tie a small-
er, about No. 9, there are small square hooks
(called lip hooks) adapted to this purpose
only, in order to keep the minnow in a proper
position; join this link (which should be
about eight inches long) to another, by a small
swivel closed at both ends, fastening a small
lead weight of the shape directed for pike,
about an inch above the swivel : these swi-
vels are to be fastened to the links with fine
double silk well waxed, and the end of the
upper link formed into a noose (by the same
means), to fix to your line. Put the point of
the large hook in at the shoulder of the min-
now, and down as far as the bend of the hook
will permit, bringing the point out so that the
tail may be a little curved with the bend of
the hook, it will cause it to spin better;
p 2



38 OBSERVATIONS

fasten the head with the small hook by run-
ning it through the middle of the bottom ''
jaw, and out at the top of the upper jaw.
The recommendation of this mode, is the
readinefs of baiting the minnow, though the
other is more certain of hooking the fish.

Perch are also caught in streams, by go-
ing in and stirring up the sand and gravel
with your feet, in the way directed for gud-
geons, using a small cork float, and baiting
\vith red worms. There are few baits
perch refuse.

CARP.

Though very few of these fish are caught
an the Trent, yet as many ponds in the
county of Nottingham are stocked with
them, it may not be improper to give some
instructions for taking carp by angling, as
they constitute one of the principal dishes at
genteel tables : though it is universally
believed that the encomium bestowed upon
them by epicures, is more owing to the



ON ANGLINCf. 39

richnefs of the sauce and the mode of cook-
ing them, than to any superior flavour of
their own. All authors agree that carp are
very shy and subtle, on which account it
will be advisable to keep out of sight, and
use a long rod, with the running line.
Having chosen the deepest part of the pond,
near the side, where the bottom is free from
roots, weeds, and rubbish ; it should be bait-
ed with lob- worms, boiled malt, and crusts
of white bread cut in small pieces and soak-
ed in milk, at least three or four days before
you begin to angle. Your tackle must be,
strong and fine, the bottom links three fine
sil kworm gut twisted together, the hook pro.,
portioned to the size of the carp, with which
the pond is stocked.. Carp in some ponds
are very large, I have seen them eight pounds
weight, The best times to angle for carp,
are the months of May, June, and July, if
the weather is warm,, from day-break to
eight o'clock in the morning, and from sun-
set till night. A variety of baits are recom-
mended for carp ; I never found any

a 3,



4& OBSERVATIONS

rior to a well scoured lob-worm of a mid-
dle size; it will be adviseable to fish with
two hooks, the one within an inch of the
bottom, and the other a foot above it, using
a small cork float, which I believe is far
preferable to a quill float, as the cork in its
natural colour resembles a decayed piece of
wood, which is often seen floating near the
sides of a pond, and a quill float will not
sustain the weight of a lob-worm. Carp
will suck the bait some time before they
gorge, and when hooked must be governed
with a tight line, to prevent them entangling
your line in the weeds and roots of the water
dock, which are very tough. A landing
net will be very useful. Boiled peas but-
tered are said to be good baits,* I do not
approve of them for large carp, as a single
pea will not sufficiently hide the hook, and
more than one have a clumsy, and very un.
natural appearance : a ripe cherry is much

* See Brooke's art of Angling, where butt e reel peas
are strongly recommended, the advice has this advan-
tage, that if carp will not take them, the angler may.



ON ANGLING. 41

more likely to succeed, on account of the
size of the bait.

CHUB

Spawn about March, are in season the
rest of the year, but best in winter ; they
frequent sharp streams, and deep holes un-
der oziers, with clay or gravelly bottoms ;
the large ones bite best very early in a morn-
ing, and are to be caught by dibbling with
a black beetle humble bee, or any large fly ;
but the best bait for this purpose, is the
brown beetle or cockchafer. Your rod and
line must be strong, and it will be conveni-
ent to use a running line, the better to enable
you to fish under bushes.. Having procu-
red some brown beetles, which are plentiful
in June and July, they may be found in the
day-time resting on the maple, oak, or ozi-
ers, and are to be seen flying about in the
evening.. You should be at the river by
day-break, and having baited your hook,
wave it two or three times near the surface,
as in the act of flying, then let it drop softly



42 OBSERVATIONS

on the water, and shake your rod gently,
which will give it the appearance of strug
glingto escape, this will attract the attention
of the chub, and tw or three will rise at a
time, for they are remarkably fond of this
bait. His resistance when hooked, is great
at first, but he is soen subdued ; his weight
however, will make the landing net necefsa-
ry, and useful, as the likely places for chub
are those where you cannot get to the water
side to land him with your hands.

