Lorenzo Prouty.

Fish: their habits and haunts and the methods of catching them, together with fishing as a recreation online

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



APPLBTOff & LITCHFIELD,

SUCCESSORS TO PROUTY & APPLE TON,
IMPORTERS AND RETAILERS OK



CUTLERY ASD FISHING TACILE,



RODS, REELS, and LINES of every description.

ARTIFICIAL FLIES of all kinds.

LEONARD'S and NICHOLS' SPLIT BAMBOOS.

ENGLISH POCKET and TABLE CUTLERY
of the Best Makes.

SPORTSMEN'S and HUNTING KNIVES.
FINE RAZORS, warranted to give satisfaction.
SHAVING ARTICLES.
HAMMOCKS in great variety.
CAMP LANTERNS and AXES.
FISHING SUITS and SHOES.



APPLETON & LITCHFIELD,

304 WASHINGTON STREET,

(2d door North of the Old South)

BOSTON, MASS.



FISH:

THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS

AND THE

fftrtfjate of (Catching 5Hjem,

TOGETHER WITH

FISHING AS A RECREATION.



BY

LORENZO PROUTY.



In such green palaces the first kings reigned,
Slept in their shades, and angels entertained;
With such old counsellors they did advise,
And by frequenting sacred groves grew wise.'



BOSTON:
CUPPLES, UPHAM AND COMPANY,

10 Corner Bookstore.
1883.



Copyright, by
CUPPLES, UPHAM AND COMPANY,



ELECTROTYPED.

BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
4 PEARL STREET.



TO

Cfje iiHang JFritntis of tfje &tttf)0r

WHO IN PAST YEARS

HAVE ENCAMPED WITH HIM IN FOREST AND BY STREAM,

AND WHO DOUBTLESS IN READING THIS LITTLE

VOLUME WILL RECALL HIS PRESENCE

WITH PLEASANT MEMORIES;

AND
TO THOSE READERS WHO NOT HAVING KNOWN HIM

WILL FROM THESE PAGES

MAKE SOME ACQUAINTANCE WITH HIS

LIFE AND CHARACTER.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

PREFACE i

GENERAL REMARKS 9

FRESH- WATER FISH . . . 16

THE ANGLER'S APPARATUS 27

RODS AND LINES 29

FLOATS AND LANDING-NETS 36

FLY-FISHING 38

DABBING 40

MINNOW-SPINNING 41

BOTTOM-FISHING 44

BAITS FOR TROUT . . 46

THE SALMON 4 8

THE BLUE FISH 5 2

THE BLACK FISH 55

THE MACKEREL 5 8

THE SCAUPAUG-SCUP 59

THE COMMON SHAD 60



Vlll CONTENTS.

THE PERCH 60

THE SMELT 64

TRIP TO KEMPT, N. S., IN 1879 .... 65

TRIP TO NOVA SCOTIA IN 1881 . . . . 71

A DAY ON GRAND LAKE 82

Two DAYS AT SKIFF LAKE 85

TRIP TO SCHOODIE LAKE IN 1882 ... 86

TRAPS * 101

IN MEMORIAM 105



PREFACE.



THE material of which this book is largely
composed is from notes and manuscripts
which Mr. Prouty had been preparing during
the last few years of his life, suggested by
his experience in camp-life and active busi-
ness pursuits, with the intention of presenting
them to the public when the proper occasion
should come. Hence, in the compilation,
the book is not expected to be so complete as
it would have been could he have lived long
enough to have had the arrangement himself,
and have added more of his own practical ex-
perience and suggestions.

Mr. Prouty was born in Boston in 1839,
removed to Dorchester in 1841, and, passing
through the Grammar School, graduated at
Chauncy Hall School, in Boston.



2 PREFACE.

From early boyhood he manifested par-
ticular interest in fishing and angling, and
every opportunity was seized to indulge in
this favorite pastime. In 1855 he entered
the hardware store of Martin L. Bradford,
and naturally drifted into the department of
fishing-tackle, to which he gave his closest
attention, to make himself familiar with all
its details. His great love of the sport, his
experience in the forest and stream, and his
practical common sense, enabled him to mas-
ter this branch of their business, and he aided
largely its rapid growth and success during
the last few years of his life. In fact, so
well had he become known by the lovers of
this delightful art, that he was made an offi-
cer of the Anglers' Association of Boston,
and was often quoted as an authority upon
angling throughout the land.

Of a modest and retiring nature, upright
in all his dealings with his fellow-men, and
of the keenest sensibilities, he made friends



PREFACE. 3

daily, and never forfeited the friendship of
any.

When, after the confinement and arduous
duties of his business life, he left all behind
for the pleasure of the camp, to indulge in its
sport for rest and recreation, and to enjoy
the grandeur and teaching of nature, as only
those who are lovers of this noble and life-
giving art can truly enjoy them, away from
all the busy hum of the city, in the solitude
of the wilderness, then did he fully realize
that communion with his Father and God,
whom he loved with the simplicity of a child.

To the friends who have shared with him
his camp-life, it would be a pleasure to recall
the many conversations they have had with
him in those still evening hours, whilst the
same beautiful moon looked down so brightly
on them and on their loved ones at home,
and naught disturbed the silence but the
hoot of the solitary owl.

His sudden death, at the close of the de-



4 PREFACE.

parted year, just when the future was open-
ing to him a career of usefulness and honor,
came like the "pall of night" to his large
circle of friends, as they realized that never
more would his familiar face and welcome
smile greet them.

How better could this brief memorial
sketch be closed than by giving this tribute,
sent to his beloved wife, from one of his
guides in the forest home, which is but
the echo of all who had the pleasure of his
acquaintance :

KEMPT, QUEENS COUNTY, N. S., April i, 1883.

MY DEAR MRS. PROUTV, Your letter and
picture came safely to hand. We all think-
that the picture is perfect, and so much
like him that we think he must speak to us ;
we are very much pleased to have it, and will
keep it as long as we live, which will help to
keep him fresh in our minds, though it is
with sad hearts that we look upon it, know-



PREFACE. 5

ing that we can never see him more. We
were of the same age, and in one respect alike :
we loved the forest and stream, and he said to
me, " I plan to come down here so long as I
live, and always want you to go with me."
He had planned for you to come with him
next fall, and had our camp-ground selected,
and my wife and daughter thought so much
of having you come ; but we will look in
vain. I have been with many parties, and
will go with many more, and where we used
to go ; and how many things I will see to
remind me of him, and cause the tears to fill
my eyes, which I will not have strength to
keep down, such as the pools where we
have fished, the spots where we have lain,
and the trees he -has felled with his own
hands. All these things will bring to mind
the pleasant hours that we have spent to-
gether, which never can be recalled.

Mr. Prouty endeared himself to all who
knew him down here, and many of my friends



6 PREFACE.

speak sadly of his death. As for myself, it
has caused a sadness which will last through
life, and which words fail to describe, for he
to me was a true friend and a brother, and I
think how little I have done for him to what
he has done for me ; he never knew how
much I thought of him for his acts of kind-
ness to me and to my family ; look where I
will about my home, I can see something to
remind me of him.

Please excuse me for writing so much,
and be sure he is mourned in more homes
than one. My wife, daughter, and myself
deeply sympathize with you and your dear
daughter, whom to us he so often spoke of.
May God comfort and protect you both, and
permit you to meet him in the world to come,
where parting will not be known, and tears
will never flow.

Yours in love,

DAVID FREEMAN.



FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.



FISH:

THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.



THE Art of Angling is a very ancient one.
It is difficult to say when it did not exist.
Representations of fish and of fishing have
been found upon some of the oldest tombs
and most venerable remains extant.

In every community of savage life are
found instruments of angling, rude enough,
but sufficiently effective for the wants of
those who employ them, showing the
various inventions for fishing to have been
primitive and universal.

One of the first treatises on angling in the
English language is that of Dame Julianna
Bernes, published in 1496. The next is by
the well-known Isaac Walton, in 1653 ; and
since then the number of works of this

9



IO FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

character has constantly increased, indeed,
hardly any other subject has had so much
written about it. This is not strange, when
we consider that more than three-fourths
of the earth's surface is covered with water,
and teems with life in various forms.

Naturalists of the present day know of
upwards of thirteen thousand varieties of fish,
of which perhaps one-tenth belong to fresh-
water.