They bite at gentles, paste, grafshoppers,
worms, snails, wasps, and dock grubs, and.
the artificial fly, which should be gaudy;
black and dun flies, ribbed with gold or sil-
ver twist, will succeed very well in streams.
Minnows, small dace, and gudgeons, are
excellent baits for the large ones, and may
be fished with as directed for perch. Chub
will also take small gudgeons in the way
you troll for pike, the hook ought not to be
so heavy leaded upon the shank ; they gorge
immediately on taking the bait, The spinal



ON ANGLING. 43

marrow of a beast is said to be a good bait
in winter, they who angle for chub at that
season richly deserve them.

All the caution necefsary in angling for
chub, is to keep out of sight, for they are
very timid. Chub stewed as carp, will de-
ceive a connoifseur.

GRAYLING

Are good all the year, but in high seasoa
in December. They frequent rapid streams,
particularly those at Hazleford Ferry and
Fiskerton ; they will take all the trout baits
except the minnow, particularly small arti*
ficial flies, red worms, and gentles, as these
fish are more apt to rise than descend; in
fishing with gentles use two or three hooks,
and fish with them as with the artificial fly,
they are very simple, and will rise repeatedly
at the bait should you chance to mifs them ;
small hooks are necefsary, and great caution
must be used in landing them, as they are very
tender mouthed, I have frequently caught



44 OBSERVATIONS

them in fishing for gudgeons, by going in
and stirring up the sand and gravel. I never
caught one with a minnow, probably those
I used were too large ; very small minnows
with hooks proportioned to their size, might
be tried with some prospect of succefs,
though I do not recommend this bait,, not-
withstanding Walton's authority.

FLOUNDERS

Spawn in June and July, and are in sea -
son the rest of the year ; they are to be found
near eddies where the stream is gentle, with
a gravel or sandy bottom, especially if there
is a gentle declivity, where they delight to
sun themselves. They bite all day, but best
in warm weather with a little wind ;, the bait
for them is a lob-worm well scoured, your
hook must be as small as you can conveni-
ently bait, and you must fish at the bottom ;
if you use a float, the lead to poise it being at
the bottom, it will lie flat on the water ; when
it cocks up, you may conclude a flounder
has hold of the bait, ease the rod for he will



ON ANGLING. 45

Suck the bait some time, but is greedy and
sure to gorge it. Flounders are fish of prey
and will take minnows, and other small fish.
I have caught many in the way directed ibr
perch, using smaller hooks, fishing closer
to the bottom, and drawing the baited fish
more gently up the stream ; as they have
small mouths you will sometimes mifs them,
but they will bite again immediately.

Flounders are caught by pin lines, which
are made as follows: Take good strong
twine (not two hard twisted) of what length
you chuse, but twenty yards is the most
convenient, as they may be more easily
thrown in, and fasten links of nine hairs
each, at somewhat lefs than a yard distant
from each other, allowing at each end of
the twine sufficient length to fasten a weight
or flat stone; tie pins to the loose ends of
the links, beginning at the middle of the pin,
and proceeding to the head, cutting off the
hair close before you fasten, and wrapping
the silk over the ends of the hair, or it will



46 OBSERVATIONS

prevent the worm pafsing on the pin. The
pins are baited with half a lob- worm, by
putting the point of the pin into the end of
a crow quill, and drawing the piece of worm
upon it nearly to the end which is not bro-
ken, you will easily feel the pin head, which
holding between the finger and thumb nails,
draw the quill out, the point of the pin will
prevent the worm coming off, you may by
this means bait the pins very expeditiously.
Tie a weight to each end of the line, and
throw it in rather slanting acrofs the river,
that the stream may carry the baits free of
the line ; take care the worms do not trail
on the ground, which would cause the points
of the pins to come out. You may either
fasten a yard or two of twine to the end of
the line, and peg it to the bank with a short
stake, or you may draw it out with a drag,
which is used when the lines are left, to
prevent their being stolen. This drag is
made by running about half a pound of
melted lead upon three pieces of iron wire,
placed in fine moist sand or clay, so that



ON ANGLING* 47

they may stand in a triangular direction ; a
piece of wire about ten inches doubled, and
the ends turned again, will form two of these
hooks, and a loop to fasten the dragline, the
the length of which may be fifteen yards,
more will be uselefs, as the flounder line
ought not to be so far from the side ; the
wire should not be too strong, as the drag
frequently catches against stones, weeds,
and stumps of trees ; the wire by bending
will riot endanger the lofs of your drag, and
yet be sufficiently strong to draw the flounder
line .and weights to shore. These lines may
continue in the water -two hours,. and if you
have a score will keep you in constant em-
ployment through the day, to bait and draw,
beginning at the first that was thrown in,
and continuing to draw and bait them again,
in the order they were laid. To get the
flounders off, take short hold of the link and
pull gently, the pin will bend and come out
easily, and may be straightened again with
your fingers. The worms you intend that
day for baits must be sprinkled with sand 4
E



48 OBSERVATIONS

which will enable you to bait the pins more
readily. A boat will be useful in laying
these lines, but you must be careful to free
the flounder line after the first weight is
thrown in, or it will drag with the boat, and
the line will not lie in the place you wish.