The importance of the fisheries on our own
coasts can hardly be exaggerated, whether
we consider the amount of wholesome food
which they yield, the pecuniary value of
their product, the number of persons em-
ployed, the stimulus furnished to ship and
boat-building, and, not least of all, their ser-
vice as a school for seamen, from which
the merchant marine, as well as the navy of
the country, derives its most important re-
cruits. The rapid growth of the country,
the construction of railroads, and the use of



FISH! THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. II

ice for packing, have furnished facilities for
sending fish in good condition to all mar-
kets ; and the demand for them has in-
creased in proportion. The discovery that
fish could be made to yield a valuable oil
by boiling has contributed an additional
means of consumption, and more recently
the packing of fish in tins prepared to keep
them fresh for any length of time has given
employment to both capital and men. But
it is with the fish which we take for our
sport that we are here concerned. In the
sea about our own coast we find the cod,
haddock, mackerel, tautog, perch, smelt,
striped bass, and bluefish.

The cod and haddock are taken in water
from fifty to one hundred feet deep, with a
strong line and sinkers heavy enough to
keep it down, and usually with two hooks
baited with clams. They swim near the
bottom, and when they are biting freely
afford considerable sport.



12 FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

The most beautiful of our salt-water fish,
the mackerel, appears on our coast during
the month of May. Swimming near the
surface, it is taken with a small hook with
a bright piece of metal attached to make it
sink rapidly and at the same time to at-
tract the fish. Each person uses two of
these hooks and lines. In order to lure the
fish about the boat, " wash-bait" that is,
fish ground up fine and mixed with water
is thrown over, a little at a time. It is the
superior attraction of the metal bait which
captures them. When fishing from the
deck of a mackerel schooner, with all hands
engaged, the scene is exciting in the ex-
treme. Each man has a tub to throw his
catch in, and the constant flopping of the
fish reminds one of a drum-corps in active
operation.

The smelt, although small, is a choice
fish, and is readily taken from June till
winter with hook and line and stiff rod. In



FISH! THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. , 13

the winter it is taken through the ice in
the river mouths.

The tautog and perch are found near
rocks, upon the muscles,, attached to which
they are accustomed to feed. They may be
caught with hand lines from a boat an-
chored near the spot, or with a long rod
and line from the shore. The tautog is a
strong fish ; he takes his bait boldly, and
starts for the bottom with it, and if of good
size he gives some excitement and pleasure
in the taking. Perch are usually plenty,
and are easily taken. As they have small
mouths, small hooks should be used.

Bluefish, formerly very plenty during the
summer months, are not at present often
found this side of Cape Cod ; but the pleas-
ure of taking them will well repay a jour-
ney to the south side, or even to Nantucket
and Martha's Vineyard. The best method
of taking them is from a sail-boat. Two
or even four can fish at once. Fifty yards



14 FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

of strong line should be used, and a hook
with metal run on it to load it, and cov-
ered with an inverted eel-skin for a bait.
The lines are trailed behind the boat when
four are fishing at once, and an outrigging
of wood is fastened at the stem, so as to
keep them from running too close together.
With the boat under full sail, all lines out,
and each one expectant, the excitement is
intense ; when the fish are reached, and
one feels a twitch on his line, he begins
to haul in as fast as possible, and if not
quick enough his fish springs ahead and
drops the hook. Often there will be a fish
on each line at once, and then such fun,
all pulling together ! The fish weigh from
four to ten pounds each. The skipper en-
deavors to keep the boat in the vicinity of
the school, and tacks about to run through
it, but often loses sight of it, for when
feeding with the current the fish move
rapidly.



FISH I THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. 1$

When plenty, from fifty to one hundred
fish are often taken a day, and it is thor-
oughly tiresome work.

The striped bass is the king of salt-water
fish, and in the opinion of many gives as
much sport as the salmon. Twenty years
ago many were taken from the bridges in
Boston harbor, but with the growth of the
city the waters have become less pure, and
bass are now scarce there.

At many points on Cape Cod and south
of it there is still opportunity for this sport.
The method of fishing is to use a short,
stiff rod of eight feet in length, a reel with
six hundred feet of line, and a hook baited
with a piece of eel. From some rocky
point well out in the sea the bait is cast
as far as possible. The fish are moving
about looking for food, and if hungry take
in the bait. When one is hooked it is quite
a trial of skill and patience to capture him,
as, full of strength and courage, he will



l6 FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

try every possible means to break away.
But when landed, if of good size, say from
twenty-five to fifty pounds, he will amply
repay all trials and disappointments. Many
of the islands south of Cape Cod are owned
by clubs which have fitted up houses and
employ men to "chum" or feed the fish so
as to keep them about the rocks, and thus
the owners are quite sure of sport whenever
the weather is favorable.

FRESH-WATER FISH.