Flounder lines will take eels, but not large
ones, they must be well dried or they will
soon rot.

I cannot quit the subject without remark-
ing an error, which even the learned annotator
on Walton, has committed in his Complete
Angler, sixth edition, page 182, (a book I
have read with great satisfaction, not only
for the instructions it contains on angling,
but for the simplicity and unaffected piety,
which is so conspicuous in every page) he
there observes, that flounders are seldom
caught by angling. Every schoolboy who
has angled in the Trent , can contradict this
assertion ; I have known ten pounds weight
taken by two anglers in one afternoon, and



ON ANGLING. 49

a much greater quantity in the same time by
flounder lines. I have caught them by ang-
ling with lobworms, nearly a pound weight
each; and with a minnow, I caught one in
1799, that weighed twenty three ounces.

EELS.

It has long been a matter of doubt how
eels are produced, the general opinion is,
that they are viviparous ; however, leaving
this disputed point to be settled by naturalists,
I shall instruct the angler how they may be
caught. In the day-time they delight in
still waters, amongst weeds, under roots of
trees, and large stones ; the best bait for
angling is the lobworm, your hook should
be small, about No. 3 or 4, and it will be
proper to use a small plumb, or pistol bullet.
They bite best in dark cloudy weather, after
showers attended with thunder and light-
ning; use a running line, and be not too
hasty when they bite. The large ones are
caught in the night, by lines as directed for
flounders, except having small strong hooks

2



,5O OBSERVATIONS

instead of pins, and the links should consist
of twelve hairs. It is a matter of little con-
sequence where they are laid, for they will
succeed in streams as well as still waters.
Eels rove about in the night, especially in
streams, in search of prey, and there is scarce
a bait but they will take; such as frogs,
black snails, worms, roach, dace, gudgeons,
bleak, minnows, loaches, pieces of lamprey,
and millers' thumbs. The following is the
best method of taking large eels. Having
made a sufficient quantity of links of twelve
hairs, double them and tie a small strong
hook to each link, (the common small barbel
Iiook is best for this purpose) having an
equal number of strong whipcord lines about
twelve or fifteen yards each, which have
been used and are soft, such as old trolling
and barbel lines ; fasten one end to a small
stake of ash or hazel, about a foot long and
pointed at one end, make a noose at the
other end of each line large enough to admit
a dace or gudgeon, and fasten a bullet about
3 foot from the noose; take the links and



ON ANGLING. 1

bait them with gudgeons, roach, dace, or
minnows, (but gudgeons are best) by making
an incision with the point of the baiting
needle at the shoulder, running it under the
skin and out at the middle of the tail, draw-
ing the link after it ; the point of the hook
should be upright towards the back, and it
matters not how proud, for eels are very
voracious. Having baited the whole, wrap
them in a wet linen cloth, and put them
carefully at one end of your pannier,, the
stakes with the lines being at the ther ; take
them in the evening to the river, and un-
winding a line from the stake, peg it fast to
the ground near the side ; take one of the
links baited, put the noose of the link upon
the line, and drop the bait through the noose
upon the line; thus all is fast, without the
trouble of tying knots, or what is worse the
trouble of untying them, .after the lines have
been in the water. Throw the bait in a
good way, but not to the extent of the line,.
as eels will run a little before they gorge:,
you may lay one hundred of these lines in a

* a



2 OBSERVATIONS

short time : an eel lefs than a pound will
gorge the baits, but what you take in general
will be large. You must rise early in the
morning to draw them, and you will find
such of the lines as have eels at them,
drawn exceeding tight ; the large ones sel-
dom fasten the lines, but the small ones will
twist themselves so fast that you will have
some trouble to disentangle them. Dark
nights in July, August, and September, arc
the best for this diversion.

It may with some propriety be observed,
that this method of taking eels does not come
within the province of the angler ; I have to
remark, that it is the only way of taking large
eels, except by nets, and these are not allow-
ed but to proprietors and renters of fisheries :
another reason more forcible is, that eels are
transitory like woodcocks, continually mov-
ing from place to place, and are fair game


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Online LibraryCharles SnartPractical observations on angling in the River Trent → online text (page 2 of 5)