In the fresh-water ponds and rivers are
found the salmon, trout, pickerel, black bass,
and perch.

The pickerel lives in the warmer waters
and more sluggish streams ; it spawns in the
spring, and is in good condition most of the
year. Very good sport may be had in troll-
ing for it with the spoon baits, or with small
fish. In the winter, it is captured by setting
lines in holes cut through the ice.



FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. I?

The black bass was brought to Massachu-
setts by Mr. Tisdale, of Wareham, about
thirty years ago, from New York, and has
been placed in many ponds, until now it is
so plenty as to take the most prominent place
among our fresh-water fish. Larger than the
perch, and full of pluck, it affords much
pleasure in the capture. The ponds in Ply-
mouth are well stocked with bass, and many
Boston people go there to fish.

I think few are aware what a pleasant
town Plymouth is, and what opportunities it
offers for fishing and other sports. Although
so near to Boston; its woods and lakes are as
wild as when the Pilgrims landed.

The trout is the most beautiful of all
fish, and has afforded recreation for thou-
sands of years to lovers of nature through-
out the Temperate Zone. The most plenty
of all the game fish, it may be angled
for with the commonest tackle, as a willow
stick cut by the side of the stream, or with



l8 FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

very elaborate apparatus, and in either case
it gives to the enthusiastic fisherman the
keenest delight.

The old and young, the learned and igno-
rant, the poor and rich, all classes, ages and
conditions, have enjoyed angling for trout.
Once, nearly every stream in the Middle,
Northern, and Eastern States teemed with
both trout and salmon. The salmon has
been driven away, and, had not anglers inter-
fered to save the trout, they would now be
known only from books and from the stories
of the oldest inhabitants.

For bait-fishing, the convenient tackle is
a light rod of ten or twelve feet in length,
with reel and line, and small hooks, with
well-scoured worms for bait. The stream
should be approached with the greatest cau-
tion, as this fish is very wary, and the line
should be dropped lightly into the water,
and in an instant the fisherman may be re-
warded by a sudden pull and the landing of



FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. IQ

a fine trout. But to enjoy trout-fishing at
its best necessitates longer journeys and
camping out, requires more thought and
preparation. Where to go, how long to
stay, what to carry, and what will be the
expense, are the questions that arise.

Most of the camping trips from this lo-
cality are made either to Maine, to New
York, or to the Provinces. Maine offers
the best and handiest grounds. Trips may
be made to the Rangely Lakes, Moosehead
Lake, Grand Lake Stream, or the Dead
River country, with good success, either for
fishing or hunting ; and it is from such
trips, when we give nature a chance to deal
with us in her own way, that we experience
wonderful benefits to our mental and physi-
cal strength.

In the constant struggle of business re-
quirements the human system can hardly
hold its own. It needs a rest at least once
a year ; and not a rest only, but a change



2O FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

of occupation, thought, and mode of life;
and nothing affords this so well as a trip to
the woods When exhausted physically, one
may not be equal to a hunting trip ; but he
can endure the light task of fishing, while
to succeed in this requires sufficient thought
to keep his mind from drifting away to home
cares, and the exercise in the open air pro-
vokes an appetite that is astonishing. It has
been said that man degenerates without fre-
quent communion with nature. It certainly
is true that this communion increases his
reverence for and his appreciation of the
beautiful in nature.

To one making his first trip how delight-
fully new and strange all seems ! After
completing your journey to the stream, or
point of departure, you are probably .met at
the landing by your guide, who, after shaking
hands and answering a few questions about
the possible sport and the parties already
in the woods, begins to arrange the things,



FISH: THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. 21

or "traps," as they are called, in the canoe.
"Will that little thing," you wonder, "made
of birch bark and weighing not over fifty
pounds, carry us safely ? " But your respect
for it begins at once ; and as you spend day
after day in the bow, permitted to handle
the light paddle, and see how skilfully the
guide runs the rapids, avoiding the rocks
that seem ready to destroy the canoe, you
become attached to the frail craft with an
affection which you cannot forget when the
trip is ended.

Then the changing views of the winding
river as you move rapidly along causes an
ever new delight. At noon you step out
on some smooth beach well shaded by tall
trees, to prepare the noon meal, and how
you watch every motion of the guide as he
gathers the few sticks needed to start a
fire ! And when at length you are seated
on some smooth stone, holding your tin plate
in your lap, and with your tin of tea close



22 FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

at hand, you wonder what the folks at home
would think.

After a rest you start on again with re-
newed interest, the guide meanwhile, if talk-
ative, telling about his experiences in the
woods. And toward evening, when a good
spot offers, he suggests that you had better
encamp. Now there is still more novelty.
After getting the things out of the birch
and lifting it carefully from the water, the
guide starts back with his axe and soon
returns with long sticks to build the camp.

You look on eager to help, but ignorant
what to do. He selects a good, smooth- spot,
sets up two saplings with crotched ends,
about eight feet apart, and lays another
across about six feet from the ground.
Then several are laid with one end on the
cross-piece, the other on the ground, making
a skeleton shed. He now peels some birch
bark in large pieces, and proceeds to shingle
the top by lapping the pieces over each



FISH I THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. 23

other, all being held in place by more poles.
The ends are closed in by stakes driven
down and more bark. You now see that
you can be useful in getting fir boughs to
make a bed, and plenty of them. When
done, you look with much satisfaction on
your first house. If not expensive, it prom-
ises to be very comfortable, and scarcely
more than an hour has been occupied in
the building of it.

The guide now starts to fell a tree for
firewood, and in a few minutes you hear the
crash, and think " To-morrow I must try the
axe." Soon he appears with the pieces of
wood, and you watch the operation of build-
ing a fire. First two short pieces are laid
down for andirons ; then a heavy long piece
across for a backlog; then small pieces for
the front, and, when ready, he lights up, and
soon all is in a ruddy blaze. Now begin
preparations for supper. Here you can help,
and the meal is quickly prepared. After



24 FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

supper you talk a little, smoke if you wish, '
and are soon all ready to roll up in your
blanket, and find your boughs a right com-
fortable couch. While lost in sleep, your
mind miles away, you suddenly start up. A
most terrific scream greets your ears at no
great distance, and another, answering, from
the opposite side. Your hair fairly stands
on end. " What's that?" you ask. "Oh,
nothing but the owls," answers the guide ;
and he turns over and is asleep at once.
You lie some time before you are lost again.
Morning comes. You are awake early, and
ready to jump up. The guide takes it rather
more easily, but soon is up, too ; and then
for the breakfast. While clearing up the
dishes the guide tells you, perhaps, about
Matalic, a poor old Indian, who formerly
lived all alone near where you are encamped,
how one night two hunters, caught by a
storm, found his camp, and stopped over
night. He was not there ; but in the morn-



FISH I THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. 25

ing, when one went for water to the spring,
he came upon Matalic nearly frozen. It
seems his eyes had been failing for some
time, and he had suddenly become blind,
and could not find his way back to his camp.

Soon you start on again, with here a pool
with trout to fish, now a duck to try a shot
at, and each day bringing some new pleasure.
If it is the right season for floating for deer,
your guide will give you a chance at that.
Provided with a Jack-lamp placed overhead,
you" sit perfectly still in the canoe, while
your guide plies the paddle without noise.
You listen in the dark for any sound of deer
feeding in the water, and, if heard, the guide
slowly paddles up. When near, the light is
thrown upon them. This shows the bright
eyes of the deer, at which you should fire.
If successful, it will add to your list of pro-
visions, as well as give you experience in a
new pleasure. So on day by day.

Stopping in camp if a rainy day occurs (a



26 FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS.

change, not uncomfortable, as a blazing fire
keeps away all damp and cold), gaining
strength each day, soon eager to do what
at first would have seemed a task to a city
man. Every living thing in the woods has
a charm. The loons in the lake, the heron,
the eagle, the kingfisher, the hawks, all
are watched with interest. The forest itself
grows upon you; and when at length the
guide tells you that the time is nearly up,
you can hardly believe it possible, and you
prepare to return home almost sad to think
of leaving such freedom from care, and re-
solving if possible to return the next season.
Many men engage their guides for the
next trip without a thought how far off it
may be.

Angling has among its disciples a greater
number' of scholarly and celebrated men
than any other sport. In fact, it is well
named " The Contemplative Man's Recrea-
tion." Many famous men of the past, as



FISH : THEIR HABITS AND HAUNTS. 2/

well as of the present, are well-known as
fishermen. Daniel Webster was awful anx-
ious to get away from Washington when
detained over his fishing season. Presi-
dent Arthur has a reputation as a salmon


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Online LibraryLorenzo ProutyFish: their habits and haunts and the methods of catching them, together with fishing as a recreation → online text (page 1 of 6)